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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

Give Your Kitchen a New Look with a Cabinet Makeover


O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.


Give Your Kitchen a New Look with a Cabinet Makeover

Chelsea O'Donnell

One of my favorite ways to give a kitchen new life is by updating the cabinetry.

Many homes in our area of Connecticut were built or updated with darker wood accents, which was a popular remodeling choice during the 1970’s and 80’s. While dark wood has its charms, it can really bring down the brightness of a kitchen, especially during the autumn and winter months when there is less natural daylight.

Of course, replacing your old cabinetry is a great option, but it might not be possible for people on a tight budget. Not to worry, you can still give your kitchen a beautiful facelift by recycling those old cabinets and giving them a great new look. While a quick lick of paint can do wonders in the kitchen, there are a few tricks to ensure your budget reno looks like a million bucks. So, let’s get started!

Firstly, plan ahead for the job. Giving your cabinets a makeover might only take a few days, but during that time, your kitchen will likely be out of commission. Stock up on paper goods to use while your dishware is packed away, and don’t plan to tackle this job right before a major holiday or when you’re having guests over to stay.

Once your cabinets are empty, you’ll want to give everything a very good scrub with a degreaser. Any oil will prevent the primer from sticking, and food particles or build-up will become bumps and lumps in your paint job. Pay special attention to the cabinets closest to the cooktop and hood, as they’ll likely have the most gunk stuck to them.

Once everything is clean and dry, use a hand sander with 100 grit sandpaper to remove the finish from the cabinets. Don’t forget the hard to reach places like molding or other decorative finishes. Sanding creates a lot of dust, so make sure you wipe down all the surfaces thoroughly.

Now it’s time to apply the primer. It’s worth noting that wall primer and cabinetry primer are different because wall primer is made to absorb into the pores in the drywall, whereas wood doesn't have the same makeup. I recommend using a bonding primer which will adhere to the wood and help the paint to really “stick”. I recommend starting in the middle, covering the main panel of the cabinet before moving on to the areas around the molding. Don’t forget to prime all of your edges, as they will be visible when the cabinets are in place.

Unlike walls, cabinets take a fair amount of abuse from daily use. If you have a big family and the kitchen is the major gathering place, you might want to consider adding latex to your choice of paint. Latex agents are made up of ceramic beads which when added to water-based paint will create a bond that improves hardness and will be more resistant to bangs, dings, and scratches. When you’re choosing your paint, opt for an enamel trim paint which will often have a higher sheen and stronger durability. For brushes, you can use a roller for larger areas, a three-inch flat brush for medium panels, and a two and a half inch angled brush to get into the cracks and crevices around the molding. Be careful not to rush the painting process, not letting each coat dry properly can result in bubbles and smudges that will ruin the overall look of the job.

One of the best parts of giving your cabinets a facelift is picking out new fixtures. Depending on your design taste, new knobs and handles can give the kitchen an industrial, contemporary, farmhouse or colonial look for just a few dollars per piece.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only.