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 (which some of my friends say is the color taupe, but I adamantly disagree on), 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.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Aimee February 27, 2012 at 5:12 am

Oh wow, they look fabulous!!
I think it’s perfect. Cheers Aimee


Janelle February 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

Neat! You’re so lucky to have those beautiful cabinets! Ours are from the 70s likely, so I had no problems painting them! Is that a green or a taupe-gray in the cabinet?


Josh February 27, 2012 at 10:24 am

The new paint is definitely green, Janelle, though you’ve identified the trouble I had getting pictures that captured the colors well. On my monitor, the screencap of the online paint selector is too desaturated, so the yellow wall looks beige and the green cabinet paint looks gray. The colors in the final picture are a bit too vivid, so reality is somewhere in between.


Reuben February 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

They look great. We’re considering doing something very similar with our backless cabinets. Green was a cool color decision.


Josh February 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

Cool. I’ll have to look for that one, Reuben.


Moe February 27, 2012 at 11:54 am

Looks great, but can I ask what color you used for the adjacent wall?


Josh February 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

The yellow color on the kitchen walls is called “Seedling” from the True Value paint collection. The paint code is 21C4. For more on the kitchen wall paint, check out this post: Painting The Kitchen.


Moe February 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Cool, thanks. We currently have a similar green color in our kitchen (and bathroom), but looking for a change.


vin February 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

I think they look outstanding.


Susan henderson February 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Kitchen looks great. We really enjoy your blog!


Sharon February 28, 2012 at 1:38 am

Very pretty! Nice color.


Teresa February 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Can’t believe you even for a fleeting moment considered painting those cabinets! My boyfriend’s 1934 original cabinets were originally stained wood as were my 1914 cabinets. Both painted now unfortunately. Mine have tongue and groove backs so the Beadboard wallpaper from England (not the American stuff) might look good if you have any more to do .
I think the colour looks fine and I’m sure you’ll use some textile to pull all those colors together, although the plate may do that.
It’s amazing how incremental changes can create such a differnt feel!


susan March 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

Even though it’s not my house, I am so glad you didn’t paint the cherry! The color you selected looks marvelous. Job well done!


Deanna @ TheChangingHouse March 10, 2012 at 9:37 am

Beautiful! I’m glad you kept the wood as-is! It’s cherry wood! A fine material, indeed.


Kitchen Cabinet Doors March 13, 2012 at 7:26 am

Amazing colours. really nice


Janet March 22, 2012 at 11:55 am

I absolutely love the green inside the cabinets, i would never have thought of trying it! looks great!


door251 April 9, 2012 at 8:22 am

Looks great!!


Jove Arthur August 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Even simple things can add a touch of beauty into a space. In this post, the green paint added a classic touch. Great job!


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: