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…

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.

Banquette Seating

I’ve always loved the look of banquette seating, or bench seating in a kitchen or dining room.  As long as the table isnt TOO long, and you’re not having to scoot down 4 feet on a long bench, it’s charming, and it makes a formal space more livable, and less stuffy.

Also a good option for kids (in my opinion)… they can scoot in on their own, and bench seating can sometimes be lower to the ground than chairs.

Not sure if you’re sold??  Take a look at a few of these for inspiration – I guarantee you’ll change your mind…

To me, a banquette seems like one of those things that you want to be really sturdy (and beautiful) but not something you want to spend a fortune on.  Can you imagine the horror of having food spilled on something really pricey or irreplaceable?

For most of us, bench seating might not be something we want to commit to indefinitely, (and for those of us who still rent, it’s not even an option), so while a lot of these inspiration photos feature built in bench seating, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite non-built int banquette options.

Where to Buy:

Where to Buy:

  – 5. Valletta Velvet Tufted Bench
  – 6. Threshold™ Settee Bench
  – 7. Hudson Upholstered Settee Loveseat Bench
  – 8. Zig Zag Armless Settee

So what’s your verdict – love it or hate it?

Would you ever go for built in seating, or would you stick with the furniture options?

Making an Old Apartment New

It’s pretty much official that my best friend, Kira, is moving to Chicago, which means that Kris and I will be most likely packing up our little apartment, and moving back into the apartment I shared with Kira.  It’s bigger, and packs a lot of character, so it’s pretty much a no brainer.  Putting aside the fact that I’ll miss her so much, I really am looking forward to living there again.  
It gets great light all day with a east/west exposure (our current apartment is north/south facing), has tall ceilings  an a open layout.  We’ll have space for an office AND dining room (separately), a deck for grilling, a backyard, and a much larger kitchen.
View of the bay from Pac Heights, San Francisco: Source
Obviously it has it’s downsides – a terrible shower, a teeny tiny oven that doesn’t fit a standard cookie sheet, and a leaky roof – but these are all things we can work around.  Before Kris and I moved in together, I lived with Kira there for just over two years, which means this place has been inhabited without updates for nearly 4 years.  While it’s in good shape, things start looking a little sad over time, so we’ll definitely need to make some improvements.
While I don’t want to put any serious money into renovations (all appliances will stay as is) I don’t mind spending a little money (and a lot of elbow grease) to spruce things up.  
One of the rooms that needs some serious love is the kitchen.  I’ve been keeping a running mental list of what I’d like to update, and while there is a multitude of sins that paint can cover up, I’m looking forward to getting a little creative.  I also want to be extremely conscious of the fact that whatever we do has to be seen by the landlord as an “improvement” so no jarring changes that they wouldn’t want to keep for a future tenant.
The kitchen cabinets are nothing to write home about, and they could use some serious love – I’m thinking they’d benefit a great deal from being sanded down, and re-painted a soft grey…
Here are a few photo’s I’m using for inspiration…
I love the look of the brass pulls in most of these photos, but right now, the cabinets and drawers have cheap silver pulls.  Hardware adds up really fast, and with possibly 15-20 pulls, new cabinet hardware could get really pricey.  I may just leave them as is, but there is also the option of using spray paint on them, and even replacing a few pulls on a few of the drawers / cabinets are are most focal.
Just some food for thought…
Connected to the kitchen is a large breakfast room – I think we’ll use this as an office, but as it’s essentially part of the kitchen, I want it to have a cohesive look and feel.  We painted two of the walls a muted sage green a few years back, but I’m thinking it’s time for that to go, and switch back to something lighter and brighter since this room has tons of windows.
I’ve actually been loving the look of a striped focal wall, and something like this could be kind of cool…
Since the cabinets don’t meet the ceiling, and I’m thinking of a medium grey on the cabinets, perhaps a very pale grey would look nice bringing the cabinets to the ceiling… or should we do the stripes on the wall the same color as the cabinets…
More food for thought…
I also really love the casual, fun vibe of a chalkboard wall.  On the wall opposite the sink, stove, and cabinets, I’d love to paint a large chalkboard directly on the wall, and possibly frame it like one of these…

Do they make magnetic chalkboard paint?  It could be kind of fun if it were, so we could use this as a sort of command center.
Anyways, that was sort of rambling post, but sometimes it helps to get ideas down on paper.
Opinions?  Any other simple, but cool things you’ve seen in kitchens lately I should be thinking about??

Our New Aztec Rug

Taaaa-daaaaaa!  Meet our new little Aztec print rug that came home with me from HomeGoods over the weekend… it’s now sprucing up our teeny tiny kitchen!
Like my leopard print pajama pants?  I’m just keeping things super stylish my friends….. 

Our kitchen is a room that I’ve never photographed or posted before – and for a good reason!  It’s small, it’s old, and as a renter, there is not a lot that we can do about the hideous tile, dated appliances, and miniscule size.  I hate this room.  Like REALLY hate.

Other spaces of our apartment, I’ve been able to doll up with paint, or large rugs, or furniture, and art, but attacking the cabinetry and walls in here with paint seems like a HUGE undertaking… especially since I’d have to remove cabinet doors, hardware, and paint around big appliances like the refrigerator and stove.  I’d really rather not go there, since there’s no telling how much longer we’ll be in this apartment.

Don’t get me wrong… we have a great place (which I DO love), and it’s in the best neighborhood of San Francisco, but this kitchen is pretty much the bane of my existence.

Fortunately, this little gem of a rug is bright and happy, and a good size!  It measures roughly 5’x3′ so it covers up quite a bit of our very old, very dinged up linoleum floor (is there anything worse than linoleum??)
Maybe it’s in my head, but I think the bright colors help distract from the ugliness of the rest of the kitchen, and the dark colors will also help camouflage spills (we had a white rug in here previously, and let’s just say that it ended disastrously).

Ok, prepare yourself for these next photos… there’s nothing cute about them…

Here is the view into the kitchen from our hallway… everything is painted in that dirty off-white paint that the rest of our apartment suffers from.  Looking at this photo, I’ve decided that the wall above our lovely $15 trash can needs some flair…

Will be on the hunt for some art ASAP.  And perhaps a nicer trash can…

And here’s the view from the entry hall, looking in towards the sink, and the glorious tile.  While there is something to be said for the kitchen still having it’s original tile from the 1930’s, I’d love to know what posessed the person who picked out the color combo…

The tile on the back-splash is like skin colored!  And the trim is maroon.

Seriously, WTF?

Ok, my rant is over… Let’s pretend the tile doesn’t exist, and focus on the good here… my new little rug.

Oh I love it!