My kitchen cabinets are completely cheap. The doors are warped and open/close rather wonky. My room layout is terrible. The whole kitchen had horrible spongepainting and borders everywhere. The floor was peel & stick floor tiles. Pretty nasty. Since I cannot afford a full, wonderful, renovation now, I have to settle for an "interim" fix. Just making it livable and not hideous.
One of my first steps was to paint the cabinets. My lower cabinets I did in a sage green color ("Fairy Wren" by Ralph Lauren) while the tops I did in white ("Picket Fence" by Ralph Lauren). I removed some of the doors to create a pretty display for my dishes... which the more I looked at, made me hate the rest of the cabinets. So I decided to remove all the doors from half of the kitchen and refinish those the same way. (The remaining cabinets will get new hardware, trim and a cool caning treatment which I will post up later).
I used Kilz primer, flat latex paint, flat enamel paint, and flat polycrylic sealer. I wanted a chalky finish like old milk paint, yet I wanted to be able to scrub them. If you don't care about sheen, use a satin. I use enamel on furniture I want to make "kidproof" for my 4 little boys, so it is a no-brainer to use on lower cabinets. Always take the time to degrease first. And use a good quality sealer unless you really want to redo them in a year.
If you are removing the doors, use wood epoxy to fill in the holes. Sand. Then you may need to refill the holes a second time and sand. Give all the cabinets a good sanding down if they are "slick."
Prime. My primer here is still wet and shiny. Sometimes it takes another coat since that cheap particle board likes to soak up the paint. Primer is cheaper than paint - when in doubt, PRIME! If your primer doesn't seem to be sticking, so note above about cleaning them... they may be greasy. Simple Green is my favorite for deeping cleaning.
Note on primer - if your cabinets have been stained, you may need to use a primer for covering oil-based rather than latex. Kilz Original formula is oil-based good for sealing and priming woodwork. For a latex-based, Kilz Premium is nice because it is mildew resistant (nice for when water gets splashed on a cabinet.)
Paint! Use a good brush - it makes all the difference. My dad recommends Purdy, but any good quality brush will do.
You may need to do 2 or 3 coats, depending on the color and finish you have chosen. I used flat latex on the top cabinets and flat enamel on the bottom. Why? Well, my lower cabinets take more of a beating than the top ones. You could do enamel on both sets (and your trim) if you like. Personal choice.
Sand using a fine grit. Get out those brushmarks and, horrors, any runs. If you don't mind brush-strokes, you can skip this step. I like a nice finished look, so I sand. If you are a shabby chic person, you can run a piece of sandpaper along the edges on the cabinets and give it a distressed look. I tend to go for a traditional look, since I am a preservationist.
Seal in your hard work! I use a poly-acrylic by Minwax. I like a matte or satin finish to go with my flat paint. If you are all about scrubbability, you've probably been using satin or glossier, so pick satin or gloss in that case.
I will be covering up that bright yellow paint with a creamy white, and I don't have everything rearranged yet, but I wanted you to see an after.... so I threw up a few things for a picture.