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From Drab to Fab: Our Kitchen Makeover

Like many stay at home moms, I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen. We made the switch to real food several years ago and my daughter has a food allergy which means I cook almost everything from scratch. The time I spend in the kitchen is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to look for a more open floor plan when we decided to move last fall.

Our old kitchen was beautiful, but there was a large, wrap-around tiered bar that blocked my view of the living room or the backyard while I was in the kitchen. There was also a wall that blocked my view of the playroom, so it made it challenging to stay connected with my little ones while I was cooking or cleaning up the kitchen.

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When I walked into the model home for our new house, I immediately fell in love with the open floor plan. The kitchen is completely open to the dining room and living room, with nothing obstructing the view. While the floor plan was perfect for us, I knew I still wanted the upgraded look of my old kitchen, even in our builder basic home.

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We opted to keep all of the builder grade finishes and do any upgrades ourselves to get exactly what we wanted and save money at the same time. Our basic kitchen included vinyl flooring, medium oak cabinets, and a 12-inch ceramic tile backsplash. We were lucky to get granite countertops and stainless steel appliances as a free  upgrade because we signed on during a promotion. The kitchen is fine, but I knew that a little bit of work could completely change the look of the room.

We started by updating the flooring with a weathered gray laminate flooring. I knew I didn’t want super dark floors because I’m a neat freak and couldn’t handle being able to see every crumb on the floor all the time. Even though I sweep at least once a day, with two little ones, there are always crumbs!

I absolutely LOVE our flooring. It has a handscraped texture that makes it look and feel like real wood. The color complements my white or wood furniture and disguises crumbs and dust perfectly.

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Probably the biggest change came from painting the cabinets. I spent hours and hours and hours on Pinterest and Google trying to learn about painting cabinets before we moved in. Painting cabinets seems so daunting, and for good reason! I stumbled on this tutorial from Designer Trapped and follow her instructions for painting cabinets with General Finishes Milk Paint.

I tested out the milk paint on a piece of garage sale furniture first and fell in love with the product. General Finishes Milk Paint goes on smooth without brush strokes, doesn’t have a bad odor and dries fast. Once I was sold on using it, I tested out the method and products on my bathroom cabinets. I feared I may ruin them and I figured it would be cheaper to fix those than the kitchen. To my surprise, I didn’t ruin the cabinets- they looked amazing!

We had about three weeks between closing on our house and moving in to complete the majority of the work. I didn’t want to be living in a construction zone with two small children so we hired contractors to help us with the bulk of the work. They used a sprayer to paint the main kitchen cabinets using General Finishes Milk Paint in Antique White and the island Driftwood Gray and then sprayed on two coats of General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in a satin finish.

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Before painting, we decided to close the awkward gap above the cabinets that was not big enough to display anything, but just big enough to collect dust. Our contractors removed the crown moulding, added a piece of wood to extend the cabinets and a piece of trim to cover the seam and moved the crown moulding to the ceiling. With our low 8-ft ceilings, I think this looks so much better!

We also added beadboard to the exposed sides of the cabinets and island. I originally planned to use beadboard wallpaper, but it turns out that the real thing wasn’t that much more expensive. The beadboard gives the cabinets a custom feel and looks much more finished.

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We removed the plain jane ceramic tile backsplash and added a glass mosaic tile backsplash in with shades of gray and white. Our contractor had the brilliant idea to take the backsplash all the way to the ceiling around the kitchen window, which makes it feel so much more grand. We also added a farmhouse style frame to the kitchen window, which inspired us to do the rest of the windows in the house too.

For some reason our bottom cabinets stick out several inches from the top cabinets, which made deciding where to end the backsplash a challenge. I opted to add this corbel, painted in Antique White to match the cabinets, to give it a more finished look.
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I loved the corbel so much on the upper cabinets that we added them under the bar of the island as well. These look beautiful, but aren’t quite practical for my long-legged husband who has almost knocked them off several times.

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When it came time to add hardware to the cabinets, I was shocked at the range of prices out there. I found many styles that I loved, but I’m not willing to shell out $30 for a door pull. I ended up finding the cabinet pulls at Walmart and paid less than $14 for a 6-pack of them. That’s more my style!

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The drawer pulls are from Home Depot and were $4.78 each. Once we had the upper cabinet hardware and drawer pulls installed, I thought it would look too busy with hardware on the lower cabinets so we opted to leave those as is.

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With all of the changes, I am in love with this kitchen! Looking at the before picture, it’s hard to believe that it’s even the same space. Special thanks to my friends at Limelight San Antonio for helping take some beautiful photos of my home!

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Resource list

Flooring: Shenandoah River 12mm Laminate Flooring

Cabinet paint: General Finishes Milk Paint in Antique White and Driftwood

Backsplash: Anatolia Tile Warm Winter Linear Mosaic Stone and Glass Marble Wall Tile

Corbels: EverTrue 3-in corbel from Lowes

Cabinet pulls: Hawthorne Place 6-pack cabinet pull from Walmart 

Drawer pulls: Liberty venetian bronze cup pull from Home Depot 

Barstools: Carey barstools from Target

Dining room light fixture: allen + roth Bristow 36-in W 3-Light Mission Bronze Kitchen Island Light

Wall color: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

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So what do you think of my kitchen makeover? Have you thought about painting your cabinets? What’s stopping you? Follow along with more of our house remodel reveals and more on Instagram and Facebook!
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  • Your kitchen is gorgeous!! I love the back-splash. And the door and the colors…it’s all put together so well.

    • admin

      Thank you!

  • This is stunning! I love all the details, and the backsplash is beautiful!

    • admin

      Thanks so much- we love it too!

  • That backsplash is to die for!

    • admin

      And it was the cheapest one at Lowes too! 🙂

  • Jessica Kromer

    Ohmygosh, I want your kitchen! It’s so pretty and practical.

    • admin

      Thank you!

  • Tineke F

    This is amazing, cant believe the change! It looks so good right now :)!

  • Terryn Winfield

    Love, love, love this makeover! What a beautiful job! I love all the details and the clean, bright look of it. Looks like it belongs on Fixer Upper 😉 Sharing on my page for my readers!

  • Love the transformation! We just updated our kitchen too so I feel the pain that comes with renovations! I love the white cabinets, new floor and that you took the backsplash around the window (we did as well)! Beautiful!

    • admin

      Thank you! Yes, it was painful, but worth it!

  • Angie Lohr

    Love your kitchen!

    • admin

      Thanks so much Angie!

  • SociallyCharming

    Hi! Great remodel, I am curious about the flooring. Do you still like it? How is it holding up? We are about to refloor our entire house and when I saw this floor I said aloud, OMG! It is gorgeous. Do you have pets? I am wondering how it would hold up to them. Was it easy to install?

    Thanks! Great post!