This post is brought to you by The Kitchen Place.

The Kitchen Place

Our recent kitchen makeover was a budget, cosmetic-only affair. But we do have fantasies plans of doing a complete gut job and calling the pros to start from the ground up. Living in the space as it is now will give us a feeling of how we use it and what our needs are so when we do come to create the dream kitchen we can be confident it will work for us.

Here are some other questions we’ll be asking ourselves while we save our dosh for the real deal:

How many people need to work simultaneously?

In our townhouse’s kitchen, whoever was playing sous chef had to squeeze their chopping board onto a too-small bench for prepwork. If you regularly cook with more than one person (or would like the option to do so) ensure you have two generous work spaces.

How do you tend to cook?

Similarly, how much space do you need for the kind of meals you normally cook? If you’re happy being a one-pot-pasta kind of person then bench space will be less of a priority (particularly around the cooktop) than for the type who regularly hosts three-course dinner parties.

The Kitchen Place

What items do you need to store?

Catalogue every type of item you need in your new kitchen. Figure out how much space it will take up and consider what will be the best way to store it (shelves, drawers, racks etc). It may seem like overkill but the last thing you want is to spend tens of thousands on a brand new kitchen only to find you have to store your cake stand in the laundry and you can never find the spice jar you’re looking for.

Are your needs likely to change?

In addition to noticing how you use your kitchen now, consider if future plans will affect your needs. Are you and your friend getting serious about your on-the-side cupcake business idea? Are you planning to have children so safety and durability will be crucial?

Do you need to change the layout?

If you find your current layout is working well for you, it may be wise to stick with it since moving plumbing, gas and electricity will significantly increase your costs. Of course, if an unworkable layout is your whole reason for an upgrade, then the infrastructure costs will be a worthwhile investment.

Do you want space to eat or just to cook?

Anything goes with kitchens these days. Include a breakfast bar, freestanding table or have a separate dining area; it’s up to you. Again, consider how you normally like to dine. If you normally eat your toast standing up you’re never going to sit at a dining table so consider a breakfast bar. If you can’t relax over dinner with piles of dishes in your sightline, you’ll want a separate dining room. Those who have spacious kitchens and enjoy casual meals will like an eat-in kitchen.

The Kitchen Place

Open plan or separate room?

Open plan kitchens are de rigueur now but they’re not for everyone. Those who want to stay in the conversation while entertaining guests and or need to keep one eye on the kids while cooking will love it. But if you like to be able to shut off the mess when guests come over, you may prefer a kitchen with a door.

What functions does it need to have?

These days kitchens perform many more roles than cooking and eating. Kids’ homework, paying bills, charging phones, dumping keys… you’ll want to ensure you consider the requirements (space, lighting, storage, seating and power points) for every activity that happens there.

With a few careful considerations you’ll end up with a kitchen that’s not only beautiful but suits your lifestyle perfectly.

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White Knight tile & laminate paint

Thank you for the lovely feedback about our new kitchen! I had some questions about the benchtops so here is the nitty gritty about that process.

Firstly, you may recall that this was not our Plan A. I actually painted the benchtop with laminate paint but we chose a colour that looked horrid against the newly-white cabinets (oops).

DIY concrete benchtop

We considered our options and ended up deciding on concrete after a friend recommended it. The first thing we did was to give the benchtop a serious sand with coarse grit sandpaper to give the concrete something to adhere to.

We also used a jigsaw to slice off the curved overhang on the end of the kitchen island as we figured it would look like more of a legit concrete slab that way. We weren’t worried about losing a small amount of bench space and in fact the room feels more spacious because the shorter island doesn’t close things in so much.

DIY concrete benchtop

Moving onto the concrete itself. My friend generously gave me her leftovers of Ardex Feather Finish so we used a 10kg bag between the two of us (with a bit to spare).

I mixed the powder with water with a putty knife in an ice cream container until it formed a smooth paste. It was a bit of trial and error: too runny and it didn’t provide enough coverage and would come off with the sanding; too thick and it would dry too quickly and be impossible to spread smoothly.

White Knight kitchen makeover

We used a broad knife to apply and spread the concrete to get it as smooth as possible. I’d say the coats were about 2mm thick, roughly a quarter of which was then sanded off. I was hoping to get away with two coats but my handiwork was a bit patchy (it was hard to gauge even coverage because the wet concrete was a similar colour to the laminate) so in all I think we ended up doing four coats.

DIY concrete benchtop

DIY concrete benchtop

After each coat we left it to dry overnight and scraped off any rough patches on the surfaces and beneath the overhanging using a narrower knife. We followed up with a coarse sandpaper and then a smooth one. The surface isn’t perfect but too much sanding resulted in shiny patches so we are left with a bit of texture which we don’t mind.

DIY concrete benchtop

DIY concrete benchtop

We The Man removed the sink and cooktop which was a total PITA to be honest. It was totally worth it for the superior finish around the edges but the project will take a fair bit longer. You’ll have to be willing to take on some basic plumbing and possibly electrical work depending on how your cooker is connected (thankfully ours could pop up without being disconnected).

DIY concrete benchtop

After the final coat went on we left it to cure for a couple of days.

DIY concrete benchtop

The Man and I had decided we wanted to keep the natural texture so we were looking for a permeating sealer rather than a topcoat. The sealer we opted for was Stonetech Professional Heavy Duty Exterior Sealer purchased from a local tiling trade supplier.

It went on super easy (like water). I was advised you can get away with one coat generally speaking but we did two to be on the safe side.

White Knight tile & laminate paint

It was one of those rollercoaster projects. You know, where one minute you’re like ‘BOOM! I could be a professional concreter.’ and the next you’re chucking a tanty because ‘Waaaaah, NOTHING is going to plan!’.

In fact I was so over it – having spent the best part of two months in the kitchen, doing the majority of the de-wallpapering, painting, tile/laminate painting solo – that The Man swooped in and took care of the final coats. It is not a job for when your patience has run out so I was grateful to step aside into the supporting role.

His approach was a lot more successful than mine. The key is to do the smallest patch at a time – I thought I was doing a small area but in hindsight I needed to go even smaller (maybe 30cm²?). Otherwise your concrete will dry too fast and won’t go on as it should.

Kitchen with DIY concrete benches

The verdict? Well I’m not in a hurry to try concreting anything else, but we adore the kitchen. The combination of an industrial look plus a natural, textured feel is a winner in our book. It was harder and more time-consuming than expected (isn’t that always the way?) but the result was worth it.

The only thing is, despite our total paranoia we have had some staining from splattered cooking oil around the cooktop and another couple of drips on the island. So if I was doing it again I’d use a matte topcoat instead of a permeating sealer. Unfortunately if we did a topcoat now we’d just be sealing in the current stains so we’re not quite sure how to deal with that yet (suggestions welcome!).

If you missed the progress or want to remind yourself of the before photos, here is the kitchen makeover part 1, kitchen benchtop dilemma and makeover part 2.

 

This post is sponsored by White Knight.  

White Knight laminate primer in kitchen

When we left off the kitchen looked something like the above. With the brown-on-brown-on-brown scheme a fading bad memory, it was time to apply all the new finishes.

White Knight kitchen makeover

Kitchen makeover

We chose a grey-tinged white for the walls to make the white-white cabinetry pop. A soothing neutral is a definite treat for the eyes after the previous patterned wallpaper. Unfortunately the nicotine-stained ceiling took five coats of paint, including one of stain-blocking primer – ew!

White Knight kitchen makeover

We ummed and ahhed about the benchtops but ultimately opted to try out hand at concreting (which is a post unto itself). I love the textural and earthy aspect to complement the other sleek, white surfaces.

White Knight kitchen makeover

Having painted tiles in our old home’s kitchen, bathroom and laundry I was pretty confident and it turned out just as well as expected. I did the whole thing with a brush, because being oil-based it is somewhat self-levelling (although it’s important to use one with very fine bristles to avoid brush strokes). The paint is super thick so unlike the ceiling (along with everything.else.in.the.entire.house.so.far) two coats were sufficient as promised.

White Knight tile & laminate paint

Next up were the cabinets. I painted them in situ and used the same fine-bristled brush, which meant I could do the cutting in as I went along (gotta love saving an extra step). I thought I might have to switch to a roller but the first coat turned out nice and smooth so I stuck with it. I did two rounds (inside and outside) each with two coats.

White Knight tile & laminate paint

The difference after the tile and laminate paint was like night and day. The tiles are a high gloss while the laminate is a satin so together they reflect so much light; a godsend in such a dim room.

White Knight kitchen makeover kitchen-makeover-54 kitchen-makeover-56 kitchen-makeover-57 kitchen-makeover-59 kitchen-makeover-62

Remember what it looked like before?

White Knight kitchen makeover

What a difference! We are still planning a few finishing touches (lighting, primarily) but I’m happy to say we added three decades just with a few tins of paint and a bag of concrete!

kitchen benchtop dilemma

While we have made a lot of progress on the house, the last week we’ve gone one step forward and two steps back. I am totally cool with putting in the time for a good result but when all that effort is for nada, it’s frustrating to say the least.

Here’s how it happened:

I prepped the kitchen, including priming the entire cabinetry for painting. I painted the tiles – beautiful! I painted the cabinets – beautiful! I painted the benchtop – uh… not so hot.

The Man was nervous about saying anything because I’d spent so much time on it. But as soon as he said that he didn’t think the benchtops were working with the rest of the kitchen, I admitted I was thinking the same thing. No qualms with the product itself (in white it has made the faux wood cabinets look amaze) but the colour? Well, we just weren’t feeling it.

We did consider trying a different colour paint but thought we’d look at other options while we were about it.

I remembered my friend Mary saying something about her plans to concrete her benchtops so I hit her up for some details. I also went online and saw a couple of examples, which boosted our enthusiasm.

I was all gung-ho to get straight into it but The Man wanted to be thorough and make sure we’d considered all the options. So we started looking at getting new benchtops. Of course, we couldn’t have new counters with a cruddy old sink, could we? And we couldn’t have a shiny new sink with decades-old plastic taps, could we?

Even with a cheap Ikea number (Lagan, if you’re  wondering) it was still going to be nearly $600 for the benchtops alone. We had car keys and measurements to head to Ikea when we both just looked at each other. Are we sure about this?

The timber counters would have looked beautiful in the kitchen against the white cabinets, true. But this is only a cheap cosmetic makeover to tide us over until we do a full-on renovation in a few years. We never intended to drop several hundred dollars on new fixtures.

Ugh. So, a whole Saturday afternoon wasted and it was back to Plan B: concrete.

I’ve applied one coat and so far so good! I will do another post on the full process once I’ve finished. Wish me luck – it seems I need it!

kitchen stools roundup

To help me get through the monotony of working on the kitchen renovation day after day, I’m dreaming about the fun things like shopping for bar stools. No seriously, I had an actual dream about bar stools last night. 

Here is a visual representation of what was floating around in my unconscious.

I dig colourful stools but we have a some small appliances and accessories that are red – I don’t want to reinforce the red (not loving it anymore) nor do I want to introduce a colour into the palette. So neutral it is.

I was thinking something industrial but worried it would be too cold since we’re already having stark white cabinetry and concrete counters. Timber would be the natural choice to add in some texture and warmth but the only timber stool I loved (#4) is going to blow the budget.

The Man is super keen on the Tolix (in fact even suggested without my input!) and I found a ridiculously black and timber replica (#6) that ticks our boxes. They’re so everywhere though which has me second-guessing the choice.

Perhaps the right choice will come to me in my dreams?

1. Bosse stool ($49, Ikea)  |  2. Dalfred stool ($69, Ikea)   |  3. Industrial factory stool ($129, Milan Direct)  |  4. Tractor stool ($169, Freedom)  |  5. Replica US Navy stool ($159, Click On Furniture)  |  6. Replica Tolix ($60, Super Amart)

This post is sponsored by White Knight.

Kitchen before

Anyone for a brown-on-brown kitchen with orange and olive green accents?

Didn’t think so.

The first step in this makeover (or should I say makeunder?) was to remove the crazy wallpaper. With the help of a wallpaper steamer, some elbow-grease and couple of kind friends, after a (very hot and steamy) day we had uncovered the bare walls.

Our first of many rooms to de-wallpaper – very satisfying!

Kitchen during

I’d had great success using White Knight tile paint before in our first home’s kitchen and bathroom so I knew it would be well worth the effort here too.

This 80s delight called for a more serious approach though, needing not only tile paint but also laminate paint for the cabinets.

Kitchen during

One of the things that attracted us to this home was the beautiful natural light. The kitchen, however, is in the centre of the house and is really dingy with the dark cabinetry and lack of light. The Man and I selected white for the splashback and cabinets to really brighten up the space.

kitchen-makeover-02

I set about giving everything a thorough clean with Tile & Laminate Cleaner, followed by a coat of Tile & Laminate Primer. I like using a foam roller (and foam brush for the edges) to get a nice smooth finish free of brushstrokes.

Kitchen during

Our cabinets were a cinch to paint but if yours have handles I would remove them first for a neater finish.

And here it is all primed and ready to go:

Kitchen during

Already it looks so much bigger and brighter!

Stay tuned for part 2…

Fridge before

I already knew it had been a while since we’d cleared off the front of the fridge, but when a friend actually commented recently on how old some of the invitations were, I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

Fridge before

(Dreadful photos sorry, I had to do this at night.)

Fridge after

We were given a set of Scrabble magnets as a Christmas present (thanks Sharon if you’re reading!) and thought they should be given pride of place.

A super quick project, but very satisfying nonetheless as it makes the whole room feel brighter and neater. (I am clearly all about the 10-minute projects this week – the temperature is in the 40s again so it’s too hot to do much else.)

Fridge after

Now we can clearly see our meal plan and any upcoming events, like The Man’s brother’s engagement party tomorrow. Yay indeed!

antique-kettle-1

 

Remember this antique find? After a bit of deliberation, The Man and I decided to use it as a utensil holder.

We removed the lid, cord and element (it’s an early electric kettle). Fret not, we did some research and it’s not particularly valuable, however we did keep the original attachments anyway in case we want to restore and sell it later.

 

antique-kettle-2

 

We mainly use non-stick plastic and silicone utensils so the metal and wooden ones you see here aren’t used on a daily basis. So to be honest it’s not really any more convenient than before, although it has freed up some space in the overflowing drawer so it’s not completely without practical benefit.

 

How about you? Do you keep your utensils within arm’s reach or do you prefer to tuck them out of sight?

Why-don't-you-set-up-a-tea-coffee-station

 

If last week’s project of setting up a bar cart wasn’t your thang and you prefer your liquid vices caffeinated, this one’s for you!

It’s such a simple idea but I totally love our little drinks station in the corner of our kitchen (especially now that we’ve got a fancy coffee machine – aww yeah!). Keeping everything within arm’s reach is such a time-saver, plus house guests can easily help themselves without feeling awkward about rummaging through cupboards to find the teabags.

Don’t stop with just the tea/coffee/drinking chocolate, make sure you include everything you need such as sugar, mugs and teaspoons (and biccies too if you have the restraint not to scoff half the tin every time you have a cuppa).

If I had the space I would totally do little themed ‘stations’ all over the place (breakfast making! letter writing! mail sorting!) but this one is definitely a great starting point since we use it daily.

So this weekend, why don’t you set up a tea and coffee station?

Mug favour title

Gosh, Thursday already?! Which means it’s time for another Polka Dot Bride tutorial.

Find out how to design your own illustrated mugs to use as inexpensive wedding favours or gifts.

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