Now, We Wait…

Ok, so we completed the door-painting process a few days ago (picture us doing the droopiest super-tired happy dance that you’ve ever seen) and we’re now into the “waiting game” portion of the cabinet painting process. But we couldn’t wait to share all the photos of everything both during the painting-process and now that they’re all glossy and finished, so here ya go:

We used Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint in Cloud Cover in a satin finish (it’s a soft tonal taupey-gray color, so it’s not quite as bright as our glacier white counters for a subtle layered look). Benjamin Moore Advance paint (in the satin finish) actually came recommended by a few pro cabinet painters that we know. We used it on our office cabinets a few months back (which still look mint after Clara has beat on them relentlessly with wooden toys) so it’s safe to say that we’ve been extremely happy with it. The fact that it’s low-VOC, self-leveling, and amazingly durable is pretty much the cabinet paint trifecta.

Just like we did for the office cabinets, we applied it with a high quality 2″ angled brush to get into all the cracks and a small foam roller to smooth everything out and ensure that we were applying super thin and even coats. As for applying any sealer or topcoat, the general pro recommendation for cabinet painting is to use high quality stain blocking primer and 2-3 thin and even coats of super high quality paint with ample drying time between coats (Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint is meant for cabinets without any top coat, since sealers can drip, yellow, and even cause things to stick/crack since they thicken the application). We’ll be back with a video on Wednesday to share more actual application details/tips along with the big full monty reveal (we thought it would be helpful to share one exhaustive how-to-paint-cabinets-post with a detailed tutorial, application video, and the after pics all in one spot).

Using high quality primer and good self-leveling paint helps hide a lot although it doesn’t guarantee 100% invisible grain (we don’t see any evidence of grain on the oak cabinets in the office but do see a hint of it on the kitchen cabinets, so it probably just depends how much grain your cabinets have to begin with). We don’t mind painted wood that looks like painted wood though, so a little grain is ok with us, as long as the paint is nice and even and glossy.

For those wondering how those few retrofitted doors that we whipped up are doing with primer and paint (more on that process here), some of them are completely seamless (the two corner cabinet doors might even stump a detective) while a few others are a tad less than perfect. By this I mean if you look at them from an inch away for five minutes (bobbing your head back and forth to catch the light bouncing off of them) two out of ten people might notice a tiny seam. See the über light horizontal seam on the door with the arrow in this pic below?

Yeah, me either. Haha. It’s nearly invisible and impossible to photograph. But once we hang them all we’ll take some close up pics for ya. Even in person it’s so subtle that we can’t decide if it’s worth doing anything about (thankfully at least two of the five doors are seamless, so we’re leaving those for sure). We’ll keep you posted if we decide to sand the other three one more time and use some sort of buildable primer and a few more coats of paint to hopefully make them as perfect as the two corner cabinet ones).

We’re psyched to have two perfect ones among the group because it gives us faith that if we want to be super type-A about things, we can probably get all of them to look that good with a little more work (if none of them worked out we’d bag it and go with Plan B). All in all I’d say we’re really happy about being able to work with our existing cabinets to save some major loot (thereby making other upgrades like new appliances, cork floors, new counters, new backsplash tile, and a big opening into the dining room possible).

So for $40 in paint (ya know we used a $10 off coupon, haha) and $22 in primer, we’re beyond overjoyed at the new layout and the lighter look! Painting cabinets is right up there with painting wood paneling or dark brick – we think it’s one of the biggest bangs for your buck. It’s amazing what 60 bucks can get ya. Well, 60 bucks and a week of puttying, sanding, deglossing, priming, painting, and waiting not-so-patiently to put everything back together.

Oh and we primed and painted the outside of the frames and the front and back of the doors while leaving the inside of the cabinets oak. This way we can toss things in there and pull them out without worrying about scratching or peeling paint. We also like the two-toned effect of clean paint with wood interiors (we did that in our old kitchen and in our office built-in cabinets and really love the surprise of natural wood when you open the door).

Of course the room’s still pretty white-washed since the rich cork floors aren’t in yet, but we’ll get there eventually. And now for a bunch more random doorless pics. This is fun because you can spy on all of our kitchen items like my pretty blue cassarole dish:

This shot makes me long for our backsplash tile to go up (after we hang our cabinet doors and add hardware it’s next on the agenda!).

Yes, our tree is still up. I always hate taking down my glowy happy friend.

It’s so light and airy in here now… except for that terrible bisque dishwasher. Egads. Can’t wait to install the new one (after we lay the new flooring so it can run under it).

These two views (the one above and below) are a lesser seen angle (taken from the office doorway). I still do that “ahh!” thing when I walk in that way because I keep picturing the dark old kitchen that used to be there.

You know, the one that looked like this (although John didn’t always stand on the counter like that).

I like it a lot better now.

And once we add the 12″ deep floating shelves and a range hood over the stove, things like the sink window will look a lot more balanced (there will be 14″ of space on either side of it):

We’ll be back with an entire cabinet-painting tutorial complete with a detailed video and lots after photos on Wednesday when things are finally cured enough to hang the doors and add hardware. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, even typing that is more thrilling than I should admit. I’m off to watch paint dry. Literally. Ok, and write more book stuff. There’s nothing like an entire-manuscript deadline of the 4th to get the year off to a ca-razy start! But just like fiiiinally finishing our painted cabinets, handing in our huge 260+ page beast of a book should feel pretty darn good! Then we just have to shoot 100 secret photos/projects in our house over the next two months. Ah chaos, come on in and get comfortable. I hope you don’t mind an in-progress kitchen…

Psst- In case you were off caroling and cavorting, here’s a roundup of all the posts that you may have missed over the “holiday break”:

  • Our ribbon-rific holiday card (here)
  • A whole lotta cabinet puttying and sanding (here)
  • Making some 2012 resolutions (here)
  • Priming our pants off (here)
  • A superlative-riddled December recap (here)

Glad to have ya back!


  1. says

    Your kitchen is going to look huuuuge! I mean, it’s already pretty big, but the old cabinets really made it feel smaller.

    Excited for Wednesday!

  2. says

    I have been following the progress of your kitchen and I cannot wait for the final before and after pictures! It’s such a beautiful change. I also can’t wait for your floating shelves to go in, when I’m finally in my own place it’s one of my dreams to have floating shelves in the kitchen, I have been collecting mis-matched china from Anthropologie, (plate by plate and bowl by bowl…) and they need floating shelves! Happy New Year!

  3. DONNA says

    Happy New Year! The cabinet doors look amazing!

    Just a few typos I picked up along the way…60 bucks and a week of ” putting”

    backsplash tile hang “out” cabinet doors

    there’s nothing like “a” entire-manuscript…hmm…not sure if it should be “an” ?

    So enjoyed your morning post and I can’t wait for Wednesday!

  4. Misty says

    I am IN LOVE with your new kitchen. It makes me want to paint my cabinets so bad!!! I ‘m so excited for you guys!

    • says

      No little bubbles, it definitely has a soft texture (not line-y like a paint brush) but when you apply super thin coats it sort of builds up to be exactly like a sprayed factory finish. I give all the credit to the paint- that Advance stuff is amazing!


    • says

      Hmm, maybe it’s the type of roller? Or the paint is of lesser quality? Or you’re rolling super fast so it’s riling up the paint? Or you’re applying a ton of paint (thin thin thin and even is the key). Hope it helps!


  5. Jennifer says


    SOOOOOOOO excited! I love a good before and after.

    I hope you find some time to rest… you have earned it!

  6. Rachel says

    So it sounds like you write all the projects/directions for the book, THEN do them and take pictures? What if as you’re doing them you realize something doesn’t work and the directions have to change? Or have I gotten it totally wrong? :)

    • says

      Haha, we have a few months to alter small tips and tutorials and other minute details in the book as we do each project (since some things might end up needing different approaches than we planned). We just need to provide all of the final tips and copy so they can start laying things out and we can plan all the photoshoots (since those have to be executed like magazine shoots it can be really complicated to hunt down supplies and get everything done for big shooting days). So there are some edits that can still be made, but they don’t have time to layout the whole book after the photos come in since this is a fall book, so we’re doing a lot of things at once!


  7. Jessica D. says

    What an amazing change for a little change! Wow, sorry about that horrible pun. Have you guys thought about adding shelving to the right side of the fridge? It just hit me when I looked at the 7th picture in this post. Looking great you guys!

    • says

      I actually have a plan for that space that’s not shelf related since we’ll have a lot of shelving along the stove wall. I’d love to hang a big piece of art or even a mirror there- should be fun to keep things open and make it feel more like a room!


  8. laraffinee says

    I have been waiting for your cabinet painting sequence and I am THRILLED with your documentation of the process! I have been waitng to do mine – just plain scared to start- but your really thorough step-by-step reporting is so very helpful and valuable! Thank you so much! I can actually begin the process this month.
    – a question about the coutertops: I have had coutertops (granite) waitng for months to be installed because of my cabinet painting phobia. You had new countertops installed first – no problem? What did you get- that is not granite but some kind of quartz? Is granite passé?
    Thank you for this wonderful blog!

    • says

      Granite is beautiful! We had it in our last house and really loved it. We just opted to go with white Corian for this house since we have heard it’s great (sort of like honed white marble but a lot cheaper – just $32 a square foot!). As for cabinet painting, last time we got our counters installed (in our first house) they scratched up a few of our gorgeous white cabinets during the install, so we vowed to wait to paint these until after the counters we installed so our paint job wouldn’t potentially get ruined. We have see it work either way though, so it’s your call! We just covered our counters when we painted to protect them and didn’t have any issues!


  9. Izabela says

    I just don’t know how you guys do it. For the last two months the hubby and I have been working on our little girls room, preparing for baby #2, and we are THISCLOSE to finishing, yet the closer we get, the less we do as we’re tired, and I think just overwhelmed. I do like how the cabinets turned out and cannot wait for more updates.
    Happy New Year.

    • says

      Aw, I can totally relate to feeling super tired and feeling worn out- especially when you’re prego! We just try to break things down into very small bite-sized pieces so it’s more manageable and not too overwhelming. Those little victories can keep ya going!


  10. Andrea H Ross says

    Wow it looks great. Glad to hear at least a few of the doors worked out. I was definitely one of the skeptics. I personally would think its worth it to sand them down and get it 100% right so it won’t be a touch up project later (I always hate those personally- and rarely get to them or do them as perfect as I would like).
    I can’t wait to see how the kitchen turns out! And I love that you used your cabinets you already had and even used restore for the others!

    • says

      Oh yes, we’re doing a whole new lighting plan, so we’ll add two pendants over the peninsula and can lights in the other side of the kitchen for prepping/cooking!


  11. says

    It makes me so happy to see your painted cabinets! I’m a huge fan (of you and painted cabs). I can’t see any seams in your photos so it was well worth the refab of those few. I also can’t wait to see your penny tile up! Great job so far! Happy 2012!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *