Update Your Kitchen With Paint

Lead Image for Update Your Kitchen With Paint
  • 2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-150
What You'll Need
Masking tape
Permanent marker
Wood putty
Tack cloth

Updating your kitchen can be an expensive project... or not. Investing the minimum doesn't mean you won't get a great result. Paint offers maximum impact for low cost, especially if you make it a DIY endeavor. It can be applied to almost any surface — including countertops. Read on for ideas on how to use paint to your advantage in the kitchen.

Today’s Colors for Kitchens

Updating your kitchen can be an expensive project... or not. Investing the minim

White and off-whites are clean and fresh. White makes decorating easy because the accent colors can be anything you want and they won’t clash. With many people choosing marble or concrete countertops, grey is a neutral looking color that goes well with most other colors in the kitchen.

A subtle sage green is the color of my kitchen. I find it comforting. It also seems to bring the outdoors in and give it a “garden” feel. Taupe is another color that goes well in a kitchen. At different times of the day it takes on a different hue — sometimes it looks grey and at other times it looks green. You will keep your dinner guests guessing about which color it really is.

Don't want anything neutral? Try your favorite bright color. After all, it's only paint.

How Daring Are You? Design Your Own Wall

If you have any natural talent, you could paint a mural on one of your kitchen walls. I have been known to cheat in this area — I choose a picture I like, and then project that picture on a wall. Then it's almost like a “color by number” painting. No one will ever know… so don’t tell them!

You could also delve into stenciling, sponging, or any other kind of faux painting. Faux painting moves in and out of fad quickly though, so choose wisely.

One thing that doesn’t go out of style, however, is stripes. They're a classic design pattern that can really update your kitchen, no matter what colors you choose to use. Pick a base color, apply, let it dry, and then add stripes with either a complimentary color or go wild with a contrasting color. Be careful when taping off where you want the stripes, though. You will need to measure twice, then stand back and look to make sure the stripes do not end up on a diagonal course down the wall.

Not Just for Walls

When people think about updating their kitchen with paint, they naturally associ

When people think about updating their kitchen with paint, they naturally associate it with the walls, but what about the cabinets? If you’re going for a whole new look, get out the paintbrush and do the cabinets, too.

Cabinet painting is a little more work than wall painting but if you're are a DIYer, it should be no problem at all. The first thing you want to do is remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Take a bit of masking tape and mark each door and where it goes with corresponding letters or numbers. This way, you won’t forget which door goes where once the project is complete.

Set up an area that won’t be needed for a couple of days. The hardest part is waiting for the paint to dry and you will need a place for everything to sit undisturbed while it does. Clean each door with TSP or a good de-greaser — you will be amazed at how much grit and grease has accumulated over the years.

Once the doors are dry from their cleaning, sand them with a fine grit sandpaper. They just need a little roughening up to help the primer and paint adhere. A 100 or 120 grit paper should be good enough. If there are any nicks or dents in the doors, now would be a good time to fill them with putty.

Vacuum off the residue and wipe down each door with a tack cloth. You are now ready to prime. Don’t skip priming; it helps even out the surface and makes it easier for the paint to apply. When priming, brush first against the grain of the wood, and then with the grain. This helps the primer get into every crevice and will give a much smoother surface. While you're waiting for the doors to dry, you can follow the same procedure for the cabinet boxes.

After the primer is thoroughly dry, give it one more roughening up with 220 grit sandpaper. Vacuum and use the tack cloth again. You are now ready to paint with the color of your choice. It's best to apply two thin coats and allow to dry at least two hours after each coat. If you're adventurous, you could use a sprayer, but I always like the control a brush gives.

Other Things to Paint

Sure, you can paint your walls and your cabinets, but consider these other places around the kitchen as well for even more options.


There is now paint for Formica countertops. It's available in many colors at most home improvement stores. Follow the manufacturer’s directions completely. After all, you will be putting food on that counter, and you don’t want any paint chips getting in your food. I have heard many great things about countertop paint and it's a lot less expensive than replacing the entire countertop.

Dining Set and Floors

That old kitchen table set could be painted for an update from the standard oak

That old kitchen table set could be painted for an update from the standard oak look. Floors could be painted either a solid color or a stenciled design.

The list of things you can paint is only hampered by your imagination. Just set your mind to daydream mode and you'll be surprised by what you come up with!