Kitchen Cabinet Make-over October 03 2015, 0 Comments

This summer I had the pleasure of completing 4, (yes 4!!) kitchen cabinet make-overs. The one I am going to share with you was not only my favorite, but was also the biggest challenge.  

One of my clients was looking to do a quick kitchen makeover.  This particular client had the cutest little home and her design style was already very chic so I knew this would be a fun project.  Check out the before!

The plan was to choose colors that would match her current decor, but also to add some style into her kitchen space.  Given that there were a lot of gray and black shades, we wanted to follow that theme. In addition, she was looking at lighter flooring and a white back splash so we wanted some colors that would help everything flow together.

She decided on Lillian Grey for the top cabinets and Garfield Grey for the bottom, both with Black ReVax to add some addition depth and dimension.  Now on the the fun part - getting these cabinets painted!

Supplies that I used:

  • Magic Erasers
  • Sandpaper
  • Vinegar
  • Sponge / ClingOn! Brushes
  • Shabby Paint Products:  Lillian Grey, Garfield Grey, Varnish, Black ReVax, Licorice, Alamo White, Varnish

To start, all the cabinets were removed and labeled - so we knew exactly where they would go as we put them back on. This is an important step, because you don't want to get your doors mixed up.  Be sure to label the door and the base part of the cabinet with a number. I usually use painters tape to label.  Next, the hardware was removed.  Just sit the hardware inside the cabinet, again to ensure that you are matching everything back up once you get ready to put the doors back on. 

The next step is to clean and this is probably one of the most important steps.  If you get anything out of this post and you are preparing to re-do your cabinets, make sure you clean them well.  You would not believe how much build up there is on cabinets and it is so important to get this off, so the paint will adhere.  There are a few ways in which you can clean the doors, drawers and cabinet base.  I generally start with magic erasers and do a quick scrub to get the dirt and grime off.  The next thing I do is take a heavy grit sand paper and do a quick scruff - when I say quick I literally mean less than a minute per door. I am just looking to give a tiny bit of texture to allow the paint to sink it's teeth into the wood.  Using sandpaper is not required, it is just a step that I do to ensure that I am getting the last of the grime off as well as creating a surface that will better allow the paint to adhere.  If you are painting a very smooth surface, I would strongly recommend sanding.  Next I do a wipe down with a warm 50/50 vinegar and water solution, to remove the sawdust.  Lastly I do a quick wipe with water.  I know that sounds like a lot, but really it is a quick process to get your cabinets ready to go!

Now, it's time to paint!  I usually lay out a blanket and top with my doors.  If you have a table or another large space, feel free to use that.  It is totally up to you were you would like to paint :).

I started by doing the base coat - Lillian Grey on the top doors and then Garfield Grey on the bottom doors.  After I had the right amount of coats, I used about 2 coats on each doors, I turned over and completed the backs.  For my projects I always paint the front and back of the doors - again that is preference and/or what your client requests.  

After the paint was dry, I started with the top coat.  For each door I did one coat of Shabby Paints Varnish and applied with a round blue sponge (most stylists carry these).  When that was dried, I started on to the next step for this particular project, which was adding the top layer that would give the doors some depth and dimension. The next step is not a required step, as you may just want one base color.   In a bowl I put in a bit of licorice, Alamo, Lillian Grey, Black ReVax, Varnish and Garfield Grey.  Into the bowl I would dip my sponge in the different products and apply to the doors.  I then took a brush to help smooth out the product, so it would blend in.  This process is truly trial and error to help you achieve the look you are going for.  Note: pictures below are from another project, but I wanted to give you an idea of what I was speaking of - for this project I was heavier on the Black ReVax :). Less is more here, work up to the dimension you are looking for. 

Here are what the doors looked like when I was finished with the top coat:

The next step is to clean the base of the cabinets and the drawers.  Following the same process that was done with the doors.  I then proceeded to paint the base and drawers, applied a coat of varnish and then the top coat process.  

Once all the painting was done and the top coat was in-line with how I wanted it to look, I let everything dry for at least 24 hours.  Then I added a final coat of Varnish with a sponge.  

Next we put back on the doors - wow!  It was such a transformation.  But, in this particular kitchen the garfield grey cabinets were pulling blue and my client wanted the bottom cabinets to be more of a dark grey.  Here is where the versatility of Shabby Paint Products comes in!  I took some licorice and mixed in a little water, Black ReVax and Varnish.  I went over the bottom cabinets, base and drawers - giving a dark wash.  Voila!  Perfect :-)  I also finished with a final coat of varnish to ensure we had maximum protection. 

Here is the final cabinet transformation.


Ok, I know this is a long post, so let me recap!

  1. Remove doors and hardware, then number or mark so they go back to the same spot
  2. Prep your pieces (clean!!!!)
  3. Paint the cabinets (use your favorite Shabby Paint color(s)
  4. Protect with a layer of Varnish or Vax (Varnish is more shiny, where Vax is matte)
  5. Apply any decorative finish to give dimension or depth (wash, ReVax, etc...) - again, not required
  6. Add a final layer or two of Varnish or Vax for ultimate protection
  7. Put everything back together and enjoy your new kitchen!!

Quick Tips: 

  • minimum two layers of Vax or Vanish and no more than two coats in a 24 hour period
  • Give time for your cabinets to cure, a few days before closing the doors - humidity will be a factor here so make sure they are no longer tacky before you shut the doors and drawers
  • In this post I shared the step on adding the ReVax and using other products to get the desired dimension, but don't let that step scare you!  It is not a required step, it is just what we did for this project. More times then none, I am just painting a solid color and protecting!!
  • get felt or plastic protectors to put inside your doors and drawers, so the paint does not sit on top of each other.  There are some nice ones through Amazon 
  • Order online at and for any questions as you begin your cabinet transformation!