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Phase 1 of Kitchen Updates

by Jessica

There are so many things that we would LOVE to change in our house, but we had to decide which things were the highest on our list of priorities with the time and money that we had. We decided that we wanted to try and update our kitchen cabinets first. We wanted to remove the corner pieces on the doors, reroute the edges, paint the doors, raise the upper cabinets, and update the hardware. Some of these things we were able to accomplish, others didn’t really get to happen, so I will explain what we were able to do, weren’t able to do, and what we discovered along the way.

 Just so you don’t have to scroll through this VERY picture heavy post, I will show the before and afters first for those who aren’t interested in how we did it. 🙂


Here is our kitchen before.


Here is our kitchen after.


First we had to take the corners off of the cabinet doors.


Grant used this oscillating tool to do that.






Then a chisel to loosen the piece since they were glued down.





Here you can see that once the corners were gone, we had to do a little bit of patching in spots where some of the wood came up, sanding down any remaining glue, and then filling the hole where the previous hardware was. We also needed to add a new routed edge since it just stops randomly now that the corners are gone.





I then removed all of the hardware and hinges.



 Then it was time to empty all of the cabinets.


Which was a sad day because at this time, it was one of the only areas in the house that was close to moved in.


We tidied up the sun room so we had room to work.


Laid down a drop cloth.


Here is what my “kitchen” looked like for a good week or two.


I also took off the trim piece using a rubber mallet so we could change the edge on it.


Then I went around and filled any holes or dings on the cabinet frames and faces that I could find using wood filler.


I also filled the slices in the drawers. They went all the way through the cabinets so when painted, they would have looked very strange.


Then sanded them smooth as possible, this was difficult as these covers were very warped.


Filling more hardware holes and sanding down.


We decided to keep the same type of hinges for our cabinets because switching to a different kind would mean redoing the whole cabinet doors or buying new ones. For this update on a budget, that was not an option. So these holes were not filled.


 Same thing here, that is where the doors close and open, so we kept those holes to reuse them. I didn’t put the “x” there, the previous people did.


It was now time to sand down the cabinet fronts and sides, so I tried to keep the dust confined to one area.


 All sanded down.


Then it was time to degloss them just to make sure that all of the oils were off.


This used a lot of paper towels to wipe the deglosser on all parts of the sanded areas.


Then it was time to start taping off.



 Here you can see where I taped it all off, and I used crappy tape, NEVER again! It took me so long to get the tape off after the cabinets were finished, so don’t cheap out on tape here. Spending two + hours with tweezers and an xacto knife getting extra tape off was so not worth it.


Here is the primer that I used for the cabinets.


Priming everything was more fun than I expected cause it was crazy how much more open and bright our kitchen felt just with primer on it.


Grant helped me by removing the microwave.


It looks so nice without it there!


Gotta protect your appliances.


Here it is with the coat of primer on it.


Now we started noticing some gapping since these cabinets were custom built into this kitchen.


So we taped off any areas that had gaping, and used latex caulk that was paintable to hide those gaps.


 Then just peel away, and no more gaps.



After a TON of research we picked the Benjamin Moore Advance paint for the cabinets. We are VERY happy with the strong finish we have now on the cabinets, but make sure to really follow the instructions for drying time.


We used the color simply white, and this stuff was pricey around $57 a gallon,but one gallon was just the right amount for the whole kitchen.


Here you can see it after the first coat of paint.



While coats of paint were drying it was time to do more wood filling.


I needed to fill all of the holes on the cabinet doors.


The corner holes took a while to fill,but they were too deep and weak to reuse.



Then I started sanding the drawers since there were less of those. Kira, Andrew, and Alana came one weekend to help sand down all of the cabinet doors and remaining drawers. Kira also helped degloss those which was amazing!

Then Grant was able to route out all of the portions that had, had corners.


Second coat of paint.


Third coat of paint.


 Once we had sanded and deglossed both sides of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, we were ready to prime.


This part took forever as we had to prime, and do three coats of paint on each side of the cabinet doors, and just the fronts on the drawers.


Having the sunroom where we could keep the heat on was wonderful since it kept the fumes out of our house. We had snow and below freezing weather, and we could turn the heater to 43 in the room, since the paint wasn’t supposed to get below 40 for drying.


The backs were finally done.


Time to flip and start the fronts.


Once the cabinet frames were done, I was able to move my kitchen back in. We actually hosted care group like this. Just keeping it real.



We decided to use the same holes as the drawers already had in them, so those at least I didn’t have to wood fill. The day my drawers were back in was very exciting.


Grant thought my painting shirt was hilarious every time I wore it.


Then I was able to get all of my cabinet doors back on. Getting the correct hinges was difficult, and I ended up having to order them online. These are an older style where there was literally one style option in the finish we wanted because we couldn’t have any self closing hinges.


So I lived without hardware for at least a month which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but none of the cabinet doors stayed shut because I couldn’t install the spring hardware otherwise there would be no way to open the doors once closed. Also, having the cabinets slightly open was annoying,but I lived. 🙂


Once we finally decided on hardware that was updated, inexpensive, and readily available, Grant marked holes to drill for the knobs, and installed the drawer pulls even though he didn’t have to drill for those.


Once the spot was marked, it was time to start drilling and installing the hardware.


So here is the before picture.


Here is our after photo. I hope Phase 2 will include a real island. This is actually an Ikea desk that we weren’t using anywhere. This kitchen has a lot more cabinet space than I  have ever had,but a lot less counter space, so an island of any time was a huge help with that, but it is lower than a normal counter top so my back does tend to get sore if I do a ton of food prep using it. I’m hoping the island will store the microwave, and we can add a vent hood instead above the cook top.


We obviously plan to take down the wall paper and paint the trim next.



For painting our cabinets, we followed THIS tutorial. We actually ended up using almost all of the same products as they did after doing tons of research.

We did want to raise our upper cabinets, but that ended up not being an option. See the standard height from the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets is supposed to be 18.” Our space is only 16″ which means most appliances don’t fit under the upper cabinets. We realized that we couldn’t raise the cabinets because they were built together with nails, and nailed rather than screwed into the walls. Also, when we say built together there are sashes dovetailed into each other, so unless we took the cabinets completely apart they weren’t able to be moved, and we weren’t about to demolish our cabinets. So, that is a bummer, but something we can live with. Now, above the stove, it used to be a vent hood, and they replaced it with a HUGE microwave. So, if I put a pot under the microwave using the back burners I cannot stir a pot because there isn’t enough room. A skillet is fine. So, eventually we hope to replace the microwave with a vent hood so I can use the back burners. 🙂 We also want to eventually update the lighting as well as a few other things, but it is start! So, this is our first bigger update. Let me know if you have any questions!

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Aunt Sandi May 13, 2015 - 7:24 am

OMG – They are Beautiful!!! Lots of hard work for both of you, but what a difference it made, and you will be so happy with them for years to come! Love you guys!!!

Ashley May 15, 2015 - 8:40 am

GREAT JOB! Man, I love white kitchen cabinets! I’m impressed you guys did that in a couple weeks! You guys are so efficient. Really looking forward to seeing how the kitchen changes over time!


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