Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mom's Kitchen Makeover - Initial Planning

As I mentioned in my Introduction post, this kitchen makeover stemmed from a simple idea to provide a couple storage options for my parents’ ever-growing kitchen collection. However, the idea of painting the walls and updating the cabinets (it is the same kitchen as when my parents moved into their house 8 years ago) was just too tempting to pass up!

The balance would be toeing the line between the small makeover I could afford and wanting to go
all out and re-furbish the whole place. Some concessions had to be made. Yes, we could organize the drawers she already had, but the LEKSVIK buffet table I saw and loved on IKEA’s Web site would have to wait. No new countertops, but the cabinets could be painted and receive new hardware.

Here are a few of the before pictures with the plan of action (taken around Thanksgiving).

Oh, that wallpaper border has got to go!
Our home may be in the country, but we're not this country.

Paint cabinets a lighter color and add new hardware.
That dark wood makes the kitchen so much smaller than it is. And while we are at it, remove this old dishwasher that does not work!

Paint walls.
There is an abundance of open wall space in the dining area of the kitchen and white just isn't going to cut it anymore.

Find a better place to display cookbooks.
Cabinet space is limited and we can find a place for them that is more accessible than the top shelf!

Provide better drawer and cabinet storage.
This is what started this whole thing.

Organize back room.
Pro: lots of additional storage space right outside the kitchen. Con: Door opens up almost directly into open stairwell leading down to the lower garage. Very safe!

Create a "Business Center"
Give this empty wall something to do by adding two shelves I already own and am not using, mail filers and a headquarters for keys.

Developing my budget, I sort of played around with the numbers and justified some additional costs rather creatively (“Well, if I got accessories for the mail center, I could put those expenses under my dad’s Christmas budget. . .”). I started at $285 (Christmas + Birthday + $85 I got for doing a market research study), but after assessing number of drawer pulls and square footage of paint coverage needed, I upped this to $385 and added in Mother’s Day. Luckily, my sister was helping with a few areas which helped out our very modest budget. You might remember this template from my Moving Budget!

Since I do not live in the same city as my parents, and I knew I would not be home while I did all of the shopping for the kitchen, I measured every drawer, cabinet and wall area over the Turkey Day holiday. At first I attempted to draw a sketch of each area, but my artistic skills failed miserably. I then had the idea to take pictures of every area of the kitchen, plug the photos into a word document and add a text box spelling out the measurements. I could print this out to bring with when I attacked The Container Store so I did not have to chance one of the storage solutions fitting. This also helped immensely to get an idea of space and what was currently in each cabinet - and made for some great “before” shots!

Walking through the kitchen over Thanksgiving also gave me the opportunity to do an initial purge and assessment of where some items could be housed (the tall, thin, deep cabinet could hold a vertical pile of cookie sheets and cutting boards rather than stacking them in the cabinet above the stove). When my mom came home from work she had a decent-sized pile of “Lydia recommends you throw this away” items to sift through. I won most of the battles, but she was able to keep a few of the items: okay, I suppose you do use your deep fryer every once in awhile. I still find a few of the "keep" items suspect. For example, she insisted that the non-existent Tupperware to match the lid I found was definitely in the freezer or fridge (cut to Christmas, it is still not found). Strangest find? A 1985 golf trophy on the floor in the back room.

Figuring out the color scheme for the kitchen involved asking my Mom a few questions this past summer. “Which of these themes best describes your style?”, “What color would you hate to see in your kitchen?” and “What on your kitchen counter do you actually use more than once a week?”

After this mini-quiz, I realized it was a very good thing that I did not buy all of the materials and “surprise” my folks with this makeover. For some reason, I had it in my head that my mom loved French Country (not at all true) and she would have been bombarded with roosters and reddish gold accents aplenty.

The parents do not have internet access at home, so I could not just send links to inspiration. As I found kitchen photos, helpful products or organization ideas, I saved them all to a word doc and printed them out in color, showing her when they visited in September. I wish I had been better at marking down Web sites as I right-click and copy pictures - some of these sources remain a mystery as I have no idea what google search path led me to them in the first place.

Love these blue cabinets! I think I would have liked to see how this color scheme would have turned out if we had not wanted to go much lighter with the cabinets.

After sifting through photos, we decided on a muted palette and headed in that direction when we took a quick trip to Menard’s in Green Bay. This color scheme from Pittsburgh Paints includes a creamy white for the cabinets (Beige Flora), goldish-tan for the walls (Dried Barley) and light green (Sassafrass) for accents.

The tiny bottles of sample paint you can buy in the store or have them make up for you in your color choice are such a perfect idea. Does so much more than a swatch taped to the wall can do. We picked up a bottle in each color and couldn't wait to slap them on the walls and cabinets.

On the way home, we stopped at Home Depot to look at hardware. Imagine my surprise (and elation) when the one we liked the most was also the cheapest! With over 30 cabinet doors and drawers, this was one area of expense that could add up quickly.
This little guy is $2.39 per pull and the matching knob (we needed 2) was only $1.39. We brought an old handle with us to see which options would match the length – drilling new holes into the cabinets was not our idea of fun. Luckily, our favorite was a match! We bought one to use as a sample and headed home for testing.

An old cabinet door from a dismantled part of the kitchen became our guinea pig. This is a sample of Beige Flora from Pittsburgh Paints. Not using a primer, it took three coats for full coverage after sanding. When it came to buying the actual paint, I found color matches in my preferred brand in semi-gloss, BEHR Premium Plus Ultra Paint & Primer in One. A bit more pricey, but only two coats are needed. After screwing on the new pull we could not believe the immediate transformation!

BEHR Silky Bamboo for the cabinets, BEHR Pale Wheat for the walls and Sassafrass Green for accents: We have a plan!

Now stay tuned to hear how the actual painting went. . .let’s just say I dramatically underestimated the amount of time prepping takes!


  1. lydia - this is AWESOME! i need you to come help in my space!!!

  2. I enjoyed this, it's encouraging to see painting cabinets is do-able! How is the paint holding up on your cabinets, curious because mine sorely need a new look.
    I actually have a swatch of silky bamboo and googled it to see how it looks in kitchens so this is very helpful!

  3. it is holding up pretty well after a couple years, but I am sure we could have gone with a coat of sealant or something to be on the safe side!