How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets: A DIY project with a big impact

How to paint kitchen cabinets | A DIY project with big impact |

In this post we’re covering how we took on repainting our melamine kitchen cabinets ourselves. With a little elbow grease, this is one low-cost DIY project with a big impact!

We wanted to freshen up our outdated beige melamine kitchen cabinets, and went through the usual round of options:

  • Entirely new cabinets?  Too expensive – and really not worth the hassle, since we wanted to keep the exact same kitchen layout.
  • Reface the cabinet doors?  We had it priced out and it was too expensive as well.
  • Make new doors ourselves?  Too much work.

They were not warped or damaged, just really…  dingy and boring.  So quite simply, we decided to paint them in a crisp white and update them with some new hardware.

Here’s what we learned:  sometimes the smallest of changes can have a big impact.

* * *

So here’s how we did it:

Here’s the Before.  I’m snoring just looking at this.


 1.  Remove all the doors & hinges


Mr. ZenShmen hard at work!



Corral all the bits and pieces together and make your life easier


2.  Wash the doors with TSP.

Available in any big box store.

We didn’t really think this step was necessary…  The doors looked pretty clean.  We were wrong.


The invisible grime that lived on our doors.  Eww.


3.  Whip out the paint supplies and get cracking.

  • Paint the doors.
We rolled them.  We recommend you do this outside.  Conveniently, I don’t have a photo of us rolling them – sorry about that!  Next time, however, we will spray them with our air gun.
We used a glossy white paint for kitchens & bathrooms.  You’ll want something that stands up to a good scrubbing, is easy to wash, and will survive exposure to water.
  • Paint the cabinet boxes.

We did not paint the insides because the beige was liveable.  But we did need to paint all the fronts and sides.

These were done by hand, with brushes (in the nooks) and rollers (on flat surfaces).

A hobbit is painting my kitchen!  No wait, that’s me.

4.  Install hardware.

We opted for knobs on the upper cabinets, and handles on the bottom.  The knob kits we got at Target (they have great deals) had different styles in the same color & finish, so we chose two that work together.


We installed our hardware 2″ in and 2″ up from the corners.
Making holes for the knobs.

Note: if you already have holes from previous hardware, you’re not stuck having to reuse the same ones.  Just fill them with wood filler, sand them and paint over them.  Then you have a clean slate to change your shape, size or style of hardware.


Nice knobs.  Haha.


Side Project Alert:

We shortened two doors to build a microwave nook!  We needed More Counter Space, so we got crafty.  Click on the link to check out how we did it.

More Counter Space

You can see the nook here:


The insides of our cupboards are usually VERY orderly.  Ahem.


The new microwave nook gives us way more counter space.


5.  Re-Install the doors.



 A closer look…

These drawer handles look like bamboo, in a dark brown finish


I heart them.

We put them horizontally on the drawers and vertically on the doors.


Knobs on the upper cabinets

Side Note:

We had an empty wall on the other side of the kitchen that DESPERATELY needed some storage options, mainly a food pantry.
Having updated everything in white made it simple to buy stock cabinets at Home Depot and have them blend in.


This wall needs to step it up and become useful.


Installing and securing the new stock cabinets


Using books and boxes to hold up the cabinet while we secure it!


The Final Result:

Our kitchen cabinets After the paint job.  Crisp, fresh and new.  Everything seems brighter and cleaner.

We love our kitchen!




If you’re curious about these pretty & easy-maintenance floors, check out Our New DIY Flooring.

Oh, and those big, beefy crown moldings?  One of our favorite hacks.  Steal it from our post, 5 Easy DIY Molding Tricks.

5 Easy DIY Molding Tricks

Hope these ideas have inspired you for your home!

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Val Lonergan is the founder of, where she shares happiness hacks for purposeful people. To get the ZenShmen cheatsheet to jumpstart your joy - 10 easy things you can do right this minute to hack your way to increased happiness - join the free newsletter.
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