Painted Cabinets Before & After

Update melamine European cupboard doors with this simple painted cabinets before & after idea. It’s super budget friendly and looks amazing!

Do you wish you could update your kitchen cupboards, but can’t afford to rip them out and start over?

I’ve been there many times!

Here is an example of a super budget way to completely change the look and feel of a kitchen with a few changes. We completed this project in our previous house, and it was one of our favorite room makeovers ever.

Check out the links at the bottom of the post to see the whole room transformation. It’s a dramatic one!

Why I wanted to give my kitchen a Painted Cabinets before & after makeover:

I’m told that my cupboard doors are “European Style”.  There really isn’t anything terribly wrong with them.  In fact, they are the nicest cupboard doors I’ve ever had.  I just had a few little issues with them:

  1. Trying to open the doors and drawers without knobs or pulls resulted in many a broken nail.  (The wooden strips randomly flying off when you opened the doors made life interesting, too!)
  2. I … well … just didn’t like the look of that wood on it…(Is that terrible?)  Somehow the “European” just didn’t fit in with the rest of my house.

I always got excited when I saw a home makeover show that was redoing a kitchen with these kinds of doors.  I thought I would get some helpful hints.  However, more often than not, they would just throw out all the cabinets and start all over.  I didn’t want to go there…

So…on to plan B.

The “How To” of this Painted Cabinet Before & After Project

1.Remove doors from the hinges.

These European doors may be outdated, but they have lovely hinges!

To remove the doors, I just loosened the two screws on each one and the doors slid right off!

2.Tape off the wooden rail at the top with painter’s tape.

For this project, I was only painting the stained wood portion of the door, as the melamine portion was still in good shape and color.

To make this project easier on my back, I set the doors on top of  the kitchen cabinets to paint them.

European cupboard doors with melamine fronts and oak trim rail at the top get an updated look with this painted cabinet project.
Don’t bother taking all the drawers out for this painted cabinets project. Just leave them in and paint them in place!

Notice I didn’t bother taking the drawer fronts off.  I just pulled out the drawers and painted.  It worked fine.

3. Using a disposable brush, paint on 2 coats of oil based primer.

I had oil based primer on hand for this project, and so I used it. However, the formulas for good latex primers are much better now than they used to be.

I recommend asking your local paint store for their recommendations for your project. What you need is to have a primer that blocks out any stain from bleeding through.

(I purchase cheap brushes just for use for oil-based paint and then throw them out when I’m finished.  Cleaning brushes with paint thinner just doesn’t work for me… But, I have one really nice brush that I use for latex, and I clean that out well after each use.)

4. Paint 2 coats of paint that matches the color of the melamine doors.

You may need to take a door into the paint store to have a color matched perfectly to yours. The color that I used was Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White in a semi-gloss finish. Let each coat dry thoroughly before adding an additional coat of paint.

5. Remove painter’s tape from the doors.

****Important Tip Alert!!!  When you’re  ready to remove the painter’s tape, run an x-acto knife along the top edge of the tape (where you painted).  I tried this as an experiment, and for the first time, paint didn’t peel off with my tape!

I used this same trick when I painted metal doors with plastic trim and it worked like a charm!

6. Add cupboard pulls and knobs to the doors.

Last yea,r a friend found a great stash of cupboard pulls and knobs at a garage sale and gave them to me.  (Thanks, Mary!)  Today the Mr. was able to help me drill the holes for the “bling”… and I already love how much more functional they are!

Brushed Pewter cabinet knobs on painted cabinets project
Keep your eye out at thrift stores or garage sales for piles of knobs that could work with your home decor style.
Drawer handle pull on painted drawer in kitchen
Adding drawer pulls and knobs to these kitchen cabinets was the finishing touch to this painted cabinets makeover.

The cabinet door makeover before and after reveal:

So here are the cupboards before:

European cupboard doors with white melamine fronts and oak trim rails before
These European cupboard doors gave an outdated 80s feeling and didn’t fit well in a historic farmhouse.

And here they are after a bit of “spiffing up”!

Painted European Cabinets before and after reveal
This simple and inexpensive DIY project updated the look and function of the outdated kitchen cabinets.

(…and I painted the window while I was at it, too.  Same paint, same method.  Except, I had to stand on the sink ledge!Smile)

Other Budget Friendly DIY Home Decor ideas for a Kitchen Remodel:

Every little piece of our kitchen makeover was documented here on the blog. To find the rest of the kitchen remodel posts, click the link below:

Kitchen Remodel Before & After REVEAL!! (Under 200!)

For more tips on painting for the home, check out the posts below:

Would you like to do a room makeover in your house, but don’t know where to start or how to do it? I created a FREE course with you in mind. Click below to find out more and join today!

Linking up with:  at home with k,my uncommon slice of suburbia,the stories of a2z,my repurposed life,miss mustard seed,The Rooster and the Hen

This post was originally written in April, 2011 and updated March, 2022.

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  1. Wow Rita… you have totally inspired me!!!
    I have the same "European style" only in cream… and I can't stand them! I can't wait to try this 🙂
    Deb Gresdal

  2. I'm very impressed. You did everything right (this from a housepainter).

    You have given hope (an instructions)to many people who hate this style cabinet doors!

    And I agree, too many tv shows rip out good cabinets when the replacements are often shoddy. Re-doing or replacing doors makes much more sense.

    Very nice work. Keep it up.

  3. wow – big difference! i agree with the white/wood cabinets. not really my cup of tea – but this is a great solution! 🙂

  4. Your cabinets look so much fresher, and more functional with the knobs. When we built a basement in-law suite for my parents, my b-i-l installed the same kind of cabinets for us. Totally functional, but now that the space is a guest suite, I would love to update the doors. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. oops, forgot to mention that I found you from the link party at The Stories of A to Z and I'm your newest follower.

  6. It's amazing how a little paint and some knobs change the look so much! Wow! Thanks for linking up to Terrific Under Ten!

  7. The former wood trim looks like elegant molding now! Our previous house had these exact cabinets and I hated them with a passion. We were considering replacing the door fronts but your solution is even better. Enjoy them!

    (visiting from Miss Mustard Seed)

  8. I love paint! It can make such a difference! You did a great job!
    ps thanks for sharing @ catch as catch can

  9. Hi, Bonisaid I should take a look at this, as we have the exact same cubboards and are preparing our house for sale. They look quite a bit sharper after. Im thinking of just sanding the wood a little and then painting over with a paint and primer combination. What do you think?

  10. My parents' home has these exact cabinets and while I'd love to do this little upgrade, a few of the doors are chipped or missing entirely. Any idea where replacements can be found?

  11. Dear Anonymous…I'm not sure where you're from, but our local Habitat for Humanity Restore (a thrift store for building supplies) usually has a ton of these styles of doors…for really cheap! You may want to try looking there.

  12. Did you just match the paint to your cabinet color?? I have the exact same cabinets and would LOVE to do this!!!

  13. Megan, I used some white that I happened to have on hand – Cloud White from Benjamin Moore (in a "pearl" finish). It's not a perfect match, but it's really close!

  14. Did you just paint the brown wood part? Or did you paint the entire door over with the cloud white?

  15. I have the almond as well.. I think it was easier to find a white then it's going to be to find the off white.. If anyone does the almond..can they let us know what they used? Thanks!

  16. These look great!!!

    but i have a question. Why are you using the green tape? I’m confused if it’s all painted the same why i’d need it?


  17. HI! Just wondering what you did to add/drill the holes for the hardware? We have the EXACT same cabinets and are painting right now! Scared to destroy the melamine with a drill!??!?

  18. I have the exact same cupboards and I can’t take them anymore. I am so glad I found your post, I bought the paint on the weekend and am planning to do this asap. I got an all-in-one melamine paint, the store said 2 coats and to rough it up first. Am I on the right track?
    Great job on yours!

  19. Great job ! Did you paint only the strip or the entire door ? I am confused on that issue. It also looks like you painted the oak cupboards that the doors hang on. Did you

  20. Great job! I would like to know if the cupboards that the doors are attached to are painted? I would have to paint the outer rim of all the cupboards to cover the oak wood . Did you paint the entire door or just the strip?

  21. Can I just say what a relief to discover someone who really knows what they are talking about
    on the web. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story.
    I was surprised you aren’t more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  22. Very nice and encouraging makeover… Good to know how to upgrade my new cabinets… Great before and after.
    Just want to make clear that I am from Europe and I have never seen cabinets like that until i moved to Canada

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