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Bathroom Refresh Part 1: Painting Cabinets

Nick and I are extremely not DIY people but we dove into a weekend cabinet-painting project, lived to tell the tale and now think we’re Chip and Joanna Gaines.

While we’re lucky that the house we bought back in May was completely updated before we moved in, it was completely updated in a style that is entirely not my own — brown granite counters, dark wood and some kind of fake stone tile. EVERYWHERE.

I was feeling a little discouraged that the only way to get the lighter cabinets I wanted would be to rip everything out and start anew, which definitely isn’t in the budget (and would be major overkill considering everything is brand new).

So I decided to see if painting would be an option instead. But I had two major questions:

(1) If I could get the cabinets to a color I preferred, would they clash with the existing countertops? And…

(2) How the hell do you paint cabinets?

Before

I stalked Pinterest for inspiration that would accommodate our existing countertops.

This color palette gave me hope that grey would be bright enough to lighten up the space while still meshing with the counters we have now.

via Pinterest

From there, I went on an obsessive hunt for the right grey, which required at least three trips to Lowe’s and a near meltdown before selecting Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray.

It’s at least two shades darker than our already grey walls and looked gorgeous alongside our counters. I also love that its coordinating colors include a blue-green hue that I tend to default to in my limited decorating experience and that was also part of the original inspiration palette I pulled from Pinterest.

We were in business.

So that’s all well and good but… How the hell do you paint cabinets?

There are a million and one tutorials on how to paint cabinets on the great world wide web. I went with this one from Bless’er House. It seemed straight forward enough and almost identical to the project I wanted to tackle.

We decided to start with our tiny half bath to test two things:

(1) Do we like the color scheme we picked enough to do it on the other two bathrooms and the entire 26-cabinet kitchen? And…

(2) Can we do this without completely losing our minds?

In short, yes, we love the color and, no, we didn’t lose our minds. But we got close.

While painting cabinets isn’t a particularly difficult project, it’s a tedious and precise one — a combo I don’t handle well at all. There’s a lot of down time in between coats and I was always concerned that one more stroke would either make it perfect or completely destroy the whole thing.

What I learned is that it’s really not all that dramatic and will work itself out, even for a first timer (assuming you at least try to adhere to the steps and techniques).

For paint, I used Valspar Reserve semi-gloss interior in Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray.

For hardware, I found a 10-pack of 5-star brushed brass T-bar handles [affiliate link] for $16.99 and was sold. I LOVE THEM.

We’re super happy with the finished product. I’d still like to rip out the mirror and add a subway tile backsplash, round mirror and new brass faucet, but we at least know we like this direction and are going to keep moving forward.

Next up: We’ve decided to test our new skills (and new painting gear) on our two larger bathrooms before tackling the kitchen. Nick thinks we can do it ourselves. I vote we hire it out to a pro. Stay tuned.


As this was our first time doing a project like this, I’m avoiding any step-by-step tutorials here. You can find much more qualified guides literally anywhere on the internet. I used this tutorial for our project.

But to recap on our design selections, we went with:

Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray in Valspar Reserve interior semi-gloss

Brushed brass T-bar handles, 10-pack from Amazon [affiliate link]

We spent $100 on supplies but much of that is reusable for future projects (brushes, rollers, tape, etc.) and we have enough paint left over for another bathroom. So I’d call this project alone less than a $50 investment.

One Comment

  1. TaMo TaMo

    Stunning! Love it, come do my powder room.

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