Black and grey painted Ikea Hyttan kitchen. Farrow & Ball.

Painting Kitchen Units – A Do It Yourself Guide

I’ve had a few people over the past week ask how I painted our Ikea kitchen cupboards, so I thought I would write a quick guide sharing how I painted our units.  If you’re going to paint your kitchen units, you want to make sure you are painting them in the best way possible so they can withstand all the hustle and bustle that goes on in a kitchen.  Some of our units have been painted for nearly two years now and they have really stood the test of time and still look as good as the day I finished painting them – not a bump or scratch to be seen!

Painted Ikea Hyttan kitchen, Farrow and ball railings.
Lower units were painted in Farrow & Ball – Railings No. 31
Tall units were painted in Farrow & Ball – Pavilion Gray No. 242

When remodelling our kitchen we wanted a wall of tall units that would hide our fridge and freezer.  We looked at different suppliers and the general consensus was that this area of the kitchen would have to be custom made – and custom made had a big price tag attached.  The Ikea kitchen units allowed us to have the exact set up we wanted but they didn’t really have the doors that matched the look we were going for.

Some of my inspiration. Photo from House and Garden.
More inspiration. Photo from De Vol Kitchens.

We ended up going for the Ikea Hyttan kitchen.  It was nothing like the painted in frame kitchen units we originally wanted but we were really happy with how the units made great use of the available space, in particular our floor to ceiling units that housed our fridge, freezer and microwave.

Our doors before they were painted. Photo from Ikea.

BUT…annoyingly…I still couldn’t get those painted kitchen units out of my mind so I decided to take on the mammoth task of painting the kitchen cabinet doors.  Below is a step by step guide to painting the Ikea Hyttan kitchen doors.  Following these steps will ensure you have cupboard doors that will have the perfect paint job look for years, while withstanding all the bumps and scrapes that are just part and parcel of a busy kitchen.

Step 1 – Remove Hardware

If possible, take the doors off the units and remove any handles or hinges from the door.  For all the lower units I was able to remove the doors, but for our tall units it wasn’t possible.

Painting Ikea Hyttan kitchen, larder cupboard.
Realigning these doors would have been very difficult, so I painted these doors while they were still attached to the carcasses.

Step 2 – Prepare Doors for Painting

The Hyttan doors are a little different as they have a horizontal texture and a vertical grain in the wood veneer.  Sand along the horizontal texture with a P120 sandpaper.  Vacuum, dust and wipe clean.  Put a screw in the position of the handle.  Doing this will stop paint from pooling in the hole.

Prepare for Painting
Placing a screw in the hole where the handle is attached will stop paint from pooling in the hole.

Step 3 – Apply Undercoat Layers

Apply the first coat of primer undercoat.  When the doors are dry and ready for a recoat, sand using a fine P220 sandpaper or sanding block.  Wipe clean and apply second layer of undercoat.  Lightly sand again using the fine P220 sandpaper or sanding block.  When you are painting around the holes for the hinges, be careful not to fill the holes with paint as you may find it difficult to reattach the hinges.  If you are painting doors that are still attached, take your time to get a good finish around the hinges.  A narrow brush is good for this.

Apply Undercoats
Painting Ikea Hyttan Kitchen
Use a narrow brush and take your time when painting around the hinges.

Step 4 – Apply Top Coat

The number of top coats will vary depending upon the type and brand of paint you choose.  I went for a Farrow & Ball floor paint.  Farrow & Ball state that their floor paints can be used for interior woodwork.  This paint is much more durable that a standard eggshell paint.  Apply as many top coats as you need to achieve a solid coverage, sanding between each coat of paint using the P220 fine grade sandpaper.  Do not sand after the final top coat.

Step 5 – Apply a Clear Varnish

Kitchens need to be robust and by varnishing the doors you will increase their durability.  I chose Ronseal Diamond Hard Satin Varnish.  Apply two coats, without sanding in between coats.  After the second coat, lightly sand the doors using the P220 sandpaper.  Wipe clean – very, very clean – and then apply the final coat of varnish.

Step 6 – Reattach Doors

Reattach any handles and hinges.  The doors are now ready to be refitted.  Although the doors may be painted and fitted, the paint needs time to harden.  This usually takes around 4 -5 weeks, depending on the climate.  So for this time, treat your kitchen with gentle respect – opening and closing doors and drawers carefully! 

Painting a kitchen can be a really daunting task, and I certainly thought so too, but I am so glad I did it!  I don’t think I ever really liked my kitchen unpainted, which is a little sad considering we chose it, but now that it is painted – I love it!

Black and grey painted Ikea Hyttan kitchen. Farrow & Ball.

Black and grey painted Ikea Hyttan kitchen. Farrow & Ball

Black and grey painted Ikea Hyttan kitchen. Farrow & Ball.

Black and grey painted Ikea Hyttan kitchen. Farrow & Ball

As with every other room in our house, our lovely kitchen gets decorated for Christmas…

My absolute favourite home decorating/renovation show is ‘The Fixer Upper’ and the very first episode I saw of it was when Chip and Joanna Gaines were renovating a house built in the 1800’s.  They were renovating this house for themselves as they were wanting to turn it into a B&B.  I remember walking, almost in tears, to the kitchen after this episode saying to Keith ‘I don’t know how she makes things so beautiful!’  Very silly of me to get emotional over home decorating but in my defence, it was their Christmas special so I was particularly drawn to it and especially drawn to Joanna’s ‘Merry Christmas’ metal sign.  Anyway, this sign stayed in my mind.  Then last year, when I was looking at the Magnolia Market website, I saw it was available to buy so I asked Father Christmas whether I could have it for Christmas and voila – here it is!

Magnolia market Christmas sign. Chip and Joanna Gaines. Black and grey painted Ikea Hyttan kitchen. Farrow & Ball.
A beautiful Christmas sign – all the way from Magnolia Market in Texas.

Black and grey painted Ikea Hyttan Christmas kitchen. Farrow & Ball.

Black and grey painted Ikea Hyttan Christmas kitchen. Farrow & Ball.

Christmas kitchen window sill, candles and greenery.

Anyone for a mince pie?

Mince pies. Painted black and grey Ikea Hyttan kitchen. Farrow & Ball.



  1. Wow, what a lot of work. Very worthwhile, the result is stunning.
    Thank you for taking the time to explain the process.

    1. Hi Christine, Thanks for calling my kitchen ‘stunning’ – that’s a big compliment 🙂 Painting the units was quite a big jog but breaking it down into little chunks definitely made it more manageable and gave me a sense of achievement along the way. Cheerio Claire

  2. Such skill! Thank you so much for sharing. I do have one question though, if you can help me here. I’m about to embark on the painting of our own kitchen cabinets, and I have been to-ing and fro-ing with what painting equipment I should use, i.e. roller or brush; OR roller and brush? Also what size of both to use?

    My paint of choice here in Australia is from a NZ-owned company called Resene. Here’s how they describe their floor paint: “Resene Walk-on is a satin general purpose flooring and paving paint, based on tough acrylic resins to give maximum durability and abrasion resistance in a single pack finish. Ideal for use on steps, decking, concrete, porches, suitably primed timber, composite boards and interior floors.”

    Can I ask you how this compares to the Farrow & Ball equivalent you used? F&B paints are not available here. I need to paint my front door too and wonder if you used an equivalent paint on your own front door, and if not, do you think it would work on an exterior door? Any pointers will help hugely, thanks. Cheers, heather

    1. Hi Heather, I used two brushes – one around 8cm wide and a smaller 12mm one for any fiddly areas. I am not sure how the Farrow & Ball paint compares to the brand you mentioned but I have had a look at the Farrow & Ball website and they have an extensive advice section…might be worth having a look at. Their website is Regarding our front door, I used a Farrow & Ball exterior eggshell paint because the floor paint is not suitable for exteriors. It sounds as if the floor paint you mentioned is suitable for outdoors though so, if that is the case you could probably use it. Hope this helps – good luck with your painting! Cheerio Claire

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