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DIY Kitchen Facelift

Joe and I are about half way through our DIY kitchen update.  Its has been a long, tiring process, but also really fun and educational.  Since we are still not done yet, I don’t have any before and after pics to show, but I will take you through the process so far.

Here is what our kitchen looked like when we first purchased the place.  Its in reasonable functioning condition – the appliances are no more than 5 years old. The cabinets and counters are maybe 15 years old, but they are clean and work just fine.  But as you can see from these pictures, the finish on the wood is really worn out and the pinkness of it really bugs me.

I also really hate the tile back splash – its those faux printed marble tiles where every tile has the exact same pattern on it – super tacky.  But I think replacing the tile would be more work than its worth since we plan to gut everything and renovate in two years or so.   I think painting tiles is a really bad idea too.  I’m still trying to decide if there is something I can put over it, but as of now, the tiles must stay as they are.  We decided that the easiest way to update the kitchen would be with a fresh coat of paint (on walls and cabinets) and new knobs and drawer pulls for the cabinets.

here’s my inspiration for my dream kitchen!!! This is definitely the look I’m going for for my future renovation, but hopefully my current DIY project will come somewhat close.

there are those subway tiles I love so much again. Maybe someday when we renovate I’l think of something else for the back splash so it’s not so matchy matchy with the bathroom.

So the first step to come anywhere close to this picture is to paint!  I decided to paint all the cabinets with a white semi gloss.  Unfortunately we can’t change the countertops yet and the crappy formica laminate is going to have to stay.  So to incorporate the strong black contrast of the counter tops from this image,  I decided to paint the walls a dark grey that is almost a black.

My biggest worry getting into this project was how to get the paint to stick to the cabinets long term.  I had dressers that I painted when I graduated from college, and because I didn’t prep the wood at all, the paint started to chip almost immediately.  I did a bunch of internet research and combined the tips from a few different resources.

The biggest help to me was the “Asks the Builder” video on youtube.

I really liked what he said about using a dust free deglosser as an alternative to sanding. Sanding can be such a pain in the butt – it’s physically tiring and it creates a big mess. But whenever I went to Home Depot or any other hardware store, they seemed baffled at what i was asking for. They said that even the professionals never ask for it. But one guy at home depot did give me this:

The label says that it deglosses, but this is NOT the product that Ask the Builder was talking about.  This is simply a very strong cleaning agent used for prepping surfaces for painting.  It worked amazingly well at removing all that built up kitchen grease.  Still, I was hoping that this would be enough and that I wouldn’t have to sand the surfaces.  Unfortunately, I tested it by painting primer onto a small spot and it immediately peeled off.  Another test spot that I sanded stayed on strong.  So thus began the sanding.

I removed all of the doors and started out by sanding everything by hand.  I was trying to be respectful to our new neighbors and kept the noise level down by not using my power sander.  I managed to do all of the cabinet doors, but was pretty exhausted by the thought of sanding the cabinet bodies too.  So I finally gave in and switched to the power sander (making sure to only use it earlier in the day).

The next step is priming. I was still a little nervous about using just any primer on a previously glossy surface.  I felt like sanding only roughed things up a limited amount and I was still afraid of chipping.  So I did more research and found out that most paint companies make what is called a “high adhesion” primer.  The Sherwin Williams high adhesion primer claims to be able to paint even unpaintable surfaces including tile.  So I bought the Behr equivalent from Home depot.

Joe was in charge of all priming since he didn’t feel confident with his painting skills.

According to Ask the Builder, its better to paint as soon as possible after priming.  Apparently primer becomes less effective if you wait too long.  So as soon as Joe finished, I’d paint my two coats of semi gloss.

Freshly painted! we stacked everything on top of small boxes and paint cans to lift it off of the plastic drop cloth for painting.

After giving the doors a couple days to dry, I re-attached them to the cabinets which also had a week or so to dry.  I don’t want anything sticking and ruining the paint job, so extra drying time is important.

The last step for the cabinets will be drilling holes for the knobs and drawer pulls.  I still have to paint five more doors as well as all the drawers, but I was so excited that I decided to go ahead and add pulls to the fake drawer front in front of the sink, just to see how it would look.

I had a bit of a learning experience with this part too.  We bought all of our pulls and knobs from the Restoration Hardware Outlet store at Tanger (for the amazingly low price of $1.99 each). They all came with screws and I drilled holes according to what I knew would be the right size for the screw (you want it to be small enough that the teeth have something to grip into).  Half way through driving in the screw, it twisted and broke in half!!  I had to drill around the piece stuck into the wood, and excavate it out.

After wood puttying and repainting, I went to my local hardware store to buy new screws and a bigger drill bit.  I thought that maybe my hole was too small and might be putting too much stress on the screw??  I asked the guy at the hardware store, and he told me I was using the correct drill bit size and that my screws broke because they are just really poor quality.  Maybe that’s why they ended up at the outlet! He gave me better quality screws and I got back at it.

power drill!!

Beautiful Restoration Hardware hardware! Too bad the screws suck.

New higher quality screws that won’t break

Our completed faux drawer front

Once I finish painting and installing all of the pulls, the last step will be painting the walls which should be a significantly easier job.  Before and after pics to come in the next couple of weeks!!

See before and after pics here!

3 comments to DIY Kitchen Facelift

  • awesome job so far! it’s great to see all your hard work come to fruition 🙂 i bet you’ll be done decorating your place before we’re done with ours! ha..

  • You guys are so handy – from what it looks like, the cabinets look much better already. Replace the tiling and you might not feel the need to redo it anymore!

  • glories

    you are so inspiring! your perseverance and dedication is amazing!

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