Every home has a kitchen, but it may not be a dream kitchen where form meets function. If you want to transform a boring or outdated kitchen into a beautiful cook’s kitchen, plan now to prevent surprises later.
Tile backsplashes, countertops and shower walls are popular home improvements, but installations aren’t easy for do-it-yourselfers. For many DIYers, the simpler the project is, the better. And that’s a problem with thinset mortar, a tile adhesive. First, you have to spread mortar with the trowel’s flat side and then flip to its notched side to […]
After living in our house for 10 years with a career change halfway through that requires me to be in the kitchen all day long, we finally bit the bullet and decided to renovate. The dark cherry cabinets that closed the space in from the rooms on either side of the kitchen had to go. To get the open feel and additional light that was number one on my priority list, a major structural wall had to come down. It was a major undertaking (and if I never see another microwave meal again, it will be too soon), but many months later the space is exactly as I envisioned it: bright, light and airy. It’s the perfect balance between function and aesthetic.
The kitchen is located in the center of the house. The only window above the sink faces east. The dark cherry cabinets and the wall separating it from the southern exposure of the formal dining room (to the right in this picture) was a very dark space. On a rainy day, it would almost be pitch black in the kitchen in mid-afternoon!
The “must-have” list was a long one. I figured if we were going to do this renovation and spend all this money, it was going to be exactly what I wanted. But in the end, there were really just four things that carried the most importance:
- Remove wall separating the dining room
- Upgrade to 36” dual fuel stove with vent hood
- White cabinets
- Fewer upper cabinets
Remove Wall Separating Dining Room
The removal of that wall was no easy feat. It was a major structural component of the house. It also involved not only support beams where it originally stood (hidden in a shiplap clad soffit), but also another support beam and structural pole in the basement below to properly distribute the load. That part required cutting through our concrete slab foundation, resulting in quite a mess!
Almost half of the renovation time was dedicated to this important task. While the demo only took one day, the progress seemed at a standstill for weeks as all the “boring” structural work took place.
The minute it was removed, with the beams in place and the temporary walls down, I knew it was worth every penny. The extensive southern light from the dining room now flooded into the kitchen space.
Upgrade to 36” Dual Fuel Range With Vent Hood
As a food blogger, recipe developer and freelance food photographer, I’m in the kitchen all day. A professional-grade range with a gas stove and electric oven was super important to me. Having never cooked with gas in my entire life, I’m finally able to do so with this renovation.
The old kitchen had a 30” range with the microwave above as most standard kitchens do. I knew I wanted a vent hood above the new stove. This posed a new question in the renovation and one I didn’t realize would turn into such a large component in the project. Where does the microwave go?
A Drawer Microwave
Drawer microwaves were a new concept to me. I had assumed in the initial planning of the renovation that we’d either just do a countertop microwave or “build-in” a small microwave into the bottom cabinets somehow. I had never really heard of drawer microwaves.
After a lot of research and back and forth on whether the investment was worth it for such a small appliance, we decided on a stainless steel microwave drawer. There are a few competitive models on the market. But I loved the sleek, unbranded look of this one and the Easy Wave feature for opening.
The control panel opens on a slant to make the buttons easy to read, and it can be pushed back flat with the unit when not in use for a nice, clean minimal appearance.
I had worries that the automatic open and close would annoy me, or that the 1.2 cu feet interior space might be too small. However, after using it for months now, neither have been a problem at all. In fact, the microwave has surprisingly turned into one of my favorite things about the renovation.
It blends so nicely with the completed space. It has a professional quality appearance while being out of the way and sort of forgotten about. Guests have even seen the new space and asked where the microwave was!
The newly found light from the dining room was exciting on its own, but the decision to go with white cabinetry really brightened the space even more.
We chose a full overlay quality cabinet brand working with a local business that patiently walked me through all the design iterations to really help visualize the final space.
Besides the brightening effect, I love how the white cabinetry matches all the trim work and accents in the house. Its contrast with the dark wood floors also makes me so happy we chose the simplicity of white.
Fewer Upper Cabinets
By default, removing the wall to the dining room forced the final design to have fewer upper cabinets. I also knew I wanted to incorporate some natural elements with wood shelving instead of just cabinetry alone.
Sourcing the reclaimed floating wood shelves from a local wood restoration business was such a fun experience. Everything was custom cut for the space. I absolutely love how they open up the area around the kitchen window. Knowing the old building where they came from and that they’re unique to only our space is also something special.
We chose not to replace/enlarge the kitchen window in the renovation. Utilizing shelving instead of cabinets on either side of it made a huge impact on how big the window feels.
We also decided on a glass front for one of the cabinets on the left side of the kitchen where there are more uppers. This is to help break up the flow and keep the airy feel.
The other part I love about choosing to not have cabinetry flank the window is how much more you’re able to see of the backsplash tile with the floating shelves.
I never thought choosing the backsplash tile would be such a hard decision, but it was honestly the one thing I struggled with the most in the entire renovation. Deciding on something that was “fun” but not “too fun” in that it could potentially look dated in a matter of years was exhausting!
Eventually, I settled on a concave hexagonal white glossy tile that I absolutely adore. The way the light bounces off the concave 3-dimensional aspect to it is the perfect amount of “fun” I was looking for while still being a timeless shape and color.
Our New Open Kitchen
The renovation was exhausting in many ways. Including the part where the wood floors in the entire first level of the house had to be refinished twice, which was a week-long process each time. The outcome, however, has been beyond worth it.
Working with The Home Depot in the process to purchase the microwave was a welcome reprieve in the crazy decision-making process of the 4-month project. I was able to go into my local store and get all my questions answered about the drawer microwave. I order online and have it delivered straight to my house. Its functionality has fit perfectly into the kitchen’s design and flow of the new space.
The kitchen is a space I work in all day long. It’s now truly someplace I love spending time in.
What the outdated kitchen looked like before!
I consider myself an avid DIY’er, but this is by far the biggest project I have ever tackled…and I did it by myself! We live in a 1990’s home in Las Vegas with honey oak cabinets in the kitchen and all the bathrooms. The rest of the house is updated, so the kitchen looked horrible! After a couple months of living here, I gathered some courage and decided to paint the honey oak kitchen cabinets white. The end result is incredible, and I am so happy I did it. In this blog, I am going to teach you everything you need to know about how to paint honey oak kitchen cabinets.
I go over the inspiration for this kitchen remodel on my blog, CollectivelyCasey.com, so you can see the look I was going for. I wanted a modern yet timeless look that would compliment the rest of the house–brushed nickel accents on a bright white canvas.
Home Depot is my go-to for all DIY projects, big or small, so the first thing I did was talk to the friendly Home Depot staff about the supplies and type of paint I should use on this project, in addition to a TON of research.
Every blog you read about how to paint honey oak cabinets will tell you that the prep work is the longest and most important step…and I am here to reiterate that!
- Remove all cabinet doors. Use painters tape to label each door with its corresponding cabinet. Remove the hardware, hinges, and screws, leave in a baggie and store in the corresponding cabinet.
- Tape everything. Tape off any walls, appliances, counters, baseboards, and floors that you don’t want painted.
- CLEAN! Use the tsp solution and a rag to carefully clean the door fronts and cabinet frames. Our cabinets have lots of grooves, and it took some extra elbow grease to make sure every inch was clean. Don’t forget the backs of the doors!
- Start sanding. Our cabinets were recently varnished, which meant I had an additional layer of shine to sand through. For this reason, I used liquid sander in addition to a sanding block to make sure I had no shiny residue left on the cabinets.
The next step is to start priming. Use a high quality oil based primer like Zinsser to ensure an even and well coated surface. I used a high density foam roller on the frames and the fronts, and a brush to get in all the grooves. The roller leaves a bit of texture, similar to the look of spray painted cabinets. Fair warning, oil based primers STINK so make sure to prime outside and consider using a ventilator mask.
- Do at least two coats of primer on all surfaces you plan to paint.
- Lightly sand in between each coat, to get rid of drips or uneven surfaces.
- I let each coat dry for 24 hours. This is longer than the recommended time on the primer can but I wanted to really let the primer set before adding more!
- Oil based primer is really difficult to wash, so just store your wet brush and roller in a gallon sized bag until you are ready to do the next coat.
You have done all the prep work, now it’s time to learn how to paint honey oak kitchen cabinets! I decided to use Behr’s Satin Enamel in the color Aspen Snow without any tint. I love how bright and white the cabinets turned out and am glad I went with it! Once again I used a high density foam roller for the frames and fronts and a paint brush for the grooves. The paint goes on very easily, and is great at self leveling.
- Use a different paint tray, foam roller, and brush than you used for priming. It’s good to start fresh!
- Lightly sand in between coats to make sure you have a smooth and even finish.
- Less is more! Apply paint in thin coats gradually rather than thick coats all at once. The end result looks better and it actually saves you time.
- Let paint dry completely before adding a new coat. Once again I chose to wait 24 hours between coats to make sure I let the paint fully set.
- If your cabinets have deep wood grain (and you don’t want to use grain filler) use the paint brush to really fill in the grooves. Since our cabinets are old, it took a lot of paint to fill the grain but it worked and looks great.
- Be extra careful with your newly painted cabinets for the first 30 days. This is how long it takes for the paint to fully cure and harden. If you see any chipping, fix it right away!
The cabinets and drawers didn’t have hardware on them when we started, so I decided to add some! I love the look of these knobs and cup pulls from the Home Depot Amerock line, and went with a brushed nickel finish to match the stainless steel appliances. The old hinges were 20+ years old and a faded bronze, so I replaced them with beautiful satin nickel. They come in bulk packages which are great for projects like this!
TIP: I tried hanging the cabinets up by myself, but the new hinges were a slightly different size than the old ones. I definitely recommend getting another set of hands to help rehang the cabinets!
The countertops in here are an old, almond colored tile and clash with the new bright white kitchen cabinets. Demolishing tile is a HUGE project that I wasn’t comfortable tackling, so instead I turned to my favorite renter’s hack, contact paper! With 6 rolls of contact paper, I completely transformed the look of this kitchen for under $75.
TIP: This specific contact paper is thick and sticky. This is great for durability and wear but it makes it difficult to apply. I suggest having at least two people to apply it, and use a credit card to smooth out air bubbles and wrinkles as they occur.
THINGS TO KNOW: I do not place hot pans directly on the counters anymore because I’m not sure how that would affect the adhesive. The contact paper has held up extremely well even around the sink, and cleans easily with chemical free all purpose cleaner. The tile grout lines are visible under the contact paper, but they are very light. The overall aesthetic improvement far outweighs any side effects for me!
This is a rental home and we got permission to paint from our landlords, but they didn’t want us to install anything permanent on the counters or walls. I LOVE removable wallpaper and The Home Depot has a great selection! I found this shiplap style removable wallpaper and decided to turn it into a faux backsplash. It took some effort to line up (and it isn’t perfect!) but I love what it added to the entire space! Plus it only took one roll to do our whole kitchen!
The previous sink faucet was a small, builder’s grade, shiny chrome faucet. I knew I wanted to replace it with a nice pull down faucet, and Home Depot had so many options to choose from. After reading lots of reviews, I went with the Leland Single-Handle Pull-Down Sprayer by Delta! It wasn’t too difficult to install, but I do recommend this as a two person job as well. I was surprised at how much of an impact a new faucet made on the overall kitchen! It looks so much better with the update!
I tend to be a whirlwind DIY’er, but I really took my time with this project! I stay home with my two toddlers and tackled this project alone at night, so it took me about one month from start to finish! If you wanted to, you could absolutely knock this out in a long weekend with helping hands.
I’m so happy with the end result of this project, and I can’t believe the before pictures! We lived with the old kitchen for four months and I can’t remember what it looked like unless I see an old picture. It is truly amazing what some paint, removable wallpaper, contact paper and hardware can do for a space!
The grand total of this kitchen renovation comes to $561.13. I hope this blog on how to paint honey oak kitchen cabinets is helpful to anyone wondering how to update their kitchen on a budget. If you have any questions or want to see more pictures, come say hi at CollectivelyCasey.com or on Instagram via @CaseyEAnderson. Big thank you to The Home Depot for sponsoring this project and giving us the rental kitchen of our dreams!