Shabby Chic Takes on Cabinetry: Distressing Kitchen Cabinets

Looking to give your kitchen a new look without a lot of construction or stretching the pocketbook? Transform your kitchen by distressing the cabinets. The advantages to distressing kitchen cabinet is the change can be as bold as you want and achieving the look is as simple as buying some paint and sandpaper. Let’s get distressed! First, choose your paint colors. You’ll need at least two colors, and I suggest keeping one color neutral. The bottom coat will be the color that will show through once the cabinets are distressed. If you want a bold main color, this is the one to play neutral. For example, if you want French blue cabinets, pick a khaki color for the bottom coat. If you’re thinking brick red cabinets, white or black may be the best choice. If you’re looking for a more subtle decor, stick with a basic color for the top coat and go bold underneath. A little bit of green peeking through a white topcoat gives just a hint of color to an otherwise plain kitchen. If there are bursts of color elsewhere in the kitchen, such as accessories or back splash tile, make sure the colors you choose don’t clash.

Next, take apart your kitchen cabinets by unscrewing the hinges of the cabinet doors. This project is more easily done on the floor instead of stretching to reach the tops of the cabinet. Before you start sanding, make sure the cabinets are spic-and-span – you don’t want any food particles to bubble up underneath the new paint job. Now, take your sandpaper and sand the cabinets down a little. This will allow the paint to stick better to the cabinets. Don’t forget to get up and sand the sides of the cabinets where the doors are attached if you’re painting those as well.

The next step is to prime the cabinets. This important step lessens the likelihood the paint will peel. Ask the salesman at your home improvement store which primer is best for your project, as it depends on the type of paint you’re using for the finished project.

Now it’s time to get painting! Using thin coats, brush on the base color. Once you’ve got enough coats creating the look you want, let it dry completely – overnight is best. The next morning, paint the cabinets again with the top color. Again, let the cabinets dry completely before moving onto the next step. At this point, don’t forget to paint the sideboards of the cabinets still up on the wall.

Here’s how to distress: Take your sandpaper and lightly swipe it over the areas you want the base color to show through. Basically, it should be where the areas would most naturally be worn down, i.e. the corners, along the top of any molding and the edges. Sand to your liking, but bear in mind, distressing the cabinets too much can take the remodel from shabby chic to simply shabby.

Once it’s complete, rehang the cabinet doors and revel in the shabby chicness of your new kitchen.

A few extra tips:

– Even if you have the most steady hand with a paintbrush, put down towels or plastic wherever you’re painting. The best cabinetry painting job can be ruined with a telltale paint drip on the counter top.

– Don’t skip the sanding. Probably the least-fun part of the project, sanding really helps the paint take hold.

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