kitchen transformation part 2 {and review of Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations}

A few weeks ago, I posted kitchen transformation part 1, where I showed you what my kitchen used to look like and told you I was painting the kitchen cabinets black. Let me tell you, it was a lot of work! For a while there I started to wonder if it was even worth it (that was during the time when I was having a recurring dream that I walked into my garage and found a whole row of extra kitchen cabinets I’d somehow forgotten to paint, which made me so angry that I went all hulk, picking up the cabinets and throwing them across the room). But when I was finally finished, I started getting excited. Then we got new countertops, and I got more excited. Finally we had a white subway tile backsplash installed, and now I’m just plain thrilled. Would you like to see some before and after shots?

Almost unrecognizable, right? I alsolutely love it. (Now, please pretend that the walls are a light robin’s egg blue, and the floor is a darker/warmer wood color, and there are window treatments, towels, rugs, etc., that all compliment the scene – then give me another month!) Anyway, here’s the cost breakdown:

Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation kit, tape, brushes, etc: $130

New cabinet hardware: $70

Wilsonart Marble Laminate countertop, installed: $525

Tile, mortar, grout: $110

We also paid to have our backsplash installed because we wanted it to look fantastic (and I was really tired of working in the kitchen) so that added a few hundred more. But for around a thousand dollars I think it’s a pretty amazing transformation.

In case you’re considering something like this in your kitchen, here’s a few tips and a few more pictures (and if you’re not, scroll down to the bottom – I need help making some decorating decisions!)


I gave an overview of the cabinet kit here, but here’s a few more details. If possible, it would probably be easiest to clear your home of children and your schedule of any commitments for a few days and work through this project start to finish (with a helper if possible). I couldn’t clear either my schedule or my house, so I spent one week working on the upper cabinets, one week taking a break, and one week on the lower cabinets. I worked in one to two hour chunks during naptime, after the kids’ bedtime, or when the big kids could keep the little kids out of the way for me. I set up a table in the middle of the kitchen, covered it in a tarp, and used inverted plastic cups to prop up the cabinet doors I was working on. Then I let the doors dry in the garage, on more inverted plastic cups. This was the general schedule:

Day 1. Remove hardware/doors. Degloss (which means scrub scrub scrub all the surfaces). Fill in holes from old hardware, let dry, and sand down.

Day 2. First coat of base coat (stain-based paint) on backs of doors in the morning. Second coat backs of door during naptime. First coat the cabinet frames after bedtime.

Day 3. First coat of base layer on fronts of doors in the morning, second coat during naptime. Second coat on cabinet frames after bedtime.

Day 4. Clear topcoat on backs of doors in the morning, fronts of doors in the evening.

Day 5. Clear topcoat on cabinet frames.

Day 6. Rehang doors, drill new holes and add new hardware.

Remember, I did this twice, once for the uppers and once for the lowers. If you had two people working you might be able to do them both at the same time (and it would go even faster if you weren’t waiting for naptime to get more things done.

A few more things: Both the base coat and the clear coat bubble a little when you first apply them. On the base coat the bubbles disappear pretty quickly as you paint, and don’t seem to be a problem when it dries. But the clear coat is much finickier. It’s hard to get all the bubbles out, but you want to because they will be very visible when they dry. Also, make sure you don’t let any clear coat collect in the corners, like this:

…because it will dry white and look bad. Also, when you are painting or clear coating the backs of the doors, make sure there are no drips on the underside (which is the front) because if there are, when you flip them over to paint the front, you’ll have to sand off bumps of paint or clear coat before you can begin (I eventually solved this problem by wiping the underside of the edges clean as I went along).

It’s a low of work, but for so little money, it’s totally worth it (and the enraged recurring nightmares abate pretty quickly).


We {briefly} considered granite countertop, but decided it was WAY out of our price range. Then we considered butcher block counters, and were really leaning toward getting them, but finally decided against them just because our kids are so young (and so apt to grab knives and stick them into the counters). So, laminate it was. We chose Wilsonart Calcutta Marble (4925) because I wanted something white, but with a pattern that would echo the black cabinets. I was really worried that the obviously faux marble would just look stupid, but I love it.


I know white subway tile backsplash is probably overdone lately, but really, what’s not to love? It’s extremely inexpensive (22 cents per 3×6 inch tile at Home Depot) and it just looks sharp. The question I had here was what color grout to use. I looked at lots of example photos and found that white grout looks very clean, but tends to minimize that pattern of the tile. Once you stand back from the wall it’s hard to see the individual tiles at all with white grout. Since we were placing our tiles so close together (1/16th of an inch) we needed unsanded grout, and Home Depot didn’t offer many choices. The only real grey was Delorean Grey (very middle grey, not light, not too dark), which was dark enough to make me a little nervous, but I figured we’d give it a shot, and I’m very happy with it (have you noticed I’m happy about my new kitchen?) In fact, I don’t think I’d have wanted it any lighter.

So, probably info overload, but maybe that will be helpful if you are considering making changes in your kitchen.

Now I need your help. I have two bar stools like I’d like to keep, but they obviously don’t match anymore.

And my kitchen table is looking for an update as well. I plan to buy black chairs from IKEA, but I don’t know what to do with the table and bar stools. FYI, the walls are going to a light blue w/a hint of aqua in it, and the floor is going to a little darker wood color. I was thinking of maybe painting the bar stools a bold aqua, but I don’t know. And I have no clue what to do with the table. Should it just go black as well? Or will that be way too much black? And what accent color for window treatments, dish towels, etc? Maybe a nice sunny yellow?

Give me some help! I’m terrible at making decisions, and my husband doesn’t have to say one way or the other, so I need some advice.

Stay tuned – hopefully by next month I’ll be posting pictures that show new paint and new floor!

Linked up at:

Skip to My Lou

Keeping it Simple

Sew Chatty

Home Stories A to Z


  1. 1

    Brittany says

    looks so fabulous! makes me so excited for the day next decade that we redo our kitchen! i like the idea of two shades of aqua….

  2. 2

    Denise says

    Oh, my! I’ve got to come see this in person. That is one good-looking kitchen! Don’t make me want a backsplash! 🙂

  3. 3

    Monique says

    It looks amazing! Nice job . You should paint the tops of the stools black with the aqua on the bottom. Cappy did that with hers (I htink they’re white and blue) and it looks great. just a thought if you wanted one.

  4. 4

    Kathy P says

    It really looks good Autumn and I love the back splash. What color is the floor going to be and what color are you trimming out with? That might help you decide about the table. Great job!!!

  5. 5

    Heidi says

    The back splash looks great, I have been wanting to come over and see it. I think you should consider painting both of the chairs and the table, however, I would wait until you are done with the walls to make your final decision to make sure of what you want with everything looking different from what it is now. I also think it would be fun to do a two tone like Monique suggested, but it will take extra time. I think it could look cute with your table too to paint the legs black and he top another color. for an additional color a bright or pale yellow would look good, also some orange/coral, or reds would look good too. I think it will depend on what you really like with it.

  6. 7

    Lisha says

    I would only paint the table legs, and legs and back of the barstools and keep the tabletop and seats a natural color. I was thinking a farmhouse red would be cute. Then you could decorate in a red/white/blue theme for the accessories. But another blue shade would be cute too if its not the whole table or stools. That might be too much color. The great thing about painting them will be if you hate it, you can just repaint!

  7. 8

    Caprice says

    Love it. We also just painted our kitchen an aqua blue. I love it! We painted our barstool legs blue and kept the tops natural. We also kept our natural cabinets but will be painting our island white as soon as we can get a butcherblock top for it from Ikea. I’ll send you pictures. I can’t believe you did all that yourself, you’re kind of awesome.

  8. 9

    Jacoy says

    Wow! Gorgeous! I love how it turned out and I can’t wait to see it in person. Can I just say that I enjoy how you write just as much as I like the pictures – when you finish your bout as a super nap-time decorator, you’ll have to write a humor column. 🙂 You asked for ideas – I think yellow would make a great accent color with the aqua blue. I think a light, bright green would look fun too (not a true green – but that light yellow-green that is always paired with the aqua blue in scrapbook paper). What about solid white for your kitchen table? It would pop out with the darker wood floor underneath and then you could use black & your accent color for decorative items on top of the table. Whatever you do Autumn, it’s just going to be amazing!

  9. 10

    elisa says

    I think the Bold Aqua barstools would look great. I did that to mine, and have loved every minute of them. They’re kind of a statement color, and I have received soo many compliments about them. I wouldn’t leave them the natural wood color, since you have removed that tone from the rest of the kitchen. The table would be great black or white. The White would match the counter and tile, and help it feel a bit lighter, but will still look classy with the darker tones.

  10. 11

    Jenny says

    I’m starting my kitchen redo at the end of the month when I go on vacation. I’m using the exact Cabinet Transformations color and even decided on the same countertop you’ve used! Oh, yeah, and white subway tile for the backsplash (execpt I will do white grout). I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see all my choices come to life in your kitchen. I only hope my kitchen turns out half as awesome as yours! Great job!

  11. 12

    Jennifer says

    Before I even got to the part where you mentioned bright aqua blue for the stools, that’s what I immediately thought! Bright aqua or yellow stools and curtains with a bright aqua and yellow pattern would be very pretty. I agree that a black table may be too much once you put in dark wood flooring. However, it would personally make me crazy to have mismatched chairs and table. You could buy an all-black set and put a colorful table runner/bowl/vase on the table to brighten it up. Alternatively, you could paint the chairs a matching color to the stools and get a black table. OR you could channel Pottery Barn and get a table that has white legs and a top that is a similar hue to your future flooring.
    I painted my living room Benjamin Moore’s Jamaican Aqua. It might be a little dark for you, but it looks great with yellow, orange, fuschia, and bright aqua accents. My furniture is all dark wood and cream with the occasional black accent. It’s very bright and Caribbean, and would look nice against the darkness of the cupboards and the whiteness of the tiles.
    I love the new kitchen and thank you for adding so much of your decision making process into the post!! I’m planning on painting my cabinets white and the walls BM’s Tropical Pool. The white subway tiled backsplash and new black faux granite counters are also on the list. Do you suggest doing the cabinets before you get everything else installed?

  12. 13

    Andrea says

    Your kitchen looks great. We used the Cabinet Transformations in our kitchen too and it was pretty easy. I would definitely recommend it to anyone trying to change their kitchen on a budget. I would paint your stools a bright color to bring in a contrast to the dark cabinets.

  13. 14

    the cape on the corner says

    oh my gosh, fab.u.lous! i LOOOVE the dark cabs and the backsplash and the counter! i have dark cherry cabs, and i’d like to do exactly this, just with my cabs not black. amazing!!

  14. 17

    kerry says

    I say do red chairs. It would look amazing with the black and aqua. I know there something called liquid sandpaper you can use in place of sanding then you can spray paint. If not that route, theres always chalk/ mineral paints!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *