Kitchen – The Details

Today we are going to go over a bunch of small projects that made a huge impact on the Phase 1 Kitchen Update, as well as take a look at the budget and what is left on the To-Do List.

Paint Back Splash ($4):

I figured if the countertop paint could handle the countertops, it could for sure handle the backsplash. I some leftover paint so I used the primer from this kit to paint the backsplash tile (3 Coats).

It was looking a bit “Jail Cellish”, so I decided to paint the grout lines. I purchased a $4 gray marker from Michaels and ran it through the grout lines. Since the lines were already there I did not tape or measure anything, just ran the marker through the grout channels:

Here is the final:

Paint the Window Mouldings:

The mouldings were all the unpainted wood, and while I actually liked it, I really needed them to be white to be less of a focal point in the room. We pained the mouldings and it freshened up the space right away:

Replace the Knobs and Pulls ($50):

We choose to replace the knobs to these, and the cup handles to these.

Replace the Faucet ($250):

I installed a new faucet that was a Champagne finish that really tied it together with the pulls and handles.

Replace the Light ($60):

The kitchen originally had a built-in can light above the sink. I ordered this light as a replacement. The price was right, but when it came in, it was way too yellow gold, rather then Antique Gold. I used Rub-and-Buff in European Gold to rub on a more antique look. It worked perfectly and the fixture looks great:


That covers some of the smaller details that needed to be done. Here is the best after I have of most of the little projects in action:

There is still a lot to do including:

  1. Replace the floors
  2. Replace the window treatments
  3. Cover/Paint the Dishwasher to match the cabinets (not sure of the plan here yet)
  4. Paint the Walls
  5. Re-Configure the Island
  6. Island Lighting
  7. Install Island Countertop
  8. Pulls for the Pantry (I would like longer pulls for those doors)

At this point, we have spent a grand total of $850. We are trying to keep the kitchen reno at around $3000. The remaining projects are the big ones that are where we would like to spend more of the money, including flooring and a massive 10 foot island with the most beautiful real (ie: not painted) soapstone countertops you have ever seen. Stay Tuned!

How to Paint Granite to look like Marble

It’s here. The post that everyone has been asking about: How did we get this before and after:

I cannot stress enough how easy, fun and dramatic this project was. I was skeptical at first but the countertops feel as great as they look. Before we dig in, lets chat about how we decided on this product.

I knew the early 2000’s granite was not our style, but I actually found receipt that this granite was added in May of 2020 in order to try to make our house more “sellable”. We purchased the house in September, so the granite is just over a year old (*trigger: guilt*). On one hand I felt really bad about the idea of ripping out perfectly good granite to replace with another stone countertop. On the other hand, I knew I was eventually going to replace it regardless, so I might as well be happier sooner 🙂

So we took a trip to a stone/countertop shop and started getting quotes for the Quartz we wanted. The quote came out to $3600 for the perimeter of the kitchen (not including the island). That quote included the stone, install and a granite sink. I actually didn’t think it was a terrible price, but I also really want new floors and a new island with a massive countertop, so I would rather spend that money elsewhere.

I will note that after painting the cabinets, I hated the granite less. The orange wood cabinets were not doing the granite any favors, and the green cabinets really softened the look of the granite. However, it was leaning too traditional for me, it needed a punch of modern.

So I did some research and came across this post from A Beautiful Mess. I have followed them for years and years and really trust when they give a product rave reviews. I figured, worse case scenario I have to replace the countertops, which we were planning on doing anyway, while holding off on new flooring and a new island. It wouldn’t be the end of the world. Best Case scenario, we buy ourselves a 12-18 months with a countertop we can live with while we save up some extra $$ for the new countertops, while still getting new floors and new island. Either way, our money was going to go towards improving this kitchen, not fixing a mess we made, so I was fine with it.

We ordered the kit they recommended, which came with everything! We literally did not need to purchase one other item. The kit came with drop cloths and stir sticks, all brushes and rollers. Everything! So the total price of the project was $180.

To start off, we taped off the edge where the countertops meet the backsplash, the faucet and the sink. Then I gave the countertops a good scrub with a Brillo pad and finally wiped down the countertops with rubbing alcohol to make sure they were extra clean! Next, you paint the first primer coat:

Here it is after one primer coat:

I needed 3 coats of the primer to complete the countertop. There was still plenty of primer left to eventually do 3 coats on the backsplash as well (will cover that change at a later time).

Once the primer was done, you use a small artist brush and the gray paint and create veins in the countertop. I found the best, most natural veins, came when I would spray water on the area first, then paint the vein, then use the dry brush to blend it out. We were going for a more white countertop with just a few veins, so I tried to keep it to just a few major vein areas. Here is what it looked like:

I used an image of marble on my computer to try to duplicate some of the movement I saw.

Once you feel good about the veining, you can start to mix the epoxy. I finished veining on a Wed night and did the epoxy first thing Thursday morning. You follow the directions, mix the two cans and pour it on the countertops. You can use the included roller to even it out, making sure you get all areas covered. It is self-leveling so do no overwork it.

I wasn’t sure how it was going to dry or would it feel sticky, but I can assure you, it does not. The countertops took 24-48 hours to really set. It looks shiny like glass and feels like a bar top. The best example I can give is you know when you go to a bar that has like pennies or bottle caps as the bar top and then an epoxy on top to make it nice and level, it feels exactly like that. Super durable and solid, no stickiness. It wipes up like a dream!

Here are some more close up pictures:

I did eventually decide to use the same primer to paint the backsplash as well. Next, I will post about some more details, like hardware choices, backsplash and lighting.

Painting our Kitchen Cabinets

Finally, on to some juicy details! I did a bunch of research and decided to follow this tutorial for painting the cabinets. We knew that now was the time to invest in a paint sprayer, since it would be the quickest and give us the most professional finish. Below is the list of supplies for this project:

All-in-all, the cost came to just under $250 for all of the supplies for us, based on what we already had in our stash.

Once we had the supplies, we started by removing all of the Cabinet doors and removing all of the hardware. I also filled in the previous hardware holes with wood putty.

Once that was done, I moved to cleaning all cabinets and doors with a de-greaser (like Krud-Kutter or Mr. Clean degreaser). Then I wiped them all down with the Liquid Sandpaper with an old rag. The Liquid Sandpaper removed the top shiny layer on the cabinets allowing for just an easy light sanding.

Next I got in to the sanding. I used my Hand Sander to rough up the doors and cabinet bases with a 180 grit sand paper. I did not worry too much about the inset areas or the detail parts because the liquid sandpaper took care of that. Each door took maybe 30 seconds – 1 minute. Overall, it was a 1 night job (maybe 2-3 hours) to prep all of the doors and cabinet bases.

The final step of the prep-phase is the taping and drop cloths. Honestly, this was the worst part for some reason. We knew we were replacing the floors, so I wasn’t super super careful, but it just took a long time and was very detail oriented to make sure that we didn’t get over-spray everywhere.

I have read before that using a paint sprayer is 80% Prep, 15% Paint and 5% Clean-Up and it couldn’t be more true. For someone as impatient as me, it was brutal to take almost 3 days to just prep, but we did have a deadline. The weather had been brutally hot and humid for days and we were going to get a break Wed and Thurs with a high of 75 each day. Paint does not dry well in high temps, so I really worked hard to get all prep done for Wednesday night paint.

Come Wednesday, after got the kids to bed, we got started on primer. The paint spray was amazingly easy to use let a super thin coat that was really even!

Leftover masks, coming in handy!

The overspray was not as bad as I expected, maybe a few inches, so we relied a lot on carboard that we moved around the room to protect different areas. We did set up the cabinet doors in the garage on top of dixie cups and some drop cloths to keep them lifted and protect the floors.

We were able to get the primer done Wednesday night. Collin worked a night shift on Thursday so he did the first coat of paint before he left for work Thursday morning and I did the final coat after the kids went to be Thursday night. I did wipe them with a steel wool in between coats to make sure they were nice a smooth and then wiped with a dry rag to make sure no dust particles got in to the paint.

We let them cure all day Friday and were re-mounting the doors Friday night.

We decided to replace the hardware and installed the knobs on the doors Friday night.

Look at that smooth finish!!

They have since fully cured and feel great. No Sticky-ness, no chipping!

Next up, getting rid of that early 2000’s granite and back splash. Stay tuned, because this is the best project I have done in a long time!

Kitchen Cabinet Reconfiguration

Now that we have gone over the kitchen plan (here), let’s actually dig in and get started.

The Cabinets:

The obvious choice was to paint the cabinets. Like I mentioned before, they are in great shape and the layout was *chef’s kiss*. But before we can get to paint, we needed to reconfigure what needed some help. We began with this area that was formally the Breakfast Area.

The tall pantry cabinet was definitely going to stay, but the counter top to the right was where the TV was going. We spend 80% of our day in that kitchen, so a good TV Spot was a must for us. We decided the best course of action was to remove the upper cabinets and wall mount the TV, along with a shelf above it for pretty items.

Collin started by taking down the upper cabinets and demoing the backsplash.

I followed behind an installed some simple shiplap up the wall and mounted the TV:

Finally, we installed a shelf above the TV for Cookbooks and Vases.

The other re-configuration took place above the sink. As you can see here, it used to have a header that went across the sink, above the window.

I worked to rip that down. I think that area being open would highlight the vaulted ceiling in this room and make it seem taller and more open. It did have a light fixture installed underneath, but I will just replace that with a sconce of some sort.

This photo is not chaotic at all, don’t worry.

Once everything was moved around and any nail holes patched, we were ready for paint/prep. Saving that for the next post, since its a doozy!

Phase 1 Kitchen Update – The Plan

Haven’t written here in a few years, so quick update: We had another baby, moved to Connecticut and bought a 1947 Colonial fixer-upper. Good bones, bad wallpaper. Now on to the fun stuff:

The kitchen in this house is probably what sealed the deal for us. Now, it was not cute, by any means, but the space and vaulted ceilings felt huge in comparison to the other houses we were seeing in this area.

The cabinets were solid wood, and aside from the orange 90’s stain color, the layout of the kitchen was exactly what it should have been. Since this is our 4th house, we knew that not changing the layout would be a game-changer in how much money it would cost to renovate this kitchen and get to our liking.

However, although this kitchen had great bones, there was still a lot to be improved on. So we are setting out to do a Phase 1 Kitchen Update. What that means to us, is that we are not ready to invest $20K – $30K in to the kitchen yet, but how can we make it something we can enjoy and feels “like us” while keeping the budget lowwwww? Like under $2000 low…

We started planning. What were the major ticket items that make the kitchen and where can we save to update those?

Item #1: Cabinets

Like I said before, the cabinets were solid wood and in great shape. The layout was perfect, but not our color style. Overall, the kitchen felt very very orange. Below is the listing pic:

We planned to paint the cabinets, reconfigure the area to the right to include a TV (a must since this is our kids primary hang out area) and do something more drastic to the way-to-small island.

Item #2: Countertops

Ooff, this is a high ticket item. It’s tough because the countertops are granite right now. So do we just live with it, because granite is granite, even if its ugly granite? We went to the stone store to get some quotes on Quartz and the number was around $3600 for just the perimeter, not including the island. I feel like that’s not terrible, but we are also trying to work with a $2000 budget. So if we try to do countertops, we don’t get anything else on our wish list. It didn’t feel worth it.

After a ton of research we decided to try to paint the countertops. I have a full blog post coming on that, but we figured if it works we just potentially bought ourselves some time to save for the countertop of our dreams (while still getting a fully done kitchen). If it doesn’t work, we will just get the countertops done now and neglect making changes to the flooring, island or appliances this year. Not great, but not the worst case scenario.

Item #3: Floors

I hate these floors with a passion. Cannot express this enough in writing. They are basically white, which you can imagine with 2 kids and a dog look dirty 24/7. Also, they are shiny or glossy so they show literally everything. They look clean twice a month when the cleaning lady comes and for exactly 8 minutes before someone spills something. The kitchen door leads to the backyard so there is always dirt on them. Now, I understand changing the floors will not make my whole family stop being slobs, HOWEVER, I am ok with the idea that if I don’t have to see the dirt, then they are not dirty.

Item #4: Appliances

This is where we are choosing to hold off totally for now. All of our appliances are dated, but they all work perfectly. We will wait to replace them until something gives out, or we have saved up the money to get amazing appliances that I cannot live without. For now, they are fine.

Item #5: Details

This is where we can have fun. From handles and pulls to lighting and faucets. I am planning on going for it in the details to make this space special.

Our goal with this phase 1 reno is to get the kitchen to feel like us, and see how many projects we can do for under $2000. I am excited to take on this challenge and show people that you do not have to throw down $30,000 to get the kitchen you need today. You can build on, reconfigure and work with what you have to make changes that make you happier in your space now.