Kitchen cabinets and counters 

Our first project upon moving in was determined to be the kitchen. I have found a few Pinterest articles on how some people can transform builders grade cabinets, and since we had just bought a house and we’re expecting a baby within the next couple months, so funds were quite tight, we decided that it was a good inexpensive way to start out. It was a pretty bright kitchen, but the medium shade of wood paired with the dark countertops wasn’t doing much for the rest of the kitchen with its big windows – I knew I wanted it to be brighter. But I also like the contrast, so I thought perhaps the countertops being darker would be best. As I said before, I found a Pinterest article about butcher block countertops. After doing some more reading, I found some neat articles about faux butcher block countertops, which would be much less expensive. Looking at the directions, I saw that it didn’t even have to look like a butcher block counter, it was simply in how they laid the wood and treated it afterwards. We could then decide to wax treat them like you would a butcher block, or to actually finish them off. I love the look of the cherry staining, so I did more googling to see Who else had done it and how it came out. I love the results! And so I was decided, and we went for it. I love the brightness of a cream or white cabinets, and decided to go with cream so that as they wore in and were used any dust or grime wouldn’t stick out so much.Mind you, this all took place almost 3 years ago- in the future I wouldn’t want to put so little detail, but in this case if I can’t remember what was done, I’d rather just be vague about it 😉 feel free to ask questions!


Of course we started out taking all the doors off of the cabinets, and removing the old countertop. As would later become a trend in this house, we determined that it had not been installed very well, but thankfully most of the issue was with the countertop that we were now getting rid of.

Above are some of the before photos from the previous realtors listing. We decided to take down the old microwave – as much as I liked having it off of the counters, we had a much better microwave that unfortunately wouldn’t fit above the stove, so we decided to just get rid of it for now and address that later.

On to priming and painting!

We started off with a light sanding of all the wood surfaces, just have to give it some grit for the primer and paint to hold onto. In this case we decided not to go with a paint and primer in one, since we had heard they don’t work quite as well. Sometimes I wouldn’t mind that, but In this case since we were painting over finished wood on items that would be used a lot, we didn’t want to risk it and did separate coats of primer and paint.
We decided not to do the inner doors of our cabinets, since I have some ideas for the future but I’m not decided on it yet. We also didn’t do underneath for the same reason, though that idea I’m less sure about, so we may be painting them in the future.

Onto the countertops! As you can see, at this phase I was working on painting the cabinet doors in our still empty living room, and the cabinets themselves weren’t done. Meanwhile, my dad and my husband were working on the countertops in the kitchen

I told my dad what I wanted to do, and since I was pregnant and he had the power tools, he went ahead and did the work for me – yay! We used an inexpensive wood – there were a few boards that didn’t lineup very well, and some we had to trim down since they were a little warped. If you have the extra funds, I would certainly recommend spending a little more for the better quality wood, and make sure to pick through for non-warped pieces. In our case, we didn’t have the money but also didn’t mind. We used the cheapest what we could find. My dad also had the idea of adding small shelves on the back of our countertops to store smaller items on. In hindsight, I wish I had only done those in a few areas. It makes any appliance that stays on the counter stick out further than I’d like. However, I really enjoy using them to hold smaller items like salt and pepper shakers, coffee making supplies that can sit next to my coffee maker, potted herbs, or small decorations – and it doesn’t take away from our counter space. Just don’t do it everywhere like I did! I think a few areas with this small shelf is more than enough, and the rest should be flat.
As you can see, we put the countertop together with the shelves first, then we routed the edges down with a simple curve – nothing fancy or decorative for us. We sanded it down, filled any gaps, and then gave it a good cleaning with a wood conditioner. After that the fun part! I was very excited to start staining. We chose rustoleum traditional cherry ultimate wood stain. We did two layers, and considered possibly doing three for a darker look, but opted against it in the end.
We made sure to put on multiple layers of polyurethane since countertops end up taking some good abuse. We also wanted to make sure that the wood was fully sealed in, since of course kitchen counters do tend to get wet often. We didn’t want to damage the wood.

In this picture above you can see what it looks like after one coat – the lighting isn’t good, but you can see that it has nice color, but it’s a bit light for what we were going for. We definitely wanted a bit more drama when going between the cream cabinets. Don’t mind my husbands cranky face- he didn’t want to be in pictures 😉 oh well!

Above is the final look with two layers of stain and several of polyurethane! You get a good view of our little shelves on the back as well, we had it set back over the sink to make room for the faucet, and I wish we had done that and other places as well for appliances – ahh hind sight!

So we put on the cabinet doors, and all the hardware… And voilà! Kitty approved! Here below you can see how we did not paint underneath the upper cabinets – this is something you might want to do unless you have other plans.

It really helps the kitchen to seem much brighter and modern, I’m loving it! Also, notice in the last photo how we have a lot of overhang by the left corner, the end of the counter before the doorway and cameraman. This was done on purpose because we intend to build in some shelves at some point. It’s been just about three years since then and it still hasn’t happened, but hey! Maybe someday! 😉

Thanks for reading! This post didn’t have as much detail as I’d like, since it was done three years ago and for some reason I didn’t think to put it in a blog post, and while I have a few more posts to make to catch me up, I’ll do my best in any projects from here on out to get plenty of detail and post it as I do it so I don’t forget!


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