Kitchen Renovation: Updating Knotty Pine Cabinets

If you’ve been around long, you know I’m a big fan of both dramatic budget-minded makeovers and white kitchens. So today, you get a two-in-one post! Ashley was working with a very dated knotty pine kitchen — I mean, knotty pine cabinets, knotty pine paneling, there was a LOT going on in that old home! But Ashley’s vision and hard work came together beautifully in an updated and lovely space:Marble top and open bottom completely transform the island in this white kitchen!, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

Read below for all the details of Ashley’s renovation and if you’re thinking of updating your cabinets with paint, check out these other makeovers and tips for painting cabinets:
black and white kitchen remodel, Eating in the Shower on Remodelaholic
Basic to Beautiful Kitchen Update
white kitchen remodel reusing old thrifted cabinets
Kitchen Renovation with Secondhand Cabinets
DIY Painted Cabinet Reviews from Bloggers and Home DIYers @Remodelaholic
Tips for Painting Cabinets (are the kits worth it?)

Here’s Ashley with all the details! Give her all that Remodelaholic love  <3

Knotty Pine Kitchen Cabinet and Paneling Renovation @Remodelaholic

Kitchen Update: Knotty Pine Cabinets and Paneling
by Ashley from Vintage Refined

Let’s start with a little introduction…I’m Ashley – furniture painter, blogger, small business owner, decorator, wife, dog lover and wine drinker. When I’m not busy running around with a paint brush in my hand, you’ll find me running around…literally. Sitting still has never really been my thing. So, I guess two years ago when I declared that my Accounting desk job wasn’t really doing it for me anymore, it should have come to no surprise. However, transitioning into a hands-on creative role definitely did take some people by surprise. But for me, it came at the perfect time. We had just purchased a fixer-upper and home renovations and interior decorating were taking over my life. I was quickly learning that I loved the challenges of bringing an old home back to life and and finding ways to create your own mark on a space. This passion evolved into me creating a furniture restoration company and a blog to write about not only my furniture makeovers, but also our home renovation projects. Today, we’re going to focus on the latter of the two.

Two years ago we purchased a lake house in Wisconsin. It had always been our dream to purchase an old home and completely renovate it. I know many people want the “turn-key” ready house, but to me, that’s boring. I wanted something we could really leave our imprint on and add in our own personal touch. Well, this house has proved to be nothing short of a place that we can make our own…and by that I mean, literally every square inch of the house needs work. Going through this renovation has been somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster. We’ll get so excited about new ideas and projects, but then feel completely dejected when we uncover some new problem of the house. There are many times when we’ve asked ourselves, “What were we thinking?! We’re in over our heads!” But then we think about all the great memories to be made in the future and think, “Ok, this is going to be the best dumb decision we’ve ever made!” So with that, I’d like to reveal the kitchen makeover. I promise you, it’s a good one!

Here is a ‘Before’ shot.

Dark kitchen to bright white, total kitchen makeover, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic
Let’s just say the kitchen wasn’t the selling point of the home. Knotty pine, yellow formica…you get the picture. Although it wasn’t a huge space, knocking down walls wasn’t really in the realm of improvements we wanted to tackle. So, whatever upgrades we made had to be done within the confinement of the original space. We also knew that because we were renovating an entire house, we had to be budget-minded in our decisions.

Below is the scope of work:

  • Open shelving on the top
  • New countertops
  • New sink and faucet
  • New appliances
  • New flooring
  • Replace island
  • New lighting
  • Replace window

That meant we would keep the following:

  • Cabinets
  • Beadboard & Paneled walls

We started by knocking out the island and removing the upper cabinets. This step alone made the room feel substantially more spacious. An added bonus was when we removed the formica backsplash, we found original beadboard underneath.

DIY kitchen remodel surprise, beadboard!, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

We had originally planned on installing a subway tile backsplash, but embraced the character of the original details instead. The next step was to caulk and paint. And I painted like it was going out of style! Walls, cabinets, trim, ceiling…you name it, I was lightening it up with a coat of fresh paint.

Once the gaps in the beadboard were caulked, I primed the walls with Kilz Primer. This step helped to prevent any bleed through, especially in areas with large knots. The beadboard took three coats of paint before it finally felt fresh and crisp. Once the walls were finished, it was time to turn my attention to the cabinets. Even though I was just painting the bottom cabinets, it proved to be no small task. I first sanded the cabinets to remove some of the gloss and to scuff them up a bit so the primer would adhere better. I then used the same process as the beadboard, one coat primer and three coats paint. Since we were going for a bright white kitchen, I opted for the same paint color for the walls, trim and cabinets. I used Snow Fall by Behr. I am a big fan of the Eggshell finish for walls. However, for the trim and cabinets, I went with the Satin finish which I feel is a bit easier to wipe down and keep clean.

How to brighten a space using only paint, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic


Let’s get to the ‘After” shot and then talk details.

Amazing kitchen remodel diy, white kitchen with black appliances, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

Our farmhouse style kitchen!

Of course, no farmhouse kitchen is complete without a farmhouse sink.

Farmhouse sink in white and black kitchen, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

I tried to keep a vintage charm to the space when picking out fixtures and hardware. The sink faucet is similar in style to the model we selected for the bathrooms.

Chrome fixtures in remodeled black and white kitchen, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

These chrome cup pulls give the room a polished look, yet still maintains a charming feel.

Chrome drawer pulls maintain classic feel in lakehouse kitchen remodel, black and white kitchen, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

It’s hard to believe how paint and hardware can completely transform the original cabinets. For the upper area we opted for open shelving. I bought wood boards and brackets from Home Depot that I painted the same color as the walls and cabinets. The open shelving really makes the space seem larger than it is.

How to build open shelving in white kitchen remodel, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

Plus, it’s a great way to show off vintage finds like this antique scale.

Classic touches in a modern white kitchen, retro scale, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

When it came to the countertops, I was originally anti-granite. It’s so popular these days and I really wanted something a bit more unique. I had my heart set on marble, however after weighing out the pros and cons of each product, granite just seemed like the most practical way to go. It’s low maintenance and high durability were the selling points.

Dark granite countertops in white kitchen makeover, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

I broke down though when it came to the island, and chose one with a Carrara marble top. I love the contrast of the light top and wrought iron bottom against the dark countertops and white cabinets.

Marble top and open bottom completely transform the island in this white kitchen!, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

The open bottom also helps to keep the space light and airy.

Open bottom kitchen island adds air and light to a small kitchen, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

And makes it easy to reach for the necessities!

Open storage in kitchen remodel, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

Although I caved to the trendy granite countertops, I opted against the stainless steel appliances that are so popular these days. GE recently came out with a retro-inspired collection that fit our space perfectly.

Black appliances in white kitchen renovation, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

For flooring, we chose the same tile throughout the majority of the first floor. The herringbone design gives it a bit of interest. I couldn’t be happier with this flooring choice. The tile is a fraction of the price of wood floor, and with two dogs, we don’t have to worry about scratching expensive flooring.

Herringbone floors in white kitchen renovation, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic
When it comes to a kitchen makeover, we were able to renovate this room at a pretty low cost. Keeping the original cabinets helped to keep the cost down. We also tried to do as much of the work as possible ourselves (demo, painting, installing shelves). It’s hard to give an exact estimate as we were remodeling several spaces at once.

Overall, I am thrilled with the way this space turned out. Although it’s not huge, it has a nice flow to it that makes it easy for cooking as well as entertaining. It is now fresh and updated, but still maintains some of the charm of the original farmhouse. I know we will enjoy this space for years to come and create many memories with friends and family here.

Source List:

  • Flooring – Floor & Decor
  • Appliances – GE (Home Depot)
  • Sink – Kohler
  • Faucet – Danze
  • Pendant – Pottery Barn
  • Island – Crate & Barrel
  • Bar Stools – Home Goods
  • Cabinet Hardware – Home Depot
  • Paint – Snow Fall by Behr


Amazing Kitchen Renovation, before and after, by Vintage Refined featured on @Remodelaholic

Ashley, thank you so much for sharing with us!!

Remodelaholics, show Ashley some love in the comments and be sure to go visit her at Vintage Refined to see more of her beautiful hard work on her home. You won’t want to miss her mudroom — on top of being beautiful, the other side has a BRILLIANT doggie shower!

Beautiful mudroom by Vintage Refined -- it has a doggy shower, so smart!

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. Love your reno! I had a knotty pine kitchen as a child. Your space looks timeless! And thank you for selecting something other than stainless appliances. Between the fingerprints on the frig and greasy mess along the burners…yuck! I think a man invented that finish! Great job on your kitchen!

    1. Thanks, Debra! I agree, I’m not the biggest fan of stainless steel, but it’s slim pickings when looking for an alternative option. I was thrilled when we found this collection.

  2. I, too, have the knotty pine paneling through out the kitchen, dining room and family room. Any change done to the kitchen will have an impact on the rest of the rooms. My husband insists that we keep the knotty pine in the family room and dining area. It is all scratched and horribly disfigured by the previous owner that I’m really concerned about what CAN be done to fix it. I have no idea how to change this kitchen and keep the knotty pine in our open floor plan. The counters are yellow tile squares. The backsplash is the yellow tile. The counter tops have a lip all the way around that doesn’t allow food to be scooped off. It just builds up if you don’t vacuum the ledge!
    Do you have any ideas that would help keep the balance of this room? To pull down the knotty pine is not in the budget. Neither is painting over it; the space is massive and hubby is not on board with the idea of paint.

  3. I just redid my knotted pine kitchen, too. My GOD what a project!! I used the same primer and it worked great. Only needed one coat of paint. I used Polar Sky gray (valspar) on the walls and Stormy Night (valspar) for the cabinets. I put marble countertops in and a reclaimed wood pallet backsplash using a whitewash of the same colors. Looks fantastic! Haven’t updated the hardware yet, but I was going with nickel plated accents, and then putting in a pop of teal blue. The appliances need to be updated–I love the black retro theme!! Fantastic update, had I had seen the white on the pine I would have gone with that instead. 🙂

  4. Ashley, I looked at a home once (about 5-6 years ago), and the kitchen looked EXACTLY like that…I’m wondering if it’s the same place? Especially when I saw Wisconsin! It looks amazing, great work 🙂

  5. Its been a while so don’t know if youre paying attention. I LOVED the reno but am wondering if the knots have started to bleed through…?