French Kitchen Transformation

Using Annie Sloane’s Chalk Paint, I revamped our hated and outdated 1980’s melamine kitchen cabinets into a lovely French-inspired blue and white kitchen.20160205_104008

Here are some tips, tricks and tactics to tackling a large kitchen ~


I pinned kitchens for ages, finding the common theme and color-scheme I really wanted.  This is an important aspect of design.  I decided to only paint the outsides of the cabinets.


  1. Replace all the door handles for knobs and draw handles.  Already this made a difference!  We filled the old holes with wood filler matching the melamine door color so it would blend invisibly inside the doors.
  2. Number and label the inside of each door with masking tape so that we would know where they hung once they were taken down for painting .
  3. Paint sections of the kitchen at a time.  I worked in my laundry where I could safely leave my doors to dry completely before re-hanging them.
  4. Remove door handles and drawer pulls.  Keep all the knobs and screws in containers or bags.
  5. Fix drawers and worn door edges.   We used wood filler to fill the bottom edges of the badly damaged doors from under the sink.  Fill any holes or broken edges.  Sand the wood filler once dried.
  6. Really thoroughly clean the cupboards using sugar soap/ degreaser and a scourer.  Dry completely.
  7. Sand the melamine surfaces with rough 100 grit sand paper in rough circles.  Sand front and all edges.  This is a quick process.   You want to remove the gloss and create a suitable texture for the paint to grip.  Dust off well.
  8. Prime with one coat of melamine primer.  The paint specialist recommend two coats, but as Annie Sloane has a built-in primer, I just did one coat.



  • If you are mixing paint, always mix a sample first.
  • Paint a sample board and place against the cupboards to test the tone and intensity.  (I mixed the entire tin of Duck Egg and Greek Blue to create the perfect French blue, and painted my first doors only to find that although the blue was the perfect color, it was way too dark!  I then had to add Old White in measured ratios until I found the correct tone. You’ll see the difference in the middle photo above.  This was a huge waste of paint!)
  • Buy quality brushes.  You do not want the bristles coming off and sticking to your paint or sealant.
  • Work with some paint poured into a plastic tub and keep your chalk paint tins sealed well so that the paint does not thicken.
  • If you are not sure about the paint working on your cabinets, paint the inside of one of your doors and give it a try first.


  1. First paint the cupboard edges, then the fronts with a good, loaded brush.
  2. Brush across the top and bottom edge of the door and then “swish”the paint vertically away from the edge in towards the centre.
  3. Then paint vertically, spreading the paint evenly towards the edge paint.  This prevents extra paint dripping over the edges.
  4. Work quickly and do not go over dry areas or it creates a rough texture.
  5. Wait 2 – 4 hours and then add a 2nd coat.
  6. You can thin the 2nd coat of paint with a little water, but use a container and pre-mix a specific ratio of water to paint to ensure your coverage is the same on all the doors.  Allow to dry completely.  The thinner paint does not leave heavy brush strokes.  I really liked the brush strokes as it added texture to my very plain, flat melamine surfaces, giving it a woody feel.
  7.  Once dry, sand any runs or blobs on the edges.
  8. Seal with water-based matt sealant. This is amazingly durable and will not yellow.  Because a kitchen requires regular cleaning, Annie Sloane wax will not last.
  9. Allow the paint and sealant to dry and cure.   Usually 2 days from start to finish.  Leave drawers till very well cured as they rub against sides and each other and the paint will scratch off if it is not cured.
  10. Attach all the door handles and re-hang the doors.

Presentation:Kitchen2While my doors were drying, I used the time to paint extra decor details.  I painted my old plastic bread bin.  I traced the French lettering and used a permanent marker to decorate my lid.  The salt and pepper holder and even the dustbin lid got a French face lift!   I painted my sample board with  the same blue and added poster details and images.  I decorated the tops of my cabinets with some French-inspired plants and containers. 20160205_103929I am delighted with the results!  The whole project has taken about 2 weeks, working on weekends and one or two afternoons.

So far, all the doors have handled the everyday banging and spills very well.  This project cost a fraction of a full kitchen remodel and has had a wonderful impact of the look and feel of the house.  If you’ve thought about refreshing your kitchen, I highly recommend this!

Blessings, Nadene