Welcome to the part of the blog that I always dreamed about writing! Yes, MY KITCHEN!
Finally, I have achieved my dream of customizing a kitchen that I OWN! Not just rent, but OWN! I could literally cry tears of joy right now.
So, let me begin with a bit of backstory. I know, I know all them bloggers loving to write more than anyone cares to read. Well, tough luck, I will write the crap out of this post. I am way too excited to talk designs and details!
If you haven’t checked out how we bought this house sight-unseen. I highly recommend taking a look there to just get a preview of all the issues we had when we first moved in here.
Let me just say, the kitchen was 90% of the reason I was sold on this house. I’ve been dreaming of a taupe kitchen for literally YEARS, one with shaker cabinets, and brass hardware. Basically, what kitchen dreams are made of. Little did I know just how hugely popular taupe kitchens are becoming! Y’all can call me a trendsetter I suppose *flamboyant hair flip*.
All jokes aside, this kitchen was what I dreamt about every night for 4 months before our closing date.
Reader be warned, this is a LONG post. There’s a lot to cover – everything from mood boards, prepping the space, spraying paint, paint types, handling, brush types, etc.
So I’ll begin with the obvious: setting up the idea.
I started a Pinterest board months ahead of our move and did a lot of research on techniques and longevity of said techniques. The conclusion I came to from all that research was that I a) couldn’t pick a color until we moved into the home itself (because lighting affects SO much) and b) until I saw the condition and did test swatches on cabinetry I wouldn’t know for sure whether the technique I picked would work.
So, let me give you a visual preview/shock/scare of the heart attack I experienced when I saw the state of the kitchen cabinets in person. Obviously real life was not as glamorous as the staged pictures we saw online prior to moving.
The above is the staging photo for when we bought the house, and this is what I actually saw in person:
I made sure to take a good look at everything that looked damaged. First and foremost I needed to evaluate whether I could fix said damages.
Most of it looked salvageable and could be fixed with wood filler and a whole lot of sanding.
Second, I went to Sherwin-Williams and bought their stick on color swatches. These were amazing at really figuring out what colors we wanted to go with.
Now, to expand a little on this, because it’s really important – definitely do your research on the paint type you’re getting first, and THEN look at colors. We knew we wanted the most durable finish we could get since the kitchen is so heavily used. For that reason we went with the SW Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel paint, which has so far been absolutely incredible. Literally zero chips.
Knowing what we know now – you ALWAYS want to use primer. I don’t care how frugal I am, after seeing the test area with and without it, the durability is completely different. Our kitchen wouldn’t stand a chance without primer. We used the SW Interior/Exterior Latex Primer. This stuff was annoying to work with because it leaves a bit of a chalky texture and requires light sanding for each coat, but with that said I still encourage you to absolutely use primer if you don’t want to do the work twice.
So, once we had a paint color in mind, I began by deep cleaning and de-greasing all of my cabinetry, not once but multiple times. I used the Lysol Kitchen Degreaser because I couldn’t find Krud Cutter in Canada.
I removed the doorknobs, and completely emptied out all of the garbage and content in the drawers and cabinets. We then removed the hinges on the doors (at first I left them on the cabinets, but then removed them soon after too).
Take my advice – NUMBER each of your cabinets in the hinge space and cover with tape. I thought our cabinet doors were all different, and therefore easy to differentiate. God knows I spent hours trying to find the right fits afterward.
I then sanded down each kitchen door and cabinet surface, and degreased again. I used the Kitchen Lysol for removing any grease – and for my case I needed 2 bottles, because everything was GREASY. Remember to use a tack cloth to get rid of sanding residue.
As you can see there was also a lot of water damage at the bottom that I needed to sand down fully.
So now the real fun began, and I began prepping the area with tape. Here you can see our backwards range for whatever reason (my talented hubs turned it around, so don’t worry). And our broken wood panel at the back which we later replaced.
Now it was time to prime! I recommend using a 4″ foam roller for easy maneuverability, and invest into one good angled brush for edges. Just remember that primer dries REALLY fast, so wash your brush if you’re going to set it down for more than 15 minutes. Or alternatively, wrap it in saran wrap and put it in the fridge for overnight freshness the next day.
Once the primer is set and done, go over with a 200 grit foam block and GENTLY remove any rough patches. You don’t want to use too much force. This is just so the surface is smooth and easy to work with. Use tack cloth in between.
I painted the cabinetry in the kitchen before I did the doors. I knew that using a roller would be more frustrating, so I wanted to get the hard part done first. Little did I know I’d end up using a roller on the cabinet doors too.
We also searched high and wide for the perfect handles and knobs. I knew right away I wanted something classic and definitely brushed brass or gold. Unfortunately, Canada doesn’t have as much selection as the US, so online was pretty much out of question for the price. Instead, I found a gem of a store in Calgary called Handles and More, and we found our perfect knobs and pulls there.
The design I chose was Ormonde in Honey Bronze and knobs in the same brand but different style – Marion knob, also in Honey Bronze.
The doors were a whole other beast. Because I selected knobs on some of them, I had to fill in the holes with wood putty and sand and fill, sand and fill multiple times.
While I hoped to get the kitchen done in a weekend, that was wishful thinking. I also had a job and toddler to juggle, so most of my painting and work had to be done either on lunch or in the evenings.
I also invested into a paint sprayer from Amazon. This little guy was fantastic at cutting the work in half, but even with a lot of noodling with the settings, I couldn’t get a flawless spray like I’d hoped. I tried and tried and tried again, up until I was 5 tries in and needed to change my approach otherwise I’d run out of paint. So I had to VERY gently go over bubbled spots or areas where too much paint pooled with my foam roller. This actually ended up working perfectly for the finish I wanted and I’ve done multiple projects with the same technique since.
The above photo shows where I accidentally applied too much paint, and had to go over with a roller. One of the amazing benefits of the SW Enamel paint is that it’s self-leveling, so as long as you very quickly and gently smooth things with a roller, your paint will dry perfectly.
The taupe kitchen cabinets were done, but sadly I was out of time to do the island, because we had floors being installed. While we waited, we decided to tackle the lighting.
I struggled with the kitchen island lights for a while. We went to countless stores, but after measuring and checking over and over again and modifying my mock up reference again and again, nothing seemed to fit. Not to mention, I wanted a blend of traditional elements (which was the whole kitchen up to now), with a twist of modern for drama.
It wasn’t until we went to Signature Lighting in Calgary that I found the exact light I as hoping for. The design and model is from the Eaton collection in matte black and we extended it on a 5 foot panel.
Once the floors were installed, we jumped back into getting the island done. This was way more tedious because of the shape it was in! The island had water damage, wood splitting, seams that needed caulking, etc.
The other tough part was that I wanted to create drama in the kitchen/dining area, but no matter how we measured we couldn’t fit the large black sideboard that I wanted. So instead I opted for a very dramatic black island. My husband was SO unsure of my choice, but I asked him to trust me and now neither one of us can imagine it any other way!
The color we went with was SW Caviar in the same velvet finish for the island, that would match nicely with the SW Balanced Beige of our other cabinets.
Another thing we discovered along the way (well, more specifically on our first day in our house). The faucet the sellers left was barely working, and would get clogged easily, so we needed to replace that asap to have a functional kitchen. I also knew that the backsplash will be something we will tackle eventually, but it works fine as a neutral backdrop at this stage, so at this point we left it as is.
I also didn’t know how to feel about the granite at first, but the more we are here, the more I enjoy having a statement countertop vs. the white I originally planned on. We may still switch to quartz, but I doubt I’d keep it white now, and instead would go for something more dramatic with more tone.
During all this chaos, we had wall painting done throughout the entire main floor area, which again created a pause in progress.
Kitchen Island Time
Anyways, we do go back to the island. I started by removing everythingggggg. All the doors, drawers, and accessories. Wiping it down multiple times and wood filling.
Note our broken blinds in the BG lol. Just another of many fun surprises of this house.
Don’t be alarmed if the first few coats looks very scary. The kitchen cabinets all looked this horrible on the first layer. As I said, the paint self levels and you can see the close up final results at the bottom of the post, so you can be the judge of the texture.
We then needed to balance out the pantry door and decided to also paint it the same Caviar black that the island is.
Because I thought I was more nimble than I actually was, I did end up dripping paint onto the floor, but fortunately with LVP floors it comes right off (so long as you don’t let it sit for more than 72hrs). I also did a test area with taped off glass but my line was not coming out as sharp as I wanted, so I actually overpainted onto the glass door. I then scraped it off with a razor scraper for a perfect clean edge.
And here we are. The final product. After a full clean, polish, and wipe, the kitchen and dining space are DONE. We caulked the baseboards, painted them and the trim. Essentially refreshed the entire room. I cannot believe the transformation. I am absolutely in awe of all the hard work and the STUNNING final result. This kitchen is everything I’ve ever dreamed of! Took us all the way till Christmas to get everything ready, but here it is!
I will say that my photos are taken on an iPhone so the quality could be better, but until I invest into a DSLR this is the best I can do.
It has been about 5 months since we’ve painted the kitchen, and I haven’t had a single knick or scrape on the cabinets. That being said – there absolutely NEEDS to be a 72 hours no-use period with repainting. As well as 30 days of very light use while the paint fully cures. After that month, we have banged, hit and been very rough with the cabinets and still they hold up beautifully.
For costs, I wanted to include a full budget breakdown so that anyone wanting to redo their space had an honest review of everything that went into it. Keep in mind that this is CAD and not US, so our prices are a little different and will be higher to those who are in the US (meaning you can do this for less in USA).
- Paint – all together was roughly $300 (try to take advantage of the SW sales that come back often – this saved us 30% on all products because the enamel paint is not cheap – and this is also higher because of my mentioned errors above where I couldn’t get the sprayer to go on evenly so I wasted about half a can’s worth of paint).
- Primer – $75
- Paint supplies including:
- Sprayer – this was $150 + tax when I ordered it (an amazing investment because I’ve used it more than a dozen times now!)
- Paint brushes and rollers – $50
- Painter’s tape – $20
- Sanding sponges and sheets – $30
- Wood filler – $10
- Knobs and Pulls – $287
- New lighting
- Pendants – $800
- Flush lights – $100
- Faucet – $200
TOTAL: $922 (Paint + Hardware) + $1100 (Replaced faucet and Lighting) = $2022
$635 for the paint job alone
$900 for statement lighting
$487 for all the accessories and hardware
Keep in mind, that we a) spent the most on lighting and b) replaced the faucet out of need and not want, and c) did not spend this in one month! It took us several months to get this done, and it took many stages of progress pauses. So the actual renovation would cost just under $1000 to get the paint and hardware updated! You can also easily knock $150 bucks off by just using rollers, but expect to triple the time spent on the project.
We were lucky enough to sell the knobs and old lights on FB marketplace to offset the cost a bit too, and overall I am so so so happy with all of our choices!
Now excuse me while I go and cook and get grease splatter everywhere 😉 Jokes aside, grease and red food sauce stains come off very easily from the painted cabinets – which is yet another great bonus!
I hope this inspires you to take some risks and update your kitchen if it’s something you’ve been wanting to do for a while! I couldn’t be happier with my taupe kitchen! It’s the exact old-time feel of traditional with clean modern lines!