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. :)

77 comments:

KelseyMoore said...

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!!

Emily said...

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!

Dina @ Honey + Fitz said...

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!

mom23 said...

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!

tokyojinja.com said...

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!.

Dana Frieling said...

Jenny, I'm convinced you could make dog poo look pretty!

adarlingadventure said...

This is a really amazing transformation. I love your ability to see the potential!

Snippi Tippi said...

I'm with Dana! I love the styling of the bathroom. Accessories are fab!

Kate/Katie said...

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!

Preppy Mama said...

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!!

Amanda said...

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!!

Janna McCalley said...

It's a much better lookin' pig now!

Cookie said...

it's a pig you could proudly walk in the parade now! well done!

e.horn said...

what a difference! Pretty!

Penelope G. said...

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.

Morgan said...

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!

An Urban Cottage said...

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?

LindsB said...

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 :)

Team Botanical said...

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!

Laura said...

i have those EXACT pulls! our bathroom flooded last year so we did a mini reno on our bathroom.

you can seem them here

http://laurahildebrand.blogspot.com/2012/07/bathroom-reveal.html

you did a fantastic job!

Walker said...

This gives me hope for my bathroom (and kitchen!). Thanks for showing us the not-so-pretty parts of your house!

gentrifyrichmond said...

What about painting the countertop and mini-shelf, too? Oil paint should hold up fairly well.

Shantastic said...

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. :)

Alecia McLochlin said...

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!

Caitlin said...

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?

Kelly @ A Swell Place to Dwell said...

It looks about 8 million times better! I love the black. Working with what you have, right?

amelia said...

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!

Laura.R said...

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!

Cerrissa said...

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!

Chris said...

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!

http://rn-mommy.blogspot.com/2013/02/diy-wild-walls.html

A Pearl In The Making said...

You truly are an inspiration!

Danielle said...

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!

lemondropdreams said...

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!

Kate Galston said...

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

Hilary Dow Ward said...

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! :)

KelseyWiley said...

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...

Tobe | BIA said...

WHAT an improvement! I wouldn't judge you for that bathroom at all now :) Well done, Jenny!

Angie said...

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?

Angie said...

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?

Emily said...

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!

Elisa of Fancy Free Me said...

you always make everything look so fun! guess i need to start gussying up my pig now!

Jesyka D'Itri Marés said...

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.

Tassi Smith said...

This looks so much better. You amaze me.

Cris Brown said...

wow that's a better thinking.it's looking very nice.New to Network Marketing

Megan Ives said...

Have you considered adding a frame to your wall mirror?

Erin said...

I have the mirrors from Ikea as well and I absolutely love them!

Alyson said...

You are so clever! Such an improvement.

Jillian Frances said...

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.

Donna said...

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?

kathleen munoz-supnet said...

Would this ki d of paint work for teak as well?

TheDoubleDubs on Etsy said...

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!

Vicky Volvovski said...

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.

Vicky Volvovski said...

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.

Chrissy said...

hahaha! I feel that way about my stairs. Love you sense of humor while you make it work ;-)

lonleybkaer said...

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.

Traci@ Beneath My Heart said...

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!

Stacy Schoonmaker said...

Wow! That looks night and day. I like how the black makes it look sleek. http://baublesandbrownies.blogspot.com

Andrea D said...

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...

BettyM said...

What a difference! You can buy oil based in California but only in quart size.

Jenny at LGN said...

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

Jenny at LGN said...

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! :)

Jenny at LGN said...

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

Emily said...

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.

Tracy said...

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.

Tracy said...

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.

Lisa Dunn said...

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!

Miss Charming said...

Great makeover! (And I just love the little stool--perfect.)

Sammie said...

Did you add a shelf above the vanity? My husband and I were thinking of doing this to save counter space. Thanks!

Jenny @ Simcoe Street said...

I think it is soo much better! A huge improvement. Live the new cabinet hardware. Score!

Our whole house (our first) needs lipstick. And Botox. And a tummy tuck. One step at a time! Come over to visit any time in my blog ;)

Jenny
Www.simcoestreet.blogspot.com

Donna said...

Thanks for the response. I love your fearless decorating style! Watching your new house evolve has been really inspirational.

BL said...

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.

homeon129acres said...

Enamel paint is magic. I use it so much. My biggest fear is with the campaign against oil paints that this will become illegal!

Mary Beth Hamilton said...

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

Pam @ bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful said...

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!

leFiligree said...

ok, NOW i am totally jealous of the bathroom. a black laquered-looking vanity is TDF!

Danika Herrick said...

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

Kathy {Pearls in Paradise} said...

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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