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My $100 Kitchen Cabinet Makeover!

I'm so excited to share today's post. It's something I've been working on for about 2 months, on and off. But it is finished and so today I'm sharing how we renovated our kitchen cabinets for about $100.

When we bought our house in a little over a year ago, I fell in love with the kitchen just by the listings photos.

UPDATE!!! Check out this post to see how I also stained my island!

It was HUGE and there was about a billion cabinets. The kitchen in our old house was a pretty good size also and I knew I would not be content with a smaller kitchen. So these pictures sold me.

We bought the house and moved in and I lived with the kitchen for awhile but the cabinet color was really bugging me. I liked the counter tops well enough but they clashed with the cabinets. We did not have the money to replace all those cabinets so the next decision was to either paint or stain them.

I stumbled upon General Finishes Gel Stain and thought the idea of it was awesome. There's no sanding required which is huge because I have little kids in the house and I needed to still be able to use my kitchen. Plus it was pretty inexpensive! I found it on Amazon (not an affiliate link) for a little over $30 a quart but lucky for me, we have a local hardware store that sells it for $21 a quart! Total we ended up using 3 quarts of stain and 1 quart of the top coat.  That plus brushes, mineral spirits for cleaning, etc, came to around $100. Now that price we could handle!

So we taped and stained. And stained some more. All in, I think we did about 4 coats. We started by taking all the doors off and staining just the frame completely. Then we put the doors back on and stained the doors and drawers.

We used the General Finishes Antique Walnut Gel Stain and the Arm-R-Seal. I wasn't sure whether to get the Semi-Gloss or Satin, and once I put one coat of the semi-gloss on, it was as shiny as I wanted it to be. So we stopped at 1 coat. I hope I don't regret not putting on more.

We were fortunate that the previous owner had replaced all the cabinet handles already so they were in perfect condition and didn't need to be replaced. 

We also made in a few changes right after we moved in, including buying an island. The island doesn't "match" now, but I'm really not sure if I want to stain it. It doesn't bother me too much as it is. 

My husband is an electrician and he added the hanging pendant lights above the peninsula and lowered the light above the sink. I also painted the backsplash white with paint I already had. I wanted it to be white to brighten the whole space up more. Plus, the previous owners painted the
WHOLE house in a flat or egg shell paint, including the backsplash, which is impossible to clean when you get grease or food on it. 

So here is the final result! I'm so happy with how it turned out!

I love that you can still see the wood grain and handles really pop against the dark color! Plus, now I love the counter tops! The dark cabinet color pulled out the dark spots in the counter and I like it so much better!

I love farmhouse style and I know most "farmhouse" kitchens are lighter cabinets I decided to do my own thing and go dark, but still incorporate some of my farmhouse decor in pops of red.

I was not paid by General Finishes to give my opinion, I just really liked their product! It was relatively easy and I would recommend it if you are looking to update your cabinets.

Here is a before and after side-by-side to compare!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions! 


  1. It looks so beautiful! And that island is gorgeous...what a difference! I used the java gel stain on mine, but it was REALLY dark, almost black...
    Next time I want to try the antique walnut. Thanks for sharing!

  2. That looks great, you did a wonderful job.

  3. Your kitchen cabinet turned out great. I love it and you did a great job. Your kitchen is beautiful. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party.

  4. We are wanting to update our cabinets in our house, but money and time is deff an issue! Our cabinets aren't real wood, and we were wanting to paint a maybe white or a light grey.. Do you think this would work for us? Also how well do they hold up? We have two little boys under 3 so there is always something smashing into the cabinets!..

    1. General Finishes does have a light grey stain and I believe they also carry paint as well. I would check out for some ideas! I know there were a few posts where people have painted over cabinets that were not real wood. I do know you need a very good primer and a very good top coat. I do not recommend using the Arm-R-Seal on white or light painted cabinets because it will give it a yellow-ish tint.

  5. Did you prep the wood at all other then cleaning it?

    1. No. Sanding is not required, even over previous finishes because of the nature of the stain. This stain doesn't penetrate the wood like a thin stain does. It kind of just sits on top. I had no problem whatsoever applying this without sanding.

    2. Just another note. When I was doing my research on this, I didn't see where sanding was required. Now there website is saying that they do recommend a light sanding but you do not have to remove the old finish. Just wanted to clarify! I would direct you to their website for more info.

    3. Thank you so much. I love what you did :)

  6. Ficou tudo muito bonito e de muito bom gosto! sua ilha ficou mui to legal e harmonizou no ambiente...Parabéns!!

    1. Had to translate--but thanks so much for your kind words!

  7. i liked it better the other way looks kind of drab now

    1. Thanks for your input! But as I said in the post, my cabinets were showing their age. Plus the oak color did not match the counters before. Also, my house is an open concept and I have no oak anywhere else in the house. This has been a huge improvement for our house! I am still loving it today.

    2. Not drab to me -- looks absolutely ELEGANT! Great job with the stain and accessories.

  8. What an awesome transformation!


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