I Can’t Paint My Kitchen Cabinets, So I Tried This $15 Colorful DIY Instead

published Oct 24, 2023
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pink and purple knobs on white kitchen cabinets
Credit: Alyse Whitney

Because I live in a big city, I don’t have dreams of buying a home anytime soon. But I do often fantasize about having a colorful, maximalist design apartment kitchen that matches the vibe of the rest of my apartment (tchotchkes and bright colors everywhere). And thanks to a simple DIY that only requires a can of spray paint and a tarp, now I’m one step closer. 

I love the idea of DIYing my home, but I’m impatient, easily distracted, and scared of messing up. So I usually just save design ideas on Instagram or pin ideas I’ll never do. But once I saw painted kitchen cupboard knobs on a random late-night doom scroll, I decided that was the one I’d finally try. The inspiration image I found featured a nice accent color — I believe deep teal hardware on white cupboards, but I can’t find the original post, thanks to the fleeting Instagram algorithm — that looked simple enough. I had seen fun, colorful knobs online before, but the lower-quality ones were, at a minimum, $1 each, and more interesting ones started at $3 and went up to $10 per knob. So instead of trying to find my dream kitchen cupboard knob shape, I decided to just spray-paint my existing basic round ones to save money (my kitchen has 19 total knobs!) and just paint them back silver or replace them if my landlord asks when I eventually move out.

Credit: Alyse Whitney

My cabinets are white, and the backsplash is painted a nice bright teal, so I needed colors to complement that combo. I texted some design-savvy friends with options of spray paints in stock at my closest Lowe’s and decided to go with Krylon COLORmaxx Gloss Spray Paint and Primer In One in Rich Plum and Mambo Pink, which were bright but not neon. The formula has a built-in primer, so that saved me a step. I wasn’t sure until I painted them if I would do all one color across the top cabinets and another across the lower ones and drawers — or alternate colors on both the top and bottom. But I ended up loving the juxtaposition of the two colors next to each other, rotating every other knob to be purple or pink, so that’s what I did.  

Credit: Alyse Whitney
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My friend Irene helped me set up a space outside to spray paint, which is key for ventilation, and it took only a few hours and less than $20 to completely change the vibe of my kitchen. Before you start painting, I recommend wiping down each piece of hardware with a clean cloth to remove dust and debris for proper pigment adhesion, and you want to watch the weather, too. Every tutorial I read while researching said to spray paint in temperatures under 75 degrees for best results, so cooler (but not frigid or freezing) weather is ideal.

With the two colors I purchased, I even had enough paint left over to coat a few over-the-cupboard towel hangers I use for dish-drying towels — purple, pink, and an ombré of purple and pink. To take things to the next level, maybe I’ll apply some contact paper to the surfaces of the cabinets or the fridge to add even more fun to the kitchen. But for now, these pops of color are enough to brighten my days.