Welcome to My New White Kitchen!

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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!!


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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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IMG_7893Once 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.

 

 

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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!

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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!

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Trim for above the cabinet doors

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

Before

Before

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Kitchen side collageIsland collageKitchen collage2

 

Fridgecollage

Chrissy

Product Sources

Target- Red Saddle Seat Stools

Simplehuman Stainless Steel Trash Can

Pottery Barn- Pendant Lights

 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that when clicked and purchased earn commission percentages, but my recommendations are my honest and truthful opinions.

31 comments

  1. pkelsner@comcast.net'
    Phyllis E says:

    Just gorgeous!!! What a transformation. I hope that your before and after pictures will help me convince my husband that we should paint our cabinets, too! I’ve been wanting to paint our maple cabinets, but he is one of those males that think, ” Why would you ever paint over wood??”
    I am inspired that you did it all yourself!What a great idea to use MDF board to create the soffit. I am so glad that soffits are “back” because, I am with you about not liking having a huge dust collecting surface 7 or 8 feet up in the air in my kitchen! Of course, soffits with trim and painted to match the cabinets are so much pretty as well as practical
    That crown molding that you put on top of your cabinet soffit is beautiful. What kind of trim is around the bottom of the soffit?
    Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • Chrissy says:

      Thanks so much for your comment Phyllis! The white really brightens up the kitchen and building up the cabinets makes the room feel so much bigger! The bottom of the soffit has a piece of trim that’s about an inch wide and was near the chair rails and base trim in the trim department. I don’t use the trims as expected so any piece that you find and like, try it out above the cabinets and see how it looks. I will add a close up picture of it in the post so you can see the details of it! I would say closing the top in and adding the trim on the cabinets was my favorite part so I highly suggest doing something similar along with painting them white! Maple is a nice wood, but if you don’t love it, replace them or paint them! Make sure you post a before and after picture if you can convince your husband to make the changes πŸ™‚

  2. shirleart466@gmail.com'
    Anne Guenther says:

    I am SOOOO glad I found your blog…I absolutely love your kitchen redo. I have a U shaped kitchen work area like yours and yours is such an inspiration! I have long ago (17 years ago!) painted my kitchen cabinets white and recently I wanted to trim them out a little more…This is perfect! I do have a soffit already so trimming it would be easy! Thanks for giving me this inspiration to go forward! (I have Favorited your blog and will definitely be checking in on your escapades!!! πŸ™‚ Thanks again for sharing!

    Anne

    • Chrissy says:

      Awesome! I’m so glad you like it and just jump in head first and don’t look back! I can’t imagine going back to our dark, small feeling kitchen. Come back and update with pics please πŸ™‚ I’m here if you need any help.. Thanks for stopping by Anne!

  3. ihamill@sbcglobal.net'
    Ivory says:

    Hi Chrissy, wow, did you inspire me. I thought I was inspired, but you just up my inspiration by 100% more. What a beautiful professional job you did. I love it!

    • Chrissy says:

      Wow, that is so sweet! I can say a lot of the family thought I was making a bad decision by going white and had no idea why I was raising the cabinets to the ceiling, but I made them into believers! I really appreciate you stopping by and the kind words πŸ™‚

  4. amylilfire@yahoo.com'
    AMY ALLEN says:

    Absolutely gorgeous and all your inspiration photos were the same photos I pulled for my mom’s kitchen. Question what type of primer and paint did you use? I tried the kit since my mom’s cabinets are laminate and didn’t have very good results. Thanks!!

    • Chrissy says:

      Oh what a bummer! I have used the transformation kit for my railings and one cabinet and I didn’t have an issue because it comes with the deglosser. Did you degloss them first? For the kitchen I used the gripper primer so it really adheres to anything! Then I used Glidden satin paint for the next costs of paint. One thing I would highly recommend is letting them cure for at least 48 hours because otherwise the paint comes off easily with any bumps. Once it’s cured it’s durable and ready to be used again. I put our doors on asap because I’m so impatient and I ran into this issue but now they’re fine!! Good luck and I would love to see pics!

      • amylilfire@yahoo.com'
        AMY ALLEN says:

        Yes I did. The cabinets ended up with a pink hue. I figured I didn’t use enough primer. Hopefully my mom will let me give it another go πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for the info!!

  5. robide@comcast.net'
    Edy says:

    I’m scared if I do this that the white paint will chip off from wear and tear. Have you found that is happening to yours?

    • Chrissy says:

      Honestly I had to do a couple touch ups in the beginning because I got too excited to put them back on and the paint hadn’t completely cured yet. Now that it’s cured, it’s been fine. You can also put on a layer of polyurethane over the top that would seal the paint and leave a shiny finish but would protect it.. I didn’t do that to mine but still might. Good luck and keep me posted!

  6. whiteangels58@q.com'
    Christine says:

    Chrissy, got to say your brave. I’ve got the same cabinets and been wanting to do the same, except the the top part. I like my greenery on top for decoration. I myself have a husband that likes the wood. So what I’m going to do is do a bathroom that has the same cupboards and then maybe it will change his mind. I’m just worried about the paint looking like you rolled it if you know what I mean. I am going to try, after seeing your beautiful work it inspired me to. THXS. I will take picks.

    • Chrissy says:

      I hope it all turns out! Make sure you use a roller with no nap on it so it leaves a clean finish on the cupboards. It also needs a long dry time to harden completely so don’t rush it! I’m guilty of that lol post pics please!

  7. klj1956@gmail.com'
    Karen says:

    I’m not normally a fan of white cabinets, but your kitchen is really lovely. I might even consider white cabinets now. *grin*

  8. ebmusser@hotmail.com'
    Rebecca says:

    You did a fantastic job! Looking at your B/A photos makes me wonder why there are still those people out there who say you shouldn’t paint over oak. PS Can you come to my house next?

    • Chrissy says:

      I agree! I do like oak in certain instances but builder grade oak is the worst! It’s begging for an update! I would love to give my two cents on your place unless you live in the twin cities πŸ™‚

  9. freyda27@yahoo.com'
    Freyda says:

    You did an awesome job on the kitchen. What a facelift. My only critic would be to have purchased a counter depth fridge so your view to the adjacent room would be clear.

  10. creationsbysherrylynn@comcast.net'
    Sherry says:

    You did a great job. Just going to be starting a redo with the same cabinets. Would love to add glass to 2 cabinets. Can you tell me how you cut the centers out and how you finish the back of the cabinet door. Thanks for any help that you can be in making this process a little easier !

    • Chrissy says:

      Hi Sherry! How exciting to be starting a new project! I actually brought my cabinet doors to Ace Hardware and they used a hacksaw to cut it out. Start by pre-drilling a hole in the corner of the cutout to fit the blade in. Sand the edges and fit in glass behind the cutout. They used silicone and small tabs to hold the glass on. The glass takes the kitchen to the next level so make it happen if you can! Post pics so I can enjoy to please πŸ™‚ Thanks for visiting!

      • creationsbysherrylynn@comcast.net'
        Sherry says:

        Thanks Chrissy! Your people at Ace are pretty nice. I don’t think my guys would cut the cabinets out. My fairly handy so I’ll give it a try. I’ll let you know how it comes out!!!

  11. creationsbysherrylynn@comcast.net'
    Sherry says:

    Would there be a possibility of you posting a photo of the backside if the door where it is siliconed in so I could show them at my ace hardware. Thanks a bunch!!!!

        • Chrissy says:

          Sherry, I updated the post with the back of the cabinet! Depending on the cutout on the back of your cabinet, it may look different than mine. Ace put the silver pieces in to hold the glass in. If they can’t do that, just have them cut out the hole and cut glass to fit the cutout. Then you can glue the glass on with liquid nails or attach your own brackets. I’m spacing on the name of them.. πŸ™‚ Let me know if you have any more questions! Good luck!

  12. youmakeart@gmail.com'
    John says:

    Bravo! Looks fantastic and way to go doing it by yourself. This went from a 10k kitchen to a 30k instantly. I’m in the process of doing mine now. All builder grade cabinets but this inspired me to make them look better.

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