3 Steps to Paint Oak Kitchen Cabinets White: Before and After

painting kitchen cabinets white before and after

Here’s how we painted our dated oak kitchen cabinets, with plenty of before and after photos. Talk about the difference some paint makes! It’s a big job, but it pays off! Our realtor saw our kitchen before, and after we’d painted the cabinets, she suggested increasing what we planned to ask for the house by $30,000 – and it sold in one week. 

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. These are the listing photos for our Arizona house.

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Kitchen Progress: Copper Open Shelving

We did it! 
Our quick weekend project that turned into over a month of weekends is finally finished, and I love it!
First things first: here’s our before. 
Big, dated oak cabinets. With such a low ceiling, these cabinets made the kitchen feel very small.
Although I’d love to tear out the entire wall of cabinets and the double oven (which I’ll never in a million years use) and reconfigure the entire space for a better pantry … baby steps. And this baby step made the whole kitchen so much more inviting. 
Cabinets before: 
I liked the glass front cabinets that showed off my pretty dishes, and the other corner cabinets contained double-decker lazy susans, which gave us tons of storage. But, I regret nothing. 
The steps: 
1. Take down old cabinets. We donated ours to Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, although Edison would have like us to keep one for a playhouse. 
2. Paint and patch the walls. We also replaced the white outlets and outlet covers you see below for black ones that will blend into the granite.
3. Paint your hardware. After much back and forth, I went with these Ikea brackets and spray painted them with this copper paint. Actually, I spray painted them, and then I got too impatient while they were drying and I flipped them over too soon to paint the other side, and they had to be sanded and completely repainted. So, pro tip – don’t do that. 
Second pro tip – buy more paint and primer than you will need. I had to make two trips to Home Depot for the primer after running out, but most inconvenient was having to reorder the copper spray paint, since shipping was not fast. Waiting for the paint to arrive delayed this whole project, so be smart and buy three cans to start with. Besides, you’ll find uses for the extra. 

4. Build your shelves. This is the part that I can’t tell you much about, because Brian did all the work. As I told Brian, I’m the Johanna, he’s the Chip in this relationship – I come up with the ideas, and he builds it (Fixer Upper fans know what I mean). Here’s the tutorial we used.

We originally planned on sanding and staining the shelves. And then since this project had already taken forever, we decided not to. Our excuse is that someday, we’d like to replace these pine boards from Home Depot with actual weathered barn wood planks, so these are just temporary.

5. Install shelves, and begin never ending process of styling them.

A commonly asked question: Do you have to dust or wash all the dishes to keep them from looking grimy?

So far, no. The vast majority of the dishes I chose to put out are ones that we use relatively often, so they don’t collect any dust. and so far, the more decorative dishes haven’t either. I’m not sure if it’s because we have good air flow through the kitchen, or what the reason is, but honestly, if I did have to dust them once in awhile, I really don’t mind.

Another question: What did you do with all the stuff that used to be in the cupboards? 
Some of it, like the white plates, bowls, glasses, and most of the mugs, stayed. Other pieces were moved from lower cabinets, like the bigger bowls. I was able to move some of the dishes to the lower cabinets, and others, like all my Tupperware, to a cupboard in the laundry room. So far, I haven’t had any issues with the new arrangement.

There you have it: my copper kitchen! 
Would you ever do open shelves, or is that a trend you’d pass on? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook. 

Cleaning and Organizing the Kitchen and Pantry: Days 4 and 5

I have a confession to make. I got so into cleaning and organizing the kitchen, I just wanted to get it done. So I forgot to take “before” pictures. I can just show you the after pictures and tell you how it used to be. 
The flour, coffee, and tea canisters were on the counter on the other side of the sink, where they weren’t noticeable. They are too cute to be hidden away, and besides, I do most of my cooking on the other side of the sink, so it just made sense to keep them there. 
On the other side of the sink where the canisters used to be, there also used to be a big pile of mail. When Brian comes in from the garage door when he comes home from work, he sets his lunch box and the mail down right there, and often it piles up. I try to always meet him at the door, so after we say hi and start talking about the day, I pick up the mail and sort it right there. It’s convenient because our recycling is right there too. 

The bottle brush and scrubbing pads were scattered behind the sink in a pile, but when I was cleaning underneath the sink I found that little white caddy.


Instead of using chemicals to clean, I used a recipe from the index of Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living. The cleaning solution consisted of vinegar, baking soda, and water. It was super easy to make, and it really worked. I was very glad I used it when Brian accidentally knocked over the bucket and spilled it all over the floor. Right away, the dog started lapping it up. Good thing it’s non-toxic, otherwise I don’t know what would have happened to him!

Picture these counters with the coffee maker, utensil container, and knife block, along with a toaster, smoothie maker, and spice rack. I found other homes for three of those appliances, and now I have a lot more room!


The book says to take everything out of your cupboards and drawers, clean them all out, and then put it back in a way that works better for you. Well, I didn’t do that. I just wiped down the fronts and rearranged the ones that weren’t working for me.

The pantry definitely wasn’t working for me. I took most of the stuff out, and thought through what I used most often. The top shelf was a catch all for all kinds of stuff, and the bottom shelf was a mess too. There was so much space going to waste, and after cleaning off the counters, I wanted to use some of it to store some of the appliances.

I threw out prescription information from prescriptions that had been used up, and removed objects that belong somewhere else.  Then I categorized the rest, and sectioned off areas for it. We needed to get groceries at the time, so there’s lots of free space still.

I put appliances and cookbooks on the top shelf because they’re big enough that I can see them from below without having to pull out the step-stool. I put cooking and baking ingredients on one side of second shelf and breakfast stuff on the other side. The next shelf is for snacks and beverages, the one under that is for spices, sauces, and pasta. On the bottom shelf that’s partly obscured by Kopek, canned food takes up half and plastic bags and the step-stool take up the other side.

A few days later, I bought a metal shelf stacker thing. It doubled the space! It was a great purchase. Here’s a similar one from Organize.com that has even more space:

Silver Mesh Pantry Organizers

I used silverware containers to corral seasonings that don’t go on the spice rack.

When’s the last time you cleaned out your pantry? Does your kitchen space work for you?

Day One: Organized Simplicity
Days 2 and 3: Redecorating and Decluttering the Living Room, Office, and Dining Room
Days 4 and 5: Cleaning and Organizing the Kitchen and Pantry
Day 6: Decluttering and Organizing the Bathrooms
Days 7 and 8: Redecorating and Organizing the Bedrooms
Day 9: Redecorating and Organizing the Master Bedroom
Day 10: Organizing the Linen Closet and Entry Way