Is it cheaper to paint your kitchen cabinets or indulge in a full blown remodel to get the Kitchen you want? Before you go down the path of spending $30,000 to tear down your kitchen walls and rebuild your dream kitchen – read about this DIY project by RoomPlays founder Deb Dutta, that took just 2 days and cost under $300, to completely transform a 90s kitchen to a modern white farmhouse style kitchen.

Featured On: Best of Apartment Therapy 2020, The Kitchn

Here’s a quick recount of how RoomPlays founder Deb Dutta found her way into building out her dream kitchen by simply painting her kitchen cabinets and replacing the Light fixture and saving $30,000 !

What motivated you to change up your kitchen?

My husband and I bought our 70’s Townhome a few years ago, soon after we got married. At the time, we were happy with how the home was cozy and reasonable updated for us to begin our lives together with our 2 pups. But soon after, I began spending hours on ApartmentTherapy and The Kitchn blogs for inspiration. Over time, I took on several DIY projects around the house – from Stenciling our Bedroom to erecting a Brick Wall in the Family room. Our 70’s style kitchen was the one space I wasn’t able to figure an affordable way to upgrade the look! So we decided to wait a few years and invest in a remodel.

How much does a Paid Remodel Cost?

We live in California, so we know rates are a little high here already. I started by getting incredibly high quotes from contractors (between $18K- $35K ) that involved replacing the cabinets, adding Quartz countertops. I was hoping to tear down the load bearing wall and have an open-concept community style Kitchen, but those quotes went as high as $50,000, and involved waiting for permits and such. Scroll to see how to paint Kitchen Cabinets on a budget!


Slide the bar to see Before and After

How did you go about Doing this yourself?

While we knew this was going to cost a ton, somehow it just seemed exorbitant to spend upto $30,000 to simply get newer cabinets and white countertops.

So I decided to take up the challenge myself. I planned to just start by painting the cabinets myself and then deciding if it was worth replacing them entirely or work on an intermediate option (if needed).


I began by visiting Home Depot to pick my paint colors. The staff is as helpful as always, despite Covid-19 challenges! I’ve done some painting around the house before and have always had success with the BEHR Marquee brand of paints.

These were my choices:

  • Cabinets and Drawers – BEHR Etched Glass Semi gloss – 2 coats
  • Walls – BEHR Cameo White Matte
  • Backsplash – BEHR Etched Glass (Primer + 2 coats of paint + 2 coats of Polyeurathane)

I started my journey by sanding all the cabinet doors. My plan was to keep them with their hinges, simply because it would be too time consuming and I didn’t feel the need for it. Although I did remove all the cabinet pulls though.


I started with the top half, with the wide doors and around the microwave unit. This took 2-3 hours. Following that I took on the Drawers underneath – which was excruciatingly slow to cover. The drawers along took 3-4 hours to complete. I let the paint sit overnight. The next day I layered on a second coat of paint all over the cabinets.


For the backsplash, I went with a basic White with a shiny coat to give it the type of glean you’d get from some of the newer backsplashes. We considered replacing these too, but painting over and adding Polyeurathane gave us exactly the result we were seeking!

And that’s really it! We calculated how much it cost to paint kitchen cabinets and it was barely a couple $100s!

What else did you do aside from Paint?

We waited to see what the paint job would look like in day light before making any more changes. Here’s what we woke up to !

You can see the light fixture in the background is hollow. And yet – by simply changing up the paint, our Kitchen already looks transformed! So we decided to keep the rest of the changes minimal.


After completing the paint job over the 2 days, I decided to replace the cabinet pulls from chrome to gold.


This was the bane of my existence. I simply couldn’t find a good way to replace the tube light ceiling without handyman work. Luckily, after we unscrewed the fiberglass covers, we uninstalled the 90s tube light & fiber glass ceiling light, we found a way ! We painted the open ceiling square with the same Wall Paint and patched the open sockets so the surface was smooth.

I picked up a chandelier from Home Depot for $100 and couple Industrial Pendant lights (for $20 each). We hired an electrician to install the chandelier, only because we were baffled by the wiring – but it really took only 30 mins for the electrician to set it all up!

Were you satisfied with the final look?

Oh yeah! My intention was to give this a try and see if it would be worth spending the additional amount to achieve the look and feeling of space in my small kitchen! But, when we woke up the next morning – it seriously felt like we’d woken up to a different kitchen! Overall, this is pretty much everything I could’ve expected out of our cute little kitchen, without blowing a hole through our pockets!

I probably spent <$300 on Paint + Chandelier + Materials/ Supplies (vs $18K or $50K). My husband and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

What’s next?

Well, this was a really fun project to collaborate with my hubby on. We are now in the process of transforming our Living Room, Bedroom, Garage and Home Office as well! He’s been so supportive of my crazy ideas – but it has also brought us closer to transform our home, with our own hands!

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