Should I paint the cabinets white?
lucybee123October 3, 2012
We recently did an update to our 20 year old kitchen. We decided to wait to upgrade our appliances to stainless as soon as one of them broke (20 years and still going strong, sigh...) .
I originally wanted white cabinets with the hardwood floors, my husband believes you don't paint "good" wood cabinets. (they are in excellent condition). I did my upgrades keeping the cabinets as they were,but now I am still unhappy as the whole kitchen appears dark with the new hardwood floors (which I love). Any thoughts on painting the cabinets white would be appreciated. My counters are Silestone, Mont Blanc. Thank you all!
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Aggie Purvinska
Beautiful! You are not gonna like this, but the cabinets scream: "Paint us dark Espresso!" to me:)!
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 8:42AM
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Lynn Oxenford
It sounds like you want to keep the kitchen light. I agree completely, and the dark cabinets seems to date the ares some how. They seem.... out of place now. You can, however, mix light colors together. I've attached a photo of that mix, and you can see by the white sink that the combination looks great together. The island can be painted the same, or bring in a lighter/ darker color in the same color as your tile color. Such as a "Deep Ocean" 2058-30 , it will give you that calm yet bold splash or color.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 9:18AM
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Aggie- I think Espresso would be too dark, the kitchen gets some morning light, but the rest of the day there is not a lot of natural light.

Lynn, I agree that the cabinets look dated. I painted the island a shade of blue, but if I paint the cabinets white, I might paint the island a darker shade of blue, or perhaps back to a shade of brown?
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:11AM
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Don't paint the cabinets. With the white island and light counter tops, the cabinets are fine. The back splash is beautiful. I think the issue is your lighting. If you update the kitchen lighting, you will get the brightness as well as a much more modern feel. It will make a BIG difference.
6 Likes    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:33AM
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Your cabinets are dating your kitchen a little. I'm hesitant to paint them white with your white appliances (even if you are going to upgrade them) because, if they are not the same exact shade of white, it will look strange. However, painting them a light grey-brown would look very nice with your beautiful backsplash. Depending on the shade of your perimeter cabinets, I would also change your island so that you have a nice contrast (just like you currently do).

You've done a great job so far! Adding undercabinet lighting as well as some decorative pendants over your peninsula would make your kitchen look fabulous and brighten it even more. Keep us posted!
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:42AM
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Amber Vercler
Maybe just some can lights? Or even some track lighting above work areas? I like the hardware on the island! Could you add the same hardware to the cabinents-- Or something larger but complimentary? I really love what you have done with your space!
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:47AM
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I think I like the room as is! No need to paint.
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:51AM
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I agree completely with krtnbch. Florescent light just kills the ambiance and drains the beauty from virtually any material.
2 Likes    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 10:52AM
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Cheryle P
I agree with krtnbch, the lighting needs to be updated. Some recessed lights above the sink, under cabinet lighting and some pendants above the island would look great. Don't forget the light above the breakfast table. I would paint the island a darker color to help anchor it. I would go as dark as you can stand, but a darker shade of your blue would work, too. Finally, if you are switching to stainless appliances, I would update your cabinet hardware to a more contemporary stainless as well.
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:01AM
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Donna Talley
What you have done so far is Beautiful! I agree with Stoneshop, if you paint the cabinets white or off-white it may not look right against the old appliances...but, it could give you some leverage in the "let's update the appliances now" decision! And new lighting is needed for sure! That fluorescent dinosaur up there is not helping, lol.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:09AM
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Go with White. It will make that kitch come alive. Replace he ceiling thing and wallpaper and go like old world traditional white with burnished edges. It will be stellar.
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:16AM
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Your cabs are timeless - you could go out and buy the same ones today. I'm with the change the lighting school of thought. If anything is dated, it's the flourescent faux skylight. With more light, the rich wood will look even richer, and good taste never goes out of style. How are the cabinet interiors? Do you have pull out's etc? Nothing puts me in a bad mood faster than having to get on my knees to pull out the soup pot!
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:50AM
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I agree with updating the lighting -- just getting rid of the old florescent ceiling light will make a huge difference.
Do you need the curtains on the windows for privacy? If you can remove them (and the valance), you may be surprised how much more light will come into the kitchen. And you could see into your pretty backyard.
(This isn't what you want to hear: I like your cabinets the way they are -- but then, I'm a "woodsy" kind of person)
Classic White
Bosch Kitchens
The Bosch-Kitchen is an idea for the florescent ceiling light conversion.
Ventnor-nj has blue pendant lights.
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:56AM
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Jennifer Scully
The cabinets would look awesome in a rich cream color. The kitchen is huge and would really be stunning with an updated cabinet color. The wallpaper should be removed and the ceiling should be painted. Two pendant lights over the peninsula would be wonderful and a petite chandelier over the island.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 12:08PM
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Jennifer Scully
Oops! Just revisited and the floor is white. Cabinets should be white! Also, a tile backsplash with some color will look wonderful.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 12:21PM
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Scotti Bedford
I have the same dilemma. We have custom cherry cabinets that are in great condition. My husband doesn't think they should be painted but I want a brighter kitchen and think painting would look good. I would say changing the lighting in your kitchen would be key. Pendant lights over the island would look nice.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 12:55PM
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I agree with everyone about the lighting, though I know I would have to add several can lights all around the kitchen to equal the same amount of light (neighbors have done this). I need to take baby steps with my husband, lol. To Donna, I had the same thought, p.s. I love your puppy, I have one too. I just really like the look of white cabinets with a dark floor, and blue is all through my house, hence the tile choice. Thank you all for your input.
2 Likes    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:05PM
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To me, to balance out the white cabinets and the pretty blue backsplash, I would paint the top cabinets in white to balance out the room and I think the white cabinets will lighten and brighten your kitchen and it will look great, like you want it too ( and you will have that WOW effect). Hopefully you can get your husband to agree with it! Let us know what happens.
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:31PM
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Judy M
I agree about the ceiling light, it is dating the room the most. what is it with men that hate to paint wood? It's a guy thing for sure. You lost some of the brightness when you took out the white floor and put a dark one in, so balancing the light in the room with recessed can lights would help. Then I would make the decision on if you want to paint the cabinets and from there you can figure out what color.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Lucybee, I like your changes.

Love your backsplash! Do your miss your butcherblock counter? Have it cut up into smaller cutting boards 18" square and give as gifts to foody friends.

Consider options like removing some cabinet doors and painting the interiors white for an open shelving look; or you could install some opaque white glass panels in place some of the wood panels in the cabinet doors to the left of the island, lighting inside and under the cabinets also.

The new LED light spots available can be wired to light the work surfaces and wash down the cabinet faces to lighten the space up. If there is no skylight, thenreplace the fluorescent fixture, by bringing in solatubes (plural because of the large kitchen) and hanging some pretty pendants over the island as the others have already said.

Another possibility is to ask your husband if he would go halfway with you and have the upper cabinets painted to match the appliances? You can find appliance paint colors by brand name and have them matched at the paint store. Also think about picking up on the blue in the tile and choose a soft pastel blue for the uppers.

You could take your desk area and paint it white or blue and make it stand out like a hutch near the dining area with corbels under the upper cabinets.

Talk to your husband about keeping the kitchen current - you can enjoy it now, but someday you may need or want to sell when you retire and it will make resale easier down the road.

PS: I have the same KWC faucet! :)


Kathia's Old Kitchen

Needham Kitchen

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Ideabook: Kitchen of the Week: 1920s Renovation in California
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:53PM
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Ann Tuzson
I am just an amateur, but I am beginning to think that lighting is everything. I would optimize the lighting first and then see if you still need to paint the cabinets. Listen to the person who was talking about undercabinet lighting and such. I think she is on the right track.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 1:54PM
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I was really curious about this as well, so I did a quick rough mask on the image to see how the lighter cabinets would look. I think they would look great painted white, paired with some lighting improvements, specially once you upgrade your appliances to SS!
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 2:20PM
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comfy by design
I think a light grey would work well for the cabinets. Then PLEASE replace the lighting with a set of pendants over the island and a set of lights that you can direct where light is needed. You can do under the cabinet lighting for tasks.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 2:27PM
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deedlelu-wow thanks for showing me I'm not nuts! I love the blue and white, makes the room bright and cheerful. The lighting is definitely on the to do list, along with the SS appliances. I know it will be a lot of white, and may have to rethink the color of the walls (BM-marine white),though there is very little wall space, which is why I had originally put wall paper on the ceiling. Here is a picture of a kitchen that I really like. Different shade of blue, but similar idea.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 2:50PM
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Oooh I love that kitchen! And no problem, sometimes its hard to visualize... you just need a little photoshop magic! Another option to consider is painting the ceiling a very light shade of blue so the cabinets don't completely blend with the white ceiling. It will give the effect that the light is bouncing off your backsplash and reflecting on the ceiling. Best of luck!
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Lighting has a huge effect on color and shadow. Depending on how much daylight is in proximity to the work area, most people underestimate how much light is needed to see clearly. Then nighttime lighting becomes important also, because how much more time do we spend in the kitchen cooking dinner than breakfasts or lunches?
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:09PM
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Lynn Oxenford
Wow, looks like everything came back to the lighter cabinets. I guess the photo was not clear, the cabinets are a vanilla with a Carmel glaze . The lighting and appliance upgrade is a given. I'm glad you got lots of ideas.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:44PM
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No question I would have the cabinets painted white ( I would probably opt for professionally spray painted). Your current cabinets ( and lighting) make your updated kitchen still look dated, and incongruous with the other new finishes. I would update cabinet hardware too if that is still original.
Geez, if appliances are 20+ years old and the dream is new ones...I would say change is too short ( maybe someone on Craig's list wants your 'retro' appliances).
I would probably also remove the two centre upper cabinets above the cooktop and install a nice exhaust hood to match the new appliances.
Your kitchen is very close to the finished look that you wanted so why not just go for it, and get it done.
By the way...I am a guy and have no issue with painting wood, so not all guys are allergic to the idea :)
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Thanks Kaveac, sadly I don't have that option. I have a new downdraft stove top because the ducting goes through the walls ond somehow into the dropped ceiling, it would require completely redoing interior walls. Not in our budget.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 4:58PM
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P.S. I do have all new hardware, in SS, though it doesn't show in the pictures very well.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 4:58PM
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What about just painting the upper cabinets the same color as the island!! I think that would be a great mix!!!
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 5:00PM
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PS Don't hate me for saying this, but the whole space would look much more updated if you took down the sheers on the door and window. It looks like it goes out to your backyard so I don't think you need them for privacy!??
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 5:01PM
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ksw71, you are right I don't need them for privacy, and while the door looks nice enough without sheers, the windows are pretty plain, and I do have blinds under the valance as the morning sun can be very bright and makes it difficult to sit at the table for breakfast. If I paint the cabinets white I may just remove the sheers and keep the valance.
1 Like    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 5:11PM
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Ive seen mix and match kitchens where the top cabinets are light and bottom dark and they look stunning. There have been some great suggestions here. You have done a great job so far, keep up your confidence and go for it. Regarding your window , have you thought of plantation shutters ?
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:00PM
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You have lots of replies...and I apologize if I'm being repetitive. I do think that the wood cabinets date your kitchen...partly because of other elements you have chosen. Having said that, I think if you were to paint the cabinets white, the room would be too stark. Because your appliances are also white, there is nothing to break up the space. Are you open to painting your cabinets a grey with blue undertone to tie in with your backsplash? Definitely consider changing the lighting...pot lights, pendants and under cabinet lights.
    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:58PM
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