How to update a kitchen on a budget

The wise old saying that a kitchen is the heart of a home is so true isn’t it? We spend quite a lot of time in the kitchen these days, cooking, preparing food, making hot drinks, cleaning, washing or even just standing around daydreaming and looking out in to the garden (if you are anything like me!!) If you are lucky enough to be able to fit a table or bench in your kitchen, it’s a strong probability that you will enjoy many family meals, special moments, chats and laughs with family and friends, playing board games, doing jigsaws, reading, drawing… the list goes on. So is it any surprise when I say that your kitchen should be a room that brings you comfort and joy.

I’m sure in our heads we all have that perfect vision of our dream kitchen, but in reality new kitchens come at quite a cost and are actually quite a major disruption while they are getting replaced. However even if your budget is limited and you don’t necessarily want the upheaval of a new kitchen right now there are things that you can do to give your kitchen a bit of a revamp without costing too much money.

I thought I would share how I have updated my kitchen and it really didn’t do too much damage to my bank account. Our kitchen cupboards were looking quite dated and not really giving me the feels for the country kitchen that I yearned for. A few years ago we had a kitchen designer in from a well known DIY store who quoted us about £18,000 for a new kitchen, a pretty basic one at that without the sparkly worktops that I would definitely choose if money were no object! So we abandoned that idea, especially as the long term plan is to extend the kitchen, incorporating a utility room and adapting another room to create an office space and downstairs bathroom – with a bath! Anyway I’m digressing and daydreaming again – this leads me to now, being furloughed from work so having a little extra time on my hands and really wanting to make affordable changes to our kitchen.

Can you paint kitchen cupboards?

You will be pleased to know that yes you can! I have recently seen some kitchen makeovers using Frenchic paint. I actually hadn’t heard of this paint before but after lots of online research I was happy to discover that it is particularly well suited to painting kitchen cupboards.

I would love you to click on the link above and see the beautiful range of paint by Frenchic. If you do click on my link I may earn a small commission so thank you, I really do appreciate your support 🤍

Initially I was unsure whether or not it was even possible to paint kitchen cupboards, especially the type covered in a laminate finish so I was delighted to find out that Frenchic paint is perfect for covering kitchen cupboard doors and drawers. Better still – there is no need to faff around with undercoat or priming!

What colour should I paint my kitchen?

These days anything goes but personally I love simple things, uncomplicated natural and neutral decor and as the kitchen looks out on to the garden decided to go for a shade of green for the units. Bear with me here, we are not talking luminous bright green, think more of a subtle yet classing looking sage green. Actually the kitchen that we had previously wanted to get when we were thinking about getting a whole new kitchen was sage green too, funny that! Our worktops are a kind of pine colour and I figured that natural wood and sage would marry up quite well. Frenchic have a shade in their Al Fresco collection called Wise Old Sage and it is absolutely beautiful. Frenchic describe it as ‘a timeless green enhancing the beauty of the great outdoors’ – perfect!

We managed to source the paint from Coulsdon Home Hardware, which I was really pleased about as it’s a small business and I always try to support small local businesses where possible, rather than the big chains. We had some fantastic advice over the phone before visiting the shop and on arrival at the shop, although social distancing measures are in place and you can not currently browse the shop, a member of staff took the time to show us samples so we could be sure of the colour choice and also gave advice on the best way to paint the cupboards and the preparation that needed to be done.

Before painting the cupboards, we cleaned the walls and ceilings and chose a warm shade of white called Timeless for both. The walls needed three coats of paint for full coverage as the existing blue was quite dark.

Top tip: Did you know that you should choose paint colours according to whether your room is north or south facing. If a room is north facing it won’t get as much natural light so it is important to choose warmer tones to try and brighten the room up. Don’t choose cool tones as the room will look dark and cold. I can definitely vouch for this – not knowing this information before, we previously painted the walls blue and in all honesty the room was always quite dark and needed a light on most the time.

How do you prepare kitchen cupboards for painting?

So what do you need to do to the kitchen cupboards before painting them? The first thing that you need to do is clean every little space on the surface of the cupboard. It is recommended that you use sugar soap for this, Frenchic do their own version. Ensure that you dry the surface thoroughly after cleaning.

Following this you will need to sand the cupboard door, just lightly with a fine grade sandpaper. This will give the paint something to stick to. Make sure that you wipe the surface down with a dry cloth to get rid of any little bits that have been sanded, it is important that you have a smooth surface to paint.

Do you need to remove kitchen cupboard doors before painting them?

You can remove the cupboard doors to paint them, but we were advised to keep them on. I would definitely agree with this advice. If you keep the cupboards doors on while painting them you don’t need to worry about finding somewhere to dry them and the hinges hold the doors in place for you. Just be careful when painting around the hinges, or use masking tape, although this is a little fiddly. We used frog tape as we’d read good reviews bout it. One of the reasons I love Frenchic paint is because it dries so quickly. You can literally paint one side of a cupboard door, then leave it a little while, go and enjoy a cup of tea or do something else for twenty minutes or so and then you can paint the other side of the door. You need to be careful that you don’t put too much paint on your brush each time to avoid the paint running then the finish won’t be as perfect as it would be otherwise. The paint is dry enough for a second coat after about two hours.

How many coats of paint do you need?

I found that I needed 3 coats of paint on most of the cupboard doors, I actually did 4 coats on some of them as the finish wasn’t as perfect as I had hoped for. This was probably due to me being a little impatient and rushing the job. There were 29 cupboards doors and drawers to paint so at times my neck and back (and arms) were aching a little. The paint takes about 2-3 weeks to cure and then will be completely hard and cleanable with a lovely chalk finish. All in all I think it took just over two weeks to do and I am super pleased with the results, particularly as this is the first time ever in my life that I have attempted to do anything like this.

Can you paint tiles?

After painting the walls, cupboards and drawers and adding new handles the kitchen was looking great but the tiles were letting it down somewhat. In for a penny, in for a pound (whatever that means) we decided we should have a go at painting the tiles too. These needed a thorough clean with sugar soap then drying, followed by a light sanding. If I’m honest I’m not entirely sure that sanding the tiles made a huge difference but I thought it might make the surface a little rougher for the paint to adhere to it a little easier. Again after sanding it is really important to wipe the surfaces down to ensure that they are completely dust and lint free. I gave the tiles three coats of paint and where there was a black and peach embossed pattern this needed four coats of paint. I am actually pretty impressed and think that the embossed pattern on the tiles looks really nice now it is all cream – it enhances the kitchen tiles and makes it look really pleasing. After updating the kitchen it absolutely looks and feels like a new kitchen and at a fraction of the cost. If I can do it, you can do it too!

Oh and did I mention that the brand produces all-natural and eco-friendly paint that has barely any smell. It is also certified as safe to use to paint children’s toys and nursery furniture. You can find out more here “>Frenchic website

How much did it cost to update the kitchen?

  • 3 tins of Al Fresco Frenchic paint in Wise Old Sage £54
  • 2 tins of Dulux Timeless £44
  • New handles for the cupboards and drawers £40
  • A total of £138 for 29 cupboards and drawers, you could do it for less than £100 without the new handles!
  • 2 tins of Al Fresco Frenchic paint in Cream Dream £36 for the tiles

I would love you to take a look at the range of “>Frenchic paint and to know which is your favourite colour. You can also visit their website by clicking on the image on the right hand side of this page, I may earn commission if you purchase from the website at no extra cost to you.

I would definitely recommend you give it a go if your kitchen needs a bit of a refresh. The Frenchic Al Fresco paint is suitable for indoors and outdoors so I’m looking forward to my next project!


  1. I like the soft greens and three coats, I thought would look cloggy but it looks very professional. I seen someone paint the floor tiles on another site but can not see it staying put with dogs children washing and chair scrapping. But this seems doable and really brings it up to date. I shall look up the paint too. Nice blog and super kitchen.


    • Thank you so much Ellen🙂The paint is actually quite easy to paint with. I’ve seen people who have done their floors with stencils and it looks so amazing but I don’t think it would stay like that for long in my house either!


    • Thank you so much! Well yes it has held up well – the only place we’ve had an issue is on top of the window sill which has plant pots on and I clean regularly so the paint has rubbed odd. Other than that the cupboards still look great and are easy to wipe clean!


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