The Conclusion – Cabinet Painting Part 3

The actual process of painting the top cabinets took me about a week and half. But don’t worry, I’m not going to make you wait much longer to see the incredible improvement. There are just a few things I need to explain before I pretend like, “Tada! I’m so talented! It was so easy! It hardly took me more than a day!” – just NO.

Am I thrilled with my painted cabinets now that they are done? Yes 100% thrilled.

Am I happy with my decision to DIY this project? Absolutely.

Was it hard? You better believe it.

I had a few major motivational factors that kept me going through this journey.

  1. I couldn’t wait to see the end results and be rid of that orangey oak forever!
  2. When working inside a 699 sqft space, the whole apartment was a disaster area. Messes tend to stress me out, and I wasn’t about to clean up everything until I was done and DONE!
  3. Lastly, it was freezing cold outside – and I wasn’t interested in going anywhere. I might as well paint!

Let’s jump right into this round of painting.

My husband and I chose a cool-toned white paint to compliment our navy down below. The name “Polar Bear” only swayed us slightly in its favor.

Polar Bear

Since I needed to go to Home Depot for new paint anyway, I refreshed my supply of small foam rollers, foam brushes for detail work, frog tape (I use this stuff on every painting project!), and clean rags for wiping off de-glosser.

I also decided to pick up some fancy pyramids that promised to allow me paint the opposite side of the door while one side was still a bit wet. (These replaced my impressive collection of canned goods currently filling this role).


Source: Home Depot

I’m sure these are especially helpful if you are painting on a level surface, but I soon found that my kitchen table was far from level and my cabinet doors still jumped around and spun on their fun new toys. Oh well. I think it was still an improvement from the canned good marks I was dealing with before, and I didn’t have to wait as long to flip them over…but it wasn’t a life changing purchase.

The first picture I took of the top progress, depicts the general state of my apartment and my mind:


It might not look like much to you, but to me – it was a preview of my new kitchen! And more importantly, the first time one side of the kitchen had no oak remaining!!

The builder grade cabinets had a few plastic caps to cover the holes for screws used to secure the base and top pieces of the cabinets. I chose to remove the caps and fill the holes with wood filler: dry, sand, repeat – until I was happy with the smooth surface before painting over it. (You can still see one of the holes that had yet to be filled in the top middle of the photo).

This could present a bit of a headache when someone decides to remove the cabinets, but I don’t plan on being here then. (Is that terrible?!)

The first doors were finally ready to go back up!!!


Fast forward…the complete set is hung!!


Let’s just do a comparison:



It’s pretty far from a perfect “before and after” but I think it still makes an impact.

It got even better once I cleaned up a bit:


As for the other side, I should probably note that I threw out my back with all my stretching, reaching, scrubbing off de-glosser, painting, rehanging doors… (and going to dance auditions in between). I got this far, before being forced to slow down.IMG_0115a

I could just imagine what they would look like completed!!!


I was SO CLOSE to being finished, I put the final coat of paint on the last set of doors the night before the audition, but my back wasn’t feeling pretty the next morning. (TANGENT WARNING!) Most people would have called casting to say “Sorry, I’m not feeling well,” but I’m a glutton for punishment and I decided that it would feel better once I started dancing. Besides, I HATE missing a callback! (If this is gibberish to you…please hang with me, it’s almost over).

Long story short, my back started spasming mid-audition so I told casting that I couldn’t finish and waited quietly (not fully able to take deep breaths without another spasm) for everyone to dance in groups and be dismissed. I couldn’t carry my audition bag home, but I convinced a friend to help me to Starbucks before putting me in a cab. (If you don’t know what that is…that’s a great friend, and a serious addiction to Starbucks).

I went home, stared at my finished cabinet doors (just waiting to be hung) and begrudgingly decided to give my back a day to rest. The next morning I popped some pain killers, and recklessly went to town with a heavy drill…on a ladder…determined to hang my cabinet doors.

It was stupid. But I got them up (without hurting myself too badly again – Thank Goodness!).

Then…well, I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures: (even though I hadn’t really cleaned up – ugh).



It’s pretty hard to capture the beauty of the navy with the kitchen lighting, but trust me – it looks great! haha. If I’m this proud of my kitchen, I don’t even want to imagine what I’m going to be like as a Mom! :)

After all of that I will leave you with these select cabinet painting tips:

    • You will be happier with the results.
    • Otherwise you could be in for a nasty surprise.
    • Why DIY if you’re going to do a sloppy job? Respect yourself, respect your cabinets :)
    • The sooner they are the found, the easier they are to fix!

GOOD LUCK! I’m happy to answer any questions any time! You can do it!

7 thoughts on “The Conclusion – Cabinet Painting Part 3

  1. Melissa, I really enjoy reading your blog! I bought a house about 6 months ago with a kitchen that needs a major update. I haven’t had the courage to do anything yet, but seeing your transformation has been inspiring! Thanks for sharing your DIY journey!


    • Thanks Emily! That’s so exciting about your new house! Kitchen renovations are scary, and even my tiny space felt like a ton of work. The nice thing about not living in NYC is that you can keep the “workshop” out of the way and only face it on the weekends until it’s done. Let me know if you have any questions or just want to toss around ideas! I love day dreaming about updating spaces. :) Thanks for saying hi!


  2. It looks great and you saved a ton of $ by DIY!!! Trust me…I know this! Just said goodbye forever to 67 linear feet of those oak stained cabs! Mine are painted ivory with a pinstripe glaze in polished taupe and I have a faux island /bar around sink and dishwasher which was stained in Old English Walnut stain…it is beautiful. We removed that big micro/fan and had a real fan/hood built and added upper storage on one side to ceiling. On the other side the top cabs are glass.
    It was a 3 mo. Project…but I lived with that ugly golden oak for 18 years…so I just kept telling myself and my husband “at least we don’t have to move”. It was completed day before Thanksgiving. I know first hand what it’s like to be without your kitchen and live in the mess!
    You are getting that nest in shape for your sweet baby. :) :). Xoxoxo
    You have done a great job!! Love you ! Lisa B. AOE


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