A better way to refinish your ugly old cabinets

We recently refinished our kitchen cabinets and took them from this:

Kitchen Cabinet makeover with caromal colours

Kitchen Cabinet Makeover - Before

…To this:

Kitchen Cabinet Makeover - After Caromal Colours

Kitchen Cabinet Makeover - After Caromal Colours

We have been on a long quest to update our kitchen and bathroom cabinets, but have not found the right solution until recently.  There are a couple options to explore when looking to update your cabinets:  Replace, Reface or Refinish.   Here are some thoughts on each option:

Replace Your Old Cabinets:

Around the time our love affair with ugly oak cabinets ended we looked at replacing all our cabinets with new cabinets.  Wow! talk about expensive.  You can easily spend over $20K for new kitchen cabinets.  Not to mention you have to demolish your entire kitchen, counters and back splash and lose access to your kitchen during the whole project.  The other big thing we noticed is the quality of the new cabinets is rather “suspect.”  It seems like most manufacturers focus on color and style and not really on quality.  There seems to be a lot of cabinets made of vinyl and what looks and feels like plastic to me.  I am not a fan of the way they look to be honest.  Should we replace our cabinets….that’s a big no way for us.

Reface Your Old Cabinets:

Once we realized that replacing our cabinets was not really an option we moved on to refacing.  Everyone’s doing it right?  We thought it may be a good inexpensive solution to give our cabinets an updated look without replacing them completely.  We were way wrong.  After looking into all the options, measuring and picking the style we wanted we couldn’t be happier.  The thought of going from our ugly “builder oak” cabinets to a beautiful new old world style kitchen was exciting to say the least.  Then it happened….we got the quote (or the dream crusher as I like to call it.) A whopping $12K to reface our cabinets.  Are you serious?  New doors and stick on some new veneer for $12K.  No thanks.

Refinish Your Old Cabinets:

With our dreams of a new kitchen a little in shambles we started looking at the final frontier….Refinishing.  Just the thought of refinishing our cabinets was scary.  Here we are, two people who have absolutely no skills in this area.  I am a stay at home mom and my husband is a network engineer.  We are not crafty to say the least 🙂  The 2 main options we found for refinishing are staining or painting.

Staining your kitchen cabinets is scary and risky.  I know as we tried staining some shelves in the past….and well…they made good kindling when we were done 😦   We did tons and tons of research and it boils down to the fact you really really need to know what you are doing or there is a good chance you are going to ruin your cabinets.  The process is very time consuming and tedious.  You have to sand every nook and cranny down to the bare wood, which can be a nightmare by itself.  Once sanded you enter the actual staining process where you need to make sure you apply and remove the stain perfectly to make sure all the cabinets look the same.  We pretty much realized that staining was not an option for us and our skill level and besides with staining we would still end up with the same cabinet style and wood grain…just a different color.

We then looked at painting our cabinets.  This seems to be the cheapest and easiest route to transform your kitchen cabinets.  The colors and styles are pretty much endless when looking at painting.  The problem we had with painting is pretty much we don’t like the look of painted cabinets and there is a big concern about durability.  Paint can chip easy and we have 2 young boys that slam the cabinets every time they touch them.  The other issue we had with painting is that paint doesn’t hide the wood grain and oak cabinets have a lot of grain that we didn’t really want to show through the paint.  Something about oak grain poking through paint makes me sad inside.  As it stood, painting seemed to be the most feasible choice for us, but we just weren’t feeling it.  I think the fact that painted cabinets were not really the look we were after combined with the amount of work, sanding, the durability issues and the wood grain showing through caused us to get discouraged with the whole project.  The last thing we wanted was to redo our kitchen when the thought of the final product did not excite us.  Project Over.

A better way to refinish your cabinets comes along…

After giving up all hope and trying to convince ourselves that honey oak “really makes our granite pop” we found an answer.  Caromal Colours.  It seems like the makers of Caromal Colours have lived through our cabinet makeover quest themselves and came up with a solution that really makes refinishing your cabinets an easy and worthwhile endeavor.  It was love at first sight….  We dove straight in and decided to refinish our bathroom cabinets then immediately moved onto our kitchen cabinets.  They look absolutely amazing.  We are thrilled to death with the results and couldn’t be happier.  If you are interested in seeing what Caromal Colours products can do for your home send me an email at laura@easyartisan.net or post comments or questions to this blog.  I love helping others and its especially rewarding when I can help show people that they really can do projects like these themselves, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.  laura@easyartisan.net

Our Bathroom Cabinet Makeover with Caromal Colours

Here are a few good before and after pictures of our first DIY cabinet refinishing project.  As you can see the honey oak doesn’t really match the rest of the bathroom and is in need of some updating.  We decided to go with the chocolate basecoat with a very light distressing to give it a little character.  I am super happy with the results.  I absolutely adore the cabinets now.  They are like brand new now and I couldn’t be happier with the way they look.   I feel like they give the rest of the room an updated look as a whole….I just can’t believe we waited so long to do this.  It really wasn’t that hard at all.  We even had our 8 year old son helping.  I would love to hear what you think of them.


Really ugly oak cabinets before Caromal Colour makeover


Bathroom Cabinets after Caromal Colours makeover


Bathroom cabinets after Caromal Colours makeover


Bathroom cabinet refinishing with Caromal Colours

We decided to take things up a notch and put some nice hardware on our “new” cabinets.  We wanted something that would match and tie in with the mirrors a little.  After a quick trip to Lowes, I think we found the perfect hardware…a bronze finish with a hint of brushed copper showing through.  What a difference it makes.  Wouldn’t you a agree?

Bathroom cabinets with new hardware

Bathroom Cabinets - Completed DIY makeover with new hardware

Bathroom Cabinets - Completed DIY makeover with new hardware

Bathroom Cabinets - Completed DIY makeover with new hardware

Bathroom Cabinets - Completed DIY makeover with new hardware

Bathroom Cabinets - Completed DIY makeover with new hardware

Another great swap meet makeover! Nice wall plaques for $1?

Now that we are armed with caromal colours going to the local swap meet or flea market is a whole different experience.  We used to come up empty handed most of the time, because most pieces are either not the right finish to match our decor or just plain beat up.  Now that we have our arsenal of caromal colours we look at things with all new eyes.  We know we can easily change the look and finish of just about anything and turn something old and crusty into something beautiful that will look good in our home.  It’s certainly made going to flea markets, garage sales, craigslist, and ebay a whole lot funner knowing I can usually find something super ugly for almost free, refinish it and viola…a great find!


Here are some wall plaques we found at the swap meet for $1.  They were nothing special, very bland and ready for the garbage.  We thought they would look nice if we refinished them in different caromal colours colors to hang in my husbands office.  Can’t pass these up for a buck.

Wall Plaque Makeover caromal colours

Wall Plaques - Before

Wall Plaque Makeover caromal colours

Wall Plaque Makeover - First Coat

Wall Plaque Makeover refinish pictures with caromal colours

Wall Plaque Makeover - Paprika, Peppercorn and Cobblestone Basecoats

Wall Plaque Makeover - After Caromal Colours makeover

Wall Plaque Makeover - After Caromal Colours makeover

Don’t they look good 🙂  Might be the best dollar I’ve ever spent!  I simply put a coat of caromal colours textured basecoat on each one and rubbed some toner on them.  Couldn’t be easier.  I got the idea for the 3 different colors together in a magazine and really like the look of the three of them together.  From left to right they are:  Peppercorn, Paprika, Cobblestone

Revive those old flower pots

I found yet another use for the magical toner product.  I think I am becoming a little addicted to toner 🙂  Its just too easy to transform things that have lost their luster and give them life again.  Here is another example of it with a resin flower pot.  It is a nice solid resin pot with nice details.  The only thing with it that I couldn’t stand is that it had a pinkish color that just didn’t do it for me.  It sat around outside and in the garage unused for quite a while, because I just didn’t like it….until now!

I simply rubbed it down with toner and really changed the look of the finish to something that I really like.  Could you imagine trying to do that with regular paint?  Sanding, running, dripping, chipping, etc….no thanks!  This stuff makes it easy.

Here is the pot Before I touched it (too pink wouldn’t you agree?)

Resin Planter - Before refinishing with Caromal Colours Toner

Resin Planter - Before adding Toner

Here it is after brushing some toner on.  See how much difference it makes.

Resin Pot - Showing difference Caromal Colours Toner makes

Resin Pot - Showing the difference Toner makes

Here is the pot after brushing it all down with toner and simply wiping it off with a rag.  It took less than 5 minutes from start to finish.

Resin Pot - Finished the Caromal Colours Toner

Resin Pot - Finished the Caromal Colours Toner

Here is the finished product.  I think it looks really nice now.  For very little effort I was able to revive an old pot that was just sitting around the house into a nice beautiful pot for my husbands office.  Seriously the toner is pretty amazing stuff…just slop it on and wipe it off and it leaves everything looking a thousand times better.  I wonder if it will work on my body 🙂

Resin Planter Pot - Caromal Colours Makeover Complete

Resin Planter Pot - Caromal Colours Makeover Complete

Flea markets – An easy artisan’s best friend!

Going to the flea markets, swap meets and garage sales is a whole different experience now that we know about Caromal Colours.  Things that we would normally not even consider looking at get a second look now that we know we can refinish them to our liking pretty easily.  Second hand shopping is a much funner experience for us now, because there are so many things for sale dirt cheap because they have an outdated look.  On our last trip to the flea market we spotted a pair of really ugly candlesticks for $5.

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Really ugly candlesticks....perfect for a trash to treasure makeover!

I’m not sure who what style this chalky white over black finish is…but it sure doesn’t work for me.  The candlesticks themselves are really cool though.  Solid wood, hand carved, iron top plate and a small project I can get the kids involved in.

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Caromal Colours... "So easy...an 8 year old can use it!"

Here are the candlesticks after a coat of the chocolate basecoat.  Nothing special as far as technique, we just brushed it on.  I decided to leave a little tiny bit of the white poking through in a few areas to give it some more rustic character.

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Candlesticks after a coat of Caromal Colours chocolate basecoat

I let the chocolate basecoat dry for about 20 minutes and then put some pumpkin basecoat over the chocolate.  I just brushed it on, but didn’t smoosh it into the grooves to allow the chocolate to show through in the grooves.  It’s a lot easier than it looks…takes about 2 minutes per candlestick.  I wish painting walls were that easy and forgiving 🙂

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Putting Caromal Colours pumpkin basecoat over the chocolate basecoat

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Here they are after the finished pumpkin over the chocolate basecoat

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Here I am applying the Caromal Colours Toner

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Candlesticks after the Toner

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Ready for the Wax!

Refinish Candle sticks with caromal colours paint

Candlestick makeover complete - Aren't they gorgeous?

Caromal Colours…Bringing back the sunshine!

After so much success using Caromal Colours to refinish our kitchen and bathroom cabinets we thought we would see what else we could bring back to life.  Unfortunately there is no shortage of things around the house that need “some love” which makes having Caromal Colours on our side really helpful.  You tend to look at things in a different light when you know that you can easily refinish them into something beautiful without a lot of effort.  Here is a perfect example of that.  We have had this pottery sun since we first got married over 11 years ago.  It has been a fixture in our yard in every home we have lived in.   It’s been hanging in the sun and rain since then and is one step from being put in the garbage can.  Even though it’s in really bad shape, I like the rustic character of it and it reminds me of our trip to Mexico not long after we got married.  I think with a little Caromal Colour love the sun will shine on him once again.

Refinish pottery clay with caromal colours

This sun has seen brighter days!

Refinish pottery clay with caromal colours

Here lays the tired old clay sun...waiting for some love....

I decided to use a light coat of the Pumpkin basecoat.  I simply washed off the dirty old sun and brushed on some pumpkin color.  No scruming, no sanding, no nothing!  I pretty much slopped it on and didn’t try to cover all the areas.  I wanted a little bit of the rustic look to show through the color to give it an older charm.  Here it is after the quick coat of Pumpkin base coat.

Refinish pottery clay with pumpkin caromal colours

Clay sun after one coat of Pumpkin Caromal Colours Basecoat

As you can see it looks a whole lot better after just a quick coat of pumkin.  On to the toner….

Refinish pottery clay with caromal colours - Pumpkin and Toner

Look how happy the sun looks after I applied the Toner!

Refinish pottery clay with caromal colours

Refinished Sun back in its home on our fence!

Wow!  What a huge improvement.  20 minutes with Caromal Colours and I was able to bring a smile back to the sun.  I think it turned out really nice looking.  It looks like a new finish, but still very rustic with the old finish poking through.  The toner on top of that brings it all together into a nice cohesive, rich finish wouldn’t you agree?