Kitchen Tour

Before & After: Sky Blue Cabinets Instantly Update This Dated ’80s Kitchen — For Only $200

published Jan 17, 2024
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Dark cabinets in kitchen before painting.

Although Avery Michaels, who runs the home DIY blog Holland Avenue Home, and her husband lived in a 1910 craftsman-style parsonage owned by their church (where her husband was a pastor), they didn’t necessarily want the kitchen to feel as old as the building. The year was 2017, and their kitchen still reflected the updates made in the 1980s — but they had big dreams for the space.

“The dark wood cupboards had normal wear and tear, and the off-white linoleum floors had seen better days,” Michaels admitted. “The church gave us a small budget to ‘redo’ the kitchen, and I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible.”

To keep expenses down, Michaels got crafty. Even though the floors were worn, she purchased a colorful area rug instead of replacing it with a wood-like vinyl option (which would cost around $350). It was a bonus that the appliances and fixtures didn’t need updating either. 

“I found creative ways to brighten and update the room without spending much money,” Michaels explained in a blog post. “I read every article out there about painting kitchen cupboards and decided to go for it!” Michaels used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint in “Pure White” on the upper cabinets and “Duck Egg Blue” on the lower cupboards. Using chalk paint was faster than traditional paint because Michaels could leave the doors on and didn’t need primer. However, she stresses degreasing the cabinets multiple times using a mild dish soap (like Dawn) before painting. Michaels was proud of the fresh cabinet paint, noting she “would stand behind that decision over and over.”

The cabinets turned out so beautifully that Michaels decided not to stop there — the window frame above the sink, trim, backsplash (before it was updated two years later), and all the walls were painted, too. 

“It felt silly to paint white over white, but the fresh, bright new paint made a huge difference in the brightness of the room,” Michaels said. “I also replaced the dated hardware with modern gold hardware from Amazon. The total cost of this update (not including the rug) came out to $200.”

When photographing the difference between the two spaces, she admitted the space pre-paint “felt like a cave” even when the lights were on. However, the “after” shots were taken at the same time of day with no lights on, and the difference is astonishing. 

As gorgeous as the kitchen turned out, this wasn’t her first idea — initially, a minimal, modern vibe with just black and white was the inspiration, but Michaels kept returning to colorful inspiration. “I undoubtedly gravitated towards bright kitchens with a lot of color — specifically that perfect shade of blue-green,” Michaels shared. “I can’t deny it; it is and will always be my favorite color. I decided to be true to my own style instead of what is currently trendy, and I am so glad that I did.”

If you’re in the process of planning a kitchen update, Michaels has some advice for you: Instead of letting social media dictate what’s trendy, look at the rest of your space or wardrobe. “I wholeheartedly believe that nothing you truly love will ever go out of style,” Michaels said. 

And while the couple no longer lives in this home (they moved to Kentucky and have a stunning new kitchen), the transformation is too incredible not to share. This simple kitchen project proves that just a little bit of paint can make a huge and inexpensive difference in brightening a room.