Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kitchen Counter Makeover - Painted Grout

So our kitchen got a bit of a makeover recently!!  Actually, "a bit of a makeover" is an understatement.  The tile counter-tops got a total face-lift thanks to some industrial strength grout paint.  This whole space is feeling dramatically different than it did when we moved in and I hardly spent a dime doing the updates.

I finally got around to snapping some pictures of all the progress I've made on our kitchen today, and cannot wait to share the before and after's with you!  I'm calling this "Phase I" of our kitchen's makeover, and it's quite a dramatic transformation.  

Here is what the kitchen looks like as of this afternoon:


Trust me when I say that this is a dramatic improvement from where we started!

It now feels bright and clean, and so much newer and modern than it did just a few weeks ago.  All I did was paint.  Paint on the walls, and paint on the grout.  Sounds weird, but grout paint is a thing.  I used a different brand for our shower a few months back, and while I was happy with those results at the time, I had no idea that there were better products out there.

After doing some research I discovered a product called Polyblend Grout Renew.  


I'm telling you, this stuff is life changing.  It has AMAZING reviews online, and two of my favorite bloggers from Young House Love, used it on the tile entryway of their new home.  Apparently its holding up to foot traffic, so I knew I had a good shot using it on our counters.  This particular brand of grout paint has a sealer built into it, so I wasn't as worried about doing a light color on the grout as I would have been otherwise.

Ok, so before I get into the process of how to apply the paint, and revamp old, disgusting grout to your heart's content, let's see a few "before" pics... shall we?

So this is what the kitchen counters looked like when we started the process...


Woof.


They were bad my friends.  Like so bad, these pictures don't really do their grossness justice.

As you can see, the off-white tile had dark brown grout.  Not an attractive combination.

The walls and back-splash were all yellowed out paint that only made said grout / tile look even worse. Everything about the combination of the paint and dark grout made the kitchen feel dirty and dated - very 80's, and not in a cute Cindy-Lauper-teased-hair-Breakfast-Club kind of way.

Before you can start painting the grout, first you have to clean it, and I'm not talking about wiping it down with a Clorox Disinfecting Wipe.  You need to get Sulfamic Acid Cleaner.  What is this, you ask? It's a very smelly, apparently toxic, cleaning agent that will lift YEARS of grime from your grout.  I found this out first hand.

As a heads up, this is not a job you can knock out in one night - the cleaning took me several hours at least, and then you have to let the grout dry really well before painting, or the grout paint won't adhere.

Let's start by talking about the cleaning process... The container had good instructions on how to mix it up, but not much about what to do after, and I wasn't able to find much online, so here's what worked for me:

Wear gloves - don't try to do this without them. I also wore safety goggles because this stuff seemed pretty toxic and I value my vision.  Once you're all suited up, get your grout wet with water so it will absorb the cleaner evenly.  Then mix the Sulfamic Acid per the instructions on the container, and apply to counters with a sponge you will never use again.  After applying it to the counters, everything happens pretty quickly.  After a few minutes you'll notice things getting a little gummy.  That's grease.  And grime.  And unidentifable grossness that has built up over time.  This is supposed to happen. Let it.  Once it's really gumming up, start scrubbing.  I used a plastic bristle brush and it worked beautifully.  Once the gummyness comes up, rinse with clean water.  It's going to take a lot of water, and much more scrubbing, because the grease smears around.  It doesn't just lift off like you think it will.  It's all super fun (insert sarcasm here) but once its clean, you'll notice a difference. A HUGE difference. Your grout will literally be restored to its original color.  Prepare yourself to be shocked.  I thought the grout in here was dark brown.  It was actually light brown - equally unattractive, and really really gross to think about.

Anyway, once the grout is clean, let it dry out - overnight at least - and then get to painting.  Super simple.  I used a stiff bristle toothbrush, and you just work the paint into the grout.  It will get on the tile.  You have two options - wipe it immediately, or let it dry and remove it later.

I started out doing option 1, and it was tedious.  Especially since covering brown grout with white paint required two coats for full coverage (3 coats in some places).  I found that it was easy enough to get off the tile after it was all dried.  I actually let it cure for a few days, then got the counters wet, and the paint on the tiles literally rubbed off with a finger / paper towel.  Soooo much easier than wiping as you go, but do what feels right.

Anyhoo, that's the whole process!  I'm not going to lie, it was a bit back-breaking to lean over the counters, but I put on some good music, and spaced out.  It's pretty mindless and easy except for the leaning over part, but it was 100% worth the outcome! Our kitchen feels brand new to me and so much fresher.  In total, it took me about 3 nights to finish - one night to clean, one night to paint, and one night to clean the paint off the tiles where it went out of bounds.

Here are some more pictures of our kitchen counters after their facelift:








Love!!  It's LOVE!!  After the counters were looking all clean and new, I decided the walls and back-splash needed some love too. Out came the paint, and a few hours later I was in a bright, clean grey and white haven.

The Polyblend Grout Renew Grout Paint comes in a bunch of different colors (and multiple shades of white), so I bought two and tested them out.  I brought home the Antique White and the Snow White colors, because I didnt want the end result to look too white next to our off-white tile.  The tiles started out looking really beige but it turned out that they were much more white than I originally thought.  After testing both colors of grout paint, I ended up going with the Snow White (which is the whiter one).

As you can see, it's not jarring, and it looks really natural.  In the end, our tile is actually pretty white, and it was just the yellowing walls and disgusting brown grout that made them look so beige.  Who knew?!

Anyway, do you want to see a series of before and afters side by side to compare??

That's the best part of these posts...

Here we go!





And just becuase I knew you wouldn't be able to get enough of how fresh and lovely our kitchen is looking, I snapped a few more pics "just because"...

Here's how clean and pretty our sink is looking now...


Like a breath of fresh air I tell you!!  I actually enjoy cooking in here now!!


 And here we are looking back the other direction from the sink... nothing but clean countertops, all the way down!!


 These next two photographs were taken standing behind the stove (in my little desk / office area that I'd posted about here) looking back towards the dishwasher...



And, that's the update!  What do you think?

It's unfortunately not quite as dramatic in pictures as it is in person, but trust me when I say that a coat of paint on the walls, and grout paint on the counters have transformed this room from a gloomy, dated, grease-fest, to a bright, airy, food sanctuary.

It's night and day my friends.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dining Room Updates

Hola friends!!  More updates on the apartment!

Things are getting done around here - art hung, walls painted, and now we're slowing down because it feels like we live here for real, instead of that "just-moved-in can't-find-the-cheese-grater" temporary feeling.  Do you know what I'm talking about?  To put it simply, we're feeling completely settled now, so I thought I'd share a few pictures of the dining room.


You've already seen a few snapshots from this post when I hung the shelves up, and this post where I put up pictures of the linen curtains in here, but here's the room in it's fairly "finished" state.

The rug in here is new for this apartment - I'd blogged about it here - and when it first came, I was not 100% sure about how I felt.  Looking at these pictures, I'm still not fully sure it's love, but I like it.  I like the colors, and how it feels really tied in with the rest of the house, and it's got a nubby, earthy texture that is cool.

It's not plush and soft under foot, but I don't think it's supposed to be.  It looks cool with the weathered stain on the shelves and the tripod lamp, so for now, it stays.


With the shelves on that wall, I had a hard time deciding what should go next to it.  For now, we're sticking with the large abstract canvas that was hanging in the living room of our last apartment.  I like them together, and feel like the large scale art balances the "heavy" feeling shelves out.


I have yet to really photograph the other wall in here (you can kind of see in the first picture), but there is a smallish gallery wall happening, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.


Other plans for this space...

A NEW TABLE:
This table, as much as I love the pedestal is very rickity, and smallish.  Not that we need a huge table, but something that doesn't creak when you set your elbows on it would be nice.  In the interim, it needs a good coat of paint - you can really tell from the above photo that it's looking shabby, and when we sell it, it can't be looking like this.  For now, this table is fine, but a new one is on the wish list.

Kris really liked this one from West Elm:

I was thinking of something a bit more like this:


A FRESH COAT OF PAINT
I was feeling a bit "painted out" after repainting both the living room, and most recently, the kitchen, but this room is in serious need of freshening.  There are scuffs and holes galore, and the scuffs are permanent.  I went through two Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and they didn't even make a dent. You know how powerful those things are too!

Also the heater vent...  Ugh, the peeling paint just kills me, but before that gets painted, it needs to be sanded.  Not a project I'm looking forward to, but an update which will eventually make a really HUGE difference.

The vent will be white, but I'm not 100% sure on the walls - perhaps my go-to favorite, Intense White by Benjamin Moore (which is really a light grey)- but maybe a stark white (like Decorator's White - Benjamin Moore) would be nice...

A NEW OVERHEAD LIGHT
A pretty chandelier or pendant would look awesome in here - especially since we decided to keep this as a dining room with a table in the center.  I conveniently left the current light out of the pictures, but it's one of those flush mount boob lights that is just so ugly.  The great thing about lighting is that we can re-install the boob lights when we leave, and bring our chandelier / pendant with us into our next space.

We have a chandelier that I bought last year and never installed, but I think it might be better in our bedroom... or the entry.  I've always admired the Clarissa series of chandeliers from Pottery Barn... the long one is really lovely over a dining room table:

But the Orb Chandlier from Ballard is also really cool, and I think a bit more to Kris' tastes...

Thoughts?

Does anyone have any recommendations on (not super expensive) pendants or chandeliers you've seen recently?

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Magic of Paint

Happy Friday Friends!!  The deck hasn't made any major changes since my last post, but I wanted to share the small progress I've made so far...

Do you remember how shabby the chairs were looking out there??


Well, Kris came home a while back to find me sanding as much of that old chippy paint off as possible.

Despite the fact that the deck is still in shambles, the chairs are now looking like this...


Boom.  Amazing, right??

I used outdoor paint on these bad boys, so there was no need to prime them - thank god for that, because getting between the little slats turned out to be much more time consuming than I'd bargained for.  There will be more pictures of these lovely chairs once the deck fully comes together, but I couldn't resist a small update here.


These photos were snapped after two coats - both chairs and the small table are needing a third and final coat for sure, but the blue is such a nice change from the blah color it had beforehand.  You can really see in these two pictures where the extra paint is needed - between the slats, and on the legs.  It just looks a bit spotty still, but regardless, a HUGE improvement.


I wish our property managers were moving at my speed - luckily I don't have to wait too much longer... Painters are going to start getting the scaffold up next week, which means that in a few short weeks, we will be able to pull our amazing outdoor space together.!

I'm ready to get this deck whipped into shape!   Other updates on the deck... I just ordered navy and off-white striped cushions from Ballard that are on their way, along with a cedar planter for the boxwoods.  Also on my wishlist is a pretty ceramic garden stool - I'm looking for something blue and white, but don't want to break the bank.

Keep your eyes peeled for me!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fab Finds in an Unexpected Place

It's been a while since I last checked in here, but after browsing through the World Market site, I felt compelled to stop in.

Is it me or is World Market having a moment right now??  Have you been??  I'm dying to check out some of their stuff - furniture, lighting, and especially kitchen supplies.  I'm not getting paid in any way by them to post this - I just am very VERY impressed right now.

Case in point??  This chair.
I feel like it belongs in Mad Men.  A far cry from those papasan chairs that my sister and I used to roll around in when we were kids. 

We're looking for a comfortable side chair for the living room right now, and if this is comfy, it could be a real contender!  I am dying to go check this out in person!!  Gorgeous!

Another favorite find?  This pendant.

And such a good price too!

I've been keeping my eye peeled for a different overhead lighting options for our dining room, entry, and bedroom, to replace the boob lights that are everywhere in our place.  Don't know what a boob light is?  Google image it... there are thousands of examples.

Don't get me started on these nesting tables...

The top is beautiful with the hexagonal wood inlay.  They look so much more expensive than they are!

There are some really cook kitchen finds as well... I LOVE the marble lazy susan, although a part of me wishes it was just a cheese board.

This Utensil Canister is also really lovely, and I've been looking for a replacement for our sad little one I've had since my college days.

I love the look of this "dipped" salad bowl - super organic and simple.

And speaking of simple, organic stuff... I'm loving the grain-sack napkins and tea towels that look like they came straight out of a small shop in Provence.



And how cute is this cutting board???


Finally, for a little glam... this tray is really lovely.  Looks like something you'd find from Horchow...


What do you think?  

Have you found any inspiring pieces in unexpected places recently?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dining Nook Turned Office Nook

I'd mentioned that our dining nook attached to our kitchen has recently transitioned into our office. We're a long way from "finished" (am I ever "finished"?) but it's HUGE progress from where we started...

Here's what this space is looking like right now...

Here's where it was a few days before that picture was taken...


Junk.  Everywhere.

Like EVERYWHERE.

This post should really be titled, "Junk Nook Turned Office Nook" but let's pretend it had been used as a dining nook, ha!

The first and most major step of this transformation was with paint.  A good gallon of paint changes everything people.


I went with Benjamin Moore's Intense White - the same color we used in our living room.  Officially my new favorite.  It's just such a pretty, calming neutral, true grey.  Super pale and light - it reflects light beautifully, and despite it's name it is definitely GREY - not white.  After putting one coat on the walls, this space felt so much bigger and brighter.

The sage green was a decision my best friend and I had made together a few years ago when we lived here, and it was not one of our best decisions.  It was not bad per say, but with just two walls painted, it felt like an after-thought - especially when the rest of the room was a blah off-white.  

It was just too much contrast against everything else, and it ended up absorbing all the lovely natural light this room gets from all the windows.


A few weeks prior to re-painting, I'd hung some striped curtains right up at the ceiling.  That too made a world of difference in opening the space up.  Against the grey, the thin grey and white stripe fabric is so pretty and simple, and light.

We positioned this re-purposed desk in front of the windows, and while it may eventually move against the wall, this is the perfect example of up-cycling, and working with what you've got.


This desk was dead.  Beyond dead.

My best friend had inherited it from her parents and used it as a makeup table for years.  It had caked on makeup, spotty and chipped paint, and it was bad.

It was destined for the dumpster after my best friend moved out, but our of sheer laziness, it stayed in the apartment.  One night... I'm not entirely sure why... I broke out the sandpaper and the same can of paint that I'd used on our wine hutch.

20 minutes later, it was looking a million times better, and it narrowly missed it's grisly end at the dumps.  I WISH I could find a "before" picture of this desk, it was really REALLY bad.  If I can dig one up, I'll definitely be updating this post!!

I still want to add a pull to the drawer, and paint the back of the desk (you can see exposed in this picture) so that it blends in with everything else.  I mainly want to be sure it blends in, and right now the wood back sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

What else was added to this room??  


Um... a light!

Yep, this room was not wired for any overhead lighting.  Absurd.  Ikea just started selling this drum shade, and so I got that along with a cord kit, that can be wired into the wall.  It was super simple to put everything together, and after I anchored a mount to the ceiling, I got this bad boy hung.

Let there be light!!!


As I mentioned this space is a work in progress - I'm working on some art to hang up in here, and I still need to finish painting one of the walls (on the left) that runs the length of the kitchen into the breakfast nook (now office).

More (better) pictures will be included with those updates hopefully soon, but in the meantime, here is another picture from move in day...  a real "before" if you will:


And an updated picture from this afternoon:


So excited that this has turned into a pretty, calming, usable space.  We finally have a usable room!!!

I must also add that this space has been a pretty major revamp on a serious budget.  I've spent about $100 transforming it - the paint for the desk I already had, along with that wicker chair (another leftover from Kira), the rug (was in the dining room of our old apartment), the frames, the art, the curtain rods, and the accessories.

Here's what I bought: the wall paint (one gallon of BM eggshell paint) the curtains (another Ikea find) and the drum shade and light kit.  

I'm actually guessing I've spent closer to $80 so far... not bad, eh??