Painting Kitchen Appliances

Customize the look of your kitchen by painting kitchen appliances.


Photo by: Peter Rymwid

Peter Rymwid

Paint is an easy and affordable way to update a room, and it can go a long way in the kitchen. You can use paint to update just about anything in your kitchen, from walls and backsplashes to tables and even appliances.

Save vs. Splurge: Kitchen Renovations

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Renovation Constraints

Jason and Lauren Frye didn’t let small spaces and a tight budget stop them from gutting their 1973 Wilmington, N.C., kitchen. First on their must-have list was high-quality custom cabinetry, so Lauren’s dad — an experienced cabinetmaker — offered to help as a housewarming gift.

Photo By: Zach Desart

Makeovers on a Budget

They budgeted the rest of their expenses by spending hours comparison shopping online for materials. "We knew we couldn’t afford top-of-the-line everything, but there were some things we just didn’t want to sacrifice," says Jason. When the new kitchen was complete about two months later, they knew they had gotten the most bang for their buck.

Photo By: Courtesy of the homeowner

Custom Cabinetry

Sure, they saved by working with family (free labor!) on their beaded-board cabinetry, but the Fryes still spent way more than they would have on stock or semi-custom cabinets. Plus, they hired a professional to paint the cabinets because they wanted the finish to be flawless.

Photo By: Zach Desart


The new counters are a mix of materials. The Fryes replaced the 1970s Formica countertops with a sturdy, inexpensive, acrylic surface (Hi-Macs) that comes in a wide range of solid colors. They topped the peninsula with maple butcher block and the bar area with maple wood countertops.

Photo By: Zach Degart


Instead of spending on a new refrigerator, the Fryes kept their old one (it still worked fine), moved it across the room and encased it in cabinetry for an upscale, built-in look. They bought a new dishwasher and electric stove, both in white (much cheaper than stainless), to match.

Photo By: Zach Degart


Sleek 3-inch-by-6-inch white tiles, which cost about $4 per square foot, fill the space between the upper and lower cabinetry. "We felt the subway tiles were a key style feature, so we spent a little extra for the look," says Lauren. They added a narrow black tile band to break up the white.

Photo By: Zach Degart


The old fixture hung too low and seemed out of place since the 8-foot ceilings are on the short side. They ditched it in favor of inexpensive recessed lights from The Home Depot and picked out three $118 glass pendants from Lowe’s for task lighting over the bar and sink.

Photo By: Zach Degart

Window Shade

For the Roman shade above the sink, Jason and Lauren found a black-and-white striped fabric for a few dollars per yard at a local discount fabric store. The graphic pattern repeats the backsplash style and is a relief from all the green. They hired a seamstress to sew and install the shade.

Photo By: Zach Degart

Pot Rack

The Fryes added extra pot and pan storage for not a lot of money. The copper pot rack keeps their supplies within easy reach, and complements the warm maple counters. Below it, an inexpensive magnetic woodblock holds knives without taking up valuable counter or drawer space. (Hammered copper pot rack, $78,

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer for HGTV Magazine


One of the easiest upgrades was replacing the original faucet with a stainless steel gooseneck version, a $250 Lowe’s find. "You don’t have to spend a fortune on a good-looking faucet," says Lauren. "This one was the perfect finishing touch. The kitchen wouldn’t feel complete without it."

Special Storage

Since they were already splurging on custom cabinets, the Fryes got creative with some of the awkwardly located nooks. Instead of wasting precious storage space, they maxed out tiny cubbies by giving them specialized functions. For instance, they built an appliance garage at counter level and a cutting board bay next to the prep counter.

Photo By: Zach Degart

Knobs and Pulls

"The milk-glass knobs ($4.50 each) have a timeless look, just like the beaded-board cabinets and subway tile backsplash," says Lauren. To add a modern flair to the cottage style, she picked out sleek stainless steel handles ($8 each) for the upper cabinet doors. "That little bit of metal keeps the kitchen current without pricey stainless appliances."

Photo By: Zach Degart


They ditched the dated linoleum in favor of durable 12-inch-by-12-inch ceramic tiles (less than $1 per square foot, plus the cost of installation). "We saw some beautiful hardwood flooring that we had to pass on because it was out of our price range," says Jason. But once the plaid area rug was down, they knew they’d made the best decision.

Photo By: Zach Degart

If you're living in a rental unit that has outdated appliances or you're not ready to upgrade the ones you own in your home, paint can really save the day.

Painting your appliances won't be a permanent fix, but it's a budget-friendly option for outdated items such as your oven, fridge, microwave, stove or washer and dryer.

Available in heat-resistant finishes, appliance paint is a durable option that can dramatically change the look and feel of your kitchen. Appliance paint can be applied different ways, but spray versions tend to work the best. Semi-gloss paint is another option, but it should only be used on items that don't get too hot, such as your refrigerator.

To update your appliances using paint, make sure they're unplugged and pulled away from the wall. Make sure to clean the appliance beforehand to remove any grime or other residue. If you skip this step, the paint will not adhere to the item. Remove or cover all the hardware and handles from your appliances. Try to paint your appliances outside if possible. If you don't have any outdoor space, make sure to cover all the other items in your kitchen and open some windows for ventilation.

If you're spraying on appliance paint, you'll want to apply light, consistent coats. Typically, you'll need 3 or 4 coats to ensure the items are completely covered. Wait 15 minutes between coats, and allow the item to dry for 24 hours before putting it back in place.

You can use paint to make a brown stove white or you can really have fun and inject some life into the most important items in your kitchen. If the rest of your kitchen is neutral, a red or brightly colored fridge will really pop. Just remember that painting appliances can be a long, tedious process. Keep that in mind when selecting colors for your appliances and choose ones that you'll be happy with for a while.

Refrigerators tend to be the easiest appliances to paint. If you can't decide on a color, try chalkboard paint. Use a small amount of the paint to create a mini chalkboard on the front door, or cover the entire appliance with it. With a chalkboard fridge, you'll never forget when you run out of milk or other important items.

Almost Free Kitchen Updates

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Painting Your Kitchen for Resale

Repainting your kitchen can be an effective way to spruce it up for homebuyers. Make sure to use a subtle color palette that is appealing to a wide range of possible buyers.


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