It’s true my friends, it can be done. This whole process was done slowly but surely in pieces over about a year. Not because it was particularly hard or time-consuming, but because life happens and that’s just how long it took us to finally be done.
In The Beginning
When our house was put on the market the previous owner had the whole place freshly painted a very slight off-white. You could tell the color difference between the very white trim and the off-white wall, but barely.
She also had just replaced all the appliances, countertops, and flooring. Wouldn’t have picked exactly the same things she did, but it’s all nice, functional, and new. We’re certainly not going to replace any of it just for asthetics.
Some things should be white. All the walls in the entire house do not fall into that category. I prefer white as the accent, not the main event.
The first thing we did after closing on our house was to paint just about every wall. We hadn’t had our household goods (all of our worldly possessions minus the two suitcases we had with us) delivered yet, and the house was empty…and much easier to paint this way.
We left the stairwells and tall hallways white because we put color everywhere else. Also, they’re too tall to paint with a normal ladder. I would have preferred a neutral color instead of white, but the effort or cost wasn’t worth it, so much to Christopher’s delight, we left it.
Time To Paint
This is about the kitchen, so I’m going to focus just on that. We did the kitchen in a dark red. I love it.
The kitchen and “sitting room”, that are really just one room, are on the back of the house and don’t get as much natural light as the front. Originally I just wanted to do one accent wall red, and leave the rest white, then do the upper cabinets antiqued white and lowers antiqued red. We started painting the one accent wall, and then just kept going.
We then were just going to do the whole sitting room red and leave the kitchen white. Nope. Everything wound up red, and it’s lovely. I’ve got dark red accents (canisters, dish towels, tea kettle) and it all fits together wonderfully.
I should mention that we’re very fortunate that my dad was a contractor in a previous life. It’s awesome because he teaches us stuff, we complete projects (for less than hiring a contractor), and we get to spend quality time with my dad. Winner.
The next project we tackled was crown
Let me tell you a little story about installing crown
If you have ever done it yourself know what I’m talking about. The
We learned very quickly that none of the corners or edges are square anywhere in the house. For the first time in my life, my beloved math, where 1+1=2 no matter where you are in the world or what language you speak, was failing me.
It wasn’t really of course, but there was a lot of guessing and checking because none of the 90-degree angles were actually 90 degrees. The angles that were clearly more or less than 90 degrees were an even bigger crap shoot.
Despite all of that, I really love how the moulding came out. We used the corner blocks on the inside corners which look really nice and make the pieces easier to cut and fit. Caulk is magical and can fill in spaces and erase otherwise noticeable imperfections as a result of nothing being square or fitting perfectly.
I think the moulding is gorgeous, and while it doesn’t change the way the room looks as much as painting the walls or the cabinets, it still has a big impact.
That being said, knowing now how much of a pain it is to install it, and how much it costs to have it installed, we probably wouldn’t do it again. Or, maybe just one more time in our forever home.
At the end of it all, I looked at my dad and said, “I’m really glad I’m your daughter and you have to love me no matter what, otherwise I think you may never speak to me again after this.” He just smiled. I won’t be asking him to put up crown moulding in our next house.
That weekend we also replaced the kitchen sink, but that was for functionality, not aesthetics. Although I do like the look of the new one better than the old one – just an added bonus.
The sink we had was a deep double bowl sink. The divider was exactly in the middle so each side was the same size. It was deep and nice but I couldn’t fit a pan or pot with a handle in the sink. After a few weeks, it was driving me insane. We replaced the double bowl sink with one giant sink with no division. I can fit the entire kitchen in that sink now. It’s also perfect for bathing babies. It is so much more functional for us now. That stupid sink my favorite change in the entire kitchen.
Before I started my new job, I tackled the backsplash. It took me about 5 days to do, while Chris was at work. I spent the first day and a half removing the old granite backsplash that came with the counter and repairing the drywall behind it. Those 5 days also
We picked 3” x 6” travertine subway tiles. The granite counters in our kitchen are neutral but busy. I wouldn’t have picked them myself, but they’re nice and perfectly fine and we’re certainly not going to replace them just because. The neutral but busy part made it a little bit harder to pick a good backsplash tile that would go well with the counter.
We decided that simple travertine would work best, and it happened to be fairly inexpensive. Typically I’m drawn to the most expensive option, so we were both very happy to find a great fit for a great price.
It took a little bit of my sanity from me for those few days, and it’s not 100% perfect, but I’m the only one who notices the imperfections. There is a great deal of satisfaction knowing I’m the one who did it. That makes it look even better.
Fast-forward a year. Yes, an entire year, almost to the weekend. The kitchen cabinets are painted. They look amazing. The kitchen is done. There are no projects left for me to do in the kitchen. It looks spectacular, and we’re done. It turned out just how I envisioned it in my brain.
The last thing to go was the mid-90s builder-grade, oak cabinets, which I just don’t care for. They’re tall, in good shape, and serve their purpose beautifully. To spend the tens of thousands of dollars to replace them/re-do the kitchen just because I don’t like how they look would have been insane.
Instead, we spent about $200 to paint them, making them look how I wanted them to. Slowly but surely, I waged war against all the oak cabinets throughout the house. The bathroom vanities have all been painted, too.
To paint the kitchen cabinets we used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. My mom has done several projects with Annie Sloan paint at her River Cottage and I love how every piece turned out. Plus, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
She’s gotten really good at using the paint and the wax, and since my very first Annie Sloan project was my not-easily-replaceable kitchen cabinets, I asked for her help.
It took a whole year for us both to have a free weekend at my house, but it finally happened.
Now I’m also comfortable with how it all works and have done several other projects on my own. If you don’t have someone to teach you, don’t be discouraged. It’s really quite simple and there are so many videos on YouTube. With a little research, you can definitely successfully figure it out and have great project success the first time.
If I didn’t live so close to my mom right now, I would have just figured it out on my own and it would have been just fine. Instead, I forced her into free labor and some quality mother-daughter time.
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
The Annie Sloan paint is a bit expensive, about $40 a quart depending on where you buy it. Considering the cost to replace the cabinets, we still came out way ahead.
The beauty of the Annie Sloan paint is that you don’t have to prep. That’s right. No sanding, no priming, no prep work, no nothing. All we had to do was take the hardware off and take the cabinet doors off and start painting. That price sounds even more worth it now, doesn’t it?
After the cabinets were painted and waxed, we gave them an antiqued look with black wax around the edges.
We have 4 recessed lights in the kitchen ceiling, a big bay window, and a door out to the back deck. As I mentioned earlier, the sun never beats into the room because of the way the house faces, but we have plenty of light in the space. The lighter cabinets make the kitchen so much brighter! It looks like we added another 4 lights to the ceiling, even with the darker walls.
Finally, I spray-painted the cabinet and drawer pulls flat black with Rust-Oleum. They were brushed silver and didn’t look quite right with the off-white cabinets. All of our appliances are stainless steel & black. The flat black hardware is a great compliment, tying everything together.
I could have bought new hardware for a few bucks apiece. The pulls I have are just fine, I just didn’t like the color anymore. So for the price of one new cabinet pull, I bought a can of Rust-Oleum and transformed all of
The Finished Product
We went on a long weekend trip just a week after the cabinets were done, and I almost forgot for a second that we had painted them. When we got home and I walked into the kitchen it was like Christmas morning all over again.
I’m really happy with how everything turned out. Even more so because we didn’t have to break the bank to get there.
- Sherwin Williams primer: $28.49/gal
- Sherwin Williams paint: 2 gallons at $33.99/gal = $67.98
- Paint roller covers: $10.73
- Painter’s tape: $6.23
- We already had paint rollers, trays, and brushes and didn’t need to buy more
- Travertine 3”x6” tile: 31 sqft at $4.68/sqft = $145
- Sanded tile caulk: $7.97
- SimpleMat tile setting mat: $49.97
- Sponge: $1.97
- Grout float: $4.96
- Tile spacers: $2.97
- Sanded grout: $9.97
- Bucket for grout: free, I used an old 5-gallon bucket
- Caulk: $2.38
- Nailgun nails: $6.57
- We borrowed a compound MITRE saw and nail gun
- Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: 4 quarts at $41.29/qt = $165.16
- Annie Sloan Clear Wax: $27.50
- Annie Sloan Dark Wax: $27.50
- Chalk Paint Brush (medium): $40.50
- Wax Brush (small): $30.50
- Rust-Oleum Spray Paint (Flat Black): $3.87
- Kitchen sink: $363.99. That link isn’t the exact sink we have but very close. I can’t find the exact one we have on the website anymore. I did a lot of research to find a sink I wanted that matched the existing hole in our counter (that was very limiting) for the best price, at the time.
If you add all those numbers up it comes to $1,071.23. That’s more than $1000, which is the opposite of under $1000, the title of this post. I called it under $1000 because while we spent just over that for this project, there are several things that will be used for many projects to come.
The Annie Sloan brushes can obviously be used over and over again. We had plenty of clear and dark wax left over and some of the Old White paint used on the cabinets. In fact, I’ve used the same clear and dark wax on every other chalk paint project since the cabinets (about seven others).
We had plenty of painter’s tape left over, the grout float and sponge are reusable. You get the idea. My point is, a total kitchen makeover can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. We were able to do it for a fraction of that and are so happy with how the whole room came together.
What DIY projects have you done and saved money on? Do you get greater satisfaction doing it yourself, or prefer to leave it to the professionals? Any epic DIY fails??