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Posted on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 7 a.m.

Primer and paint add up to a kitchen makeover for $50

By Sarah Finks


Sarah Finks | Contributor

I did it! I have to admit that I had been dreading this project. Ever since we moved into this house, I just knew that I wanted to paint the kitchen cabinets white. But was a bit intimidated by the magnitude of such a project. So after a lot of thinking and estimates from local painters — oh my! — I finally just dove in.

The photo at the top shows what my kitchen looked like before.

With one gallon of Zinsser's low VOC primer and one gallon of Valspar's low VOC antique white semi-gloss, I went to work. I painted one coat of primer followed by one coat of 1/2 primer 1/2 paint (following advice from a professional painter.) And I finished with two coats of paint.


Sarah Finks | Contributor

I am so pleased with the outcome (see below). I can't believe how much more light and how great the granite counters look. They were totally overshadowed by the 1970s cabinetry before.

What do you think? Was it worth the $50?

Don't forget to stop by my giveaway for a dotmine day planner.

Sarah Finks is a local mom and blogger trying to find order amongst the chaos of three small boys and a wonderful husband. Feel free to e-mail me at or check out my blog at for more household tips.



Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:32 p.m.

But I like white cabinets. Isn't that the point? If I had the money to completely renovate the kitchen I would choose white or off white. I simply don't like most wood cabinets in a kitchen. For me it is a matter of taste. It is ok to like different things.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 3:11 p.m.

I see now the cabinets were oak, not birch --they certainly look birch in the first dark photo. Sad to cover such a nice wood as oak with white paint (pine, yes). With a bit more time and patience you could have sanded the doors (bit more work on the frame pieces) and stained them a more contemporary color and changed the hardware. Yes, it isn't always advisable to follow what a realtor might say but they have heard a lot more comments than you or I would have heard about what looks good. And yes, if you don't plan to sell soon perhaps you want to follow your own desires in terms of decor but I think you'll find white is pretty much considered either a cover up ('I'm trying to hide the real color of these cabinets') or out of touch taste. Listen to what buyers are saying on HGTV if you don't want to ask a realtor. Sometimes the simple $50 solution isn't always the best choice in the long term. Once they're painted it's a big deal to go back. I've done new cab doors, drawers and hardware and that's a truly amazing make over that looks brand new, not a cover up.


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1:05 p.m.

Maybe I didn't show the true ugliness of the before very well. Check it out!


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 1 p.m.

Actually I think the scalloped trim screams 1967, which is when the cabinetry was put in. And I totally agree, it needs to come down. If my cabinets were birch I absolutely would have left them. Sadly these were a very dated oak. Great cabinets for the 60's but clashed with the granite that was installed by the previous owners, in order to sell the house 2 years ago. As for lowering the value of our house well, we are the ones living here and we love it. I think it would be a shame to only do what a realtor would advise. Why live in a space that you don't LOVE in fear that 10-15 years down the road someone else won't like it. By that time styles will have changed again and you never know, maybe I will change it again before that!


Mon, Dec 13, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

Wish I could agree, Pam. From what my neighbors have commented (with the same cabinets we have except they're white, not the natural finish you had) that was the wrong decision. They all lament having chosen the white over the natural birch finish (circa 1998). The scalloped trim piece over the sink yells '70-80s'; pull it down and at least make a straight cut on it. $50 that lowered the value of your kitchen and home. You might want to ask a realtor.