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Painting Kitchen Cabinets, New Doors & Drawer Fronts – Kate’s Incredible Dublin Kitchen Makeover Diary

Kate in Dublin kept a DIY kitchen makeover photo diary, everything from painting kitchen cabinets to fitting the new kitchen doors and about a hundred other things in between.

Kate, thank you so much for sharing your experience, your awesome makeover diary and fantastic photos.

Grab a cuppa and find a comfy chair. If you are thinking of doing your own kitchen makeover, you are not going to want to miss this.

The Brown Kitchen

On buying our first home over a year ago, I have slowly been renovating here and there, our finances really dictates the pace! The kitchen is very small and brown! It is the room that I am mostly in and decided it had priority next! I looked at many options including respraying, which was far more expensive than I had anticipated.

I looked at many options including respraying, which was far more expensive than I had anticipated

I decided to paint the units and order new door and drawer fronts. On contacting a few Irish companies, I decided to go with Kitchen Wizard, I found their prices very reasonable, communication was prompt and they were very helpful with all my queries, and there were many!

The order in which you renovate your kitchen is up to yourself.

Measuring

I measured all the cupboard doors and drawers width and height then assigned a number to each one clearly marking if they are left or right hanging.

The next stage is to methodically measure where to router holes for the hinges. I made a template to slot around the hinge which marked the centre of hinge.

By placing a template around each hinge you determine the centre of each hinge to the top edge or bottom edge of the door. This is usually standard when a kitchen has been professionally installed, but unfortunately, ours was not! So I found each hinge position was slightly different! Hence, I custom made the templates.

It is important to go over measurements again before putting in your order! I found Kitchens Wizards ordering process quite simple and easy to follow, it has drop down menus and clear diagrams. I went with the Firbeck Supergloss White.

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Firbeck Gloss White Kitchen Door & Drawer Front
Firbeck Gloss White Kitchen Door & Drawer Front

For the drawers I only ordered the fronts with no drilling, same as for the dishwasher front.

I also measured the pelmet and ordered suffice lengths of Multi-purpose rails.

As I was renovating the kitchen on a tight budget I decided to keep our existing kick boards and to paint them as with the cupboard units.

I opted for the Slim rail handles. As our kitchen is small I wanted the handles to be subtle and to almost allow the facade to look like one large glossy page!

Slim Rail Handles
Slim Rail Handles

Removing Doors, Drawer Fronts, Pelmets & Kickboards

I unclipped the cupboard doors from the unit hinges and drawer fronts from drawers. The drawers had release clips on each side that easily removed the fronts from the drawer tracks. I then carefully removed the fittings on the reverse of the drawer fronts and stored them for reuse.

I removed all shelf supports, drawer tracks and hinge plates from units and stored them safely.

I also unscrewed and removed the pelmets, kick boards and took out cupboard shelves.

Painting The Kitchen Cabinets

It is important to wash down all surfaces that will be painted with Sugar Soap, this removes all grease and dirt.

Our units are laminated so I used Zinsser cover stain primer, this is designed to bond to non porous surfaces.

I used masking tape to cover wall areas next to units, oven etc and covered surfaces before painting.

I used a small foam roller to apply the paint. Once the first coat dried, I applied the second coat.

I was fortunate that the weather was good, so I was able to paint the shelves and kick board outside.

Finally I decided to paint the units, shelves and kick board with Crown Trade satin finish. I advise to sand side edges of cupboard shelves before painting. I didn’t and found after painting the shelves, they didn’t fit in as easily, the paint added a few mm, so I sanded after painting!

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Sanding a shelf to make it fit
Sanding a shelf to make it fit after painting.

Hinges

Most kitchens are installed that the hinges can be removed easily from both the doors and the units. I was able to remove the hinge mounting plates from the units easily, but unfortunately once unclipped, the corresponding hinges attached to the cupboard doors were installed with non-removable screws/plugs! This was a glitch, but nothing I couldn’t resolve!

Luckily the hinges were standard and I was able to order new hinges online. As I was able to remove the hinge mounting plate and reuse them, I only had to order the corresponding hinges for the mounting plates, that would clip together.

Installing the New Kitchen Doors

The order from Kitchen Wizard arrived quickly and found that everything was packaged very well, each piece was clearly labelled.

The original hinge mounting plates had to be put back into the units, then the shelf supports, drawer tracks and shelves.

We actually put the Slim handle rails on after cupboards were installed, but at this stage would be a good idea too, before they are installed.

To install the hinges into the new doors, pilot holes needed to be tapped into doors prior to screwing. Using a Try & Mitre square to ensure the hinges were placed straight into the routered holes, I tapped the screw gently in the centre of holes and screwed the plates into the doors.

Once all hinges were screwed into new doors, it was hanging time! I left this part to my husband! The hinges clipped back onto the mounting plates, there was a good bit of tweaking required, and still, I think more to come! There are screws to allow these adjustments.

The dishwasher front was screwed back onto the front of the integrated dishwasher. You will need two people to do this as you have to ensure when the door is closed it is flush with adjacent cupboard doors.

The fan extractor piece was screwed back in place, like the dishwasher front, ensure it is level with the top cupboard adjacent to it.

Installing the New Drawer Fronts

As Kitchen Wizard only offer drilling for hinges, I needed to drill small holes to accommodate the fittings that attach to drawer tracks. Ensure you have the correct size drill bit and mark with masking tape the depth to drill into reverse of drawer front. I reattached the fittings and they clipped back onto the drawer tracks that had been re-screwed back into the unit. The drawers also were adjusted to sit flush when closed.

Installing the Slim Kitchen Door Handles

The slim handles have a centre mark, this made it ease to measure from the edge of each door inwards to preferred position. Once centre point for handle was marked on back of the doors, I marked the centre of each hole with a dowel and hammer. Its important to screw the screws in first with no handle, ensure not to go too deep as screw head may break through to the front. Then I removed screw again and shaved the excess wood that gathers when screw goes in. This is to ensure the handle sits flush to the door when re-screwed with handle.

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Slim Rail Handle Installed
Slim Rail Handle Installed

Installing the New Pelmet

The pelmet was a bit tricky, and it required using a compound mitre saw. Most angles were at 45degrees but the corner cupboard proved more difficult! I resorted to making a cardboard template to get the exact angles. I used the original holes in cupboard units to screw the pelmet pieces into place. Like the handles, I shaved the excess wood off the pelmet holes before re-attaching them to units. I advise to do a few small test cuts with saw before starting, I found depending if I cut from front to back of Multi purpose rail, or visa versa, the laminate gloss chipped. I cant recall which it was, but one gave a clean cut.

Tiling

This was a laborious job! I wore safety gloves, glasses and used a paint scraper and hammer! Ensure to cover the surface below with cardboard. We were fortunate enough that my husbands colleague used to be a tiler and offered help tile the kitchen.

Walls & Ceiling

Annoyingly, the previous owners of our house, glued lino to the walls! Not only that, there was wallpaper on top of that! It was the most time consuming effort to remove it! I found using a steamer helper and meth spirits. Unfortunately, some of the plaster was hacked during the process. Once all the adhesive was removed, I washed down the walls and let them dry.

The next steps were to prime the walls, fill holes etc, sand and prime again! The walls were in awful condition, so there was a lot of filling and sanding required. I finally painted the kitchen with a wipeable matt emulsion. I used the same for the ceiling. Two coats for both.

Doors Frames & Skirting

There were layers of paint on the door frames, cracking in places. There was no option, the paint needed to be removed. I used the steamer to soften the paint, and then used a flat stanley blade with handle to scratch away. It took a very long time, but was worth the effort. Once all paint had been removed, I sanded with two grade, rough first then a soft grain. Finally, the surfaces were wiped down so there was no dust.
I painted an undercoat and then two coats of white satin finish.

The doors needed and undercoat and two coats of the same satin finish. I used a roller for the door.

The Worktop

Finally, after much searching I could not find a new counter top to suit my requirements. I was going to go with a solid oak, but was put off as they require a lot of maintaining and risk water marks in time. I decided on a laminate, but didn’t like what was out there! I decided to research and ended up custom making it myself! I sub-contracted some of the manufacturing and a friend installed it.

Finishing Touches

The kitchen is almost finished, there has been a lull with the renovations and I hope to restart soon! The final touches will involve making open cubbies from the top of wall mounted units to ceiling. They will be made from Birch Plywood, same as the counter top, and will have the bold orange laminate piece at the back of the open units. The corner piece I hope will be a closed front storage unit with the same front as cupboards, and a piece fixed over the extractor fan up to the ceiling!