Mini Kitchen Makeover

July 7, 2011

So we took a little vacation last week up and down the California coast and we were gone for six days.  Apparently, the moment we locked the front door our refrigerator decided to turn itself into an oven, both the refrigerator and freezer I might add.  We came home to a dripping, gooey, moldy, horrible, like something out of a Halloween movie mess, with a super fun odor to go with it! 

Thankfully, the refrigerator was finally repaired yesterday, it needed a fancy shmancy part, but I lived without it for a week.  Why do I tell you this exciting story?  Because of this minor inconvenience I was forced to use the kitchen in our guest studio.  Yes, we have a little guest studio above our garage with a small but full kitchen.  We’ve had tenants over the years, but right now the studio is used for storage and is available for out of town family and guests. 

Anyway, prepping and cooking in this kitchen made me realize I was not in love with the color of the cabinetry, so I decided while I was up there, I might as well just refinish them.  I also swapped out the light fixture and added a much needed window shade. 


kitchen before


kates kitchen makeover after


I swear, it feels twice as big inside with the white cabinets!

The cabinetry you see is actually the same cabinetry that used to be in our kitchen  years ago.  When we added the studio and new kitchen five years ago, we reused the old kitchen cabinets up here which saved us a lot of dough.   We even reused the same sink, faucet, and refrigerator that were still in excellent shape from when the house was first built twelve years ago.  Funny, this refrigerator has never given me trouble, but the fancy shmancy one in my kitchen?  It has needed to be repaired twice now, grrr.

I decided to use the RustOleum Cabinet Transformations Kit that I had a chance to sample last year to see how it would perform on my own cabinets.  This 8’ x 9’ kitchen was the perfect candidate for a quick fix weekend makeover.  I chose the color ‘Linen’.

rustoleum kit

I also did something unconventional that I’ve never done before, I painted the doors and drawer fronts in place!  I didn’t bother to remove them like I always have in the past.  I just didn’t feel like carrying them up and down to my garage in the July heat!

refinished in place

I only got away with it because of the nifty hinges inside the cabinet, I just painted around them with a smaller brush. 

smaler brush

After the deglossing step, I applied the first layer of the bond coat thin enough that I wasn’t worried about drips, but thick enough to give good coverage, I was really pleased with it. 

The bond coat has the fluidity of paint, but the texture of primer once applied.  It does dry quickly like a primer, but I did not experience the same amount of drag or brush strokes that I have with latex paints (to which I typically add a conditioner like Floetrol to minimize the drag and brush strokes).  

one and two coats

I did notice after two coats there were small brush strokes on the surface, but if you’re careful in your application and use a good angled brush (I like the Purdy brand) brush strokes are minimized, and only noticeable when you get up extremely close to the cabinets.  I also noticed in some areas, I needed to go back over the cabinets or drawer fronts with a third touch up coat in spots. 

The kit also comes with a dark decorative glaze which is optional, but I prefer the clean look without the glaze, so I skipped it.  The bond coat dries very flat, which is why you’ll need to add the UV protective coat at the end for a subtle sheen and to seal the bond coat.  I have two entire quarts of this protective coat left, which I know I’ll use again and again in the future.

protective coat

The product is low odor, water based, with very easy to follow instructions.  It retails for $79 for the small kit and $149 for the large.  Refinishing cabinets the traditional way, I’d typically purchase a gallon of primer ($25) a gallon of paint ($30), a paint conditioner ($8), brush and sanding wedge ($20) and a quart of protectant ($12) for a total of $95, so I see this kit (if buying the large) as a small splurge for a kitchen project, however the ease of use, easy cleanup, and time savings makes up for the cost difference since there’s no stripping, sanding or priming required.  The kits often go on sale at OSH, Home Depot and Lowes. 

I still stand by my original review of the kit, and I will use this again.  I have 2/3 of a gallon of the bond coat left, enough to redo my hall bathroom and perhaps a piece of furniture or two.  I do recommend the kit as a great solution for a quick fix or weekend makeover. 

I replaced the light fixture and added a new shade as well.  The industrial style fixture was a find from my local ReStore, I picked it up for $12 and gave it a coat of spray paint on top. 

brass pendant


I love the contrast between the matte nickel top and shiny white underside, it’s perfect!

new light fixture

The woven shade is Levolor, cut as an outside mount to a few inches beyond the window.  You can find them at Lowes in five different colors, they cut them for you in the store, so easy!

Here’s a couple more ‘Before’ and ‘After’ shots:

kitchen before left

kate mini kitchen makeover left side

Rug by Dash & Albert.

before right

kates mini kitchen makeover right side

A fantastic result in one weekend! 

This post is not sponsored or paid for by Rust-Oleum.  It is my honest opinion and evaluation of their Cabinet Transformations Kit based on my personal experience.



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189 Responses to “Mini Kitchen Makeover”

  1. Christina says:

    Oh wow! I love it! It’s amazing what some white paint can do!

  2. jackie says:

    beautiful! i’ve been dying to do this with my kitchen but my cabinets are laminate : /

  3. Ashley says:

    Ummm, tht is NOT a mini makeover….painting cabinets is a lot of work! It looks awesome!

  4. craftytammie says:

    i’ve been thinking about using that stuff to redo our kitchen! yours looks amazing!

  5. Fabulous! The light and the window treatment really top it off!

  6. You’re so funny!! “While I’m here using this kitchen, I might as well prime and paint 15 shelf doors AND 9 drawer fronts”. No better time like the present! It looks fantastic!!

  7. Joy says:

    Sorry to hear about the fridge, what a smelly finish to your holiday.

    Your kitchen makeover is amazing – white makes such an upbeat change. Thanks for sharing the products you used. I’ve noted them in my ‘little book’ in case I repaint our cabinets – a very real possibility.

    – Joy

  8. Jackie says:

    That looks so great! I agree with Ashley….painting cabinets is a lot of work. I know from experience. I couldn’t believe how light and bright our kitchen became following our kitchen remodel. Check it out below if you are interested!

    Keep up the amazing work!


  9. Erin says:

    Wow! Great work. It looks unbelievable!!

  10. I painted my cabinets in the same color and I luv the mini transformation. The only difference is you finished your project before I did. Hehe!

  11. Sharon says:

    Love the makeover! What is the wall color? Am having trouble finding the perfect light blue and that looks like a winner! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Elisa says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing! The colors in our kitchen are really similar to your before and I’ve been dreaming of white cabinets to brighten everything up! I just pinned the crap out of this post. Hah.

  13. Dang, it DOES look bigger!!!

  14. Bethany Kingma says:

    I LOVE this little kitchen! It’s bigger than our little apartment’s by about 6 cabinets and 5 feet of counter space. :)

    One question…how do you think the Rust-oleum Kit holds up compared to redoing cabinets the traditional way (sanding, priming, etc.)? The kitchen is where I spend the majority of my time at home…I need something very durable and high quality!

  15. elaine says:

    what a difference! Looks great!

  16. Wow this is fabulous. I just saw this kit too yesterday at Lowes. Nice to know it works well. I just did a recent post about wanting to paint my cabinets but I am just too lazy right now. Maybe one day…Thanks for sharing!

  17. christine says:

    im so jealous! lol. i have a small kitchen, probably smaller- i want to paint it just like this- but the landlord said no. it looks great!

  18. Sarah P. says:

    I used the same product for our kitchen. We chose espresso. It really is a great product, and saves a Ton on time!

  19. Stephanie says:

    It looks awesome! What a difference it makes…so fresh and airy!

  20. Erin says:

    Looks great! For a mini-makeover, that looks fantastic, so much brighter and cheerier. I’m in the process of redoing my kitchen and am installing white cabinets. I like your countertops, any chance you’d share the make/color with me? Thanks!

  21. Kim says:

    Wow! I can’t help but wonder what is the difference between you – a person who takes a disaster as an opportunity to do something awesome! – and me – a person who would become overwhelmed to the point of paralysis! Whatever the difference, I would like to be more like you. :)

  22. Jenn says:

    It’s gorgeous! I really love the look of white cabinets. I have builder grade oak in my kitchen, and I am so ready to paint them white. I may investigate the Rustoleum cabinet kit – you make this look so easy! Beautiful job!!

  23. Ban Clothing says:

    Oustanding. The before was okay but the after is up to date and modern. I really love the transformation and I am sure any tenants you have in the future will really appreciate the new kitchen. It’s amazing how small changes have such a huge impact.

  24. Amy says:

    You are amazing! I love how paint transforms a place.

  25. Dharma says:

    …..and now I want to paint my cabinets. Sheesh! Sorry about the smelly return home lady. Hope the vacay made up for the finish. This kitchen rocks now. My husband says “THANKS ALOT!”

  26. Gloria says:

    You make this look so easy! Please come to my house. THankyouverymuch.

    Sadly, I started my kitchen cabinets almost a year ago and they still need another coat of paint and hardware…

  27. I am always amazed at what painting kitchen cabinets can do for a kitchen and yours is no exception. I think you could rent that out for a pretty penny, it looks fantastic! Nice job!! :)

  28. Dharma says:

    @Commentor jackie above – the website has a testimonial from a customer who used this product with success on laminate :) maybe your dreams could come true :)

  29. NoelleBelle says:

    Thinking about painting our kitchen cabinets too. Will definitely use this kit. Will you be posting about how you installed the hardware? It really makes the kitchen.
    Also there did you get them from?


  30. andi says:

    Looks great! so light and airy! i keep debating on whether or not i should paint our builder-grade, partially fake wood cabinets. they are the same color as yours were. you definitely have me leaning toward doing it. thanks!

  31. Oh, Kate, fantastic!!! I think it’s nicer than my REAL kitchen…if we had a guest kitchen, it would have to be out in the shed, and I don’t like to go in there because there may be wasps and also it is hot in there. I don’t like hot.

    We have a Levelor bamboo shade in the family room, and I really like it. You’re the second blog today I’ve seen using those in the kitchen…I’m thinking that’s the way I want to go once I get the kitchen painted. Love it with the white cabinets.

  32. Holly says:

    Love it! Thanks so much for the post with all of the info… can’t wait to try on my kitchen cabinets!

  33. Bravo! I love the, “I’m already up here…might as well get it done.” attitude!

  34. Holly says:

    I’m not usually a fan of painting wood cabinets but that kitchen does look MUCH larger. I like it! Great work. :)

  35. Jennifer says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. What a change!

  36. Shut the front door. Kate, you are a rockstar! Are you serious with this “mini” makeover??? This is incredible!! Fabulous! Amazing! Ok I’ll stop with all of the adjectives, but you are seriously the bomb.

  37. Lisa says:


    so much better!

  38. I absolutely love it and can’t believe you did it on a whim…AND got the whole thing done over the weekend! Now I need to kick myself into gear and finish my painting projects that have been hanging over me for months!!

  39. Angie says:

    WOW! I am in love with white kitchens right now, and this is beautiful! I have a quick question-I painted our old cabinets a couple of years ago,a nd I used black enamel. {Gasp…I know-what was I thinking?!?} Anyhow-I loved the black at first, but now I feel like it is so heavy and dark in contrast to the rest of our house. I have been wanting to redo it in white. Can I use a product like this since I used enamel last time?

  40. April says:

    I don’t know how you do it! Painting cabinets at random while taking care of a mess in your main kitchen. Kudos to you! It looks fabulous!

  41. Rugger says:

    Once again “Centsational!!!” The kitchen looks so much larger. I just walked through a small kitchen that had new oak cabinets that looked fine, but dated and it was brand new. Your transformation really brought things into this century. Well done Kate, you did it again!

  42. angela says:

    Looks amazing! What color is on the walls in there? I’m on the hunt for the perfect delicate blue-gray shade, and the color on your walls looks so nice :) Thanks!

  43. Amy Dow says:

    Oh Kate…you come through again! (Sorry about the fridge) BUT…this little kit is the PERFECT product for repainting my laundry room cabinets!!! Now I am inspired to get started! Just have to convince hubs to paint the ceiling and walls first! :) I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear that! Thanks again for sharing!

  44. Jaimie says:

    I’ve been wanting to redo our bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and I’ve been wondering if it would be better to use this Rustoleum kit or go ahead and buy everything. The kitchen would only need the Small kit anyways, so it seems like maybe it’s the way to go? I always love your makeovers.

  45. Candy says:

    I am so wanting to do this to my kitchen! We have “oak” and hubs thinks painting over good :”oak” is a crime, but the white is so clean looking and makes the room seem so much bigger! I am so jealous, you did a fantastic job!

  46. Megan says:

    It looks awesome. You just made up my mind for me. I am paining our cheap looking cabinets white. My husband has been begging me to do it since we moved in last year but I always said no.

    My mom bought a new fansy shmansy dishwasher less than six months ago and it is already not working. Her last dishwasher was a low end and lasted over ten years. Sometimes new doesn’t mean better but it doesn look good.

  47. This looks amazing!! Thanks for sharing your review. Definitely thinking of using one of these kits in the future!!

  48. cynthia says:

    absolutely delicious! thanks for all the juicy details.

  49. Ann says:


  50. Autumn says:

    Super cute!

  51. Tracey says:

    I just did a similar project last week, except mine was at our shack in Canada, 13 hours from home. We were getting rid of the original rough lumber (ugh) walls and plywood ceiling, and replacing it all with bead board – painted for the walls, and varnished pine for the ceiling. We painted the cabinets using Behr Ultra (w/primer) and some Floetrol, and they came out surprisingly well for a quickie brush paint project. I recently purchased an HVLP sprayer for my compressor and had great luck with it on a desk project, so we took it with us to do the doors on the cabinets. Unfortunately, the gasket on the paint pot failed and the gun let me down, so we brush painted the doors too. I would have preferred the sprayed look, but we only had 5 days to get it all done from studs to completion.

    Did I mention we have to schlep everything to the cottage by boat? I need a vacation from my vacation!

  52. Tracey says:

    Love the light fixture, by the way. Never would have occurred to me to paint the whole thing the same color – looks fantastic!

  53. HI Kate-

    White cabinets in a kitchen just sing to me. The transformation looks great. Simple, yet wow!
    My best- Diane

  54. Kim says:

    Your spare kitchen has twice the storage of my everyday kitchen! I love the white and woven shade you picked up. Great redo and I don’t think “mini” does it justice.

  55. tracie says:

    looks amazing! love that you chose white.. makes the appliances blend in.. LOVE that!

  56. Amazing! Love that light!

  57. Paula says:

    I just HAVE to show this to my niece, who’s in the process of buying her 1st house. She has a HUGE kitchen with a bazillion cabinets that she’s not thrilled with. They’re solid oak and she wants white. I told her to paint them and she said “ewwww”. Young naive kid. :)

  58. Heather says:

    I love this tiny kitchen!! I’ve always wanted to paint our kitchen cabinets, but I’m too scared. We only have nine but I’ve heard horror stories and I’m just too afraid of getting in over my head. You make it look so easy, I just might try it. I’ve been a follower for a while, but this is my first time commenting. I think your website is absolutely wonderful and very inspiring. Thanks for all the great step-by-step tutorials. Have a great day!!

  59. Willy says:

    Sometimes when I am at a customer’s house doing some marble cleaning and or repair, I notice their kitchen cabinets and they look like they could use some help. I will tell them about this

  60. Shelly says:

    I am in love!!!! And you did this to your “spare” kitchen? What energy you must have. :) It looks just gorgeous!

  61. Lori says:

    Incredible transformation, the light is the perfect touch.

  62. CentsationalGirl says:

    Ha Paula, send your niece over here!!

    Tracey, you DO need a vacation from your vacation!

  63. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hey Bethany, great question! I have no idea how it holds up, this is my first experience using it. I’ve used RustOleum products for years without problems, they really have cornered the market on specialty paints that prove durable, I am trusting the company’s reputation and my own personal experience with their other products in the past.

    If I experience any problems, I will surely update this post, but note the kitchen without a tenant does not receive daily wear and tear. My bathroom will though, so that may be a better source of a test of durability when I get around to refinishing those cabinets later this year.

    My island in my kitchen that I refinished with traditional methods has held up beautifully. I used Zinsser oil based primer (owned by RustOleum) and Ben Moore oil based semigloss paint. That was over a year ago, and it still looks flawless.


  64. ButterYum says:

    Fabulous redo, and so quick! HUGE difference!

  65. Brenda says:

    I really thought you changed the wall color too, but it’s just the way the light reflects off the white cabinets. I like it a lot!

  66. Betsy says:

    Wow! You may have just pushed me past my fear of painting my kitchen cabinets! One question: Could you have used a trim roller on the doors or does it have to be brushed?

  67. What a transformation! I am always amazed at what a little paint can do. I am considering this for the mini-kitchen/bar cabinets in my basement, so thanks for testing it out!

  68. CentsationalGirl says:

    Hey Erin, those are Wilsonart laminate countertops, and it’s been so long I don’t recall the particular pattern, it definitely has a lot of chocolate brown and some blue in it.

    Angela, I mixed that paint color myself, but I color matched it to these three close relatives: ‘Autumn Fog’ by Valspar; ‘Flint Smoke’ by Behr; and ‘Silver Gray’ by Benjamin Moore

  69. Janet Lawson says:

    Unbelievable..Your cabinets look awesome..

  70. Rhonda says:

    I can’t get over how much lighter the room looks with the white cabinets! Even your wall color looks lighter – wow! Gorgeous. When can I come stay with you?!

  71. Loren says:

    Thanks so much for the review and the pictures. We’ve already purchased the Transformations kit and we’re getting ready to start the project this weekend. We’ve been looking at using the Linen color, but were concerned that it was too creamy after looking at the samples on the box. After seeing your pictures, it seems that’s the exact color we’re looking for – not bright white, but not off-white either. Your cabinets and countertops are almost the exact same colors as our current ones, so your project just gave us a great idea of what ours will look like. Hopefully ours will turn out as well as yours did!

  72. Ana Silva says:

    What an amazing transformation! Looks so much better.

  73. Gretchen T says:

    You have me intrigued about this cabinet refinishing… We have the same color cabinets in our kitchen and have been waffling back and forth about leaving them as they are or painting them white. We don’t want to “mess them up” and we’re worried about how the white cabinets would look with black appliances, but we can’t get behind painting them black because that would be too dark. Thanks for the review. I might check it out!

  74. That looks so nice! I wish that was my everyday kitchen! We will eventually be repainting our kitchen cabinets and we have been eyeing this product…if it is easier than just painting maybe we will check it out! Thanks!!

  75. Looks gorgeous! I’m hoping to cream’ify our maple kitchen cabinets this year… this might a great simple kit to use.

  76. Beth says:

    You did that in a weekend?? I’ve been working on my kitchen cabinets since October.
    It looks amazing!!
    I think this is the inspiration I needed to pick up my paint brush and finish up my cabinets!!

  77. Joyce says:

    This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

  78. Heidi says:

    Looks so great! I am obsessed with a white kitchen right now. Thanks for the advice and suggestions.

  79. Allison says:

    Kate, that is one fantastic mini makeover! It looked great before but now it’s a very peaceful, light, bright and airy spot. Painting the cabinets white really made your countertops pop and your wall color is beautiful with the white cabinets. Wonderful job!

  80. Great job! Looks amazing. White cabinets are THE BEST!!

  81. Nanci says:

    Wow…it does look larger!. You didn’t mention about adding cabinet hardware but I noticed it and must say “thank you”. I do NOT for the life of me understand builders that put in cabinets without hardware. It always looks cheap and unfinished. Great job!

  82. Kate, it looks FANTASTIC! What a lovely job. It is so good to see how the kit looks in real life too, and it looks great!! I love what you did with the light fixture too, and the shade is just perfect. You did a fabulous job.

  83. Nan says:

    Oh my gosh! You say, “I painted my kitchen cabinets!” like most of us would say, “I just ran to the store!” I can’t believe how quickly you did that ENORMOUS job! I follow Miss Mustard Seed’s blog – don’t know if you do or not – but she worked on her kitchen cabinets for what seemed like a long time AND it was a HUGE task. You make it look as easy as making a pot of coffee. Amazing! AMAZING!

  84. Pegah says:

    I have to say CG, you have inspired me, so I bought and old desk, and painted white. and it looks fantastic. see it here:

  85. Jody says:

    Very nice! May we see the rest of the guest studio? I think it would be a whole lot of fun to have one of those!

  86. Kelly says:

    Looks amazing as always! I’m so glad the cabinet transformations turned out nicely. I’ve been wanting to try it on mine!

  87. ohmydarlin says:

    holy guacamole, that looks incredible!

  88. Mel says:

    WOW! I’ve wondered how wellmthose kits work. My husband builds homes for a living and deals with lots of cabinetry and has made the comment that “so many people are going to ruin their cabinets with that stuff!”. But I’m so excited to see how easy it was! and the result is AMAZING! Love it!

  89. Cindy says:

    I have seen the samples at the store and they all appear to be somewhat translucent. Does it appear to you opaque or translucent? Do you think this product would work over painted cabinets as well. Painting my cabinets has been on my “to do” list for over a year but have put off in fear of such a large project as everything seem to take me so much longer than it should. Great job ..looks amazing.

  90. Debbie says:

    It’s looks Great!

  91. Lindsey Swan says:

    That looks great. I am looking to paint my kitchen cabinets white. It makes me want to use this product. But have you ever heard anything about milk paint? I had a friend who had her cabinets redone and they where painted with milk paint. You could not see brush strokes at all. I guess that’s why they call it “milk” paint. I was just wondering if you have had any experience with it and which method you would prefer. I just don’t want to see brush strokes in my work.

  92. Libby says:

    Wow, that looks incredible! And there’s nothing “mini” about this transformation. Not only does it look a million times better, but I know it was a ton of work (I repainted my kitchen cabinets, too). Great job!

  93. Joanne says:

    You are so awesome!!! What a beautiful and classic transformation. You are my favorite daily read, and if I ever get up the nerve to take on my own horrid oak cabinets, I’ll send you before and afters!

  94. Brooke says:

    Lovely! Would you recommend it for my kitchen cabinets? You can see them here:

    I’ve painted oodles of furniture and just about everything EXCEPT kitchen cabinets. I’m a nervous wreck I’ll ruin these and keep dragging my feet, but want to get it done this summer. I’m wanting to go white like you did here with no glaze and need to be able to do it fairly quick, as I have to use that kitchen three times a day:) Any suggestions?

  95. maggie says:

    That is a beautiful transformation! Wish I could talk my d-i-l into painting her cabinets! Maybe if I show her your pics she’ll change her mind.

  96. Cindy says:

    Painting cabinets can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and patience they can come out looking fabulous the way this guest studio. I painted my kitchen cabinets last year (same oak type), but I wasn’t aware of this Rustoleum kit. I’m about to do my master bath, will have to take a look at this. Have you every used “Cabinet Coat” or the Ace Hardware version of the same? Just wondering how they might compare.

  97. Denise says:

    Beautiful! You are such a mini dynamo Kate! Plus, you are one of the few bloggers who knows that “anyways” is not a word. I’ll keep reading just on that point alone.

  98. Elizabeth says:

    Did you remove the knobs prior to taking those before shots or did you have no knobs before?

  99. helen says:

    we updated the handles on our kitchen and I was amazed at the difference – you work fast!

  100. Sarah says:

    Hey CG- I LOVE LOVE LOVE the look of this product, do you know if it is available in Canada? I really would like to try it out on my cabinets but I can’t seem to find it any where, and I have been looking since your first post!

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