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After repainting my kitchen cabinets, I had to re-hang the doors. In this installment of Dueling DIY, I show you a nifty trick for how I did it!

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another Dueling DIY  update! In case you missed it, the concept is pretty simple:  another blogger and I go head to head each week… which basically keeps me in line and on task. The smack talk is just for the fun of it.

dueling DIY kitchen

For this particular installment, which I’ve dubbed “Clash of the Kitchens”, I’m squaring off with Carrie from Brick City Love. Who has been working wonders on her kitchen thus far. The brick wall alone put Carrie at an early lead. Unfortunately though, Carrie had a bit of a setback last week when the row home next to hers caught fire. Lots of damage:  soot, grit, debris… everywhere. I didn’t know until she posted her update (she kinda had her hands full). Fortunately though, Carrie wasn’t harmed (She was out; yet another example of the importance sharing a pint with friends plays in everyday life. Smart girl!). Her home, while messy and damaged from the fire department needing to check behind walls & ensure the fire was contained, was spared from the blaze. And her pups were safely away.

… so … I guess I’ll just keep going? Ha. Carrie clearly has some more pressing issues to attend to (damaged roof, front door, bathroom ceiling, etc. trumps whatever this blog thing is), but in the meantime, I still want to honor the concept and keep sharing. After all, this isn’t just about Carrie and I… we’ve got a few other readers who are redoing their kitchens and have been linking each week, so I want to keep the motivation going. And who knows? Maybe Carrie’s sooty debris becomes her radioactive spider, and she kicks my ass despite having a hole in her roof. And then I’ll gladly buy her a round at the pub.

And now, onto my kitchen update (I’m going to apologize ahead of time with a spoiler:  everything is dusty and dirty. Shocking how fast it accumulates when you have just enough time to choose between “clean kitchen floor” and “do laundry so I have clean underwear”)…


I’m excited that this week, invisible progress turned into the kind of progress that I can actually photograph. To begin with, the last two coats of white on the uppers became a reality:

Paint progress in the kitchen

For those wondering, I’m using Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint – uppers are Decorator’s White, and lowers are the same paint brand but color matched to Martha Stewart’s Seal. I love the crispness of the white (no hints whatsoever of yellow, but no visible bluish tones… color balance seems to plague this house and my photography ineptitude doesn’t help matters either).

Paint prep

Re-Hanging Kitchen Cabinet Doors After Painting

Installing New Cabinet Hinges

The big task though was installing new cabinet hinges on all of the finished lower doors. A little tip? Keep the old ones, at LEAST for making sure you’re buying the new ones that most closely match! This helped and hurt me at the same time:

  • I knew how the actual hinge worked and didn’t have to go searching for face frame vs frameless hinge types (I could just do a visual match) BUT
  • The new hinges were nearly identical to the old, save for the placement of the holes for attaching to the base cabinets (and the finish, which was kinda the whole reason for getting new ones).
  • Luckily, the hardware completely covered the old hole, which also meant that I didn’t need to even bother with patching (even though it’s not that hard to do, it is annoying, so I’ll put that in the win column).
  • Instead, I just needed to pre-drill some new screw holes for proper fitting.

Positioning hinge

How to Re-Hang Cabinet Doors When You’re Working Solo — A Neat Trick!

Hanging cabinet doors on old cabinets with no assistance is not exactly the easiest task. I found myself needing at least one extra hand at each step (one to hold the door steady, one to press the hinges into place to keep the holes lined up, and one to drill… don’t get me started on the contortion required for also photographing the process). So, I had to employ a little ingenuity to get the job done:

steady cabinet doors with paper towel rolls

The paper towel roll was just a smidge too high for the cabinet (turning too low with no assistance into too high with the roll), so I squished it a little to give me just the right height. Another Goldilocks moment (I swear, with as often as they happen, I should rename it from the Ugg-Duck to The Goldilocks House; the name even fits the cottage-y exterior better // UPDATE — I did start calling it this)!

How to Level Old Cabinet Doors — Start by Removing the Drawers

I had to take each drawer out to make room for the little level I was using (why are the cheapies always the ones that hang around the longest? I bought this pink one as part of a (clearly gendered marketing) starter kit from Walmart before I moved in — which I now feel silly for buying — and it’s stuck with me for 4+ years!).

level kitchen cabinet door

As you might be able to tell in the (blurry) photos, some of the paint chipped while moving things around (I, clumsy as can be, wound up letting them clunk together because my hands were too tied up to catch ’em). Guess they’ll need a touch-up soon.


(For what its worth, I held onto a door from the cabinet painting kit experiment I did a few years ago, and there wasn’t a chip on it… so I would still easily recommend that kit for a quick and chip-free option, they just didn’t have the color options I wanted for the kitchen.)

The whole process went a lot smoother than I first feared (which is why I procrastinated on it for so long); I thought I’d screw it up royally and have wonky, uneven doors everywhere. Which would make me throw tools and blurt obscenities all afternoon (or worse, quit). There was one door that flustered me for a bit, but then I realized that the door was perfectly level; it was the drawer above it that wasn’t quite straight (after trying to resolve for a few minutes, I’m chalking it up to a problem that’s always been there and will solve another day).

(it's the one on the end)

But the best part? I’m starting to reclaim this space as an actual kitchen. That means having space to finish the dining room (soonish). And a living room in which I can enjoy my new TV and not be distracted by the piles of furniture, flatware and dishes that belong elsewhere.

kitchen progress!

Sure, that means having to wash all of the dusty dishes & do some cleaning, but it’s a small price to pay for my progress!

And now, for the linkup so I can see your kitchen progress too (as usual, let me know if the code is wonky)! Also, do me a favor if you’re going to link up:  please include a link back to this week’s post (mostly so your readers know what you’re referencing if you mention “Dueling DIY” and can then find the other links of those participating). Have a good one!

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    1. Thank you! I’m hoping when those upper doors are put on, the whole thing has that “ahhhhhh” moment!

      1. One day, you’ll realize you finished a whole beer in there while just enjoying the finished-ness of it all. It’s going to be a real nice day indeed.

  1. It is so nice to see those gorgeous counters again! It makes me all the sadder about my recent counter debacle, but I have faith that all will be made right someday. I am impressed with your ability to hang the doors by yourself and the MacGuyver-like ingenuity of using the paper towel roll. Well done!

  2. Now I can see it coming together! It is going to be an amazing before and after. Question—How does it feel to be free of school work and classes? It has been a few months and would love to hear if you feel more relaxed overall, does it seem like a distant dream…ya know–the life perspective stuff!

    1. Pretty great post idea, thanks for the inspiration! Short answer: I’ve been sick twice & work is keeping me swamped, so I’ve sort of transitioned to fill the hours with stuff making me money instead of costing it. Hoping to maybe share a little of that journey thus far soon!

      1. My pleasure. :) Maybe a few more months and you’ll have a better feeling for it all. I get it though–sick, work, life, keep movin’. Those big milestones sometimes take awhile to transition from and sometimes we look back and think “Did I really do ALL that?” I am hoping you are feeling more relaxed. Whatever it may be I look forward to hearing about it at some point.

  3. Looking good! I love the way the floor and the counter top look against the cabinets. You are doing amazing!

  4. Wow! It’s looking awesome. For me at least, you’ve turned the corner to being to the point where you can visualize the end product! And I’m loving what I’m seeing!

  5. It’s looking great. Nice rich, warm color. I’m jealous we can’t get started on our kitchen yet.

    In my less than professional opinion, I think your photos are looking great. Have you considered a tripod and a remote or the timer? You can pick both (on the cheap side) up for about $20 each. I’ve been doing it that way since summer and am slowly getting better.

    1. Thank you! And yes, I have a tripod. And a timer/remote too. But pfff, why use good equipment when I can just take photos that disappoint me? (I’ll probably step it up for the “real” after photos, but I tend to just not bother with it most days. I guess I just make the choice that actually getting it done, which is always a bit iffy for me, is better than perfect photos! Ha!)

  6. Looks amazing. I love, love, love those countertops. Seriously gorgeous!

  7. Love your site. Your extremely talented and obviously possess a lot of skill. Enjoyed reading your posts.

  8. Wow, great progress! We have wood counters, too, but they got really water damaged around the sink (previous owner leaving water on the counter and not resealing them periodically) – so we are weighing options on getting them refinished now. What do you need to do to keep your countertops sealed?

  9. Thank you so much for the play-by-play on your kitchen cabinets! I found your blog when I searched Martha Stewart Seal, as I had chosen that color (and BM Advance too) for my kitchen cabinets! Only difference is I’m planning to finish with a Ralph Lauren glaze. Are you concerned about the chipping that happened on your drawers? I’ve read that the Advance can really take up to 60 days to fully cure.

    1. It’s had well more than the 60 day cure time before I put them back in, so I think sometimes, despite doing all of the right things, the paint still just doesn’t do what I want it to do. I may eventually cover over them with some type of sealer if it gets more frustrating.

  10. I am having a time hanging my cabinet doors along the bottom. Throwing tools, cursing, you name it. I thought to keep the old hardware, but that doesn’t seem to help, and the trim that goes vertical along my cabinet doors are missing…gotta love it! So, I am in desperate straights. ANY advice that you can give would be appreciated!

    1. I’ve been there! First, give yourself a break when you feel like throwing tools. Chances are, the cabinets weren’t all that straight when you took them down, so they aren’t going to be straight if you try to hang them back up with the same hardware and screw holes… houses just have a way of settling over time. So when you try to put them back up, they take some patience and a few tries to get the hang of it. If you can, get a second set of hands to help hold the cabinet door for you while you put the hardware on. If you don’t (I didn’t), try my paper towel trick. It helped a LOT! If you find that the screw isn’t holding (such as if the hole is now too lose or just keeps spinning, etc.), jam a toothpick or a tiny sliver of wood into the hole before putting the screw in, and break it off so it doesn’t stick out. This gave me a little extra friction/traction so the screw grips and holds. Have patience and work one door at a time as though it’s the only door you have to hang. Even now, my cabinet doors will shift every now and then and need to be readjusted. Good luck!

  11. We are in the process of updating our kitchen and cabinet refinishing is next. We have the same color of butcher block countertop and we’ve been trying to decide on a new color for our cabinets so this post has been a lifesaver! I was considering shades similar to the one you chose for your cabinets and now having seen both together in a real kitchen I think I’m sold! I’m so glad you shared this! Thank you!

  12. Wow. This bloated instructional article blathered on until it finally trailed off into oblivion without actually addressing what it was claiming it would. Well done.

    1. It’s a personal blog post, my dude. Pretty easy to pick up on right away from the way it’s about me and my perspective and not written as an instructional tutorial. You clearly lack reading comprehension. Best of luck with that.