Friday, August 31

My kitchen cabinet makeover with help from a professional painter

the kitchen cabinets before painted yellow 
 my East Hampton cottage kitchen cabinetry gets a face lift....
I had these simple pine cabinets painted yellow twelve years ago to give this new home an older feel.  Now, all these years later the house has settled in and holds a nice patina.  It no longer looks like the brand new spec house it once was, but with my hard work it now feels like an older farmhouse.  To me, these yellow cabinets needed to go because they started to give the kitchen a dated, dowdy appearance

We built our cottage in 2000 and a starter weekend home to get-away from our urban life on weekends, vacations and summer.  It needed some key elements to inject a luxurious feel but we were on a tight budget.  We opted for the stock kitchen cabinetry offered by the builder and quite frankly it was plain pine cabinetry, so I opted to have a talented Irish painter give it a colorful patina with a vivid yellow color and with a cranberry finish underneath.  He spent three days layering the paint and slightly sanding the edges to allow the cranberry to eek through.  

At the time and twelve years ago, it added instant charm and character to our brand spanking new home.  The house was modeled after the typical Sagaponack cedar shingle cottages at the turn of the century, but it was brand shiny new.  No landscaping, no character just beautiful light and big wide pine floors.  So, I immediately jumped to action in order to add some character and bring some of old world charm.  

I darkened up the wide plank wood in a dark espresso brown, I added wainscoting to the walls with simple bead board and we planted lots and lots of trees and hydrangeas, holly, boxwood and ferns.  We lined the property in tall pine trees to give privacy.  We put down blue stone steps in the grass leading to the blue stone coping pool.  I turned to the kitchen cabinets and splurged by having them painted in great detail.  The end result was a French country feeling in our new home, and it worked.  Here we are all these years later and quite frankly the cabinets started to feel dated, and not fresh looking.  I long for a clean white crisp cabinet, and if in my budget I would have opted for Christopher Peacock kitchen cabinets.  Until that time, I decided to paint these cabinets one more time.  When hiring a family friend who has been a professional painter for over forty years, Jack advised using FPE.  So, here we are paint in hand and ready to sand, prime and paint.  We ran over to Home Depot and picked up brushed nickle pulls, the kind you see in old farm houses across the country.  I want crisp, but I dont' want to lose charm.  

I love the look of Christopher Peacock kitchen cabinetry with the well crafted hardware, wood and clean lines.  This white kitchen is my dream and I used this as my guide when planning to re-paint my kitchen cabinets.

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I moved some of our art work around in the adjoining dining room to give the entire space a different feel - I added a vintage over sized shell print from the 1950s in a lacquer frame above my antique spindle bench rather than the dark framed antique French fruit prints I had hung in a grouping before.  I wanted the kitchen/dining room to now feel more beach like and modern.  

we sprung for the expensive (but worth it) paint of Fine Paints of Europe in an oil based finish.  When painting kitchen cabinets it is a lot of work and it needs to withstand lots of wear and tear. It is imperative to use an oil based, good quality paint.  I have worked with FPE before.  You may know of the company and they are based in Woodstock, Vermont.  The quality is unsurpassed and I painted a set of chairs years ago and they still look brand new today.  However, working with this paint is not for the faint of heart and it is feel quite thick.  I hired a professional painter, Jack Davis from Port Jefferson, Long Island.  I am very happy to share Jack's contact information so please email me if you would like it at

Jack has been a painter for forty years and I have known him most of my life since he is a very good family friend.  When I knew I wanted to paint these cabinets, I immediately wanted to work with Jack.  Although I am up for the task of refinishing a piece of furniture from time to time, I understand when it is important to have a professional take over, and when it comes to a big job like kitchen cabinetry, I bow to the pros.

the process:  
 professional painter Jack Davis 
prepping the kitchen - first sanding, then a coat of primer
 we opted to change the handles and picked these up at Home Depot
 Fine Paints of Europe Hollandlac Satin in Spinnaker White
When hiring a painter, I recommend you take references and check their work.  There is a world of difference between an okay painter and a good painter.  Jack takes his time and is quite methodical, and although he had never worked with FPE before on cabinets, he agreed it was worth the extra money and effort to use this paint.  The only way I can describe the paint is it feels "thick" and does not drag quite as easily as other paints when applying it.  This can be daunting for the painter because if you are not careful you can see every brush stroke, however, when applied carefully the paint is exquisite.

  I have painted various pieces of furniture over the years, and applied and dried this paint is glossy, beautiful, durable and simply divine.

Jack stripped the cabinets, finely sanded, one coat of prime and only one coat of this paint (since it's thick) and the cabinets were finished.  It was a three day process.  We popped over to Home Depot and picked up a combination of brushed aluminum knobs and pulls to give the cabinets a bit more detail.  We applied the pulls to all the drawers and the knobs to each cabinet.
The entire space feels bigger, brighter and fresher, 
and feels like a brand new kitchen!
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