Brighten up the kitchen with a splash of color inside the cabinets

Kyle Schuneman added color to his kitchen by painting the inside of his cabinets. It's an easy DIY project.
Kyle Schuneman added color to his kitchen by painting the inside of his cabinets. It’s an easy DIY project.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

So often we design our homes for others. We focus on the spaces guests will spend time in and decorate with them in mind. In doing so, we often ignore the areas we occupy the most, such as our bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

But good home design isn’t about others. It’s about you, and it can be as simple as a tiny design detail.

Recently, my landlord redid the door faces of my kitchen cabinets. The interiors of the cabinets — grungy and unappealing — were left untouched. Every time I opened them, I wanted to close them just as quickly. They had to be fixed. And not just fixed — improved.

Since my apartment is layered with grays, neutrals, metals and woods, I took this project as an opportunity to add an intense pop of color in the kitchen, which is open to the rest of the unit. I chose orange: Benjamin Moore’s Jupiter Glow. It has a retro flair, and I love the combination of gray and orange in a space. Yellow or teal also can be striking.


The painting project was simple. First, I lightly sanded the surfaces with a fine sanding sponge, which I prefer over sanding paper for its easier grip. I didn’t use painter’s tape, as all the shelves and backings were being painted and my cabinet fronts are slightly raised from the interior, creating a natural edge.

I started painting at the top and worked my way down. I painted the edges and corners first, with a 2-inch angled brush, and then filled in the rest with a 4-inch mini foam roller for a smooth, even coat. I used a gallon of paint, choosing a flat finish ($36.99) because it dries evenly and you don’t have to worry about dishes sticking to the shelves when the humidity is high. For full coverage, I applied two coats, letting the first coat dry an hour before applying the second.

The end result packs a punch — a big orange punch. And every time I grab a plate or glass, I smile. Sure, most people don’t think about the inside of their cabinets. But we open them every day. And good design is all about the details. And for moments, however brief, you can make yourself smile.

Schuneman is a Los Angeles-based interior designer and stylist and the author of “The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces.” For past installments of Apartment Life, go to


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