Savvy homeowner creates new-look kitchen on a budget using chalk paint

A makeover to inspire and encourage others to paint kitchen cabinets with confidence

When faced with the eye-watering cost for a new dream kitchen this savvy homeowner opted for DIY instead. Smart move, because the new chalk paint kitchen cabinets and materials cost just under £50. And the result is incredible, you've never believe it's the same kitchen!

Related: Black Friday kitchen deals 2020 – offers on mixers, bread makers, slow cookers and more

Gemma Shaw, from Worcestershire, saved thousands compared to forking out an estimated £10,000 for a whole new kitchen. Spending just under £50 on chalk paint and supplies to transform her original white kitchen to a new dark on-trend kitchen.

Kitchen makeover: Before and after

A side by side comparison of a kitchen showing the transformation from white to chalky black kitchen cabinets

(Image credit: Gemma Shaw)

'I was never a fan of my white gloss kitchen – it just wasn’t to my taste,' Gemma explains. 'I prefer darker kitchen cupboards, such as black and dark greens.'

'My biggest bugbear (with her white kitchen) was that it showed every bit of dirt' she reveals. 'As I’m quite particular, I found myself cleaning every cupboard door each time I spotted a mark. This became quite a chore, as there are 17 cupboards and drawers in total.

She didn't need a quote to tell her the cost involved with a kitchen refurb. 'My mum renovated her kitchen earlier this year for £6,000. It’s half the size of mine and she chose from a budget range, so I estimated that mine would cost at least £10,000 to rip out and replace' she told money-saving community LatestDeals.

'I love all the dark interior vibes that people are experimenting with at the moment.' And with that her mind was made up. No more white kitchen...

On-trend black kitchen

Overview of a kitchen with white walls, black cabinets, and parquet flooring

(Image credit: Gemma Shaw)

Gemma discovered chalk paint paint through a friend, and joined a forum on social media where she learnt that the Frenchic Al Fresco range could be used on gloss cabinets.

'I decided to give ours a shot,' she says. 'I wanted to switch to a dark colour and I knew it would work, as the room benefits from lots of natural light thanks to the skylights and large bi-fold doors.'

Gemma used Frenchic Furniture Paint in a shade called Blackjack. As well as a blending brush and sugar soap. Overall, Gemma used around 950ml of paint. “It goes far,” she says.

Al Fresco Paint in Blackjack: £17.95 for 750ml, Frenchic

Al Fresco Paint in Blackjack:<a href="" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> £17.95 for 750ml, Frenchic

This shade is a smart jet black. The famous Al Fresco paint has a very low VOC content. Ideal for kitchen cabinets as it’s hard wearing, weatherproof with a robust and with a chalky finish.

Blending brush:&nbsp;£11.95, Frenchic

Blending brush: <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">£11.95, Frenchic
Made with a careful choice of natural bristle to synthetic fibre ratio and extremely easy to use when blending  paint.

Everbuild Sugar Soap concentrated Powder: was £4.99, Now £1.99

Everbuild Sugar Soap concentrated Powder: <a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon UK"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">was £4.99, Now £1.99

This box of 430g powder offers the fastest way to get a better paint finish for your ready-to-paint kitchen cabinets.

White kitchen with black bifold doors, parquet flooring and black cabinets

(Image credit: Gemma Shaw)

Gemma started by lightly sanding all the cupboard doors and drawers. ‘Next, I took all the cupboard doors off the hinges and laid them out on a blanket on the kitchen floor. I used the sugar soap to give them a wash’ she details.

‘I used the blending brush to paint very thin layers of the paint on each door. Using the paint as though it were about to run out,’ she adds. Explaining, ”I had read that this was the best method, in order for each layer to dry quickly and prevent drips. It also builds up a more durable coating. The white gloss cupboards and drawers took five coats in total.’

‘The most challenging part was the bit around the oven hood, as I couldn’t get the hood down by myself so I had to paint around it,’ she says.

Kitchen bar area

A stand alone bar area in front of a black feature wall in a white kitchen with white parquet flooring

(Image credit: Gemma Shaw)

Isn’t this the dream?! Gemma has her won bar area at the far end of her kitchen. ‘We added brushed gold accessories to match the warm feeling of the room,’ Gemma reveals. ‘I bought the cabinet handles and kitchen tap from Amazon. I also bought a new black kettle, toaster and tea and coffee jars from Asda. In total, the cost of the paint and all the new accessories came to around £130.’

Probrico Hole Centre Kitchen Cabinet Handles: £17.99, Amazon

Probrico Hole Centre Kitchen Cabinet Handles: <a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon UK"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">£17.99, Amazon

New handles can go a long way to transform your existing kitchen cabinets – and with very little expense or effort!


Russell Hobbs Mode Kettle in Black: was £59.99, Now £24.99, Amazon

Russell Hobbs Mode Kettle in Black: <a href="" data-link-merchant="Amazon UK"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">was £59.99, Now £24.99, Amazon

Get the look of Gemma's chic kitchen accessories for less, thanks to Black Friday sales. A new kettle, toaster and microwave set can inject a strong accent colour to change the vibe of your kitchen.

The entire project took just 24 hours to complete. ‘I spread the work over eight evenings, after I’d finished work,’ she explains. And it’s safe to say that dedication has hugely paid off.

Related: Kitchen trends 2021 – the latest kitchen design trends and ideas for the year ahead

Gemma's extremely happy with the end result. 'The kitchen is massively improved,' she exclaims.

Gemma advises anyone thinking of starting a similar project to dive straight in. 'It mainly requires time and patience. While we are restricted on the things we can do outside of the home right now, it’s a good time to give it a go.'


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.