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Shot of Espresso {DIY Dream Kitchen}

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Source: with credit given to the designer in lower right hand corner. Notes/arrows added by me w/my fancy schmancy iPad app.

What do the above kitchens have in common other than the fact they are not in house?

I’ll give you a hint: they’re tall, dark and handsome.

Espresso cabinets.


Oh my sweet kitchen heavens, dark cabinets to me are like a cupcake covered in the most divine chocolate glaze ever. And the shiny hardware is the equivalent of sprinkles. Glorious shiny sprinkles.

I covet thee.

Actually, covet might not be a strong enough word. It’s always been a dream of mine to have dark espresso cabinets. However, I’ve watched enough HGTV to know that my first home wouldn’t be my dream home, so these are the cabinets I currently have (with the previous owners stuff still in the picture).



Oak. Lotsa oak. I hate it. Don’t get me wrong, the cabinets are fairly new, and they’re super tall up top and I am so grateful for all the space they offer us. However, I’d love them more if they were prettier.

I sound like a mean teenage boy, right? “I like her, but only if she were brunette.”

But yes. That’s how I feel.

What to do? Well, my plan A was to win the lottery and build my dream home, but since that isn’t panning out, I need another plan. A realistic one, perhaps? Sure. Yeah.

Therefore, I did what I always do and went to google after watching way too many episodes of I Hate My Kitchen on DIY Network. Dangerous, I tell you, when I watch that stuff all day. I get too many ideas. Do you all do that, too? Well, I came upon a fantastic forum featuring lovely people who have done exactly what I want to do. The queen of them all is Celticmoon. If I could meet her in person, I’d probably say, “I’m not worthy!” and bow down.

Here’s her before & after. Can you believe that’s the same kitchen? I wish she had bigger photos to share, but even in these small ones you can tell a MAJOR difference. The biggest change? The cabinets. Not literally, but just the color since they’re the exact same cabinets. GORGEOUS. You can ooh and aah her photos here and see my instructions right over here. WOO!

image image

Now my DH isn’t onboard with me going at it and trying it on the kitchen cabinets right away, so we agreed I’d try it on the bathroom vanity first. So I took a drawer, followed her instructions with a few modifications and here are my results:

Vanity before:


First coat:


Second Coat:


Third & final coat + hardware:




Isn’t it just what I wanted? Yes. So, what’s the point of this post, then? I think I need some reassurance that it looks good and that I am not going to ruin my kitchen. I’ll be honest, the price is right and the time/work effort is low. The prep of the door took 2 minutes and to apply each coat took 2-3 minutes tops. That’s a total of 10-15 minutes. The longest part of this process is waiting 24 hours for each coat to dry, but that’s cool.

Supplies: To do my entire kitchen it’d likely cost about $100 worth of supplies for all the 30 cabinet doors, 10 drawers + cabinet frames & molding.

Time: If I do this during spring break from March 10th-18th, I could conceivably revamp my whole kitchen in a week including the 2 poly coats to protect the cabinets. Also, the weather will be more normal at that time, so I could wait 12 hours between coats instead of 24.

Value: Is it a good value to do this? Do buyers like espresso kitchens more than standard oak ones?

Hardware: We already have the pulls we want for the 10 drawers, but we would need 30 new cabinet knobs at about $2 each (I found some I love on eBay).

Backsplash: We’d need a light, bright backsplash to make it all really snazzy and not too dark. I am hoping we could get the backsplash done for around $500 or less. Maybe white subway tile?

Lighting: We already replaced our old fluorescent box light with a satin nickel track light that is stunning.

TOTAL COST: $700ish for a total new look for our kitchen cabinets

Good investment? I think so. I hope.

Would this be a tutorial you all would be interested in? I plan on documenting the whole process to hopefully inspire others to get rid of the oak, if you wanna.

UPDATE: My DIY tutorial has been posted here with lots of instructions!


Thursday 11th of February 2016

I also have all this oak everywhere. The problem with my family room is that there is solid natural oak panelling on 3 of the walls and then the room is open to the renovated kitchen. If i used this technique on my panelling, the room would look too dark. I really don't know what to do since i hate the idea of painting or removing the wood panelling.

Thomas Watson

Wednesday 26th of November 2014

I want to paint my kitchen because the cabinets are FIFTY years old and wow do they need help. Thanks for the great ideas.


Wednesday 26th of February 2014

I just ordered off amazon! thank you!!! I can't wait to do this my office desk (dark stain on top with white hutch and bottom as well as my kitchen table!

Laura Wolfgram

Wednesday 5th of February 2014

Hoping you'll notice this comment! Do you intend to do all trimwork in your house as well so everything matches?

simond simon

Monday 11th of November 2013

I have been looking the World Wide Web for this information about regarding Kitchen Cabinets Miami and I want to thank you for this post. It’s not easy to find such perfectly written information on this topic. Great Work

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