February Part 3: The Process
Completing this kitchen makeover was long overdue as we've been (slowly) working on it since Spring of last year. Although so much of the work had been completed before this month even began, I figured I would walk you through all of the improvements anyway, so you can see the whole picture (and the before and afters are a bit more exciting that way!) This post has the potential to get long, so bless you if you decide to read through it all. If you just want to scroll through the progress pictures, I get it, and I'll be including a bunch of those as well. In the early stages of this makeover, I did not do the best job of documenting the process, so forgive me for any missing progress or project steps. I'm still getting the hang of blogging, and documenting everything doesn't come naturally to me just yet- but I'm working on it!
When we first bought this house, I knew I wanted to do a major kitchen overhaul, but my dream kitchen would require a few years of intentional saving to complete. To make the kitchen more "us" in the meantime, we wanted to make a few budget friendly updates that we could do ourselves. After living with the kitchen for a couple years, I subtly let my husband know I was ready to start renovating.
Luckily, he has a sense of humor about my impulsive decisions.
After my mini demolition experiment, the very first change we made to the kitchen was to paint the existing oak cabinets. Even though there aren't very many in our small kitchen, this process took WAY longer than I expected. The first step in the process was to remove all of the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware and thoroughly clean them. Making sure that the surface is clean is the key to good paint adhesion. To paint the cabinets, I used the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit. I did prime the cabinets before painting, because I wanted to ensure that the oak didn't bleed through the white paint. As labor-intensive as the cabinet painting process is, I did not want to have to redo it any time soon!
Since we are in East Texas and the weather can be unpredictable, I painted the cabinet doors inside the house. So children and pets were avoiding the living room for several weeks while I primed, painted, and sealed. (Sorry family!) I also opted to only paint the outside of the cabinet boxes. This saved both time and paint product. We are the only ones who see inside the cabinets, and we aren't planning on selling this home any time soon, so this shortcut was appropriate for us for now. Keeping everything inside the cabinets while I worked on them allowed us to live as normally as possible during the renovation.
During the process of waiting for paint to dry on the cabinet doors between coats, I also painted the existing tile backsplash. This is one of those projects I failed to document. Just know that it is SUPER easy, and a great way to change a room for very little investment. Again, cleaning thoroughly and using the right primer is the key to success with painted tile. After it was primed, I painted with a traditional latex paint in a satin finish so that it is easy to wipe clean but not shiny or glossy. It was also at this time when we removed one of the upper cabinets to install open shelving. I wanted to break up the sea of white with some wood tones, and this lonely upper cabinet always seemed out of place all by itself. Removing the cabinet created a bit of damage to the wall, and also exposed some areas that were not textured like the rest of the wall. In order to correct this, I decided to install a beadboard wallpaper designed to disguise textured walls. However, it did not disguise the texture as much as I would have liked, so down it came!
After the first application of wallpaper was installed, we discovered a second issue. (DIY is always an adventure!) The brackets I had purchase for the new floating shelves would require additional supports in the wall so that I could hang them where I wanted without relying on the location of the existing studs. So the wallpaper was removed, new wall supports were installed, drywall was repaired, and all the wall texture was sanded down.
With the walls sanded down, the second application of the wallpaper resulted in a better finished product. Visitors to our house are often surprised to learn that it isn't actual beadboard, so that is a big win! With the wallpaper reinstalled, we added new trim to the kitchen window, added new hardware to the cabinets, and replaced the light fixture over the sink. (More projects that went undocumented. Ugh) Now it was time to install the floating shelves!
When I had originally envisioned open shelving in this kitchen, I really did not want to see brackets of any kind, but it was difficult to find invisible shelf brackets in a size that would fit this awkward space. Luckily, I was able to find a shop on Etsy that created a genius bracket that solved my problem. The iron brackets I found installed directly into wall studding, and fit in a standard power drill for easy installation! I wish I had taken more photos of the install to show y'all how they work, but I'm pretty sure I'll be using them in another project and I will be sure to do a better job then. The short version is that the brackets are installed into your studding, then you create pockets in your wood shelf that the brackets slide into, making them disappear.
And just like that, I got the open shelving I've been wanting for years! With the perimeter of the kitchen (mostly) complete, it was time to shift focus to the island. First steps were to remove the counter, tile backsplash, and the drywall around the exterior.
This part was SO messy. Drywall dust everywhere! Despite the mess, my plan was taking shape, and it was rewarding to be able to see the front door from the living area. Then came the fun part- chopping the bar top extension down to counter height!
TADA! It was really happening- that bar level counter was gone, and my open concept living area finally felt OPEN! Now it was time to close up the exposed studding and create a countertop. We opted to wrap the island in shiplap since we had a bunch left over from a previous project. We always elect to reuse or recycle materials when and where we can in order to reduce the costs of our renovation projects. We also cut plywood underlayment to fit the island. It will serve as the base of our butcher block top.
Mapping out the butcher block was similar to assembling a giant puzzle. I chose boards and lined them up in the pattern I liked best, making sure not to line up any seams or knots in the wood. Then the counter was assembled in small sections. Boards were glued to the underlayment and also each other, and then clamped down tightly until the section was dry.
After assembling the counter, it was time to trim edges and sand for a smooth finish. Since we used lumber we had on hand, there was quite a bit of discrepancy in board width, so sanding was a big job. To contain as much of the sanding mess as we could, we tarped the kitchen with heavy duty plastic. (Now we know how E.T. and Elliott felt!) Mr. Nested used his belt sander and a laser level to knock down the most uneven spots, and then switched to an orbital sander for the finish sand.
This gets us to our stopping place last Fall. We weren't quite finished with the kitchen at this point, but we had worked up to my busy season with the shop, and I needed to shift focus to the holidays. (Also, product was taking over the house, and we couldn't risk getting paint or sanding dust on any of the merchandise!)
So when we set out to complete this space in February, there didn't seem to be too many more items to check off the to-do list. HA! Then February came and kicked my butt. I knew as the month's end came creeping up on us and we hadn't made any progress, that this project was not going to be completed on time. I pressed on anyway, determined to finish. We wanted to get the island completed before I addressed the laminate countertop because there would be more sanding involved, and I didnt want to worry about dust in or on my newly painted counter surfaces.
The butcher block was sanded, stained, and sealed. The shiplap was primed and painted. Once outlet covers were replaced, it was time to tackle the project I had been putting off since this renovation began - panting the laminate countertop. The good news is, once the laminate is addressed, the kitchen is complete! Last year, I had seen a product at our local paint store that was designed for laminate countertops. Since replacing the counters is not in our budget, I wanted to find an affordable way to blend the existing counters in with the changes we've made. So, I opted to try a countertop paint kit that mimics the look of granite counters.
See how pink they look? We've got to fix that! The first step in the painting process was to prep the counter surface. I scrubbed them down with TSP, then gave them a quick sand to rough them up. Then I taped off the backsplash and covered the cabinets with plastic since I am the world's messiest painter. After the counters were prepped and protected, it was time to prime. The kit I used only required one coat of primer, so this step was quick and easy, and already made a big difference in the appearance of the kitchen. Mr. Nested even asked if we could just keep them solid black. I wasn't sold, but knew if the rest of the kit didn't work out the way I hoped, I could always just paint right over it!
Before I jumped right in to painting the counters, I did practice the pattern a few times on black construction paper. The paint kit uses a series of colors applied in sequence with a sponge to create a granite-like appearance. Applying the sponge technique properly took a little getting used to, so I'm glad I practiced first. I found that using light pressure on the sponge perfectly up and down gave the best results. I also added the paint minimally at first, because you can always add more to achieve your desired look, but can't take it back if you apply too much. I worked in small sections ( about 2-3 feet wide) and completed all the steps for each sections before moving on to the next. The idea is that the paint will be wet as you apply each color, allowing them to blend a bit rather than just sit on top of each other.
The first few layers of paint are a bit nerve-wracking, as it resembles a bad 90s art project more than a granite counter, but with each additional layer, it really starts coming together. After I completed all the steps across the entire counter, I stepped back to check any areas that needed a touch up or a bit more color. I did end up adding more white to the entire area to brighten it up and add definition in areas of the paint that looked a bit smudged.
Once the sponging was complete, it was time to add the topcoat. This is where things fell apart a little bit. As much as I loved the primer and paint included in the kit I used, the included topcoat left a lot to be desired. It is not a self-leveling product, and no matter what application technique I tried, I could not get an even smooth finish, so that is a bit disappointing. I did end up applying four coats of the topcoat for added protection, and will live with it for a while to see if I feel the need to recoat it with something else. It will function just fine in the mean time, despite its imperfections. I shared a more detailed explanation of the whole process in my instagram stories if you're interested in hearing more about it.
With the completion of the painted countertops, we have successfully finished our kitchen makeover. Now it's time to style and decorate. I'll share the full reveal of our new kitchen in my next post.
If you've missed any parts of our renovation project, you can find them here:
12 Rooms in 12 Months Overview
February Part 4: The Reveal (Coming Soon)
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