When I moved into a new property a month ago, I was a bit worried that the look of the place would feel dated and drab. There are characterful features to the abode, but the main room (a living space combining kitchen, lounge and dining area) was lacking in love. Featuring an ageing storage heater, dull linen blinds and off-white walls, the main focus of the room needed to be a lovely kitchen. Alas, the kitchen I inherited wasn’t exactly the one I imagined in my dreams. Instead it was pine. Orange coloured 1980s pine. It was a bit of an eyesore. What is more, the orange pine clashed with the more sedate wooden doors and skirting used throughout the rest of the property.


Painting the kitchen cabinets

Because of this I set my mind on the kitchen being the first area of the house that would receive my attention when I got the keys to the new place. Seven days after moving in, and the last of the boxes finally unpacked, I set about looking at colours and visited the Farrow & Ball shop in Summertown, Oxford with my friend to talk through colours.

I also began researching how to paint kitchen cabinets online, confused by the wide variety of primers, kitchen cupboard paints and brands available. Eventually I came across a forum, in a which a professional kitchen painter from Manchester suggested using Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell. After explaining that Farrow & Ball wood paints used to be quite difficult to work with, he then said that he recommended the current paints as they created a far superior finish.

ESP Easy Surface PrepHe also recommended a product called ESP, which I had never heard of, and had never seen for sale in the usual DIY stores. I was a bit reluctant because of this, but after reading the reviews on ESP’s website, and those on Amazon, which were full of praise for this easy primer alternative, I decided it was worth the risk and placed an order. Two days later, the ESP arrived, and I was ready to start prepping the pine kitchen cabinets.

ESP is not a paint-like primer, but instead looks like a milky varnish. It goes on with a paintbrush or a cloth and is left for 5 minutes before it can be wiped dry. After 2 hours, the surface is ready to be painted.

And so to the colour choice…

Having decided that I wanted a light colour to reflect the light in the south-facing kitchen, I narrowed down the choice to Farrow & Ball’s French Gray (also known as No.18 in their collection). Now don’t be fooled, French Gray, in the vast majority of cases, looks green. In fact, no-one would walk into my house now and say that my kitchen is grey. I asked the staff in the Farrow and Ball shop in Oxford and they said that the Estate Eggshell (for Interiors) would be the right paint for kitchen cabinets. I then bought a small 750ml can of the paint for around £20 from Homebase, thinking that I’d probably need about 3 more, but not being able to bear spending £50 or so on a larger tin. Having said that, I was surprised to find that Farrow & Ball Estate Eggshell goes a long way. Despite giving each cabinet and panel 3 coats, I used only a can and a half of paint. I was really pleased with how smoothly each coat went on. I used 100% wool mini rollers that I had bought on Amazon for very little cost, and found that these were perfect for the light coats that I wanted to achieve. I was prepared to sand a little between each coat, but it really was not required unless dripping occurred.


After painting, I decided to choose some new hardware to replace the old pine knobs that I had taken off the doors. I chose some from Amazon in a pewter finish (shown above) which complemented the green/grey tone of the cabinets well. At £1.99 per knob, they were very affordable, and made a real difference to the look of the kitchen for less than £25.

The finished painted kitchen…

My farrow and ball french grey kitchen

So, onto costings. What did the ‘new’ kitchen cost me in total?

Farrow & Ball Estate No.18 French Gray – Eggshell (750ml tin) x 2 = £43.98

Owatrol Easy Surface Prep (ESP) 1kg = £27.79

12 x Traditional Pattern Cabinet Door Knobs in Pewter Finish = £23.88

100% Natural Wool Mini Roller Kit = £3.12

Total = £98.77

What the kitchen looks like 9 months later…

March 2017 – Since last summer I have painted out the floral motif tiles with tile paint to give the kitchen a cleaner look and removed the ugly lino on the floor (the floor covering you can see is a temporary one until I can decide what to do with it).

I have also replaced the old cream microwave with a more modern one, added a recipe book stand from Lakeland, and decluttered the worktops by filling Kilner jars with commonly used ingredients, and storing unnecessary clutter in the cupboards.

I’m really happy with how the painted kitchen cupboards have faired. On cupboards that get a lot of wear and tear (for example under the sink), I wipe them over with kitchen spray and they come up as good as new. Stains and spills come off easily without removing paint.

Another addition to the room is the dresser below, which I bought from a charity shop, removing the doors, and painting in the same colour as the kitchen (using the leftover half a can of paint from the kitchen).

The dresser serves as a space to store leftover kitchen stuff, such as cookbooks, tea and coffee pots, large pans, rice cookers, and other utensils. I’m really pleased with how this had turned out, and it fits so well into the room. I also house my television on top of this, as it is a really good height for it.