My kitchen refinishing saga
I’m one of those people who likes to paint. Not just as an artist painting pictures, but painting rooms, furniture, frames and knick-knacks, fences, chicken coops and I’ve even painted the whole outside of my house once too. I really really like to paint. I mean really.
That being said, kitchens are a royal pain in the ass to deal with, especially when all you have to work with is a tiny galley with 1980’s peeling-amber-finish cabinets complete with really crappy Walmart hardware and the cheapest sink you ever saw outside of a hunting camp. Back in 2010 when I moved in, it looked like this:
Pretty plain, the dishwasher didn’t work, and the refrigerator was from about 1985 and used a ton of electricity. It looks all bright and cheerful because we had no curtains up yet, but what is hard to see in these photos is that the the “golden” finish on the outside of the cabinets was peeling badly. Plus I hated the wallpaper - that was the first thing to go, because of course I wanted to…. paint.
So then sometime in 2014 I finally decided I couldn’t stand those cabinets anymore and without taking my time, without sanding them first, I just went ahead and painted over everything. With thick, dark, brown paint:
Please do not ask me why I committed this sin. I am still not sure to this day. My only defense is that that is when I was ramping up my Chicken Art business and I just wanted a quick change. (I paid for that decision later when I actually did sand those cabinets.) I even painted all the insides of the cabinets dark brown, making it really hard to find things in those lower ones!
I painted a lot of walls beige and gray and brown during that time, and it was definitely a reflection of my state of mind at the time - a subject for another post perhaps, but suffice to say I was in a very different frame of mind than I am now. Anyway after many radical changes, in 2021 I discovered Plantation Shutters for my little house, which opened up the LIGHT exponentially. Until this I had been using drapes and curtains, which made everything super dark and dismal. So, I fell in love with these shutters and installed the best ones I could afford everywhere in the house:
In some ways it just highlighted how simply depressing that dark brown kitchen was, but because Cabinets Are Hard, it took me awhile to decide to tackle it. Finally in March I couldn’t look at all that dark anymore and I was willing to do the work the right way this time. I discovered chalk paint, and then I saw these awesome photos online of Duck Egg Blue kitchens and fell instantly in love:
(It’s a good thing I didn’t quite know what I was in for.)
So I moved everything out of my kitchen (even in a small one like mine, you have no idea how many kitchen items you have until you try to pile it up in another room. (We were tripping over it, searching for the forks, can’t find the blender, wtf happened to the can opener for a solid month. At least.)
I took all the cabinet doors off, stripped paint off and sanded everything - what a MESS. I had dark-brown-paint-dust evvvvverywhere. I duct-taped the shop vac to the sander, I taped up plastic sheeting, I set up the sawhorses in the driveway. It was An Operation. I learned how to use chalk paint with a wax finish (layer on layer and buffing), I invested in knee pads to sand and repaint those bottom cabinets, and I even tried my hand at decoupage, which didn’t turn out very well, but I plan to fix that sometime.
Somehow I still managed to paint the backsplash a dark color (old habits die hard), which I have since updated, but this is more or less how that episode ended up:
Definitely an order of magnitude BETTER. Notice the new sink, too. Now I finally have a large enough, deep enough sink to wash my stockpots in! This is the old sink, with it’s stationary, tiny faucet. Imagine me trying to wash out my 50 quart pots in this sad little affair:
Update in late 2022: quite a bit later I realized that the brushed stainless cabinet hardware was bugging me too. Half of them were loose because the screws were too small for the holes, and you could still see the old holes from the Previous Crappy Walmart hardware because they didn’t line up. Since I love brass, and I had always wanted a rustic brass look, I went on the hunt and found these beauties by HardwareEtcAntiques on Etsy. The backplates cover all manner of sins, and I love them so much that if I ever sell my house I am taking them with me! By this time I had updated the backsplash too:
Psst: it looks like I added a tile backsplash doesn’t it? I didn’t though. I used these awesome inventions. They actually look real, even close up. 🤣
Until next time! xo