Painting Cabinets (and Using Shortcuts)

I have self-diagnosed myself as an “impatient perfectionist.”  I like things done right, but FAST.  I have done a lot of painting (if you hang out with me for just a little bit, you’ll discover paint is my solution for almost anything), and I’ve discovered several shortcuts along the way.  Today I’m going to share what shortcuts to use (and not use!) when painting cabinets. I recently transformed my boys’ bathroom using mainly paint for a contest involving colored light switches and outlets. To see more about the bathroom transformation, click HERE.

Painting Cabinets (and Using Shortcuts)

Below is a photo of my boys’ bathroom before.  Now, you may be wondering why in the world I didn’t keep the cabinets white.  Didn’t that crazy girl just paint all her kitchen cabinets white?

Boys Bathroom Before

Well, my heart was set on gray cabinets.  I even made an inspiration board for the bathroom:


Step 1: Remove all hardware. (Don’t skip this step.  You do not want paint on your hinges.  It will look sloppy!)

Bathroom Cabinets  

Step 2: Layout all drawers and doors.

Painting Cabinets 12  

Step 3: Give them a quick cleaning.

Painting Cabinets 2

Step 4: Use an all-purpose paint prep. Here’s where I skipped a step.  I *skipped sanding and used this product.  It removed any extra icky residue that cleaning it with soapy water won’t fix.  AND, it does remove some of the finish.  In my case – a glossy finish. *Sanding is always recommended.  I’m a shortcut girl, so I went with heavy doses of primer in place of sanding.  When in doubt – sand!

Painting Cabinets 3

Update: Unfortunately I can’t seem to find this product anymore.  Simple Green is a great cleaner alternative, but it won’t remove any of the finish which is is what made this product work well when skipping sanding.

Step 5: Prime. Here’s how I cheated on this step – spray paint primer.  It went SO much faster!

Painting Cabinets 4

(My kids always want to help.  This “step” can slow you down.  Big time.)

Painting Cabinets 6

Now, I decided to spray prime the cabinets themselves.  This went super fast, but the prep work may have made up for the time I save spray painting.  I had to tape down EVERYTHING.

Painting Cabinets 9

AND, you must have proper ventilation.  Luckily I had a huge window right across from my cabinets.

Painting Cabinets 7

Step 6: Paint the cabinets, doors, and drawers with paint. I did about two coats on each.  Since my primer was tinted, this step went pretty quickly.  I did this with a paintbrush because I could not find the perfect gray in the spray paint can.  Otherwise, I definitely would have spray-painted them! I did go ahead and buy a “self-priming” paint – even though I still was using a primer.  I wanted as much adhesion as I could get – I didn’t want the paint peeling off. The spray paint primer I used is an enamel, so you’ll want to also use enamel paint over the enamel primer.  I bought my paint at Lowe’s and the color is “Dover Gray.”  Step 7: Finish coat. I attempted to spray paint a finish coat on my cabinets.  DO NOT DO THIS!  It looked streaky and bad.  This is not the step to take the shortcut and use spray paint.  After all that work, I went back through and covered everything with polyurethane – by hand.

Bathroom Cabinets After

The above picture is before I added the polyurethane.  I was trying to tell myself I could live with the streaks of the spray finish, but I couldn’t. I hope my shortcuts help save you time.  Painting cabinets can be tedious, but the reward is so worth the time and effort! I painted my kitchen cabinets, only this time I used chalk-type paint.

Painted Kitchen Cabinets Tutorial

If you want the absolute fastest way to paint cabinets and like the (rustic) charm and ease of chalk paint, click HERE to see more.

Go create something!

Are you new to my blog? Go HERE to see my home tour and HERE to shop for items I use in our home.

Find me on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter Pinterest


Polka Dot Wall Stencil

This polka dot wall stencil is fun and adds personality to any space!

Here is the before of the guest room…

Polka Dot Wall Stencil & Guest Room Reveal

And here is what paint can do…


I painted the room a pale blue: Valspar’s Pelican and used a stencil from Etsy for my polka dots.  You can find the stencil HERE.  I painted the polka dots a pale cream: Valspar’s Light Raffia. GuestRoom1

I began in the center of the room with the stencil and worked my way down and out.


Painter’s tape helps hold the stencil down to keep your polka dots crisp.


When stenciling, remember less paint is more.  You want to take a more dry brush approach to painting stencils to avoid dripping and seepage.


The polka dots took some time, but they are not hard.  I started in the center and top of the wall, and this particular stencil was really easy to line up.  It is one of the easiest stencils I have ever used. My favorite part of the room is definitely the headboard.  To see the tutorial for how I painted the upholstered headboard, click HERE.  It was a flea market find that I fell in love with instantly, but the green didn’t work with my decor. PaintedHeadboard4


**UPDATE** The guest room since this post has had a makeover with DIY wall paneling and new paint color.  The polka dots were very easy to paint over and luckily I didn’t have to sand them first (in case you’re worried about what happens after you grow tired of the polka dots).

Where would you add the polka dot wall stencil in your home?

Want to see more?  Click here to see all the details!

Are you new to my blog? Go HERE to see my home tour and HERE to shop for items I use in our home. Find me on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter Pinterest