Friday, May 25, 2012

Kitchen Revamp is Underway!

I never thought this day would come, but it actually has. As I type this, my father is downstairs unhinging and cataloging all of the kitchen cabinets. This weekend, we're actually starting to paint them!

This is huge. I can't even tell you. As of yesterday, my parent's builder-grade kitchen looked a little bit like this:

Helloooooo, 1991! Yep, those are good ol' reliable oak cabinets circa the early 1990's, and also some lovely (read: disgusting) white tile countertops. My parents have lived in this house in Livermore for about 8 years now, and one of the main conditions of agreeing to live here (yes, I had conditions) was that they had to let me assist them in painting their dark and overly wood-y cabinets white.

And you guys? They actually agreed.

Granted, this isn't nearly as dark and dank as it used to be. See that lovely butcher block-topped island? That's from IKEA and I convinced them to get it back in February after I heard my mother utter the phrase, "You know, I'd really like to have a kitchen island right here," for the millionth time. The kitchen used to look like this:

(Please forgive the very lived-in mess. Don't judge us.)

Yes, the island is a small change, I know. But it's made a world of difference in how we use the kitchen and using it as a place to gather. (The table was never used by anyone other than the cats, who were fed on it because the dogs would attack their food if it wasn't off the floor.) Now, though, the cats have a little perch inside the island, which has (despite my initial reservations) been totally invaluable; it hasn't inhibited our use of the space at all, unlike when they owned the old kitchen table, those fiends.

My parents and I have discussed painting the cabinets for years; it's always been on the agenda. We knew early on that the cabinets—while a little old-fashioned and country—were in really great shape and refinishing them in a simple white would be a significant improvement for not a lot of moo-la.

Ideally, with a large budget, my parents would prefer not to DIY the update and simply have custom cabinetry installed that makes better use of the space. Something that incorporates a large island with ample storage and a better overall flow into the family room.

As with most homes built in this time period, rooms tend to be broken up with carpet and tile, which can really make the space feel small. And for people like my parents (bless their hearts) who have a hard time seeing beyond what's in front of them, this kind of visual division of space makes it difficult to decorate.

But floors are not what we're working on this weekend. New countertops, new wood floors, updated paint and maybe some backsplash—this is all on the agenda. One step at a time. First?

Remove cabinetry to reveal extremely messy interiors. (And a surprising amount of alcohol.)

Baker's helping.

Last night we took a trip to Orchard Supply Hardware as a family to look at paint and identify all of the things we'd need. We chose OSH for two reasons: 1) they sell Benjamin Moore paint, unlike Lowe's; and 2) they're having a "no sales tax" event for the Memorial Day weekend. Score!

We decided on Benjamin Moore paint (even though, in the past, we've almost always used Valspar) based on the recommendation of pro-DIY bloggers, Sherry and John of Young House Love. In order to convince my parents that we were, in fact, capable of taking on this project ourselves, I sent them this link to a tutorial on cabinet refinishing/painting that YHL posted in December when they revamped their kitchen.

Naturally, we avoided having to make a decision in the store. Jon grabbed every sample color of white that BM had, which we brought home and looked at in various areas of the kitchen. We narrowed it down, then narrowed it down some more, until we were left with three choices:

We nixed any color that had too much pink or green as an undertone, as well as any that were just WHITE. We were definitely drawn to the whites that had a bit of gray; they refracted light in the right way and didn't absorb the blue from the walls, which was good. Sherry and John on YHL chose cloud cover for their cabinets, which is why my mother was most drawn to it ("It worked for them!"), but Jon and I simply weren't fans. In person, it was just a little too gray for us.

In the end, we unanimously agreed that steam was the way to go. It had a subtle gray hint, but looked most like a soft white at every angle, in every intensity of light. So this morning my dad went back to OSH and got two gallons of Benjamin Moore's Aura Waterborne Interior Paint in "Steam" with a Satin finish. (Paint is so complicated.)

This weekend will be full of sanding, degreasing, and priming, with the goal of being ready to start the first coat of paint on Monday. I'm getting pumped. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I don't want to mess this up. This is my first refinishing project, ever.

My current mantra: Thin and even layers, thin and even layers, thin and even layers... 

Wish me luck.


  1. Seriously, I want to come home RIGHT NOW and be a part of this. How great that this is finally happening after sooooo many years. I definitely hope to be kept posted daily. Or... well, at least updated early next week. I want to see how all this turns out!

    So exciting!

  2. Stace, I've ALWAYS wanted to refinish my brother's builders grade cabinetry, too! I can't wait to see the "after!"

    Did you ever finish the office? I've been dying to know how that turned out!

    1. I am working on getting pictures taken of it this weekend! I promise!

  3. What a fun family project! It's going to look great, can't wait to see the "afters!"

    **also, a "surprising" amount of alcohol... C'mon. Were you REALLY surprised??

  4. Love!! I'm so excited about your new project! You guys totally picked the right color in "Steam". That's my favorite, too! I also love that island you guys got. That makes a HUGE difference between that and the kitchen table! Keep up the good work!