Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dreaming of a white kitchen

When we first viewed our house with our Realtor in January, there were many things we loved and also many things we said we'd like to change (which, in my opinion, is the perfect combo!). Some needed immediate attention, like the canary yellow walls, and some fell into the wouldn't that be cool eventually category. The kitchen, however, wasn't on either of those lists--I liked it just the way it was. In fact, I'd say it was the main selling point (or at least top 3).

So, naturally, we got to work on it right away! 

You know how when you move into a house, especially one that was previously owned by someone with drastically different taste than you, it feels like you are living in someone else's space. I think that was one reason we decided to paint our kitchen cabinets--we needed to do something with impact. We had the yellow walls professionally painted, along with several other rooms, but since we didn't do that ourselves, it didn't satisfy. It felt like we lived in someone else's house, only they let us pick the paint color this time. 
We did get our painter to give us an estimate to paint our cabinets (just for giggles) and he came back at $1700! He said the price was mostly for labor, and after doing it ourselves, we totally understand. This is a huge undertaking, but we did it ourselves for around $250 AND we added things that our painter wouldn't have done, like beadboard wallpaper insets!
I should mention, we weren't living in our house at the time which made this project MUCH easier to tackle.

Here is our kitchen before (picture from the listing):
Not too bad, right? With the table gone, it's really open and we have a ton of counter space! But think of what it could be with a little paint and about 1.5 million hours of labor?!? Let's do it.

First, we took off all the doors and pulled out all the drawers. I cleaned them all really well before we got started.

Instead of sanding to rough up the surfaces (that would have taken forever!!), the folks at our home improvement store recommended Valspar Bonding Primer. We brushed it on to make sure we got in all the creases. It creates a rough, matte surface, as you would expect if you roughed it up with sandpaper.
It was so nice to use our empty living room at a makeshift workshop!

Now for the fun part...paintable beadboard wallpaper insets (great tips in this tutorial)! These are so incredibly easy to do and they add so much to plain kitchen cabinets. I bought two rolls from Lowes (at $20 each, they're a steal!), and only needed a couple feet from the second roll (each roll is 56 square feet).

Cut your pieces before you wet the adhesive. I had 4-5 different sizes of insets, so I'd cut one and use it as a template for the rest of the cabinets of that size. It's not too important to cut them exactly the right size because you'll caulk around the edges which will cover any spots where you are a little short/long/wonky.
I'm a measure once, cut once type of girl. Aint nobody got time for measuring 8000 cabinet insets twice.

The back already has adhesive, so I used a spray bottle with tap water to get the back pretty wet. Since the cabinets are horizontal, it's okay for it to have a little excess water on it. If you don't have enough water it won't activate the adhesive as well and you'll get some areas around the edges that don't want to stick. You can fold the edges into the center and let the adhesive set up for a few minutes.
That step also falls into the category of things I stopped doing once I realized how long this project was going to take :)
You don't have to worry about the back being too wet because your cabinets will be horizontal until it's dry.
When you put the insets in, you should be able to slide them around and get them into place. If you are having a hard time sliding, you may not have used enough water, or you may have let them set up too long. Just re-wet and stick again. Easy!
You can see that my edges are a little wobbly--but that's totally ok. I was told that you should put the most effort into the last 5% of a project, because that's all anyone will see, and that totally applies here. No need to be a perfectionist at this point.
I put all the insets in and let them dry overnight.
Once they were dry, I went around the edges of the wallpaper with a bead of caulk. Then, I wet my finger and ran it along the edge that I just calked, smoothing out the caulk and pushing it into the edge of the cut-in, so there was no seam between the beadboard and the wood.

Make sure to use paintable caulk!

We also put beadboard on the back of the open areas and where we have glass cabinets.
While I worked on the cabinet doors, the hubs primed the cabinets.
After the caulk dried, we started on our first coat of paint. We used Valspar Ultra Kitchen and Bath because it's made to be really durable and cleans really well. We did two coats over the whole cabinet door--even the beadboard. We used a brush on the insets because they are fairly narrow, and we used a foam roller on the edges. We also used the roller where we could on the cabinets. The paint is fairly thick, so I think the coverage and texture is really similar with a brush or a foam roller.

I ordered these bin cup drawer handle pulls (X19) and these matching knobs for the cabinets (X24). Including shipping, I replaced my entire kitchen hardware for under $75! I was a little nervous ordering sight unseen, but it worked out. They are high quality, heavy, and didn't have any dings or imperfections! I also sold our old hardware on Craigslist for $30, so I netted $45 for new kitchen hardware!
We put the doors back on and put our new hardware on and called it a day! I'm so pleased with the outcome. The hardware and beadboard make all the difference!

It took us several weeks to complete, but we were not living in the house and were mostly working on the weekends.
We love how open and airy it feels now!



Have you used textured, paintable wallpaper? Do you love it? I think it's the perfect touch for our otherwise boring cabinet doors!

The 36th Avenue

Furniture Feature Fridays


  1. Oh wow, what a fabulous transformation. Such a beautiful kitchen. This is a ton of work, but wow, it is stunning. I would love for you to link up to my Inspire Me Tuesday party that is ongoing.
    Hugs, Marty

    1. Thank you, Marty! I just linked up to your party!

  2. I LOVE a white kitchen and you guys did a really good job making over your cabinets! Looks so fresh and clean! I a pinning this to my "kitchen" board.

    Jennifer @ Decorated Chaos

  3. I love the look of white kitchen cabinets. You two did a great job! Look forward to seeing more.

  4. The transformation is amazing! I did the same thing several years ago with real beadboard which required lots of cutting and sanding. That was before I discovered the wallpaper at Lowes. Now I have it on a couple walls in the dining room and bedroom Just a word of advice-if you have cats they will love to sharpen their claws on the wallpaper-I found that out the hard way on my walls which now need replaced!

  5. Fantastic transformation! I want to paint my cabinets too...maybe someday. Until then, I'll enjoy yours. :)

    (Visiting from Miss Mustard Seed.)

  6. Amazing transformation! Everything is so fresh and pretty, great job.Fire Engine Kids Bed

  7. The dream started 12 years ago when I moved into my current digs. A spacious place in SF standards but some amenities were lacking. For someone who loves to cook, the 60's kitchen finishes and awkward layout made cooking meals a pain. affordable kitchen cabinets

  8. Not very good at this kind of thing, but am wondering if it's possible to PIN this to Pinterest?

  9. I figured out how to pin it. But have another question. Did you do any sanding at all, like after the primer, or between coats of paint?

    1. Hi! Sorry I didn't get back to your comment yesterday--I'm glad you figured it out!

      We didn't do any sanding on our cabinets. The primer we used is a bonding primer which adheres to a glossy surface and creates a rough texture (as if it was sanded). The primer was recommended to us by the folks at Home Depot specifically for cabinets. I HATE sanding and the mess it creates, so I was happy to test out this method and after almost a year of use it's holding up great!

  10. Thanks, Page! I'm doing as much research as I can because I want to paint my icky fakey oak cabinets white, and also do the beadboard inset, so your blog is a great resource! I've seen that others use a deglosser before priming, but you just cleaned, then primed, right? No deglosser or liquid sand? Then what kind of paint did you use on the cabinets?

    1. I've seen people use a deglosser, but we omitted that step as well! After looking into the bonding primer, we didn't think it was necessary. We just cleaned, primed, put the beadboard insets in and painted! We used Valspar Ultra Kitchen and Bath (link below). It's really thick and is made to be durable and scrub-able! I use a clorox wipe or magic eraser and it cleans up perfectly.

  11. Our kitchen looks like a neon light exploded. Bright yellow cabinets and walls -- yuck! Your kitchen design is exactly what I'm looking for in our 1930s house. Everything looks so clean. Thanks for the inspiration!!!!

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