Painting Laminate Bathroom Cabinets - Juniper Home

Painting Laminate Bathroom Cabinets


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. Love your blog!! We recently peeled our 1990's thmerafoil ?? Kitchen cabinets and painted them! They looks so much better! And it saved so much money!! You are one talented lady!!

  2. I love how you tackle all the things you hate about your rental instead of just sighing and shaking your head every time you walk in the room, like I do. What a transformation!

  3. I love this post and you are SO not alone! We bought an old (100 yr) house this past summer and we know a major reno is in the future…the move out for 3 months, knock out the entire back of the house and expand kind. So pretty much everything we do now while we save up is of the lipstick on a pig variety. It's so frustrating and I wish we could just do what we want but I'm actually enjoying the creative exercise of figuring out how to make stuff better and more functional for the least amount of $$ possible (since practically everything I do will get demo'd later). It's also really freeing to know I can try something wacky and if it doesn't come out ok it's no big deal since it's going away eventually. But actually the risks I've taken so far have been my biggest payoffs. A good lesson in general I think :) Your bathroom update is awesome. I've eyed those pulls myself and always thought they were a great look for the price. They look so good on black!

  4. Love! Major transformation! Question: How did you hide the original holes on the main cabinet door? Wood filler and sanded? Can you see where you filled it? thanks!

  5. This is exactly the issue I am facing in trying to do a cheap and cheerful reno in my beach house kitchen – laminate cabinets! Wondering if the paint would hold up in kitchen or not, so I'd love to hear how this wears. As always, no one makes a silk purse out of a sow's ear quite like you!.

  6. This is crazy! We are in the process of buying a Scamp camper and I can't wait to get my hands on her for a little reno. The cabinets and counters are laminate and I was thinking that Rust-Oleum's oil-based enamel paint might work.

    Thanks for doing the leg work!

  7. Wow! I love those pulls! I am definitely going to check those out. My sad bathroom is floor to ceiling patterned tile with large flowers and sparkly paint. I cringe every time I take a shower, yup the pattern is throughout my bathroom. God help us!! Love how your cabinets came out!!

  8. Love the black and the hardware is crazy good. I have a question though….I've done gloss cabs, but recently fell in love with flat paint. I know. Weird…but anywho. I have this idea brewing to paint my lower kitchen cabs a dark charcoal in a flat finish. I love the chalky finish with my brass hardware. Have you ever seen something like this? Am I nuts?!? Thanks!!

  9. We used white Rustoleum on the radiator covers and on the hardware on some sconces in the apartment we just bought in NYC. The radiator covers were really rusty and grey-dinge colored, and the sconce hardware was a dated brass. Now it all blends. We're in love with Rustoleum.

  10. I love reading this blog! Thanks for sharing all your great projects.

    Can I ask where you got the metal rack above the toilet that the toilet paper is sitting on?

    I am need need of something for folded towels and love the industrial look!

  11. I bought a house the most heinous kitchen tile all the way around. Unable to renovate right away, I decided to prime the tile with Kilz and then paint it with white semigloss paint. It looks awesome and has held up really, really well for four years.

    Your vanity looks so much better! Kind of Halston chic…maybe?

  12. This looks awesome! Its crazy what a little paint can do. I just painted the cabinet under my sink, which I wanted to just burn down too- but I went the paint route since I'm a renter too :)

  13. We are looking for houses right now, and will likely end up with one that needs a lot of work. And of course we won't be able to do it all at once. I can't tell you how helpful it is to see all of your complete renovation posts, as well as your "get by" fixes. Thank you!

  14. This past weekend I helped over at my parent's house, which they are working on to sell. They had a room in the basement called the paint room – Dad was a contractor and this is where he kept all his random paint odds and ends from jobs. Anyway, since they're getting ready to sell, it's now bedroom #4. I'd like to think of it as the guest room you have so that people don't really want to stay for a while. So the lipstick part was painting the 2 walls of wood paneling that has been there since the 70's at least. Ceiling first, then convincing Dad that primer was necessary, finally paint went up. Then I had to go back and fix all the ceiling spots where I'd rolled too far with the green wall paint. Next day trim and I was spent. It's weird because I've definitely painted a lot more space before, but this one took it out of me. It's better now, but I stand by the guest room that you want people to get out of. :)

  15. Just an idea, but what about leaving the kickplate the color it is and just adding black feet? Then it might seem more like the vanity is a piece of furniture and the kickplate is the wall color behind it. Maybe not, but it's an idea and would keep you from having to paint the kickplate. It would make the feet stand out more.

    Long-time lurker, first-time commenter. I'm such a huge fan of your blog and all the projects and ideas you post. Thanks for always posting such great content!

  16. Here in California oil based paint are ILLEGAL. No joke, you can't buy them anywhere. Do you think priming with Zinzer and then painting with a high gloss latex would achieve the same results?

  17. Yes!! I am in the midst of planning a kitchen makeover and have been going back and forth about whether to replace the laminate cabinets. I already painted them once right when I moved in, which certainly cleaned up the space, but I think doing the high gloss enamel would take it to the next level.

    I also did this in 2 bathrooms and it's worked great! (you can see the end result for one here)
    @mom23: I drilled new holes in a cabinet door and you can't see the filled in holes at all!

  18. The Pig with Lipstick in our house is also our kitchen cupboards. Our landlord plans to redo the kitchen in the relatively near future, so we took advantage of the opportunity to experiment!…a moody blue on the lowers, white uppers…SO GLAD we did…the cupboards are awful laminate and in terrible condition, but the paint has made the space so much brighter and happier for the time being.

    What a difference paint and hardware made to that bathroom of yours; amazing!

  19. a little paint and hardware will fix most eyesores in rentals :) My main gripe is why don't landlords ever put hardware on cabinets?? Like your drawers, my entire kitchen had no hardware. adding pulls made a huge difference in the look and functionality!

  20. My house is a serious pig. We bought it 5 years ago and started tearing it apart but ran out of money…this was how I put lipstick on it until I can do it properly. I was inspired by a pin I saw but then noticed that you had actually posted that same pin. Hoo ha! You are my design guru. Thanks for all your hard work and sharing it with you, Jenny!

  21. What a difference a little bit of paint makes, huh? How do you convince your landlord to let you make all these changes? I think mine would kill me!

  22. It's looks gorgeous, love the new hardware, mirrors and everything! I have many pigs that need some lipstick around here…As far as the landlord goes, he may say it looks so damn good why fix it!

  23. You are amazing, Jenny! What a great post and an amazing transformation. I'm sending immediately to a friend who has some turquoise laminate cabinets that are making her sad. Question – I'm contemplating a similar paint job for my vintage wood cabinets (turning them from flat white to black glossy), would you recommend the rustoleum enamel black glossy for that (with primer of course) or something else? Thanks so much!!! Kate

  24. This may be your funniest blog post to date. I'm in between classes at school and I laughed out loud so hard somebody came in to make sure I wasn't screaming! The combo of your burn the place down and lipstick on a pig is quite funny! Stand up comedy may be in your future. Thanks for the daytime chuckle.
    Also…I remember that your pig pin is located in a rather dandy place. Therefore, it's not such a bag pig pin! :)

  25. Can the rustoleum paint be used on wood cabinets as well? I would love to repaint in my guest bathroom – but having them sprayed would cost a fortune…

  26. I am so jealous – of your lipstick on a pig talents :) I was just lamenting over my bathroom (with a pitched floor!) that I have been trying to live with for waay tooo many years! I love using the RUST-OLEUM line of oil-based paints too (I use a lot of the white – on our laminate kitchen cupboards and furniture) however I find the smell is really strong! Any tips?

  27. I am so jealous – of your lipstick on a pig talents :) I was just lamenting over my bathroom (with a pitched floor!) that I have been trying to live with for waay tooo many years! I love using the RUST-OLEUM line of oil-based paints too (I use a lot of the white – on our laminate kitchen cupboards and furniture) however I find the smell is really strong! Any tips?

  28. Wow. I totally didn't expect to see that much of a transformation, but I literally said "wow" out loud. :D That lucite stool is suuuuper cute and your trashcan kind of resembles (at least to me) of Cole & Sons Hicks Hexagon wallpaper that Erin at Elements of Style used in her powder bath! Also, I've been seeing those hands that hold jewelry EVERYWHERE lately. I saw one today at Ross and was tempted to get it, but ended up leaving it behind since I have SO much jewelry.

    Great post!

  29. Ha, I'm doing my bathroom, too. I've been trying to find a look for it that could work after almost 5(!) years of living here. Admitedly, it might not be as bad as yours; it's the original bathroom tile and wooden cabinets from the 40s, but it's just all cracked and I've found the colors hard to work with, when I consider what I would RATHER have in my bathroom. But, I see it as a design challenge that I still haven't completely figured out.

  30. I can't believe how much better it looks. Our guest bath is a travesty. I did literally nothing to it for two years, and then I broke down and bought nice towels and a shower curtain to hide the hideous glass doors. I thought it wasn't worth even painting because the fixtures, tile and vanity are so gross, but maybe now I'll give it a shot.

  31. Love the black on the laminate. It makes it look much classier. Even with the pink beige floors :) My question, because I noticed in the picture and you've mentioned it before, is what's with the black doors? Is it a southern thing or you really just like the look of black doors?

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