My kitchen has had several layers of makeover. As a single mom of twin boys, not only was money sparse, so was my attention span! I would make small improvements knowing someday I would have the kitchen of my dreams. When I built my house almost 14 years ago, I had no idea what heartache those “Honey Oak” cabinets would bring to me. From the day I moved in, the honey no longer looked honey. It looked more like rose gold…and not in the gorgeous rose gold pendant necklace way – in the I have ugly pink cabinets way. Just no. I don’t even have a photo of them in all their glory! It didn’t take me long to whitewash the recessed panels thinking that would make them more bearable. It did. For a bit.
Don't kill me, Lynette. It's all in the name of design.
Don’t tell the boys you saw these photos. Apparently I didn't photograph the kitchen except when taking photos of others.
Something was still just off about them, so I finally bit the bullet and painted them a nice creamy white. I also added cabinets to flank the kitchen window and sink. I told myself I needed the storage and that it would be worth the loss of some natural light and that dead space in the corner.
(Are you seeing the pattern here?)
At some point in the process, I also decided that painting the countertops would help me love my kitchen, so off I ran to Home Depot to purchase a mocha color countertop paint. In my defense, they did not carry the product in black at the time. I tried to get as dark as I could. While it looked better for a while, I never loved it. I even went so far as to paint one of the small sections with black countertop paint when it became available. If you have ever painted with an oil based paint, you will understand why I never found the time to paint them all black, when clearly I could have. I lived with patchwork countertops for probably over a year. Try not to judge me. It was a busy time. Thank goodness there is no photographic proof of this time in my life.
When my boys went to grandma’s house for the summer last year, I finally decided it was time to do the kitchen the right way. I had pinned at least 200 ideas for my dream kitchen. Surely one of them would make me happy! I found these lovely brick panels at Home Depot that remind most people of 1970s basements. They spoke to me. They begged to be turned into faux exposed brick walls that had been painted and then aged over time. At first I thought they would make a terrific backsplash, but then decided they simply had to go to the ceiling on the window wall. I think it was the perfect decision. I am just about as ADD in my designing as I am in talking about it, so here is where I jumped off track in the best way. I had to remove that ugly 4” laminate backsplash before I could do anything to install a new one. When I did, I exposed about an inch of the original countertops (that I had painted over in a design delusion). Somehow they were not nearly as bad as I remembered them. In fact, they were pretty great! Flashback to the photo of the boy with the mummy pumpkin above. What was I thinking? Hold on backsplash! We are putting on the breaks!
No, how on earth am I going to get all this oil based paint off the countertops?? Well, treat it them like a piece of furniture, I guess. Citristrip to the rescue! I cannot tell you how much work this was. I spread on the stripper, let it sit, then I scraped it with a plastic scraper. Nope. That didn’t do it. Spread on the stripper again, scraped it, poured on more, and then scrubbed like Cinderella with a green scouring pad until every bit of that paint exposed a perfectly pretty countertop! And just think… it had been protected from wear for all these years! After working arm muscles I didn’t know I had to the point of tears, they were finally finished, and I could get back on track.
My next step was to pull down those extra cabinets I put in and rip out the builder grade window sill. With the addition of my island (post to come), I no longer had to sacrifice the space for storage, so they came down. My Bestie and I had a good laugh at the mossy green paint and the wall decals we found behind them from my questionable design phase. I swear they were cute when I put them up. Ok – It was a terrible mistake.
I used my trusty Ryobi Jig Saw and cut the panels to fit. I also measured and cut out all the holes where the electrical outlets would need to be. I unscrewed the outlet, pulled them through the hole, and then screwed them back in on top of the brick panel so that the face plates sat flush with the brick. You have to make sure the repeat meets up correctly kind of like with wallpaper, or your seams will not join. That is the key to using this product. That and using spackle to fill those edges. I stood back and could not believe the difference.
I know you are cringing, but I had a vision! I kept going - around the kitchen countertops and behind the oven. At this point, I realized I had to put it above the cabinets as well to make the window wall look complete. When I finally got all the brick installed, it was becoming a reality for me. I could not have been much happier! I used simple white spackle to fill in all the seams with a putty knife. It doesn't matter if they are a little rough. Paint and sanding will take care of that. Just make sure you can't see any seams. Let it dry and then sand smooth before you start painting.
Now for the paint. I painstakingly painted all the bricks with an antique white paint and then distressed them until just the right amount was peeking out. This was also a labor of love. Sanding a cabinet is one thing. 2 walls is something else. But man, was it worth it! After the paint, I sealed the walls with several coats of General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in flat finish. This was crucial to ensure it would be easy to clean and water resistant. I also took this opportunity to trim out the window in the kitchen with a gorgeous Craftsman style trim that just makes my life complete. I am updating all my windows in the house room by room to match. I will have a future post about how to make these happen!
After the walls were dry and ready, it was time for shelving. Say what you will about open shelving. They are work EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of dusting them off. They are bright and airy, and the perfect place to display my favorite things. And really, how hard is it to quickly dust 6 small shelves? I’ll tell you. It’s not. I built my shelves to fit my space, and could not be happier. I did not photograph the process, but will in a future post. They make my heart smile. After a quick coat of General Finishes Milk paint on the cabinets, the kitchen was ready to stage! Full disclosure. I added the cabinet above the refrigerator and also bumped up my cabinet and raised my microwave. I think it gave the cabinets a much needed custom look. No longer does it look builder basic! I have plans to extend the brick along the back wall of my kitchen nook as well to make it look a bit more realistic. It will end in a faux beam that will divide the kitchen from the family room. I will take a lot more photos of that part of the process. I promise!
What do you think? Did I nail the old exposed brick look without breaking the bank with actual brick tiles? I could not be more pleased with it. Let me know if you have any questions!