An Interior Designer’s Tips For Painting Kitchen Cabinets
An Interior Designer’s Tips For Painting Kitchen Cabinets

An Interior Designer’s Tips For Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Changing the colour of your kitchen is a great way to breathe new life into the space, but it’s a decision that comes with plenty of considerations. Having worked with many existing kitchens on many projects, interior designer Laura Stephens knows exactly how to find the right answer…
By Georgina Blaskey
Image: DEVOL

Sarah Brown Interiors; CHRIS SNOOK

What are the current trends for kitchen cabinets, Laura?

Wall cabinets remain out of favour, with open shelving being the preference. Colour wise, yellow kitchens are popular, and we are also seeing requests for kitchens in terracotta hues.

How do you determine the best paint type and finish for kitchen cabinets?

Oil-based eggshell is super-hardwearing, though many of the designer paint brands have really durable eggshell finishes in water-based formulas. These days you can get a great finish from a variety of brands – it really depends on the application. 

Any particular paints you’d recommend for durability and longevity?

Little Greene’s Intelligent Eggshell and Paint & Paper Library’s Architect’s Eggshell – and Farrow & Ball’s new Modern Eggshell finish is supposed to be its most durable wood finish yet.

How should you prep the cabinets to get the best results?

Hardwood is easiest to sand down and paint, but the most important step is to strip the current finish off rather than build up layers of paint, which is more likely to lead to chipping and fitting problems. Investing in a matching undercoat can help make the finish more opaque and durable.

Brooke Copp Barton

How do you ensure a smooth and professional finish when painting them?

There are many ways to paint your kitchen cabinets and make them look as good as new, but I’d say spraying them gives the best result as you will get a smooth finish that doesn't crack.

Are there any alternatives to traditional paint for updating cabinets?

I’ve seen rattan and woven fronts on kitchens, which are fun, and also some lovely, antiqued brass cabinet fronts, which would be lovely to consider if the budget allows.

What colours have you used yourself recently?

In a kitchen where the cabinets were in good condition, we went for pink to lift the whole space.

In another project, we transformed the kitchen by keeping the units and painting them Arras by Little Greene.

Can the colour of the cabinets impact the perceived size and brightness of a space?

I usually stick to brighter or stronger colours on the base units and a neutral for wall cabinets (if I use them) as this creates a sense of depth and openness.

Any suggestions for coordinating the cabinet colour with other elements in the kitchen, such as countertops or backsplash?

Using tongue and groove as a back splash is often a lovely look with traditional shaker units. I like a tonal look and would suggest painting this a few shades lighter than the cupboards.

How should you look after the cabinets once they’re painted?

If they are hand painted, you can touch up chips, but it’s best to get ahead of the problem. Using an undercoat in the same colour, although a little more expensive, will improve the longevity of your paint finish no end.


Are there any common mistakes to be avoided?

Don’t be trend led. Kitchens aren’t easy or cheap to change, so try not to be swayed by what you see on Instagram.

What would you estimate for painting kitchen cabinets, including labour and materials?

It depends on the condition of the cabinets and the size of the kitchen, but I would allow £3,000+.

Any final words of advice, Laura?

It’s not a cheap or quick process to change the colour of your cabinets (and potentially all the other décor which ties in) so really think hard about whether you’ll still love what you’re doing in five or even ten years’ time.

Christian Bense

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