A month ago Carla and her husband Evan hit us up for some suggestions to take their wood-on-wood kitchen to new heights. They wanted something vibrant, polished and a lot younger and fresher, so we tossed out a slew of ideas (painting the cabinets & chairs white while the table goes black to echo the backsplash, bringing in pops of fresh green with dramatic curtains and other accessories, adding a round jute rug under the table for texture, etc). Then we sat back and anxiously awaited the after pictures…. and they actually came pretty quickly! Here’s their letter:
We couldn’t wait to send the kitchen after pictures to you just one short month after our consultation. All we can say is WOW!!!! We honestly cannot believe the transformation- it’s like a brand new kitchen and we freaking L.O.V.E. it!!!! As you can see, we took a lot of your advice and I was able to talk my hubby into painting the table, chairs and cabinets- I think he’s still in shock! He was very apprehensive, as you know, but my smooth talking, good looks (haha) and the fact that I promised to do most of the work myself (even took a day off of work, thank you very much!) got him to love it AND help out too! We still cannot believe how different it all is. WOW! And all for around $800 (including primer, paint, curtains, rugs and every last plant, pot, accessory, and dishtowel). It was so great to be able to do this project with you and the best part is that we feel like we’re really making this house our home! You guys are an inspiration– keep doing what you’re doing! -Carla & Evan
Here are the before pictures for your viewing pleasure:
And the jawdropping afters thanks to some paint and a slew of accessories:
Is that not an amazing makeover? We love how much lighter and more cheerful the room is (we’ve said it a hundred times, but paint and curtains really can completely transform a space). We’re so glad that we convinced Carla- and Carla convinced her understandably nervous hubby- that painting those cabinets along with the table & chairs was the way to go (before the room was one big tan-on-tan blur, even the floor blended with the cabinets which blended with the blinds and the kitchen table). Plus tying the table into their sleek backsplash (with a dash of black paint) really added cohesion and updated what was once a country piece into something you’d find at Pottery Barn. And aren’t those punchy green curtains and that round jute rug the icing on the cake? We can’t get enough of ’em.
Oh an here’s a source list from Carla and Evan:
- Paint for cabinets: chairs/cabinets- Valspar’s Ultra White, table- Olympic Black Magic, walls- Benjamin Moore Ashen Tan (you were so on the money w/ those colors)
- 3 Curtain Panels: Crate & Barrel (thank you for suggesting 3- it makes all the difference!)
- Table & Chairs: free! (painted black & white at your suggestion)
- White Placemat on Table: Pottery Barn
- Blowfish Fruit Bowl: Anthropology (seriously, isn’t this awesome!?)
- The “M” in the window: Urban Outfitters (painted black)
- FAB Round Jute Rug: Pottery Barn (LOVE it!)
- Coral: Pottery Barn (every room needs a piece of sea life, right Nate Berkus?!)
- Dishtowels: Crate & Barrel
- Rug at stove: Crate & Barrel
Fabulous job guys! We love that you went all the way and the transformation is seriously stunning. We especially appreciate this makeover because it’s a great reminder that “new” kitchens don’t always have to call for major demolition and mucho moolah. Let’s play one of my favorite games: whats-your-favorite-thing? I’m on the fence between that amazing jute rug and those lively and lovely curtains. Yummy.
Update: We sadly can no longer find the time to take on client commissioned mood boards (we now whip up general inspiration boards instead) but if we ever reinstate them we’ll make a big announcement!
Carla and Youngsters-
This is so imspirational I have the exact same wood cabinets, a quartz countertop, and the same dishwasher. I have been thinking about painting the cabinets, but havent had the confidence to do it. Now I have seen how beautiful it can be! I love your new kitchen. I am off to buy some Valspar Paint. Will any type of primer do? Please advise and enjiy your new space! It is stunning.
Carla and Evan used oil-based Kilz primer and followed our little cabinet painting tutorial right here. They also used our furniture painting tutorial to transform their table. Hope it helps! Happy painting…
Wow! I love before/after photos! I had to scroll up to make sure it was the same space. It’s gorgeous! Great job!
This is fantastic! We have very similar wood cabinets, and just yesterday I finally mentioned to my husband that I want to paint them. This makeover is exactly what I need to convince him that this is the way to go. And maybe I can even get a tiled backsplash out of the deal too. :-)
Looks FABULOUS. Great job everyone!
I love the bright punch of green! The jute rug is fantastic too. My husband and recently bought a house and I needed (wanted) a natural looking rug for under a black pedistal table we purchased at potterybarn outlet for our kitchen. I needed it in specific measurements and ended up having one custom cut and bound to my measurements in sisel from a nearby carpet store for only $200. It looks perfect, fits perfect, and I love that we used an “eco” material!
Did you use one large curtain rod or is it two small. If one big, what size and where did u purchase it?
love the makeover! have contemplated painting my light wood kitchen cabinets – this will give me more food for thought. really like the draperie panels, but am wondering about the height at which they are hung? what are your thoughts?
Good question about the curtain height. In many rooms that have transom windows, the choice must be made whether to hang a curtain rod above both sets of windows or between them. Either solution is acceptable and can look lovely, as is the case with Carla and Evan’s room. It’s really just a personal choice, and taking a few things into consideration (like the length of the curtains you love) can help you figure out what will work best for you. Hope it helps!
Sami Jenkins says
Fantastic pictures — and thanks for posting the source list! What a lovely kitchen. (And I see you have the same black wood words “Cucina” and “Family” that Katie from ABR has!)
I didn’t even notice that they had such beautiful countertops until it was painted. Looks amazing!
I mean, W-O-W! What a huge difference! It’s so peppy and bright! And the dining area looks much more grounded and cohesive with the round rug and coordinating colors. Great job as usual, Youngsters!
WOW! That room looks great. I love the green curtains. I close on my new house in 11 days and can’t wait to get started on my kitchen. First thing to go is the carpet…..yes I said carpet!
heather s. says
It looks great! I love the punches of green but am trying to decide if I like the panel in the middle of the windows. The jute rug is amazing – I may just look for one for my round table!
This is amazing! Can you do this to darker cabinets? My dark kitchen is driving me crazy!
Dark cabinets take perfectly to white paint as long as you use a coat of oil-based primer first to get them nice and ready first. Hope it helps! Happy painting…
Wow- I absolutely love the new kitchen! I think the cabinets look amazing and really pop against the grey countertops. And I’m loving the bright green- looks great next to the black cabinet. Great job!
I love it, it looks really fresh and modern. The green against the white looks amazing and I really like the letters above the door. I’m guessing it says family and that’s a lovely touch.
that is AMAZING. love it!
This transformation is AMAZING! I just IM’d my husband about painting our hand-me-down dining room set from 70’s solid maple to glossy black.
Question: For some reason, my grandma had a very thin layer of formica veneer put on top of the table, and it can’t be removed. Is it possible to gently sand formica and prime it, the way you would do to a glossy paint finish? Thanks!
Hmm, formica is always tricky and you should know off the bat that you won’t have as durable of a finish as painted wood (your finish might last three years instead of ten without nicks and scratches) but painting it is still an excellent way to update something instead of putting it in a landfill! A gentle sanding (with 100 grit sandpaper) followed by a coat of oil-based primer and two thin and even coats of latex paint should do the trick. Hope it helps!
Wow, what a great transformation! The “after” kitchen looks so fresh and lively.
Thank you all so much for your wonderful compliments! It is a HUGE difference and we cannot thank Sherry & John enough for their advice! If you’re looking to spruce up your place with some paint, I definitely recommend doing all the convincing you can… when everything is said and done, your honey will give you a big old smooch, cook dinner and apologize for ever doubting you in the first place!
We actually used 1 curtain rod – Levolor 48-84 inch Rod Set in Nickel (to match the hardware on the cabinets) from Home Depot. Our windows (plus the space between them) across is roughly 80 inches and this rod works perfectly!
Hope this helps!
About laminate refinishing, here’s what worked for me:
If you have an old steam iron you can try to heat the laminate – to soften the cement & remove it. You will then need to use something like a lacquer thinner to remove the old contact cement with paper towels, old rags and some scrapers (This will be the the messiest part & take the longest.) Remove a much of the cement as possible, because the next step is to use a belt sander with an old coarse belt to remove last bits of contact cement.
Thanks so much Sherry! I feel a weekend project coming on… :)
Delightful Dwelling says
I really need to jump on the white cabinet bandwagon and get painting. Mine are almost the same color as the before picture.
We’re currently painting our cabinets white too! But I wish I had read your tutorial beforehand because we used foam rollers (Jan from Home Depot had said that foam rollers give it the smoothest finish) and there were bubbles. However, we just sanded it after the primer cured and its smooth as a baby’s bottom now. We’re currently about to lay on the latex paint. What kind of brush/roller would you recommend using for that part? Also, I had read online that water-based polyurethane can cause the paint to discolor over time. Is that true?
Priscilla- There are definitely different schools of thought on a lot of things but we happen to prefer high quality wool or polyester rollers (never foam, which we’ve found to cause bubbles just as you have). Wool or polyester rollers can be grabbed at places like Home Depot or Lowe’s (we like the brand Prudy) and you can always ask the paint professionals there for their opinions if you’re stuck.
As for water-based polyurethane causing paint to discolor or yellow over time, it’s actually true. In fact our 50-year old wood floors were yellowed from layers and layers of the stuff that was slapped on every decade and when they were sanded down only then did we see how lovely they were without the crazy orange-yellow cast. It’s also true with furniture but poly is a great form of protection (especially on pieces like Carla’s table which needs to be durable and wipe-able) so we suggest two very very (operative word) thin and even coats of Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in “Clear Gloss” which we have used many times ourselves with zero yellow in our finish since we use it very thinly (like a glaze) and let it dry fully between our two super thin (there’s that word again) coats. Hope it helps!
Sarah- This is another question where people have lots of varying opinions. I personally think you should paint your cabinets first since they’re the bigger job, and that way if you then paint the walls (protecting the freshly painted cabinets with tape if you need to) and don’t like how that color works with the cabinets, it’s much easier to alter (as opposed to changing the color of the cabinets which can take a lot longer and make you want to cry for hours). It’s actually really simple in either order (using blue painters tape to block things off is foolproof and if you’re good enough with an angled brush you might not even need to). Hope it helps!
I have a chicken/egg question: Is it better to paint the walls first, or the cabinets? I realize you take off the cabinets to paint, but the frame is still there… Just wondering which is easiest!
W.O.W.! It’s beautiful!
I want white cabinets now!
Has anyone tried staining cabinets white instead of painting?
Just wondering because I have little ones running around who would likely chip the paint. It would be nice if I wouldn’t have to repaint every couple years!
you didn’t even notice the great counter tops before the white cabinets. great job, guys!
THAT IS AMAZING! Perhaps the best kitchen re-do inspired by you all.
stunning! your cabinets really had great bones, but i hate the standard oak cabinets that everyone puts in too- they didnt do your awesome backsplash and countertops justice… but now they look fabulous! the youngsters are so smart :)
and i love the pop of green in the curtains! it really livens up the whole space!
my mom and dad have a similar country style matchy-matchy dining table and chairs… now i will try to convince them to paint the set black/white like you have. awesome!
we close on our first home in a week and i wish i could just paint our cabinets… but they have rounded square doors- they don’t cover the frame of the cabinets (i’ve never seen anything like them- they’re pretty ugly) and we want to install 42″ uppers and a pantry so were going to have to go with new cabinets… that will be one of our first projects with our tax credit money!
Thanks for the link to this, Sherry — if you didn’t notice in the picture, the before looks almost exactly like my kitchen. In addition to dining room table painting… I may have to paint my kitchen!
I, too, am digging that awesome rug.
Is this considered your “quickie” design advice? If so, are you still doing these? I don’t see the option on the design advice page for purchase.
Great job Carla!
If only there were more hours in the day! Unfortunately we’re just too overbooked to take on quickie design projects at the moment (we have even had to put our mood board orders on hold to make time to write posts and organize giveaways and otherwise keep the site running) but we hope to find the time to take them on again someday. Hopefully soon! And of course we’ll make an announcement on the blog when and if we do. Stay tuned…
We’ve received more than a few panicked emails about our “having to put mood board orders on hold” statement (a few comments above) so we feel the need to clarify. We are by no means cutting them out completely, we’re just limiting ourselves from taking on 6-8 custom mood boards per week to 3… which is still plenty of eye candy and fun to share with all of you lovely readers! So fear not that our mood boards will go the way of the dinosaur or the dodo- we just can’t sustain a gaggle of them per week when they take over 5 hours each (don’t do the math, it’ll make you head spin!). But rest assured that three per week still buys us time to write two posts a day, organize giveaways, answer email questions and comments, etc. Plus it’s still one every other day or so… which is pretty darn good for those of you who look forward to them most! Hope the extra explanation helps- we certainly didn’t mean to scare anyone!
Sherry (& John)
Great makeover! It’s hard to pick my fav, but I do love the jute rug and the “M” in the window. I like that it’s a little unexpected. Also, wow!, at the cabinets. Paint makes such a difference.
I think this might have helped me decide to paint my chairs white since I already painted the table black. I’ve been going back and forth about it. I want to replace them all, but it’s going to have to wait.
Wow. What a transformation! I really like the contrast between the dark table and light chairs. Fit into the space perfectly!
We have similar oak cabinets that I’m itching to paint, but I’ve been thinking about doing the reverse color scheme: tan on the cabinets, and a creamy white on the walls. My reasons: our laminate counters are white, and we have 3 small children who leave grimy fingerprints everywhere they go. I’m having trouble finding a photo of such a color scheme to use as an inspiration piece. Any reason white cabinets are a better choice? We really want to tone down the country vibe we have now, complete with floral wallpaper and brass hardware.
When we painted our cabinets before we could afford to redo the kitchen (click here for a visual) we went with a tan color on the cabs and then brought in a light creamy color on the walls. It’s definitely a combination that can work, but white cabinets are just so airy and iconic these days (they’re classic and timeless and match everything) which is probably why it’s hard to find pictures of tan ones with white walls! Hope it helps…
That is amazing! Carla, great job on the execution. It is amazing what some simple changes and some elbow grease will do. I am SO impressed :)
Wow, these look great! I will definitely be ‘suggesting’ to DH that we paint our wood cabinets. We built the house in 1986 so we have the oak cabinets that everyone put in then. Since then we have put in the black granite countertops and with our wood floors it just looks too dark. I think the painted cabinets will be just the look to brighten up the room! Now I just need to convince my husband, the wood-meister. Maybe I’ll start with the bathroom…
Anna See says
I ADORE this kitchen! I appreciated seeing a new kitchen, because as much as I want to paint my cabinets white, I’m terrified b/c my cabinets are new. They are top of the line birch cabinets with a dark, rich stain. It would be so much easier to take the plunge if they were older or cheap. Any suggestions for pushing me over the edge????
BTW, that countertop looks WONDERFUL with the new cabinet color.
Hey Anna See,
There are definitely a lot of things to consider when it comes to painting your cabinets. Do you like them the way they are (but just happen to think Carla’s look nice too?)- if that’s the case you might want to think twice about repainting, but if they bother you on a daily basis it seems silly to live with something you don’t like that can so easily and cheaply be fixed, right? It’s sort of like buying a super expensive dress that makes you look terrible and then making yourself wear it to get your money’s worth when you have a perfectly lovely cheap dress that does you way more favors sitting in the closet.
That being said, of course you have to think about how long you’ll be in the house. If you’ll be selling next year it might come back to bite you if buyers want birch in a rich dark stain (which may or may not be the case, you never know). We have never heard of anyone regretting their crisp new white cabinets, but you want to be completely sure before you take a paint brush you yours! Hope it helps…
My favorite thing is that I did not even notice the black subway tile backsplash until the redo. It’s amazing what some paint can draw attention to. I”m glad it’s achieving it’s full potential now! Thank you Melissa!
Thanks for the visual! I do like the white cabinets better–maybe I can paint the wood trim around the edge of the laminate countertop black to add some contrast. Thanks for all your great ideas!
Absolutely fabulous! That is my new dream kitchen
I’m curious about the message board on the side of the cabinet that houses the fridge, over the trash can. Is it stainless? Magnetic? I’ve been looking for something like this. Any details?
I too have wood cabinets I don’t like a whole lot, although they’re in fine condition. But we have wood floors, and I once heard Nate on Oprah (and Sherry, I know how you love Nate) say that if you’re going to mix paint and wood, you should go with cream paint, not white. What’s your take on that, and do you have any photos of white cabinets next to a wood floor? I also have nasty cream-colored countertops, and I’m not sure how the white would look with those, either.
You know I love Nate but I have to sweetly and respectfully disagree. Our cabinets are as white as snow and our floors are a nice mocha brown and they look delicious together (you can see a pic in our House Tour page). But maybe Nate was talking about a room with wood trim around the windows and a wood mantel instead of white trim? In that case I wholeheartedly agree that white paint on the wall is wayyy too stark and cream or sandy tones work a lot more beautifully with natural wood trim and detailing. As for your kitchen, I wouldn’t suggest painting your cabinets stark white if you have cream countertops and instead would encourage you to choose a very light cream tone (ideally a few shades lighter than the counters) for a cohesive and soft look that’s warm and inviting instead of cool vs. warm. Hope it helps!
Beautiful and very inspiring… Thanks for sharing!
This makeover is right out of the park because anyone can make this happen.
I love the “M” propped in the window frame. Get rid of that garbage can and I’ll think I died and went to heaven. I hate unsightly garbage can’s. I wonder if I’m the only one. I have a small kitchen and still found a way to insert a smaller can under the sink. I do have to empty the trash more often but my kitchen never stinks from garbage and no one has to see my trash can. Even nice expensive ones are still trash bins. I think this is probably akin to those that like to hide the TV away too.
Our floor tile in the kitchen is bright and shiny white. I was worried that painting our dated kitchen cabinets white would create too much “whiteness”. Do you think white kitchen cabinets will work with white shiny tile floor?
Good question! We intentionally brought in rich wood flooring when we decided to go with white cabinets for our kitchen because white tile plus white cabinets can be stark and cold instead of warm and welcoming. In your case I would suggest choosing a softer and friendlier tone for the cabinets over stark white (maybe a moody soft gray or a sandy tan- even a gentle mossy green). Hope it helps!
We have those delightful builder grade oak cabinets too and painting them is on our to do list … anyway I’ve been wondering if people paint the insides too? What are your thoughts on this?
That’s really up to you. We’ve seen people painstakingly paint the insides of each and every cabinet while others just leave them their natural wood tone and only paint the fronts. Either way works, it just depends how thorough you want to be! Of course you can really have some fun and paint the insides soft green or blue or pink or any other pop of color for an unexpected surprise every time you open the doors. That would totally make me smile…
I painted our kitchen cabinets white when we bought our house, it made the kitchen so light and airy! I reallllllly want to paint our kitchen table but my hubs won’t let it happen – he thinks the table top will be easily scratched?
Anyway – The kitchen looks GREAT!!! Good Job!
Sorry Sherry (& John), I needed to comment/brag about your awesome message board suggestion!
Lindsay – the message board was the icing on the cake if you ask me. Having that divider thingy all white would have looked very blah sooo Sherry & John suggested covering cork board ($5 at Target) with fabric (we chose that punchy green color for only $12/yard at a local Fabric Store) to bring it all together. My heart skips beats every time I see it! Pictures and messages have never looked so good and they are a lot neater there then on the side of the fridge. We added a dry erase board a couple days later just to be even more organized!
Oh and the trash can is a bit of an eyesore, we know, but we do use fewer bags per month – that’s good, right? I think once we can actually customize our kitchen in the future, a hidden trash can will definitely be something to have! Thanks for the great idea, Kristy!
Thanks again to everyone for the ooo’s and ahh’s – We are totally beaming!
Carla (& Evan)
Shucks Carla, we’re beaming too. We’re so glad you’re so in love with your “new” kitchen and we’re equally excited for everyone who you’ve inspired and motivated to follow your lead and pick up a paint brush! Happy DIYing to one and all!
Sherry (& John)
Thanks for the suggestion Sherry – I think a colorful surprise inside the cabinets would be fab!
Wow that looks a hundred times better! Love what she did. Amazing what a little paint can do.
Sam & Jacci says
Wow!!! What a lovely room! :) You know, I’ve been going back and forth on whether to paint our wood table & chairs after we finish our cabinets (no, we still aren’t done). I felt like all black would be too much, but all white would be sort of blah since there’s already so much white with the cabinets (in theory – not yet). Now *this* kitchen redo gives me something to consider. I really like the combo of the black table with the white chairs. Very fun!
On painting the inside of cabinets, isn’t there some crazy amount of time you have to wait before placing things on painted shelves? Like a month or something like that? We have a painted bookcase with black shelves and I *still* have things stick to the paint, literally years after the fact. It seems like sticky shelves are something to consider – and also the scratch factor involved with dragging plates and other dishes across the shelf surfaces. Any thoughts Dynamic Design Duo?
Good point! I think the magic combination would be to paint the backs and sides of the inside of the cabinets and then lay down fun printed contact paper or oilcloth on the bottom of each shelf for a playful dash of pattern & texture… and no worries of stick-age or scratches due to plate dragging! Hope it helps.
I love this makeover! The green is amazing. We’re hoping to paint our cabinets white and change out some hardware this summer, so this has been really inspiring.
I’ve been looking back through the archives to try and find the mood board for this one. It’s hard for me to visualize mood boards into real rooms, and so I just wanted to compare the two and see an actual mood board come to life. Is there one that I’m just missing somewhere?
This makeover was actually a private phone consultation with Carla so I’m afraid we just suggested things over the phone and sent her links of products to help guide her (but never actually created a mood board on the blog). Hope it helps!