Sunday, September 15, 2013

DIY Expresso Kitchen Cabinets, Yes Please!

When we bought our house of course we had a mental TO DO list a mile long. But one of the first big DIY projects I wanted to do after painting the inside was to spray the kitchen cabinets white. I had always dreamed of a nice, bright white kitchen. I found this amazing DIY blog and would look at their kitchen once a week in total awe of the gorgeousness! They even did their own backsplash. Here's the kitchen I dreamed of someday. It was just clean, crisp, bright and white. 

So I dreamed of white but then... a friend showed me a blog of her friend that had DIY'd her bathroom cabinets with some sort of easy to use Gel Stain. I thought hmmmm... The white was great but looked like a TON of work and a ton of SANDING... ugh, dusty, dirty, messy. So I checked out the Expresso - Java cabinets and was totally sold on it! 

Less work was my major motivation to go from wishing for white cabinets to almost black ones. Time is not something I have a ton of, so less work was very appealing.

(pardon my before pic, I forgot to take one until I had already started the island and the counter trim) and my camera flash sucks, I'm still figuring out how to take pics on my nice camera... yep, 3 years later.

I think they turned out pretty great! A new cabinet estimate was over 7k. Wow! I spent less than $500 on stain, supplies and hardware. Much nicer on our bank account!!

They look a tad darker in these pics, they aren't quite black. Granite counters would compliment the cabinets great (someday!) and then I could try to put up my own backsplash at that point. Oh and we'd like new hardwood floors eventually. I think with all the dark in our house now, maybe either calico floors light with some dark in them or a super light color? We've probably got a decade to decide tho.

Don't judge me by my cabinet clutter :) This was the hardest part for me. Having to look at all that crap in the cupboards for a week while I had no time to try and re-organize them. It literally drove me insane! My brain was a wreck looking at it. I finished that side in 3 days. Uber fast!

I'm going shoot for lighter accents, rugs, and decor. I love teals, blue and light greens. Above the cabinets needs some major love. I just stuck random green stuff and some vases up there that I found in the garage. 

I think it looks much more modern now.

This is how I got started. 

First I did our bathroom cabinets next to the kitchen. It was my trial run since I didn't want to totally screw up the kitchen that we spend 85% of our time in. And we only spend like 5% of our time in this tiny bathroom. So if I hated it, then it wouldn't be as big of deal. 


  • Java Gel Stain - I couldn't find it anywhere else but Amazon. You can see the link in my sidebar. It's General Finishes brand on Amazon. It will take you to the Satin Finish. You can also find the Java Gel there too.
  • Matte PolyAcrylic Finish (If you prefer you can use Satin too) I preferred a Matte look.
  • Painter's Pyramid Stands
  • 220 grit sanding blocks
  • Foam Brush in all sizes (a lot of ppl use socks to apply, but I thought brushes were easy)
  • Painters tape

We love Amazon! We buy just about everything online there.

After removing all the hardware, I used the sanding blocks to go over them lightly (maybe 1 minute per door) that's the beauty of the gel stain. Minimal sanding is required. Then I wiped them clean with warm water. 

The pyramids worked great under the doors so you can get the side easily.
I usually did one coat per day. A total of 3 coats of Java stain and 2-3 coats of the Matte finish. 

Much better :) Now we just need some hardware.

My $15 garage sale stools. I touched up the white and put 2 coats of the Java on the top. I wanted them a little lighter than the cabinets. And if we keep them upstairs we'll cut them shorter. For now they are usually down at the basement bar since they are the gateway for Mason to dance on the kitchen island.

I took a section of the kitchen at a time. The island was first. 

Our hard surface counters have some not so hot looking wood around the edges. Someday we'd like to get a nice white/grey speckled granite counter. It's on the list along with 50 other things :) See my list started with the much cheaper DIY projects first. I don't think I could DIY new counter tops unfortunately.

Coat #1 John was freaking out about it.

A stainless steal dishwasher and oven would compliment nice. Someday.

Sanding. Child labor is cheap. 

I paid them in gram crackers.

Fresh and clean. 

Hardware was the fun part!! I mean picking it out. Not putting it on.
Mason was super stoked that we put in a ladder for him on those drawers. I just pull him down about 80x a day. Still waiting for him to get bored with it.

I think the mixture is contemporary yet functional. 

We were hoping we'd love these handles which we do. But drilling permanent holes in your cupboards was a little harder than I thought it'd be.

I had staining workstations everywhere. I had them in our living room which was great place since it's fenced off from Mason and we had no furniture in there at the time. Wide open space. Then I had an area in the basement. It's so nice that the gel stain didn't have a strong smell. If so John would have moved out when I started this. I can't even paint my nails in a 30 yard radius of him. Drives him crazy.


More stain.

 Old chairs meet Gel Stain. I think I used a dark walnut.

I went a little staining crazy. Like I do with most of my projects. Gosh, for a while there I was spray painting everything Black, Silver or Oil Rubbed Bronze. Now I've moved on to staining everything I can.

My cute chairs. Another fabulous garage sale steal deal.

So about 15 projects in and I finally feel like this place is becoming our very own home sweet home.

The next project is a Banquette table in our eating nook :) And since the kitchen is dark now the nook will be all white. I can't wait!


Amanda M. said...

What I wouldn't give for ALL your cabinet space!! My 4 little cabinet's are jealous....The stain looks great!

Mikki said...

Just beautiful! You both are so very talented. The hardware surely completes the look. (I don't like cabs without....they look unfinished.)Wow....bottle that energy and pass it along, Christa!

rta kitchen cabinets said...

OMG! these kids are super cute! they remind me of my little cousins

Warner Carter said...

Once upon a time, dovetail joints inside the drawers were practically all you needed to distinguish high-end cabinets. affordable kitchen cabinets

simond simon said...

I have been looking the World Wide Web for this information about regarding Contemporary kitchen cabinets south Florida
and I want to thank you for this post. It’s not easy to find such perfectly written information on this topic. Great Work

Anonymous said...

Looks great! I didn't want satin clear coat either so I ordered matte -which says flat on the can. Did you get matte or flat?