By Matthew Plummer, CEO / Designated Broker

Oak cabinets in dated kitchen

One of the reasons kitchen remodels can get so expensive here in Olympia, Washington is the cost of replacing cabinets. Quality and features range from cheap and flimsy to solid and spendy. And then you can plan on the cost for installation of the cabinets to be 100-150% of the cost for the cabinets themselves!

Another option is to "reface" or refinish your cabinets. With the era of stained oak long passed, some folks are either hiring professional painters or having a go at DIY to give them that smooth, painted style seen in the magazines now. I have heard and seen mixed results with painting previously stained cabinetry. My mother-in-law in fact had her oak cabinets professionally painted, and they scuff quite easily.

When Valerie and I remodeled our kitchen (yes, the photo above is our old kitchen), we asked a few professional painters about refinishing, and they too had concerns about the quality and longevity of painting previously stained cabinets. We also researched new cabinets. Our current cabinets were high quality, so we didn't want something that would get beat up in just five years, but the quality cabinets were EXPENSIVE. So, here's what we did.

We tossed all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and ordered brand-new, factory painted ones from, complete with soft close hinges! We got to choose a new style (we chose shaker) and provided them with the exact measurements of our previous cabinet doors and drawer fronts as well as our desired Sherwin-Williams color code.

We then did a little sanding, primed, and painted the exteriors of the cabinet boxes and face frames ourselves (Okay, Valerie did most of it. She's pretty amazing) with the same SW paint color. I then added new beadboard to a couple of the exposed cabinet sides for accent and had the pleasure of installing all the doors and drawer fronts when they arrived to our door on a pallet. The painting we did of the frames isn't perfectly smooth, but it holds up nicely, is easy to touch up, and really doesn't stand out with the brand-new doors and drawer fronts being prominent. Here's a photo.

Refinished oak cabinets to white shaker with new doors and drawer fronts.

If you have any questions about a home improvement, maintenance, or renovation, or need referrals to quality tradespeople, MVP is here to help! Or, if it would just be easier to find your next home with your perfect vision-of-a-kitchen, move-in ready, we can help with that too!

How did you go about renovating your cabinets? Comment below!