Painting Laminate Bathroom Cabinets - Juniper Home

Painting Laminate Bathroom Cabinets

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The title of this post really should be “Putting Lipstick on a Pig.”

The garden level bathroom is straight from the 70s, complete with lovely beigey-pink floor tile, a non-functioning hot tub style bath (ew) and, my favorite, laminate counters and cabinets. Please do your best to control your jealousy:

It’s one of those spaces that you walk in to, trying to brainstorm ways to make it look better, and then you walk out five seconds later saying “Just burn it down.”

Then last week I was at a Home Depot in Westchester that I hadn’t ever been to before and they had a bunch of the Martha Stewart hardware in stock, including these polished nickel babies.

I decided to go for it and came home with $27 worth of hardware and a hope and a prayer for this sad little bathroom of mine.

   

I painted the cabinets with two coats of my trusty Rustoleum enamel in gloss black. If you have similar laminate cabinets that you’re dying to ditch, I totally recommend going this route first. Why not? You can prime if you want to, but I didn’t worry about it. I just gave the old laminate a good cleaning first. 

Then I installed the new hardware once the paint was dry to the touch.

I had to hang the pulls a little higher than I would have normally preferred because of the way the drawer was made (boo). But it’s still an improvement in looks and in functionality (I basically needed a screwdriver to pry the drawers open before the pulls were on).

We also brought in the vintage lucite stool I reupholstered here. Evie climbs up and kneels on it when she’s washing her little hands.

I also added a new wastebasket from West Elm. $5 from the clearance section. Love the pattern here.

And I hung two of the $5 magnifying mirrors from IKEA. We’ve had these for a couple of years now and they are A+ in my book. As I side note, I am crazy in love with anything scissor-arm (these brass beauties were my favorite purchase to date).

This cute new coat rack from Urban is also a favorite now.

Truthfully, I am crossing my fingers that the landlord is up for a full bathroom reno this summer. (and really, shouldn’t he be? maybe I should send him this post as a refresher on how nasty the space is!) But before then, I have big plans for the mirror area and I’m going to paint out the kick panel black and I think I’ll add little feet so the vanity looks more like a piece of furniture. I wish I would have just done this while I had all the paint and everything out. In person it’s not as obvious that that kick panel needs to be painted out.

All in all, I don’t totally, totally hate this space anymore. And burning it down is a distant plan B now. So, that’s good! All thanks to these pretty pulls and a little black paint.

What pigs have you been slathering with lipstick lately? I’d love to feel like I’m in good company here. :)
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81 thoughts on “Painting Laminate Bathroom Cabinets

  1. It's amazing what a little paint and some new hardware will do! Looks great! I too have bathrooms from the 1970's. One is a glorious smurf blue (literally every fixture…toilet, tub, tile, sink) and the other has an incredible avocado toilet and green tile. I literally never use the smurf bathroom because I can't stand it. Thanks for the motivation to make a change, maybe just some small changes will hold me off until I can redo the whole thing!

  2. Ah, genius. Curious if you painted the insides of the cabinets too or just the outside? This may be the only hope for all three of our bathrooms, very interested in trying.

  3. Ah, genius. Curious if you painted the insides of the cabinets too or just the outside? This may be the only hope for all three of our bathrooms, very interested in trying.

  4. I am jelous of the "before" as it makes the "after" possible. I wish paint could solve my Pig problem, but it can't. My bathroom is original to the house: pepto pink with obnoxious blue trim. Ugh! It is a decorating crime and nothing but a gut job can salvage it. Maybe in the spring…fingers crossed!

    Thank you for the inspiration over the years.

  5. I just wanted to let you know I tried to subscribe to your blog, but it wouldn't let me. Has anyone else had this problem? I tried by email, but it wouldn't let me put the code in the box. Then I tried in my reader and it said the feed was broken. Just wanted you to know in case you didn't.
    Thanks!

  6. Hey guys! Thanks for all the nice compliments! Also thanks for not judging me too harshly for living with such a gross bathroom. :/

    Mom23: I just used spackle putty to fill the old hardware holes. Wood filler has a texture to it (even after sanding) so putty or caulking is best.

    Amanda – I love flat paint too! That chalky, matte finish is so great on some pieces of furniture and mirror frames, but I would never use it on cabinets. They just get touched too often and flat paint is a total pain to keep clean. This doesn't mean you have to do a gloss though. Rustoleum makes a flat finish enamel (looks the same as my quart I showed in the post), except it's not quite flat – it dries more like an eggshell. But it wears like an oil-based paint. Totally recommend that route for you!
    x

  7. Morgan, the towel rack was here when we moved in, but I've seen things just like it at Home Depot and Lowes. Urban has some really cute bathroom accessories right now. Totally worth checking out.

    Gentrifyrichmond – I thought about painting out the shelf and counters, etc but I'm holding off for now. Jury's out for me still on painting counters that get wet all the time.

    Alecia – I thought about doing that too! Need to run to the hardware store to grab some feet so I can try it! I'll post the results either way. xo

    Caitlin – it looks like quarts of oil based paints are not illegal in California, so you might be in luck still! If you can't find the oil based for whatever reason, priming with Zinnser, doing two coats of gloss latex and a poly coat (or better yet a lacquer – which would also be banned bc its oil based) would do the trick fine. It's just a ton more work!

    Kate Galston and KelseyWiley – I think the Rustoleum would work great on your painted wood cabs! Zinsser oil based primer will help (have them tint it for you). xo

    Hillary Dow Ward – Ha – stand up would literally be my worst nightmare. I can't even go watch those improv nights without going into a panic attack! :)

  8. Angie – Yeah, that's the bummer about oil-based paint – the fumes. I run my air filter on Turbo speed and crack the windows a bit. Candles help burn off the fumes too (though some people get nervous about lighting a flame near the paint). If you want something with less fumes that wears a lot like an oil based paint, try a water-based alkyd like Ben Moore's Advance line.

    Megan Ives – Yes! Or something like that…. :) Post coming! ;)

    Donna -I say why not black doors? Not a southern thing as far as I know. Just a design preference! :) White doors look so boring to me now – the black acts as a stopping place for the eye I think.

    Kathleen Munoz-Supnet – Would totally work on teak, though you'd want to prime that for sure.

    VIcki Volvoski – I painted just the inside of the door itself – not the inside of the cabinets this time.

    Traci – thanks for the note. I've been getting emails about it all week. Something's totally up with this old blog of mine. I am counting down the days until the litigation for my url is completed and the new site design can be rolled out! Do me a favor and bear with me until then. I've filed a help desk ticket with Google in the meantime though, so hopefully that will be resolved even sooner than the redesign. xo

    Andrea – what a genius idea to skim coat concrete on the top of laminate! I'm totally going to look into this. Thanks for the suggestion! xo

  9. The laminate countertops reminded me of a way-old design on a dime episode where they used Skimstone on the laminate countertops to look like concrete. They used the ugliest green on the show, but I actually think the more natural colors on their website look really nice in pictures. Has anyone ever used it or seen it in real life? Does it look real or like cheap faux-crete? I think I saw someone use Ardex somewhere once too…

  10. Hey guys! Thanks for all the nice compliments! Also thanks for not judging me too harshly for living with such a gross bathroom. :/

    Mom23: I just used spackle putty to fill the old hardware holes. Wood filler has a texture to it (even after sanding) so putty or caulking is best.

    Amanda – I love flat paint too! That chalky, matte finish is so great on some pieces of furniture and mirror frames, but I would never use it on cabinets. They just get touched too often and flat paint is a total pain to keep clean. This doesn't mean you have to do a gloss though. Rustoleum makes a flat finish enamel (looks the same as my quart I showed in the post), except it's not quite flat – it dries more like an eggshell. But it wears like an oil-based paint. Totally recommend that route for you!
    x

  11. Morgan, the towel rack was here when we moved in, but I've seen things just like it at Home Depot and Lowes. Urban has some really cute bathroom accessories right now. Totally worth checking out.

    Gentrifyrichmond – I thought about painting out the shelf and counters, etc but I'm holding off for now. Jury's out for me still on painting counters that get wet all the time.

    Alecia – I thought about doing that too! Need to run to the hardware store to grab some feet so I can try it! I'll post the results either way. xo

    Caitlin – it looks like quarts of oil based paints are not illegal in California, so you might be in luck still! If you can't find the oil based for whatever reason, priming with Zinnser, doing two coats of gloss latex and a poly coat (or better yet a lacquer – which would also be banned bc its oil based) would do the trick fine. It's just a ton more work!

    Kate Galston and KelseyWiley – I think the Rustoleum would work great on your painted wood cabs! Zinsser oil based primer will help (have them tint it for you). xo

    Hillary Dow Ward – Ha – stand up would literally be my worst nightmare. I can't even go watch those improv nights without going into a panic attack! :)

  12. Angie – Yeah, that's the bummer about oil-based paint – the fumes. I run my air filter on Turbo speed and crack the windows a bit. Candles help burn off the fumes too (though some people get nervous about lighting a flame near the paint). If you want something with less fumes that wears a lot like an oil based paint, try a water-based alkyd like Ben Moore's Advance line.

    Megan Ives – Yes! Or something like that…. :) Post coming! ;)

    Donna -I say why not black doors? Not a southern thing as far as I know. Just a design preference! :) White doors look so boring to me now – the black acts as a stopping place for the eye I think.

    Kathleen Munoz-Supnet – Would totally work on teak, though you'd want to prime that for sure.

    VIcki Volvoski – I painted just the inside of the door itself – not the inside of the cabinets this time.

    Traci – thanks for the note. I've been getting emails about it all week. Something's totally up with this old blog of mine. I am counting down the days until the litigation for my url is completed and the new site design can be rolled out! Do me a favor and bear with me until then. I've filed a help desk ticket with Google in the meantime though, so hopefully that will be resolved even sooner than the redesign. xo

    Andrea – what a genius idea to skim coat concrete on the top of laminate! I'm totally going to look into this. Thanks for the suggestion! xo

  13. I am so envious of your vision! Not only that, you also seem to have the ability to make things look so professional, whereas things I do always seem to look obviously homemade. I bet you're making the place look so much nicer that the landlord is never going to want to spend the money to redo it! Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.

  14. What a transformation! I would leave the kick plate the same color as the floor and paint feet for the cabinet to make it look more like a piece of furniture.

  15. What a transformation! I would leave the kick plate the same color as the floor and paint feet for the cabinet to make it look more like a piece of furniture.

  16. So chic! Love the transformation. If I could bother y'all with a question…I've recently painted the doors leading into my m bath black. I added glass knobs from anthro, and while I love the look, I can't seem to get away from those pesty streak marks. I know dark colors are the worst, for streaking, but I've used both a paint brush (I know, bad idea), and a spong brush, and they are still there. Any help would be so appreciated!

  17. I love how you can tackle anything and I enjoy watching each project you take on. I'm learning so much from your creativity, practicality and risk taking.

  18. So excited to read this post! We are about to redo our guest bathroom and we have laminate cabinets. It is taking longer than I'd like for me and my counter-part to find the right cabinet. Painting the cabinet is definitely in the pre-budget so that we can be happy in the interim. I just didn't know painting it was an option. duh… enamel paint
    my morning coffee

  19. I've painted out all the early 90's mauve tile in my foyer and powder room floors and the matching tile surrounding the massive 3 sided fireplace in our house. Photos of the fireplace are on my blog, but I haven't documented the floors yet. I put outdoor rugs over the floors, and so far they're holding up well. Obviously, new tile is needed, but at least now I don't have to look at the pink tile anymore!

  20. Love it! Too funny, I actually painted my kid's ugly laminate "marblized" cabinets and I titled my post "Bathroom on the Cheap/Lipstick on a Pig"- gotta call it what it is- and its one of the best tricks out there!

    xo
    Danika

  21. I am so glad I stumbled on this post. I, too, have a hideous laminate cabinet in a bathroom. I have considered painting it since we can't renovate at the moment, but I wasn't sure it would make any difference. Now I can see that it DOES make a difference! Thanks for the beautiful inspiration!

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