Kitchen Revamp – Cabinet Painting

The day we moved in

The day we moved in

When we first saw this house the kitchen was a major selling point – it is huge, tons of counter and cabinet space, great layout and open to the rest of the living area. I could see myself cooking and entertaining here with ease…

Finished product

Finished product

Of course in my mind, I was seeing a much more beautiful version – but the bones and layout were perfect!

Before we started tiling

Before we started tiling – only the wall color, island lights and faucets had been updated

I would never have put so much knotty pine in my dream kitchen, the faucets and lighting were not my style, the paint was dreary,  the gold, stainless and wooden outlet covers were awful, the granite was jet black, the flooring was damaged, there was a fake red brick area for the ovens, the backsplash was a dark, busy slate with a weird pewter insert of vegetables above the sink that Just. Had. To. Go.

slate everywhere

slate everywhere

The overall impression was dark and heavy, despite all the light in the room – it had no contrast everything was tonally the same. However with all the things in the house that needed fixing, we only handled the most pressing.

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Old ugly faucet &  hard water stains on backsplash

We replaced the faucets and the island lighting as soon as we moved in and I switched out a few of the worst outlet covers since that was an easy fix – goodbye gold! We also tackled the damaged flooring, which I already wrote about here.

New island lights

New island lights

But that was it for a couple years. We lived with it –  it seemed like such a daunting task. Was I really going to pull out all these perfectly good cabinets? Seemed wasteful – I would be replacing them with identical cabinets in a different finish – the layout was already perfect…. Should I rip out all the granite and put in something lighter? That is an awful  lot of granite and do I really want to spend that much when I don’t love the cabinets… The backsplash would be easy – but until I decided what to do about the granite and the cabinets, I shouldn’t touch it. I wanted to rip out the fake red brick and replace with tile – but I was concerned about pulling out the ovens and getting all the edges to line up again since it butted right up to the ceiling molding and the pantry door…. I had a bad case of analysis paralysis!

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Brick staining in progress

Then my husband suggested painting the brick – at first I was “no, no, no” – I hate painted brick almost as much as the red brick! But then I thought what if we faux finished each individual brick to look a little more like a travertine subway tile…. My husband’s business is transforming concrete pool decks, driveways and patios, making them look like natural stone or tile so this wasn’t such a huge stretch.  I thought what the hell, lets try it and see if it makes the brick something I can live with. I gave him some color reference and a couple pictures of what I wanted and over a couple days, while I was at work, he made it beautiful!

Finished brick

Finished brick

I had been considering painting the cabinets for a while but again was put off by the effort and the fact that our kitchen would de dismantled for a long time so I thought I would hold off and pay someone else to do it  – but then we had to replace a couple air conditioning units this year and that pushed the project out a little further into the future. Eric encouraged me to just do it ourselves.

Test Area Before

Test Area Before

I had researched a couple different paints that simulated oil based cabinet paints hardwearing properties but were actually water based, so much easier clean up and faster drying times. Sherwin Williams was one of them  – more expensive but highly rated for this sort of job. Then Eric came across another one from Porter Paints called Breakthrough that is supposed to be extremely durable but in addition to that you don’t need to prime and it dries in 15 minutes between coats!!!

My glam designer fabric

My glam designer fabric

I picked out the three colors I wanted – from my fancy designer fabric that I mentioned before. A off white/linen for the cabinets called Garlic Clove, a soft, light green for the mile of bead board that backed the cabinets facing the living area called White Clover and a mid grey blue for the center island called Aqua Smoke. These are similar to the colors that I have used on the walls and they were reminiscent of some of my favorite painted kitchen inspiration pics from Houzz.

Point of no return

Point of no return

When I came home from work that night, Eric had picked up the paint already (he is such an enabler LOL) So of course I had to try it out and make sure the color was ok. He popped off a cabinet door and I painted the inside.

I looked up  “You realize this is the point of no return, right?”

“Let’s do it!”

And so began the next two weeks of long days, late nights and general kitchen destruction.

Garlic clove - not white

Garlic clove – not white

Basically the process was this:-

Test area in progress - stuff still in drawers

Test area in progress – stuff still in drawers

Pop off cabinet doors and drawer fronts, remove the hardware. We were lucky ours have hidden hinges so they didn’t need to be removed – we just took off the knobs. You can leave all your stuff in the cupboards Yay! Again, lucky for us the inside of most of our cabinets was already white so we only had to paint the doors and the outside facing edge of the boxes, toe kick etc. We only had one glass fronted cabinet that we had to paint the inside. Depending on how anal you want to be you could paint the insides of all of them but I don’t advise it – it is already a lot of work – why make it harder on yourself?

LABEL EACH DOOR – you need to know which one goes where when you are done. Trust me you will not remember. We used masking tape with numbers written them – one on the  door hinge, one on the inside of the corresponding cupboard or drawer

Clean the cabinets with something that removes gease and dirt we used TSP
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! If you have any food splashes or grease it will show up though the painted surface and believe me you do have dirty cabinets.

Then sand very lightly and wipe down one last time before painting. I painted the back of the cabinets first – laying out a long production line along the counters. You could do it in the garage or basement or even outside  – but here in Florida it is stupid hot right now and the paint would never dry properly in that humidity.

Production line with a few stubborn knobs

Production line with a few stubborn knobs

Three coats on the backs, waiting 15 minutes between coats  – if you time it right you can just paint continuously – by the time you finish the last cabinet door, the first one has already dried for 15 minutes. Then leave them for 30 minutes before flipping the over and putting three coats on the front and sides.

If you have ever painted doors before, you will already know that the brush is good for getting in the ridges around the panels but a foam roller is your best friend – the finish is much better –  no brushstrokes and streaks left behind. Multiple thin coats are better than heavier coats – you need to avoid drips at the best of times, but with paint that dries in 15 minutes you cannot have drips.

Final tile choice on right

Final tile choice on right

We started on the one area that had no backsplash but we knew that we needed to tackle the tile before going too far – don’t want to scratch up newly painted cabinets during demo. So after we finished the uppers and lowers on the test area and stood back to admire the overall effect, it was time to go tile shopping 🙂

I picked a sort of subway mosaic with some natural travertine stones, classic subway and lightly crackled, palest hint of green ceramic. I didn’t want something that would feel too dated and that ruled out a lot of the mosaic glass tile that has been so prevalent for so long – I think that look is past it’s prime now, but I also wanted something a little more contemporary than plain subway. I was really happy with this pick from Lowes – just the right modern, yet classic look I was aiming for, wasn’t terribly expensive and looked good with the stained brick and new cabinet color.

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Bead board hell – but love that color!

Over the course of the week, I had painted the bead board behind the bar height cabinets and was pretty happy with the color choice, the room was looking lighter and brighter by the day. Bead board is a bitch to paint – no getting around it. What worked best for me was to use a brush to get into each little crevice then go over the whole thing with the roller. However those little crevices hold the paint and once gravity takes effect, you get little drips pooling along the baseboard so you have to go back and touch that up as you go. Mind-numbing – just crank up the tunes and zone out!

Goodbye Holly Hobby outlet covers!!!

Goodbye Holly Hobby outlet covers!!! Hello crisp white ones

We spent the whole weekend on the backsplash – it turned it to be more work than we anticipated. Normally you can just chisel off the tile and then retile – however they had tiled directly onto drywall, not cement board and removing the tile took the wall down with it. Sigh…

Its' going down - I'm yelling timber....

Its’ going down – I’m yelling timber….

Friday night we demod the one long wall behind the sink, right down to the studs. Goodbye pewter plate and goodbye sanity! Then Sat morning we tackled the other counters, put up new cement board and tiled like a couple maniacs. It was an long and exhausting weekend but what a huge difference it made? Suddenly the whole kitchen was transformed

Good bye ugly pewter monstrosity

Good bye ugly pewter monstrosity

My sweet husband grouted all that tile on Monday, when I was working. During the week my guys prepped doors and cabinets and I came home and painted in the evenings. They also installed recycle cans and my awesome rev-a-shelf for my mixer. No more empty bottles and cans sitting on the counter top and I no longer have to break my back lifting that heavy mixer out when I need it LOL

Hidden recycling bins

Hidden recycling bins

Rev-a-shelf

Rev-a-shelf

Rev-a-shelf activate!

Rev-a-shelf activate!

Destruction everywhere

Destruction everywhere

Demo in progess

Demo in progress

ready for cement board

ready for cement board

By end of Sat we had finished all the cabinets – it took exactly two cans of Garlic Clove paint. I had decided to keep the old hardware, we just switched out any worn ones from the heavily used kitchen with unworn knobs from the laundry room and guest baths. Now with new light cabinets the dark oil rubbed bronze hardware and black granite looked crisp and awesome – like they were meant to be 🙂

Sunny helping with the cement board

Sunny helping with the cement board

Tile begins

Tile begins

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Tiling finished – look how nicely it goes with stained brick

tiling done

more tiling done

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Production line starting up again

tiling done

tile and paint done

more cabinets

yet more cabinets

Sunday, I caulked the backsplash and painted the last of the bead board that butted up to the tile, White Clover . Then we tackled the island – the bad news is it had lots of open alcoves and shelving that had to be painted both inside and out – the good news was the darker paint only took two coats to cover! I love, love the color – Aqua Smoke

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First coat on island – time to cover the yucky green

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Island done

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Island complete – this is a truer representation of the color

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Island cabinet production line

Yes it was a marathon effort over two weeks but I now have a brand new kitchen. I am shocked each morning when I get up and see it again. That black granite looks perfect now. The kitchen is light and bright, classic yet contemporary and wonder of wonders cost less than $800. Six hundred of that went on the tile, the rest was four cans of pricy, but so worth it, paint and a couple panels of cement board.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is definitely doable as a DIY project. I am so glad we took the plunge.

All Done!!

All Done!!

Complete

Complete

Front Door Revamp

New spiffy red door

New spiffy red door

When we moved in the front door was painted the same color as the house. Don’t get me wrong – I like the color of the house, but I prefer the front door to pop in a contrasting color, not blend in – so I knew immediately that I would have to paint it. However during the hot Florida summers leaving your door open for several hours just does not happen – not unless you want to air condition the street and have a electric bill the size of the national debt.

Ho Hum Green

Ho Hum Green

Once the weather cooled down, opportunity knocked.  I picked a nice rich red – more of a paprika or spice red rather than a candy apple red – since that works better with the muted greens and beiges of the rest of the house exterior.

Morocco Red from Behr was my final pick. I also made sure to get an exterior gloss with primer built in – the original paint was a matte finish which seems odd to me for doors or trim – but maybe that is just me LOL I had already replaced the old gold lockset with a new oil rubbed bronze one when we first moved in.

sad old scuffed door and nasty gold lockset

sad old scuffed door and nasty gold lockset

I am too lazy to remove doors, take off hardware or use masking tape – I just use an angled brush and if  some gets on the glass then I clean up later with a razor blade – much faster LOL However there is a method to painting doors, especially ones with windows and panels that I always adhere to. Basically you do the mullions around the windows and the interior edges of the panels first, then the panels, then the horizontal in between bits, finally the outside – that way you are going with the grain as much as possible and you get less drips. I know it sounds anal, but it actually works and is what professional painters do.

Fun with paint chips

Fun with paint chips

I gave it two coats which was enough to do the trick and left the doors open all day so it could dry before closing up. I love how the red pops and makes the front door more of a focal point.

Teenager hard at work

Teenager hard at work

Next up were the entryway lights – not sure what the original color was supposed to be, but currently they are a sad faded pink which is not working for me at all. I thought about replacing them but they are huge and heavy – so therefore probably expensive LOL I always think about the scene in Jurassic Park when the kid finds the infrared goggles and the lawyer asks him if they are heavy – the kid says yes and the lawyer says “that means they are expensive, put them away”

Oil rubbed bronze by Rustoleum - Yum!

Oil rubbed bronze by Rustoleum – Yum!

Rather than buy some new expensive, heavy lights I figured I could just spray these guys with some oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum and we would be good to go. Good project for my teen hehehe – at least it gets him out of the house  🙂

Final result - looks so crisp!

Final result – looks so crisp!

Well, we got busy and the holidays descended upon us so the lights got put on hold. However, this weekend it was a cool, dry, sunny day  – perfect for a project like this. We took the lights down and took them apart. My teen sanded them all down and spray painted everything,

Garage light looks a million times better

Garage light looks a million times better

I cleaned off the glass and put them together at the end. It went so well we did the other two smaller exterior lights as well by the garage and back door. He did a great job and the lights look like a million dollars. Just goes to show, amazing transformations can happen with just a little paint 🙂

Back door light sprayed to match

Back door light sprayed to match

My Glam Home Office

My Glam Office

My Glam Office

Since I am lucky enough to have the flexibility to work from home some of the time, having a dedicated space just for work has been really important to me. I used to work remotely when I lived in Seattle and having a room with a door helped get me in the right mindset. In the room means I am on the clock and working  – both for me and my family.

My old home office in Washington was not 100% dedicated – the exercise machine ended up in there and there was a futon so it also doubled (or tripled really) as a guest room. As a result  I never really personalized the space – it just had too many functions….

In our new house there was a room that had previously been used as a home school classroom  that I quickly realized would make the perfect home office for me. This time it would have no other function and I could make it exactly what I wanted 🙂

wallpaper close up

wallpaper close up

Before we even moved in I had seen the most amazing wallpaper in a photo on Houzz.com. It was shown in a dining room but it was the exact thing I wanted for an accent wall. I had to track it down though and I was sad to discover it was to the trade only – bah! Fortunately I had already found a source in LA that could order designer fabric so I asked them to get me the wallpaper too. (see my earlier post)

Happily they were able to order it – although they did ask me to check with my installer about how many rolls I needed…. Ummm, I didn’t have an installer…  I went online again and found a calculator here that lets you put in the details and pattern drop etc and spits out a number of rolls. I let them know “my installer” said I needed 4 rolls  – no need to let them know I was doing it myself LOL

Fortunately the wallpaper arrived a lot faster than the 4 months the fabric took so when it arrived I was excited to see how it would look. I had already bought myself a nice big glass topped desk for my mac and an awesome Acrylic desk lamp that makes me happy just looking at it – Designer Porn!

So one evening after dinner I decided to just get that wallpaper up -how hard could it be one big wall with no weird angles – easy right?

Wallpaper night from hell LOL

Wallpaper night from hell LOL

NO – it was a giant mistake – the ceilings are pretty high so the pieces of wallpaper were super long – the glue was practically drying on it before I could get up the damn ladder – I was too short to do it myself so I had to enlist both husband and teenager and it took hours  longer than I would ever have thought. Turns out “English Designer Wallpaper” is thin and fragile –  we had to add extra glue under the seams adding to the frantic air of tension. Everyone was grumpy and exhausted by the time it was done…. I had nightmares that I would get up in the morning and the whole lot would have rolled off the walls and onto the floor…..

The next morning, I was extremely relieved to see that nothing had peeled off and it looked great.  Lesson learned never start wallpapering anything after 7pm LOL

decal close up

decal close up

That weekend I started painting since that stylish new wallpaper made the cream walls look dingy. I picked a silver grey for the two side walls and a deep French grey for the opposite wall to set off a decal I had purchased before we moved in.

Fav decal, retro chair and spray painted stool

Fav decal, retro chair and spray painted stool

The 7 rules to understand design and designers was a favorite of mine for years and I had discovered that the artist had turned it into a wall decal. I had ordered from his website and it was shipped from France before we even moved in. I wanted to be able to see it from my desk so I put it on the opposite wall in the corner with a great bright blue retro chair. The iron stool next to it I found half price online but when it arrived it was more galvanized nail color rather than the silver the site promised – yuck!  I enlisted my teenager to spray it bright white for me to match my desk – gotta love Rustoleum.

fun with accessories

fun with accessories

I picked up a couple of credenzas online also that my fantastic teen helped me build that look good with the desk and I had fun buying accessories like the bookends and trunks and a visit to The Container Store got me a bunch or folders and boxes in that same bright blue accent color that is in the wallpaper.

rare time Coco actually slept on her bed

rare time Coco actually slept on her bed

Coco always slept in the corner while I worked so I bought a pretty matching dog bed for her which she refuses to use –  instead sleeping behind me in a new corner LOL. The other dogs are more than happy to take turns on the dog bed so it still gets used after all

boxes on boxes

boxes on boxes

The final touch took the longest – I needed a rug – all the hard surfaces meant I sounded like I was at the bottom of a well on conference calls. I saw a great peacock blue flat weave with an indigo repeating pattern online but with no source info. It took me forever to discover who made it – Madeleine Weinrib – longer still to find out how to order it LOL

Eventually I found them and discovered it was only one location in New York but the image they had of the rug online looked like a completely different color  – after exchanging emails they assured me the bright blue was truly the color so I went ahead and ordered it and waited anxiously for its’s arrival. Fortunately it was the perfect shade of blue and my glam office was pretty much complete.

I love working here – I feel creative! I might have to reassemble my old drawing desk that has been in storage since we moved. I am pretty sure my teenager could spray it white to match the rest of the furniture – now where did I put that Rustoleum?

Decorating Dilemma

bargain lamps from Costco with replacement drum shades

bargain lamps from Costco with replacement drum shades

Normally I am  pretty confident with my design choices for the home. I love to decorate and   all these years of making a living as a designer means I don’t face the paralysis that some people experience when picking a paint color or furniture choice. Its just paint, people – easy to change and cheap – be brave and go bold 🙂

I was excited about finally buying a home again even though it was a little tired – all those rooms needing a revamp would be so much fun!

However when we found our perfect place, I was faced with a dilemma. This perfect house had tons of 6 paneled doors, crown molding, wide baseboard trim and architectural detail –  absolutely beautiful – but all of it was natural wood…. all of it.

Now some people might think  – great, what’s the problem? But I know how all that wood, mixed with the wood flooring and the wood built-ins and wood cabinets can really limit your color choices – with white trim you can do anything you want. Additionally your interior can end up looking more rustic, country or lodge like which was not really my personal style. I like a more contemporary vibe.

New Island Pendants

New Island Pendants

So I was faced with the question – do I paint it all white before I move in? Now before any design purists start screaming, we are not talking about a historic home – my new house is only 10 years old. I cringe when people buy a beautiful old Craftsman or Victorian, then go in and spray gloss white everywhere. However, in this instance, it was a modern home and it wouldn’t be an actual crime to paint it.  I could have my crisp white woodwork and choose any color in the rainbow to paint the rooms – everyone gets what they want!

But, the more I agonized over it, the more I realized that I just couldn’t do it. I chose this house because I loved it – it is a modern interpretation of Craftsman style – all one level, flowing open floor plan, tall banks of windows and french doors to bring the outdoors in, lots of natural elements and a big rock fireplace. So I finally decided that I should just accept the challenge and use my design chops to create a balance between all that wood everywhere and my desire to have a lighter, brighter contemporary style.

just some of my inspiration board

just some of my inspiration board

With that I started pulling together a virtual moodboard for inspiration. There is a great site that was perfect for me Houzz – you can search through thousands of inspirational images for interior design and filter though different styles and room types etc. You can also save the things you like in your own ideabooks – I guess it is the equivalent of Pinterest for home design and decorating.

I printed some of the images out along with furniture options from favorite stores, added fabric and wall paper swatches and finally hit the paint store to relieve them of some of their paint chips. I was having a blast planning all this before we even moved in. My poor husband would listen patiently to all my rambling thoughts on the perfect paint or fabric –  the merits of one shape of chair vs another –  how I was going to break up the monotony of all that wood using color and texture etc.

Replacement light for eat in kitchen - love this it is like sculpture!

Replacement light for eat in kitchen – love this it is like sculpture!

I firmly believe that a well designed home doesn’t feel like a showroom – it has to feel like a place you can relax – you can curl up on the couch with your dogs and kids. Equally though it should not be too matchy, matchy – like you went to Rooms to Go and  just picked out a living room to be delivered – all the pieces part of the same set… How boring is that?

Your home should have personalty based on your personal style, your interests, family photos, mementos of trips taken, pieces that look like you collected them over time and each has some meaning.

The big day arrived and we finally moved in – the frenzy of unpacking and fixing all the things that were wrong with the place was completely chaotic – it truly was a three ring circus for about a month.

My glam designer fabric

My glam designer fabric

I had based my entire palette around a fabulous fabric that I fell in love with that would help tie in those contemporary colors that I wanted with the warm wood tones that filled the house. Of course it was designer and to the trade only sigh….

I often claim to my teenager that “I own the internets as Queen of All Search!” Proof positive when I found a place in LA that would order my designer fabric and sell to me at a discount  – Yay! I ordered my fabric and the most amazing wall paper for my home office (that project I will save for another post)  However it would be 4 months before I would get it! Arrgh!

Undeterred, I charged ahead with my plan. The previous owners had done what most people do when they have so much wood work – pretty much everything was painted either olive green, forest green, buttery yellow and sage. The whole house looked a little drab and dark – even more so because the previous owners’ kids had drawn on a lot of the walls with crayons or markers LOL.  Some fresh paint was absolutely in order.

wallpaper in built ins - love it!

wallpaper in the built ins – love it!

Painting was going to be such a huge project with the open floor plan that I had planned not to take it on right away but, when the wallpaper arrived that I planned to put inside the back wall of the built in shelves in the living room – (to help break up the monotony of the wood remember LOL) I thought –  this is just a small project and besides I just want to see how it looks…

Of course then I wallpapered the accent wall in the breakfast area to “tie the whole thing together” but then the old paint in there looked so dingy….. I swore I was only going to paint a small area that was particularly “artistic” but as soon as I did then the snowball effect happened…

If you have ever watched the movies Aliens where Sigourney Weaver wipes a dirty spot on Newt’s face then says “whoops look what I did – I went and made a clean spot I guess I will have to go ahead and do the whole thing”  Cue painting frenzy and severe sleep deprivation

wallaper up - now dingy paint must go

wallaper up – now dingy paint must go

All in all we painted most of the more public spaces in record time (in time for the housewarming party – gotta have a deadline) I trusted my instincts and went with some great blues, greens and grays for the most part all tied together by the inspiration fabric. Check out my last post to see how I incorporated that when it finally did arrive.

I splurged on some big ticket items like the leather couch that will be an anchor piece that we will have forever and my designer inspiration fabric –  but I love finding low cost alternatives and mixing the high and low – like accent chairs from Pier 1 and the table lamps that I saw that were $250 each – ouch! Costco had a pair for $49 that were almost identical in style. Granted I spent more on the replacement drum shades instead of the more traditional slanted ones they came with but $130 for the pair is better than $500 for the original ones so I still win LOL

We switched out several of the big light fixtures in the kitchen and dining areas and slowly but surely our home emerged from under all that neglect and artistic scribbles. This is a work in progress  – not much is really finished yet – accessories and styling are ongoing – but it will be fun putting our stamp on the place and we wont be wondering how to spend our weekends anytime soon 🙂

The bedrooms and bathrooms will have to wait for now –  we can only do so many projects at a time and we are building a palatial chicken coop at the moment LOL

Mind you, the master bedroom is starting to whisper to me…. those scribbles on the wall need some attention…