March 18, 2010

The Kitchen Overhaul

Ok, here goes.  Here goes the before and afters of my dear little kitchen.  I know I'm behind on this blog, and today's my Trailisms day, which I was really, really excited about.  But it will have to wait because these pictures are starting to mildew on my hard drive.  They're starting to suffocate, because I have promised them exposure.  My kitchen was the second room in our apartment to get an overhaul.

This is a shot Dustan actually took when he was living in the apartment with nothing but a sleeping bag and an alarm clock on the floor.  He came a few months early and scoured the place, did tons of caulking and sanding and puttying, and saved us so much work in the long run.  It was such a lifesaver.

When I came, our belongings came, and exploded into every cranny.  I think I was seriously in this box-schlepping position for a solid month.  All we did was move (the same) boxes from one corner to the next.  I look now and see dirty blinds and a frying pan that was on loan to us from some of the first people we met here (the Whipples).  The best looking thing in this picture is that in-season tomato.

To keep the energy up in the middle of all the boxes, I threw some green on the wall.  The green paint was a bargain, and bargains don't find me easily.  We found this color in the "mistint" category at Lowe's and grabbed it up for five bucks.  Our last kitchen was this color too, and we weren't done with it.  Looking at this picture now I realize it would be a very long time from this point before these blinds would come down and the boxes would go away, because we threw ourselves into the cabinets next.

Here's a word or two on painting cabinets.  Do it.  Cabinets aren't to be revered.  If the wood is sooo nice and sooo expensive and sooo old, but you hate them?  Just go for it.  Well, maybe if the wood is really nice, you should sand them good and stain them a better color.  It's just that cabinets take up all the real estate in the kitchen, and totally define the room.  So much so that if you don't like them, and you can't afford new ones, it's time to paint.  This apartment is a rental, so rather than feeling like I could do a halfway job of it, I felt like the pressure was really on.  I don't think our landlords really care, but I was determined to leave the cabinets looking way better than the boring pre-fab brown that they were.

Fortunately there was no crappy hardware to remove (and if there had been hardware, it would've been crappy), so we just sanded everything.  We didn't go nuts, because we weren't trying to do anything but scuff everything up really good.  If your cabinets have a solid veneer finish, you can't skimp on this step.  It will make your paint job so much better if you take the finish way down.  Next we took off all the doors and primed everything.  I honestly still don't even know if this was necessary, because I still ended up doing two solid coats of black.  But I'd never undertaken something like cabinets, and because I knew my paint job would be so...permanent...I decided to take the meticulously time-consuming step of priming.  

After the cabinets were totally primed, the green happened.

And then, the black happened.  I know I already talked about types of paint finish on my bedroom post, but I'll say it again.  When painting something like a bed or a night stand or a picture frame, I always always always use eggshell or flat finish.  Flat black looks blacker and more expensive.  However, in a high traffic area like cabinets, drawers, baseboard, etc. I always use a semi-gloss.  I definitely don't prefer my paint jobs to be SHINY! like these cabinets are.  But the clean-up is a breeze, and again, I'm sure we won't be the last people to use them.  (Oh yeah, Dust spray painted the hood over the stove white).

After my walls and cabinets were done, I revamped this baby.  Spring gave me this and it's been an incredible space-saver in every kitchen I've ever had (this one is my third).  For so long I've meant to poly it, but now I'm sooo glad I never did!  It was totally unfinished, so it soaked up the primer, two coats of bicycle blue and three coats of poly like a pro.  (I removed the hooks because they just weren't functional, but you'll see them show up later in another project).

Whew!  Starting to take shape.  This is making me tired just posting about it.  Next I conquered a piece of furniture that Mom gave me. 

It was originally white, and she bought it for my sister's nursery.  It's been every color under the sun since, and in so many different rooms, but the sentimentality is preserved in that the drawers have the original yellow gingham lining they did back when it was a piece of children's furniture.

Incorporating this piece of bedroom furniture into the kitchen was one of the best decisions I made in this whole process.  It holds all of my towels and kitchen linens, baggies, foil, wax paper, pot holders, birthday decorations, expired coupons and Trail's doggy treats.  I didn't think it would work at first, but after painting it the same semi-gloss black and adding the same hardware as the cabinets, it totally fit in.  I'm beginning to see that these pictures have no scale so you feel like you ate an Eat Me wafer, right Jess?  Ok, here:

Yeah?  Unless I told you that metal breadbox was Barbie-sized.  Ha! (I did the poem painting one day when I was totally sick of painting furniture.  It was not my idea.  I am not that creative.  Here's the inspiration and the how-to).

Up next, the dirty window.  But first - do you see that alley between the buildings where the trash dumpster sits?  That's where Dustan hides Mike the Bike.  He just rolled him out tonight as I type, washed up him (on the sidewalk) and charged the battery.  This old Suzuki just sat through a Wisconsin winter without a tarp and fired right up.  Ok, so the window.  If you look at the first pictures on this post, you can see that there was a piece of ugly exposed wood on the other side of the glass that we couldn't do anything about.  So Dust built me a shelf right in that spot.  I painted it white to blend in with the window and hung some cafe curtains.

I love this window morning:


and nearing-night:

I think that covers it!  Aside from a few finishing touches...

A vintange tea towel my Mamaw Meade bought in England.

And some illuminated bananas.  Done!

Oh yeah - turns out I forgot something.  There was a lot of wasted space on either side of the fridge when we got here, so we pushed the fridge as close to the wall as possible and Dustan built in that little shelf thing for me. I painted it with the cabinet paint and it gives me another little spot for kitchen stuff to keep my counters from getting cluttered.  

The final kitchen before and afters!

There's the kitchen post that has been waiting to get out for so long.  And you know what I just realized?  I didn't even post pictures of the before and after of my sweet pantry.  Dustan built custom shelves in there and we painted them the same black as the cabinets.  But pretty much the thought of making this post any longer makes me feel the same way I felt after finishing this kitchen.  Like:


  1. Man, what an AMAZING transformation! You could move to this area and end up one of the new "self made millionaires".... j

  2. I LOVE IT!!! We are in the process of transforming our kitchen and we painted it green also! I love your style! I wish you could come pick out a kitchen floor for us, we are lost. Check out my facebook page to see some of my kitchen pictures.

  3. LOOKS come to my house

  4. Sis, you should send the last 2 final before and after pics to Design Sponge. For real.

  5. It's looks awesome, Bets! I love the blue accent pieces and the yellow gingham inside your drawers.

  6. what the crap?? how do you guys do stuff like this? i need to hire you to come fix up my place stat. and i don't know what design sponge is, but i think your sis is right.

  7. very, VERY nice job!! I am so impressed - it looks GREAT! :)

  8. except for this baby in my belly- these posts have given me an undeniable urge to repaint my entire house. i'm in love with this kitchen especially :] eclectic magic. the end.

  9. Bicycle blue :)

    Illuminated bananas??? "Lights! Bananas! Action!" ....What?

    Anyway, kitchen looks great in the pictures, which are all nice. However, I want to make special mention of the 1,000 Mile Stare you're sporting in your La Femme Nikita impersonation. /Nice/.


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