How to Create Your Own Two-Toned Kitchen



     Phase I of the kitchen update is complete.  Whew, it was a lot more work than I anticipated!  Since my dream kitchen is still in the early planning stages, I decided to take on the project of creating my own two-toned kitchen to lighten up the space.  I’ve been making changes in my house room by room, slowly but surely lightening things up…what a difference!  When we moved in this house 10 years ago, I was drawn to dark colors and woods and now I want everything to be in shades of white.

   After painting all the walls in my house Benjamin Moore Indian White, I tackled the kitchen.  I had quotes to have the doors sprayed by a professional, but it was too expensive considering this is hopefully going to be torn out in the next year.  So DIY it was!  I did a lot of research on how to do the best cabinet paint job, especially considering I was changing dark cabinets to white.  I started with a great primer call Stix from Benjamin Moore.  All of my doors and trim are painted Sherwin Williams Dover White, but I wanted to use Benjamin Moore’s “Advance” paint which my research showed to be the best paint for cabinets.  In all, my supplies were the Advance paint, Stix primer, Floetrol, a sanding block,  a “best” small paint roller, a small paint brush and a package of Solo cups which I used to hold the cabinets above the ground so I could paint the sides.  I allowed a lot of drying time in between coats, and in all I used 1 coat of primer and FOUR coats of paint.  I was not counting on 5 coats of paint and hence the small project turned large.  And mid-project I came down with a flu-like illness that kept me down for 2 weeks.  So we lived for a few weeks like this:


Here is what I started with:




I started with the backs – that way if any dents occurred after they were “flipped”, they would be on the least visible side.  I numbered the cabinets with sticky notes and I removed all the hardware…tedious but necessary. I also sanded the cabinets front and back and cleaned off the dusty residue.  With the Stix primer, they say you don’t have to sand, but I didn’t want to take any chances.


I let the primer dry for 24 hours before I started with the paint.  Because my cabinets are not a flat shaker front, I had to be very careful to watch for drips and pooling paint in the corners.  I used the end of the roller to try to get the inset part of the cabinets as smooth as the doors.


On top of the kitchen changes, I have ordered some new furniture for my family room.  On my dining table you will see the items I have slowly been selling on Craig’s List.



I also had to sand, prime and paint the cabinet sides and trim.  Once it was all done, there was a lot of caulking to be done where the ceiling meets the trim – you really notice any imperfections with the white cabinets.



And now the “after” photos…





And for the side-by-side comparison…

Kichen Collage - before and after

I told you in my last two-toned kitchen post that I’m not a huge fan of this trend.  And I’m still not.  I’m so busy this month, but I plan to paint the lower cabinets (not the island) in November.  Call me crazy!

Here is the round-up of the supplies I used…

I did a light job of sanding the fronts and backs.  My cabinets have a shiny, glazed finish so I felt this was important, even with the primer.

sanding block

  I propped the cabinets on Solo cups and primed and painted the backs

I used a roller from the home improvement store labeled “Best” for cabinets:

small roller

This Stix primer was recommended by the guy at the paint store.  You can paint almost any surface with this primer, even glass or tile.  It makes shiny surfaces like my cabinets paintable and promises no sanding. 
I loved it and it will be my go-to primer for any future projects, especially for painting furniture.

stix primer

I used Advance paint by Benjamin Moore, but I mixed a Sherwin Williams color in a semi-gloss finish.

Benjamin Moore Advance Paint

Even though the point of the Advance paint is it doesn’t show brush marks, I added some Floetrol anyway.  I will always add this to my paint for anything but walls from now on.  Loved it!


FloetrolThis is my paint color – Sherwin Williams Dover White.  Be sure to check it out in person – it is much whiter in real life.  I call it the perfect creamy white.

sherwin williams dover white

Well folks, that about wraps about the story of how I painted my kitchen cabinets, which then led to wanting to paint more kitchen cabinets.  I might be certifiable for doing this when I know I am going to tear it out soon anyway, but in the end I’m glad I did it. I much prefer the lighter feeling of the kitchen…as much as I dread having to paint more cabinets!


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About Kris Moran

I love decorating and design – one of the favorite perks of my job is seeing all of the wonderful homes and condos that we list and sell! I love to “borrow” inspiration from them, and from decorating shows, magazines and the many blogs I am addicted to!


  1. They look fantastic!!! It really brightened things up! I think you will like it so much when you complete the bottom half, you won’t want to re-do your kitchen! I am not a huge fan of two-toned either, but love the white cabinet/dark island look. You go girl!

  2. The improvement looks so good. Like the new colors of kitchen cabinets. It makes the kitchen more wider and brighter. Great job.

  3. Looks great!