Thursday, November 20, 2014

Before and After

Everyone likes a great before and after.  I know I do, so today I'm sharing my favorite one.  It's my kitchen. 

I’m sure you’ve all heard it before.  That kitchens and bathrooms are the two places in your house that add the most resale value, so if they are outdated then that is where you should spend your money.  With that in mind it should come as no surprise that this kitchen was #1 on my to do list when we bought our house three years ago.
This is a picture of the house before we bought it. For something that is supposed to be a selling point it is definitely lacking in shazaam!    The appliances are super old and those orange cabinets are a hot mess.  The walls are a fleshy tan; if you look on the left side of this picture they look pink.  Yeah, my whole house is that color.  Also, I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but that “backsplash” is just a flat piece of Formica that has been glued directly onto the wall.  This whole kitchen needed a face lift, and that is exactly what it got.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the process and the products I used then read along.  If you’re only interested in what’s coming next on the blog then you can skip to the end.
Step 1: Decisions, decisions, decisions.  My house isn’t super light so I knew I didn’t want to darken the cabinets and make it more cave like so we opted for painting the cabinets white.  I wanted to find a white that contrasted with the countertops, so I wouldn’t feel like I needed new countertops when my cabinets were done.  I also needed one that I liked when the florescent light was on and when it was off since I knew we wouldn’t tackle the lighting situation for a while.  This may not sound difficult, but I probably tested about 15 colors.  In the end I bought a Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation Kit in white and loved the color.  I have no idea if they sell the kit anymore.  I know the kit claims you don’t have to sand or prime or whatever, but the kit is a dirty liar.  They may have received enough complaints that they decided to discontinue the product.  I knew what I was getting into so I wasn’t disappointed with the product at all.
Step 2: Grain Filler.  There was an advantage to trying so many colors on my cabinets.  I actually finished an entire cabinet with it’s base in one color and hated it.  After it was painted you could see the deep grain of the flimsy inside panel. Some people love that, but I HATED it!  I seriously agonized over this.  I wanted white kitchen cabinets so bad, but I didn’t want to do all that work for me to end up hating them anyway, so I stewed over it for about a year.  Yes, I said a year and I meant it.  Finally one day I took to the internet and googled how to eliminate wood grain and came across this product called wood grain filler.  It looks like I’m not the only one who hates the painted wood grain.  I ordered it and let it sit on my counter for a few months while I mentally prepared myself to start the project again.
51aBNl2zH4L When I got sick of looking at my hideous partially painted kitchen I decided to jump right in.  I started disassembling my kitchen.  This sucked because I found that a bunch of my cabinet doors were in fact broken.  I repaired them using wood glue and clamps and then filled the cracks with spackle.  I also filled the old hardware holes with spackle and had my hand dandy husband drill holes for the new hardware before painting.  After this was done I started using the grain filler on all of my cupboard doors.  I only did the fronts since I knew the backs wouldn’t bother me.  It says to squeegee the filler onto the cabinet doors.  I purchased a squeegee (that word is so weird right?) from an auto parts store that had a sponge side and a squeegee side.  I used the sponge to rub the filler into the wood grain and squeegeed the excess away.  I still had to sand it smooth after it dried and I used a flat head screw driver to scrape it out of places I didn’t want it.
Step 3: Caulking.  After your doors and drawers are all sanded it’s time for the caulk.  I used a quick dry paintable caulk to fill in the gaps in the doors.  Just on the inner panel where it meets the outer trim.  Then they were ready to be primed and painted, but before I tackled that I got started on the cabinet bases.
Step 4: Bead board.  I knew I wanted bead board around the base of the cabinets so I went and got some bead board and had it cut it down to size.  I used a jig saw to cut out the electrical socket and the corner cut out.  We used liquid nails and some brads to adhere it to the counter.  If you decide to ever do this you will find that your cabinetry may not be uniform.  On the side with the outlet the bottom was wider than the top, so we crapily carefully shaved some bead board off the bottom right hand side.  A similar thing happened on the back piece.  Nothing a little paintable caulk couldn’t fix.  I filled in the gaps with the caulk and also caulked all four sides of the bead board.  In the end I think it looks great and only I know where all the mistakes were made.  This part of the project only took a few hours and was less than $30 to complete.
Step 4: Painting the bases.  After the bead board was up it was time to paint the bases.  I didn’t bother to tape anything off since I knew I was going to paint the walls after I was done.  I cleaned them using the cleaner from the kit and that made it so the paint would adhere to them.  The bases are made out of some wood and some laminate and I didn’t have any adhesion problems at all with just the cleaning solution as my prep.  I used two coats of white paint and primer (a.k.a. the best paint EVER) from Sherwin Williams plus two coats of the kit paint.  Then two coats of polyurethane from the kit.  Yep, that’s SIX coats in all.  It took FOREVER!  Totally worth it!
Step 5: Painting the cabinet doors.  After the bases were done I went back to the cabinets.  I knew from my experimentation that I needed to keep the orange from coming through on the cabinet doors.  The bases didn’t have any issues with that because they were made out of difference materials.  After some research and more experimentation I decided to use Kilz oil based primer (two coats) followed by two coats of the kit paint.  The primer covered the orange beautifully and I don’t have any orange seeping through and uglying up my cabinets.  After the four coats I did two coats of polyurethane.
Step 6: Hang and hardware.  Once everything was dry I hung the cabinets and put the hardware on.  I bought my hardware off of ebay.  They have the best prices on stuff like that.

After everything was done I was able to step back and look at my pretty white cabinets.  I must say that I LOVE how it turned out.  It was totally worth all the hard work.  What do you think?  Did I add resale value?  Do you prefer the new kitchen over the old one?
Obviously the kitchen is still a work in progress.  You can see where I am currently looking for the new paint color for the walls and there are a bunch of little projects I need to do in there, but the cabinet transformation was by far the biggest project on my to do list.



  1. Have you thought about resurfacing the counter tops? We looked into this at our town home. It looks really nice, really like the bead board.

    1. I have thought about it. I was actually going to do the concrete resurfacing, but I haven't seen anything that lasts long. I am probably selling my house soon, so I may not ever "finish" all of the projects I wanted to do to this house.

  2. I love grain filler! Makes all the difference in painting oak. I will be using it on a mahogany piece in the near future. Nice job!

  3. I admire what you have done here. I like the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that this is working for you as well. oakbrook basement remodels

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