DIY Kitchen Renovations ~ Cabinets

What do you do with 20 year-old honey oak cabinets that your husband loves but you know need to be updated?

He gets cranky when you talk about painting wood.

He likes the real wood grain to show.

After several long meetings with my friend Google, I had enough ammunition to show him some options that we would both like.

I started out this whole kitchen renovation thing with making everything light. I thought we would do light counters and even lighter cabinets. I was thinking of a soft cream with a dark brown antique glaze.

Once the counters were done, I changed my mind completely. I wish I had made the countertops darker when I was using the Giani Granite paint kit. When the tile backsplash went up, I knew we needed to make the cabinets chocolate brown to pull colors from both the counter and the backsplash.

I read dozens of blogs about painting, glazing and stripping cabinets. I was searching for the least labor intensive way to give the cabinets a new look.

Here are some great tutorials that really helped us:

How to Paint & Glaze Cabinets

This was the look I originally thought we would go with.

How To: Reglaze Honey Oak
When I changed my mind about going darker, this was great to read except she sanded and I refused!

How to Paint Cabinets::For Imperfectionists
She’s speaking directly to me!

Deciding on a cross between several methods we read about and eliminating as many steps as we could, we finally agreed to create our own glaze with color kit.

Products we knew we needed:

  • Deglosser (to avoid any sanding – hate it)
  • Glaze
  • Paint (to mix with glaze)
  • Polycrylic (topcoat for glossy finish)

I saw the Valspar paint samples and got the nice Lowe’s man to mix up two chocolate samples for me which turned out to be exactly the right amount of paint we needed for $6 bucks.

We stuck with 4 parts glaze to 1 part paint and tested this on the smallest doors.

We also found that the cheap foam brushes worked much better than regular paint brushes. The brushes left brush marks and I hated that look.

Ready to Work

First, PhilBillPaul removed all the door fronts and labeled them so we could put them back in the right place.

Next, cleaning with Dollar Store degreaser.

Doing all this outside or in the garage would be great but since it’s 110 degrees in the shade here in Georgia right now, I set up the cabinet work in the family room.

Next step was wiping deglosser on with a scrubber pad so we didn’t have to sand. This was the strongest smell so PhilBillPaul did this part because smells are a real migraine trigger for me.

I came back downstairs to do the glaze painting. Only three thin glaze coats later…

And three polycrylic topcoats…

We both love the results.

Thank goodness!

He also spray painted all the old hardware with a brushed nickel finish. We can both live with them for now and may get wild and add new cabinet handles later. I’ve marked some on ebay.

Perhaps we ran out of steam and didn’t get the bottom cabinets done yet…

It’s really so you could see the dramatic difference changing the honey oak. 😉

Did I mention that I also thought it was a good time to add beadboard to the island and several end cabinet surfaces?

Again, we went the budget route and used the mdf sheets from Home Depot and I’m fine with it. PhilBillPaul said it was a pain to work with.

He knocked that out last weekend but saved the painting for me. Hopefully when we paint it and he adds the trim to the edges and bottom, we’ll like it.

Cripes, we still have to paint the walls. And eight honey oak stools and one chair.

I haven’t even mentioned the rotting kitchen window. The house may collapse before we get the inside updated.

I promise to post pictures of the complete renovation. If it is ever complete. Check back in 2012 to see if we ever get this dang project done.

Meanwhile, if you missed our other kitchen projects:

The Craigslist appliances
The countertops resurfaced
The glass tile backsplash


One year ago..

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  1. 1
    Ann says:

    Looks great!! Get ‘er done! lol

  2. 2
    Melinda says:

    So proud of you guys! You are doing an awesome job and I’m sure you are inspiring lots of folks!! Looking better and better all the time. Can’t WAIT to see the finished project.

  3. 3
    ~julie says:

    Seriously, major improvements that really would help your house sell (not that you’re going anywhere after all that work!). People aren’t doing the updating right now, so if your place has been “cared for” it really gives it an edge.

  4. 4
    Ashleigh Isaacson says:

    Dearest Sherra,

    These renovations look amazing and I think that since your kitchen will be brand new when you are done, that I deserve THREE loaves of poppyseed bread for my very prolonged wait. Thank you for your very generous cooking (in advance) 🙂

    Love, Ashleigh (your favorite)

    • 4.1
      Sherra says:

      Unfortunately the kitchen renovation is still in progress. I hope we finish before Christmas. 😉 Really, I’ll turn on the oven when the temperature dips below 80 degrees here in sweltering Georgia! Then I promise you will get your bread!

  5. 5

    Looking great so far! Do keep us posted