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Monday, February 24, 2014

Painting the Old Kitchen Cabinets to Match Kraftmaid Canvas Color

Don't you love our newly painted cream cabinets? They didn't always look this good. We inherited a kitchen that was recently renovated but it was... meh. Just enough had been done to it to allow a seller to list a home as "renovated with granite counter tops", but very little design sensibility went into choosing the fixtures and colors.

Our birch-look cabinets are yellow not mellow

Everything was beige. Fixtures were cheap plastic, painted "chrome" and already peeling. And those short cabinets had so much air space above, it was clear that someone was skimping on the budget.

Proof positive that beiges do not always match
We may renovate this kitchen one day, possibly opening that wall to the living room, so we're not going to spend a lot of money on it right now — when we have a full-scale gut renovation going on in the bathroom that's seriously eating into the Renov8or budget.

This doesn't mean that I have to live with this kitchen the way it is, though.

Much as I would love to replace the granite — I'm not a fan of granite, especially this color — that wouldn't be a wise expenditure. My plan is to try to work with it. (See Remodeling Around an Ugly Granite. ) Buy additional wall cabinets to go above the existing ones, paint all the cabinets to match, and re-do the backsplash — all in a lovely cream color that will tone down this busy granite, eliminate the problem you see here with clashing beiges.

Step 1: Add a row of glass-front wall cabinets above the existing cabinets.

Taking advantage of a Home Depot sale on Kraftmaid cabinets, I ordered 12" tall wall cabinets to go above the existing cabinets, extending the cabinetry to the ceiling and closing the enormous gap. I chose glass-front doors for two reasons. First, so that the difference in style of the existing cabinets and the new cabinets will not be so perceptible. And also because in a small, rather dark galley kitchen like this one, light will reflect off the glass making the room that much brighter.

The cabinets came in on a Friday and I hung them by myself on Saturday. This was very easy. The existing wall cabinets have already been anchored in, so all I did was position these above and screw them into their downstairs neighbors. It was a tight fit, but with the help of a few shims, I got them positioned.

Step 2: Paint the existing cabinets.

The new cabinets are a color Kraftmaid calls "Canvas" that is just slightly off-white.

Home Depot's, where I ordered them, has a paint department that can match any color if you bring a sample. It went in very early on a Saturday when the store was nearly empty and got the full attention of a guy in the paint department who went out of his way to help me get a color match, even clearing it with the store manager to carefully remove one of the Kraftmaid doors from the display unit so that he could run it through the machine that detects color.

Kraftmaid Canvas Color - a Creamy White

While he whipped up my color matched paint, I picked out an apple green paint for the kitchen walls — a Glidden color called "Spanish Olive" from the Martha Stewart paint collection. It's a yellow-based green and the "Canvas" doors are a yellow-based cream so I knew they would look great together. And the green would give us a fresh pop of color that would brighten up our narrow galley.

This Old House

Over the course of two weekends, I removed all the doors and hardware and painted one coat of primer and two coats of Canvas-matched semi gloss on the doors and frames.

If you have never painted cabinets, it's a fairly grueling job. (See: How to Paint Kitchen Cabints: Step by Step.)

You sand, then you vacuum vacuum vacuum (75% of painting is vacuuming), then you smooth tack cloth over the wood until you suck up every spec of dust, then you very carefully paint without causing drips.

There's an additive called Floetrol that you can to pour into your paint to thin it out, which does help prevent drips. But it also slows down your drying time, so I didn't use it for this project.

You have to sand and vacuum between every coat. Sanding makes the paint adhere well and gives a nice smooth finish, with brush marks fading in.

My sweat paid off. After waiting a week to allow the new paint to "cure", I rehung all the doors and screwed in the hardware — and the kitchen already looked a thousand times better.

You would never know the upper cabinets with the glass doors are from a completely different line of cabinetry than the lower cabinets. And I think the "Canvas" color looks great with the white appliances.

Next up, new backsplash. See Tiling Over a Backsplash with Subway Tile. Oh, yes you can tile over tile.

For the full kitchen reveal, see: Our White Kitchen Makeover for Under $3,000.