Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Very Last Kitchen Makeover- Part One: Research and Development

It began like many an overly ambitious DIY misadventure, with a trip and fall down a Pinterest rabbit hole. Back in January, I was attempting to pin my way out of the ModLodge wallpaper fiasco and before I knew what was happening, I was creating a "Kitchen" board and filling it with terrible ideas like "How to pour concrete countertops over existing tile." I mean... Could you even imagine?

Thankfully I could only wander so far because back in the real world, I had a living room to put back together. But without a doubt, there was a little spark, a precocious little voice saying, "Well, maybe, just maybe..."

The last work I'd done on the kitchen involved wallpaper removal and a fresh coat of paint on the woebegone walls and ceiling. Nothing revolutionary, but it went a long way. Or, as long of a way as I thought possible without calling in the contractors and tapping into the hefty nest egg we've set aside for home renovations and which doesn't exist.

Also,  I didn't hate the kitchen. Sure it had gross old cabinets, but as I've said before, so has practically every place I've ever lived, so I'd be lost without them. The countertop tiles wouldn't be my pick, but at least they were a pleasant shade of blue.

It may not have been the E.T kitchen of my dreams, but it was, I don't know... Home Alone? I could live with that. 

Then a funny thing happened. Our fridge died suddenly one day. The next day, so did our dishwasher. I was glad to see them go, happy to see them replaced by gleaming, silent, energy efficient, spacious, not-all-weird-smelling new ones. They were glorious. And wedged between the ancient artifacts we called cabinets, they looked tragically out of place.

Aaaaand now I hated the kitchen.

But what was I supposed to do? Since Pinterest got me into this mess, I returned to see if it could get me out of it. I set about free form pinning until a pattern emerged.

Gray cabinets.

Ok. Yes. I could do this. Painting cabinets wasn't new to me. It's time consuming, but the results are dramatic and (unless everything goes wrong) very satisfying.

I wanted to make sure this particular paint job would be durable, so I combed Pinterest, taking in every opinion and tutorial until I found one blog post by Designer Trapped In A Lawyer's Body that just made sense to me. You can read the full post here, but to summarize, this blogger painted her kitchen cabinets using Milk Paint from General Finishes.

I had never heard of Milk Paint and didn't know what makes it different from regular latex paint (I still don't, to be honest) nor had I heard of General Finishes, but I liked their branding. Or lackthereof. It was industrial, professional grade, no frills. As if their slogan would be "We make paint." If I'm being smart, that probably is their branding, to appeal to dumbies like me who think using a serious paint with an eagle on it is going to somehow reduce the likelihood of making silly mistakes. The realistic advantage of using this type of paint is that you don't need to sand or prime, it dries exponentially faster than latex paint, shows virtually no brush strokes, and is very resilient. Sure. Sold.

With the paint plan in place, I came back to the tougher question to answer. What was I going to do about these counters?
 If spending money wasn't an option, and it truly, almost hilariously wasn't, this left me with 3 ways out.

1. Some kind of cheap replacement like Ikea butcher block countertops. I found a few DIY bloggers who'd successfully installed these on their own, but it seemed like an awfully high risk undertaking. It was unlikely I'd be able to remove the existing counters without destroying the cabinet frames underneath. And even if I did, the idea of cutting out holes for the sink and faucet made me feel like I was going to pass out.
2. Learn to love the tiles as they were. But where's the fun in that?
3. Paint the tiles.

People say mixed things about painting tiles, so to try to learn more I poked around on YouTube, finding tutorials made almost exclusively by Australians (what's going on with the tiles down under?) and pinned a couple of blog posts about it. But I was still hesitant, until DIY Dave sent me a link to tile painting from This Old House. "Fine," I thought, "if This Old House would do it, then it must be legit." 

So there you have it. Painting and lots of it. A game plan for what would be the last makeover this kitchen would ever, could ever, receive. I knew it would be a lot of work. But I had no idea just how much until I was in too deep.

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