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Bathroom Makeover on a Budget | How to Paint Cabinets

Give your bathroom a budget makeover with these simple instructions for how to paint cabinets and get results that wow!

Our budget was small when we gave our hall bathroom a makeover.

Sending a kid to college doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for home improvement projects!

We completed our hall bathroom update for less than $200!

You can read the details about all of the projects for this budget bathroom makeover here:

Here’s where we started.

wood bathroom vanity with silver hardware

Hallway Bathroom Budget Makeover

Our three teens share this hallway bathroom.

They all have different showering schedules, and we do have other showers in the house so there’s never been a problem.

Well, almost never.

They’re siblings so there’s going to be a little squabbling sometimes!

But we figured sharing a bathroom builds character, right?

When my son left for college this past fall, the girls and I decided to give the space a little makeover. It was a great project to keep all of us busy and not focused on missing him.

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The Power of Paint

The first project we did was paint the room.

The girls and I decided to use shades of gray with some pink accents for decoration.

We painted the room with Benjamin Moore’s Horizon. It’s a really pretty, pale gray.

two girls painting a blue bathroom Horizon gray

Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint is my absolute favorite paint for walls.

It’s definitely pricier. But its coverage is ahhh-mazing!

A cheaper paint would’ve needed at least two coats to cover the darker blue. But we only needed one coat with a few touch-ups, so really it’s pretty cost effective!

The girls had a lot of fun doing the painting!

They took turns rolling and brushing.

They’d tried painting before, but this was the first room they did on their own.

I love empowering them so they can know how to do these types of things when they have homes of their own. And I don’t really love painting, so I was happy to pass the baton, er, roller!

girl on ladder reflected in bathroom mirror holding a small paint roller

We completed the whole makeover in just 2 days, but there were several projects that went into the rest of the makeover.

Today I’m sharing my tips for how to paint cabinets.

Here they are in their orangey wood glory.

wood bathroom vanity with silver hardware

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How to Paint Cabinets


Before beginning to paint our cabinets, I did a lot of research.

Some sources recommended lightly sanding the cabinets beforehand. But I chose to use a good primer that didn’t require sanding.

I used Zinsser Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 PLUS Primer. It’s a zero-VOC water-based primer which means it’s safe to use (non-carcinogenic) and easy to clean up. That’s always a key for me!

First, we removed the doors and all the hardware.

wood bathroom cabinets with doors removed showing plastic baskets holding toiletries and cleaning products

Then my husband set up a painting station under a canopy so he could use the paint sprayer that attaches to his air compressor.

We live in North Carolina and we did this project in August, so it was HOT outside! Thank goodness for canopies and shade.

He used wire hangers through the hole where the knobs attach to hang the doors. That way he could spray both sides at the same time without extra drying time.

Isn’t he clever?

Man standing outside under a pop up canopy with cabinet doors hanging from the frame with wire coat hangers. Man is using a spray painting attachment on an air compressor to spray paint on cabinet doors

You can use a brush to paint the doors, but spraying gives a really smooth finish, and it’s SUPER FAST!

Which is always a bonus.

While he painted the doors, I primed the frame of the cabinets inside.

We decided to do two coats of primer since these cabinets get a lot of use.

From teens.

So it’s not always gentle use.

bathroom vanity with doors removed being painted.

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After the primer had completely dried, it was time for the paint.

I decided to use Benjamin Moore’s Advance Interior Paint in a semi-gloss finish.

I wanted to have a little bit of a shine in the space. Plus, I was a little skeptical that it would be as wipeable as I wanted it to be in a more matte finish.

bathroom cabinets without doors. The frame of the cabinets has been painted with Kendall Charcoal paint

This water-based alkyd paint is so amazing!

It dries to a hard, furniture-like finish, just like an oil-based paint does.

But it’s easy to clean up and it’s low-VOC since it’s water-based.

Basically, it takes the best qualities of both types of paint and magically combines them!

We wanted a bold color, so we chose Kendall Charcoal.

Kevin painted the doors outside with the sprayer, and I painted the frames inside with a brush.

Benjamin Moore’s Advanced paint has great self-leveling qualities, so even if you use a brush on your doors, you shouldn’t get visible brush strokes.

Here’s an overview of the paints and colors we used:

graphic with cans of paint and primer showing colors used for budget bathroom makeover

The First Reveal: Painted Cabinets

We let the doors cure for a week before re-installing them on the cabinets.

You probably don’t need to let them cure that long, but we decided to err on the side of extra time to cure.

I’m not a fan of having to do touch-ups!

And our kids are old enough that we don’t need to worry about having the cabinets open.

painted bathroom cabinets with mercury glass knobs. Paint is Kendall Charcoal

The girls and I liked the idea of giving the room some feminine touches and a little shine, so we chose mercury glass knobs for the doors from Hobby Lobby.

I absolutely love how they turned out!

And a little before and after for comparison:


wood bathroom vanity with silver hardware


painted bathroom cabinets with mercury glass knobs. Paint is Kendall Charcoal

If you have any questions about painting cabinets or ideas, contact me or leave a comment! We love hearing from you!

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Get simple instructions for how to paint cabinets using Benjamin Moore's water-based alkyd paint. This #budget-friendly #bathroom #makeover from is easy to do in a weekend. #hallbath #guestbath #DIY #paintcabinets