Home with Tess: The pain of painting cabinets

Home projects typically fall into one of two categories: They’re either easier than you anticipate or much, much harder.

Today, I want to tell you about a project I embarked on late last year that falls into the latter category: painting my kitchen cabinets. In fact, I have so much to say about them that I’m going to break this column into three parts.

Painting kitchen cabinets is a wonderful way to add color in a place a bit more unexpected than walls. But depending on who you are, the work it takes to obtain that color may not be worth it.

Let me take you back to the beginning. When we first bought our house, our entire kitchen was doused in light gray, and for the months after our purchase, I pined after glorious cabinets painted with rich jewel hues of green and blue. I knew it was something I wanted to try.

But the more I researched, the more I realized what a commitment this process was. Everything needed a deep, spotless cleaning; the cabinet doors and drawer faces needed to be removed and carefully labeled so they returned to the right spot; everything needed to be sanded and primed, and then sanded and cleaned between each of the several coats of paint applied.

Whatever, no big deal. I was in it for the long haul. Plus, since our cabinets were nearly brand new and spray-painted anyway, I figured we had a clean slate to work with and a leg up on, say, those with oak cabinets. (As an aside, I don’t think I ever would have done this if we had real wood cabinets. That is an entirely different ballgame.)

Home with Tess: The pain of painting cabinets

My husband, Aaron, spent some weeks protesting. “Why would we paint perfectly good kitchen cabinets?” he asked.

Because I’m delusional, that’s why!

He eventually gave in, and it was on. I had the perfect plan: We would spend the week we had off for Christmas painting, and by the new year, we would have what felt like a brand-new kitchen. (Spoiler alert: This took way longer than a week.)

When I got home, I immediately painted the color onto a door to see how well it matched. My heart sank to the floor.

The difference wasn’t flagrant, but it was a few too many shades bluer than the original deep teal I had settled on.

If you could see my face as I write this, you could see the shame in it. Yes, I had to buy a third gallon.

Luckily, Aaron remained supportive as always through my crisis. He found a store selling the third type of paint I picked out — this time, Breakthrough by PPG — and made it there half an hour before the store closed for the weekend.

I wish I could say it was smooth sailing from there, dear reader. Unfortunately, I had not yet even touched the cabinets.

The trouble was just getting started.