Whew – Redoing the Kitchen is Hard Work!

Dear Friends,

If you’re wondering where I’ve been the last couple (few) weeks…my life and my kitchen have been turned upside down! Classes have started for me again, with the addition of my holistic nutrition certification, so things have been pretty busy. Add to that a kitchen remodel – and there goes my writing time! But I promise I haven’t forgotten about you, and as soon as the kitchen is done I will have a brand new and more functional space for all of my healthy foodie endeavors, and you will see lots more exciting things as a result!

So what exactly have I been doing to my kitchen? It’s undergone a pretty good overhaul. I originally wanted to replace my countertops, but after seeing how much the new one would cost (quartz, because it was the only one I could find that I liked the pattern of), I realized I could hand paint it to look like quartz and completely finish all of the items on my “someday” list, for the same amount of money.

So how does one go about painting a countertop to look like quartz? It’s actually quite a bit easier than you think, as long as you have the right top coat! I first washed, sanded, peeled off caulk, and primed the existing countertop. Then I layered on three coats of bright white kitchen and bath paint – the same as I used on the cabinets, which I painted and put new copper hardware on the weekend before. After that, I used thin art brushes to draw gray marbled lines at random. I used a piece of sea sponge to dab over and soften the lines, then another sea sponge dipped in white to soften the color. Then I added a little darker gray on top of that, and used the sea sponges to soften some more. Finally, I added little flecks of copper paint, then again used the sea sponges to soften.

The final, and most important step – epoxy. A mess, but not bad to work with…unless you run out. Because we all know you can’t do a remodel without some sort of hiccup, right? I ordered a half gallon kit from Amazon, which would have been the perfect amount for the countertop I had to do. Except…the first small batch I mixed got flecks of black in it from the drill I was using to mix the product and I had to toss it and start over. The rest went smoothly, until I reached the last 1.5′ x 2′ section of countertop and ran out of epoxy.

Since I was mid-project and epoxy sets extremely fast (you have five minutes from pour time to chemically reactive set time), I raced over to Menards to buy another kit – a different brand from the one I’d ordered from Amazon, but epoxy is epoxy, right??

Turns out – NO! I got home, mixed the new epoxy, poured it on, spread it out, and stepped back to admire the work…and realized the new epoxy had a yellowish color to it. I reached over and grabbed the box – because it said “dries crystal clear”, right? Yup, sure does! Okay, so maybe this will be clear once it hardens?

We left for the evening; we had family dinner at Michael’s parents’ house, followed by appetizers with friends at a restaurant in town. I got home around 8:30pm to find the countertop just as yellow as ever. You guys – it literally looked like my dog squatted and peed on my countertop. It was gross, and I knew I couldn’t live with it like that.

Luckily Monday was President’s Day, so I was off work. The first thing I did was break out the paint stripper and coat the entire section of yellow epoxy. I let it set up for 30 minutes, which is twice as long as the package directions say – but epoxy is extra thick and extra hard and is much harder to remove than polyurethane or paint! I took a scraper to it and got a layer off, then added more stripper and let it set for another 30 minutes and scraped off another layer.

Then Logan and I ran to the store to buy some more supplies, and some fun stuff – new décor for the kitchen! When we got back I put one more round of stripper on, let it set for 30 minutes, and this time – the epoxy started to come off in giant sheets of plastic-like chunks! Everything came off with it, right down to the original countertop. Praise Jesus, it worked! So then I sanded it down, cleaned it, and started over with primer and two coats of paint before the day came to a close.

Here is a little sneak preview of part of the countertop that is done:

snapseed

In the meantime, I bought a butcher block top to replace the old butcher block top on my prep table. The old top was two square feet, but the new top is 40″ x 25″ and I have some room to work! I removed the old top, painted the table base and the stools to the breakfast bar. I upholstered the stool tops as well, seasoned the butcher block top, sanded it, then seasoned it some more.

Last night I got the last coat of paint on the countertop before going out with Michael for a work dinner. This morning I was up at 5:00 and got the marbling done. Now I’m going to run Logan to SRE and as soon as I get back I’m mixing and pouring the new epoxy (I ordered another of the original kits from Amazon first thing Monday morning). It takes 24 hours to reach 95% cure (72 hours for 100% cure), which means tomorrow night I can move my stove back into place (because naturally this had to be the section of countertop right where the stove sits, so I’ve remained without it since last Thursday) and finally be able to cook in my kitchen again!

But you guys – my favorite part is yet to come. I hate, loathe, despise the ugly old stainless steel sink that’s been in my house since it was built in 1967. As soon as I saw how much money I could free up by refinishing my existing countertops, I knew a new sink and faucet were in order. I went back and forth for a bit between a cast iron white sink and a full copper sink. At the end of the day I decided a copper sink would just be too much, so I went with a cast iron white sink and a copper faucet and drains.

I spent $625 just on the sink, faucet and drains…but let me tell you, it is worth every penny. You should see it – Michael mounted the faucet to the sink ahead of installation, and we did a dry fit before I finished the countertops to make sure it would fit like it should (thankfully it fits perfectly), and it is just so incredibly beautiful! I at first bought a stainless steel drain kit for $40 at Lowes, because they didn’t have any copper and they only had a white regular drain, but no white garbage disposal drain.

Michael talked me into looking for copper on Amazon because that would look amazing with the copper faucet. They didn’t have a kit, but I found a drain and a garbage disposal drain separately and bought them both for $70. $30 more than the stainless set, but definitely worth it. It all looks so good together and I can’t wait to see it installed with the new marbled countertops! I’m not sure what I’m more excited about – the cast iron sink (extremely, ridiculously heavy but easy to clean and extra durable), or the gorgeous copper faucet!

Here is a little sneak preview from the dry-fit, before I bought the drains and prior to refinishing the countertops:

snapseed-1

The last little mini project will be hanging planters on the sides of the cabinets in front of my window. I already sowed some thyme in a thin white planter that fits perfectly on my windowsill, so in the new planters I’m going to grow some oregano (I already have tiny little sprouts started), basil, and probably cilantro and parsley. I just have to cut and sand the wood, attach knobs, mount them to the cabinets, then hang the planters.

I also have to finish re-grouting the backsplash (started, but stopped to do the countertops) and replace all the switches and receptacles with white ones since the existing ones are almond colored. Once all of that is done, I will be ready to take some “after” video and pictures and show you guys the finished product. I am so, so ready!

So hang in there with me just a little longer – I’m soon to be back in business and back to posting regularly! Now to go mix and pour that epoxy…

Love,
Loren

 

 

 

Author: Loren Miller

I'm a Midwestern woman living my best and healthiest life, fueled by passion and caffeine. I follow the Mediterranean diet, I'm a yoga newbie, and a hiker and general explorer of the outdoors. I adore fashion and dressing up, and finding amazing, quality designer pieces through thrift shopping. Most all of my outfits have at least one thrifted item--saving my wallet and the planet one designer top at a time <3

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