Oak Kitchen Reveal: From Builder Grade to Custom Made


This reveal has been a long time coming, but I’m sure you’ll find that it was worth the wait!  I know many people struggle with what to do with their builder grade oak cabinets, and this kitchen project is proof positive that you can make big changes without crushing the budget.  I ended up going back and following my own kitchen cabinet painting tutorial for much of this, but will be back with additional detail and some tips and tricks in dealing with oak cabinets, since they were a bit trickier than my own maple ones.

Kelly is a photographer, so I have to give her major snaps for providing me with some gorgeous blog candy photos.  Check her out – she’s been shooting our family photos for years now, and is branching out into commercial photography as well.  Not to mention that she is is my go-to girl for photography tricks of the trade. 

Let’s get to it!  Do you remember where this journey began?  Kelly was looking for something more modern (like she is), and was “over” the red.  The style of the kitchen just didn’t mesh with her personal style, and she wanted a cleaner, more contemporary look.

So, that’s what we did.  We had the cabinets built up to the ceiling and trimmed out with crown molding.  Huge difference with that alone, and it definitely takes “builder grade” out of the equation.   The cabinet color is White Dove, by Benjamin Moore.  I used the Benjamin Moore Advance paint, like I did in my own kitchen redo (because it’s awesomely revolutionary).  I love that she wanted to keep the island, because it gives it a nice rustic feel and keeps it from feeling too stark or cold.

And this is the kitchen all styled and beautified – gorgeous!

The plan is to eventually put dark hardwood floors throughout much of the main floor, and upgrade the countertops, appliances and backsplash as well (with penny tile). But the great thing is that the floor and counter will work in the meantime since they both have gray in them – a nice interim solution.

We also added hardware to the cabinets, since they were missing it before.  I have to give a big shout out to D. Lawless Hardware for providing the knobs and pulls.  They’re just what this space needed to bring it into the 21st century!

We opted for polished chrome knobs and pulls in keeping with the modern vibe we were going for in this space.

And let’s not forget the transformation with the wall color – don’t you love it?  I’m a smitten kitten myself.  It’s called Elephant Skin by Behr.  Yes, the name is somewhat unappealing, but the color is remarkable! 

It even works until the backsplash is put in place – I love the high contrast.

This kitchen gets an abundance of light to begin with from the adjoining sunroom, which makes the new cabinet color even more well suited.  Plus, the gray really works with it as a result.  It’s still a sunny and inviting kitchen – not at all dark or drab.

You can even see her faux roman shades (ala another Target tablecloth) in this shot.  Sound familiar?  Love it!

So, there you have it!  From a tired oak kitchen, to a fresh and modern space.  All on a budget.  Good stuff!

So what do you think?  Thinking about painting your kitchen cabinets?  Give it a go!  Or, give me a call, because I’m starting to take on these jobs for clients!

P.S.  – I’m also guest posting today over at Just a Girl – hop on over and take a peek!

Linking up:
Liz Marie Blog – Inspire Me Please
Savvy Southern Style – Wow Us Wednesday
Miss Mustard Seed – Furniture Feature Friday
Beneath My Heart – June DIY Party
Not Just a Housewife – The Best DIY Projects of 2013

TDC Before and After


  • Reply
    Cassie @ Primitive & Proper
    June 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    what a dramatic difference!!! gorgeous and so light and bright now!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Schmitz
    June 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I love your kitchen redo! I'm a sucker for white cabinetry and your cabinets and wall color look great together. Love it!

  • Reply
    Kristin Williams
    June 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Jenny! This kitchen is gorgeous!I love everything about it especially the paint color. It's amazing what a little paint can do. Did you do her roman shades as well? Not sure if that's fabric or bought, but I love them. Thanks so much for sharing, I will post it on Wednesday! Hope you have a great day!

  • Reply
    Lisa @ Shine Your Light
    June 25, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Jenny, it looks fantastic!!!!!!!! I can't believe the difference, your friend must be so thrilled!!! We used the same white and I love it, it's not too stark and not too cream, just perfect. Loving that beautiful island too – so glad you kept it!

  • Reply
    pam {simple details}
    June 25, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Wow Jenny, what an amazing job! You're right the contrast of the warm wood island is perfect. So many people get anxious about not being able to replace appliances, but you barely notice theirs with all the other gorgeous details!

  • Reply
    Sara F.
    June 25, 2013 at 2:44 am

    I absolutely LOVE seeing a beautiful kitchen that doesn't have stainless steel appliances! I just can't justify replacing my white appliances because they still work perfectly. I adore this bright, clean kitchen!

  • Reply
    Carmel - Our Fifth House
    June 26, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    This is amazing! What a difference fresh paint can make!

  • Reply
    Erin Melikidse
    June 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Such a wonderful change. Did you guys paint the kitchen or hire out? I so want to paint my lovely oak cabinets that I have had for ten years:( and cringe every time I go into my kitchen. Some day I will get brave. love your blog.

  • Reply
    Nikki Green Caprara
    June 28, 2013 at 3:09 am

    What a fun re-do! Wouldn't some subway tile back splash look amazing with those white cabinets?! Lovely job ladies!

  • Reply
    Craftivity Designs
    June 28, 2013 at 3:20 am

    Such a great re-do! Building up the cabinets makes such a huge difference. Love it!
    – Lora @ Craftivity Designs

  • Reply
    June 28, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    What an amazing transformation.

  • Reply
    Abby Lawson
    June 28, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    What a stunning transformation! I love the colors you chose. Pinning! I popped over from Inspire Me Please–thanks for sharing!

    ~Abby =)

  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Your kitchen looks amazing! I would definitely love cooking in there.

  • Reply
    brittany renee
    July 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    This kitchen is gorgeous! I love the white cabinet/gray wall combo and the wooden island is the perfect complement!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2013 at 11:15 am


    Such a wonderful change.the kitchen is gorgeous!I love everything about it especially the paint color. It's amazing what a little paint can do.thank so much the perfect kitchen designing…

    Custom kitchen cabinet

  • Reply
    Designs By Pinky
    July 10, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Gorgeous transformation! I LOOOVE the paint color on the walls.

  • Reply
    Cindy @ Dwellings-The Heart of Your Home
    July 10, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Turned out beautifully, love your island!

  • Reply
    Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest
    July 10, 2013 at 6:19 am

    Oh my gosh – what a difference, holy smokes – it's AWESOME!

    If she never did a backsplash or changed her counters or floors it looks great as is.

    WOW. Well done, truly!

  • Reply
    Jeannie and Linda
    July 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    I love how it turned out! Beautiful redo!

    Linda at The French Hens Nest

  • Reply
    July 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Beautiful! Was it hard to "build up" the cabinets? I have yucky builder grade cabinets as well.

    Marilyn C.

  • Reply
    Joy@Thrifty Parsonage Living
    July 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    The kitchen is gorgeous! I love the white cabinet/gray wall combo!!!

  • Reply
    Krista @ Goodwill Glam
    August 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    This is amazing! Exactly what I want to do in our kitchen! Can you tell me more about the process? Is it typical? Sanding, priming, painting, etc.?

    Krista @ Goodwill Glam

    • Reply
      August 14, 2013 at 1:42 am

      A bit more prep work for oak cabinets, due to the grain, but the process was very similar to the one I followed when I painted my cabinets. I'm planning on doing a post specifically about painting oak cabinets though, because there are some things you can do to make the process a wee bit easier!


    • Reply
      August 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      I am going to be doing mine next week after reading the tutorial for your kitchen. My cabinets are oak though just like this. If could share any specific tips about the prep work I would really really appreciate it! I am just not sure if there would be more sanding required for the oak.

  • Reply
    Gregoria Newsome
    August 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    It’s amazing how colors can make such a huge difference on the interior design, and you were able to prove that in your kitchen renovation. I like how you worked your decorating skills here. You gave it a soft touch by adding fresh décors. Kudos!
    Gregoria Newsome @ Woods Custom Kitchens

  • Reply
    Arthur Bryant
    September 25, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    When I saw the red kitchen, I thought of the word 'happy'. 🙂 It really looked like a pleasant place but I can't blame Kelly for wanting a different look. The kitchen is still pleasant, but in a different way. And I think I like it better. Arthur@Contractor Express

  • Reply
    Klint Holland
    March 8, 2014 at 2:56 am

    How did you get the crown moulding to sit to flush with the stiple ceiling? Looks great btw!

  • Reply
    June 10, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    So glad I found your blog. I am starting my oak cabinets tomorrow!

  • Reply
    June 21, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Much, much better! It's amazing what a difference paint can make. I'm in the process of redoing an old house that I bought and will be painting a knotty pine kitchen. Lots of work ahead, but I can hardly wait to see the difference. I'm glad I found your page. You've given me a lot of great info.

  • Reply
    Princess Tiffany
    June 29, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I know you said you used White Dove by Benjamin Moore; can you tell me if you used eggshell, high gloss, etc??? Thanks! Oh…and what type of brush you used for application or was it sprayed? I've been wanting to do my cabinets for a while and mine are exactly like hers (before).

  • Reply
    Derrick Sly
    October 28, 2014 at 3:08 am

    I'm a fan of the cleaner, modern-looking black and white kitchens. I can still appreciate the wood furniture, though. It lends a certain rustic atmosphere. The red paint compliments that nicely too.

  • Reply
    Caleb Hart
    November 12, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    These cabinets are so gorgeous. My wife and I want to get some cabinets put in our home and we've been looking for ideas. How many days did this take to get finished. I just hope my wife and I can agree on a common color scheme. http://www.adamsfinefurniture.com/PhotoGallery/KitchenPhotoGallery.aspx

  • Reply
    Christine Vandormolen
    February 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    wow love this!!!!!! Would you mind telling me what paint color you used for the kitchen walls????? Christine from Little Brags
    [email protected]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.