You’ve been waiting a long time for this! Too long. I keep promising the kitchen update and there just never seems to be enough time. Recreational Blogging during a pandemic with young children…nope. Turns out, that’s not a thing. At least not for me and my sanity.
I have a lot to say about these decisions and processes, which is why I was hoping to break it all down for you in a few separate posts. Ultimately, the kitchen has been complete for over 2 years, and it’s past time for all the details and pretty pictures. It might be a long post, but it’s all here.
My last cabinet painting post left off with a photo of the kitchen 3 YEARS AGO! Yikes. The real push to complete the kitchen came when I knew the arrival of our second little boy would bring all projects to a grinding halt. Project Kitchen Completion Commence!
- Narrow down my inspiration photos and get the final design approved by the bank (aka: my husband).
I had plenty of inspiration (thank you Pinterest), but now I had to get a grip and be realistic about the limitations of my home, and the final product I might actually be able to achieve. All the glorious wide islands are lovely to behold, but my kitchen isn’t that large and (as dreamy as they are) I will never have a statement light fixture or huge window above my kitchen sink.
If you are having trouble narrowing down your vision, have someone else look at your favorite photos and identify commonalities between your favorites. What color cabinets draw your eye? Light or dark countertops? Metal finishes? Shapes of light fixtures? What about the contrast between floor and cabinets? Are you willing to change your floors? If not, adjust your vision.
I ended up with three to four photos that guided my design.
The kitchen pictured twice is from Maison de Pax. I found myself admiring multiple photos of this kitchen without even realizing they were part of the same space! This was something I could achieve in my current kitchen. The floors are a similar color to my own, the cabinet shapes and doors aren’t that far off, the kitchen itself is a normal size and it gives me a dreamy vibe overall. This is a kitchen I want to cook in! Finally.
- Acquire Materials
One thing I kept coming back to in all my inspiration photos was marble. Marble countertops, backsplashes…you name it – marble was calling my name. Unfortunately, I’d done my research and though I hoped I would be the one person in the world who didn’t stain their marble countertops…I didn’t have the same confidence in my spouse (sorry Honey) or my two young boys. Nobody likes a kitchen Nazi, and I was afraid I would be a crazy lady about kitchen counter protection. No one would ever want to come to our house!
I decided that even if we (yes – myself included) couldn’t handle marble on the countertop, mayyybe we could handle a backsplash? One day during preschool, I headed to the Tile Shop.
I took a few photos of marble subway tile, but ultimately they all had too much veining or black variation to give the light grey and white tone I wanted. The gentleman was very helpful in telling me that the marble currently in stock had even more black than the samples on the walls.
On my way out of the store I found a lighter marble herringbone. It had some muddy hues on some pieces but when looking through the box, not all the sheets had pieces with the brown coloration.
The salesman suggested that I could buy 1.5 or 2 times what I needed and always return the individual sheets of marble I didn’t want. This way I could avoid the brown pieces and achieve the look I wanted.
I liked the design, overall color, and his solution enough to take a piece home to
drool over test out.
The next material I needed to nail down were countertops. I’d already worked with a local countertop company in Charlotte (Universal Stone) when I replaced the bathroom countertops in the kids/guest bath. See that post here. They did a great job and their prices were fair, so I reached out again.
I wanted something that looked exactly like marble, but was more durable. I loved my countertops in our New York City apartment (see post here) but Silestone no longer made that design, and faux marble designs were trending toward more dramatic veining than I really wanted.
I brought along my marble backsplash sample, and upper and lower cabinet paint chips to make sure the countertops worked with my existing design. The saleslady told me it was a mistake to choose my backsplash before choosing my countertops. Her thought was countertops are the most important element (and possibly the most expensive) so you should base the room around that. I could see where she was coming from, but I knew this tile was leading my vision more-so than a faux marble countertop.
We looked at a LOT of countertops:
But nothing was giving me chills or even getting me excited about my kitchen. I was receiving almost daily photos of new slabs from my saleslady, but the veining was all wrong. I wasn’t seeing anything like I envisioned.
I decided to take matters into my own hands and go to a granite yard on my own. One day during preschool – remember when our kids spent hours away from us and went to school? – I wandered into Cosmos Granite in Charlotte.
There it was. Just waiting for me!
It was Cosmos Arctic Ivory Quartz and it had all the movement, shading and interest I wanted!
I called Universal Stone to let them know which slab I loved and they priced and reserved it for me. Since they fabricate the countertops they could still take on my project even though it wasn’t a slab from their yard.
A few weeks later they came to install the new countertops! The installer made a few snarky comments about the current granite not being “good enough” for me. I’m not trying to be a snob, but no – I do not enjoy counters that never ever look clean and make me do a double take daily for mouse droppings. I won’t miss these puppies at all.
For the most part, the countertops were removed without a hitch. At one point they told me they were going to have to break the lazy Susan in my corner cabinet to get off the granite – but then they were going to lay the new counters on top and I’d never be able to get in there to fix it!! Luckily they took a little more time and left a gaping hole in the top of the cabinet box, but the lazy suzy is still functional! Unfortunately, they rocked the cabinet boxes and the lower cabinets are not as flush as they used to be – ugh. For now I’ll take the working lazy Susan.
When they were finished, it looked like this:
Eek! SO much better already!!
Now I was ready for my final phase of kitchen cabinet painting!
After looking at paint chips for a week, I thought I knew just what color I wanted.
I tested Steely Gray out on the smallest section of cabinets, the drawers next to the fridge, but I wasn’t loving it. It somehow read almost lavender! It just wasn’t right.
Back to the drawing board:
I thought I wanted to match the paint to something closer in tone to either my fridge sides or the chalkboard paint (purchased before you could tint chalkboard paint).
After seeing these additional paint colors on the drawers and front of the cabinet, I felt confident to purchase Westchester Gray for the remaining lower cabinets. I also loved that the name was a small nod to our NYC days.
Painting the lower cabinet boxes was the one time I absolutely could not paint my kitchen with my 2 year old awake or even napping. Luckily, my husband was willing to take him on a Papa day trip, and I got to work!
The trickiest part was trying to patch up all the dents and dings from 30 years of families living in this home. I thought hard about painting the lower cabinets a light color (I’d still love to have icy blue cabinets) but I knew they would show all the dirt and grime from little fingers as well as the bumps and scrapes from walkers, trucks, and lightsabers.
I used Plastic Wood and a putty knife to try to give the nicked up doors a smooth surface. The biggest headache was attempting to fill the gap between cabinet boxes created when the countertop installation guys were trying not to break my lazy Susan. Looks great, right??
A lot of sanding later, I was ready to prep and paint!
According to the dates on my photos, it took me three days to finish the lower cabinets and doors.
The last piece of the puzzle was the backsplash. After the cabinets were painted I made sure the marble completed my vision the way I imagined. Then it was time to sort the tile by lightest, darkest, and “do not use” piles.
As much as I would love to tell you that I bravely attempted this myself, I totally chickened out and hired a guy. Someday I will take on a tiling project (and make 1001 mistakes) but I wasn’t about to practice on the beautiful marble backsplash.
I didn’t know any tile guys, so I cold-called a list from the Tile Shop and the first guy who called me back got the job. He took 3 days to finish up, and he wasn’t the best at cleaning up after himself…but I couldn’t be happier with the result.
I might have been up for demo DIY, but remember I was 8 months pregnant at the time. A sledge hammer and breathing in particles of who-knows-what didn’t seem like best idea.
At the very last minute, I decided that I didn’t want pure white grout and that grey would be a better choice. I ran out (while he was working) and got Dove Grey grout to pull out more of the grey in the marble. Besides, who wants to try and keep white grout white behind the sink? Not me!!
The grey grout really showed off the herringbone and pulled in the lower cabinet color. This before and after with the slide is just too much fun! I don’t even mind the additional dirty dishes on the countertop!!
I definitely wanted to add a beautiful new faucet for the sink, but since we just paid the plumber to hook up our new garbage disposal and reconnect the faucet after the countertop install, I decided the faucet could wait a little while. I’m also waiting to replace the black microwave until it stops working. I mean, the pandemic is really helping me to wear it out as much as possible – but it just keeps on kicking!! (Chicken nuggets, anyone?)
So are you ready to see it all cleaned up and beautified?
This kitchen is now my favorite place in the house. I love keeping it clean (mostly) and it makes me smile every time I glance in its direction. I guess you could say, I’m in love.
So that’s my baby! I love it so much, even if I’m already dying to paint the lower cabinets baby blue… One day – when the kids are in school again. I can’t wait until Kindergarten! Just imagine all the things I can get done!
Can you even believe this is where we started?!
And where we finished…
Because, it makes me so happy.