disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sherwin-Williams®.

This post is all about how to paint a kitchen island.

But more importantly?

This post is REALLY all about how the smallest of changes can make the biggest of differences.


When we remodeled the kitchen there were so many choices and so many decisions and I was a little overwhelmed. So when I had to decide on the color of this island for the kitchen, I went with my all-time favorite gray on the planet, Mindful Gray SW 7016.

This gray has been my choice for many rooms and many pieces of furniture and it’s never let me down.

But just between us?

After I lived with the kitchen for three years, I felt like I wanted a bit of contrast to the space. There is a lot of white and a lot of neutral and lately, I’ve been drawn to color.

So the kitchen island and I?

We took the color plunge together.

Here’s a little before and after and how paint can COMPLETELY transform a room.

Let’s start with a trip around the before of the kitchen island.

  1. It has three sets of drawers on one side.
  2. It has four cabinets with shelves on the other side.
  3. It has a counter with two stools on the end.
  4. The other end has molding (I think I’m going to add a kitchen towel bar here, too, eventually).

If you are thinking about painting your kitchen island (or even your kitchen cabinets) here are some questions to consider.

Q: Is it better to spray or paint the kitchen island?

We thought about spraying the island, but there were so many challenges. We have wood floors and marble countertops and I was concerned about the overspray. The amount of prep work that would go into spraying the island was going to be considerable. 

Instead, we went with a brush and roller combination. 

I’ll show you the exact steps that we took when painting the island, but here are the tools that we used.

  1. A small roller with a low nap
  2. Purdy paint brushes (I like the XL Glide brush)
  3. Painters tape
  4. Drop cloth

The best way to figure out what type of brush and roller are best for your project is to ask the experts at Sherwin-Williams. They put together this handy brush and roller guide. I cannot recommend it enough. It was so helpful when choosing tools to make this kitchen island process even easier.  All of these products are available at your neighborhood Sherwin-Williams store, making it a one-stop shop for all of your painting project needs.

Q: What type of paint is best for kitchen cabinets?

We had a special challenge with this kitchen island. It was painted originally with oil-based paint. Part of the reason I was a little reluctant to paint it another color is that I was concerned about painting over the glossy paint.

I shouldn’t have worried.

Sherwin-Williams has the BEST solution. They recommended that I use Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel.

It cleans up with water but has long-lasting coverage.

We used Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel in a Satin finish.

Did you notice I said Satin?

My marble countertops are so glossy, I wanted the kitchen island to have a low sheen paint on it so it wouldn’t compete.

This product is AMAZING. The coverage. The clean-up. The durability.

I’m never using anything else.

Q: What prep work did you have to do to get ready?

  1. We removed all of the hardware.
  2. We taped off around the countertops.
  3. We wiped down the island to get rid of any dust and dirt before we started painting.
  4. We laid down drop cloths to protect the kitchen floor.
  5. Then we painted one coat of primer before we used the Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel.

Q: What are your best tips for a smooth finish?

I love the combo of an angled brush and a mini roller.

We started cutting in around the edges of the top of the island and around the molding with the angled brush.

Next we painted the flat surfaces of the cabinet with the roller.

See how the low nap of the roller rolls on so smoothly? Trust me from someone who has painted a zillion things. You will get a much better finish if you use quality tools. I have used cheap brushes and the bristles are always coming out and getting stuck on the surface of where I’m painting. Investing in quality brushes makes sure that doesn’t happen.

Q: How many coats of paint do you need when painting a cabinet?

It depends on if you are going from a light to a dark color or vice versa. For example, when the island was painted gray, it only took one coat. This time, however, we went with a darker color, so we used two coats on the kitchen island.

Here’s one more look at our before.

And now?

Here’s the after.



Look at the difference it makes in the space. It balances out the blinds and the wood floors and anchors the entire room with this beautiful, amazing Sherwin-Williams color:

Peppercorn SW 7674.

Let’s take another 360 degree around the island from the same perspective and see the difference just changing the color makes.







Isn’t it amazing the difference a coat of paint makes?

See what I mean?

If you are not friends with your kitchen right now, you don’t have to rip everything out and start over. You don’t need to spend tons of money to fall back in love with your kitchen again. 

Just remember, the smallest of changes can make the biggest of differences.

Sometimes all you need is a new perspective.

Or a new coat of paint. 

disclosure:  This post was written in collaboration with Sherwin-Williams.

All opinions are my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information.

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  1. Image for Kris Kris

    While I've always loved to look at other people's light and neutral spaces, I've never felt at home with it in my own house--something in me likes color contrast. Your kitchen looks more "finished" now, not that it wasn't lovely before. Enjoy your new look.

  2. Image for Maureen Provost Ryan Maureen Provost Ryan

    Karianne, I read your email carefully. The suspense was building, then the reveal! My eyes popped and I said "Oooooooooh!!!" A great success and very inspiring. I love how the gray relates to the veining in the countertop of the island. Have a great day!

  3. Image for Kim Kim

    Good Morning! Your island looks beautiful just like everything in your house and you and your family! I have a question : When painting kitchen cabinets and island - do people usually paint the insides also? I realize this is probably a personal preference but was thinking when ours get painted on the outside (we have a painter coming to do this in about two weeks as I would ruin them if I tried it myself!!) ....they will look so nice ...... until we open them up to take out something! :). Just wondering if you have any advice. Thank you! Kim

    1. Image for Debra Debra

      Hi Kim, we had a professional paint our cabinets in July. He painted both sides of the doors but left the inside of the cabinets natural, the way they came from the manufacturer. Good luck! Hope you love yours.

  4. Image for Linda Linda

    Love it! The island now has the spotlight it deserves! Thanks for the info, we are planning to repaint our island this fall!

  5. Image for Joan Joan

    I have been planning on painting my island a "charcoal" color. I had my cabinets sprayed Simply White recently, but my poor island doesn't match and looks dirty white. Your email couldn't have come at a better time. It is both informative and inspirational. Thanks!

  6. Image for Carrie Carrie

    It looks sooo beautiful and sophisticated! Amazing how one simple change can have that much impact on the space as a whole. I have a two-toned kitchen, so I'm partial to cabinets with contrast:)

  7. Image for Suzie Suzie

    The contrast of the island looks amazing. I’ve been considering painting mine for some time. I have white cabinets and black countertops but I love color! Thanks for the tips. Im excited to do mine now!

  8. Image for Carol Lupiani Carol Lupiani

    Karianne, You amaze me with your eye for paint colors. What a change. I have been thinking of painting our island but we have oak cabinets with obvious grain. So, that will be awhile.

    1. Image for Debra Debra

      Carol, we have oak too so I suffered over whether to paint the cabinets because I didn't want the grain to be visible afterward. We had them painted professionally this summer and the cabinets turned out beautifully. It's all in the preparation and materials.

  9. Image for Marci Marci

    OMGOODNESS, this is the answer to my prayers! I have a huge island with a butcher block top that is cream, distressed but to make cleanup easy it has a couple of coats of polyurethane........over the years it has yellowed horribly! And I have grey countertops in the rest of the kitchen. Been wondering what I’d do with the darn thing! Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Image for Debra Debra

    Love the results! (Of course, we painted our island grey in July so birds of a feather...) My question is about your ceiling height. You've got a fabulous light fixture hanging over your island that must be nearly 20 inches from the top of the shade to the lowest tips of the dangling eye candy. Would you please tell us your ceiling height, your fixture height, and how many inches above the island countertop does it hang? I am smitten with a certain pendant for my grey island but fearful of my 8 foot ceiling. HELP!

  11. Image for Eileen Halbrooks Eileen Halbrooks

    Great tips and agree that Sherwin Williams is most helpful- they know paint in a way you don’t get from warehouse hardware stores. I too was reluctant to put the accent color on my island when we had it updated. So everything is white. The color you picked is great. Keep sharing!!

  12. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    It grounds the whole room! Love it! I'm always drawn to accent-color islands on tv. Someday. Right now I think my husband would have a coronary at the mere mention of painting our 11-year-old solid-oak, Amish-made cabinets! LOL!!

  13. Image for Sandra Vigil Sandra Vigil

    Perfect timing I am planning on painting my cabinets and had chosen a dark gray (Sherwin Williams of course) for my lower cabinets. I love the look of your kitchen! Also, thank you for the link to brushes and applicators.

  14. Image for Maureen Maureen

    Such a better choice.. Your hardware pops! Before I didn’t even notice it! We just painted our front door a steel blue. Our neighbor painted his and I loved the color. I asked him if he would mind if we used the same paint. He said no worries and even let us use his paint!

  15. Image for Richella J. Parham Richella J. Parham

    Way to go, KariAnne! The new island looks wonderful! It looked good before, too, in a very neutral way. But I think the addition of the deep color really makes a difference. I've been a Sherwin Williams paint enthusiast for a long time, but I've never heard of this Emerald paint! Hallelujah; a way to paint over oil-based paint!!


    KariAnne, the new color on your island is beautiful -- just like you and the rest of your home! What a difference this color made! Enjoy! Have a blessed day!

  17. Image for Linda Linda

    WOW...just WOW! Sitting in my office looking at the base cabinets (white) that desperately need paint. This couldn't come at a better time. I simply love what the contrast did for your kitchen, hardware, stools, etc. Simply lovely! I think I may be headed to Sherwin Williams soon. Thanks dear!

  18. Image for Jackie Jackie

    Island looks great. I have an all white kitchen and painted the island Sherwin Williams Naval. It looks sooo good and I receive many compliments.

  19. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    I KNEW it would be Peppercorn! The same as you did for your Mom😊and It's beautiful of course. Grounds the kitchen, and adds some balance as well as contrast. Love it!

  20. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    Love it! My former house's island was painted urbane bronze and it was gorgeous! I agree with you - a big towel bar on the end would look great!

  21. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    I absolutely love Purdy angle brushes. They are the only brushes I will use. I also absolutely love the color of the island. It does make a world of difference. Great choice and great job!

  22. Image for Dee Dee

    Oh wow! I mean seriously wow, wow, wow! I didn't think I would like it and I don't, I LOVE it!!!!!!! It's absolutely amazing❤️❤️❤️ What a transformation, the color looks phenomenal and just added that extra umph,, the hardware is phenomenal What a perfect choice It's elegant and pretty and just fantabulous!

  23. Image for Cora Cora

    L O V E I T !!! Makes a huge difference and brings out the gray veining in your countertop. Now I'd paint the inside of your big hutch Peppercorn too! For another pop of that gorgeous color.

  24. Image for Amy Amy

    Gorgeous! I'm a huge fan of contrast, especially when it comes to paint. Plus, you used Peppercorn, one of my favorite dark colors! Your kitchen just pops now! I do have one question: what primer did you use? I feel like the primer plays a huge role in how well the paint holds up, especially on kitchen cabinets. Will you please update us and tell us in six months how that new paint is doing? I have some teens and little ones you can borrow if you need extra activity in your kitchen...but they eat constantly so prepare yourself! 😆

  25. Image for Jean Jean

    The color you used is stunning in your kitchen. You picked a great color which you will be happy with for years. Great job! Jean

  26. Image for Jodi L Webster Jodi L Webster

    The island color is gorgeous and the darker color really makes the beautiful glass knobs pop and shine! You almost couldn't tell they were glass on the lighter color. Amazing! Now I'm going to have to paint! Lol

  27. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I love this!! Peppercorn has already been a contender for side cabinets, but you may have convinced me to have the island join the party! Thank you for always inspiring! Beautiful job!

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