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Budget Kitchen Refresh

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My kitchen is functional, but the colour was outdated—way too much brown! It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to brighten up a space! Keep reading for my recent budget kitchen refresh details!


My new refreshed kitchen—on a budget!

Budget Kitchen Refresh

You might wonder why I decided to paint my kitchen instead of doing a full renovation. Well, it’s simple—I had a limited budget! 

I also knew that I didn’t want to do all the painting myself so I hired a trusted friend that also happens to be a professional painter to help me with the project.

My kitchen might not appear that big but it does have lots of cabinet doors and drawers. The top ones have windows so it’s a lot of extra work to get them prepped for a fresh coat of paint.

The main goal with this project was to find a simpler solution that could improve the appearance of the kitchen and last at least 5 to 7 years.

My brown kitchen before new coat of paint
Choosing the right paint colours for your kitchen is fun but it can also be a little nerve-racking. Get paint swatches to help you decide. You can even get a few doors painted as a test to help you confirm the final paint colours.

How to Plan for a Kitchen Paint Project

Firstly, you need to decide if you’re going to do it yourself or find a professional to help you. It’s a lot more work than you might think, so getting help is nice for sure!

A project this size could cost you a few thousand dollars if you pay a company to help you.

If you do it yourself, it will cost you less but it might take you way longer to complete. You will have to pay for the supplies: paint, tape, brushes/rollers, sprayer, masking paper, sandpaper, caulking, plastic sheets, etc.

You might also need a ladder, a large working surface or hanging/drying system, a sander, a spray tent, etc. and some electrical know-how if you need to work around lighting and such.

Budget Kitchen Refresh Timeline

Painting a kitchen doesn’t happen overnight—even with help! It took a few weeks (one month or so) to get everything organized, taped up and painted. Re-installing all the hinges, doors, and handles takes a bit of time as well.

The final clean-up took a few days as painting the kitchen did create a lot of dust throughout the house.

My kitchen was always somewhat functional during the process. There was only a couple of days that I didn’t have access to my appliances.

Remove all hinges, handles, knobs and paint doors offsite
A tip when removing the hinges, handles and knobs is to label everything so you know exactly where everything goes once painted.

Extra Products for Kitchen Project

While refreshing my kitchen, I had to address a few issues. Some cabinet doors made loud banging noises when closing. My painter seeled some edges/spaces to help fix the problem. I did not have to patch any holes or uneven areas, but I suggest repairing imperfections before painting.

To help silence the doors even further, I decided to invest in self-closing mechanisms to clip onto my existing cabinet door hinges. I did not add these to the top cabinet doors as I rarely open them.

Little 1/2-in door bumpers are also necessary to protect the doors and to help dampen sounds.

Another product that I should include on this list is grout paint markers. I’ll explain that process below. 

The process of tapping up all the areas in the kitchen that did not need to be spray painted.
The areas of my kitchen that did not need a coat of paint were taped up and covered.

Preparing Kitchen for Painting

I decided to get my cabinet doors, drawers and remaining parts spray-painted, hoping the process would be more durable. With that in mind, the following is what I did to prepare my kitchen.

  • Remove all the cabinet doors and drawers fronts to be painted offsite
  • Remove all the handles and hinges
  • Tape up all the areas that did not need paint
  • Cover up appliances (dishwasher, stove)
  • Move the refrigerator out so we could paint behind and above it
  • Covered the floor
  • Put up a plastic sheet to seal off the kitchen to help contain the dust and spray mist
  • Pull out and tape up the upper cabinet lights
  • Turn off the breaker switch for upper cabinet lights
  • Turn off the breaker switch for stove while painting that area 
  • For the upper cabinets with glass doors (see below), each window was removed to paint the back of the crosses then recaulked back into place—a lot of extra work! 
My painter removed each cabinet window to paint the back of the crosses, then recaulked each window in place.

How to Paint Kitchen Tile Grout

I realize there are probably many different ways to clean up tile grout, but the following is what I did.

Quick and on budget was my focus with this part of my kitchen refresh! I decided to move forward with grout markers to lighten up my dark tile grout. The grout lines were getting so dark compared to how they were when we moved in. I just wanted a quick fix, even while knowing that it might not last.

Lighten up your kitchen tile grout with budget-friendly grout markers
Grout markers also known as Grout Pen Restorers can be a quick solution to help lighten your darker tile grout.

You see, the grout markers I chose are water-based. That’s right, if you wet an area and scrub well after you’ve applied some grout paint, you will most likely wash a lot of it off. 

Once the grout restorer is dry, it is surprisingly resistant to a quick wash when cleaning. Painting grout is not necessarily a permanent process, but I was ok with that! And, if needed, doing occasional touch-ups is fine with me! Try a small test area first if you’re unsure if you might like it in your space.

Washing your floor and scrubbing your grout first is recommended.

You can buy grout markers with a large tip (15mm) or narrow tip (5mm), and there are a variety of colours available to purchase. I went with beige. It was perfect for lightening up the grout to a colour similar to my tiles. 

I did the same for the kitchen backsplash but with a white 5mm grout marker. I was thrilled with the final look! You can see my backsplash in the after picture below.

Using the brand (Grout Pens) I used wouldn’t necessarily work for shower tiles, but let us know if you try it.

My refreshed kitchen with a new coat of Ultra White and Midnight Hour paint
My new refreshed kitchen—on a budget! Colours: Ultra White and Midnight Hour. My Always Pan even matches!

Pros of the Kitchen Refresh Process

Ultimately the best outcome of my budget kitchen refresh was the total cost (about 6k). Even though it was not necessarily cheap, it was much less expensive to paint my cabinets than a complete kitchen remodel. I did not have it in me to go through that process yet. Maybe in a few years.

Painting the kitchen was much faster than tearing all the cabinets down and creating a new design.

I got a brighter and fresher-looking kitchen that makes me very happy! Hopefully, it will look nicer once I film my next recipe video!

Even in these photos, the kitchen paint colours vary. In the bright sunlight, the bottom cabinets look a lot lighter/greener. Dark bluish grey is what I prefer. The final blue does appear a bit lighter than on the swatch.

Oopsies Along the Way

The two main doors (to the right of the stove) that I often use were the most damaged on the side edges. I wish we could have sanded them even more before painting them. I will most likely redo these two doors as I want the finish to last for a few years.

We ran out of lacquer paint for the upper cabinets. The upper cabinets are low-traffic. For that reason, I didn’t mind painting those by hand with a different white paint finish (not the lacquer finish).

Keep in mind that these problems are from my perspective of the process. Maybe my painter encountered more issues. If that is the case, I might not ever find out! I do know and appreciate that he worked really hard on this project!

Damages During & After Renos

There was minimal damage to the ceiling during the painting process. With that said, a small area needed patching up, and then we painted the whole ceiling with a fresh coat of paint.

Oddly enough, the door bumpers I used seem to be sliding off on some doors, which is weird. Maybe it’s because of the heat/steam near the stove when cooking? They tend to move then scratch the door beside it. If you plan to buy some for your project, make sure they are from 3M or something comparable.

Also, the lower part of the cabinet that hides the undercabinet lights is easy to scratch. Unless I never noticed that I do hit that area often when cooking. I now try to be more careful.

Paint Details

As mentioned above, the paint we used to spray the cabinet was in a lacquer finish. The sheen was 25. Meaning that it wasn’t glossy but not matt either. I am happy with the sheen choice as I didn’t want the look to be shiny.

The paint colours were Midnight Hour and Ultra White. I chose them from the Dulux paint swatch, but any paint store should have the capabilities to recreate a specific colour in whatever brand of paint you choose.

Additional Design Ideas

While removing the cabinet doors for painting, I admit that I appreciated some aspects of the open shelf concept.

At various times I can be in the kitchen for many hours per day. Not having to open doors (during the renovation) to reach for bowls or plates was nice!

I would still consider removing some of the main doors on each side of the stove (not the uppers) and switching the white shelves with wood shelving to jazz up the whole open shelf trendy kitchen concept. 

Another thing that does bother my eye a bit is my decorative hood vent. It’s also outdated. I have a vision of having it straight (flat) with no extra details in a wood finish or something. If I ever change it, you’ll hopefully get tosee it in future photos or videos.

Kitchen Renovation Questions?

Are you curious about something else that I might have left out about the kitchen painting process? Please leave me a comment if you have a specific question, and I’ll do my best to help you find a solution!

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More Renovations

As I am writing this Budget Kitchen Refresh blog post, we are doing significant upgrades on the second floor of our home. It’s why I haven’t been sharing many recipes lately. I’ll try to share some before and after photos in a future blog post if you’re interested.

Special Gift Ideas

Do you love to bake or cook and have food sensitivities or allergies? Check out my allergen-friendly gift guide! It’s often best to get separate baking vessels if you’re cooking for someone with allergies!

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