My clients had already spoken with a contractor about painting the cabinets white. I let them know how important prep is, and that it could be done so long as we chose the right white. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that here are hundreds of whites to choose from and selecting the correct white is tricky. We wandered the rest of the house, choosing color and discussing the look and feel they want. And when we circled back to the kitchen to revisit the idea of painting the cabinets white, I made the following observation:
What's wrong with this kitchen is not the cabinets but the tile.
The home was built around 1960 and I believe the cabinets are original. They are solid as a rock, even after half a century! Where things went wrong was in the mid-90's when the previous owners put on an addition and decided to spruce up the kitchen. They mistakenly selected tile that was popular at the time and really had nothing to do with the style of the kitchen or the architecture of the house. (Add to that, the serious mis-matching of the colors...a bunch of orange-y browns that just don't play well together. UGH!)
I had to be honest with my clients (because that's how I roll!) so I told them that the problem was NOT going to be solved by painting the cabinets. Those mid-century cabinets want to be wood. Painting them white, even if they did get the job done properly, would never suit the style of the house. And we'd still have that 90's tile to contend with.
My advice was to pull that backsplash pronto, leave the wood as-is and do something really gorgeous and a bit whimsical (colorful!) to balance the orange-y wood and distract from not-terrific flooring. Because my client's favorite color is a rich blue, and because blue and orange make a smashing complementary color scheme, we pulled Benjamin Moore's Buckland Blue as an inspiration. Here's a mock-up...