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The beauty of hand painted kitchens

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

If you LOVE colour but are a little too afraid to do a kitchen in something other than a neutral - such as pink or blue - because a) you're afraid you'll get the colour wrong, b) you might not like it in 5 years or c) you might want to sell and are afraid of putting off potential buyers, than perhaps a painted finish is the perfect solution for you!

So, backing up a little, I wanted to just go over finishes briefly. In lots of magazines, you'll see the doors, drawer fronts, end panels and fillers in a flat timber look finish or a plain coloured door with a profile (eg Shaker style profile) in a polyurethane finish.

The timber look can either be a laminate board such as Polytec or Laminex or it could be a timber veneer. Solid timber kitchens were popular back in the 90s but not so much these days. A polyurethane finish can be any paint colour and it is applied by spray - there are 2 to 3 coats, a bit like how they spray paint a car. It is also known as two-pack. The upside to poly is that it is quite user friendly for kitchens - easy to wipe down and doesn't chip too easily. While technically you can paint over it later (if you're thinking of changing the colour for example), and there are primers to help the paint 'stick', it's not an ideal outcome as it is easier to chip and harder to then patch. As with most things, it comes down to budget!

So the alternative is to have the doors made of suitable grade MDF and hand paint them. The other upside to this is that you can add fancy borders (which can't be done if you're using poly). Oil based paint is used (for longevity and practical painting reasons) and it is a labor intensive process (which of course, costs more) but the outcome is seriously gorgeous. It offers a lovely texture that elevates the finish - it looks artisanal and expensive!

It is a bit of a specialised job, so not all painters can do it (even if they say they can!!!). Brush strokes need to be consistent in direction and you absolutely cannot afford to have any dribbles, so control of the amount of paint on the actual brush is important! It takes a good quality primer and then 2 to 3 coats with sanding before each one. All imperfections (nail heads, scratches, anything) need to be addressed before primer goes on so that the doors are blemish or dent free in the end. In terms of cost it varies, but you can expect a range of 20 - 40% more for hand painted compared to polyurethane or laminate boards.

And of course one of the biggest bonuses is that it is relatively easy to change the colour if necessary down the track! So, if you choose more classic colours for things like flooring and bench top (which is harder and quite expensive to change), then you can have huge flexibility in terms of colour options.

In the kitchen above, we went with a fresh light blue which is such a happy colour and works beautifully with the pops of pink and lime on the upholstered items. We very deliberately chose classic black and white floor tiles, white benchtops and basin and gold tapware, lights and handles so that we could easily change the paint colour to anything and it would still all work. For example, we could go with navy, emerald or grey - without the cost of re-doing the whole kitchen. We could also do the island a hero colour and the rest of it a neutral. It's o flexible - I love it!! The only other things we'd need to change are the upholstered items which is also easy to do.

So, if you're planning your kitchen reno, maybe consider going down the hand-painted path. It truly does open a world of opportunity to have something different, unique and more likely to reflect your personality!!


We love doing kitchens! Give us a tinkle if you'd like us to design and make something incredible for you!

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