Ideas for Painting Kitchen Cabinets
Four Simple Ideas for Painting
If you look a little, you'll find tons of ideas for painting your kitchen
This page touches on four basic ones, plus a couple of variations.
If you are simply looking for instructions on how to paint kitchen cabinets,
check out our easy
Repaint Your Kitchen Cabinets page for some
simple painting steps.
1st Idea: Paint Your Entire Kitchen the Same
Keeping your kitchen one color is the simplest way to paint your kitchen
cabinets, and probably the least time consuming (other than just painting motifs
2nd Idea: Paint the Frames and Cabinet Sides, But Order New
You don't have to go through all the work of painting your
entire kitchen. An actually better alternative is to just paint your
frames, and cabinet boxes if needed, then purchase thermofoil doors.
You can link to our
Unfinished Wood Kitchen Cabinets Page
information on how to do this.
The photo at right is of kitchen cabinets we built and installed for a
local daycare center. The doors are white thermofoil. We just
painted the frames using a white lacquer, and left the ends their natural,
unfinished, white thermal melamine, 5/8" thick.
In brief, here are some simple tips and ideas for
painting kitchen cabinets if you are going this route with thermofoil doors:
- Paint your cabinet boxes and frames white (or
another color of your choice).
- Purchase Thermofoil doors from a reputable company.
- You can get other colors than white, but be sure to
match door and paint colors.
- Doors other than white may be considered custom from
where you are getting them, and may be cost more than white.
- If you are purchasing new kitchen cabinets from a custom cabinet shop, or
your local home center, check to see if they can order your ends white so you
all you'll have to paint are the frames.
- Make sure you know beforehand, what quality of white
exterior the sides/ends will be. If they are a high quality, white,
thermal melamine, that's great. You won't have to paint the sides.
If they are a low-quality 1/4 particle board, you might want to ask if
anything else is available, or you may end up painting the ends anyway, or
even re-enforcing them (like adding a 1/2" sheeting material).
- You can add a painted wainscoting on your cabinet
ends for a different look.
3rd Idea: Leave your fronts (door and drawers)
wood, but paint the frames and boxes, or tack painted wainscoting to the sides.
One of several ideas for painting kitchen cabinets is to stain and finish your wooden doors, drawers, and/or frames, but then
add a painted wainscoting to the sides of the cabinets. It will give your
kitchen a nice contrast, and a cottage kitchen look.
You can always mix painted wood with stained in a kitchen.
There are several ways to do this and variations. One is, if you have open cabinets, bases or uppers, you can line the interior of
these open areas with the painted wainscoting as well.
The photo at right is of a birch kitchen. The family who owns this
home purchased their kitchen from us, a custom cabinet shop, but saved a lot of
money in the finishing (over $1,500). They painted their kitchen frames
white, but then were going to stain and finish their doors and top trim.
The photo shows the work in progress, before the doors were stained and
finished, but it gives you the general idea.
When we built these cabinets, this idea and other ideas for painting kitchen
cabinets came from the customer. This is a good example of the customer
letting their cabinet maker know exactly what they want, and of it working out
well and saving them money. Don't ever be afraid to let your cabinet maker
or home center salesperson know what you want. If they won't listen, find
a different cabinet maker or place to purchase your cabinetry!
The photo at right is of a shaker style table that utilizes the same
basic concept of keeping your doors and drawers a natural wood color, but then
painting the frames and sides. It looks great.
Variations of these ideas for painting kitchen
- Staining and finishing the wainscoting so it matches the
doors and drawers. This means everything will look like stained wood
than paint, but doing this adds a nice texture to your kitchen cabinets if you
like the stained look.
- You can also just paint your entire kitchen white
(including the doors, drawer fronts, and frames), but add wainscoting to the
ends. This gives a very country cottage kitchen feel and is a really
nice idea for painting kitchen cabinets, like the photo at right.
Doesn't it look terrific?
- You can paint your cabinets white, but then add a
white or off-white wainscoting in your backsplash
area like the photo below, right. This also lends a very country cottage
kitchen look, and is terrific.
- If your cabinet finish isn't in bad shape, another
easy thing to do is to take a door or two off your upper kitchen cabinets,
then paint the interior of that cabinet (wall paper it, or tack up
wainscoting). With little effort, you have an entirely refreshed
This is really a form of painting, and I think is one of the neater ideas for
painting kitchen cabinets.
You put a light coat of flat,
usually oil-based paint on your kitchen cabinets. Let it dry slightly,
then wipe it off before it completely dries.
This allows the paint to seep into the grain, but not as much on the surface,
leaving a "white washed" or "pickled" effect on your kitchen cabinets.
The photo at right is of lightly pickled cabinetry.
Notice, because it is light, you definitely see the color of the oak come
Depending on the wood you use (for example, birch or maple would
pickle more uniformly) you can get quite a variation. Do test by staining on
several scrap pieces of wood before you decide how you want to proceed.
This will help ensure you like your results.
Purchase a pickling stain, then stain and finish your kitchen cabinets like
you normally would. See our page
How to Stain Kitchen Cabinets and
Cabinet Finishes for more information about
these ideas for painting kitchen cabinets.
Real World Experience:
When we owned and operated our custom cabinet shop, we
built and installed a pickled kitchen for a customer. It would have looked
beautiful, but . . . She had painted two of her kitchen walls bright, I mean
Wall color is definitely something to keep in mind when
you paint your kitchen cabinets. If you paint them, they will reflect back
to you the color of your walls.
MORE IDEAS FOR PAINTING KITCHEN CABINETS:
- Paint your kitchen cabinets one color (frames and
boxes), and the doors and drawers a different color.
- Rag, feather, or sponge paint your kitchen cabinets
like you would a wall. Paint your kitchen cabinets one color first,
then, after drying, going back and sponging, etc., with a different color.
- Get a stencil that you like, such as leaves or
vines. Clean your cabinets well (see our
Cleaning Wood Kitchen Cabinets page).
Paint your motif onto your cabinets. A neat idea is to paint the same
motif on your ceiling (say a few leaves) if leaves are what you are using for
your kitchen motif. If you are using a vine motif, you could work that
into the backsplash area, the ends of the cabinets, or a wall as well.
- If you would like to try your hand at the Norwegian
art of rosemaling, that could
very well work into your kitchen decor, although you will probably want to
simply stencil some rosemaling, rather than trying to paint the entire
cabinet! The photo at right is of a rosemaling type stencil.
Below is some true rosemaling work, on a cabinet door, then an entire cabinet
rosemaled. True rosemaling may prove to be too
time consuming for an entire kitchen, unless you are really devoted, and
probably willing to take a class!!
Enjoy these ideas for painting kitchen cabinets. . .
And remember - Have a Happy Kitchen!!!
Return from Ideas for Painting Kitchen Cabinets to Kitchen Cabinet Finishing.
OTHER RELATED SITES:
cabinet finishes with links to further finish sites.
Cleaning Wood Kitchen Cabinets
easiest way to clean wood kitchen cabinets, and some things to keep in mind when
you are cleaning.
How to Stain Kitchen Cabinets
step-by-step how to.
Kitchen Cabinet Finishing and Refinishing
Do your homework before you finish or refinish and you'll have an easy
time of it.
Repaint Your Kitchen Cabinets
Unfinished Pine Kitchen Cabinets
Ideas on how to finish your unfinished pine kitchen cabinets: clear-coat, stain,
how-to's, painting, and rustic oak as a substitute.
Unfinished Wood Kitchen Cabinets
How you can
save money by purchasing unfinished wood kitchen cabinets, and ideas on how to