Friday, April 8, 2016

Home: Kitchen Makeover Phase 2

Rustic Farm Kitchen

Phase 2 - Cabinets


As we progress into Phase II of this home project, I'm rethinking my label of "Rustic Farm Kitchen". Those chickens are not going anywhere but maybe it's not the defining component of what we are going to achieve here. As I look at my cabinets they may be a nod to a barn red color but the color is Emperor's Silk and really is a little brighter. I'm thinking we are going to now call this "Vintage Kitchen" or just call it "My Kitchen". My Kitchen works for me because really this is going to be more about me, and what I like, than any genre. In most situations, I don't have a label or a time period for what I do in this house. I just do what I like. Color makes me happy, repurposing makes me feel that I am at least trying to be green, and I get a kick out of old stuff.

If you are reading this for the first time and have not been following my adventure you may want to go back to Phase 1 which was all about wall color. This post today is dedicated to cabinets. Cabinets are a bitch. Yes, I'm saying bitch because they truly are. As I write this I have exactly one set of overhead cabinets done but I'm so proud of them I'm not waiting until this whole Phase is complete. Rather, my plan is to update this once they are all done. I estimate that will be at least a month. Why? I told you, cabinets are a bitch.

Now as I say that I should mention that I know I could have had it much worse. The original plan to paint over the wood was nixed after I found out most of our research demonstrated best practices that included TSP to clean them, sanding them, priming them one way, sanding them again, priming them again, sanding a final time, and then painting. Then there was talk about using saw horses to keep the doors level. It was funny, even with all these steps, the article at This Old House (which is very informative) describes this as a weekend project. I'm not convinced that it can ever be a weekend project because my first set of overhead cabinets took me more than one weekend.

After nixing the original describe plan of action above, I was going to give up but we thought about perhaps spraying the cabinets instead. In asking around on social media to see if we could borrow a sprayer, I found out from a friend about chalk paint. If you are like me, I pictured that paint you use to make a chalk board. That isn't what this is. Chalk paint is a specially formulated paint that you can use in different applications and has a chalky finish. You can then wax it to protect it for applications such as - wait for it - kitchen cabinets.

The advantage to chalk paint is that there is no preparation involved, so those cabinets that I am describing as a bitch are really not as bad as they could be. Half empty vs half full. . . I cleaned them with 409 as opposed to TSP because the idea of harsher chemicals and trying to protect the rest of my kitchen was overwhelming. I did not have to prime. Prepping was limited to filling some preexisting holes for the original hardware and sanding those small spots. The rest was really two coats of paint (some areas did get closer to three) and then two coats of clear wax with some dark wax for distressing. This still took a full weekend and some hours over the course of this past week. I write this as I am starting our second set of overhead cabinets.

Rather than complain though I'm going to rejoice. I love how these look! Technically this is not a Before and After Shot because these are two different sets of cabinets in our kitchen but it's good for a comparison.

I made the choice to not paint the inside of the cabinets. Instead we taped off the cabinets with frog tape and did the outer surfaces of the boxes once we removed the doors. Of course the green paint is not the best look and it's hard to see what the finished project was going to look like but this is the cabinet boxes before waxing, with two coats of Annie Sloan chalk paint.

Looking at this photo I realize that the macro lens was not really ideal as I took this photo from
below. I am sorry for the skewed image but you can get the idea. I also happened to notice that I'm in that reflection of the microwave and I apologize for that too. Really, after painting a kitchen I don't really look my best. 

Back to the paint. There are apparently a lot of versions of chalk paint on the market. Michael's sells their version, along with the accessories but I made a decision for this project to use the one with the reputation behind the name. I know that there are recipes to make your own by adding plaster to latex paint but when doing so many areas of a kitchen I would be concerned about matching it up every batch. Annie Sloan chalk paint is water based, with pigments. It goes on matte, with a chalky finish. There are different ways to apply it but for the look we were trying to achieve (rustic, vintage, distressed. . . ) I put this on with a soft bristle brush and rather than going in one direction we purposefully applied in different directions for texture and cross hatching. Texture is key later for waxing. Brushing took a little longer than perhaps rolling but rolling wouldn't work for this particular task or look.

Waxing is a little bit time intensive and I wanted three coats in areas that would be touched a lot, mostly the doors. I skimped with two layers of wax on the top of our cabinets. Here is a good look at the difference between the door coated with clear wax, and then the addition of the dark wax on the door on the left. After putting a layer of clear soft wax down, I pushed the dark brown wax into areas with grooves, and then wiped back until I achieved the amount I wanted. I didn't want to overdo these cabinets that they looked dingy but I did want a distressed look and to tone down the red a touch so it wasn't too bright and stark, or too modern.

None of these materials - the paint or the waxes - is exactly cheap but I think that if you are going to make a commitment to redecorate a kitchen the paint is a lot cheaper than resurfacing cabinets or replacing them. The sweat equity of priming and sanding also factored into my decision to use the better paint. I think it was a wise investment.

In speaking about investments, there was also the expense of changing out the knobs. As you can see the original hardware was sleek and modern which really wasn't going to work with our new palette or style. We chose knobs for the top cabinets rather than pulls. I actually located these knobs that have a vintage feel from Cost Plus World Market.  They have plenty of variety to choose from and they are relatively inexpensive compared to other vendors. These ran us about 4.00 each. We still will have to decide what to do with the lower cabinets as I'm going to want pulls. I was originally thinking a matte black but I think with this knob, we can go with an antique metal such as bronze if it has enough of a patina in the finish.

As I mentioned before I have one set of overhead cabinets done. I have the second overheads washed and I'm almost through taping them. The doors have already received patch for pre-existing drill holes and painting for all the surfaces begins tomorrow. I am hoping to get the majority of that work done this weekend.

Stay tuned. I will add photos once this phase is complete!


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