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Painting your own cabinet fronts is a great way to accomplish an individualized look in your home. However,  the process can be intimidating for novice DIY’ers. Nicole Gibbons, founder and CEO of Clare, the online-only paint marketplace with designer-curated colors, has clear-cut advice. 

“Like a lot of things that feel daunting, just getting started is the only way to overcome those feelings,” Gibbons says. “And in traditional paint shopping journeys, because that process can be so cumbersome that people feel it’s overwhelming, Clare is there as a more approachable choice.” 

Pink kitchen renovation

Design: Michelle Salz-Smith, Studio Surface; Photography by Jennie Corti

Because Clare features only a handful of colors, the site isn’t as overwhelming as standing in front of thousands of choices at a hardware store. “We have the perfect tone of each color. For example, we have the perfect neutral white,” Gibbons says. 

You’ve ordered your Semihandmade cabinet fronts. You have a few ideas of possible color choices. What’s next? “That’s easy. Order samples, put them on your wall, and you’ll get excited. You’ll see that color and be ready to paint,” Gibbons says. With peel-and-stick samples, Gibbons’ advice is to leave the sample up on your walls throughout the day as the natural light in your room changes, giving you an idea of what the color is like morning and night. 

Design by Leanne Ford; Photography by Erin Kelly

For those who prefer a more bold look, Gibbons says to find your favorite shades that evoke a feeling. “Step outside of the white color box, and it can be mood enhancing,” she says. “Some of my favorite colors are various shades of green. I just painted my bedroom in Dirty Martini. And I love Daily Greens. It’s rich, forest-like, almost kale-like green. I’ve never seen someone go bold and wish they did white walls instead”. 

Then, there’s the question of whether to use a primer. Beginning with primer before adding your chosen shade of paint can add a “more professional finish” although it’s not always necessary,  according to Gibbons. “If your walls are in good condition, you may not need it. But if you’re going from a higher gloss to a lower gloss finish, you’ll need primer. And if you’re going from say a dark shade of green to a white color, primer ensures a more uniform base,” she says. 

Design by Renovate108: Photography by Margaret Wright

Finally, when it comes to prepping for painting your cabinets, one thing to keep in mind is durability. “You touch cabinets a lot. There’s constantly opening and closing. And if you’re touching it often, you’ll want to make it durable.” Gibbons suggests using high-quality semi-gloss paint for cabinets. “With a more durable surface, it’ll be able to withstand that wear and tear a lot more,” she says. Now that Clare’s easy online shop has given you the confidence, it’s time to jump all in. And if you’re nervous, Gibbons has you covered. “We’re there with expert guidance,” she says.  

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We are no strangers to DIY home renovations at Semihandmade. After all, that’s where the idea for making doors for IKEA kitchen systems came from. So naturally, we had to dedicate an entire section of SemiStories to celebrating our design community’s ingenuity, from DIY kitchen ideas to thinking of smaller details like rattan glassware and easy-to-make wall hangings. Don’t just take it from us: we’ve tapped the best in the business. Anita Yokota shared her best trick for a $20 bathroom renovation, Jessica D’Itri Marés shared her favorite spray painter, and Jenna LeBlanc showed us how to give wall-to-wall storage a custom touch. Maybe you’re just dipping your toes in the world of do-it-yourself, in which case we recommend starting small: try your hand at making your own speckled candle holders, for example, or give your greenery an updated home with pretty stacked planters. If you have a handy side (maybe you’ve put together DIY kitchen cabinets or are not afraid to use a power tool), we have projects for you too: painting a hand-painted mural is a fun way to give your favorite room some life or maybe you’re game to try putting together your own TV cabinet like Sarah Sherman Samuel did (PS: she saved thousands in the process). Experts, we’ve got you covered too: from learning to tile and grout your own backsplash to painting your cabinets without a hitch, we have plenty of DIY kitchen renovation ideas to keep you busy. We don’t stop at the kitchen either: from wall-to-wall media centers to fluted doors made for playroom storage, you’ll find ideas to improve every room in the house