DIY Kitchen refresh project Impressive Windows and Interiors Hastings MN

DIY Weekend Kitchen Refresh

As a designer, my home always seems to get overlooked because I am constantly busy beautifying other peoples homes. Sure, I love what I do. However, I had been feeling less than love for my own home for quite some time. Sure, I have added some awesome motorized custom window treatments throughout, high quality custom furniture, rugs, new lighting and boatloads of new throw pillows. However, I never seem to get to the bones of the house, the things that would really make a visual impact. After living in my home for almost twenty years, I decided it was time for a refresh. A DIY Weekend Kitchen Refresh to be exact!

How Did I Find The Time?

I close my design business each year from mid-December to mid-January to shop for the holidays, decorate, cook and spend quality time with family. This year was no different, except I chose to use the time to complete a few projects that have been on my bucket list forever. 

The Problem

The first major project on this list was fixing and updating the kitchen cabinets. Full disclosure, painting my cabinets was never in the long term plan because I truly appreciate the color and grain of all species of wood. However, when we moved into our current house our builder was less than spectacular. Our closing was delayed by two weeks because our cabinets and doors were not finished. Rather than spraying them with the proper amount of polyurethane, our builder put on one coat and called it good enough. I was young, stupid and disappointed, but that is a story for another day. 

Since our cabinet finish was thin, I tried to brush and roll additional coats of finish over them from time to time. I did not take the proper steps, therefore, I had spots of bare wood everywhere. This posed a long-term problem for me. Wondering if I should remove the polyurethane completely and respray or should I paint? Either way, I needed to do this the correct way, not the easy way. I needed a DIY Kitchen Refresh!

The Assessment

After mulling over this for quite some time I realized it would take more time and money to completely strip the cabinets and put several new coats of polyurethane on them. And I was questioning whether my “less than spectacular” cabinets really worth it? I decided no. 

I received a bid from the painter I work with (they are worth every bit of their weight in gold, I LOVE THEM). I had every intention of hiring them for this project, as I use them for all of my clients. However, we have a 20 year old house in need of 75K worth of upgrades and repairs in the next few years. In order to make my dollar go as far as possible, and  as quickly as possible, I decided I needed to DIY this project. But first, I needed to research and test the proper way to go about this project in order to achieve the desired results. And to see if I had the desire to proceed any further in my DIY kitchen refresh project. 

kitchen island before

First Phase

For my birthday in October my family was coming to celebrate. I used this date as my goal to complete the island project FIRST to see if I had the desire to go any further.

Choosing a color is not an easy task for any DIY  kitchen refresh project. Based on the fact that I was planning on keeping many things in the kitchen, I needed a cabinet paint color that would work well with all of the natural light coming in as well as:

  • the existing natural oak floor
  • the existing conversation area rug
  • the existing white/gray/stainless steel herringbone backsplash
  • the existing Hanstone quartz countertops
  • all stainless steel appliances

I chose a great color to coordinate with the rug you see in the photo from Loloi rugs. I use this brand of easy-to-care-for rugs in many of the homes I design. They have a low pile and resist stains beautifully. 

How Did I Choose A Color?

Using the color wheel I chose a deep blue/green color from Benjamin Moore called Narragannsett Green HC-157. This color is a hue that is opposite on the color wheel from the color of the existing floor, a yellow-orange wood (natural yellow oak). If you need help choosing your paint colors, we can help!

Island After

I think it turned out pretty well. 

I took my time and overall it took me about three days to complete the kitchen island part of the kitchen refresh project. This project was my stepping stone to help me decide if I really wanted to proceed with an even larger project, the REST OF THE KITCHEN. 

I learned a lot with my island project and used what I learned to create a tutorial for all of you. 

WARNING: The following project is not for the faint of heart. It is tedious, meticulous, and dirty.

However, with the right tools, elbow grease, and patience your DIY weekend kitchen refresh project can definitely become a reality!

kitchen island after BM narragansett green
remove doors hinges and hardware DIY kitchen refresh interior design Impressive Windows and Interiors Hastings MN

Getting started

Please be sure to read through this entire blog first, bookmark if necessary, and feel free to share. You may be referencing this blog post several times throughout the process. And be sure to post in the comments, let us know how your project went! It WILL be amazing!

Tools and supplies needed:

Additional items you may want to consider adding at this time:
  • New/taller crown molding*
  • New quarter round for base of cabinets
  • Glass inserts for cabinet doors
  • New hardware (hinges, handles* and knobs)
*we added these in our project

Before You Begin

One thing I recommend  before getting started on the painting, consider replacing your crown molding with something wider. I had some espresso-colored poplar trim down at my design showroom that I was using to trim up some of the movable sample walls in my showroom. And believe it or not, I had enough left for this project with just 14 inches to spare!  This crown molding addition raised the height of the cabinets by 2″ if you can believe it!

This is something I always recommend doing, even if you are painting your cabinets. It elevates and enhances the looks of the cabinets from builder grade.  You will love the look and wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner.

replace crown molding diy kitchen refresh project impressive windows and interiors

Let’s Get Started

Carefully remove your cabinet doors from the hinges. Ours separate for easy removal. 

Place rosin paper on ALL of your kitchen floors, tape down the rosin paper  with masking tape. Cover every surface and/or place you plan to paint by or around. This will save you clean up time later on.

Make sure to cover your countertops and backsplash. I had to move things out of my cabinets onto my countertops to remove some of the hinges. Since I was due to host Christmas and had a lot of cooking left to do (all of it), I simply covered up all of my counters and everything on them with old sheets that I used as drop cloths. It sure helped as I cooked so I could still find everything easily and it made putting the kitchen back together a breeze. 

Prep Work

Be sure to remove all handles, knobs, and hinges.  Place all items you will be reusing in a sandwich baggie. We were getting new handles, so I placed all of my handles in a bag together to donate.

EVERY SINGLE DOOR should have its own baggie, don’t be skimpy. Label the bottom hinge with a dot using a black sharpie or with blue painter’s tape. Our hinges have been adjusted and I knew they all fit properly so I did not want to reinstall the incorrect hinge on any of the doors. If you label them and place them back in the same door they were removed from, as well as the same position on the door, you will save yourself time, and frustration, when  reinstalling the cabinet doors.  Make sure to label each baggie and write that number in the empty hole where the hinge was removed (see photo). This inconspicuous spot will be covered up when you reinstall the hinges. 

Place a piece of blue painters tape with the same number somewhere inside the cabinet opening so you can easily tell what hardware goes to which cabinet door opening, and which drawer goes in what opening, etc. 

This meticulous labeling will make things easier when you are finishing up your project.

Clean Surfaces

Wash every cabinet door and drawer front and backs with diluted TSP cleaner and a scouring pad. Follow the instructions on the label for diluting the cleaner with water and use rubber gloves

Repeat this method with the facing on your cabinets as well. 

You may have to empty your bucket and start fresh a few times, if your cabinets are really soiled. 

Make sure cabinets doors and drawers dry thoroughly before proceeding to the next step.

Tip: I also used this time to clean out the inside of my cabinets!


Sand all door fronts and backs, edges, drawer fronts and backs as well as all of the cabinet facing. It is best to complete some of these tasks outside if possible to eliminate dust in your house. 

Set up a few sawhorses or plastic tables in your yard so you do not have to work hunched over. Your back will thank you later.

I used 80 grit sandpaper first, then 120 grit to rough them up. The goal here is not to remove ALL of the polyurethane finish, but to rough up the finish enough and reduce the gloss finish so that the paint will adhere to the surface of the cabinets well. 

Do you have deep scratches or gouges?

I filled all visible gouges, scratches, and dents with wood filler and allowed them to dry. Then I sanded again until those areas were smooth using the 80-120-220 grit sandpaper. Please note, if you have a deep grain in your cabinets like I do (oak), you will always see a little bit of wood grain and that is completely normal.

It is all in the tools

I used a Ryobi Corner Cat sander to make this process go a little faster. The pointed end of the Corner Cat sander allows you to get into smaller crevices that rectangular sanders don’t. Plus this sandpaper simply Velcro’s on. Easy peasy!

If you have an air compressor, use it to blow off excess dust and then tackcloth to wipe them down again. 

Now you are ready to ROLL (literally) with your DIY Kitchen Refresh Project! 

sanding cabinet doors to be painted DIY kitchen refresh project Impressive Windows and interiors hastings mn

Prime surfaces

Set up some sawhorses and tables either outside in a paint box or inside your home. We are in Minnesota so the kitchenette area was the clear winner here.

I purchased a Zinsser water-based interior/exterior tinted primer. This seals any stains and reduces the number of topcoats needed for the project. The hardware store tinted it almost the same color as the topcoat of paint I chose. 

Using the Wooster Shortcut angled paintbrush I painted inside all of the crevices first. 

Be sure NOT to get any paint or primer inside the hinge holes as this area needs to stay free of access paint. Paint around this area carefully with a brush only. If you happen to drip some in there, wipe out immediately with a rag.  

Let’s Roll

Then I rolled the primer on with a small foam roller. Inspect carefully to make sure there are no paint drips. Remember thinner coats will create a better end result. Make sure if you have beveled areas or decorative wood on your doors, like I do, that you get into all of the crevices. 

I primed one side and let it completely dry before flipping it over to prime the opposite side, which took about 4 hours. However, it is Winter in Minnesota so it is really dry here. Drying time may vary based on what the humidity level where you live. 

For added durability you could add two coats of primer if you choose.

painting cabinet drawers and doors DIY kitchen refresh project Impressive Windows and interiors Hastings mn

While the coat of primer was drying on the doors, I worked on the drawers, cabinet facings and baseboards. I started with a primer again and let dry. 


If you look really close in the photo you can see all of the blue painters tape pieces sticking on the insides of the cabinets. If you remember previously, these are my labels that coordinate with the corresponding doors and baggies of hardware for each door. I can’t stress how important organization is for executing this project seamlessly. 

Space Challenge

In the photo to the right I used 1×4 scrap boards to elevate the cabinets on the folding table to create more usable space on my sawhorses. I had 27 cabinet doors in varying sizes and 9 drawers around the perimeter of the kitchen (not including the island which was completed previously). 

Repeat this process with your chosen paint color. I chose Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd Satin (792). One gallon was more than enough for all of the cabinets and island (two+ coats).

one coat of blue paint on our cabinet doors. DIY kitchen refresh Impressive Windows and Interiors Hastings MN
DIY kitchen refresh project blue cabinets Impressive Windows and Interiors Hastings MN

After you are satisfied with the coverage your surfaces have and all of the parts and pieces have dried sufficiently (at least 8 hours for me), now it is time to reinstall the hardware. 

I started with the hinges inside the cabinets first, then the hinges on the doors themselves. Then I installed the drawer and door handles. 

Note: the blue painters tape to identify my bottom hinge and the baggie that shows which door the hardware belongs to.

While I was installing the hardware on the doors I asked my husband to rehang all of the doors after I was done. We had a great assembly line going. In less than an hour the doors were rehung. We finished our DIY Kitchen Refresh Project at 2:00pm. And our guests started arriving at 4:15pm!!

I couldn’t resist taking an after shot before the chaos of the evening ensued. Here I am in my paint clothes resting my tired legs after my DIY Kitchen Refresh Project was COMPLETE! 

I couldn’t be happier with the results of this transformation. To be honest, I am kicking myself for not tackling this DIY Kitchen Refresh Project it sooner as I am so in love with my color choice, Benjamin Moore Narragansett Green HC-157.

Need Help With Your Project?

If you are in need of help with your project, you are in luck. We have a few openings the next few months and we would love to help you create the kitchen or bath of your dreams. Do you have questions? Here is a detailed description of what our Luxury Kitchen or Bath Refresh Package entails (and links to purchase below): 

Do you want to refresh or update your kitchen or bathroom? Do you want to keep the existing layout and don’t need new cabinetry, but you want to give your space a full-on cosmetic makeover? Let Jill and her amazing kitchen and bath design team use their expertise to get you started! This multifaceted package will give you all the information you need to create a beautiful and cohesive Design Concept for your home! *You must be keeping the same general footprint or layout for this package. If you are interested in changing the layout, cabinetry, or reconfiguring your space, please refer to the Luxury “Kitchen or Bath Renovation” package instead.

How do you get started? Glad you asked:

First- Must purchase Initial Interior Design Consultation

Second- Hire us for your project here Luxury Kitchen or Bathroom Refresh Package.  

kitchen renovation hire impressive windows and interiors of hastings mn

This DIY Weekend Kitchen Refresh Tutorial contains affiliate links. If you click on any of the affiliate links and make a purchase, we receive a small commission. This commission does not affect the price you pay for any items. Thank you for your support and best of luck with your project! 



Scroll to Top