I have been working so hard on this kitchen and it has taken a lot of time and energy to push this thing out, but I’ve done it and I’m ready to show it off. This is what it’s all about to me; the reveal!!
When we moved into this house 2 1/2 years ago, the kitchen was builder grade oak cabinets with white appliances. I was not in love with the kitchen when we moved in, but I knew I could work with it. It’s kinda small, but has enough counter space to cook a nice meal (if I was a cook!).
It was not in our budget to replace the cabinets and they weren’t in bad shape so we decided to make do with what we have. We replaced all of the appliances right when we moved in and put in sparkling stainless steel appliances. We also added recessed lighting and pendant lights to bring in more light. Very important in a kitchen!
It was important to make the cabinets look custom made so building up to the ceiling would bring height to the kitchen and make it feel larger and also adding trim to the sides of the plain cabinets. I love white kitchens because they look crisp, clean, and bright! There is not much sunlight during the day on the East side of the house so the kitchen needed light. Hardware is like jewelry for cabinets and our cabinets didn’t have knobs or handles. Easy fix, add hardware!!
So, how do we get started? One step at a time!
First, you need to clean the cabinets really well with some kind of cleaner that takes the goo off without ruining the wood. After they’re clean, they can either be sanded to take off the poly layer or apply a gripper primer that adheres to anything. Make sure to take off the hardware!
I went with the primer because I hate sanding. But before I primed the cabinets, I decided to add trim to the sides of the cabinets and around the outside of the eat in island. You will need to get 2″ x 1/4″ pine boards and cut them to size and attach with a nail gun and trim nails. I squared in around the edges which brought dimension to each cabinet and took away the boring plain builder grade look.
A thick trim around the base of the cabinets added quite a bit of character. Choose a wall trim that is around 3-4 wide to give a bold look. There are many options to choose from at Home Depot or Menards. When finished installing the trim to the base cabinets and around the edges of each side cabinet, your cabinets should look like this.
The next step is to build up the top of the cabinets. Super excited for this part! I am so tired of the dust that collects up there! I used 2″ x 1’s to attach to the top of the cabinets and on the ceiling. This is where the MDF will attach to and close the gap. The MDF should be the same width as the cabinet width.
Cut the 2 x 1’s to the length of the front and sides of the cabinets and secure them with screws where the MDF will be flush with the cabinet. You want it to be seamless so it looks like it’s one piece. I really struggled with getting my boards flush so I used a small piece of MDF to make sure the piece was flush with the cabinets once the board was screwed in.
Once you have the board screwed into the cabinet, you can measure from the wall to the end of the board to find out the distance you will need from the wall to board that’s going to be attached to the ceiling. That way the measurement will be the same and the board will be straight when fastened to the cabinets and to the ceiling.
Cut and screw the boards onto the ceiling and check with a level to make sure the boards line up with each other.
I used MDF 3/4″ for most of the space since that was the thickness of my cabinets. Cut the strips and secure them with screws or nails into the brace boards on top and bottom. Eventually all the top spaces will be enclosed. It already makes the room feel taller!
When the MDF is primed and ready for the first piece of trim, pick a small trim to bring together the cabinets and the open space above it. Miter the corners together so the meet up at the corner. The trim should be nailed on just above the doors and to cover the seam of the cabinet and the MDF.
Pick out a moulding to use to blend the MDF with the ceiling and it will draw the eye up and finish off the cabinet nicely. I picked out a 4″ moulding that fit well with the design. I used trim nails to attach it to the MDF and the ceiling. Using a miter saw really made cutting the moulding a lot easier so I highly recommend it. The moulding is looking great once it’s up! What a difference!
Now you can paint the cabinets with 2 coats of primer if you have a grain in the wood that you want covered. Use a roller with little nap so it leaves a smooth finish. I found it was easier to remove the cupboard doors to paint the primer and first coat of paint, but I installed them before the final coat of paint. The paint takes a long time to cure so be careful not to knick it before that happens.
Paint the MDF as well before you add the trim and moulding to the face of it. I did everything backwards :). The paint I used was Glidden Satin in Muslin White to match the trims. It’s a creamier white so it has a warmth to it.
You will need a silicone tube to finish off cracks once all the trim is installed. Fill the cracks with small bead lines of the silicone and spread it with your finger. It should all blend together nicely now! When it’s dry, you can start your final coat of paint.
Finish with the final coat of paint and re-attach the doors and hardware.
I added hardware to the cabinets a year before I started this project, but as you can see from the before and after it adds a nice addition to the cabinets. Once the bottom cabinet trim was on, I needed cabinet feet to blend where the trim ends and around the cabinet. I decided to make my own by using a small shelf bracket and cutting the tip off so it sits flat on the floor. It looked perfect for what I was going for and only cost me $3! I used the nail gun to nail it in place and painted it to match the cupboards.
After all of the cabinets were painted, and trim was up, I decided I wanted to add glass to one of the cabinets to break up the solidity of the cabinets. I picked the cabinet over the island to empty and paint. It was super easy to have glass installed into the cabinet doors. I brought them to Ace Hardware and for $30 they put glass in each door and secured it.
Once I put up the doors, I knew it made all the difference! Wowsers!
The kitchen is now done! Took me about a month to do on my own, but it was pretty easy to keep the kitchen working through the madness! The before pictures I have are from when we moved in 2 years ago before we touched anything and we slowly made changes like taking down the wood over the window, adding pendant lights, adding recessed lights, new appliances, painted the walls Nimbus Cloud, and installing hardware to the cabinets. We also changed out the faucet this year.
I would never go back to builder grade and I love the new white kitchen! It’s so bright and looks custom like I built it this way from the beginning. I hope you are inspired to start your new kitchen!
Sorry I didn’t get many pictures of the work since I was lacking hands during the construction, but ask questions if I missed anything!
Check out the before and afters of the kitchen!
Target- Red Saddle Seat Stools
Pottery Barn- Pendant Lights