In the spirit of always starting with the most difficult task (why do we all do that?) the first DIY project I tackled in my new home was a kitchen makeover. Fortunately the basic structure of the existing kitchen was good and still relatively new – thanks to the previous owners – so the layout worked, the units were all in good shape and the worktop was fine. The one thing I wanted to change was the warm wood colour of the laminate units.
I wanted a crisp, clean white kitchen that I could add vintage pieces and colourful accessories to and the existing units were a bit too dark for my taste. The room is also quite compact, so I wanted to lighten and brighten up the whole space. I looked into buying replacement doors but the prohibitive cost ruled it out, plus I couldn’t justify getting rid of perfectly good kitchen cabinets just because I didn’t like the colour.
So, after being invited to go to an Annie Sloan painting workshop and realising how easy – and fun – painting furniture with chalk paint was, I decided to leap in and repaint all of the existing kitchen units.
The main appeal for me with these paints is that you can paint them directly onto most surfaces without ANY prep. Literally none. They also have a lovely matt chalk finish and are eco friendly too. So they sounded good, but here has to be a catch right? Well, there was, but not with the paints, just with the amount of time that it takes to repaint an entire kitchen.
Someone once explained to me that there are three elements to a design project – Time, Money and Hard Work. You can complete a project without one of these but it will increase the other two. For this project I was all out of money so that meant I had to make up for that with extra Time and Hard Work. So that’s what I did.
Over the course of two very long weekends, I took the entire kitchen apart, unscrewing each door and stacking them up in the garden in an ever increasing pile. I then slowly but surely worked throughout the stack giving each door 3 coats of pure white chalk paint on each side, leaving several hours between each coat. Followed by a coat of soft clear wax, hand applied with a cloth to both sides of each door.
Fortunately the weather was warm and sunny so I could leave them all drying in the garden, but halfway throughout the project I did look at my garden, counted 24 doors covering the entire space and asked myself exactly what I was doing. (I did 3 coats on each side because although I thought I could get away with 2 coats, in order to get a really crisp, clean finish I had to do 3)
While the doors were drying in the sun I kept nipping back in to the kitchen to give all of the unit carcasses their coats of paint too. There were a lot of carcasses. And also all the shelves. I basically painted every single part of the kitchen over those two weekends. Several times.
However, once I had finally finished and reassembled each door, fixing the handles back on (freshly polished) then attaching them back onto the carcasses I was so pleased with the finished result. It took me many weeks to be able to say the magic words ‘it was worth all the effort’ but from this distance I can now happily say it was worth every single brush stroke as it has transformed the space.
However, it was, like most things in life, a very good job I had no idea what a mammoth task it was before I started it. Otherwise it would still all be oak-coloured.
Once I had reassembled the doors, I then scrubbed the existing wall tiles and worktop, bought a new polka dot blind to put above the sink and had lots of fun adding all the colourful accessories. See below for the before photo.
So that’s my budget kitchen makeover. The finished result cost less than £200 but on the flip side it did involved a fair amount of time and effort. There are still things I would change – in an ideal world i’d have wooden worktops, wooden flooring and crisp white metro tiles! I’d also hide the washing machine. But in the short term I just wanted to freshen it up. What do you think of my budget makeover? I’d love your comments!
*eagle-eyed readers might notice that the photos above were taken on a couple of different occasions – the flowers change and a peg rail appears halfway through! They are also just iPhone snaps, so not the best quality – I must get some proper photos taken*