Sunday, July 1, 2012

I can't stay out of my kitchen.

The other night the kids were in bed, Mike was busy in the basement, and I was trying to relax on the living room couch, but I kept going back out to the kitchen.

Can you guess why?

I couldn't stop looking at the practice door Mike has been working on with the gel stain!  I'm so excited!

In case it's not obvious, the practice door is leaning against the refrigerator in the picture above.  The left side has two thin coats of General Finishes gel stain in java, the right has three, and both have one coat of General Finishes gel top coat.  We're going with three coats of gel stain (with two coats of top coat), and I'm tempted to say go four.  I'm loving the richness!  The thin strip down the middle is the original color--so light and orangey in comparison.  Eeew.

For their part, the kids have broken in the kitchen floor, given it a good durabiltiy test with trucks and blocks and even a lap or two around in my heels.  The entry closet where I keep my shoes has no door at the moment, so it was only a matter of time.

Read on for the rambing thoughts behind my design choices...

Like this inspiration kitchen on from Toronto Interior Design Group, the look I have in mind for our kitchen fix-up includes grey walls, espresso cabinets, light countertops, and a light colored tile floor. Here's why:
  • Our home ownership circumstances are the greatest influence (home value below what we owe, likely renting out in a year or so, currently saving for a down payment).
  • We've chosen to work with what we have as much as possible while making the house appealing and durable for renters. This is all in the hopes of maximizing what we can ask for rent, getting renters in here quickly, and saving us from having to make updates later when we have a new house on our hands. However, this is also all without draining too much of our down payment savings.
  • Doing nothing is an option, but I know I wouldn't want to rent a house with a discolored and damaged kitchen floor, and I want reliable, respectful renters like I was.
  • Porcelain tile is a durable, affordable flooring choice. We seriously considered cork as well but felt the tile would be more universally appealing to renters and buyers down the road.  And if we're doing the floor...
  • I've wanted a grey room for about a decade now. I've offered numerous versions of the color as a choice to Mike for every room he's painted in this house (which is all of them at least once), but he has always prefered one of the other options. This time, I didn't lay out options. I wanted grey. He was cool with that.
  • The countertops are already beige. While I would love an upgrade, these neutral countertops that are in perfectly good shape remain. I'll save my white marble and butcher block dreams for another home.
  • While I'll admit to scouring Craigslist and our Sears appliance outlet (via website) for a deal we can't refuse, Mike and I are sticking with our mix of black and stainless steel appliances.  It's not ideal, but the appliances are in full working order, and this isn't meant to be anyone's dream home. 
  • Our cabinets need to look good with those existing countertops and appliances. With them in mind, I considered three main options for our cabinets: keep them cherry, paint them white, or gel stain them darker.
  • The current cabinet color is looking a little flat and faded these days.  As much as I'd love that clean look of white painted cabinets, I've been lured by the look of espresso cabinets with beige counters. The contrast is appealing, making the cabinets look rich and the counters creamy--makes me want some chocolate mousse. I'm also hoping that darker cabinets will work better with our black stove, microwave, and dishwasher, kind of like this kitchen from Chatting at the Sky. So gel stain it is! If I hate it, we can always paint the cabinets white later, but the reverse is not possible.
I would love to add more personal style, take more risks, and just play a little more with our kitchen choices, but again, with renting out on the horizon, we have to play it fairly safe to save ourselves work in the future. For that reason, I'm going to have some fun with the less permanent aspects of our kitchen. I'm looking forward to sharing those ideas later on!


  1. Where did you purchase the gel stain and the top coat? I haven't gone looking yet, but my aunt (who owns a paint, wallpaper, and custom framing store) doesn't carry it. She also said she hasn't seen it at Lowes or Home Depot. She suggested a smaller home improvement store like ACO, but she wasn't entirely sure.

    I like your color choice. I might copy it for the file cabinet and table for the room I'm working on. I don't have a solid choice in mind; I'm just looking for something rich.

    1. Katie, we found it at Woodcraft on Ford Road in Canton. Java seems to be a good choice for richness and easy enough to control (I was worried it might look black). Looking forward to seeing that file cabinet one day!

  2. oooh, love your inspiration with the marble countertops. i wish we could do something like that with our cabinets, but we just have the cheap white foil ones that were there when we moved in. blech. one day, one day...

  3. Cute kids! Very pretty flooring.

    Your hubby paints and stains?!! I'm jealous. Mine is paint-phobic. :-)

    I bought my General Finishes gel stain off of Amazon -- Woodcraft is selling it there. The product is generally only sold in smaller unfinished wood furniture stores, but it's nowhere to be found in my local area (northern Gulf Coast).

  4. what did you clean the cabinets with before hand? We just bought a home and the cabinets are dirty/greasy. I'm thinking of using TSP before I sand them, but looking for advice from someone who has already done it.

    1. I'm so sorry for taking so long to reply! We were right in the thick of moving when this comment came in, and I forgot to get back to it. My husband just used used steel wool and tack cloth to clean, but the cabinets were pretty clean. TSP could be a good idea for starters to get that dirt and grease. Best of luck!


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