Kitchen / Walls

Simple kitchen refresh.

The kitchen in my condo was 100% white when I bought it: white cabinets with no pulls, white counters, white floor, and white tile with fruit on them. It was beyond sterile. It’s difficult to know what to do when you have a kitchen that needs an overhaul. Do you replace everything? No, you don’t have to. Here’s a fairly simple cost-effective solution: paint, tile, and counter tops.

The order you want to do it in is: paint the cupboards, then replace the counter tops, then do the tile.

So first, no matter what material your cupboards are made out of, they will take paint if prepped correctly. You’ll need to take all of the doors and hardware off, sand them completely, and then apply two thin coats of a high-gloss enamel. It’s a tedious job, but not hard — just time consuming. I then drilled holes and installed hardware.

Before you do the counter tops you need to prep! Remove all of the existing tile with a Wonderbar. Work slowly and carefully so as not to destroy the drywall underneath the tile as much as possible. You have the choice to either replace the drywall with greenboard, which is a lot of work, or you can repair the drywall with a thin coat of drywall mud, sand, and then paint with a liquid waterproofing membrane like RedGuard.  You may only want to do this for the backsplash where the tile will be near water.


Photo by Robert Brittingham

Next comes the new counter tops. In this case, I was replacing laminate, and I didn’t have a high end enough condo to justify replacing it with something expensive. So, I went with a high quality laminate in a stone pattern. It isn’t fancy, but it’s clean and looks nice given then kitchen it’s in. I determined it didn’t make sense to put granite counters on thrice painted pressed-board cabinets!

Then you can move on to putting in the new tile. Determine the pattern and style of the tiles you plan on installing. I went with a very simple white subway tile, but of course the options are endless. Use a basic tile adhesive on the wall, and spacers to keep the tile the correct distance apart. Once dry, grout with sanded grout and then seal. The exact products you’ll use will depend on the tile you choose, of course.

As you can see, my “remodeled” kitchen isn’t fancy nor high-end, but it was an inexpensive upgrade (about $1,000 total) compared to having the entire kitchen ripped out and redone, which could easily have been ten times that much.


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