Tuesday, November 30, 2010

$80 Kitchen makeover!

Most things will tell you that the biggest change you can make to a room is by painting it. That may be true, but... what color do you paint a kitchen with PINK counters? Yes, you read that right. P.I.N.K. (not the cute pajamas, either!).

We bought our house almost a year ago (LONG story behind that, I'm sure I'll come to it eventually), and the previous owner just ADORED the color pink. To the point that just months before they moved, they had the exterior painted Pink Stocking (yes, I live in a pink house...). I can deal with the pink exterior, but pink countertops in the kitchen?! I was mortified. Take a look for yourself!

To add salt to a wound... Every kitchen item I had was red... 

Then there's the "old lady" shelves above the cabinets... and the ugly ginger orange cabinets themselves. Okay, I hate everything about my kitchen... But it's all in good condition, so I couldn't convince my husband to renovate. What to do?!


I decided that I was going to paint the pink countertops (saw something on HGTV about it a few years ago, so i googled "how to paint laminate countertops" - apparently I was not the first!). So I got the confidence, and my husband pretty much lets me do whatever I want (as long as it's cheap)... and I went to buy primer!

(I'll get to why the doors and drawers are off in a few)


Doesn't it already look better?! Apparently, priming was the easy part. After I started this, I had a dream that my husband gave me a "get out of jail free" card, but related to painting the counters. Can't quite remember how it was phrased, but that shows how unpleasant it was.

I primed the counters a few times, took some paper towels dipped in acrylic paint (the kind you get from Michael's for $2) and dabbed the entire surface area of the counters. My initial plan was to do two coats, but I really liked how it looked after once-over.

Then I had my husband put on about 30 billion coats of poly (I chose poly because I wanted it to yellow - I was after a more green color. Verathane would work, too), waited a day and then put everything back.

Ta da!!!! No more pink countertops!!!!

But as for that ugly brown on the cabinets? Yeah, it had to go, too... So we took two cans of gel stain and stained the cabinets. That part took FOREVER. Mostly because I HATE painting (and that's essentially what it was). But here's an "almost" after of the kitchen, with a little under $80 spent.

Since that photo was taken, we've since put back the range hood, removed the last of the shelf and lost one of those pot holders behind the stove (i've been debating putting a shelf up there). If anyone knows what to put on top of cabinets OTHER than artificial plants, PLEASE SHARE! I'm so lost.

UPDATE: More recent photos of the kitchen

After 2 years, there are a few small scratches in the painted countertop, but they're only obvious to me, and I don't plan on "fixing" them any time soon (but read that sanding them down, re priming, repainting and resealing is how to do it, simple enough!).

This is approx the same angle as the first photo. Even without updating the appliances, the room feels so much more current. Well, it did until I picked out that "off" grellow, that took us back a few decades. Not to worry, I'm aware of it and plan on changing it. ;-)


  1. I have the UGLIEST kitchen counters EVER! They are from the 60's.. OMG! SO BAD!! Did you have to do the backsplash, too? I am so interested in this. Did you just use regular prmer? When you "dabbed" was it like sponge painting but with a paper toweLL? I just found your blog and I am in LOVE!! LOVE IT!!

  2. Thanks! I DID do the back splash, too. My biggest suggestion with that is to tape it off! I really wanted to skip that step, but my husband made me, and I'm SO glad he did. If you can tell in one of the photos, I had tape that was half-covered in paint! THAT WOULD HAVE GOTTEN ON MY WALL!!!

    You hit the nail on the head, it was just like sponge painting. I crumpled up the paper towel to where there were "peaks" on it (so most of it wasn't touching the counter) and dabbed randomly. It took about 6 hours, start to finish.

    AND I used a primer for smooth surfaces. I sanded it first, but that primer's got extra grab, so it's perfect for this. Also, there are special foam rollers that don't leave any marks when you roll them. I didn't use that, but I WISH that I had. I don't mind a little texture, but I notice that the little bumps make it a little harder to clean.

    Email me if you have any questions! I'd love to give more specific answers!!!!

  3. Did you sand the cabinets before you used the gel stain? If not, what did you do to prep them. The kitchen looks great!! -jesd

    1. I did, but I didn't sand them well. I scuffed the surface, but would recommend sanding all the hine away.

  4. This is amazing. I found your site through a project that you posted on ana white, and I love the things that you do! We're in the process of buying our first home, and like you will be in the it's-ugly-but-functional phase with our kitchen for quite some time. I would have never thought to paint laminate countertops! I'm actually most in awe of the cabinets though! They look great! Did you sand them prior to painting? (That might be a stupid question, but like I said, we're buying our first home, so I'm still figuring these things out).