HomeKylie's HomeOur Oldest HomeMy Kitchen – Painted and Distressed Cabinets (Oak to Gray) $3500 Kitchen Remodel!

My Kitchen – Painted and Distressed Cabinets (Oak to Gray) $3500 Kitchen Remodel!

Posted on August 7, 2018 by KylieMawdsley


Painted Wood Cabinets – From Old Oak to Gorgeous Gray!

THIS IS A BLOG POST OF OUR OLD HOME – 2 HOUSES and 7 years AGO! It’s such a great example of budget-friendly update ideas, that I decided to update it and wanted to share it as MOST of you probably haven’t seen it! 

As you all know, our home is ever-evolving and we have lost some serious square footage with the coats of paint on the walls. I figured it was time to move onto other surfaces – like the cabinets!

The kitchen is the heart of the home, but ours was more like the hemorrhoid (you don’t even want to know the one-liners I had attached to this…) So, given that there was simply zero budget to replace/reface the cabinets we decided that $3500 was a reasonable budget to stay within to update the rest of it to modern standards.

Before, we had decent bones with the solid oak cabinets/shaker style doors. The only negative was that the hinges were slightly exposed, but it’s no biggie as you wouldn’t see much of them once they were painted a darker colour.

oak kitchen cabinets before being painted with white appliances

And after…

Ideas to update painted oak cabinets. Laminate budget friendly countertop, Mineral Jet. Chelsea Gray wood cabinets. Black appliances. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, Artez photography

I chose Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray for the cabinets. In these photos, it looks just slightly gray-blue – it’s not. If anything it can sometimes pick up a very weee wink o’ green.

Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, painted oak wood cabinets. Mineral Jet formica lamiante countertop. Kylie m INteriors Edesign, budget friendly kitchen remodel. Artez photography

Once the painting was done, I let it cure for 2 weeks (as paint CAN take up to 3 weeks to cure), took the handles off and hit those edges with my palm sander and 220 grit sandpaper for a distressed look. This was the easiest part of the whole project and gave the cabinets a bit more dimension and personality (because we really need more personality in this house, right?).

Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, painted oak wood cabinets. Mineral Jet formica lamiante countertop. Kylie m INteriors Edesign, budget friendly update ideas. Distressed cabinets

In this next before photo, you can see the wall that USED to separate the kitchen from the dining room…

oak kitchen before

Budget friendly oak wood kitchen cabinet update ideas. Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, formica Mineral Jet countertop, Gentle Cream walls. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint color consulting

Taking that wall out was a GAME-changer for this home. It gave it more function so that we had not only a sit-at peninsula but also a dining area and a lounging/family room area (as you’ll see next).

This next photo was taken IN the kitchen, looking towards the dining room…

dining room before the wall is removed

The wall WAS just to the right of the sliding door.

Paint oak cabinets, Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray with Mineral Jet countertop, OPen layout kitchen and dining. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour consulting. Artez photography

Now it’s totally done and the ‘Royal We’ is really happy with the results – or at least until I’m PMS’ing and bored again.

BTW – All of the ‘after’ photos on this page were taken by the talented photography group – Artez Photography.

Do you wonder how we only spent $3500? Let’s take a look at the details…

Countertops – $1200   

We went with a high-end Formica (laminate/arborite) called Mineral Jet; a high-end countertop at a low-end price (they’re popular enough that the supplier can bring them in in bulk). Mineral Jet has a great premium finish which makes it low maintenance re: scratches and wear and tear. It also has a great colour palette of black, gray and brown, making it super versatile for my ever-changing tastes.

I also went for the low-boy built-in backsplash (1 1/4″) which is great because it gives me the protection behind my sink that I wouldn’t get without a backsplash and is more modern than the standard 4 1/4″ style.

Read more: The New Era of Laminate Countertops and Why They Rock

Appliances – $1200   

We bought a great 4 pc Frigidaire set that was used. The fridge has water and ice in it, the stove is a flat top, the over-the-range microwave is great and the dishwasher leaks – yes, it leaks more than I do on a trampoline, however, we’re in the process of fixing it (the fridge that is…).

Oak cabinets painted Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray with MIneral Jet formica countertops

Tile backsplash – $150

I tiled this myself which I HIGHLY recommend doing while you drink wine. There are a few reasons why I chose to do the tile only 6″ high rather than full-height.

  • It cut my costs in 2/3 which saved me some serious moula as this tile was $24 sq ft.
  • By keeping the tile underneath the electrical outlets I saved myself from having to rent a wet saw (outlets are a bugger to cut around if you’re an amateur tiler like myself).
  • Because I picked such a busy and visually strong tile, it would have been too overwhelming for the room to have it full height – instead, it’s a just a nice decorative detail rather than a decorative punch in the face.

Cabinet hardware – $120

We had to drill holes for these as there weren’t any there before (and I recommend getting a proper template to do this – Ikea). It boggles my mind that in the 25 years this house has been alive, not one person has thought “hmmm, it might be easier to open our cupboards if they had FRICKIN HANDLES ON THEM!!!!”

When choosing your hardware remember that the style and finish of your cabinet hardware should be cohesive with the lighting in your kitchen.

The best transitional style cabinet hardware and pulls to update oak. Kylie M Interiors E-design

Read more: Budget Friendly Hardware to Update Oak Cabinets

Lighting – $50

Great little drum shade from Rona!

Faucet – $140

I will never buy another sink faucet without a sprayer – it’s too much fun!

Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray painted oak wood cabinets. Formica Mineral Jet countertop. cabinets distressed. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, online paint colour consulting. Artez photography

Read more: 4 Kitchen Update Ideas – including affordable faucets! 

Window covering – $70 

Good old in-stock Home Depot blind

Wall and Cabinet Paint – $190

I chose Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream for the walls. It’s a heavy cream that gave me a soft warm backdrop to work with.

Read more: Paint Colour Review Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream


New flooring was NOT in the budget (one must have Bailey’s after all). But while we’re on the topic, whoever thought that putting white grout on a kitchen floor was a good idea is cuckoo for cocoa puffs. If you have fugly grout, you can clean it up using Grout Renew, just so you know.

Oh, and we might’ve taken out a wall…did I forget to mention that? THAT was part of the dining area remodel, but it still affected the overall flow. In this before shot, you can see the wall that used to divide the kitchen and the dining area…

oak kitchen before

Oak cabinets painted Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray with MIneral Jet formica countertops. Vinyl tile flooring

Oak kitchen update, before and after. Benjamin Moore Chelea Gray on wood cabinets, Gentle Cream walls, Mineral Jet formica countertops. black appliances. Kylie M INteriors Edesign

And the grand total – $3285

Our kitchen is part of our Open Layout Dining Room as well, here’s a sneak peek of that area and how the 2 relate to each other.

Not sure what colour to paint YOUR wood cabinets? 

I can help with my fun and affordable E-design

edesign, virtual paint colour consulting. Kylie M Interiors Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams color expert. marketing (29)

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign


4 Kitchen Update Ideas

Budget-Friendly Hardware to Update Oak or Wood Cabinets

5 Ideas to Update Wood Cabinets Without a Drop of PAINT! 


Interior Decorating, Design, Home Staging and Online Consultations.  Nanaimo and Vancouver Island


  1. Great Job Kylie! I love the painted cabinets! I stained our oak ones dark black/brown and am VERY pleased with the outcome.

    1. Thanks Carrie, wow staining is an even more ambitious job than painting – bet it looks like a million bucks!!!

      1. What an amazing and bieftauul room! Just love the colour combinations. I am doing my nursery too at the moment (nothing like leaving it to the last minute, my due date was today!). We don’t know what we are having however I love the bookcase turned into a dresser. Can I ask if you purchased the drawers at Ikea or if you had to make them? I’m all the way over in Australia and both my husband and I loved this idea and were wondering if the drawers were bought or needed to be made especially. Congratulations on a bieftauul room very talented pair you two!

        1. Hi, thank you for the wonderful comment! I’m not sure which bookcase turned into dresser you’re talking about? I don’t think I’ve done any projects that way. I’ve definitely bought some dressers and painted/distressed them and also bought some bookcases and put baskets into them, but that’s about it! I’m very happy to help you out, you are welcome to send me some photos of your space and some ideas you are thinking of and I can throw some tips and thoughts your way!!!! I hope that sweet babe comes soon – good luck!!!

  2. love your kitchen!! I see nothing wrong with painting cabinets…as you know, my 44 yr old. solid wood cabinets got a paint job

  3. Thanks! Do you think gentle cream would look good with oak cabinets? Our kitchen/house has oak (orangey) cabinets and woodwork. Any color recommendations? Thanks!

    1. Hi Kelly, yes Gentle cream would be great! If you are looking to ‘accent’ these cabinet you could look at a colour like Sandy Hook Gray or even Revere Pewter. However, if you want to keep things in a happy place then Gentle Cream is a great choice! A lot depends on your countertop/backsplash/flooring – so make sure you pick a colour that fits well with all of those elements…
      Hope that helps!


  4. HI Kelly,

    I love what you have done with your kitchen. What is the colour you used for the cabinets? Did you manage to hide the wood grain or is it still coming through?


    1. Hi Jacek, sorry for the greatly delayed reply! The cabinets are BM Chelsea Gray and no, the grain definitely still came through. I kept the sheen a bit lower as this helped cut back on the visibility of the grain a bit. Some people like semi-gloss cabinets, but this would have been too much and would have highlighted the grain more!

      1. Hi Kylie! I also have oak kitchen cabinets and will be painting soon. Thanks so much for the product recommendations! I’m planning to use BM Cloud White, but I hadn’t considered it would highlight the wood grain. In your kitchen, did you use a Satin sheen instead? Did it compromise durability? How long did you live with them before you moved to your current home?

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          Hi Laura! In that kitchen I used Behr paint, but having used BM Advance since, I wouldn’t go back! I always recommend a satin sheen, that way it’s washable, but not too glossy and will keep the grain look down a bit 🙂

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  5. Love, love love the colors you chose for my house. Couldn’t have selected better colors myself. (Well duh, that’s why I hired you).
    I like this remodel. Our kitchen has a built in refrig so unfortunately , replacing it killed any budget we had. Now I’m having to re save to put in our new countertops. But will get your help with kitchen paint after it’s installed.

  6. Great job on the kitchen and living area! You get a vertical nod for being money savvy too.

    Greta H.
    Bassett Furniture

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  7. I have old oak cabinets, but I’ve been told not to paint them (I would do them myself) because the grain will show. I personally think I will like this look, but am told, not anyone else. We are trying to sell our house and the shape of our cabinets is not helping us. I would really appreciate to know your opinion on this.

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      Hey hey, I’m so glad you wrote! I’ve done many oak cabinets and I’m like you, I don’t mind the grain AT ALL, it shows that they are solid wood, not MDF! The KEY is to do a satin finish. A lot of people make the mistake of using a semi-gloss which can TOTALLY enhance the grain and make it a bit garish. The ‘grain’ issue is personal and it’s about weighing ‘which is best’ as there could be an argument (from some parties) as if the oak isn’t in great shape it’s not doing you any favours!

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