Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Amazing What a Little Paint Can Do

The first major step in my parent's kitchen makeover is done: kitchen cabinets have been painted!

It was a long and tedious process, in addition to being a learning experience for all of us. Much like my first building project that I did with my friend Shane back in December, I just can't seem to do small projects before tackling big ones. This was my first time refinishing anything and, while it isn't perfect, it sure made one hellova a difference.

Wanna see?

If you remember from two posts ago, my parent's kitchen looked just like this when Jon and I moved in at the end of last year.

For some reason I decided to take the above picture at night instead of during the day. Oh well. Can't retake it now, since—as of this morning—the kitchen is looking more like this:


I knew that a simple coat (or 3!) of beautiful white paint would make a serious difference, but it's almost unbelievable how different the kitchen looks. It's like a completely new kitchen!

And as you've probably noticed, there's a part of the cabinets that still looks a lot like its old self.

That would be the undersides of the cabinet surround. We chose to leave those bare because it won't be too long before the floors are replaced. When that happens, all of the baseboard fronts will need to be removed, then put back on, then refinished and touched up with paint. We figured we'd save ourselves the trouble and leave them be for the time being.

In case you're curious, here's a list of the design investments we made between the "before" and "after" pictures—aside from, of course, the latter being taken in the daytime after the kitchen's been cleaned!

  • Kitchen island (IKEA - Stenstorp) — $379
  • 3 coats of Benjamin Moore paint in "Steam" + primer and painting supplies (OSH) — $325
  • 2 new Frigidaire Gallery appliances, refrigerator and dishwasher (Lowe's) — $1,795
  • a 5'x7' rug (Home Goods) — $99
     Total: $2,598

And that's it. Can you believe the difference just a few little changes make?

The cool thing is that we still have an entire, unopened can of "Steam" paint, plus 1/4 left in the first can, which is pretty amazing. There are definitely a few other projects I can see us doing in the future.

I'm so proud of my parents for agreeing to take the DIY route for painting these cabinets, because they sure weren't stoked about it at first.

About 2 years ago, they got a kitchen remodeling estimate through Sears. The makeover would have included just cabinet refacing and new countertops, and the total would have come to around $20,000—no including appliances! By doing a major part of the work ourselves (refinishing and painting the cabinets), we've saved my parents thousands and thousands of dollars. Now they can put some hard-earned money towards quality countertops and flooring that they so desperately need.

Sadly, it isn't likely that I'll be around when those next major updates happen, but (naturally) I'm fully encouraging my parents to keep investing in home updates that will bring them joy day-to-day and down the road.

We already sense a difference in how we feel because of how bright and open the kitchen is.

It's somewhat miraculous.

When we first bought the kitchen island back in January, we chose to give the space a "U" quality by making it more like a peninsula than an island. It worked fine, but it always felt a little awkward and unnatural to me, since it just didn't line up with anything; we were left with a lot of empty space between the island and the wall.

Since the fridge was so big, there was no way to utilize the chairs at the island if it was placed in the middle of the kitchen space.

Now, with the new counter-depth fridge, it isn't a problem at all.

So that's it! What do you think? Do you think we achieved our desired "modern country" kitchen with the "steam" white cabinet fronts? What kind of countertops would you choose to put in a white kitchen with (eventually) dark wood flooring? How about backsplash? Wall color?

My mind is racing with ideas. Why isn't this my kitchen?!

All-in-all, we're totally thrilled. The results are exactly what we hoped for and more, and the little tweaks we plan to make in the future will only make it a more welcoming space. The kitchen really is where my family spends the most time (cocktail hour, huzzuh!) and it absolutely functions as the heart of the home.

I don't know what you guys think, but...

Fry approves.

Psst... If you're curious as to the steps we took to paint the kitchen, refer to this post from Young House Love, which contains detailed instructions. We followed those pretty closely, minus the extensive wood filling they had to do.


  1. HOLY POOP, THIS IS AMAZING. Good show, Miss Thang. Good freaking show.

  2. Oh my god, LOVE! It looks so great!

  3. I. LOVE. The cabinets. The "Steam" paint completely opens up the kitchen and you can actually notice how pretty the blue of the walls looks in contrast. I myself am super partial to sealed butcher block countertops (so much more versatile and easier to maintain than granite - not to mention MUCH fresher). Also, love the island as an actual island; everything just looks right. GO TEAM JOHNSTONE! :)

  4. Amazing! Simply amazing! You should add this to apartment therapy's kitchen make overs!

    1. Maybe when the kitchen is totally finished! ;)

  5. HOLY NUTS! Girl, this is amazing! The color scheme, the whole aesthetic, it's perfect. You have such an eye for this. Come redecorate my house. Seriously. The whole thing is yours.

    1. She seriously should. She's got a gifted design instinct. This is something I am genuinely horrible at! =)

  6. OMG HOW DID I MISS THIS?!!! It looks amazing! BEYOND amazing! I didn't even notice that your parents walls were blue before the cabinets were white. Now they just pop! Great job, dude! Your parents must be so thrilled with their "new" kitchen!

  7. Stacey Great job, I too love decorating. It may be too late to discuss backsplashes ... but how about white subway tile - so traditional but can be kicked up a notch with stainless steel accent tiles, the same height as white, but less that 1/3 the width of the white tiles. I think I saw it on Great Rooms by Meg, or Battle of Model Homes. These titles may be paraphrased.

    Nate Berkus used marble subway tiles from Lowes for a kitchen back splash. They were on the small side. I think they are 2 1/2 x 4ish, or maybe 1 1/2 x 3. White and gray. Yumm. Could be great.
    Pam Vandaveer

  8. I seriously can't believe how incredibly this came out. What a fantastic result! If Mom & Dad weren't convinced about your instincts before this, they certainly are now! The pictures are great, as well -- It's so much brighter, it's like night and day (ha! literally!)

    I am still all about white quartz countertops, but I'm not sure what you guys were leaning towards. I have no opinion about backsplash (I'm horrible about visualizing that), but the floors are something that I genuinely can't wait to see. Dark wood will be sooooo beautiful in that bright white kitchen. Stunning! Great job, family! Wish I could have helped. =)

  9. Wow. I wish I could do stuff like that. I suck at decorating but I love when things look nice. I would ne the idiot paying $20,000.