07/20/2013 11:05 EDT | Updated 09/19/2013 05:12 EDT

A DIY Paint Job in a Tatty Kitchen Saves the Day

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then this one, dear readers, had flatlined. Hey, not even Clooney, at his restorative best, could have electro-paddled the cabinetry corpse to life. It was so bad, in fact, our client was ordering in, rather than cooking at home. And we didn't blame her...


A lover of Paris's 'Zinc' bars, our paymaster wondered if we might use the silvery metal as counters to imbue our scheme with Gallic charm. We counseled that, beautiful as the metal is, it scratches and is difficult to maintain.

And so, with a strangled purse, we settled at our drawing board (a bottle of Chateu Neuf Du Pape by our side to clear our head) and allowed French visions to roll over us. Here's the low down on how we transformed a kitchen nightmare into a stunning kitchen dream. Ah oui, plus ca change...




Kicking and screaming, we removed the ramshackle tiling and set a perfect new level with DIY store 'screed'. The job, while time consuming, ensured our new floor was perfectly smooth; an important consideration if opting, as we did, for wood effect Amtico, one of our favourite solutions. Resilient, flexible and easy care, it's the perfect underfoot problem solver.




Think full scale industrial 'youth giving' dermabrasion. Bliss! Ample prep produces better results, as does 'laying on' paint with a small foam roller. 'Cut in' with good quality brushes and look for bristle drop in your finish. Pick out any offending fibres with a pin then smooth with your roller. TIP -- where possible, remove and lay doors flat in a dust free area before starting.


Tin ceiling


Historically popular across North America, Victorian tin ceilings are beautiful and their modern counterparts easy to fit. Simply follow on pack instructions. Next time you're out and about in bars or restaurants, glance above; you'll be amazed by how many ceilings still boast their original metal details, even if over-painted.




Ah, Lee Valley Hardware -- one of our favourite stores for finishing detail, door pulls and fasteners. We selected a combo of ball knobs and antique style D handles and the casual mixed pairing provides a relaxed aesthetic that befits our 'hand built/hand painted' look.




The existing marble worktops were 30 years old and badly chipped and stained. While it dented our budget to do so we eventually elected to replace them, although with like for like, genus wise. This allowed us to infill the area that previously housed a chopping board but the mathematics of saving cash on cabinetry permitted this indulgence while retaining a budgetary grip.



A new stove was an absolute must, as was a new sink. Updating aspects such as these is crucial to achieve streamlining and, with clever shopping, it needn't cost a fortune, especially if you position new kit in the space previously occupied by old. Any work that involves relocating or re routing services will compound overall costs so bear this in mind.


Subway tiling


Inexpensive, easy to source and a product that transcends home fashion, this option has long since been a C&J favourite. Equally fabulous in a modern or traditional setting, subway is easy to apply and maintain. Available in a choice of colours, we kept our look simple by selecting crisp white to balance our French grey cabinets and washy grey marble.


Our top tips to update an existing kitchen


  • Paint -- give your food prep zone a new look by treating it to a coat of latex. It's amazing how quickly -- and easily -- you can update; even one wall, as an accent, makes a huge difference.
  • Door to door -- when layout is good, saveable cabinetry can be updated by completely replacing doors or by repainting those you already have.
  • Light fantastic -- if ceilings are high, add a new pendant to cut a modern dash. Conversely, if head height is low, swap hanging fittings for pot lights. Under cabinet lighting, too, is a great way to change the feel of space.
  • Update appliances -- nothing dates a kitchen like a selection of prehistoric appliances yet, due to competitive marketing, there exist many affordable replacements. So grab a tape measure and hit the aisles of Rona...
  • Hard wares -- new knobs and pulls add a whole new dimension and, with even modest DIY skills, are easy to install.
  • Countertops -- replace worn surfaces with butchers block, granite or stone. Choice, nowadays, is magnificent -- Ikea, for example, have excellent selections so you needn't break the bank.
  • Back splash -- add some drama with smart new tile or consider coloured glass, stainless steel or melamine panels. Anything to get away from those beige mottled tiles with tea pot and rose motifs. Guilty? Hmm?
  • Let the light in -- tear down curtains (in kitchens they trap dirt and grease) and replace with rollers or wooden blinds.
  • Accessorize -- coordinate work top dressing with new canisters, shiny pots and carefully selected tea towels.
  • On the shelf -- if space permits, increase storage by adding shelves. Artfully stacked with white crockery and fresh herbs, this simple tactic will add a sense of calm order.




Cabinet colour -Thundercloud 10GG 26/046 by

Counter -

Subway tiles -

Tin ceiling -

Flooring -

Under Counter Refrigerator -

Dishwasher -

Oven -

Schoolhouse pendant light -

Counter stools -

Canisters, wall plaques, dishes and glass wares -