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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Our White Kitchen Makeover for Under $3,000


After closing on the purchase of our 1946 home in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of New York City, we immediately embarked on a gut renovation of the bathroomA bathroom renovation of this magnitude — taking walls down to the studs, floors down to the beams — runs about $20k-$30k these days, so I knew there'd not be a whole lot of budget left to upgrade the kitchen. I had to be creative and focus on things that could be most easily and most economically changed. Here's a look at it "before":


Kitchen - Before

In Praise of White Appliances

Do the white appliances jump out at you? I'm okay with them. While by no means one of those alarmists predicting the demise of stainless steel for the last ten years, I also don't feel that every kitchen has to have it. In some kitchens, especially those in houses built before 1970, white appliances look fine. I love the way they look with blue cabinetry. And in my opinion, they look spectacular with cream cabinets and butcher block counter tops. That's what we have at the cottage, and I love it.





But the builder-grade wood cabinets in our new home had a yellowish cast to them that was already clashing with the pink travertine backsplash that was clashing with the loud peach granite. I did not love the granite. My personal taste runs to slate or polished concrete. Even something as simple and economical as butcher block would have been more welcome to me than this busy granite. But granite is what we'd got, and it is an expensive and durable stone, so I was determined to try to make this work. What could I do to play it down?

Painting cabinets of course. Painting cabinets takes a lot of sweat and elbow grease, and when all's said and done, would it work? Were the cabinets even worth salvaging?

Well, I'm not a fan of the "partial overlay" style. In a partial overlay, the boxes are "framed" and a bar comes down between where double doors meet. This prohibits completely efficient use of interior space of the wider cabinets. For example, we actually have to turn certain dishes sideways to get them in.

I disliked the brevity as well. At just 30" high, they fell so short of the ceiling, leaving a good 15" of wasted space above that just looked... wrong. Too bad the previous owners hadn't sprung for longer cabinets. The boxes were solidly built, though, and in almost-new condition. (They still had sawdust in them.) I felt I could remedy the unused space by adding a second row of cabinets in a similar style and painting them to match.

I didn't even need to try to match the cabinet style. I ordered the new cabinets frameless with full overlay glass front doors, figuring the eye catch the glass first, and that will account for the variation in style. Also because it's just nice to have some glass front doors in a white kitchen, to break up the block of white, to reflect light, and to display some of our nicer stemware and crockery and give some pops of color. I mean, I would not want glass doors on my pantry cabinets, displaying all my cans of plum tomatoes. But up high like that, I thought they would look good. And perhaps someday, when I get around to it, I'll run some puck lights in them.


Painting the Existing Cabinets

The new cabinets are from the Thornton Maple line at Kraftmaid in "Canvas" color, so I had Home Depot mix some custom paint to match — a creamy off white — so that I could paint the old the same color as the new.

After removing the doors, washing and sanding, vacuuming and tack-clothing (See: How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets: Step by Step), I laid on a coat of primer and two coats of high gloss and let it dry over a weekend. 

Here are some progress shots:



The new upper cabinets were not even in yet, and already everything was looking so much better, with the granite seeming not so bossy.

Here's a shot I took while I was installing the new glass-front cabinets. See how well the colors match?



For more progress shots see: Painting Cabinets to Match Kraftmaid Canvas Color.


Next Stop: Cream Subway Tile

There's almost no better deal in the renovation world than subway tile. Classic, timeless, inexpensive. Replacing the pinky travertine-look backsplash with ordinary subway tile from Home Depot in a traditional brickwork pattern did more than any other change I made to bring that loud peach granite down a notch. The tiles we used are Fusion Decor: Jeffrey Court Royal Cream Gloss Ceramic 3" x 6" field tiles. They retail for $3.99 for a box of eight, which covers 1 square foot of backsplash.



Here are some progress shots of the tiling. You can see that I tiled right over the existing tile. Yes, you can do that!




While I was at Home Depot picking up the subway tile and grout, I picked up a quart of Glidden flat paint from their Martha Stewart collection in Spanish Olive. It's a green with a lot of yellow in it, so it complements the undertones in the creams and the peachy granite. Eliminating the beige wall color was the final touch to taking this kitchen from boring beige to dreamy white - all for under $3,000.


Kitchen - After
You'll also see that we replaced the shoddy plastic chrome-look faucet with the real deal, a simple chrome faucet, the Trisinic by Delta. And we added a towel rack to the sink front and a tilt-out panel to store sponges.

We got lucky with our timing on this project, and our contractor who was cutting tiles for the bathroom loaned us his tile cutter, saving us the cost of renting one. And wow, was that an experience. His was like the Cadillac of tile cutters!

So I put the unspent tool rental funds toward this indoor/outdoor runner from Dash & Albert instead. It pulls together the ivory cabinets and the green wall color perfectly, don't you think? And hides that pinky-beige floor tile until I decide what to do with it. Inspired by Domestic Imperfections, I may actually paint over these floor tiles.  On the other hand, I heard from a neighbor that there are hardwood floors somewhere beneath that tile. Can you believe that? Someone covered hardwood floors with tile?

That's a project for another day!


Source List & Price Breakdown for Our Kitchen Makeover

Kraftmaid Cabinets, Canvas Doors, Home Depot: $2,100
Delta Trisinic Faucet, HomeClick.com: $250
Bygel Rail, IKEA, $2.99
Behr Interior Hi-Gloss, color matched to Kraftmaid Canvas, Home Depot: $15 a qt.
Glidden, Spanish Olive, 1qt., Home Depot: $13 a qt.
Subway Tile: Jeffrey Court 3x6, Royal Cream, Home Depot: $35/case (covers 12 sq ft.)
Custom Building Products Grout, Non-Sanded, Linen, Home Depot: $13.87
Spacers, 250-pack, Home Depot: $2.97
GE Silicone for Kitchens & Baths, Home Depot: 3/$6.50 ea.
Striped Runner, Dash & Albert: $125
Paint brush, Rollers, pan liners, Home Depot: $20 (I have a lot of paint supplies on hand.)
Tile Cutter: $0. (We lucked out and the bathroom contractor loaned us his!)