Dec 1, 2009

house #5: kitchen before/after

when i first saw this kitchen, i was pleasantly surprised.
i knew it had plenty of space and light, and that the things 
that i did not like about it could be changed.

the things i knew i 
 wanted to address:
1. there was no visual connection 
from the main work area of the 
kitchen and the family room.
2.the countertops. sorry, but green laminate 
just doesn't do it for me.
3. the cabinets were 14 years old, and 
really showing their age
4.the floors...white, shiny tile in a kitchen? 
maybe some people can manage this, 
but our family is far too messy.
5. the breakfast room was huge, 
and the home was missing a "control center"... 
a place to dump mail, sort bills, charge phones, etc... 

(there's my little shadow)
what you missed...the previous homeowners had 
ivy decals ALL over the backsplash. 
you'll see more awesome decals in the powder room
 AND the master bath... 
i managed to get pictured of those!
the boring/vanilla breakfast area.

try looking at sites like Better Kitchens when you begin your remodeling project to shop for items that will come in handy during your kitchen's transformation!

so, we ripped the tile up.
and replaced them with hardwood floors.
i love you, hardwood floors.
we knocked a hole in the wall 
to connect the kitchen to the family room.
we used the two cabinets that we 
tore out above the sink,
to create a small office area 
in the breakfast room.
we boxed in the fridge,
and added a 16" deep desk with plenty of 
storage in the office area.
a standard 24" deep desk was not necessary...
it took up too much floor space, and computers 
are so much smaller these days than they used to be.
we also added added bead boad to the island.
when tackeling any home remodel project, it is always important to make sure you have the right tools... Anglia Tool Centre is a great place to shop.

no more "floating fridge"
we also ripped out the shiny, white tile backplash.

here's a glimpse of the island in progress...
we added a pull-out trash and some additional storage.
the paint goes on.
(took two tries to get it right.)
we also added cubby storage in the office area, 
in the space between the two cabinets,
as well as outlets for phone charging.
paint brings it all together...

we also removed the crown molding from the tops of the 
cabinets, and replaced with with much larger crown.
cabinets were painted onyx black 
by benjamin moore.
for budget reasons, we did not replace the appliances.
i made the cork board from an old frame, 
some cork tiles, foam core and some fabric.
granite is called "minotaurus"
it's really beautiful in "real life"...soft, buttery tones, mixed with flecks of black, brown and warm greys.
we wrapped the island in beadboard---
partly because i love the texture of bead board, 
but also to conceal the seam 
between the "old" island 
and the "new" parts we added),
and painted it black.
fabric on the curtain panels is 
everard damask by waverly.
2" wide jute trim was purchased from m and j trim
stainless steel table was purchased from pottery barn, 
nearly 10 years ago.
chairs came from sam's club, 
nearly 8 years ago.
the storage bench is from home decorators collection.
(i had plans to reupholster the top in a 
different fabric,
 but that never happened, as you can see)
chandelier is from progress lighting
the color on the walls is  powell buff
and the color on the bead board is decatur buff.
both by benjamin moore.
a closer look at the office area.
(by the way, i looooooove my imac)
backsplash is subway tile by antigua tile in a 
color called "buttercream"
the grout in the backsplash is black.
new pulls are the lugarno pull from 
restoration hardware:
in polished nickel finish.

before and after pictures
of the family room!
here are the steps that were used to
 paint these cabinets:

cabinets were cleaned with this:
  and then sanded with this:

and wiped down with this:



and polyurethaned:

the end.

i have linked this to between naps on the porch


  1. What a amazing transformation! Seriously you are sooo talented, I have to comment on every post! Geesh- :-) I love this kitchen!!! Makes me wanna paint my cabs black.

  2. this is ab fab! you have so much talent! just found your blog today and will be following.

  3. What a beautiful kitchen!
    I stumbled upon your blog last week, and have been checking in every day! Your are one talented designer :)

  4. What a beautiful transformation---the black cabinets works so great, and look fantastic with the warm wood floors. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  5. What a beautiful transformation. I would love to do that to my kitchen...hhhmmmm... feel a project coming on!!

  6. Oh my goodness! This is just lovely. Well done!

  7. Gorgeous job...I've been wanting to paint my cabinets black for several years and never got up the nerve...what an inspiration to see yours!!!

  8. This is beautiful! I think your pictures convinced my husband that we could do this!
    Can't wait to see your post tomorrow!!

  9. OOOOOOHHHHH, I'm seriously in love with your kitchen ! It looks amazing. Love the black cabinets, the subway tile and the granite... just beautiful. You could paint the handrail on the staircase black too, I did mine and I love it.

  10. wow, your renovations are incredible. I love your new kitchen and all the other rooms you re-did - I'm your newest follower :)

  11. How beautiful! I love the subway tile in the kitchen! Gorgeous! Was it difficult to put up?

  12. Oh my, what eye candy your kitchen is now! It's so gorgeous! Great job on the transformation. Thanks for posting all the details about the tile. My dh is a tile man so I really enjoyed reading about them.
    So, after reading your post I know I can count on some sympathy from tile man husband installed WHITE! tile in the entry way when he built our spite of my protesting. Then we realized the framing contractor put in the door jam too high and there is no room under the door for a rug. We have 5 kids.
    Ok now let me here it- the outpouring of sympathy from blogland.

    Oh, and the bead board in your kitchen is the perfect touch. You. Are. Talented!

  13. merrie,
    in my first house, we laid black and white tile in a checkerboard pattern in the kitchen. ugh...was it ever a pain to clean! the rental house we are in right now has white carrera marble in the entry. it never looks clean, and it drives me crazy! i can't wait to find another house to renovate...then it's back to hardwood! yea!

  14. and hello to "always the abramyans"!
    i actually have a confession....we didn't lay the tile on the backsplash...we hired a tile guy to do it. but, we have laid tile before, and just like any other home improvement project, it just takes a little bit of knowledge, some preparation and the right tools!

  15. Amazing, Love the black cabinets and the way you tied it all together with the drapes of black also.

  16. Autumn, I've posted a picture of your kitchen on my blog with a direct link to you site. You can see it at

    Feel free to grab a "featured" button. I plan on following up with other rooms and other decorative items in your home.

  17. What an amazing transformation! It looks beautiful and very functional! Thank you for the info on the products you used to paint the cabinets, I'm hoping to tackle a few cabinet painting projects this year myself :-)

  18. Beautiful! I'm going to forward this to my parents who are having a tough time selling their house. I think it has something to do with their kitchen. Thank you for the materials list for painting the cabinets. Can you elaborate a bit on how you painted them...sprayed or brushed?

    Also, please take a look at my kitchen remodel and let me know what you think. The photos are on my contractor's website.

    Bart G.

  19. bart,

    thanks for stopping by my blog!
    you did a fabulous job on your remodel. thank you for the link--i enjoyed seeing the photos! i love the maple cabinets, and those chairs in your breakfast room are to die for! everything looks great.

    and now, to answer your question about the cabinets:
    the cabinets doors were taken off the hinges and taken to a cabinet shop where they sprayed. all of the frames were painted with a brush on-site. after the cabinet doors were re-installed, i brushed on two coats of the polyurethane with a small foam brush.

    i hope your parents are able to sell their home! making improvements in the kitchen should drastically increase their chances of an offer.

    thanks again for stopping by.
    i hope you have a great day!


  20. I can't get over how AWESOME of a renovation this was....great job! Thank you for listing everything it really helps out.

    Jen Ramos

  21. Hi Autumn
    I was googling Vincente Wolf when I came upon your blog. I love what you did with the kitchen, but didnt see his influence, not sure why you did the built in desk with cabinets over it, for me that unbalanced the room, i think its too heavy and interferes with those great windows, you wouldnt need the curtains if the desk cabinets werent there and the look would have been more modern, but you do cause they are and gap over the windowcasing bothers me, i know why you did it, but . I would have liked the chandelier lower, about 12",and a different choice than the one you made, something less colonial.I would have in fact i would have liked to see old school light fixtures over the island, that would have been stunning and given a cafe feel to your kitchen, which is what the use of the black lends itself to. I think you should take more chances, mix it up a bit more, love what you did with your choice of stools, the contrast is great. The scale of the table and chairs feels off, having the furniture the same colour as the floor doesnt ground them, a bulkier table would have given more weight to the area, even painting the chairs black to add contrast add balance since i think you need some black at this end of the room to ground it better. dont get me wrong I think it looks great,I just wonder if you had to do it over again would you have done the same thing? I just wondered if Vincente is a design hero of yours why I didnt see any of his influence in your choices, cause I think it would be easy to add some of his principles and influence to this room,scale,light and balance. Your approach is clean and uncluttered, the orchids are beautiful but i think in the wrong container for the style of the room, again the fruit bowl on the table is also a bit old fashioned, a large white bowl of green apples would have felt more modern and very Vincente. As a designer myself I am not criticizing your choices, just analyzing and wondering and questioning in an effort to understand others points of view, to challenge and to push to keep striving to never settle and
    grow by learning from what I've done and others have done, I'm sure its the same for you, tell me Autumn if you had to do it again, would you change anything?

  22. brent,
    thanks for your insights.
    to answer your question...would i do anything different, if i did it today?
    the answer is "yes".
    that room was designed nearly 3 years ago, and, like any designer, i believe that my taste evolves every year.
    so, a room designed by me today would reflect that.
    and while certainly i appreciate and am drawn to mr. wolfe's design aesthetic, i am not interested in copying it.

    there are also a few constraints that i dealt with while designing this
    1. it was remodeled so that within 1-3 years, we could resell it, and the market where we lived at the time is EXTREMELY traditional. the finishes and fixtures we chosen to make this house appealing to that market. we only lived in this house for 8, if i would have been there longer, i am sure it would have looked different.
    2. obviously if i had unlimited time and money, i would have done something to change up the breakfast area. as a mother with 3 kids, and, at the time, a self-employed husband (whom i assisted daily), time to shop for and change things in the home was at a shortage. i don't know if you have watched the news in the last 3 years, but the construction industry is in the toilet. my husband was in the residential construction industry, and at the time was slowly shutting down his company so that we could move across the country and take a job with a large commercial construction company. i used any money that i might have wished to spend on a new rug to ground the table, the perfect container for the orchids, or paint for chairs on food. i am sure you can understand.
    3. i don't think the breakfast area of the room needs any more "black to add contrast". that's why the window treatments are black. if the chairs were also black, i think they would get lost. thanks for the suggestion though. i still have that set, and when we finally buy a house of our own again, i intend on panting either the chairs or the table or both.
    4. also, one thing that you may not realize:
    these pictures were literally taken within days of our, while the house may seem orderly, it was actually completely chaotic. there were boxes everywhere, and i was in the middle of packing. so yes, i agree that a bowl of green apples in the "old fashioned" bowl on the breakfast table would have looked more modern, but at the time, i just used what i had.

    so, i appreciate your comments. truly, i do. i understand that you are trying to bridge the chasm that you see between my confessed love for vincente wolfe with the traditional house that you are seeing, but in "real life" (kids, moving, husband losing his business, no money), design choices are sometimes made not by what looks PERFECT, and reflects my taste EXACTLY, but what is on hand, affordable, and appealing to the person that will be buying the home.

    i hope you continue to learn about and question and analyze and critique design. that trait shows that you have a true passion for and understanding of design and it's principles.

    thanks for stopping by!

  23. Hi Autumn, I love your black cabinets and it has inspired me to paint mine black as well! My question is when you put the 2 coats of poly on did you ever notice it yellow in color ? A contractor told me oil poly tends to yellow and I shouldn't use it. What are your thoughts and do you know how the black cabinets are holding up? Also do you recommend the cabinets be painted with a sparyer or by brush?

  24. anna,
    thanks so much!
    to answer your question about the poly...yes, the poly could. over time, yellow, but with a black paint, there is little chance of it making any difference at all!
    i wish i knew how the cabinets were holding up...we moved out of this house nearly 2 years ago. we did some light distressing to the cabinet doors, so even if there are some small scratches and dings, hopefully, they just add to the distressed look!
    also, the doors were painted with a sprayer, but the "boxes" were painted with a brush.
    usually, you will get a better finish with a sprayer.

  25. I love this kitchen! You did an awesome job on this house. So many great color choices.

  26. Hi Autumn! I just found your blog and OMG, it is FABULOUS. Your house #5 is decorated exactly the way I want my house to look, but I am so far failing miserably... But now I am inspired again! I have sooo much trouble with paint and what "goes" with my BM Shaker Beige/Lenox Tan/black. Argh! Anyway, thanks for sharing with us; and btw, that Brent guy that commented is a jerk and obviously an unhappy man. What a loser...

  27. Hi Autumn! I just discovered your blog and love your work and style. We are planning to remodel our kitchen this year and would like to move the stove to the island so that we can have more upper wall cabinets. How is your stove vented here? Any advice or tips re. having the stove in the island? Thanks!

  28. dana.
    thanks for the sweet comment. it made me literally laugh out loud.
    nice to know you've got my back!!

  29. betsy,
    welcome to my blog!
    there is a pop up vent on the back of the cooktop...which i pretty much never used. i mean---i used the cooktop all the time, just not the vent!

    oh, and i didn't LOVE having the stove in the island. we just kept it there to save some $$. if i could have designed that kitchen from scratch, i would have moved it to the wall where the oven was, and made it a 36" oven/stovetop combo.

    however, if you are planning on keeping your stovetop on the island, look into the "pop up" vents. they are great!

  30. I love this kitchen - Tell me please, the cabinets and wall units in the kitcvhen .. where solid wood? or MDF? Mine are MSDF - I wopnder if I could paint them like yours.
    One last question - did you painted with air pistol ( aerosol with compressed ait?) or just with a paint brush!
    They are so so so good! - Thanks - Maria Dixon

  31. hi lali!

    the cabinets fronts were maple, and the sides and frames were, a combination of both.
    the frames were painted in place with rollers and brushes, and we had the doors painted with a spray gun.
    but, this is a project that you could easily tackle on your own with rollers and brushes....

  32. Hi Autumn! I just stumbled onto your blog and am I so ever gitty!! I just heart your #5 home colors! It is just what I have been wanting for our home ;D But never could just get it right! I would love to paint my kitchen cabinets black too....but I am not sure if my counter tops are too dark? I do have alot of cabinets too. All my interior doors also are black! Can I send you a picture of my kitchen and you could say ...YAH or NAH! ;D Thanks alot, Kerry

  33. sure kerry!!
    send away!

  34. Love this kitchen....where did you find the woven wood shades and what kind are they?

  35. Really great job! The black cabinets gave me an idea for my kitchen. I love how you added warms colors because black can tend to look harsh if it doesn't have warm colors. Great combination overall!

  36. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I'll certainly be back.
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  37. Hi Autumn! I have no idea how I stumbled across your blog, but am SOOOO glad I did. I am totally blog stalking you now. You do GREAT work!! I had to comment on this because I was so excited to see a dark kitchen. I think I am very much in the minority, but I just do not love the all white kitchen look. I love black kitchens!! It looks awesome. I just wanted to tell you I love your style. Okay, done being a creeper hahahaha.

  38. Amazing remodelling of kitchen . I like all you designs and colour combinations. Black cabinets are looking perfect in kitchen.

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  42. I stumbled upon your blog after searching on Pinterest for black cabinets. I love the way your kitchen turned out! We are talking about having our cabinetd refaced to black or espresso. What grabbed me about the after photo of your kitchen is that our layout is similar. We do not currently have an island and I would like to add one. Can you tell me the dimensions of your kitchen overall? And the distance between the island and the wall and the island and the cabinets (both sides)? Thank you so much!