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Painted Kitchen Cabinet Update (Painted Maple/Wood)

Posted on March 18, 2020 by KylieMawdsley


UPDATE: This is our previous home (bought in 2016), we’ve since moved.

When we bought our home two years ago, I knew the kitchen was not long for this world. Sure, other people thought it was just fine – I mean, the cabinets had wood doors; what can be bad about that, right?

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Just because it’s wood, doesn’t mean it’s good    ~moi

Are they good because they’re wood? Sure, and they’ll still BE wood…under three coats of GLORIOUS WHITE PAINT!

This was our kitchen before – it had decent bones, just not our style…

, 'Just because it's wood, doesn't mean it's good'.

A few of its good bones included…

  • some solid wood pieces
  • hidden hinges
  • crown molding (on the top of the cabinets) and valance (the part that hides the under-cabinet lighting)
  • a good general layout with a working triangle – of course, I could’ve used more cabinets, but can’t we all?

Now, let’s talk about the challenges…

Countertop and backsplash before remodel

  • the cabinet frames and side gables were NOT solid wood and had faded to a soft pinkish color
  • the doors around the sink area needed some serious KLC
  • the handles and knobs were SUPER bush league and needed a major update; what you see there aren’t handles; it’s a metal plate (like construction style, not pretty), that the old owner drilled a handle into for some straaaange reason
  • the backsplash had ye ole racing stripe – great for NASCAR, not for my kitchen
  • the over the range microwave was clunky and unattractive

This kitchen needed an update but had to be on a BUDGET.

But first, I had to pick the right color. Benjamin Moore’s White Dove is, hands down, my favorite shade of white. However, when painting kitchen cabinets, it’s not about choosing the white that YOU love; it’s about choosing the white that your kitchen NEEDS. White Dove wasn’t warm enough for my chosen finishes – I needed more warmth.

Drum roll, please (or just tap your fingers lightly on your wine glass…)

Maple kitchen painted Cloud White, gray quartz, reclaimed wood island, hexagon subway tile backsplash

Ultimately, I chose a more traditional white paint color  – Benjamin Moore Cloud White. This white was popular in the early 2000s because of its increased warmth (and suited many finishes popular in that first decade). Cloud White’s creamier warmth made it the PERFECT color for our cabinets.

And yes, the light fixtures are super fugly. I was on a budget, and those had to wait for another day. 

As for the walls, they needed a fresh coat of paint (or three). I wanted a color with a bit more personality – no white on white for me. I chose Benjamin Moore Steel Wool, a WICKED pretty mid-tone charcoal gray with violet-blue hues.

Kitchen island in gray quartz with soapstone look countertops, painted cabinets in Cloud White and Benjamin Moore Gray walls Kylie M Interiors



The previous island was 3×5; while it worked, we had the floor space to extend it by an extra 18″. This meant it would need some extra support (unlike my chest, which needs minimal, at best, #TMI); here are the details…

  • We extended the island by 18″ on the end to have three stools instead of two. I scooped up the stools secondhand – FIVE of them! This made the island space look MUCH larger and more proportional to the room, without remotely infringing on any pathways.
  • I had my friend and craftsman Christian make up an island base/support for us out of reclaimed wood – MAD love.
  • I chose a quartz counter for the island and an affordable laminate countertop for the rest of the space to save money. While not all patterns coordinate (in fact, there are few), I’m happy with the combo I came up with.

Quartz island with gray soapstone formica countertops Maple cabinest painted Cloud White, hexagon subway tile backsplash and rustic reclaimed wood on island

Do you want to see what the island looked like before? Trust me, you don’t, but I’ll show you anyway…

Island that was not prepped properly

YES, this happens when you don’t properly prep your cabinets by sanding and priming them. It’s like putting latex over oil-based paint – THE PAINT WON’T STICK and will peel off! I’ll also say that it was not me, nor anyone I know (certainly not professionals), who did this…SACRILEGE!

With some prep work and the right type of paint, this is what the cabinets SHOULD have looked like…

Kitchen island painted benjamin moore cloud white, before and after some time. View to open dining room. Kylie M INteriors E-design and online paint color expert

Gray quartz island countertops, Benjamin Cloud White and rustic, reclaimed wood island legs or supports

How to Update Your 1990’s Kitchen



  • Take the hardware off. If you’re putting a different size handle or knob on, fill the old holes with wood filler and drill new ones NOW (not after you paint).
  • Clean with TSP (then wipe ALL TSP residue off).
  • Sand the cabinets to remove the surface sheen (you don’t need to sand down to consistent bare wood). 120 grit can be a bit aggressive for some smooth cabinets, ESPECIALLY laminate ones, as you DON’T want to break through that top surface; I would start with 220 and see how it goes.)
  • Wipe with a tack cloth to remove dust or residue from the sandpaper.
  • Choose a quality, HIGH-ADHESION PRIMER (my painter and I love Benjamin Moore Stix).
  • Invest in quality rollers and brushes – don’t mess with cheap stuff – it’ll show.
  • Not all cabinet paints are created equal. Do your research and choose a high-quality paint that others trust, and that has a history of being FAB (Benjamin Moore INSLX and Sherwin Williams Emerald are amazeballs in my books.

Just remember, at the end of the day, they’re PAINTED cabinets – paint is not bullet-proof, and it will chip over time (even a factory finish.) This being said, I have wood, and it looks like shart after nine years, and I need to paint over it – NOTHING IS FOOL PROOF!

maple kitchen before cabinets were painted and new countertop and backsplash

Delea of Details Painting in Nanaimo (Vancouver Island), did the prep and painting and did an AMAZING job (it’s many years later, and I still use her for every project). I don’t mind a good DIY project and tackled the cabinets in our last home, but they were oak, which is much more (ahem) forgiving for less than epic painters. I also had a lot more time on my hands. And while I’m a pretty good painter, I would NEVER tackle smooth maple cabinets on my own!

Maple cabinets painted Cloud White, Gray paint colour, quartz, hexagon subway tile cream backsplash and soapstone formica countertops

Delea took the drawers/doors away and sprayed them smooth as a baby’s bum! The pieces that couldn’t be removed were hand-painted, and you can hardly tell the difference between her brushwork and the sprayed stuff  – friggin’ genius!

Now let’s take a closer look at those lover-ly legs…

Rustic reclaimed legs to support a gray quartz island countertop with gray stools

I wanted something simple and solid without too much decorative detail. The wood itself, with a light gray wash, is decorative enough!

Maple kitchen cabinets painted Cloud White in a makeover with quartz, reclaimed wood and soapstone formica countertops

I know, the ugly lights are distracting (insert GoFundMe HERE)





We’re on a budget, and while I want everything to coordinate and look good, I HAVE to save money. As a happy medium, I chose Formica Soapstone Sequoia from the 180FX Collection for the perimeter counters (read a post about them HERE).

As for the island, I wanted a countertop with a durable finish, as this is where a lot of the prep is done (and art with kids). I chose a warm gray quartz countertop in a solid pattern. I’d never done this type of countertop before, and truth be told, I liked the laminate countertop WAY MORE!


While a lighter, simpler quartz won’t show as much, this medium-depth one shows everything- crumbs, shrapnel, cloth wipe marks – and drives me INSANE (er)…but it looks good.

Quartz island with gray soapstone formica countertops Maple cabinest painted Cloud White, hexagon subway tile backsplash and rustic reclaimed wood on island

The reason it looks good is that I was careful to coordinate my laminate and quartz countertops. BOTH couldn’t have a busy pattern – one had to be more solid, and one could have visual interest. I went for visual interest on the perimeter counter and kept it simple on the island.

The New Era of Laminate Countertops and Why They Rock

(BTW, there is nothing affiliate going on here – I was not paid to write about this stuff nor given anything for free – insert sad face here). However, you know you’d get my honest opinion anyway.)

Again, choosing a laminate countertop instead of quartz saved THOUSANDS of dollars on ye ole budget, which left me some room to do other fun things – like buy wine!

Shaker maple cabinets painted Cloud White with gray and greige quartz and soapstone look countertops. Hexagon backsplash tile in cream

This countertop mimics the look of a lighter, warmer soapstone, and is wicked pretty! I love the textured, but not shiny finish. Seriously, I can not wipe it for days (true story) and not see a thing.

hexagon subway tile backsplash. Maple cabinets painted Cloud White, soapstone formica countertops and gray quartz with kitchen decor

Soapstone Sequoia formica countertops with cloud white cabinets and countertop decor



I LOVE this backsplash – the color, the pattern, everything. My favorite Nanaimo tile installer installed it, Brett Edwards (BE Tile) – he did a great job. Because the cabinets weren’t entirely level, he had to hand-cut each and every perimeter tile – and he did it with a smile (and probably an inside voice that was full of 4 letter words, but he still loves me anyway).

Formica Soapstone Sequoia greige laminate countertop in kitchen with cloud white cabinets. Kylie M E-design

This backsplash is not just trendy with a wink of timelessness (you know how I feel about trends); it’s also RIGHT up my alley as I find the hexagon one of the more timeless patterns.  Not too soft, not too edgy – just right. I would love NOTHING MORE than to give you the name of the tile and where to buy it. Sadly, it was from Home Depot, and they no longer carry it.

Benjamin Moore Cloud White, best warm white, Samplize peel and stick paint colors with KYlie M INteriors, online paint color consulting




While often, they’re a necessary evil, there’s NOTHING pretty about these units. They’re clunky, too high, and add too much function to what should be a prettier focal point of the kitchen…

maple kitchen before cabinets were painted and new countertop and backsplash

Where did the microwave go? We don’t have a pantry, but we did have a lower cabinet that we reworked to hold the microwave. And lo and behold, the kitchen is beautiful!

Maple cabinets painted Cloud White, Gray paint colour, quartz, hexagon subway tile cream backsplash and soapstone formica countertops



Our main floor is an open-concept living room, dining room, and kitchen, so one thing ALWAYS relates to another. This is another reason (other than my OCD) why our dining room and living room both received makeovers in the last six months – we knew that the changes in the kitchen would be a HUGE shift for the entire space.

Before, our open layout area felt heavy and dark…

, 'Just because it's wood, doesn't mean it's good'.

Now, it feels like a breath of fresh air!

Open layout kitchen and dining, subtle country farmhouse style. Maple cabinets painted Cloud White, gray quartz, soapstone formica and rustic wood supports with stainless steel

Again, our lighting situation is in a bit of a transition (really, everything in our home is). There was nothing I could do about the pendants over the island. The original builder only put in 1 junction, so while in the ideal world, I would have two pendants hanging independently of each other WITHOUT a huge honkin’ track tying them together – it ain’t happenin’ this go round.

Read more: Our Painted Maple Cabinets – 2 Years Later…

Open layout kitchen and dining room. gray quartz, rustic wood island supports. Benjamin Moore Gray on walls and Cloud White maple cabinets

Remember my blog post about ‘how to add light to a dark room?’ While this room is south-facing and had tons of light, it had about as much energy as me at 7 a.m. – nada. Reflective surfaces move the light around a space, adding energy and life!

You might think that I drank a few bottles of wine, snapped my fingers, and got all of this done. Nope. Like many of my clients, this kind of stuff takes some serious coin, and I had to BUDGET! We did the countertops about a year ago, the backsplash and appliances six months ago, and the painting and general furnishings one month ago.  I don’t mind taking my time if it means I’m making smart choices and the end product will SUPER fabulous AND affordable.



Being an open-layout home, the dining room takes up important visual space. Here’s the transition between the kitchen and dining space…

Open layout farmhouse style dining room and kitchen with Benjamin Moore Steel Wool, Cloud White and round oak table with home decor in country style

Modern farmhouse or country style dining room with home decor

So there it is – she’s done…well, until next month anyway (wink wink).

UPDATE: Want to know how well they held up? 

Our Painted Maple Cabinets – 2 Years Later



The Ultimate Guide to Choosing White Paint Colors

How to Update Wood Cabinets WITHOUT a Drop of Paint! 

SHOULD You Paint Your Wood Cabinets or Keep Them Stained?


E-design, virtual online colour consulting expert. Kylie M Interiors. Paint color ideas. Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams circle (16)

Check out my Online Consulting Services!

Chat soon!

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign



  1. Kylie, I just found your site and have been stalking it and your videos for the last few days. 😳😜
    your kitchen is timeless and fabulous!!! I love the laminate counter top you chose even though I am not a huge fan of laminate anything, it looks great in your space and the color is perfect. Brilliant addition to you island too, I do love quartz, may I suggest next time you get it, get a pattern that looks like granite.. it hides those annoying spot well, trust me! 😂
    I do hope you continue this site and your videos, So very helpful and fun and you give such inspiration!
    Kind Regards,

    1. Post
  2. Hi Kylie! Love this kitchen and love !!! your blog/website. Quick question about the color of your backsplash (hexagon tile) would you consider this an antique white, the color? I am painting my cabinets cloud white and I found a tile similar looking tile, just checking…

    1. Post

      Hey! Well, it was a few homes ago and while it wasn’t super Antique White-ish, more like a super warm greige/tan of sorts :).

  3. Hi Kylie!
    My friend introduced to your site and I’m so grateful!
    In one of your homes you had maple cabinets with a green wall. I love the update, but I also, like the original look. Could you tell me the name of the green wall paint?
    You really do amazing work.
    Thanks much!

    1. Post

      Hiya, I THINK that must be the photo with BM November Rain. Are you talking about the kitchen with the super light soft green-gray?

      1. Hi Kylie!
        It was actually your original personal kitchen update. Maple to white.
        I’m actually committing to going from maple cabinets to possibly mindful gray-I would like a sort of gray with green. Countertops are granite ubba tubba , with a white or taupe back splash any concerns, you can share?
        Also, if you don’t mind presently have tile floors, but would like a wood-thoughts on “floating floors” or vinyl planks? I wish you lived on Long Island…I’m old now and confused…Thanks much.

  4. Would you please share with me the color and where you purchased your hardware? Looks so pretty. Thank-you! Pamela Johnson

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