What we did in 3 weeks

covellaJuly 23, 2010

I think as I look back that this forum was the most influential place I went to for information and ideas and answers. I'm pretty sure I don't have the whatever to hold up under a kitchen remodel that would take months. I don't know how some of you have done it. I felt really really badly about spending about $18,000 on this remodel in a 27 yr old kitchen, after I read a magazine article about a husband-wife DIY team who did a whole kitchen for $1600 - albeit much smaller than mine. Then I read that it took them 7 years to do it a little at a time as they found free or nearly free materials. I would probably kill myself! But here for your viewing pleasure I am sending photos of what we accomplished. The deadline was 3 weeks because we had 17 relatives coming for a weekend. And I asked each person working for us what they could accomplish and to please tell me if we hit a natural stopping point that made sense to stop and wait till after the company left. We are really about 90% done because - well, you know mistakes do happen when you are working day and night and the paint and dry wall dust is flying. Here goes. We still need to do a lot of touch up and clean up of details with paint and there is still grout to be applied in places. I'm hoping for some feedback on what I chose and how it turned out because I am still kind of shell shocked. I am also looking for some feedback on quality of the tile contractors work and what my expectations should be, which I'll post separately.


The soffit ran all the way around the kitchen and featured a border of houses and willow trees that had been airplane glued directly to dry wall. The wallpaper was extremely difficult to remove. We removed the soffits and sanded off the ceiling and put up a new one. I chiseled the wallpaper off everywhere I had to and we re-skimmed the damaged walls. The 27 yr old Merillat cabinets were dark stained solid oak door, vinyl covered box w wood front, and still in good shape so one place I saved was by having them painted instead of buying new. Our appliances never warranted having photos but the dishwasher door was broken and the frame for the crisper drawers in the very ancient refrig was broken completely.

The new kitchen has a Samsung French door refrig, Samsung Energy Saver dishwasher, simple stainless range hood because it was the only thing I could find that fit - not yet installed in these photos, Kohler single basin stainless sink with Delta Touch2-O faucet, under counter halogen lighting with 3 way dimmers, new 4 and 5" cans in the ceiling - both halogen and regular, island and kitchen table with dimmers. Floor is dk brown porcelain leather look with TruColor Bostik urethane no-seal grout, The cabs are painted Sandy Brown fm Behr and glazed with a mix of gray and brown glazes, polyurethaned.

The island was reduced in size by 1 cabinet, painted a distressed black and poly'd. The backsplash is Tanzu slate from the Sonoma Stone line from Market Collection. The laminate countertops are Flax Linen with a bevel edge. The wall color is Olive Branch from the now defunct Pottery Barn color collection which was mixed in a Behr paint. We still haven't picked a trim and door color but you probably can't tell that from these pictures. The hall and 1/2 bath were kind of a miracle to me - I could not get the wallpaper off and finally bought 4 x 8 ft sheets of beadboard and we covered it. We painted them Old Prairie - same color card as Olive Branch and they look amazing - it is so cleaned up compared to before.

Part of what drove the color selection was the antique hand made brick fireplace in the family room

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WOW on the time frame. QUINTUPLE WOW on the transformation. It's beautiful. Congratulations to you and your whole team.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 3:59PM
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Really pretty! I really like all your selections - great cabinet color and backsplash! And to do all that in such a short time is very impressive.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 4:35PM
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I give you credit for all you've done in so short a time period. Very nice changes!!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 4:44PM
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One of my guests was my high end designer cousin who was kind of miffed when I told her what I spent and how long it took - LOL. Anyway its still not done and I'm very nervous about getting the little details right here at the end. I'm not entirely happy about the tile installation - kind of bumpy. I don't know what I should expect at this stage.

Also - I don't know why my posts are so wide and the photos so big. Does anyone know how to reduce the size?


    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 5:08PM
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I wonder if "de-soffitizing" is a verb?

Good job on pulling in those colors and designing a very distinctive change for your kitchen. The cream paint and the tile colors are great. I would enjoy looking at that backsplash as I work.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 5:11PM
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So what do you think about the black island? I am half thinking of having it redone in the same color as the cabinets. Or maybe a green with glaze over it. The reason I chose black is because it gets such a workout being the center of the room that is the center of our house. My painter said that the only way to get a true black is to buy it ready mixed - that you can't have a black mixed at the store. I think that black is too stark. I envisioned something different but I can't quite put my finger on what is wrong. It was primed, painted in the Sandy Brown of the cabs, and then painted black and distressed. I have seen an an island that was painted red, then green, then a palomino color, then black and then distressed. You really don't notice each color individually but together they made a beautiful distressed piece.

Now here is the funny part. I originally wanted an all white kitchen because I cook a lot and I like to work on white. I hired a kitchen designer that worked by the hour. She threw a fit and said all white was a no-go and that it wouldn't fit into my house. Then I asked if she could incorporate ocean blues and greens into a color scheme and she said no way. At this point she had me trembling. We started with the floor which I thought was a real winner. She found it at Home Depot for $1.97 /sq ft. At the stone store they mistook it for a line that costs $15 a Sq ft that they carry - I was high-5-ing myself internally. One of my criteria for my kitchen was low maintenance and she did a wonderful job of finding the flooring. I do not want to spend 1 minute extra in the kitchen maintaining and cleaning - this is not my life. The floor, being a completely matte finish does not show dirt at all which is great. So that was very nice, but when she went out of town and didn't return my multiple calls for 7 days, but had time to phone and text the contractor and painter in front of me for days in a row - that ticked me off and I dropped her since she was working by the hr. Later my cousin the designer told me a little secret about the industry. She said that one of the things they do is try to help you lose confidence in your own taste and choices so that you rely on them. She said she had clients who called and emailed her pictures of coffee mugs and every day glasses to make sure it would be ok in their home. So I went off on my own and picked the cabinet colors and backsplash tile. I would have painted the walls some version of off white or cream but my awesome painters insisted it had to be green. They literally told me if I didn't paint it olive green they would be back to paint it again because I wouldn't be happy. Ok - well I like somebody who can stick by what they think so I went with their suggestion. I did think it looks like pea soup but I instantly saw their point after it was on the walls. Lucky for paint it can be changed so easily. I had awesome people to work with. They really, really just knocked themselves completely out on my behalf.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 5:55PM
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Your cabinet transformation is INCREDIBLE! I love them---great job!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 6:10PM
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Looks really terrific. I don't know about black. I'm wondering if it would look too heavy in your space. How about a gray/green. Darker in tone then your cabs but not a heavily saturated color.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 6:39PM
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Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! I'm beaming! Now I'm in the market for cabinet pulls or knobs. But what style is this kitchen?
Mine I guess - but any suggestions about what might look nice in here? I have my hinges showing so I guess a rubbed bronze color would make sense.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 8:47PM
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Wow! You are so creative - you took those cabinets and soooo updated them into such a beautiful, warm space. I love the color on those cabs -- I love the BS with the countertop. And you did it DIY-- with your DH? Would have been IMPOSSIBLE in my household! I enjoy seeing everyone's kitchens, but I have an affinity for those like you who take what they have an give it a facelift.

OK, to make the pictures smaller:
go to your photobucket account
click on the album that you want to upload pictures from
hit "edit" above the photo that you want to upload to GW
on the toolbar above the picture, click on the "resize" button
I click on preset sizes and I use the "large" option, scroll to the bottom and save.

I like that size, gives full screen without overfilling it.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 9:32PM
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Oh No! I didn't do this myself - we had a contractor who laid the tile floor and backsplash, took down the ceiling and soffits and put it back up, etc. A very creative and talented painter executed what I was visualizing for the cabinets - she had never done glazing like this before but made me several samples and we picked from there. I primed and painted the ceiling, stripped wallpaper, ran a lot of trips to stores to pick up materials and tried to keep up with the cleaning.

Thanks for the resizing info- I'm going to resend some of the pics

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 11:24PM
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This was 6 days before my guests arrived. The reason we had to rebuild those soffit boxes is that we found 1 stupid pipe sticking out farther than the cab face - a stack vent for the toilets. I called 2 plumbers in to see what they would charge, and it would have cost around $4000 to change it to aim to the side instead of aiming this way, but it still would not have been flush to the wall, and we would have had to lose a wall in a bath upstairs to get at it and the use of that bathroom for at least a week, plus put the wall back up etc. We stood and looked at it and decided maybe it would work to make 2 boxes to balance it out and pretend it was an architectural detail put up there on purpose. I'm happy with it and you all are the only ones who know why its there! Like my cabinet mess? This was before I gave up completely on cooking.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 11:44PM
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I think you and the contractors did an amazing job in that short time! I'm glad you went with the green paint, I think cream would have been too much with the lightness of the cabs and counter top. I do think your knobs/pulls should match the hinges since they show. if you want something different, maybe you could change the hinges to match? I don't know how bronze would look on the cabs but i'd like ORB myself.

that KD should have been gone asap!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 12:24AM
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Amazing transformation!! Your cabs are soooo beautiful! The olive green paint ties in great with your cabs & backsplash. Personally, I would go with fairly simple cab hardware. Do you want pulls, cups, or knobs? If you keep the island black, the ORB hardware won't really show up so you might want to use a different finish on that hardware. I don't know what to tell you about your tile. I did notice that it looked a little uneven to the right of the fridge. I'm sure someone else here will be able to give you some good advice. Good luck with your final details--trust yourself, after all you've done a great job so far. I love your striped tablecloth and the pig peeking out above the cabs--very cute!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 1:32AM
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What is ORB hardware?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:37AM
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Your transformation is amazing! Really, nice job! Your painters were totally spot on about that olive green color. It looks great! Can't tell from your photo about the black island. It's not reading as a true black for me on my monitor. Looks more like a blackish-brown. In any event, I think that dark island plays nicely with the colors of your backsplash and, at the same time, contrasts nicely with the cabs. Just a great job overall and in record time, no less. Congratulations!

BTW, ORB? Oil-rubbed bronze.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 9:22AM
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What a busy bee you were! The cabinet look GREAT!!! And I love love love your backsplash. Congrats and enjoy!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 9:25AM
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Thank you Thank you! Now I just am wondering if I can switch out some of my outlets or add outlets with those little Silltile outlets - I wish I'd seen those before they are really cool. I have a call in to the electrician to ask where they can be used.

I really need to ask for some help with the tile installation. It is not even is the problem and I don't know how far I should go in insisting that it be redone.

The sheets of mosaic were square, so he had to cut all of them in half to get the diamond effect, and piece in all of the extras. To go around the electrical faceplates, all of those had to be done - some of them 1 mosaic tile at a time, and cut in 1/2 diamonds to get them to fit. It is not smooth and even and I'm unhappy with it.
There are also holes around the switch plates where another tile won't fit. I feel like he is giving up on the project and wants to get out.

The second part of the problem is that he didn't lay out the mosaic sheets from the beginning and look at them. This is my first time doing this - I really didn't know to ask him about it. Because Tanzu slate has variable colors, the mosaic above the stove and sink areas is very red and yellow in color, whereas the mosaic back by the refrigerator is much more blue/gray. That is expensive material - $60 a sq ft and I'm just a little freaked out right now. I know we rushed, I acknowledge that it was a crazy 3 weeks, but I am also not real happy looking at this variation for the next how many years. So what do I do? What would be fair? What does he owe me? To compound things he is a friend/asociate from another part of our life.
I would really appreciate some input from someone else.

see hold by plate

found this this morning - we have a step down to the next room - I guess he will have to put new trim around the doorway but I have no idea what the solution is for the capture piece on the floor - that is metal and is cemented in.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 11:47AM
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What you've done is amazing for such a short time frame! It looks so much better (from what I could tell, difficult to tell with the large before pics... maybe you could provide a link to your photobucket to enable viewing there?). If I weren't finished, I'd be envious of 3 weeks! But as you pointed out on my thread, there were many things you wish you had seen sooner... I don't think I made a single decision in under 3 weeks, much less got the whole thing done!

As far as your other questions, I'd post those in a new, retitled thread, now that you know how to embed smaller pics. This one will forever be wider than the screen, and it's difficult to read all the text. I gave up reading comments and others who might have knowledge and feedback for you may do the same. You'd have a better chance at getting help that way.

For me, there are some things that weren't right that would have bugged me if I said nothing, others that didn't if I thought they weren't noticeable by anyone else, others that did bug me but I let go after asking... still other things that I was too tired to do anything about, coming toward the end of the remodel. I would say if the backsplash really bugs you and will every time you see it, have it redone now.

Please feel free to post again when you feel like you are completely finished!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:42PM
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Incredible! Paint the island, maybe a color in the tile.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 8:00AM
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Alyrics, your kitchen is stunning and three!!! weeks!!! is unbelievable. I love the green on the walls and the cream color on your cabinets. Really, really beautiful job.

LOVE the backsplash tile, especially those little diamonds. I can't see the color variation you describe from your photos but only you can decide if you will eventually get used to it or if it will always drive you crazy.

I agree that the island is not fitting in as is. If it were me, I would paint it the deep mustard color that's in your tile and then glaze it in a dark brown with some deep red tones to it; that will tie in both your backsplash and the brick fireplace in the next room. For hardware, I would do a birdcage pulls in a pewter finish on the perimeter and an ORB finish on the island.

Again, congratulations on a lovely kitchen on a crazy timeframe, and I'm looking forward to seeing it completely finished!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 8:42AM
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Absolutely incredible transformation!

PLEASE tell us about the process of the painting of the cabinets. We have similar oak cabinets and I've thought about painting them, or having them painted. however I've wondered if it is possible to not have oak's heavy grain to not show through at all, or not very much. You've acheived it! Anything you can tell us about how your cabinets were painted would be so appreciated.

CONGRATS on a great project!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 2:30PM
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The painter just did an incredible job on the cabinets. I can't tell you how thrilled we are. And she had never even done a glazed cabinet before- but lots of faux work. The original painter I hired had a family "event" (ugly divorce) which of course I knew nothing about, and sold his company without telling me. The guy who bought his company called me one day asking if I was ready to schedule my work and of course I didn't even know who he was - he explained the story and came and looked at the job and said he never would have bid glazing cabinets because he didn't know anything about it. This was on Day 5 when the ceiling was laying on the floor.

The KD called someone, she pulled in my driveway in 90 minutes, said she was willing to give it a try and I said - with one look heavenward.. ok lets do it. The process on these 27 yr old dark stained oak cabs was

*Take doors off and clean with TSP from Home Depot or other degreaser - I also used an interesting 'green' cleaning product from Trader Joes that sells for $3.00 a giant spray bottle and has cedarwood oil, sage oil and grain alcohol in it - that stuff will really clean up grease and dirt - took wallpaper down, cleaned stove tops.....
*Sand door fronts to smooth any roughness from the old stain but did not try to smoothe away the oak grain
*1 coat of Primer - Gripper by Glidden
*2 coats of acrylic latex paint on doors and boxes - the color is Sandy Brown from the old Pottery Barn line which is a chamois color, but it was mixed into Behr Primer and Paint all in One.
*1 coat glaze hand applied with artists brush to the crevices where the routing is, and wiped away, then a wash of glaze that was dry brushed into the surface of the door
I watched her do a cabinet side and she dry brushed the glaze onto almost dry base paint
*That had to dry for 72 hrs because the glaze needed that curing time to harden. Glaze has to have time to cure, and also needs to be covered because it apparently will re-wet. Be sure to follow mfrs instructions.
*Then the entire door was polyurethaned with a satin poly
*The cabinets are middle of the road Merillat and have wood fronts, but vinyl covered sides. They were degreased and scuffed with those bars of sandpaper, and then painted the same as the doors. I did not do the interiors as I have had paints remain sticky if you pick the wrong paint for the job. These cabs are not sticky on the outside but I wasn't taking chances. They are in good condition and there wasn't any aesthetic reason to paint the interior. We only painted the face of the wood frames of the cabinets but nothing inside that.
Ditto poly for the cabinets.
*The poly takes minutes to dry but 30 days to cure so I was extra gentle with the boxes and doors.
I am having them back in August to touch up all the paint, and to put a 2nd coat of polyurethane on the cabinets.
She showed me doors of her own that she had done faux finishes on and how the depth of the paint job is subtly changed by adding more thin coats of poly

My sister is now having her kitchen done by them in the same process - different color, and I think they have already sold 3 jobs to people who saw my cabinets at her house.

If you look at the back inside of the doors you can see a little bit of grain, but with the 2nd coat of paint, and the dry brushed glaze to add texture, you cannot see any grain at all on the cabinet door fronts. But she painted a couple trial doors in sections with different versions of the above as we worked on the glaze color etc, so we knew going into it what the door fronts were supposed to look like.

I had decided to live with painting my old cabs for a while and spend more money on other things in the kitchen and I am really pleased with my decision. I spent 12% of the price of new cabs from a midlevel line and about 4% of the quote for custom cabs. I got 5 painter quotes over time as I was researching this and they ranged from $1800 to $5500 just FYI - it paid to keep asking to find the combination of quality and price. Some of those were for paint alone, no glaze.

If I was really going to go the whole route and gut the kitchen I would remove walls and re work the whole functional area of the laundry and bath, and add a shower and storage. I also would turn the sink to the outside wall and put in a new, bigger window above it. That would have meant re-designing the entire area of laundry, bath, kitchen and probably taking up some of our garage storage area. Given my experience level with remodeling (low), my budget considerations, and the economy for resale in our area, I am just too conservative to do that right now. Also - I know this will be like lighting a flame thrower on this forum but I had to draw the line somewhere and after all, cabinets are just boxes to put dishes in. I have other interests and I already knew my priorities were to clean and modernize the space, easy maintenance, and I wanted to be proud to have people come over so I could enjoy my friends and not feel embarrassed about my worn out kitchen.

Since I have gotten sensitized to cabinetry and paying attention, I am surprised at the number of high end newer homes that have foiled white cabinets that basically look like crap with the rub marks and mdf chipping. I think new home buyers are really getting ripped off without knowing it - it all looks so pristine when its new.

You know Sherwin Williams has colorists that will come to your house to advise you on colors? they charge $75 in advance to come out for an hour or so, but then give you $75 gift certificate to spend at their store. I had one come over and we had a blast together - envisioned the entire house in grays - haha. Spent her $ on our deck stain so it was a good thing for me. She told me that she had painted 3 sets of kitchen cabinets white in renovated homes and to expect the paint to stay whole for about 5-7 yrs. But she didn't polyurethane so I don't know how that will effect it all. I thought this choice suited my needs at this time. Someday I think it would be really cool to have an ultra modern kitchen with blond and stained red wood cabs and surgical stainless countertops with all the appliances built in - but not this time around.

I am so running on.. hope that answered you Q about the paint

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 10:22PM
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