BUDGET DIY KITCHEN MAKEOVER

Featuring gifted products from Frenchic and Earthborn. 

As you know the kitchen was a big selling point for us when we viewed the flat. It wasn’t the size or style that we loved though, it was the view out of the window. Once your gaze rises above the rather gritty and industrial view of our garages, you see row after row of rooftops that go for miles till they finally reach rolling hills and thick green forestry.

 

We now know the views look mythical and ethereal when it’s frosty and life affirming when filled with candy colours – we view the most stunning sunrises positioned behind our limescale-d sink. 

The kitchen was ‘fine’. It was what I’d call standard fare. Not gross, but not worthy of an instagram square either. Although I do remember my easily pleased self being embarrassingly excited about the fact we had those draws that slow motion towards closure….it’s the little things. 

The walls were magnolia – like they were throughout the flat on the day we got the keys – give or take a few purple and turquoise feature walls we couldn’t wait to paint over.  The wall tiles were pretty nice actually – in an earthy rustic tone and finish, but still…not my vibe. The drawers and cupboards were covered in a faux wood finish (medium brown). It was very inoffensive, but also offensively ‘nothing’. 

The first change HAD to be the magnolia – I am not ready to admit myself to that community just yet (if ever). On the run up to the getting the keys I had been researching products that would allow me to decorate the home while being mindful of the environment. I was looking for products that non-toxic, cruelty free, vegan friendly, recyclable…you know the drill by now. I came across a brand called Earthborn paints – None of their products are tested on animals. 

The EU Ecolabel they hold is an independent accreditation system for goods and services that meet the strict environmental criteria of the scheme. There are a number of accreditations available but the EU Ecolabel is unique because it is truly independent of any profit making organisation and not an accreditation that can be ‘bought’. Earthborn is the proud holder of the first UK licence for Indoor Paints and Varnishes. Many allergy and asthma sufferers experience benefits when using Earthborn products. There are a number of reasons for this: Careful ingredient selection avoiding known allergen. The breathability of the paints, in particular the moisture absorbing qualities of Claypaint, helps even out the humidity in a room, making for a healthier, more comfortable living environment. The clay in Earthborn Claypaint emits negative ions; higher ambient levels of negative ions are widely accepted as being beneficial to health and wellbeing, especially for allergy and asthma sufferers.Claypaint’s high clay content helps to destroy airborne odours and contaminants. Less static electricity build up, so reducing dust and allergens.

They also have the most beautiful range of colours, and I instantly fell for a rosy/rustic pink called Delilah (GIFTED). I had never dreamt of having pink walls in my kitchen, but as soon as I saw it I thought how beautiful it would look when the rectangle of window was filled with all those lush sunrise hues. I also think kitchens can so often feel a bit clinical and sterile, and thought that this would add a cosyness that we’d enjoy. I wasn’t sure Si would be up for it, but when it became clear I would be the one doing the majority of the work in the flat there was a few more decisions he was willing to say ‘I trust you’ on. Plus he is a man known to enjoy wearing a bit of pink, so wasn’t opposed to it anyway. 

I still love the wall 7 months on, although the fact my gallery wall only consists on one print is a fail on my part. We were lucky that the wall came with some shelves – I think exposed storage is one of the more pleasing and easy ways to add personality to a kitchen space. 

A few weeks ago, having completed some projects that were either more urgent (in my view) or less daunting I decided it was time to finally put a stamp on the kitchen and get rid of the bland faux wood surfaces. The generous team at Frenchic was willing to send the colours of choice for the transformation. 

If the kitchen was a larger space I would have gone for a dark or even black kitchen (my favourites on pinterest tent to be dark green, black or navy ones) but I had to look at the space we have now and we both agreed that going dark could really make the space feel smaller. Instead we thought we’d try brighten it up a bit and make the most of the light it does get. To still make it feel like a fun experience I decided I didn’t want to go for white, so opted for the light grey called Swanky Pants, from their hardwearing Alfresco Range. 

So as always the process involves sanding down (texture will help the paint to adhere) and a thorough sugar soap. In a kitchen this is extremely necessary when you consider all the grease and oily textures that might be splashed, dripped, soaked into the surfaces through years of cooking…or spilling things in my case. 

Initially I wanted to do things completely by the book. When I say book…I mean the handbook that Frenchic teacher’s pet’s would follow. So I started by taking the doors off and making sure I painted inside the doors as well as the constantly visible outside.

I have to be honest this ethos didn’t last long. I started to get concerned that the pot of paint might not finish the job (it goes a long way but there’s a limit) if I was insistent on doing the insides. I was right, I only ended up having a tiny bit at the end having completed the project minus doing the backs of the doors. I also realised that trying to do this within the small space of the kitchen was going to be extremely difficult if I took the doors off. There’s really only room for me and one door on the floor at any one time. 

If you have the space or are doing the project in summer and can take things outside, then I would encourage people to take the doors off and do it properly (make sure you keep all the screws/handles organised and number the doors so you put them back correctly). You’ll just find out can’t reach every area of the door and do so with a light touch if you keep them on.  You struggle to cover the edges and corners in as professional way as you could if you removed the door. 

I decided to do my kitchen in stages, in part to manage my fatigue (this is quite physical work for me) and also to ensure the kitchen was useable for both of us throughout the process. I also couldn’t complete the job till the Dishwasher was installed as you have to be very careful with the paint for the first 2-3 weeks post painting, and I just new it’d get some bashing during the process. Unfortunately this factor delayed the finished point longer than I hoped due to a tradesman who was attempting to ghost me ( if you follow me on @athomewithegg you’ll be aware of the drama). 

I was once again impressed with the ease of the paint. If applied thinly each coat you really can create a very professional and smooth finish. I ensured it was as matt and sleek as possible by doing the last coat with a roller which helped to seal in a smooth look (use a foam roller). It took 3 coats overall. 

Next up was to cover the tiles. I was slightly torn on this as I think they’re actually lovely quality tiles – they just don’t go colour wise. I started by doing a small section that is separate from the main part of the kitchen just to be sure that the paint was going to cover well and that I liked the bright white I’ve chosen for the tiling. Luckily I got the go ahead from Si to fo the rest and I think it really helped to brighten up the room. In pictures it doesn’t look that different to the colour of the units, but in person the contrast is there and it works well. 

For the first couple of coats I used a Frenchic brush as the tiles have a texture and I wasn’t sure a roller would be able to cover the nooks and crannies on the surface. However if you have a flat tile it’ll be a far quicker job to do your coats with a foam roller. I did the last couples coats with one, and it was a game-changer it terms finish and speed. If you are a seasoned user of Frenchic products you will know that their white shades tend to take a few more coats so be prepared do have a fairly tiresome job on your hands. 

The last job was the floor. Now I must point out that this paint is a wood/furniture paint. People have had much success using it for other things (you guys know I’ve painted by bath, the shed, my UVPC door and more) but it’s always at your own risk. You need to ask yourself would it be an utter disaster should it not pan out for you on this occasion. Is it a risk worth taking because it wouldn’t be a big deal if it didn’t work, or if it was only a temporary fix? 

For the purpose of taking nice transformation pictures of my new kitchen I knew I couldn’t live with the existing mucky looking brown/grey floor tiles. I knew that the ceramic tiles weren’t the ideal canvas for even the durable and versatile Alfresco range, but if it could last a few months then it’s worth the day of painting. It would allow me to snap those makeover pictures for Instagram, but also give me more time to save for some practical wipeable lino. 

First coat in I wasn’t sure it was going to dry at all….it definitely reacted a bit differently to any other surface I’d used it on before. I think perhaps if I’d used a professional sander, rather than sanding manually with my hands and a small sheet of sandpaper, the surface would have be prepped better. I’m glad I persevered though, as it did eventually dry and look like it could work and create a professional looking finish. Waiting 2 hours between coats by the third the Blackjack shade started to create a pleasing and even matt finish. 

As I said before, this paint takes 2-3 weeks to cure and properly harden so you have to be very tender and gentle with it. So I had to enforce a very strict no shoes/bare feet law for anyone who stepped into the kitchen. Of course the rebel/selective listener that is Simon ‘forgot’ and the inevitable happened. So a few touch ups had to happen which did slightly impact the finish in those areas. But now a few weeks on the floor is strong and holding up great to shoes and any water/food that drips on it. It actually looks like it’d last quite well, but we now realise that black floors provides the perfect backdrop to highlight every single crumb, lint, hair, slipper fluff . If I want to keep it photo ready and clean looking I have to hoover twice a day….and that is certainly not living my best life. So I think with hindsight a patterned floor is the way to go. 

I’ve had a local flooring guy pop round this week for a quote. Sadly it was more than the figure I had in mind after doing some sums online. This is due to the fact that our existing tiles have undulations where the grouting is which would show through some of the thinner lino’s I’d been looking at. We would require some of the grouting dips to be filled and a thicker vinyl used which ups the labour costs. It’s not a huge amount by any means, but I’m so used to doing things on a mega budget so any figure with two 0’s at the end is a bit gutting for me. It’ll be worth it though. And again, like I keep saying we will save projects like beautiful victorian style tiling for the forever home. 

The rest of the changes have been decorative/styling. A bit of foliage (IKEA and from a cute store in Margate), some cute prints (Telegramme and Sezane) and some lovely storage containers. 

I have created some contrasting pops of colour via fabric too – with a rust orange towel from DuneIm and a beautiful bit of fabric my sister in law brought back from a trip to Japan. It’s these personal and unique touches that stop it looking to like a copy and paste from Instagram and something which is perfectly you. 

The last job has been changing the handles and I think it’s really brought it all together. I ordered a set 20 black handles from Amazon which took a few weeks to arrive as there wasn’t a prime product but at £27 including shipping I thought that was a very good deal. 

The screw options they sent didn’t work so I had to use the screws that were used alongside the existing handles, some of which are a bit warped and damaged. So there’s a couple that aren’t as tight but I came up with a genius solution to that issue involving some string, so they all feel tightly screwed in and secure now. A couple of the old handles had broken and gotten stuck in the holes so I need to use a lot of elbow grease and some pliers to bent till the mental leaked and snapped so I could pull them out and install the new handles. It was a tiring bit of faff, I’m not going to lie.

Look how dirty the fridge was underneath the doors -YUK

I might have thought of a fair few curse words during that phase of proceedings. Another part of the process I hadn’t factored in was that the previous handles were bigger and when taking them off it would reveal areas that would need touching up with the paint.

After trying to do this with a small brush I soon realised that using finger to apply and smooth the paint gave the best finish and hid the fact that any touching up had taken place. Luckily the paint is touch dry so quickly it didn’t hold me up too long and I was able to install the new handles not long after applying the paint.

So that’s it. I don’t think we want to install a blind as we aren’t really overlooked and so enjoy constant access to that view.

Keep an eye on my Instagram to see what it looks like once the lino is put down and for when I finally get cracking on the gallery wall. 

I hope this provides some encouragement or inspo for those looking to do a budget/speedy/DIY makeover. 

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