Before & After DIY Kitchen Island Paint Update

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Randomly salmon kitchen island

You haven’t seen much of our kitchen lately because it’s a mess of beautiful-but-honey-colored cabinets with our new, beautiful glass knobs, new quartzite counters, new white herringbone backsplash, and this island which has a ton of potential, but in a color that does nothing for the kitchen.


Shortly after moving in, we realized that we had no functional place to beautifully store kitchen towels, and added this chrome and acrylic towel rod from Pottery Barn.


I love the cart look that this gives to the island, but still… that color!


I’ve had similar feelings about the island drawer handles.  We use the drawers ALL. THE. TIME.  They are in the middle of the kitchen across from the pantry, refrigerator, and plates.  They store lunch containers, cutting boards, and knives & scissors.  I love the classic shape and rose details and really wouldn’t even mind the brass if they weren’t so worn.


So, I FINALLY made it to the store to pick up some paint and went after that soft, salmon paint from decades past and brought in a crisp, modern grey that I’ve been dying to use somewhere, especially on cabinets, forever.


In it’s new Benjamin-Moore AC-26, Ozark Shadows paint

A couple days later, it’s looking refreshed with it’s new, perfectly grey paint and brightened hardware!


It’s only been grey for a couple of days, but when I look back at the before pictures, I can’t believe that we lived with the old color for over a year!


Now what’s really standing out to me is that last, HUGE project… changing the color of the main cabinets.  We have narrowed it down to just 2 options now, but they are two very different options in both the undertaking and final look.


So until then, here’s our grey-chic kitchen island in all it’s glory!


The hardware is now bright and shiny.  Oooooo, shiny!


Now that chrome & clear towel rack is right at home with the “chrome” cabinet pulls (and neighboring glass & chrome knobs).


Now, how dod I do it?

How to paint with oil-based enamel for the perfect finish

I love to spray paint to keep brush marks at bay, but that’s not always practical, like in the case of this extremely heavy island that we wanted to paint without shutting our entire kitchen down.  If you’d like to read more on a project where I used an airless paint sprayer, click here.  For this project, I used a high quality brush.


Step 1: Clean, sand, clean

Preparation is key.  If you have an older piece, you need to spend more time sanding and cleaning before you do anything.  I like the sanding sponges because they are very easy to hang onto.  Whatever you do, you need to do your final clean with something serious, like Mineral Spirits.

20140710-134845-49725923.jpgStep 2: Prepare your work area

When you are looking to paint a massive piece like this, whether it’s permanently attached to your home or just impossible to practically move, time for some painter’s tape and floor protection.  For most projects, that means taping off any areas you won’t be painting and protecting any surfaces nearby.  Take the time to do this carefully!  If you have and mistakes, you can clean up wet paint with a rag dipped in some Mineral Spirits, but you’ll want to keep that to a minimum.

Step 3: Thin your paint

This is the second time that I have used Penetrol and I have mixed feelings about it, but many people swear by it so it’s worth a try.  It helps prevent brush strokes and gives you more time to “work with” your paint so it’s great for the casual painter.  On the down-side, it can add a yellowish tint to your paint, makes it more glossy (yuck, glossy paint), and makes it take forever to dry (which is how it helps your paint settle without brush marks).  It’s made for oil-based paints, although there is a version for water-based/acrylic paints as well.  Whatever you thin with, it helps your paint glide onto the surface instead of glopping on.

Benjamin Moore “Ozark Shadows”, AC-26

Step 4: Paint with high quality paint & a high end brush

It’s worth it to get nice paint, you will have nicer results.  I usually use Benjamin Moore enamels (color matched to a Benjamin Moore color), but since I was already at Home Depot, I picked up a can of their enamel to try.  I wasn’t as impressed with it, but it did the job.  You also need a great brush.  Save the economy brushes for another job, with oil-based enamel paints, you’ll need a nice, fine bristle brush like a china bristle.  In my early painting days, I was intimidated by cleaning a brush to use again later, but have figured out how to clean them so I can re-use them.  If you get any paint boo-boos on another surface, quickly clean it off with a lint-free rag (like a cut-up old t-shirt) and a bit of Mineral Spirits.

Step 5: Apply a finish coat

To give it a truly finished look, apply a protective clear coat.  I used a water-based Poly for this as it has been working well for me lately, although it can become milky if you leave water on it so it’s not great for every project.  I like a satin finish because it hides imperfections like brush strokes and any dust trapped under the paint.  It also gives the project a more professional look and is relatively easy to apply.  I applied poly with an inexpensive brush because it was handy, but oil-based polyurethanes will need a bit more care.

Finally, finish any details & reassemble

While we were waiting for the enamel to dry, I spray painted several thin coats of a “chrome” finish onto the hardware.  Since the paint took a full day to really dry, this allowed me plenty of patience to allow plenty of dry time before coats.  Once everything is done, carefully reassemble!

Totally worth it.  This job cost us under $30 total including the quart of paint and other materials we had on hand like tape, paper, and poly.





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