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The Kitchen – Lighten Up: Painting a tumbled stone backsplash – EEK!

So – I’ve got to start this by saying – I HATE dark traditional cabinetry – I hate it – I hate it – did I mention, I hate it.  When we bought this house in April of 2014, the only thing in the kitchen worse than the cabinetry was the black island and the orange backsplash – it was like…..a den of darkness.  A full remodel is coming in the Spring of 2016 – but for the time being, I just needed to relieve the eye sore.  There was no point in scrapping the island or redoing the backsplash, knowing that the kitchen will be gutted in less than a year’s time – so I needed to give what was there a face lift without spending a fortune that would go to waste.

Here’s how it started:

Kitchen, April 2014

This is a photo from the listing when we bought it.  You can also see the the stained wood beam ceiling in the keeping room – that also HAD to go.  If it’s reclaimed wood, parquet, burled wood, antique, etc…  great – beautiful.  Stained just does absolutely nothing for me – unless it’s the floors – then, the darker the better.  These will get a new coat of a darker, probably jacobean, stain when the kitchen is redone.

Now….

{How we went from this—>to this}

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Working with what was here – we started with painting the island(well, having painted – I was 38.5 weeks pregnant, with a fractured back, when we moved in – so, I wasn’t doing much of anything).  There is a set of built in bookcases in the next room that are a cream color with a medium brown glaze. The painters matched this to keep the painted cabinetry cohesive through the two rooms.  Painting the island brought us to this (you’ll have to excuse the mess and my small helper – a.k.a. my shadow, we were prepping to start the backsplash:

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The lighting seriously does not give due justice to the atrocity of this orange and ochre backsplash.  They had to have literally gone to the discount bin at the tile store and said – give me whatever you have – like anything – we don’t care – we’ll just stick little metal medallions in and pretend they make it look great!

No question about it – it had to go.  So, the first opportunity at hand – with hubby out of town for several days (because….my projects kind of make his skin crawl – maybe because most of them are unfinished….or get redone….or trashed- we (me and my shadow), got to work.

We painted that sucker!  That’s right – paint.  Paint on tumbled stone.  Who would have thought?  GASP!!  Yep.  I did it….and I love it.  Well – I’m not going to lie – I would have rather ripped the shit out.   I still cringe at the thought of it being on my wall, but for now  – I’m happy with it until someone gives me the go ahead with a crow bar and sledge hammer.

I’ll give you the step by step to how I did it – but first, here it is, the new and improved, $20 Backsplash Makeover (excuse the poor lighting, I only get to blog at 10pm when my shadow is “napping”-she’ll be up by midnight):

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imageTo start, I taped everything off.  ^^^ see above.

I used my favorite primer to block out the color the of stone – 2 coats of it.  It is shellac-base, so you want to make sure the area is well ventilated.  I’ve got to admit – I didn’t – and may have been a little high in the car pool line.  No – but seriously – open some windows.   image

imageYou could use a roller for quicker application.  I opted to use a brush because I had to freehand around all the ‘fabulous’ little metal inserts (I didn’t think they would look quite right painted).  After 2 coats of primer, I let it “rest” for a couple of days —  basically saying Ken is going to seriously kill me when he gets home – like, dead.  This is AWFUL, maybe worse.  It was white…I mean flat white.  No dimension, no texture, just WHITE …and then the dark cabinets.
When I regrouped and came back a few days later, with the motivation to kill the white before Ken rolled his eyes at another failed project, I chose a very light neutral shade that had almost an oatmeal tone.  For projects like this, I’m not too picky about the brand of paint.  Ultimately it was going to get a another finish on top of it, anyway.  I went with Behr Arid Landscape in Flat/Matte <–  That part is important.

Thanks to the primer – it only took two coats of the paint, and the paint stuck to the stone with no problem.

After two coats of primer and two coats of paint, the result I had was this:

This was definitely, for me, a major improvement, but it still wasn’t what we were looking for.

image It lacked dimension.  It was just too flat, too – painted.   So, here is where the trick came in….

I swear – this stuff is like the fix-all for everything in the DIY world – like, if I was this woman – I’d never paint another thing again – just have someone else do it with my paint-but seriously, thank God for it.  It’s amazing.  Here it is……..

 

Ready??

 

……………………………

ANNIE SLOAN WAX

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Regardless of the paint you use – you can use this stuff on pretty much anything – as long as you are working with FLAT paint, or a flat finish as the base.  It ‘may’ work on other finishes – but I haven’t tried it, and can’t speak to it.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve recently started using the paints and do like them – but the color pallet isn’t quite broad enough for my taste, and the paints are too pricey for my experimental mixing – but the soft waxes are INCREDIBLE, and so easy to use.

For this application, I used the large round Annie Sloan wax brush.  I applied the clear wax in circular motions with the brush on small sections at a time, to prevent it from drying to quickly, before I could get the finish I wanted.  Immediately after applying the clear wax to a section, I went back over it with the dark wax with a cheap $2 paint brush (also in a circular motion – but also kind of randomly to make sure it was evenly distributed and in some of the grooves).  I followed the dark wax application with a cloth (paper towels), wiping it down to a smooth texture and the desired hint of color…..  And I sampled the method behind the coffee machine, so if I hated it, it could be immediately covered up – or hidden – until I could do something about it.  Fortunately, Annie came through for me.  This was exactly the result I was looking for out of a quick, cheap kitchen face lift.  The wax application took about 2 hours total for the entire kitchen – super easy.  The whole process, start to finish, took about two weeks, because —- well, I drag things out.   It could easily be accomplished in a weekend.

One more time – here is the finished product up close (sorry for the shadows – again – 10pm lighting isn’t great) – you can see the smooth finish the wax gave to the surface of the tiles, while still adding texture and dimension to the overall appearance :

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Pretty cool, huh?  If you don’t already have the wax (I did), then the project will cost about $70 more.  But total all in cost, since we had the wax – was less than $20.  We already had the primer and tape in the basement.  The quart of paint was about $10, a few cheap ($2 ) brushes for the dark wax application, and a roll of paper towels.

If you should choose to tackle a project like this – feel free to comment or email with any questions.

Best of luck.

-B