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Dated Oak Cabinets to White and Fresh; Before & After

By 03/09/2011January 25th, 201729 Comments

Beth Sears recently sent me photos of her updated oak kitchen inspired by my extremely popular post about White Kitchens.  Beth and her husband built their house in 1993 so when it came time to update their kitchen it was a total DIY renovation! Here is their story:

Photos by Beth Sears

“With the exception of the granite, …it took about a year of convincing hubby that the oak had long past seen it’s prime and even longer to talk him into white…….the final decider was your blog post about the 80’s oak kitchen, I made him sit down and read it and finally he agreed and your posts about beautiful white classic kitchens, which I drooled over for hours, were even more help!!!……now he loves the white as much as I do …… took almost 6 months from start (stripping wallpaper) to finishing touches last week.


Luckily for me Kevin is quite a perfectionist and a very skilled carpenter despite being an I.T. professional by day, and I am very detail oriented and love to research, so we make a good team.  I think things like the beadboard in the bookcase/skylights and the end panel we put on the side of the bookcase, the elegant sink/faucet are the touches that make a DIY job look professional and polished.  I that balance and scale are a very important part of any design.


I chose the bronze hardware/fixtures as opposed to black or polished pewter because I felt I wanted to bring out the brownish tones in the uba tuba granite and I thought black accents would be too heavy in this kitchen. I chose oversized knobs to balance the heaviness of the countertop. 


I also used your posts about paint selection to choose the BM HC-34 Wilmington Tan (above)and have had numerous compliments on this choice.  Also your posts regarding backsplashes not competing with granite were very helpful, hubby wanted accents and a pattern and I held out for a classic look and he is very glad we did.

We painted the oak with BM Cabinet Coat in Timid White (after about 3 weeks of sanding) and ordered new doors as I felt the arch on the old ones, even when  painted white,  would  still say “I’m a 1990’s kitchen painted white” and that wasn’t what I was going for!!  Beth Sears

Love the hits of apple green! See the rest of the photos on Beth’s blog here.  Thanks Beth for sharing your inspiring kitchen with us!

If you would like your kitchen to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

Related posts:

Selecting your Kitchen and Bath Backsplash; Accent Tile or Not?
How to Update an 80’s Kitchen with Colour
How to choose the Right Colours for your Kitchen

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  • Jil Sonia McDonald - Interior Designer says:

    Very timely post:)

    What a wonderful transformation. A side benefit – should she ever decide to sell her beautiful home, she has significantly increased the value.

    • Eric says:

      What a great job!! I have an oak kitchen and I was looking at doing exactly the same thing. Your pics have convinced me that I made the right choice. I’m lucky that my doors are not arched.

  • Diane says:

    Oh my goodness! It is incredible how much my new kitchen (updated from red walls and oak cabinets) looks like her kitchen. She has excellent taste. 🙂

  • LauraJane says:

    This is an awesome example of making the most out of what you have. I love that she chose to update the doors from the rounded-top, it definitely reads as a new kitchen, not an "updated" kitchen. Also, that bookshelf on the end in lieu for the decorative shelf? Awesome.

  • camdesign says:

    oak to white… so much nicer

  • Greet says:

    This transformation from oak to white is really successful!! Congratulations to you and Beth! Loved to see the before and after!

  • Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    Although my hubby dislikes white cabinets, I love them. I think Beth and her hubby did a great job ~ it really lightened up her kitchen.

  • Kate at Dream To Life says:

    They did a fabulous job! And Iove she continued to "hold out" for your advice!

  • Dovecote Decor says:

    What a great post. It is good to know that old oak cabinets can still work. It was smart to replace the doors as the arches really do scream 90's. It goes to show that before you DIY its good to get a consult. I have lots of friends who Do It to Themselves. It is sweet to see a husband and wife accomplish so much as a team!

  • Wow, what a compliment to you, Maria. This kitchen came out gorgeous, and Beth, way to go! I'm sending this link to my husband. The color choices are fantastic.

  • Mary says:

    This turned out wonderful. I'm waiting for the weather to warm up so I can start painting my cabinets. It's too cold in the garage to start a project like this.

  • Ann says:

    Great job! Painting cabinets is no easy task.

    You'll be inspiring a lot of us!

  • JoanneK says:

    Your kitchen is Fabulous Beth!!!

  • Jeanne says:

    So beautiful! A lot of hard work with a terrific outcome. I have a question regarding changing oak to white in just one room. I noticed that the baseboards are still oak in Beth's kitchen. I too have oak throughout my house (cabinets, doors, base boards). Not the best choice 5 years ago but the safest with two destructive boys and a crazy dog. I would love to paint the oak cabinets and wood around my spa tub white in my bathroom and maybe someday in my kitchen but I’m worried how it would looks with all the oak. Any suggestions or rules to changing your wood color? Where (or how) do you start and stop the color change? Thanks!

  • Crafterbeth says:

    Thanks to everyone for the lovely comments on our kitchen reno. We are enjoying our new space tremendously. It really hasn't inspired me to cook more, which I'm sure my husband would love, but spending time in there just makes me happy!

    Thanks to Maria for sharing her knowledge and the constant source of inspiration. I am currently scouring the blog for ideas for our upcoming bathroom facelift!

    • Kathie Oleson says:

      I also need to start with new cupboard doors. Is this a Home Depot item…or how do I go about it?

  • Ideezine says:


    Beth and her husband are a great team, if they weren't this may not have been so successful. Decisions, research, skills, hard work, time and vision as well as preparation were major here. Great post, wonderful transformation.


  • Tanya says:

    totally fabulous Beth!! and very you! gorgeous Kitchen !!

  • Tracy says:

    This is a stunning update! Perfect timing too; just yesterday I saw a product from Rustoleum called Cabinet Transformation (I think). It looks like a great solution to my oak cabinets.

  • Carla@DesignintheWoods says:

    You can't go wrong with a white kitchen. It's truly timeless. Nice redo!

  • LynneForsythe says:

    What a TRANSFORMATION…..just gorgeous!!

  • VictoriaArt says:

    The magic of colors!

  • Donna says:

    Maria, Thanks so much for dropping by. You always make me smile! I almost always feel my heart 'jump' when I see your notes and then I grin so much it's just embarrassing! LoL!

    Oh my! I'm just so inspired! I love how she used all of your great ideas to update her kitchen. There's not a trace of 'dated' in their lovely makeover. Now I know how our bathrooms will look when we finish them! Tim will for sure want to paint the oak after seeing this.

    Great idea to replace the doors with the 'arches' in them. I had to look a minute to figure out what she was talking about. So true! They really would still be dated without the rectangles on the doors. Funny how such a simple design element can 'date' something.

    Her former kitchen looks just exactly like our mobile home before we pulled out all the crazy borders! And I'm pretty sure that ugly green is the same as the original paint was in my kitchen. Yipes! What can people have been thinking of? We found that lovely color behind a kitchen cabinet we had to move to make room for our refrigerator. Not a nice suprise!

    Their kitchen transformation is a wonderful example of why we need interior decorators like you. How happy you must have been to see all of your ideas at beautifully! :o)

    Donna @ Comin' Home

  • Nan says:

    Oh, that is beautiful! We are in the out-dated oak cabinets too. Luckily, my husband is ok with going white/cream. It's just finding the time and energy!

  • Grace @ Sense and Simplicity says:

    What a gorgeous white kitchen – they did a fantastic job.

  • hann says:

    I’m making a kitchen countertops that will be an end-grain butcher block style top. This is for an island that has a range in the center with the countertop going around the three sides. The rest of the kitchen has hard maple and padauk long-grain countertops and this island will stand out with the end-grain butcher block pattern.

  • Loribeth says:

    Maria! I had to share this with you. Ever since I moved into my husband's house, I've wanted to paint his dated oak cabinets, and he always said it was sacrilegious to paint oak. It's like the Holy Grail of wood.

    Well, I sent him a link to this post, and I told him every time someone mentions oak cabinets now, it's prefaced with "dated". He just kind humphed. Then later I asked him what he thought about the post. He said, "I think you want white cabinets", to which I said "I do!" Then he said, "then you can have white cabinets."

    Hurray!!! He finally agreed, and I'm so excited!!!! Finally, finally, finally I can get rid of the "dated" oak!

  • Anita Junttila says:

    I love before and afters! They are my favorite kind of posts.

  • Dianne says:

    Maria, love your redone kitchen. I finally convinced my hubby to paint our dated oak cabinets a creamy white. I have a painter in doing the work, we chose BM Gentle Cream for the color. Curious as to how this held up for you in the two years since you did the project. Do you still love it!

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