HOME             ABOUT             HOME TOUR             PROJECTS/DIY             FEATURES & PRESS             CONTACT

Mar 27, 2012

Operation Kitchen Makeover Phase 1: Mission Complete!

Let's try this again, shall we?!

Somehow my original post deleted after a couple days of being up, so I'm re-posting the final results of the kitchen cabinet makeover.

After a very lengthy process the kitchen cabinets are finally done! (key the sound of applause!)  Once the lower cabinets were completely dry, we added the hardware.  I love hardware.  Changing out (or in our case adding) hardware is one of the easiest ways to spruce up any kitchen.  We decided on the Lansa from Ikea:

One of Naomi's concerns about painting the cabinets white was that she feared the results would look "country kitchen".  Although the results are far from country, adding the modern handles adds even more of a contemporary element to them. 

I also painted out the insides of the open cabinetry in Glidden's Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Isn't that just perfect for a kitchen!!  I wanted a nice pop of color against the white that would also work with the gray lower cabs and the soon to be navy walls.

We decided to change out the standard mdf shelves with solid wood ones (not pictured), but in the same natural finish.  We really like the contrast of the natural wood against all the more contemporary elements in the room. We found some great pieces of wood with great veining and knots in them that I think will look amazing.  I'll showcase them in a separate post. Plus the natural wood element will also tie in with the console table/indoor herb garden area, as well as the soon to be bar/drink serving area: both of which are in the works. 

So, without further ado, here are the before and after photos of the kitchen cabinets.

Before: When we first toured the house before we purchased:

Before: After we moved in:




We are really happy with how they turned out.  Still on our do to list: exchange the shelves with solid wood, paint the kitchen navy, replace the faucet, install backsplash, buy panels for the window, buy a new table, add a chandelier, add bar/drink serving area.  Of course we still need to install hardwood flooring throughout the house, but that's our big project for 2013.   For now, I think my weekends will be pretty occupied with the smaller kitchen projects.  We are hoping to have them all complete before summer. 

So what about you?  Have you ever painted cabinets?  How was your experience?  I would love to hear about it.  Until next time.....

XoXo- Shavonda

O.K.M Phase 1: Lower Cabinets

Hi Everyone!

Hope you all are off to a great week.  Its ugly and rainy in my neck of the woods today, but that's neither here nor there.  Now Ive divulged all the dirty details of the upper cabinets lets get into how I completed the lower cabs.

The process for painting the lower cabs was fairly similar to that of the uppers with the exception that I started fresh from the beginning.  The Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit came with a deglosser that replaced the need to sand and I actually liked that step so I wanted to keep it pretty much the same on the lower cabinets.  Sanding was NOT an option (primarily because I didn't want to deal with the mess of it) so I decided on the next best thing: Liquid Sander. 

This stuff is great. It was super inexpensive, easy to use, and really effective.  After I cleaned the frames and doors with hot soapy water and dried them with a lint free cloth I rubbed on the liquid sander and was ready to get painting. 

I primed everything with the Zinsser Cover Stain and moved on the paint.  The upper cabinets were painted with Ben Moore's Aura and I decided on Ben Moore's Advance for the lowers. I know some of you are probably wondering why I would choose to use two different products, but I really wanted to try out the Advance.  I went to a different Benjamin Moore location this time around and the salesperson said that Advance was her favorite product for cabinets so I decided to go for it.  I opted for the Semi Gloss finish in the color Anchor Gray. 

Here are the deets on the Advance paint: (pulled from the website)

ADVANCE offers the application and performance of traditional oil paint in a waterborne formula that cleans up with soap and water. It is a 100% alkyd formula water-dispersible alkyd developed with proprietary new resins that keep VOCs low even after tinting. It flows and levels like a traditional alkyd with the extended open-time required to achieve high-end finishes. ADVANCE is available in unlimited colors, giving you more ways than ever to achieve the perfect look on every job.

This paint also dries extremely hard which is perfect for kitchen cabinetry because it tends to take a beating!. 

The verdict:  Benjamin Moore does it again!!  Absolutely LOVE it.  I only have 1 issue with it.  The recoat time with this formula is 14 hours where as the Aura is only 1 hour so if you plan on using it, plan on giving yourself plenty of time to get it done.  It took me 4 days to finish the lower cabinets and frames because I could only do 1 coat per day and I gave the doors 2 coats per side.  The finished product was completely worth the wait, though.  I love the results.  Here are the cabs after the second coat:

The color isn't coming across as gray in this image, but it is.  After we put the doors back on it looked like a completely different kitchen.  Up next, hardware and a final reveal of the completed painted cabinets.  Until next time....


Mar 25, 2012

Operation Kitchen Makeover Phase 1: Painted Cabinets (Plan B)

Hi everyone!

When we last left off I told you all that the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit was not for me and that I decided to move on to Plan B. Well, here's the skinny on how that went.

After my 4th coat of the bond coat that came with the kit I was completely over it.  Plan B consisted of purchasing a quart of paint and finishing out the upper cabinet frames with a final coat of "regular" paint and hitting up the cabinet doors with 2 coats.

Not wanting to take any chances, I opted for the best quality paint I could afford: Benjamin Moore.  I had heard so many great things about the Benjamin Moore Advance paint formula and I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.

I called one of my local Benjamin Moore stores and explained the situation with the RCT kit.  I told them that I wanted to move forward with rest of the cabinets using the Advance formula.  The salesperson at this particular store suggested I go with the Aura instead.  Aura paint is a Low Odor/Low VOC latex paint that promises: (pulled from the website)

  • Extreme hide, never more than two coats in any color
  • Provides a mildew resistant coating
  • Color Lock® Technology, no color rub-off
  • Stains wash off easily
  • Self priming
  • Easy application
  • Excellent for high traffic areas
  • Long lasting fresh look appearance
  • Easy clean up


    I opted for the Aura formula in Satin finish and chose the color Simply White. The color was virtually a perfect match to the Pure White in the RCT kit. He advised me to use 2 very thin coats.  Learning from my first go round, I also bought some Floetrol to help combat brushstrokes and extend the open time of the paint:

    Another part of Plan B was the addition of a primer to the cabinet doors.  The RCT kit did not come with a primer and I suspect that had a lot to do with why even after 4 coats the wood grain was still coming through.  I wanted to be sure I didn't run into this issue again so I primed the doors before I painted.  My primer of choice:  Zinsser Cover Stain oil based primer.  This is hands down THE best primer for cabinetry and furniture (in my very humble opinion)!

    It was perfect for this project because it is a bonding primer and you can use it over glossy surfaces without having to sand them first.  Since I had already deglossed the doors using the RCT kit, I needed a primer that could cover non-sanded surfaces. The best thing about this primer is that you can paint your surfaces after only 1 hour!  The worst thing about it is the smell!. Its pretty strong so if you are working indoors with it definitely open a few windows. 

    After priming the fronts and backs of the cabinet doors I painted my first thin coat on the backs of the doors first.  This way I could get a good technique before I moved on to the fronts.  Let me just say the Aura was freakin amazeballs!  That stuff glides on to surfaces like silk.  A little goes a long way and there was pretty much no odor.  The floetrol definitely helped minimize any brush strokes and it covered in only 2 coats as promised! Another great thing about the Aura formulation is that you can recoat in only 1 hour so I was able to get 4 coats in ( 2 on each side) in less than half a day! 

    I absolutely LOVE this paint!  It was worth every single penny of the $24 price tag.  It made an extremely stressful situation extremely easy for me to tackle and the results were great!  I love how the cabinets turned out:

    Next up the lower cabinets and interior of the open cabinets!  In my next post I'll reveal the process and results of the lower cabinets.  Until next time....


    Mar 24, 2012

    Operation Kitchen Makeover Phase 1: Painted Kitchen Cabinets (Take One!)

    Hey guys!
    Yeah...I know the title of this post is a mouthful!  I promise I have a good explanation.  See what had happened was....

    I finally started our kitchen makeover (hence the first part of the title).  However, I ran into an issue during my first attempt at painting the cabinets and had to switch up the process halfway through (hence the second part of the title).  Anywhoo, lets get to it, shall we.

    **Disclaimer #1:  This will be a long post.  I apologize if its too long, but I wanted to make it as thorough as possible. Hopefully I don't lose too many of you.**

    I spoke about my little obsession with white cabinets in our design dilemma post a while back.  I finally wore Naomi down and she went ahead and agreed to let me paint the cabinets.  As excited as I was, I was also scared because I had never painted cabinets before.  I just barely began painting furniture (and I'm still such an amateur) so I knew I was gonna crank out some major research before I attempted to do anything.  So I did what any other project obsessed DIYer would do and took to the www like a moth to a flame. 

    Everything I read about painting cabinets said it would be a long, tedious, messy process and I wanted nothing to do with it.  THEN....I discovered Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations!  I know pretty much all of you have heard of it by now, right? It claimed that it required NO SANDING, NO PRIMING, NO STRIPPING.  In theory it saves you a ton of time so you could do the process from start to finish in a weekend.  I was all in!  I ran to Big Orange and picked up the light kit in Pure White.  (Sidenote: The color options are provided via a pamphlet and are NOT an accurate depiction of the actual color you will get.  Pure White in the pamphlet looks like Ivory/Beige.  In real life it is PURE WHITE.)  I picked up the smaller kit that covers 100 sq ft. for $79.99. 

    --Just in case you are not familiar with the product, everything you need to transform your cabinets are provided to you in the kit, including the scrubbing pads for the deglossing step and an instructional DVD.--

    This is what it looks like when you open it:

    Before I got started on the cabinets I needed to make a few changes to the structure of a couple of cabinets.  Originally we wanted open floating shelves flanking either side of our cooktop.  We planned to remove the over the range microwave, replace it with a range hood and replace the entire row of upper cabinets with floating shelves.  That was the dream.  Then we were smacked in the face with reality.  We ran into an issue with the way our ducting is vented out.  In a normal perfect world the ducting for the venting would be centered over the stove, but in our world it looked a bit like this:

    Because the ventilation to the exterior is off-centered it through a snag in the plan.  Reworking it would have been a logistical nightmare for newbies like us so we came up with plan B.  We decided to keep the upper cabs and just remove the doors.  That way we still get the open shelving, just not floating.

    Prepping the cabs took a little work.  I removed the doors.  Did some minor demo to remove the center stile and patched up all the shelf holes with wood filler (72 of em to be exact!) After the wood filler dried I gave them a quick sanding and it was time to paint.  Here's a before and after:

    Once I got the cabinets all squared away  I watched the instructional DVD and set to work on the cabinets. 

    Since the kitchen is fairly large and I was working on this alone while Naomi was at work I chose to break it up into sections.  I was only going to be doing the upper cabinets this time around since they would be painted white.  The lower cabs are getting a different color and I didn't want to overwhelm myself by trying to tackle it all at once.  I took off all the doors and separated them from the cabinet frames so I could focus just on the frames at first.  I wasn't sure how it was going to work out so I didn't want to dive into to the doors until I was sure about it.  Boy I'm glad I did!

    **Disclaimer  #2:  The review of the product I am about to give is based solely on my personal experience with the product and by no means means you will have the same experience I did.  I am an extremely honest person and will only ever give my complete 100% honest opinion.  The product was not sponsored and was paid for me** 

    Step 1: Degloss.- This is the step that is the most important of them all.  This step replaces the need to sand so its imperative that you degloss well.  Deglossing thoroughly ensures your bond coat ( paint color of choice) goes on well.  Prior to deglossing I scrubbed down my cabinet doors and frames with hot soapy water so deglossing was fairly simple.  I didn't have to scrub too hard because I already gotten rid of all the gook and dirt build up.  At this point I was pretty much just  "roughing up" my surface.  If you have oak cabinets or any other wood species that is raised (you can see and feel the wood grain) it is very important that you scrub WITH the grain of the wood.  Our cabinets are maple with a veneer covering so they are flat and you cannot see the wood grain in them so I could have scrubbed in circles, but I still scrubbed in the direction that the wood would have gone. The deglosser smells like a typical household cleaner and is easy to use.  I have no complaints about it.

    Step 2: Paint the Bond Coat. - After you degloss and let your surfaces dry you apply your first coat of the bond coat and let it dry for 2-3 hours.   This step claims to give you coverage in 2 coats.  It DID NOTMy first problem with the bond coat was the consistency.  I read other reviews about it and people described it as a pretty much a thick paint.  However, mine was the opposite!  It was a consistency much like milk.  It was extremely thin.

    Problem #2 I had with the bond coat was that it starts to dry extremely fast.  This was a major problem for me because though I wasn't a super slow painter I am a newbie and I suspect most people using this product will be.  Fast drying paint pretty much always equals undesirable brush strokes.  That's exactly what I ended up with.  I invested in 2 Purdy brushes for this project so the brushes are definitely not to blame. It was recommended that you don't use a roller so I worked only with a brush.  I was really careful in my technique ,as well,  brushing exactly as it demonstrated in the video; taking care not to brush over the same spot multiple times, and making sure I didn't stop or start a stroke in the middle of one continuous stroke.  It was still difficult to work with due to the fact that it dries so quickly as you are working.  **If you have Floetrol it would be a good idea to add some to the Bond Coat to help give you more open time.  It will also help minimize brush strokes** (A lesson I learned from this experience)

    Problem #3 I had with the bond coat was that it did not cover in 2 coats. As a matter of fact, it didn't even cover in 4 coats!! Our cabinets weren't super dark and it still would have taken me at least 2 more coats to get  good color payoff/coverage.  Now keep in mind the bond coat has to dry for at least 2 hours in between each coat so this was not a fast process. And remember, I was only working on the frames and hadn't even begun on the doors yet.  By my 4th coat I moved on to Plan B.  Honestly, I was so frustrated with everything that I was done with it.  I decided to go out and buy some paint and use that as a final coat for the frames as well as the cabinet door.  Here's what it looked like after my first coat of the bond coat (sorry they aren't the best pictures in the world:

    and after the 3rd coat:

    Although you can't see very well in these pictures, even at 3 coats some of the wood grain was peeking through.
    So here's my overall review.  The concept of the Cabinet Transformations is genius.  The actual process was less than desirable for me.   IF you are covering medium to dark cabinets with one of their lighter color choices you may run into problems.  The dark kit may be a different story altogether.  You may be able to get good coverage in 2 coats if you choose one of the darker colors.  I also may have gotten a bad batch of the bond coat because of how thin it was.  I felt like it wasn't as easy to use as it suggests, especially for someone who is very new to the whole cabinet painting thing.  I also feel like Rustoleum should consider either changing the formulation of their bond coat to make it so it doesn't dry so quickly OR they should add a paint conditioner similar to Floetrol to the kit to use alongside the base coat to help with this issue and help minimize brush strokes.   I haven't used the final protective coat yet so I can't speak as its performance, nor do I plan on using the glaze.

    Bottom Line: Do I hate it? NO.  Would I recommend it? Not for cabinets, but maybe for furniture. 

    I know this was a super long post but  I wanted to provide as much detail as possible just in case any of you were considering giving the Cabinet Transformations a try.  Tomorrow I will fill you in on Plan B and show you the finished product of the upper cabinets.  I promise it wont be nearly as long since since the process was better.  Until next time....

    XoXo- Shavonda

    Quick Check In

    Hi everyone!

    I know its been a while since Ive posted so I wanted to do a quick check in. 

    Ive been a busy girl.....a very busy girl.  I'm currently working on 2 big projects at the same time so I will soon have PLENTY to post about.  We've begun our kitchen makeover and I threw a family room makeover into the mix because, clearly, I'm not happy unless I'm involved in at least 50 things at once! 

    Just wanted you guys to know I'm still here and I'm working on some good stuff!  I'll be back to posting soon.   Here's a lil sneak peek action for ya:

    Until next time....


    Mar 2, 2012

    Design Obsession: Dark Walls

    Hi Everyone!

    Anyone who knows me knows I'm pretty all over the place when it comes to design.  As a former interior design student and overall design junkie at heart I have a sincere appreciation and love for a myriad of design styles.  I adore everything from shabby chic to uber modern.  Although, if I had to sum up my personal design style I would describe it as "contemporary-eclectic".

     I love mixing styles and textures within a space.  I'm not above putting an extremely modern acrylic chair right up against a reclaimed wood side table and jazzin said chair up with a jeweled throw pillow.  I love making bold choices that most people may tend to shy away from.  I may get a ton of weird looks and a couple whispers behind my back, but at least I'm not afraid to try something new.

    Lately in casa de Gardner we've been discussing continuity.  We are trying to reel in our design choices a bit so that each room feels like it relates in some way to the next.  I think this is especially important since our home is on one level and we have an open floorplan.  As of now we've decided that aqua, yellow, citrus green, and coral will be the accent colors throughout our home.  The problem has been deciding what the main wall colors will be.

    Im always drawn to light, bright spaces layered with boldly colored accents.  I thought Naomi also liked that until we were recently on a trip to Ikea and she said the one word I wasn't expecting to hear: intimate.  She likes intimate spaces.  Why I didn't know this earlier is beyond me. Since discovering this tid bit of information my whole perspective on the design direction of casa de Gardner has changed.  Now I'm thinking that instead of lightly colored walls, we should go with dark walls. 

    This should give Naomi the intimate feel she desires, yet we will aim for a color that will play well with all the brightly colored accessories I yearn for.  That's compromise at its finest.  Since the kitchen/family room is next up on the project list  We've been scoping out colors that we think could potentially add some drama to the largest living space in our home.  Ive seriously fallen in love with some of the deeply hued rooms Ive run across on the web lately.  Here are some of my favs:




    As of now a variation of dark blue is at the forefront.  The deep smoky tones are bit too dark for Naomi, plus having a blue undertone will compliment the aquas, yellow, and green.  We've painted some swatches on the walls and have narrowed it down to our top 2.  Stay tuned to find out what we choose.  So what do you think about dark walls?  Are they too bold for you?  Do tell.  Until next time....