Kitchen Makeover Progress

I have a little sneak peek for you today of my kitchen makeover. It is only a little peek, but I wanted to show you my progress so far. I am one week in and think it should take about 3 – 4 weeks. If you have taken on a big project by yourself like this, then you know you gotta stay focused until you get it done. I am trying to stay organized and go the distance.

Kitchen makeover progress

This is the third time I have painted kitchen cabinets. The first two were in my previous house. I wrote about that in this post: DIY Kitchen Makeover.

I am painting the cabinets by sections to keep things organized and still allowing us to be able to use the kitchen.

Here is the BEFORE of the first section of cabinets I started to paint.

Easy kitchen decorating idea that can be done in 10 minutes

It is the oven section of the cabinets. I had removed the cabinet door so we could place the microwave in the cabinet above the double ovens instead of it taking up room on the counter.


After I had a coat of paint on inside of the cabinet, I didn’t like that you could see the gaps between the sides and top of the cabinet. These gaps weren’t noticeable when the cabinets were dark, but when they’re white, the gaps are prominent.

The best caulk to use when painting a kitchen

It is super easy to fix by running a line of caulk along the gap and then smoothing it with your finger or an ice cube to make it look seamless. After the caulk is dry, I painted over it so the gaps became history.

I always caulk with what I fondly refer to as Cheez Wiz caulk. It comes in a can with a tip. It is actually called, Alex Plus Easy Caulk and is made by Dap. It makes the job of caulking quick and easy since no caulk gun is needed and it is paintable when dry. It also comes in a tube and in the traditional caulk gun style container, but the can makes caulking so easy.

Kitchen cabinet painting tips

AFTER Caulking:  You can see caulking makes a big difference wherever there is a gap or seam between wood, walls, and moldings inside and outside of the cabinets. I also caulked along the top and bottom of the crown molding where gaps showed up when the white paint went on.

Doing this is an extra step when painting cabinets but will ensure the finished painted finish will make the paint job look like a pro did it.

Tips for caulking before painting kitchen cabinets

Having one section of the cabinets done has allowed me to see all that will need to be done for the rest of the cabinets. Only 3 are going to have open shelves and will need to have the interior painted. Painting the insides is the most time consuming.

Polycrylic sealer for furniture and using to seal painted shelves

Another step that is worth the time to do is to roll on 2 light coats of Polycrylic on the top of painted shelves on the interior cabinets  This seals the latex paint so you will never hear that latex sticky sound when you remove objects on the shelves.

For paint and primer, I was going to use Glidden Complete, because that hides the wood tannins beautifully while it paints, but I wanted the brush stroke leveling quality of Sherwin Williams Pro Classic, so I ended up trying a new stain-blocking gripping primer from Valspar. So far, so good especially on the doors where I had to sand to the bare wood and then fill the existing holes in the center of each door where the previous pulls had been placed. More on this in an upcoming post.

As soon as I eat my breakfast this morning, I will be back at it. I am still waiting for the hardware to arrive, once it does I will show you how this section looks with the cabinets back on.

It is coming out better than I expected… I will explain and show you why in my next update.

Products I used:

Alex Easy Caulk

Steps not too forget to do when painting kitchen cabinets


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  1. Diane, love how it’s looking so far. I need to repaint my pantry and will be using your tips. How long do you wait for the paint to dry before you add the two coats of the polycrylic? Thanks!

  2. Sue Bauman says:

    Great job so far! You are a genius with the caulk tube!

  3. Looks great. You’re like me. I love white on white on white on white!!!!
    Can’t wait to see the finished kitchen!

  4. Diane, it’s beautiful!!! Will the Polycrylic help with all sticking? My arms sort of stick to my desk when I’m on my computer – Would this be the solution, do you think?

  5. Rachel McAdams says:

    These are beautiful! But how durable are painted cabinets with kiddos? If I need to constantly wipe them down because of kids will they hold up?

  6. Diane,
    You are just one amazing lady. I am so amazing at all the things you do and I want to be more like you. I am loving your kitchen makeover so far. It’s amazing.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Vanessa – You are just like me – a DIYer and blogger who loves to create. XO

  7. I am starting my cabinet Prineville this weekend, I an very nervous, but yours are great.
    I will send pics!

  8. Beautiful and amazing looking already! This is the best and most helpful post of the month of all the blogs I follow. Caulk in a Cheez-Wiz can?!! What could be better? And as we speak, I am waiting for living room bookshelves to “cure” after painting them this weekend, so that I can put back the books and things. Thank you for sharing these great tips.

  9. Looks good Diane. I don’t envy the work you have ahead but I do envy how beautiful it will look. Will you be spray painting your cabinet doors? Vikki in VA

  10. How smart to do it in sections, Diane. We repainted our cupboards and walls this summer and having the kitchen out of commission was difficult – I set up a mini one in a corner of the living room, which was useful despite being awkward, but it would have been so nice to keep one side of the kitchen open. You’re so right about all of the gaps that show up and how once caulked look so much better – it truly does look professional to take those extra steps. You’re making great progress and I already love how it’s looking.

  11. Thanks, Diane, for the heads-up about Ina’s new cookbook. Also, the caulking made a huge difference! Blessings, Karen

  12. Hi Diane! I have a kitchen paint question. I am helping my friend paint her kitchen, including cabinets. I gave her an extra can of my satin creamy white paint. However, I wasn’t sure if we needed actual cabinet paint. Can we paint the cabinets with the regular paint and then cover it with the polyacrylic that you show in this article? Or, do we need specific cabinet paint? Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Katie – No you do not need a special “cabinet”paint. Any good brand of latex paint will be fine. I like SW Pro Classic because it is self leveling which means less brush stroke marks in the dried finish. I would suggest though that you use a latex paint that says acrylic or enamel on the label, it will be more durable. Also, you must sand to rough up the surface to provide some “tooth” before painting. If you don’t do this, the paint will not adhere and over time will chip off easily.

  13. Mary Coakley says:

    Hi Diane You are doing great so far and what a difference the white makes.I know you have had a query already re Polycrylic ,is this the same as varnish? Thank you

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – Varnish and polyurethane are two different products. Varnish has been around a long time and sometimes is the generic term for a sealer for wood. It is a sealer that is usually used outside to help protect against water damage to wood. Polyurethane is actually a liquid plastic until it dries. The water-based kind has low odor and will not change the color of the painted finish. Varnish and oil-based polyurethanes will darken or yellow the paint color when applied over a painted surface. I always use water-based Polycrylic when sealing over a painted finish.

  14. MarianneB says:

    Thank you Diane for showing the progress thus far, it look so professional, and the color choice compliments your waterfront property perfectly! Such an improvement! Especially seeing the before and after with the microwave shelf.
    Does the polycrylic really prevent the stickiness and ring marks of painted pantry shelving? Because I immediately knew what you were talking about with my painted pantry shelves & I intensely dislike that—-it never feels quite clean, if you know what I mean—a coat of polycrylic stops that? Because I might have erroneously thought adding another layer would just make it worse.

  15. Debbie Mayfield says:

    Diane, your new cabinets look amazing! Keep up the good work!!!

  16. Laura at Duke manor farm says:

    Love seeing your progress Diane No easy wam bam project but it will look amazing when your are completely finished.

  17. You are so darn smart and inspiring. You have motivated me to paint my cabinets. I especially love how you tackle this kind of project in an organized logical manner. And such great tips! Your home is going to look beautiful, what you’ve done is beautiful. Love your site because you post about real life and projects that we can also take on.

  18. Thanks for the tip on polycrylic! I hate when stuff sticks to my shelves.

  19. Wow Diane, You are really coining along great in the kitchen. Thanks for the tip about taking it in stages. You are giving me the courage to start my kitchen one day. I used SW Pro Classic on a bathroom vanity last year and it came out beautifully. But only 3 doors vs 31 it was a lot easier. I can say it has held up beautifully, not a nick or scratch on the doors or drawers and cleans up great.

    I use Alex caulk but did not know it came in a cheezit can. I have to try that, because although I can caulk with a gun it is very awkward and sometimes I have to redo tight spots.

    I see your doors have frames around them, how do you deal with the spaces around the edges. My doors have frames and I do not know if I want to caulk or putty.

    As always thanks for your help.

  20. lindalw666 says:

    Hi, Diane; Yes, that is a big project, I did it once, but it needs it again! Your SW ProClassic paint is just what I’m going to use when I get around to it! Love what a difference the caulking makes!

  21. Hi Diane,

    Looks great! I admirer your patience!!! Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to see the cabinet hardware:)


  22. I love the white cabinets that you finished and I’m in awe of your work. Keep up the work and great posts.

  23. Looks great! I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on all once its complete. I am gearing up to paint my kitchen cabinets after the holidays.

  24. Looks just beautiful, and very professional. Will the polycrilic help tables not to be so sticky in the summer? I have a painted table and also the desk that my computer sits on that are both painted and my arms stick to both. If this is the solution, I’ll thank you for the rest of my days. ;)

  25. Linda Southworth says:

    Oh my word! I use the Cheese Whizz can too! It is so much easier to handle. I admire you hitting the cabinets one more time. It is extremely time consuming but soooo worth it. My husband and I are currently doing the same thing except we chose oil based paint for our cabinets which adds another dimension of handling. I am quite happy with the results as we have done the same as you. We tackled in sections so the kitchen could still function. I put things in plastic containers in our dining room so I could still access. The results of a good paint job and little money, lots of time is really rewarding. Now we just have to push ourselves over the line and finish the last section We took a 3 week break and I think its time. Thank you for the extra push to finish!

  26. Auntie Kaye says:

    Hi Diane – you are giving me courage. Our home is new, only 2 years, and we have medium-dark wood cabinets in the kitchen. They are not custom, and neither is the entire house!, I would call them mid-range quality. Someday I think I would like to change the look, but they are quite functional so I do not anticipate that I would want to replace them. Painting may be in my future!
    Some questions: you indicated you weren’t planning to paint the interiors of those cabinets where the doors will remain. My cabinet interiors are a lighter (blonde) color, some type of manufactured sort of wood-look material, not ugly but not anything remarkable. Around the edges of the cabinet openings is the same darker exterior color, I think I would call it the framing, and I believe I would paint this the same color as the exterior. Of course would also paint interior and exterior of the doors. Will it look weird to two see colors when the doors are open? (Exterior color, probably white, and interior blond-ish color)
    Number two: the only reason I am worried about painting is that I don’t want to see a bunch or roller marks or brush marks. Currently the cabinets have a totally smooth surface, a low gloss, not shiny, they haven’t suffered damage yet! Does the self-leveling paint you mention produce a smooth surface without ridges and other texture?
    I know you are busy, and I appreciate any insight you can add. Your kitchen is going to be fantastic, already headed that way!, and thanks for the caulking tip. Caulk guns really work best for those (mostly men it seems) with larger and stronger hands and grips. Whatta surprise….men invented them!!! (No offense intended to my sisters blessed with strong hands!)

  27. Wondering how much preparation has to be done to paint over stained cabinets but I’m sure you will go into detail in a future post. The cabinets are looking so good in white. You are to be admired for all the hard work you are putting into your new house.

  28. Thanks for sharing , I’m gearing up to paint my oak cabinets and youre giving me the courage to get started ! I have a question … you also paint underneath the wall cabinets ? I’ve never seen it done or explained in all of my searches . Thanks !

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Caz – Yes, I paint underneath the wall cabinets. When I post the tutorial on the whole painting process I will show this. I use a foam roller to make it easy to reach under the cabinets.

  29. Looks great!

    Is that Polycrylic flammable? It’s not polyurathane , right? I had a friend who had a bad experience with the latter, but polycrylic sounds like it’s different.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Helen – Polycrylic is a water-based poly. It is not flammable. I use it to seal painted surfaces since it will not yellow the color. Oil-based polyurethane will change the color, smells awful and can be flammable. Water-based Polycrylic has no smell and can be cleaned up with soap and water. So much better than any oil-based product. The only place I have ever used an oil-based poly was on my staircase steps. They are dark brown so even if the poly does darken the color, you won’t see it.

      1. Thanks, Diane!

        Where else do you usually use it? On woodwork baseboards where all the drips end up?

        I’m asking because we’re getting ready to paint, too.

        Thanks, again!

  30. Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

    I absolutely LOVE love love seeing how your home is being transformed from “average” looking to “over the top stunning” ! Looking forward to seeing your finished kitchen but was super excited to see the sneak peek. :-)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Connie – SW Pro Classic is the best. It can be pricey, but I was happy to find out the day I went to the SW paint store to buy it they were having a big sale. I lucked out and saved a lot!! The store was packed when I arrived and it was in the middle of the day on a Wed. When I asked what was going on, I was told a big sale. Anyone that loves to use SW paints was there it seemed. :-)

      1. Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

        So right about the high price, but so worth it. That’s when having their 40% coupon comes in handy :-)

  31. Elaine Williams says:

    Looks fabulous! I know the finished product will be beautiful. You did the right thing by using the kitchen funds for a boat. I would have done the same thing! The remedy that caulking provides cannot be stressed enough. I had mastered the ‘gun’ once my husband showed me how to take the pressure off but I think for my next job I will try the canned – just seems easier. When I caulk I also have a cup of cold water with me to dip my finger in to smooth the caulk and then follow with a damp rag.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Elaine, thanks – I have had many lessons on how to use a caulk gun, but my hands are just too weak, plus the can makes caulking in tight places very easy. My DIYing blogger friends laughed when they saw me struggling to use one at a home improvement blogger event I attend a while back :-)

      Great tip to have a cup of cold water nearby and damp rag to smooth the caulk. Water is the key. Have you ever tried using an ice cube? I learned that from a guy at the Home Depot. It works very well, too.

  32. patty reed-pederson says:

    Love white cabinets. We had a space between the top of our kitchen cabinets and the ceiling and used caulk to fill the gap. What a huge difference that made. Your home is coming along so great!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patty – Thanks. Caulk is a DIY’ers best friend :-)

  33. The aerosol caulk is new to me and I will definitely try it. I just don’t seem to get along well with caulk guns. Your completed cabinet looks great.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carla – I am like you…I don’t get along well with caulk guns either. My hands are not strong enough. The can caulk is one of my go to products. If you do try it, I have noticed on the last few cans that I used that the tip would not stay down. Maybe just a bad lot as I bought another one and it worked just fine. Just make sure that the tip is screwed down all the way to the top of the can before using.

  34. Melissa Leach says:

    Thanks for the sneak peak! The cabinets look amazing and your tips are great. Thanks very much for sharing this morning. If you can paint all those time consuming stair spindles you can do this. Do you think after painting kitchen cabinets a third time, this may be your forever home?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melissa – Thanks and yes…those stair spindles had me seeing double after a while. :-) I sure hope this is our forever home. We love it here and it will be the perfect place to get old in and have grandkids come to visit someday.

  35. Deb Wostmann says:

    Your kitchen will look beautiful as always. So jealous of your Ina Garten cookbooks :-)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Deb – Thanks. I don’t even enjoy cooking, but I love her style and her cookbooks are so pretty. I love to collect and display them. So you have any? I bet you could find them at a used bookstore online.

      1. Deb Wostmann says:

        Ha, I hated cooking until we remodeled our kitchen a year and a half ago now I really enjoy trying new recipes. Don’t have any of her cookbooks, but great idea for the hubby to get me for Christmas. Can’t wait to see your progress.

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Maybe that will happen to me too….enjoy cooking someday. I think a glass of wine while doing it may help. :-)

  36. Thanks for sharing, I love the sneak peeks!
    And it’s probably good for you too, you know you’re making progress bit by bit.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – Thanks. and yes… the progress reporting will help me keep on track. :-)

  37. Looks fantastic! So you don’t poly over the doors etc, just the shelving?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – In my previous kitchen where I painted the cabinets I did not use poly on the doors since I used semi-gloss paint. They held up perfectly for years. The Pro Classic paint is super durable so there is no need. If I was using a flat or satin finish or chalk paint, then I would probably poly to seal the surface. Using poly on the flat surface of the shelves where items will sit does wonders to remove the latex sticky sound when you remove items. On vertical surfaces that problem does not occur. :-)

      1. Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

        Diane, I too used SW ProClassic on my kitchen cabinets and LOVED the self-leveling aspect of it. Mine too lasted for years without any poly over the top. I also used the paint in semi-gloss.

        1. I would love a white kitchen but with 6 kids I wonder if I would be constantly wiping them down. I would love to hear from someone with kids in the home how the painting holds up.

          1. Rachel…I came from a family with 8 in the house. Everything was dark dark dark because the prevailing notion was “it doesn’t show the dirt”. True, but if it doesn’t show, you’re less likely to see it/ clean it. If you prep and paint properly there’s no reason why painted cabinets cannot hold up as well (if not better!) than stained cabinets. My motto and vote for white is this: “You see the dirt, you clean the dirt”. Sure it comes down to a matter of how much cleaning you want to take on and how much ‘not so clean’ you can tolerate. But in the end, if you want that white kitchen go for it! :-) Your children can be taught (coaxed) to learn to be more careful too….. This from a mom of two boys. :-)

  38. Love it already! Can wait to see the updates and your new kitchen!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lori – Thanks. I still have a long way to go, but I have everything set up in the kitchen and garage where I am painting the cabinet doors which should make the production line painting process go quickly now.