Accenting the Kitchen Cabinets

by Josh on February 27, 2012 · 19 comments

in Kitchen,Projects

Keeping my existing cabinets is a decision I’ve second-guessed a few times as I work on this kitchen remodeling project. There are several details of layout and design I would like to be different if I was starting from scratch in the kitchen. I briefly considered total cabinet replacement, but realized that wouldn’t work within my goal of a low-cost renovation– particularly if I wanted to replace all the beautiful natural cherry with a similar grade of wood.

kitchen upper cabinet before

But if keeping the kitchen cabinets was the right choice for my budget, I have wrestled with how best to make the cabinets feel updated. Painting the cabinetry is a popular DIY choice these days, and painted kitchen woodwork would be a more historically correct choice for my bungalow than lots of natural cherry.  Historic or not, however, the cherry is such a beautiful, premium material I just couldn’t bring myself to paint over it. Painting inside it, however, is a different story.

Several of my upper cabinets are constructed with glass door panels, and the cabinets themselves are backless against the wall. This means that I can just paint the wall at the back of the cabinets and get a lot of the visual impact of color while leaving the cherry cabinets unpainted.

cabinet interior before

Selecting paint colors is a job I choose to delegate to my friend Molly. I’ve wasted too much time and money on the wrong paint, and her picks are always better than anything I had in mind. That said, I got impulsive with this one and decided break my own rule by making a color selection of my own. For some color inspiration, I looked to a plate I found at an occasional sale that is displayed on the kitchen wall.

With the plate in mind, I used the online Color Selection Tool at True Value Paint to find a color like the plate that was closely related to  the color on my walls. Picking colors online is tricky, but I knew that even if they didn’t look exactly right on my monitor, related colors should look good in person. The screencap below shows the related number codes and colors between my wall color , Seedling 21C4, and my selected cabinet accent color, Victory Lap 21D4.

true value paint selector

When I went to the hardware store to buy the paint, the clerk confirmed for me that not only were the paint codes similar, most of the pigment colors and quantities in the accent I chose was identical to the wall color. With such similar formulation, the colors would have to play well together, right?

cabinet paint product

Two coats of paint later, I reassembled the interior shelves and put back the dishes, glasses, mixing bowls and serving pieces. Against this new colorful background, my dishes suddenly popped out visually like they hadn’t before. To enhance this effect and make the cabinet contents look snappy and uniform, I removed things we didn’t use often and pared down the colors of my stuff to either white, stainless steel, and clear glass.

kitchen upper cabinets after

It was after dark when I realized that I didn’t have a photo of the wall and cabinet colors together, so this final image captures the two colors side-by-side, though the lighting was pretty lousy:

painted cabinet back and wall

For my first self-selected paint color in a while, I think this one turned out well–and Ms. Bungalow likes it, too. The new paint and the monochromatic shelf contents combine to give the old cabinets the updated look I was aiming for, while also costing less time and money than replacing or painting the cherry cabinetry.

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