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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Budget Kitchen Makeover - 2 tone cabinets?

bezzi44September 16, 2012
This is my new kitchen. I haven't moved in yet. I took the photos during the inspection so the stuff there is not mine.
Now - standard oak cabinets in good shape
Plain cream laminate counters.
Cream appliances
Wood backsplash (who does that? It's a piece of oak trim).
Beige/cream ceramic tile floor
Wall color is a muted blue/green.

I want to paint the cabinets. What color? I was thinking white with a glaze...or darker gray bottom and lighter ?? top..
I was also thinking counter high dining table so that the chairs could be used at both the counter and dining table. I haven't bought anything yet. It's design open season! I even need all new coffee pot, toaster etc.

I read somewhere to remove the wood doors in the corner cabinets to keep open shelving so it wasn't so boxy.

I have a teenager and two little ones so it needs to be kid-grotty-hand-friendly.

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I love the idea of two tone cabinets, I wish I had done that when I was painting my own. If you remove the doors to the corner cabinets, paint the inside a different but compatible color, that way it doesn't look like "oh look at me, I removed some doors".

If you buy a counter high dining table, how about your little ones? It will be even longer for them to be able to pull themselves up on a chair, than with a regular height table. If your teenager has friends over for meals or snacks, perhaps you could find a very small bar height table and two stools, just for him/her.

Nice house, congratulations!
1 Like    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 12:18PM
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For ideas and product see rustoleumtransformations.com. They have a new cabinet and countertop product getting great reviews, especially at HTVT's "Rate My Space" where you can search and see what people are doing with it.
1 Like    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 12:22PM
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I am going to be devil's advocate here, and ask to please look at those cabinets in a different light. You say they are in good shape. Are they all wood, or are they part wood-usually the front and doors-and part mdf with a "faux" vinyl covering simulating the oak grain? If they are, then you are not going to just be able to paint over it the old fashioned way, though I believe that the Rustoleum product mentioned is designed to cover the mdf smoothly-not sure about the vinyl part of it, though. Also, once you paint, you will have to keep painting. A light color will show anything that will stick to it, and a darker one will show dings, etc. I don't know how long you plant to stay in this home, of course, but if you stay there for a long while, if you want your cabinets to still look nice, you will eventually have to strip all the paint off and start over-because numerous coats of paint eventually will look just as unsightly as the most outdated natural finish, especially if it startst to chip or peel and show all its various incarnations.
However, if they are all "real" wood, have you considered how much those cabinets would cost you, brand new? That is quite a bit of cabinetry-which lots of people would love to have in their kitchen-and my point is to consider what you already have that is of value, and how much it would be worth if you had to replace it. One thing about the "old" wood. The maintainence was/is very low. If you keep the wood finish it will stand up more to little kid's grimy hands more than a regular paint finish will, though you can buy the kind of paint that is designed to resist the wear and tear that a kid can put a surface through. So, unless you just hate the look of oak wood, you can do things to revitalize and restore the wood-go out to Youtube and put in "restore" wood and you will get all sorts of videos where people demonstrate products that make wood a lot older than your cabinets look nice again. This would also free you up to spend that money on some really nice counter and backsplash treatments.
Here are some lovely, contemporary kitchens that are showcased here on Houzz that have natural oak cabinet finishes.
Kitchen · More Info

New Providence Lane Kitchen · More Info

Oak Kitchen Cabinets | Shaker Door Style | CliqStudios · More Info

White Kitchen Cabinets | Oak Kitchen Cabinets | Rockford Door Style | CliqStudio · More Info

I think the second one is really gorgeous, and it definitely the best of both worlds withe the natural wood mixed in with some painted surfaces, so it is definitely an example of two toned cabinets that are currently "stylish."
So, please consider all your options. If you look at that second photo, you will see that the doors are exactly the same shaker style that yours are. Most doors, even currently, unless they are custom made with all kind of embellishments-are are either the shaker, or the cathedral(withe arch at the top, or bottom) or just a plain, flush surface. So, style-wise, shaker cabinet doors have remained a staple of American design since they were first created by The Shakers, except for the mid Twentieth century where it was more stylish-and cost effective-to just have the "plain jane" wooden doors. So, please don't just assume that those cabinets by themselves make you kitchen look out of date, because the photos should show that that doesn't have to be so.
To show that I really am not trying to be contrary here is a very nice set of oak cabinets painted a very attractive black color.
Whimages · More Info
9 Likes    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 2:20PM
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Hi there! Congrats on your new house! Always exciting but a little overwhelming too. I agree with the idea of using what is there, especially if the cabinets are in good shape and the layout works. A cosmetic update is so much easier than an overhaul.... If you do decide to paint/resurface, you may want to explore Caromal Colours. It's amazing stuff and WILL cover laminate too! A little bit goes a long way, and the website is very inspiring. I incorporated the link to the kitchen inspirations page. The site has very detailed and helpful step by step tutorials as well.

Bear in mind that while you are excited about projects, great decisions often become clear when you have lived in a space for a while. Our 1910 bungalow in Oakland CA is an example of a success story of this kind. We bought it when there was a 1940s "upgrade" to the original kitchen. We lived with it as is for 2 years and during that time came up with a design layout that we knew would work for us; people who love to cook, plus toddler,and one on the way. We sold the house sadly 2 years later. Aside from the charm of the home, the updated kitchen (which was done in 1999) was a big draw - and it is still in great use today in late 2012 and the 2nd owners since us say they Love the way the kitchen works. So, the moral of this tale is: don't get carried away too early with your changes.
1 Like    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 3:46PM
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Walter Comstock
Kitchen is great just dated, I took some of my doors to a cabinet shop and had them cut out for glass, then had glass cut, they look great without having to reface. You are on the right track painting the top a light color with a darker bottom. add some crown moulding and under counter lights. Stick with a netural backsplash like subway tile as they never go out of style. Until you can afford new countertops you can paint laminate and it looks great for an short period. One step at a time Most of all .have fun
4 Likes    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 4:53PM
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I will definitely be living in the house a while before making any decisions. I need to see the light flow to see how light or bright I need to go. I noticed only can lights too. No pendants or task lighting. That will be a must.

I will take a closer look at the cabinets to see if they are wood surrounds with pressed/veneer inserts. I hope not! But I wont know for sure for a few more weeks when I move in.

I had a bar with bar stools that my little "monkeys" climbed all over. They had a few spills but they preferred to eat at the bar over the dining table. So I'm not so worried about counter height table & chairs. I'm more worried about the almost white carpeted dining room.

I had a cherry stained & black painted alder cabinets in my previous house. Life & kids put a hurting on them and they sucked to keep clean. The nicks and bangs showed through to the light wood and even the color pens couldn't make them look great again.

Given my life experiences so far, I'm thinking I may have to give my cabinets a distressed look so that as my family and I put them to town, it'll just look like it was meant to be there (that's if they can be painted). I'm not a big fan of the oak, but I'll give it some time.

Thanks everyone, I'll be sure to keep you updated on the changes I make.
Here's a few pics of my previous kitchen just for fun.
1 Like    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 12:00PM
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@clairfromthecolonies - is the caramelcolors like Annie Sloan paint?
    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 6:10PM
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Hi Bezzi44 - I cannot actually say how similar or not the two paints are, but I did find an article discussing them. I have only used Caromal Colors myself, and it was true about the no sanding! I used the Reclaim. The texture of the creamy paint eliminated that part. Here is a link that may answer your question: http://petticoatjunktion.com/2012/01/caromal-colours-and-diy-paints-feature-in-the-leaf-chronicle.html Hope you find it helpful.
    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 9:07PM
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@Claire - great article. They seem pretty similar. Do you have photos of before and after and how use used the paint?
    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 7:26AM
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I used it for a kids toy chest/bench and no longer have it since a recent move. but here is a link to a blog about it: http://www.mydesertcottage.com/2011/06/fun-with-caromal-colours.html - great pictures, and I can attest to its accuracy! Here is another: http://www.alittlechic.blogspot.com/search/label/Caromal%20Colours
    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 8:13AM
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OK, so after moving into the house and looking at the cabinets up close, I see that they are in fact oak veneer. UGH! The structure is good. Layout just fine. Shelves aren't adjustable but I can live. Bottom shelves slide out which is really nice. Soooooo.... do I still risk painting them? Sand and prime the snot out of them and then paint with a good quality kitchen paint? I'm thinking I'll start with the bathroom first??? I've watched my kids handle them not-so-gently so I'm thinking a distressed look & glaze might be the answer. Any words or caution? It'll be a while before I get started. Maybe Christmas break.
    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 2:52PM
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The cabinets look like they are in pretty good shape. I have the exact same ones and I am painting them as we speak. (Mine are in bad shape) If you decide to paint, go with white or off white to match your appliances. Be careful with DYI glazes, they tend to look streaked and dirty if not done right. Check out Rustoleum transformations . com for great before and after pics to get an idea of what you might like. Also, look into a new countertop - it will really spruce up your kitchen. Add new hardware to the cabinets. How about under cabinet lighting?
    Bookmark   November 1, 2012 at 3:16PM
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Sharyn - please post pics (on this thread) of your project!! I miss under cabinet lighting like you wouldn't believe. I also need to wire in a light above the sink. Pendants above the breakast bar...
The appliances are old but in good shape. They will be the last thing updated. Now's a good time to measure those countertops and start digesting replacement numbers.
    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 6:21PM
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@Bezzi: I'm hoping to be done in about a week or so with the kitchen. I bought GE strip lights and installed myself for $10 each. Gone are the honey oak cabinets (painted white), border -pretty much everything but the appliances and floor. Good bye 1995! I went with BM wedgewood gray for the walls. Also attached is my inspiration fabric in which I am carrying into my entire living space. I'll post picture when I'm done.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 2, 2012 at 7:01PM
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@Sharyn - are you done yet? are you done yet? are you done yet? lol Would love to see some progress and tips on how it's going.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 5:17AM
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ALMOST! What a job!! Cabinets are done. Beadboard is up. Painting walls is done. Counters being installed Dec. 1st, then the backsplash. So I'm getting there. Will post pics when complete. Doing this totally DYI, and by that I mean ME! no hubby help whatsoever. - Budget is very good-but I wish I would have explored the option of having the cabinets sprayed by a pro.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 6:12AM
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Here is a sneak peak.....
5 Likes    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 7:30AM
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I love it! Especially the colors, since they're the same ones I used in my kitchen...hehehe. I'm not a fan of things over the top of cabinets but you have done it well. Good job!
1 Like    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 8:34AM
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@Sharyn - nice work!!! And awesome job DIY!! How did you find the finish of the rustoleum? Can you put close up pics of the doors, like right up to the handle type pics? Pleeeeeze?
    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 8:38AM
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I found the finish from the brochure available where you buy the kit. (Any home improvement center). You can also check out the choices on the products website. www.rustoleumtransformations.com They have white to black and everything in between. Here are the pics you wanted. They are off my cell phone so not the best quality. This was a huge job (I had 24 doors, 9 drawer fronts and frames multiplied by 13 steps (cleaning, sanding, priming, painting etc)...I can't even do the math on that!) This is just a quick fix until my kids are out of the house, then I am gutting this kitchen. I have to say, this product is holding up well so far, cleans nicely. Time will tell though.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 2:19PM
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@Sharyn - thank you! I have looked at tons of the pictures on Rustoleum's site as well as others. None ever have close ups. I haven't pulled the trigger b/c I can't decide on a color. I think the sagey-gray in my living/dining/kitchen is throwing me off. I might have to paint that first. Not liking the thought. The stair well is the issue. White next to that color just makes it look washed out and dirty.
I understand the kid thing too. I watch them tear up walls, cabinets, carpet & furniture. One day I'll upgrade.
    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 6:26AM
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This site has tons of ideas, it is so addicting isn't it?? Search your paint color choices here and see how the designers use it, that,s how I decided on my wedgewood grey....the rest just fell into place because I copied all their ideas:) I have a huge stairwell too (9' ceilings) I havent figured out how I am going to tackle that one yet. After the kitchen I'm moving into the dining room. Glutton for punishment here. Have a nice Thanksgiving!
    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 8:06AM
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I like your idea of two tone cabinets. There is nothing wrong with painted cabinets as long as you do it right. Make sure you buy the right type of paint. Besides Rustoleum brand you can have Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams tint any enamel or laquer paint for you in whatever color you desire. I have been told enamel and laquer will provide you with a more durable surface that is easy to clean. You can get enamel in all sorts of sheens as well as latex or oil based. I've attached pictures of a kitchen renovation similar to yours from a blog I enjoy. http://theletteredcottage.net/kitchen/
Also I found this tutorial on pinterest for painting cabinets like a pro.
I say go for it! Please post pictures when you are done :)
    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 8:40AM
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@agarcia - great links. Very Detailed! Any which way you slice it, it's going to be a lot of work to do it right. So I will plan for that. I will need to commit to a color first. I like a few different combinations.
    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 6:10AM
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Alicia Brown
oh I love this transformation. You've done a great job. Will you post a picture of the whole kitchen?
    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 3:01AM
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I also used transformations and love it. I did it in March and they still look fabulous. No chips. Clean up fine. Bright white for the perimeter and black for the island and bar area. The cabinets were 20 year old Home Depot honey oak.
2 Likes    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 4:09AM
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@bezzi I'm done! How is your project coming?
1 Like    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Just wanted to give you a visual of what it would look like to do uppers in white/ off-white, and a grayish color on the bottom.
    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:24PM
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Sarah Stacey Interior Design
Just a note on the counter height table. After sitting in a counter stool for some time, some people get uncomfortable because they can't put their feet on the floor.
    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 5:40PM
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Garden's Edge Growers
I had oak cabinets like yours and painted it two-tone, replaced the formica with granite and installed glass tile as the back splash.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 6:01PM
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not keen on the grey/whoite personally. I wopuld actually remove the cupboard above the breakfast bar on the left hand side-where the sink is. I think opening up around the window would make a massive difference to the "boxy" feel. , as it really visually cuts it up. And add a nice little open shelf or something, pin up board, etc.
1 Like    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 6:14PM
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@Sharyn - sooo jealous! Great job!! My progress? *cough cough* well it's hockey season so I spend all my time at the rinks watching & playing... I'm waiting until it warms up a little here (MI) so I could paint in the garage. I grabbed a few tile samples for my back splash, a rustoleum color card and still can't make up my mind... cream or white? I think I've moved away from the two tone now.
@LKristine - thank you! It would definitely brighten the kitchen with white cabinets.
@Connie - I had not thought of removing that cabinet. I will look into it when I get home.
    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 10:27AM
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I'm thinking of going :
white subway tile back splash with blue glass accent stripe(photo shows cream on left, white on right)
dark laminate counter tops,
white cabinets, upper and lower
update the appliances (eventually). I am not sure on white or black. I'm over stainless and what my kids do to it. What are your thoughts?

Here is my kitchen now that I'm in here. The floor is a cream ceramic tile. Still in great condition.

I also think the cabinet on the right of the sink is OK to stay...doesn't close it in so much from the other angles. Agree???
    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 7:02AM
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I went white subway with glass stripe as well. I really like the look. Different without being too busy.I think the upper cabs can stay. You coiuld always put glass in the doors or have open shelves if it feels too tight when you're done. That way you don't lose storage. This is how the white looks with black appliances.
1 Like    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 8:41AM
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I finally got around to painting my cabinets. I chose a color that matched the "white" subway tile. It's called Whispering Wind. I didn't want bright white, even though the cabinets essentially look white. I still have some touch ups and to do the window trim and under the bar and the side of the one cabinet. I have to wait until children are gone.

I opted for one color. I just couldn't find any others that I was willing to commit to long term. I figured accessories would be used for color and can come and go with the seasons.

Next step is the counter top and whether I go dark or light.....
    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 5:21AM
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Wow....what a difference (for the better!) Good Job.
    Bookmark   Thanked by bezzi44    May 6, 2014 at 9:21AM
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99% finished! I have some paint to touch up and toe kick to install. Floors will be done some other year when carpet needs to be replaced (rip up tile at same time).

- I used Dutch Boy cabinet & trim paint color matched to subway tile (Whispering Wind)
- I used subway tile & mosaic from Menards
- Frigidaire stove, dishwasher and microwave, Whirlpool refrigerator (less than $2.5k all up)
- Black Quartz from Lowes ($3.4k installed) 52sq ft of countertop.
- LED under cabinet strip lights. 12" & 16"
So all up, less than $6k kitchen overall. Not cheap but not expensive either.
I donated everything I pulled out.
3 Likes    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 12:47PM
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well done!
    Bookmark   Thanked by bezzi44    November 10, 2014 at 11:20AM
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Love the dark counters. Everything looks beautiful. Congrats!
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by bezzi44    November 11, 2014 at 4:36AM
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