I started the cabinet project (sort of)

I’m painting my kitchen cabinets this summer, and I’ll take you along for the ride by posting updates as I go through the process. And at the end, I’ll do a big ol’ how-to post, sharing what worked (and what didn’t!).

Before I could start on the project of painting the cabinets, I decided to tackle my kitchen ceiling. When we moved into this house, there was a lot of cigarette smoke damage, so all of the walls and ceilings and floors had to be sealed and painted.

And somehow, in the hubbub of doing that and moving (and me being pregnant with Zoe and very sick), the kitchen ceiling never quite got a really good paint job. It was sort of splotchy, which you can see in this photo.

(sorry about how dark it is…it was the only way I could get the ceiling variations to show up!)


Anyway, it made sense to paint the ceiling before the cabinets, because that way, if I got any paint on the cabinets, it wouldn’t matter at all.

I taped off the walls and the tops of the cabinets, using up some cheap painters tape on the cabinets, since it’s not all that important to keep paint off of cabinets that are going to be painted.


I also taped around the ceiling fan and took the fan blades off, which was an excellent decision. It was so much easier to work up there without the blades being in the way.


The fan looked so funny without the blades…kind of like how a semi truck looks odd with no trailer on it.

This provided me with an excellent opportunity to clean the top side of the blades, which had a good six years of greasy build-up on them.


I had dusted them, for the record, but not all that often, and I know I hadn’t actually cleaned them since the fan was installed.

During the process I remembered why I hate ceiling work so much….paint splatters all over you, it’s noticeably hotter up there, and you have to work really hard to keep the floor clean (I used a tarp on the floor and a drop cloth to protect the counters.)


But I got the painting done in an afternoon, and that included cleaning the fan blades.

And I’m really happy that I tackled this, because the ceiling really does look so much newer and cleaner now.


Up next: cabinet paint testing and color picking.

I do believe I’m actually going to get this done before summer’s end. Yay!

P.S. In case you wanted to know, I use Behr flat white ceiling paint from Home Depot, and I use a roller for the main parts of the ceiling and a brush for the edges. The green tape, is called Frog Tape, and it’s totally awesome and worth the extra money when clean lines are important.
Joshua’s 365 post: More Underwater Pictures


  1. Kris says

    Great job! The blog theletteredcottage.com has been doing a series of what-if ideas for their kitchen, complete with different scenarios, which is fun to look at. It might be helpful for cabinet painting ideas (I believe they also have tutorials on this).

  2. says

    You are brave to start a kitchen cabinet painting project. I wanted to paint all of our creme kitchen cabinets “country white” a couple months ago…everyone told me how difficult it is and not worth it (since creme is so close to country white.) I walked away totally discouraged. Yet…I still want to paint them. I’d like to know how yours turn out!

    • Kristen says

      I’m not gonna lie-I’m a little nervous about what I’ve taken on.

      However, I’ve started a cabinet and a drawer at this point, so there’s no going back. I have to press on. =P

      • Battra92 says

        What color did you decide on for the kitchen cabinets? I think you had mentioned white but I don’t recall.

        Are you going to paper the inside of the drawers and cabinets at the same time?

        • Kristen says

          I think I’ve decided on a slightly off-white color.

          And I’m leaving the insides of the cabinets as-is. Maybe down the road if I feel super inspired, I’ll paint the insides, but for now, I’ll be doing well to get the outsides done!

  3. Barbara says

    Another idea to keep in mind – you can spray paint those ceiling fan blades. You may like what you have, but when I moved in, I had the faux wood look on both sides of the blades. I don’t like the faux wood look, so hubs painted the blades a light tan. Looks nice and the fan seems to blend in better – less intrusive in small rooms.

    • Kristen says

      Yes, I do actually like my fan blades. The side that shows is black…the wood-grained side was actually the top side, which isn’t visible.

      I totally painted the old fan in Zoe’s room, though…it had horrible gold hardware and I just spray-painted that puppy right up. So much better.

  4. Emily M says

    OMG, you have officially kicked me in the tush to paint my kitchen ceiling too! I installed some new lighting in recent years and the disparities in paint between the various fixtures shows in rings of different colors of white. It bothers me probably more than it should a normal non-neurotic human, but I can’t help it, he he!

  5. Patti says

    Hi Kristen,

    I had my cabinets painted last summer by a professional painter (I am a very bad painter). She highly recommended an oil based paint for the durability and ease of cleaning. I painted them a medium gray. They look great and have not chipped. I did paint my bathroom vanity years ago and used a latex paint. It started chipping where my ring hit the top of the door. Good luck!


  6. Yvonne says

    Awesome. You will not regret this! I do agree with Patti. Use oil based paint. I used the Rustoleum Cabinet Kit and while they do look great two of my heavily used cabinets are peeling off and it’s very annoying. I used oil based paint on my Kitchen table and that thing gets scrubbed several times daily and still looks like new.

  7. grannyL says

    I have used oil based paint on cupboards and didn’t like it. I found that it chipped as bad as latex. Also, if you use white oil base paint, it yellows. What I like is a paint from Sherwin Williams that is for doors and trim. I have used it for it’s usual purpose and also for furniture and it holds up very well, and cleans up so much easier than oil based paint. Just my two cents worth.

  8. says

    Love Behr paint even though I have to drive 45 minutes to the nearest Home Depot I will only purchase Behr paint. When we renovated 3 homes I had plenty of chances to try out various paints and Behr was the best hands down. Can’t wait to see the cupboards.

  9. HeatherS says

    Can’t wait to see how this goes. We have been discussing painting our cabinets for years and I think we will finally tackle it this fall. I have always thought I would go white but saw a pic of a kitchen with black cabinets and I really liked it. So now I am giving myself till fall to rethink the color before I start.

    • Kristen says

      I like black too, but I have black appliances and my kitchen is pretty small, and so I had to give up that idea. It would have made the room too dark and cramped-feeling.

      But I think black cabinets are GREAT in some kitchens.

      Just not mine.


  10. says

    We are doing the same thing right now! We are doing the whole kitchen, cabinets, countertops, backsplash and paint! We are using the Rustoleum cabinet transformation kit. My husband just finished all the cabinets and they look fantastic!!! We went from white to dark brown (Espresso). We are also going to be using the paint method for our countertops; to give the illusion of granite and we are in the process now of doing the tile backsplash and the walls have already been painted this past weekend. It is so exciting!!! :) Hopefully I can post before and after pics on my blog; if I can ever find the time (that’s a whole different story; I’m typing this comment quickly before I have to get ready and rush off to work!!!!)

  11. says

    I am definitely looking forward to following along on this project. I have been thinking about painting out cabinets for years and have been scared to take the plunge. There is no going back once I start!! My 1960’s kitchen certainly does need an update and it isn’t in our funds to remodel for a number of years so painting sounded like a good option!

    Good luck!!!
    Jen C@livinginwbl.com

    • Stephanie says

      Do you have to clean the ceiling before painting? I hit the cabinets and appliances with a degreaser/cleaner periodically, and I imagine there’s some, uh, uncleanliness on the ceiling as well.

    • Stephanie says

      Do you have to clean the ceiling before painting? And if so, how?

      I hit the cabinets and appliances with a degreaser/cleaner periodically, and I imagine there’s some, uh, uncleanliness on the ceiling as well.

  12. Tabitha says

    I second Frog Tape! I’ve used lots of others, and Frog Tape is the only one to reliably give me clean lines. Spend the extra few cents – it is completely worth your sanity!

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