How I Updated My Kitchen Cabinets for Under $100

Renovating or revamping interior spaces is no small feat, especially when it comes to the kitchen. It’s so easy to get on Pinterest and gather big ideas. But it’s even easier to become overwhelmed with where to start, what to buy, and how much it will cost.

If you’ve been wanting to tackle your kitchen cabinets and have been struggling with getting started, today’s post is for you. I’ve got tips and tricks you need to take your kitchen cabinets from drab to fab for under $100! Yes, you read that correctly *wink* under one hundred dollars.

My fiancé and I recently purchased a quaint, mid-century modern home near downtown Jonesborough, Tennessee. While a lot of the major renovation work was completed like new flooring throughout the house, the kitchen was a typical flip job that needed some personality and cohesiveness. I knew when looking at the house, I was going to immediately change the mismatched cabinets and red-brick back splash.

Before painting and revamping

After some investigation, we discovered the bottom cabinets are brand spanking new, but the top cabinets are the original, wood cabinets. The bottom cabinets have a beautiful, smooth enamel finish, while the top ones had a dingy texture–like they had been stripped and re-stained many times over the years.

Rather than destroying our kitchen + spending a fortune on matching top cabinets, my fiancé and I embraced our inner DIY and decided to paint the upper cabinets. Again, I say–this was no small feat *wink* but it was totally worth the time, effort, and “choice” words that were said.

So, if you’re ready to tackle your outdated, wooden kitchen cabinets, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Step 1: Remove cabinet doors + hardware

It’s much easier to paint cabinets and get a nice finish when the doors and hardware are removed. I set up the cabinet doors in a different room on a clean plastic tarp to ensure they didn’t get dirty, and I didn’t mess up the tile floor. If you’re a messy painter or are handling a bigger project, this is also a good time to put a tarp or plastic covering over counter tops, appliances or flooring. And if you’re cabinets hug the ceiling like mine….I suggest using painter’s tape as well.

Step 2: Clean / wipe down the cabinets and doors.

While this is not an instruction detailed on the can of Valspar enamel paint, I found it extremely helpful in achieving that nice, smooth finish with my older cabinets. This ensures that there’s no dust, oil, pet hair, or any other un-wanted goop on your cabinets prior to painting. I simply used Windex and paper towels.

Step 3: Take a sigh of relief because you don’t have to sand or prime ANything!

Unless you have an unruly or intense texture on your cabinets and cabinet doors, the Valspar enamel paint is so awesome that you can skip sanding or priming and jump straight into painting.

Step 4: Ready, set, paint!

Skyler and I tag-teamed this project. While he painted the doors, I worked on the cabinets. It took three coats to get the finish we wanted. We were able to complete the cabinets over the weekend, starting on a Friday afternoon and finishing Sunday evening.


  1. Keep in mind it is a very thick paint. Avoid putting too much paint on the wood surface, especially with the first and second coat! It will begin to drip and dry, creating an unwanted and bumpy texture. If this happens…don’t panic. Wait for the spots to dry and use a light grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface before adding another coat.
  2. Each coat needs to dry 4 – 6 hours, and the last coat needs to cure for up to 48 hours. Because kitchen cabinets are commonly touched surfaces, you want to let each coat dry really well before applying any additional paint. Once you’ve painted your last coat, let your cabinets and doors dry separately for at least 24 hours before adding hardware and hanging. Leave the doors open and do not touch/use them for another 24 hours. This helps prevent chips or scratches.
  3. Use a small craft brush for touch-ups. If you notice a few chips or scratches after re-attaching your cabinet doors, you probably didn’t let them fully dry (24 hours) before. If you made this mistake, like me, use a small craft brush + the enamel paint to fill in. Depending on how deep the chip/scratch, you may have to repeat this a few times.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stay tuned to an upcoming step-by-step post on how I painted my ugly brick backsplash *wink*


6 thoughts on “How I Updated My Kitchen Cabinets for Under $100

  1. Looks great! I have this job looming on my horizon. Your results encourage me to get started! Love the backsplash too! Simple fix/update that is bright, cheerful, & inexpensive. 👏👏

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