Kitchen Update: Choosing a Cabinet Color

January 2018 Update: We’ve since moved from this home after selling it about a year after this post. We never did paint the whole kitchen, but the cabinets we did paint held up beautifully and helped us sell the house for top dollar. We love our new home and I’ve written about it extensively, including posts about our paint choices, white kitchen and lucite cabinet hardware, lighting selections, and other DIY and home decor adventures

I’ve been undergoing a kitchen renovation/facelift since August 2015! Catch up on the progress by reading post one, two or three.

Welcome to post #4 of my kitchen renovation! I haven’t updated you all with any progress since we really hadn’t made any since August. We are so slow when it comes to renovations.

This holiday break, we finally made some strides in the kitchen reno, and I’m excited to show you the progress. Here’s a peek (there’s more about the cabinets further down in the post).

These gray kitchen cabinets are amazing! This DIY tutorial teaches you how to transform kitchen or bathroom cabinets with milk paint, which requires no sanding or priming.

Let’s start with this uber gorg light fixture that we chose for our breakfast nook/eat-in kitchen area. I ended up choosing the fixture I mentioned in post #2, and I have ZERO regrets. The hubby put it up one day all by himself while I was at work, and he said it was a piece of cake.

Nerisa Chandelier Overstock

I think it instantly classes up the whole space and it adds just the right amount of light. We also have nine (yes, nine!) recessed lights in the kitchen. You can also see that we’ve primed over the original dusty aqua paint color. I loved the blue/teal paint color originally, but now I want a more sophisticated color and finish.  We also removed that floating IKEA table and replaced it with another IKEA table that I’ll show you in a future update.

Nerisa Chandelier Overstock

And now moving onto the most major decision of all…the paint color for the cabinets. I decided against the java (I know, I know…don’t hate me!) because I think it’d be too dark for our kitchen. I wanted a bright, cheery, airy kitchen, but didn’t want white cabinets. I wanted something a bit unique, still on the timeless side, and something that will be good for resell.

The folks at General Finishes were kind enough to send me some samples of their ah-may-zing milk paint in the snow white color and seagull gray color.

These gray kitchen cabinets are amazing! This DIY tutorial teaches you how to transform kitchen or bathroom cabinets with milk paint, which requires no sanding or priming.

I used a paint brush to paint some of each color on the extra cabinet door we had. I read another blogger’s review where she said there wasn’t any brush strokes, but I definitely had brush strokes. So, I switched to this foam brush, and I had flawless, factory finish results. You can still see the wood grain though, which I expected. 

After seeing both paints on the door, it was clear to me that seagull gray was perfect. It’s not too dark, it’s not your normal white, and I think it would appeal to most buyers once that time comes.

This DIY tutorial teaches you how to transform kitchen or bathroom cabinets with milk paint, which requires no sanding or priming. The results are gorgeous!

After two coats, my cabinet door looks amazing! I didn’t sand, didn’t prime…I literally just slapped the paint on with a foam brush, waited for it to dry about half an hour, and slapped on another coat. Once I start painting the actual cabinets, I will clean them thoroughly with this super amazing deglosser and seal them with my most favorite satin poly for good measure.

This DIY tutorial teaches you how to transform kitchen or bathroom cabinets with milk paint, which requires no sanding or priming. The results are gorgeous!

How to Transform Your Kitchen Cabinets With Milk Paint

Supplies:
Milk paint (I chose this gorgeous gray) I recommend the gallon size for kitchens and quart for bathrooms.
Foam brush (different sizes helps for beveled doors)
Sanding block* (see step 2)
Deglosser
Satin poly

Directions:

  1. Clean your cabinets thoroughly with a deglosser. I love this one and had great results when I used it for both my espresso DIY cabinets and the milk paint ones. It really cuts through the grime.
  2. If your cabinets aren’t smooth, a light sanding is probably a good idea. I recommend this specific type of sanding block if your cabinets have bevels like mine do.
  3. Once they’re dry, get ready for paint. Milk paint is very, very thick, so stir it well before applying to make it easier to work with. 
  4. Using a foam brush, paint on thin coats in the same direction as the grain. Let the paint dry about 30-60 minutes before moving on to the next coat. Three coats should give you ample coverage. Let dry for about 48 hours (or 24 hours in non-humid conditions) before moving onto sealing. These will help you paint twice as fast by allowing you to paint both sides of the cabinet on the same day.
  5. Seal with a high quality satin poly or semi-gloss poly if you want a more shiny finish. I’d recommend two coats of sealer for kitchen cabinets and one for bathroom cabinets.
  6. Let the sealer fully cure for about 48 hours before adding hardware. 

And that’s my update! We’ll be painting the walls and ceilings this weekend, and I’ll show you all a sneak peek of that later this month. Then I’ll start prepping for painting the cabinets.
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37 Comments

  1. Designitgirl
    January 8, 2016 / 4:58 am

    So far its looking beautiful. Lots of and removing any form of textured ceiling is even more work. I removed the popcorn in the Laundry room, now to do the Hallway. Looking forward to the reveal. Little by little. PS I have a Brady bunch kitchen.

  2. Carrie Meitzler
    January 8, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    As always Monica great job. Thanks for being transparent about the many indecisive moments in decorating. You give us courage to go with what we love, not just what is trendy. Years ago I went with a blue and white kitchen, totally out of sync with trends at the time and totally me. Guess what, 27 years later I still have blue and white, it has gone in and out of fashion, I have tossed in different accent colors over the years (peach, rose, grey, turquoise to freshen it up) and I still love it.Since I did your General Finishes transformation in my powder room I am a huge fan of stain over crappy wood. That said the grey milk paint is lovely. If I didn't love my cherry GF I would paint them with that in a heart beat. You use your kitchen every day, it should make you smile every day and be exactly what you love. It has been 5 years since I did a kitchen remodel and I still get a thrill when I walk in. PS Shout out to your hubby for helping in all of the transformations and to you for being an appreciative wife. If we all were as thankful for the help we get as DIYers, we wouldn't be so overwhelmed with the process and would get more done.

  3. Stephanie -Casa Watkins
    January 17, 2016 / 11:38 pm

    WOW This is coming along beautifully. I can't wait to see the final kitchen.

  4. newwmee
    February 2, 2016 / 4:08 pm

    What did you use to apply the milk paint (brush,roller,foam roller,sponge)? I ask because I don't see any brush strokes. Awesome job! Thank you.

    • Monica Benavidez
      February 2, 2016 / 4:16 pm

      Hi there! It states that in the post: "I used a paint brush to paint some of each color on the extra cabinet door we had. I read another blogger's review where she said there wasn't any brush strokes, but I definitely had brush strokes. So, I switched to a cheap foam brush, and I had flawless, factory finish results. You can still see the wood grain though, which I expected."Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  5. kim nelson
    February 8, 2016 / 2:09 am

    Where did you get the beautiful chandelier?

    • Monica Benavidez
      February 8, 2016 / 2:35 am

      Hi Kim! The link to the chandelier is in the post right above the first photo of it. Hope that helps!

  6. Emily Sadler
    February 29, 2016 / 5:39 pm

    HI Monica, couple questions for you; did you use a sealer after painting the cabinets? Did you use the same seagull gray on the cabinets and doors? Was there enough in 1 quart or did you need more? Also did you use a top coat on these? And how about the desealer you spoke about, what kind did you use? Thanks for your help!

    • Monica Benavidez
      February 29, 2016 / 5:49 pm

      Hi Emily! I haven't painted all my cabinets yet because we're finishing up some other projects first. All the cabinets will be seagull gray. I'd likely order a gallon's worth of the paint because I have a ton of cabinets. I'll be using the General Finishes flat topcoat (two coats worth) to seal them and I'll degloss them with the Rustoleum/Zinnser paint deglosser found at any home improvement store. Hope that helps!

  7. Emily Sadler
    February 29, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    Thank you! I followed your DIY directions for my bathroom cabinets and they turned out great! I still have a quart of the satin poly top coat left, do you think I could use that in the kitchen as well or would you recommend the flat topcoat?

    • Monica Benavidez
      February 29, 2016 / 6:55 pm

      If you like the satin finish, I'd use what you have on hand already. I personally want a more matte/flat finish, so I am opting for the flat topcoat. It's truly a matter of preference, but you can't go wrong as long as it's a General Finishes product. 🙂 I really love their stuff- it's high quality and durable.

  8. Silk Road Pearls
    March 2, 2016 / 1:52 am

    Great post. I thought the issue with painting without sanding first was that it would peel. Since you've done this so recently I'm assuming you haven't seen any issues yet – keep us posted on the follow up!

  9. Connie Hale
    March 7, 2016 / 9:05 am

    I am thinking of painting my cabinets white, or seagull gray like you did, but I want a gloss finish. Does milk paint come in gloss or will I need to put some type of varnish finish on afterwards. Was hoping to avoid that step because I'm afraid it will yellow.

    • Monica Benavidez
      March 14, 2016 / 9:50 pm

      You should seal it with a topcoat- those come in a variety of finishes, such as gloss. Happy painting! 🙂

  10. Jessica L
    March 11, 2016 / 10:24 pm

    Any updated pictures? I am looking to paint my cabinets and I love the seagull grey color but I'm not sure what color to have my walls?

    • Monica Benavidez
      March 14, 2016 / 9:49 pm

      I posted my breakfast nook reveal which shows the color we used on the walls. I agree it's tricky to pick a paint color with the seagull gray color which is why I opted for a white color. Still haven't painted the cabinets though due to other projects I have to wrap up.

  11. Unknown
    March 14, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    Where did you get the light fixture? Is this from Overstock?

    • Monica Benavidez
      March 14, 2016 / 9:48 pm

      Yes, it is from Overstock as stated in the post. Have a great day! 🙂

  12. Cathy Wells
    March 15, 2016 / 8:47 pm

    Monica I am dying over your old finial. Do you remember where you got it or who the maker is?

    • Monica Benavidez
      March 15, 2016 / 8:49 pm

      Hi Cathy! The finial is from a cheap cafe curtain rod I bought over at Walmart many years ago. There are lots of similar acrylic/glass knobs on eBay that might work for you. Hope this helps!

  13. julie @ a hopeful hood
    March 19, 2016 / 6:47 pm

    Hey! I found your blog through Pinterest, and your renovation is awesome!! You mentioned that the wood grain still showed through…did it still show through after the 2 coats of paint and sealer?

  14. KolourfulKate
    March 31, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    Hi Monica – I am dying to see the finished project – is there any way to put all your kitchen remodel updates in one section? I think i missed a step or two and I love your taste and style. I have boring old oak cabinets and am awaiting to see your reveal 🙂 Please post as soon as you can! (PS- my bathroom vanity turned out awesome like you said it would!)

  15. Val
    July 3, 2016 / 8:56 am

    Hi, is milk paint the same as our (Annie Sloan) chalk paint? I'm planning on painting my units and was thinking of chalk paint as it doesn't need any preparation of the doors. but it is recommended that a wax rub is applied to give a nice finish, I'd appreciate your opinion. Thank u

  16. Nassim
    July 23, 2016 / 3:35 pm

    Hi Monica,Did you have to wash and use deglosser prior to painting? With Rustoleum kit I had to, and it was Not easy some areas the paint didn't take I had to actually sand.

  17. Kathryn
    July 27, 2016 / 3:07 am

    When you painted your kitchen cupboards was the frame of the cupboards laminate or are they all wood. If there is some laminate how did you paint those? Looks great.

    • Phoebe
      September 21, 2018 / 12:54 pm

      Did you ever get an answer or figure this our for yourself? I have the same issue, some wood, some laminate

  18. Unknown
    December 17, 2016 / 1:05 am

    Ok I have a question. Did you use both the seagull gray AND the snow white? If so which one went on 1st?

  19. Nichole Develey
    January 19, 2017 / 4:34 pm

    What type of Deglosser do. You recommend? We are going to do this to our 90s outdated kitchen cabinets.

  20. Stacy Capello
    January 25, 2017 / 6:14 am

    Hello, Are you using the deglosser on your cabinets before you paint them?

  21. Ashley Fontes
    January 26, 2017 / 3:55 am

    I have water damage on my cabinets will this process still work? Or will I have to sand?

  22. IdiditMyWay
    February 7, 2017 / 1:29 am

    Hi there Monica looks great , have you ever thought of Spray Gun makes a fine finish

  23. Echo Gray
    September 22, 2017 / 2:14 am

    Can I use milk paint over the paint already on my cabinet?

    • Monica Benavidez
      October 9, 2017 / 9:21 pm

      Yes, it should work just fine. I'd do a light sanding first for a smooth finish.

  24. Irene
    October 9, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    Hi, I'm super new to any sort of home remodel. Would you use the deglosser first or do you think it would be okay just cleaning thoroughly with TSP or something like that?

    • Monica Benavidez
      October 9, 2017 / 9:22 pm

      Personally, these cabinets weren't super shiny. Some TSP and some elbow grease would suffice for 90% of cabinets, in my non-expert opinion. If you feel your cabinets are high gloss, a deglosser may be a good idea.

  25. Unknown
    February 17, 2018 / 9:11 pm

    Hello Monica,My wife is on a roll to re-decorate! Yeehoo…not! 🙂 Anyway, I've seen a couple of post indicating the use of a foam brush. I would have expected some issues with air bubbles. You indicated a flawless finish, but I have to ask whether you experienced any small bubbles during application?

  26. Neal Kadlec
    March 29, 2018 / 5:53 pm

    Monica:This is a question. I sawed-off a step-up snack bar around our sink and countertop isle and capped it off. I have already had granite counters installed and I plumbed-in a deep, 1/3erd divided, stainless sink. My kitchen is crying for my finishing touches. The only thing that is stopping me is sanding dust! When I cut-off our snack bar I got a dose of severe dust and dirt! I have an open concept kitchen/family room/dining room/and living room with 11.5' ceilings! Sanding even by hand will spread dust and dirt everyware! Any ideas? My only idea is to build a light stud wall from the top of my granite counter tops to the ceiling and staple plastic over the studs. I don't know what kitchen remodelers do but I will not be able to cope with all the sanding dust and mess in everything! What is stopping me is just building the walls to contain the dust and dirt! Maybe I should just 'build the walls' unless you have a better idea. Also, if I build the walls, I will spray my cabinets!

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