Kitchen laminate makeover (pt 1)

This is the first part of my kitchen laminate cabinet makeover; the second part is about adding the faux-woodgrain lowers.

uppers painted 2

We’re six weeks moved in now, and most of our house is still in disarray. I’d love to have you all over for the housewarming, but don’t count on it happening in 2013. I tend to leave objects in piles until they find their final ‘place’, which means our living room, bedroom, study, etc are looking like a tornado struck. Stacks of books, clothes, and picture frames scattered everywhere. It’s just that I like to be sure about where things go, how spaces function, how our habits and systems will best fit into the new place.

Yup, I am equally overthinking this and kind of lazy.

Our kitchen is one of the only rooms I’m feeling more comfortable in, and because I can’t – won’t – focus on fixing up one space at a time, I’ve been planning out kitchen changes.

kitchen before

This is our kitchen, the day we got the keys to the house. You know a place is ours when it’s immediately got our junk everywhere, like my winter coat on the counter top. (Bench top, they call it here. I end up using both terms interchangeably.)

This section of the house is an extension that was bolted on sometime in the ‘60s or ‘70s. Its ceiling is only 7’8”, rather than 9 foot like in rest of the house. (This section of the house with the low ceiling also includes a w/c and the laundry, where we suspect an outdoor exit originally existed.)

The kitchen itself was fully renovated ten years ago. There’s tons of deep drawers and cabinet space, including a big lazy susan carousel in one of the corner cabinets. The laminate cabinets and countertop are hard-wearing as anything and still in great shape. The backsplash is stainless steel. Every one of those shiny appliances conveyed with the house, except for the fridge. It totally gets an A for functionality.

It’s just not entirely our taste.

No offense, functional kitchen! We like you a lot. We just want to put a bit of lipstick on you, change up your style a bit.

kitchen before 2

It makes sense to work with what we have. I mean, sure, if money were no object, I think a vaulted ceiling would be cool, rather than this low ceiling when there’s all that space above in the roof cavity. Jamie would love custom, well-made cabinetry using Tasmanian timber. If we did invest into this later on, though, it wouldn’t happen for years. A gut remodel of our recently remodeled kitchen is at the bottom of our reno list for sure.

Getting rid of all of this solid laminate cabinetry, ugly as it is, would be downright wasteful. So it all stays.

big blue benchtop

This is the primary element that will require working around, design-wise: our denim blue benchtops.

Yes, we may get new counters at some point, or try recoating them with one of those Countertop Transformations kits that makes your sad old laminate look like fake granite instead. But like, Big Blue here is in beautiful condition, and a part of me wants to see if I can make our blue counters look okay.

Divine Kitchens LLC contemporary-kitchen

North Beach Residence modern-kitchen

I’ve been looking for examples of modern kitchens (let me stress: modern) with blue benchtops, just to see if it could be done. There aren’t many. I really like the midcentury-styled kitchen with turquoise counters; it looks so good with the orange. But no, we’ve got stonewash denim blue on ours.

This image with the bamboo (!) cabinets is the best example I could find of blue countertops in a modern kitchen that don’t look out of place. It’s a thick, squared-off slab, and the colour continues up the backsplash. The ocean blue is a feature.

kitchen palette

With that in mind, we’re just going to do a lot of repainting and recoating of surfaces. The first thing we did in here was paint the walls and ceiling, since they were both the same shade of cream. Everything else in the space is going to stay neutral, at least for now. (My turquoise tea towels do look good with the blue counters…)

I’d like to get in some wood tones, to warm up all the laminate and stainless steel. We are considering butcher block counters, but we’d both rather just work with what we have for now.

kitchen doors ready to paint

And I’m jumping in! Here’s all the doors to the upper cabinets, ready to be primed and painted.

I used Zinsser BIN, king of primers, as my primer. It’s shellac-based, which means it dries quickly and levels out nicely. It’s also highly recommended for glossy surfaces, including enamel and laminate. I didn’t find it strongly fumey, but it did give me a headache after working with it for a little while, so, word of caution.

You don’t have to sand the surface before using BIN, they claim, but I gave the doors a quick scruff anyway with 240 grit paper. No big deal.

(The big red plastic-draped pile is racks of timber, by the way. We got some boards that are still green and we’re racking ‘em over summer to dry them out.)

kitchen doors primed

I switched out the handles for knobs, so I filled in the remaining holes with joint compound. So fancy.

Once everything was primed, I applied two coats of Taubmans water-based enamel. Water-based, because it won’t yellow like the oil-based stuff. The swatch name was “Winter Mood”. It’s bright white without being vivid, more like soft clouds or moonlit snow or something poetic like that. I chose it because it matched well with the colour on the walls, Grand Piano Quarter, which is the same light grey we used in the hallway.

I rushed to get this done before we left town for two weeks, because water-based paint takes longer to fully cure than oil-based paint does. There is a specially labelled Laminate Primer/Paint combo out there, but just quietly I think you can paint laminate without buying them.

uppers painted

Looks pretty good I think!

I used satin enamel, but it’s still glossier than the original laminate. It looks that much flashier. And as I mentioned before, the ceiling and the walls both got a coat of paint as well.

The bottom cupboards look really out of place now. Don’t worry. They’re on deck.

black white knobs

The knobs are from eBay, $20 for 8 of them. Metal and ceramic. They’re not brittle plastic things; they feel substantial. I like them.

black white knobs jake

They also make me think of Jake from Adventure Time, but I still like them!

Read the next phase of the kitchen cabinet makeover here.

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