DIY, Home Decor

80s Kitchen Cabinets Makeover – How Updating our Cabinets Transformed Our Kitchen

How we updated our kitchen for the One Room Challenge. This 80s kitchen cabinets makeover brightened our home and opened up the space.

Updating our kitchen was on our to-do list since day one. It feels SO good to finally have it done! I don’t hate our kitchen anymore. It finally feels like me and makes me happy. If only it made me want to cook more too!

This makeover started when I signed up for the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge. Taking on a kitchen makeover was probably a little too ambitious. However, we decided to go for it!

For more photos of this project, check out my full kitchen reveal post!

One Room Challenge Kitchen Makeover Plan

  • Paint the 80s cabinets
  • Replace the outdated hardware
  • Replace the current backsplash
  • Take out a few cabinets
  • Add floating shelves
  • Repair and repaint ceiling
  • Paint walls
Kitchen Makeover

80s Kitchen Cabinets Makeover

The first task was an 80s kitchen cabinets makeover. The cabinets were a medium-toned knotty pine. They were dark and incredibly dated. We had wanted to paint them since we bought the house 7 years ago.

After a lot of research, we decided to use Sherwin Williams’ Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel paint over their Extreme Bond Primer. I brought home paint chips for almost every shade of white that they had to pick the perfect color for our kitchen. We didn’t replace the counters or paint the wood trim around the windows and doors. So we needed a white that wouldn’t look yellow next to the brown on the counters or the wood. We finally landed on Pure White. It was definitely the right decision.

The white is perfect! It is consistently white in all kinds of lighting and never looks yellow or gray. It was the perfect way to update our dated cabinets.

Kitchen Makeover

80s Kitchen Cabinets Makeover – Step 2: New Hardware

Once all of the cabinets were painted and cured, we installed all of the new knobs. We really wanted more modern hardware. But also needed hardware that complemented the traditional cabinets. We ultimately settled for classic knobs from Lowe’s. 

We chose knobs in a gunmetal finish. They are dark with slight nickel undertones and a touch of bronze. The knobs’ finish complements the stainless steel appliances and sink, and the black stove. Plus, the brassy undertones complement the original door hinges.

We decided to keep the hinges because we really like the patina on them, we kept the same hinges in the girls’ bathroom and our master bath when we painted those cabinets as well. 

Kitchen Makeover

80s Kitchen Cabinets Makeover – Less is More

While we painted, we decided to ditch the cabinets over the stove peninsula. We waffled back and forth, but we ultimately decided to take them out. It was the BEST decision for the whole kitchen makeover!

It opened the kitchen more to our dining space. Plus the kitchen gets more natural light from the windows in the dining space too.

Previously, our range hood was attached to those upper cabinets. So Taking out those cabinets meant that we needed to replace the range hood. It was tricky finding an affordable island range hood that we actually liked. But we eventually found one. It is stainless steel with a curved glass accent.

I love just having the hood instead of cabinets! It brightens and updates the space so much!

This is the part where we stopped working on the kitchen and left it with torn-up walls and the old backsplash for over a year…

Kitchen Makeover


Kitchen Makeover

Replacing the 80s Backsplash

We selected and ordered the tile for the new backsplash while we were painting the cabinets, so when I was ready to tile, it was all there. We ordered this gray 3×6 subway tile from Floor and Decor for the new backsplash.

I actually removed the old tile and installed the new subway tile myself. I’d never tiled before, but this was a pretty straightforward process. It took me several weeks because I was only working at night after the girls went to bed. In retrospect, I could have and should have done it a long time ago.

I’m not going to share how I did it, because honestly, I’d suck at that. Just watch a bunch of tutorials, get the right tools and go for it! It’s not that difficult. I promise! 

Kitchen Makeover
Kitchen Makeover

Painting the Walls and Ceiling

After I finished the backsplash, I moved on to the walls and ceiling. They were in rough shape from where we removed the block of cabinets over the stove. We patched that wall and ceiling after taking out the cabinets, but never painted them. I put it off so long because I worried about color matching. If we couldn’t color match the ceiling then I’d have to paint the entire downstairs. But the color match was actually very very close. I can only tell that it’s not a perfect match in certain lighting if I’m looking right at the spot.

The wall is the same pale gray as our living room, which was Olympic’s Faint Flicker. It’s been a while since I’ve had to buy paint for a project and it turns out Lowe’s doesn’t have Olympic paint anymore. I was able to have it color matched to Valspar. I plan on painting the rest of the dining room that color as well, but I have some other plans for that room that need to happen first. 

Kitchen Makeover
Kitchen Makeover

Installing Open Shelves

The final piece of this kitchen makeover was the open shelves.  Ornamental Moulding and Millwork gifted me a pair of wall shelves. They are made of Ambrosia Maple, so they are thick and solid. That’s important when loading them with dishes.

The shelves are 3 feet long and fit perfectly in the space. I love how the darker grains in the wood coordinate with the trim work around the windows and doors.

Installing the shelves was pretty straightforward. There was a wooden mounting bar that I secured to the studs in the wall. Once the mounting bar was installed I attached the shelves to the bar. The shelves themselves are hollow boxes and the top of the box is what attaches to the mounting bar. I did have to drill pilot holes into the tops of the shelves because the wood is so hard it was difficult to hammer the nails into place. 

Kitchen Makeover
Kitchen Makeover

I’m so happy with the shelves. They are the perfect final touch for this project! I use them to infuse a little bit of color into the space. They are currently styled with my colorful glassware and dishes, some fun accents, and a plant. I plan on switching out some of the dishes and accents seasonally.

Kitchen Makeover
Kitchen Makeover

There you have it! A full rundown of the world’s longest kitchen makeover! I’m so happy with how everything turned out. It’s such a great feeling to have a space that I spend so much time in be something I love to look at. 

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