One Room Challenge – Week 3 Painting 1940s Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen cabinets are painted and it is life-changing! So things are going to get a little hairy in this posts since some of the kitchen cabinet painting happened during the wainscotting installation and wall prep from last week! Basically, remember how my kitchen looked like this? Partially sanded cabinets? Look a little closer. See how those cabinets are all different styles? My kitchen cabinets were cobbled together over a few decades no earlier than 1930, but probably not later than 1960. It’s a mystery. There are 4 door styles. And none of them are good. The insides of the cabinets were gross and everything was a bit of a hot mess.

Nothing a good few coats of paint can’t fix right? Paint is transformative and in this kitchen – everything was getting a fresh coat.

First I gave everything a coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye No-VOC primer which is my favorite for nearly every application. After I coated everything in primer, I also touched up some things with a little wood filler, then sanded and laid more primer over those patches. Instantly everything looked way cleaner!

The cats supervised the work. Most of this painting was completed in 2018 and Malary, my perfect angel cat died soon after the kitchen painting, unfortunately.

Then it was time to paint the cabinets themselves! I used Benjamin Moore’s Black HC-190, which is their blackest black paint. There are no color undertones on this! There was a lot of bending and stretching to avoid getting paint on my clothes (it happened anyways though!).

Jacks even got into the painting one day, sprinting across the kitchen and into a base cabinet my sister was painting, smearing fresh paint and causing him to panic!

It was pretty hilarious and I was tempted to leave the paw prints, but in reality, the whole cabinet needed paint too badly, so these got covered up.

I created an assembly line in the dining room to paint all the doors and drawers inside and out. Everything needed paint to encapsulate years of lead paint, old paint, and who knows what else!

This is all semi-gloss paint and after two coats, the kitchen started to come together again!

The back part of the kitchen was blocked off to protect the rest of the kitchen from the drywall dust from the mudding and sanding that was happening simultaneously.

The other side of the kitchen was coming along too. Because these cabinets were in worse shape than those on the other side of the kitchen, I actually painted these with the doors on, which is a huge no-no! The hardware had been painted over numerous times before me and the built-up layer of paint might not even have allowed me to salvage the hinges since I’d have almost had to rip the doors off! They turned out okay though and works fine for a Phase I kitchen.

I alternated between using a paint brush and a small foam roller for the cabinet painting. If I’d had a paint sprayer, it probably would have been quicker. I’m very comfortable with a paint brush though and I find painting meditative, so I enjoyed the process!

When it came time to a top coat, I turned to my favorite Safecoat Acrylac in Gloss which is a food safe, water based poly finish. When I applied it with a roller it left tiny air bubble dots all over the cabinets! I was horrified, but luckily when I switched to a paint brush for the second and third coats of the top coat it covered the air bubbles. Whew!

Basically as soon as the paint was dry, I filled the cabinets with things I’d previously been storing in the dining room!

I couldn’t wait to refinish the stairs and skim coat the counters with concrete. The yellow laminate was yelling at me!

I originally painted the interior of the center cabinets white, since I’ll be installing glass cabinet doors over them and I thought that’d be nice, but now I’m considering repainting it black, so the whole cabinet is moodier. What do you think?

And then there’s hardware! I bought my cabinet hardware ages ago at a Rejuvenation factory sale here in Portland. The door knobs were each only $3 a piece for unlacquered brass. I literally bought as many knobs as were available, and I’m 100% planning on using this hardware in my Phase II kitchen. At least that’s what I think now!

I love how unlacquered brass patinas and it just feels right for this space right now. It’s beautiful, elegant and there’s nothing like black and gold!

I can’t wait to show you what I’ve been working on next week! I added new cabinets in this space! Don’t forget to check out the other One Room Challenge Bloggers too!

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4 thoughts on “One Room Challenge – Week 3 Painting 1940s Kitchen Cabinets

  1. I love the black with the green wainscotting and the brass! I do offer an opinion (only because you seem to be questioning it, but of course… you do you): I like the idea of a contrasting color background behind the glass doors, but the choice of white is kind of jarring to me. maybe you could mix in a little of one of the other colors in the room, so it becomes a hue that aligns with another aspect? Or a pattern could be fun. In my kitchen I have a graphic wallpaper inside my glass doored cabinets. (literally, this one: https://www.amazon.com/RoomMates-White-Stripped-Hexagon-Wallpaper/dp/B076CQF2T4). it’s inexpensive and interesting without drawing too much focus. are the shelves moveable? could the shelves repeat the black so they don’t disappear into the background (because they are also white?). I’m just thinking outloud here. looking forward to seeing it all done!

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I was definitely asking for it! I agree the white is jarring… I’m wondering if I do pink inside like I’m doing in my pantry cabinet or if I do the whole thing black so that my dishwater creates the contrast. I considered wallpaper, but since the shelves can’t be moved it might be a pain.

    2. Unbelievable outcome! I’m so impressed Lauren. I’ve been thinking of redoing a desk and you’ve totally inspired me to get started. You should be so proud of yourself and your beautiful work.

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