One of our big projects that we wanted to knock out before Bennett was born was refreshing our kitchen. The original cabinets, countertops and backsplash were all from when we moved into our house back in December 2011! We really felt like we needed an update because unlike the rest of our bright and airy home, the kitchen tended to feel more like a cave. My vision was for a more welcoming kitchen that brought light into the space and matched the rest of our home.
Kitchens and bathrooms tend to look aged very quickly as home trends change. Back when we moved into the house, the black countertops, stained wood, and wide tile backsplash didn’t bother me at all! In fact, a lot of the pieces in our home at that time were darker. Over the last few years, I’ve swapped them out for natural woods and brighter whites, so it felt right to make some changes in the kitchen.
Ps. Some of our swaps included the Serena and Lily Riviera counter stools that are 25% off right now!
Keep reading for all of the details on our kitchen update including the setbacks.
Keep Reading Kitchen Update Before and After
We had some friends who made a similar update to their kitchen area right before us, so I was able to get some great tips from them. For example, we learned that you should install the countertops and tile first. Often times, any installation of those items can chip the cabinets prematurely if done after new paint.
The first thing I did was look at tile and backsplash because this was where most of the money would be spent. For those in Baton Rouge, Triton Stone is where we found our Carrera quartz, and they also referred us to the business that installed the island and countertops for us. We decided to go with quartz over marble for its durability and ease of upkeep. And let’s be honest, I knew Jordan would prob stain white marble with either wine or coffee or both. Quartz was absolutely the best decision because there have been SO many times we’ve had coffee all over the countertops even though it’s a little pricier.
I had the most difficult time choosing the backsplash tile! I knew that I wanted white, but there are literally so many different white tile options including different widths and heights. I ultimately chose a smooth, straight edge subway tile – the exact type is 2×8 inches in Country Blanco after looking at dozens of samples in our house for probably 3 weeks.
The next hard decision was grout, and I was really in between a gray or a more tan color. I took some advice from a Triton Stone employee who told us that darker grout colors especially in tan tend to look dirty unless you are going for a slate gray or black. So what we settled on was Custom Prism grout in Rolling Fog as it tied in the grays from the quartz countertops.
I didn’t decide on the actual herringbone design until they were literally about to install the backsplash. I waffled in between herringbone and traditional horizontal subway tile for weeks! But now, I am SO glad that I decided on herringbone. I think the entire kitchen would feel so different if the backsplash was horizontal.
They always tell you to prepare for setbacks, but I kinda laughed like oh what could possibly happen… OKAY, let me tell you. Once the old backsplash started to get removed, it was revealed that the area underneath the window above the sink had a leak. A major leak that was causing major mold underneath the tile.
This ultimately tacked on about 5 extra days since large portions of the dry wall needed to be removed. From there, it was bleached and left to air out and dry. After that, we had to investigate and find out exactly where the window was leaking. The window needed to be resealed to make sure no more water seeped through. (We had to have the window sealed three separate times to find the exact leak spot.) Finally, the drywall was replaced and the final backsplash tiles could be installed. Whew.
Now we could finally start the painting process.
My biggest advice for cabinet painting is to get as many quotes as possible. Seriously. There is a wide range of pricing depending on whether you are being quoted for hand painting or spray painting. Some painters will include an allowance for paint and supplies and others will expect you to get all of those items yourself.
By the time we started the painting process, I was literally three weeks away from my due date, so we opted to have the built-ins hand-painted and the doors and drawers sprayed at another location to keep the fumes down. Honestly, if I could go back and have everything sprayed, I would do that instead.
Because our cabinets were stained, we needed everything sanded down and primed. The fumes for this were actually much stronger than the paint fumes, and for that reason, I wish we would have done this project in the fall months. It would have been much better to be able to open all the windows while they were sanding and priming. Instead, it was already too hot in Louisiana, so we had to keep the door open with the A/C running which wasn’t ideal at all. Sanding and priming took about 2-3 days for a medium sized kitchen.
With that said, the actual painting ended up taking longer than expected (of course).
And after staring at white paint swatches for months, I finally chose Sherwin Williams Pure White as the new cabinet color. The type of paint is latex but is supposed to be durable – but there are already chips and touch ups needed.
I’ve decided not to share the painting company because I’m not 100% happy with the service/finished product. First, there were unnecessary delays – one day they didn’t show up because they said a cat got into the shop and walked across the cabinet doors. (This was after they had the doors and drawers for about a week.) The entire project was quoted to take 3-4 days, and it ended up taking closer to two weeks. There are also places that I can tell weren’t hand painted very well. It’s not terrible, but I didn’t even call them to fix it because I didn’t want to hassle with them a week before my due date. We are touching up as we need to ourselves.
I knew that I wanted gold hardware to put onto the cabinets, but I didn’t realize how quickly hardware ADDS UP. Our kitchen isn’t even that big, and we needed to buy 34 pulls! After doing some research, I found these gold pull handles from Lowe’s. They ended up being $5 a piece compared to $18 for the Kohler version. I went ahead and ordered them online and selected in-store pickup which was super fast. I’m pretty pleased with them and the gold ended up matching the single light over the sink.
NEW COUNTER STOOLS
You’ll see in the before photos that we had off-white counter stools. Once the kitchen turned all white, we really needed new counter stools that look updated to match the space. I had been swooning over the Serena and Lily Riviera counter stools for so long, I finally decided that I had to have them. When they went on sale, and I grabbed them for 25% off! Even Jordan continues to remark at how much better and more comfortable the new counter stools are!
Right now, the entire Serena and Lily site happens to be 25% off with code PERKS. We also have the matching gray cloth napkins for table settings, and the capiz light hanging in our dining space. I am such a fan of the way Serena & Lily creates a fresh take on casual dining. If you’re looking to upgrade counter stools are any areas of your house, I always find something that I LOVE on their site! Even Bennett’s dachshund crib sheets are Serena & Lily!
That’s it! All the details on our kitchen before and after! Do you have any questions regarding the process? You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Lainey Reed
Thank you to Serena & Lily for partnering on this blog post! All opinions and styling are my own.