Would you like to transform a dark kitchen into a more up-to-date one? Then modernize your out-of-date cabinets by applying a few coats of paint, changing out the hardware, and accenting the crevices with a glaze. They’ll go from drab and dreary to stunning and stylish and earn you rave reviews.

Yes, it takes a lot of work; but it is worth it! A quick, fast, easy way to transform your cabinets is to paint them with two or more coats of a water-base chalk paint and then rub on a coat of dark wax to highlight and seal the surface. Most designers and paint professionals would prefer you paint wood cabinets with an oil-based alkyd finish. Sure, it’s a lot more time consuming, but it yields a much harder, stronger finish than chalk paint.

If you paint with an oil-based finish, use the correct primer so your cabinets won’t chip. Don’t skip the prep work. Clean the surfaces to be painted with Goo Gone wipes, then lightly sandpaper them using a mouse sander or sanding block to protect your hands. Wipe any sanding dust off the surface with a tack cloth, then prime, paint and lightly sand again ... then re-wipe with a tack cloth before applying the final paint coat. If you’ve been counting, that’s three coats: one primer and two finish coats. D.I.Y. guys and gals, plan on this project taking more time than you think.

To get a long-lasting finish you’ll want to use the right primer. Every paint store and home decorating center will have multiple primers, so take a cabinet door with you to be sure you get the correct primer and finish coat for your paint job. FYI, I prefer using an alkyd-oil finish over an appropriate primer. However, most times a latex, water-based stain-blocking sealer will be sufficient. If you’re painting knotty pine cabinets or a more “oily” wood, you must use an oil-based primer in lieu of a water-based sealers; otherwise the knots in the wood will bleed through the primer and mar the top coat of paint.

To get a professional looking finish, use a paint additive, which will help your paint dry smooth and reduce paintbrush marks. Don’t paint your doors or drawer fronts where they hang. Remove them and paint them while they’re flat in a dust-free area. After removing all hinges, pulls and handles, prime and paint the cabinet frames, using quality masking tape to protect your floors, walls, backsplashes and ceilings. And for heaven’s sake, apply thin coats of paint, not thick coats, as thick paint will take forever to dry, leaving ridges, lumps and a weird orange peel-like cratering effect.

To get a designer-inspired look, apply a glaze over your finish coat, one that will hang in the crevices and add depth to your cabinetry. If your existing hardware is still great, but simply the wrong color, then remove, clean and then spray the pieces with a Rust-oleum metallic finish. If not, change out old cabinet hinges, pulls and handles with something a little more fashionable. You’ll find the best and most fashionable selections at a local cabinet company; you’ll find a fairly wide range to choose from at a big home decorating center; and you’ll find a smaller, but extremely reasonable priced selection at your local hardware store. You’ll want your new hardware to match the predrilled holes in your cabinet doors or drawers, so buy pulls that have the same center-to-center distance as your old pulls.

Send me a before and after picture of your kitchen remodel to show off your work. If you need help selecting the right color, text email or call me.

Live well – live in beauty!

STEPHEN THOMPSON creates tasteful interiors in north Mississippi. For consultations, comments, or questions contact Designer Connection, P.O. Box 361, Tupelo, MS 38802.

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