I Can’t Afford A New Kitchen. Can You Paint Stained Wood?

Dear Laurel,

We just moved into a new home. I figured that we could get a new kitchen for about 25k. Sure, 40 years ago. I got estimates ranging from 75k-150k. I’m so upset.

In addition, just found out that we have to have the entire driveway repaved or it’s going to turn into a giant sink hole.

Here’s what I’m left with. What shade of white paint could I use to freshen things up? I so, had my heart set on a fresh white kitchen. So, at least, I could have white walls.

It’s going to be at least 5-10 years before we can redo this kitchen for real. I could maybe put about 10k into it now. This is how it looks right now. I’m so upset. I can’t live with that tile. I mean, the kitchen is supposed to be a place to eat, not throw up, right?


Sally Stickershokt


Dear Sally,

I see…

To answer your first question:

What shade of white to freshen things up? None of them! You cannot paint the walls of this kitchen white!

At least not the way it is now.

However, you can have your lovely white kitchen!

Here’s the good news. The cabinets look to be in pretty good shape, they go up to the ceiling (that’s really big) and they can be painted. You can paint stained wood! Actually, with the right primer and paint, you can paint – ANYTHING!

I could write a lengthy, boring process on how to do it, but instead I’m going to give you a link on pinterest on how to paint stained wood kitchen cabinets. Just scroll down and you’ll see countless tutorials.

Here’s another link if one would like to paint stained wood trim

I’m not going to kid you. It’s a LOT of work! Unless you really know what you’re doing, and have the strength for it, I recommend hiring a professional. Ideally, the cabinet doors should be sprayed for a smoother, more professional looking finish. However, a very skilled painter who’s sanding and putting on very thin coats can do a great job. It’s not cheap, but it’s a fraction of the cost of new cabinets!


Now, for the big enchilada. The back splash and counter tile.

Very colorful, ain’t it? haha. At the very least, perhaps you can replace the counter tile. Cleaning that kind of tile is not very much fun. You could pick out a coordinating stone. Perhaps a soapstone or quartz composite.

for-the-love-of-a-house-soapstone-counter-white-kitchenFor The Love Of A House

(Fabulous information about soapstone in the above link)

Kitchen-Island-Countertop.-Kitchen-island-is-a-2-inches-thick-slab-of-Carrera-marble.-Kitchen-Countertop-MarbleKitchen Designed By Veronica Campbell of Kitchens By Deane

photo: Jane Beiles Photography

This is actually Carrara Marble, but it could be another marble, quartz or a composite material for the island.

If you don’t want to replace the back splash, you can paint that too!

Yes, you can and it looks pretty good too! Well, at least a helluva lot better than the atrocity the previous owners inflicted on you!

There are special paints to paint tile. The only thing is, to get the most natural looking result, I would go over the grout lines with a chalky paint to imitate the grout. Here are numerous posts that have tutorials for painting ceramic tile. You can do this in bathrooms too!

Here is a wonderful before and after of a total white out where she shows how she did paint  stained wood and the back splash.

PicMonkey CollageAbove and below by Top This Top That


pretty amazing transformation!

Liess HomeLauren Liess

This is probably a new kitchen but a lot of this could be replicated with an old kitchen

A+Row+House+Reinvented-lonny-backsplash-tile-ideaLonny   |  photo: Gieves Anderson   |   styling: Kaylei McGaw

This is probably also a new kitchen, but the same effect could be achieved with an old kitchen.

please pin me to pinterest for reference by clicking the pin it button

So, Sally, for about 10k, you can have your beautiful, fresh white kitchen. In fact, it might be so terrific that you will decide in five years that you don’t need to change it after-all. Then, you can take that 100k and book an around the world cruise and have plenty left over for a number of spa days. How does that sound?




Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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