Go Big, Go 30 Kitchen Makeover

When we moved into our house in summer 2016, I loved our kitchen. The mint green cabinets paired nicely with my red accessories, and gave off a retro feel. The only thing I didn’t love was the painted-on backsplash meant to look like subway tile. It was done freehand, and the lines weren’t uniform. It drove me crazy.

Originally, my 30th birthday plans were an epic trip to Disney World, including a stay at the Art of Animation resort and a Disney dining plan to make the whole trip easier. Unfortunately, I didn’t start saving in time and that trip is quite expensive. Then we amended it, thinking we’d head to the North Carolina coast and I’d finally see the wild horses that live there. Our summer travel plans then got moved to the fall, and we didn’t want to drive eight hours each way three weeks after a 12 hour drive each way to Oklahoma. I knew I wanted to do something big and special for my 30th, I just didn’t know what.

Life has a way of delivering an epiphany right when you need it. Shortly after falling in love with those mint green cabinets, the paint started peeling and chipping off. As we’ve found with many of the DIY updates the previous owners took on, it wasn’t done properly. They painted the cabinets, but never sealed them. They also didn’t remove them, which meant the hardware was covered in paint. The fake subway tile was driving me crazier by the day, the mismatched dining furniture wasn’t helping, and it hit me: I spend most of my time in the kitchen. I create three meals a day, plus snacks, for my family each day in that kitchen. We work on homework in there, we do crafts in there. The combined kitchen and dining area is the hub of our daily lives. Why not make it exactly what we want as my big 30th birthday project?

Here are our before photos, with some special models (why do kids only want their photos taken when they aren’t meant to be the subject?!):

As you can see, our furniture is mismatched. This is even after we added the white coffee bar in the back, instead of using an old dresser.
Our kitchen doesn’t have a ton of storage, so we use an armoire as a pantry. Because we shop at Costco, a lot of our bulk items don’t all fit in it at once and I’ve been having to use the playroom closet as overflow storage. I discovered during the project that our lack of storage is partially due to another shortcut the previous owners took. When they added an over-the-stove microwave, they cut the cabinets over the stove into 1/3 of what they’d previously been. They also didn’t vent the microwave anywhere, so bonus issues there.
I decided I had a few goals with my makeover:
  • For the furniture and cabinets to coordinate
  • New wall color that wasn’t matte
  • New, properly sealed cabinets
  • Improved flow
  • Coordinating hardware
I wanted to get rid of the fake subway tile and also use a non-matte paint. All the walls in our house are painted this lovely blue-gray, but they used a matte paint, so every handprint and smudge shows up. It’s yet another thing that drives my semi-OCD self insane. Also, the curtain rod doesn’t go with anything. The dining area before photo shows the new furniture arrangement, because I was too excited to take photos before getting the new coffee bar and moving the pantry.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@PawPrintsInTheSink), then you’ve seen a few teaser photos of this big project with the hashtags #GoBigGo30, #BraveNewYear, and #BirthdayProject. I went with Brave New Year because I’m trying not to let things I’m intimidated by stop me from trying them in my 30s. So, I tackled a huge DIY project all on my own!
The first step was to paint the cabinets. I chose to use chalk paint, since it doesn’t require priming or sanding. Instead of sealing it with wax, as is typical, I chose to use a hardier polycrilic. I read a post over at the Knoxville Moms Blog about using chalk paint, chatted with my fellow contributor who actually did it, and then followed suit. I removed all the cabinets and hardware, scrubbed them down, and got painting.
I did the upper doors first, then the upper bases. I feel quite close with Jen Hatmaker now, as I listened to her podcasts the whole time. She basically helped me with my kitchen makeover. Starbucks helped one day, too.
One of my Instagram teaser posts
Halfway through the cabinets! 
The first paint stroke was intimidating, on both the doors and the bases. It just felt so permanent, and I wasn’t confident with what I was doing. But chalk paint is super forgiving, even if you spill you can wipe it up fairly quickly. I went with Annie Sloane chalk paint from a local seller, so I got to see the paint in person before making a decision. I chose Aubusson blue. I got two quarts, and spent $80 total. I then purchased a quart of Minwax Polycrylic from Amazon for $13, and still have a ton left over of both. I did have to crack open the second quart of chalk paint, but didn’t use much. I have enough left over for another project.
I also purchased new hardware for the cabinet doors. I’ve always loved glass knobs, so I took this opportunity to incorporate them in a small way. I spent $20 on the knobs. I also got a can of Rustoleum spray paint in oil rubbed bronze for $4 to paint the old knobs and put them on the new coffee bar, so the coffee bar and pantry have matching knobs.
That $4 can of spray paint went so far. After scrubbing the caked on paint off of the hinges, I found rust. It looked awful. So I cleaned them thoroughly, and spray painted them. It worked like a charm! I also scrubbed our black, chipped vent covers (registers), and painted them. Now all the hardware in our kitchen matches!
After completing the cabinets, I painted the pantry. I painted it in three coats of linen white from Rustoleum ($17), after priming ($5) over the knotholes.
Once the pantry was done, I took on the walls. It’s been years since I’ve painted walls. I got rollers and a paint tray ($17) and painters tape ($7) from Amazon, and the paint itself (Behr’s Frittata with an eggshell finish, I believe) from Home Depot ($40). I did it all in one exhausting day while my kiddos got unlimited screen time and the hubby was at work.
In Progress- taped and furniture moved

I primed over that terrible fake tile
I used the primer left over from the knothole covering to prime over the fake tile. I did two coats of primer, and it still took 3 coats of the Behr with built in primer to cover the awfulness. If you look closely now, you can still see some of the lines, because she put it on so thickly. In time, I plan to do other improvements, including adding a backsplash. If that wasn’t in my mind, I’d probably have to go back, sand down the existing paint, and repaint it.
 Once all the painting was completed, I saved up and purchased the dining table and benches I’ve been eyeing for months. I chose a larger table and two benches, to seat more people, and purchased it. I chose one with a white base and dark wooden tabletop to tie in the existing curtain rod and coffee bar. I’m saving up for the matching chairs to put on each end for additional seating. I found the coffee bar on CraigsList for $35, purchased patterned contact paper as a backsplash, and refinished the old cabinet knobs to match the pantry. I also added a set of 3 dark brown baskets ($20) to tie in to the table, and store things like cleaning supplies that I keep on top of the pantry and out of kids’ reach. I added a rolling spice rack to help corral spices ($16), that slides between the pantry and coffee bar. This also allows me to move more of the overflow Costco groceries to the pantry itself.
Of course, there are other improvements. I’d love new countertops, sink, and faucet. The dishwasher and oven don’t work perfectly, either. But in time we’ll tackle those. For now, I’m thrilled with my new kitchen. I smile every time I walk in, as the sun lights up the room and brings out the light yellow paint. I love not seeing that awful fake tile, and every time I enter I’ll be reminded of the hard work I put into making it truly mine.
I spent about 2 months completing the project. I tackled each project in a mini-version, as we were still using the kitchen during the makeover. I finished the cabinets before doing the pantry, finished the pantry before tackling the walls, and finished the walls before bringing in the furniture.
Total cost:
Cabinet paint: $80
Cabinet sealant: $13
Cabinet knobs: $20
Spray paint: $4
Pantry paint: $17 

Wall paint: $40
Brushes/accessories: $17
Painter’s tape: $7
Dining table and benches: $320
Coffee bar: $35
Contact paper: $3
Baskets: $20
Spice Rack: $16
Total: $592
Since I did all the work myself, our total cost for a new-looking kitchen was $592. Without the table and coffee bar, the total would’ve been $237. So if you’re looking for a new look, it doesn’t break the bank to just paint your walls and cabinets. There were so many small things I didn’t realize I’d need to do, like scrubbing and painting hardware and vent covers, but it saved a lot in the long run to not have to replace those. And I’m beyond thrilled with the results. 
Final Reveal:


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