Why You Should Consider This Simple — And Affordable — DIY Project Now

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One of the upsides of being indoors this often is getting a chance to tackle home projects that are long overdue. And while some are best left to the pros, simpler tasks may be possible to do all on your own — plus you'll save some money in the process. One of the most accessible yet dramatic improvements you can make is painting your kitchen cabinets, but according to interior design experts, there are some things you should know before going full DIY-mode on this one.

You've cleaned, organized your drawers and closets, and moved furniture around a half-dozen ways to create the perfect feng shui, and now it's time to do something that creates even more of a visual impact. And that's exactly what painting your cabinets can offer. "A sad kitchen can be brought to life with a fresh coat of paint," says Jade Joyner, co-founder and principal designer of Metal + Petal. "Plus, painting your cabinets is the perfect project to keep your mind and hands busy, and is very affordable if you do it yourself." Additionally, this is a great option for those that can't go the open shelves route but still want to give their kitchen a freshened-up feel.

But just because this is a project that's easier to do than some more heavy-lifting ones, that doesn't mean that things can't also go horribly wrong. First, if you're renting, make sure you've gotten the OK from your landlord (some might even be willing to reimburse you for the costs!). Once that's squared away, there are a few suggestions that designers believe will make things go a whole lot smoother — and give you even more bang for your buck.


Before you simply slap on a coat of paint, designer Kate Lester of Kate Lester Interiors encourages starting with a few preparations, including removing the doors, cleaning out the cabinets, patching/filling holes, sanding, and priming your surface. "Always remember that prepping is half the battle," she says. "Invest a ton of time and energy in properly prepping, and your painting process will be so much more enjoyable."

Once you've properly prepped, it's time to apply the color — but which one? What shade your cabinets should be is a personal decision, so there aren't any hard and fast rules, but the experts have a few recommendations for mostly foolproof ones. The first and perhaps most obvious favorite is white, which gives any space an instantly bright, clean feeling. "For a neutral kitchen, I am currently into classic white," says Joyner. "Something with a tad bit of cream in it — not so white-white."

If you want something a touch less bright, with a little more hue, go with Lester's suggestion and grab a taupe-y gray. "I just painted all of the interior doors in my own home Hazy Skies by Benjamin Moore and it’s absolutely gorgeous," she shares. "Not too taupe, not too gray — a really sophisticated choice that made a huge impact!"

You don't have to rule out deeper, bolder options, either. "If you are ready for a little more pop, Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore is always a favorite at our studio," Lester says. "A true, classic navy, it looks beautiful in a kitchen and adds a chic, moody vibe to any bathroom." And then, of course, there's always black, which Joyner is personally loving at the moment. "For a dramatic color — I am using this in a kitchen currently — I love Sherwin Williams' Tricorn Black because it's a true black," she explains.

Something else to consider when you're purchasing your paint: The age-old question of finish. Matte? Semi-gloss? Satin? According to the pros, it depends on the color you've picked. "If I go dark in a kitchen, I have a tendency to go matte as well" Joyner says. "If I go light or neutral in a kitchen, I use more sheen. And if I am going for a bold color, I tend to reign in the sheen and go a bit more matte." For Lester, a satin finish is always a good go-to for cabinetry. "It’s just enough sheen to make it easy to clean, but is more sophisticated than a semi-gloss," she offers.

And for a final step that will make the project really pop? Spring for some brand new hardware and bulbs for a perfect finishing touch. "Replacing hardware with something that is atypical is always a pick-me-up," explains Joyner. "I get a lot of [mine] from Anthropologie because they have very unusual pulls and knobs that tickle my fancy. While you're there, consider changing out your contractor-grade lights for something a little more elevated. It will make all the difference!"

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