Painting the Kitchen Cabinets Garish Green


I have spent hours and hours of my life using the ikea room planner to come up with what would work in my kitchen. After much playing around and screaming at programming errors I settled on something roughly like this:

kitchen mockup

I decided long long ago that I wanted a weird coloured kitchen. Trawling through pinterest I noticed that I preferred kitchens with green cabinets, either the beautiful vintage sage green, or a deep dark green that made me go ‘Oooooh‘.

The Oooooh noise is my compass and follow it I did, all the way to the paint section of B&Q.

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This is a handful of ‘Colours I have or will have in my house’, and following the success of painting the bathroom cabinet deep blue with Dulux weather shield, I grabbed a tin of Heathland Satin and began destroying the ikea cabinet doors with it.

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The doors had been sanded down and were ready for painting. Turns out the satin finish wasn’t oil based, but I ploughed on anyway, because waterbased paint is easier to clean up, right? RIGHT?

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It’s just the first coat, Tab, I’m sure after you do three or four the brush lines will disappear and you’ll get good coverage.

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After several days and several coats on both sides, it became clear that it wasn’t going to get better.

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Every time I turned the cabinets over the paint came off, in scrapes or flakes.

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This is from a light scratch of my (very nubby) fingernails. Frustrated, I went online to see what I was doing wrong.

paint reviews

So yeah, the reviews for this paint sucked. As in, everyone who bought it said it sucked and it was no surprise that it sucked for me too.

That meant the only way for it to not suck… would be to strip of the whole damn lot and start again.

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I learnt pretty quickly to just slather the paint stripper on, not to bother waiting the hour it said on the bottle and as soon as I’d finished applying it to the whole set of doors, to move on to stripping down the first door.

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The glass cabinets were just the worst. So many angles and edges.

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Stripping paint is, sticky, ugly, horrible work. It was like peeling snot off a reluctant toddler.

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After getting the worst of the paint off I’d take the cabinets up to the bath and scrub them down with a steel wool, then scrub the bath down from all the sticky paint gunk I’d gotten on it and all over the edges.

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Eight window cabinets, three regular doors, two thin doors and several days later I finally got the cabinets back to (a slightly battered) version of their former glory.

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Then there was more sanding.

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And finally a wipe down with some white spirit. Here you can see that there’s still some flakes of paint remaining, but at this point I was just glad to have the worst off. 2015-11-24 21.10.13

During the several days of stripping paint I had a lot of time to think about and research the next paint I was going to use. Unfortunately most paint tutorials for cupboards use chalk paint which doesn’t come in the deep green I wanted or uses american based products for which there is no equivalent over here. In the end I found a recommendation for this stuff, BIN primer.

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It’s shellac based which means the only way to clean your brushes is to use methylated spirits, stuff so bad for you they dye it bright purple so you can’t ever mistake it for something drinkable.

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BIN dries really fast (40 minutes to recoat) and using a roller made the application very simple with no drips. The stuff is expensive at £20 a tin, but much better than having to touch up the kitchen cupboards every few months. I decided to do a test of two doors this time instead of just painting the whole lot, which would have saved me a lot of time if I’d been sensible the first time around.

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After consulting reviews I decided not to abandon Dulux completely… mainly because all the other paint brand reviews were even worse. This time I made sure to go with an oil based gloss paint, because while oil is a pain to clean up it’s far more durable and shows less brush strokes than the alternatives.


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This paint still dripped through to the other side of the window cabinets, but the drips stayed wet so I could just brush them off with a cloth and do the coat on the next side.

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Door test success! This is after two coats, so much better than the last paint. Now onto the rest of the doors…

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(My drying racks are made from whatever stick-y things are around the house. In this case a broom, a rake, a sledge, a paint roller pole, a spirit level…)

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Between each coat I gave the doors a quick sand to try and undo some of the damage the first attempt at painting did to the texture.

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The oil paint took 16 hours to dry for each coat, so I’d do one or two coats a day over the course of a week, all the while counting down to the wall knock through.

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I finished just before the builders turned up on monday, and quickly covered everything with a tarp to try and keep the worst of the dust off the newly cured paint.


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While the house was already super dusty I got this baby out and started putting the kitchen cabinets up. I bought an SDS (which apparently stands for Special Direct System, not Super Duper Speedy Drill) back when I was living with my Mum for about £70. It’s worth every penny because drilling into brick takes hours without one.

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Ikea uses a railing system for it’s cupboards, all you have to do is mount a level metal bar to the wall and the cabinets slot over it. MAGIC.

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First thing to go up on the wall was the extractor fan so the cupboards would line up with the cooker properly.

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The cupboards were standard ikea flatpack, but I wanted lights to go inside of them, which meant mounting all the lights inside before they even touched the wall.

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I tested all the lights first, because that would have been the worst to undo if one of them happened to be faulty.

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It’s aliveeeee!

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Next some super (un)accurate cutting on the back of the cupboard for the extractor fan switch.

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A pretty pair!

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Happy with the first set we then put up the other side. He’s invisible to photos but my friend Ruben helped here, which involved lots of standing on wobbly worktop and attempting to draw a level line on a very wobbly wall.

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Getting my brick dust tiger stripes!

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So. Much. Brick dust.


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Then it was planning how to make a cupboard fit around the boiler at the side. This is the cardboard template we attempted before realising that because you had to lift the cupboard up and over onto the rail, the hole had to be the same as the boiler itself to allow putting the damn thing up.

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By lucky coincidence we turned one of the old ugly cupboards I’d saved from the previous kitchen on it’s side and it was the perfect height to match the rest of the units.

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The last thing to go in was this unit on the end which was also recycled from the old kitchen.

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After much huffing and puffing to try and hold the cabinet in place while we screwed, I realised we were being dumb and whacked a temporary support under it.

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And lo, the units are now high!2015-12-04 17.46.11

The next couple of days were painting the old cabinets white to match the rest, using the BIN primer and standard white gloss using a roller.

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Here’s a test for the glass doors. Turns out ikea hinges are the devil to get in if you paint the doors, so I abandoned them and started work on the bottom cupboards instead.

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This meant moving all my ugly pots and pans to the top cupboards.

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At this point my house was starting to look like an episode of Hoarders.

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I removed all the doors and the extra… gross from the cabinets.

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Then gave them all a pepsi bath to clean off the worst of the grime.

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Each of the cupboards were stripped, cleaned and painted.

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Meanwhile all of the old doors were cleaned.

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Then dried out on my super professional drying racks.

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Then back to painting doors!

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I was trying to get this all finished in the run up to Friendsmas, so after a few days of painting and flipping the doors over I realised I could make little legs for them out of screws and paint the entire door in one coat all at once.

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Much of the painting was done with the help of Amanda, who also helped me man up and put the glass and hinges on the upper cabinet doors.

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Such hammering, very wow.

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Putting the door on an extractor fan is difficult, okay?

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Noooo not my shame.


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Then we used the totally legit method of insulating the back of a cupboard by using a broom to shove foil behind it.

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Ahhhh cutting worktop. D:

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It fits?!?!

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Then we cut the second half to length and trimmed the corner.

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And now I have this fantastic hat.

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Amanda sanded the edges of the worktop down to perfection, then we soaked it all in a liberal coating of danish oil.

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Worktop selfie!

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With Friendsmas fast approaching it was time to put some doors back on the cupboards.

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I tried to make a jig to mark where to drill the handles… but it didn’t really work out. I ended up using a paper template and eyeballing the rest, with help from my friend Lottie.

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This was the last photo taken in the blurred rush before Christmas, but today I took some actual photos of the kitchen in it’s almost complete and festively decorated glory.

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I decided to keep under the sink open because as much as I like the idea of having a pretty kitchen, I’m a practical person first and these bins are so convenient.

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Drinks cupboard. The tassels are my christmas decorations, not a permanent feature.


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Tea cupboard.

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Finally all my cookbooks are unpacked, and I can use the weird egg rollercoaster my Dad brought me!

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Almost there to a fantabulous kitchen, next step is building the pantry/fridge cupboard and doors, the backsplash and of course, the new floor.

Happy New Year, happy new kitchen!


3 thoughts on “Painting the Kitchen Cabinets Garish Green

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