To paint or not to paint? That is the question! In the middle of a pandemic, what’s a girl to do?
Of course paint an entire kitchen of cabinets in light blue!
Baby blue! It is not just for your newborn’s nursery. Nor is it for the faint of heart.
Let’s rewind to how I arrived at making a bold decision to paint all my base and wall cabinets light blue and my island dark navy.
2020 coming in hot!
I am not going to lie, my business was rolling along. I had made the personal decision at the end of 2019 that it was time to gut my kitchen of 18 years and do it my way. I raised a family of 4 in this bad boy. It always had been a kitchen workhorse not a show horse. Don’t get me wrong, when we bought our “forever” home 18 years ago, I was over the moon. It was a brand new build sitting on the market after 9/11. It checked all our boxes. As a designer, I was fine with the standard cabinets and flooring because I was going to put my mark on it. I am also utilitarian minded when it comes to viable finishes in a home, if it ain’t broke (or worn out) then why replace it (for now)? I decided I would make due with golden oak cabinets and white ceramic tile counters for 15 years I told myself. In hindsight, thank goodness for the white ceramic tile! You will hear more about my white tile later.
Hello! My kitchen is broken, I have to fix it
I quickly realized that my kitchen had a poor layout. Specifically, the work centers of the kitchen were crammed into one small area of a nice size kitchen (14 feet x 20 feet). Kitchen design 101 tells you that the kitchen work triangle makes or breaks a kitchen. There are recommended distances between the three areas (sink, stove and refrigerator), however, my three work centers are under the recommended distance to each center which creates a traffic jam quickly. It is a shame because both my husband and I like to cook and help one another in the kitchen. Typically, one of us always ends up sitting on the other side of the island and becomes an observer rather than a participant.
Finally, this was our year to make it the kitchen we dreamed of. We are empty nesters and it could not have been a better time. Over the last couple years, I had replaced failing appliances with the new appliances (GE Slate Collection) that I knew we were going to use for the new kitchen. But I had different plans for the configuration of the stove, microwave and double oven locations in the kitchen. So I had held out on replacing them so as to not throw away money on appliances that would be wrong specs for their new locations.
Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Life. Life who? Life has other plans for 2020, that’s who!
Just like everyone else, I was affected by this crazy pandemic. California was one of the first states ordered to shut down. I respectfully called my clients and we all came up with reasonable plans on how we would navigate thru this new “normal.” Fast forward to two weeks later, I came to terms that my new normal is going to cause me to pivot in my business and I should probably wait to see where this ends before gutting the kitchen.
Be that as it may, I am a problem solver, solution sleuth! One night I woke up and sat straight up in bed. I envisioned baby blue cabinets with black matte hardware. “Ha,” I thought, “should I wake my husband now and tell him his quarantined, organized habitat was about to be rocked?” Nah, I let him dream of birdies on the 9th hole for now. Yea, let him enjoy what’s left of his quiet abode. Of course, I could not sleep. Hell no! I have some color consulting to do… and I am the client.
Little Boy Blue, come do my kitchen…
Well, having been in the business of consulting others on the right paint selection for their cabinets for years, I knew I had two options; first option was to hire my longtime paint contractor and friend to paint them with a pre-cat pigmented lacquer process successfully done for years now with Sherwin Williams products. Just as I have done for my very happy clients in the past.
How could I do that in the middle of a ‘stay at home’ order? I couldn’t. The second option was to paint them myself. I wanted to use a particular DIY product that I heard was the DIY cabinet painting industry’s secret weapon, INSL-X Cabinet Coating. It is carried at local Benjamin Moore paint stores where they can tint it any BM color I selected. Music to my ears. I love the depth of Benjamin Moore’s blues. Next step was selecting the right light blue and dark navy to compliment it. I pulled out my BM paint deck and narrow it to the colors below.
- Harbor Fog
- Mystical Blue
- Hale Navy
- Polo Blue
Eenny, Meeny, Minny, Moe
In order, to confidently choose the right color the first time for your project you must invest in taking the time to do the following steps:
- Purchase 11×14 poster boards
- Buy sample pots of the colors you are interested in (3 maximum per color or else you will drive yourself crazy)
- Paint the boards with 2 to 3 coats of the paint and mark the name of the color on each board
- Save a white poster board or a white piece of paper and use this to block out the elements that are going to change in the room (see above for reference)
- I took it a step further and introduced my new roman shade fabric for my kitchen window while choosing the right blues
- Move the board around to the different areas the paint will be applied. I recommend do it in the morning natural light and the evening artificial light before making your final decision
Psychology of Color! Light Blue= Bright Kitchen
Light blue evokes creativity and I can tell you that after painting over the dark, boring oak cabinets, every time I walk into my kitchen now I feel a burst of JOY and creativity! I am not fibbing when I say I have done more cooking since I have painted my kitchen because I feel inspired when I walk in it now.
I decided to choose Benjamin Moore’s Harbor Fog for the light blue. It is soft and subtle, but strong on its own. Harbor Fog is a great neutral blue in my opinion. For Harbor Fog’s counterpart in my color scheme, I knew I wanted a deep navy blue that was almost black for several reasons. I wanted to counterbalance the soft, feminine feel of Harbor Fog with a strong, masculine color. I accomplished this with Benjamin Moore’s Polo Blue. In addition, Polo Blue married the flat black hardware against the blue cabinets very well. I really love how the hardware takes these light blue cabinets out of the pastel category and appeals to a more, modern vibe.
Don’t worry! I did take stock of the cost and my time invested in a project of this scale. Let’s take a review of DIY cost vs. Professionally Painted Cabinets:
DIY: Cost- $427
Before you commit to painting your cabinets assess them. Confirm that they are in good shape. No broken drawers/doors, splintered wood, dried, splitting wood, etc. There is no amount of wood putty and paint that will restore disheveled cabinets. My golden oak cabinets are in great shape and I like the style, let’s move forward then.
- Clean cabinets with a degreaser, Krud Kutter. This is a crucial step. The wood needs to be stripped of grease and dirt for paint to adhere. Cost: $6
- Remove all the doors, hinges, hardware and drawers
- Fill any cracks or holes with latex wood putty, Synko, and sand Cost:$8
- Purchase a good HVLP sprayer (not airless) for fine furniture application, Wagner Flexio 3000, Cost:$153
- Tape off ceiling, floors and inside of cabinets. This can take 1-2 days depending on the size of your kitchen. It is time well spent! Less work later when spraying and minimal clean up of over-spray too. Cost:$80
- Use INSL-X Cabinet Coating(tint with color selection of cabinets), Benjamin Moore sells it. No sanding required. Bonus! Saves so much time and energy.
Cost: $180 (3 cans= 2 lt blue + 1 dk navy)
Install new hardware. Insl-X dries within an hour, but doesn’t start to harden for another 24 to 48 hours. And cures in 7 days, which is amazing because latex paints typically take up to 14 days and oil-based can take up to 30 days. I recommend waiting a minimum of 3-5 days before you put the hardware on. Another benefit to INSL-X is it is low V.O.C. which means very little smell.
Vs. Professionally painted: Cost $8,000 approximately
Here is an example of a professionally painted project that I was hired to color consult for. They had dated oak cabinets that they hated, but the budget did not have room to gut the kitchen. After the Sherwin Williams pigmented lacquer was applied to these dark autumn stained oak cabinets, I added new polished brass hardware to finished this kitchen that she could live with for years to come.
Out with the old and in with the new…eventually
As I stated above, when I suggest my clients paint existing cabinets I have them use Sherwin Williams Pre-Catalyzed, Pigmented Lacquer. It is the next best thing to a factory finish painted cabinet. However, I would never suggest anyone, but a licensed paint contractor who is familiar with the process to apply it. It is worth every penny if you like the footprint of your kitchen, don’t want the crazy dust and debris in your house, believe in not adding to the landfills or a version of all the above.
I am over the moon with how my cabinets turned out! It did take a full 7 days and I don’t regret it. What a great way to preserve great quality wood cabinets and not add to the landfill. What I am pleasantly surprised about is how much I don’t hate my white 4” ceramic tile anymore. I am actually grateful that I don’t have baltic brown granite like I wanted 18 years ago. White tile is always fresh and classic. So I am going to live a little longer with my counters because I realize I can. Likewise, I have hidden my dated ceramic tile floor with a fun runner in front of my sink and added a metal Chinoiserie chair I found on Offer Up for $30 bucks to dress up my desk.
However, stay tuned for a new white oak floor some time this year and my Schumacher roman shades. Plus, I have not thrown away my idea of reconfiguring my microwave and ovens. So get ready later this year for phase 2 of this kitchen update.
Tammie, Your Sustainable Designer
If you enjoy Tammie’s style check out similar products to achieve the same style. You can hire Tammie for eDesign nationwide or if you are in the San Diego area, hire her for full interior design services.