Fall ORC 2023 Week 6 and 7: Kitchen Island Makeover

Well, I’m a bit behind on The One Room Challenge. Of course that was bound to happen *sigh* but in my defense – these countertops! I hand-painted them last week and it wasn’t the quick fun project I thought it would be. See how I gave this kitchen island a makeover in this Week 6 & 7 recap!

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Green Kitchen Island with Trim!

Perfect Kitchen Island Paint Color

The first step was choosing the perfect green paint for the kitchen, which was previously all white, no color, no contrast. I wanted to add some character and the cream travertine and dark butcher block helped achieve that, but I thought it needed a bit more.

Dark green in kitchens is super trendy right now, which I wanted to avoid, but I couldn’t help but think it would work well in this kitchen. Now that it’s painted, it’s confirmed – it complements the chocolate brown countertops so well!

I found a paint can the builders left behind – a dark forest green. It was almost perfect. But it was so dark it looked black in certain light. So off to the store I went! This was a surprisingly quick decision. At Lowes, they had the HGTV color collection of the year on display and I immediately grabbed Oakmoss and crossed my fingers.

HGTV Sherwin Williams Color Collection of the year. I chose “Oakmoss”.

Adding Trim to the Kitchen Island

Now for the trim. A quick survey from my Instagram audience confirmed that simple was better (and thank you audience for making my job easier!) Fluting would have been gorgeous, but polewrap is the best way to achieve this and its somehow always out of stock.

So I installed a simple board and batten trim. If you want to see my method, I wrote about it here. After the trim and a few coats of paint, this was the result.

Hand-Painting Laminate Countertops

So here’s where things got real. I mentioned in a previous post how terrible the builder-grade countertops were, but I’ll post a photo here as well so you can see what I mean. I’ve seen some decent faux-marble laminate countertop samples in big box stores before, so I know they aren’t all this bad. Mine were.

Choosing the Pattern

The plan is to replace the kitchen island counters with marble or quartz soon. Maybe a year, maybe more, but totally worth it for me to make them look better in the meantime. There area lot of DIY methods out there to upgrade laminate countertops from a concrete skimcoat to peel and stick marble wallpaper. I decided on something in between, that wouldn’t be too time consuming or expensive – hand-painting a marble pattern!

Personally, I love when a kitchen island contrasts with the surrounding cabinets and countertop. In this case I wanted both to contrast, so the laminate counters had to stay light. This is how I landed on a warm grey and white marble pattern.

Prepping and Priming Countertops

This project started off with a pretty big error. From reading other blog posts of DIYers’ experience with painting countertops, I learned that chalk paint often works. This may have worked, or not, but I used “chalked” paint that I already had laying around, not the original Annie Sloane real chalk paint.

After a little sanding, applying a few coats of my “chalked” paint, and letting cure for 24 hours… it peeled right off.

Primer FAIL

So I added to the budget and grabbed some Zinsser BIN primer. This stuff is pretty famous in the DIY world for working well, particularly on shiny surfaces like laminate and cabinets. The thing is this stuff is oil-based and you’ll have to open all your windows and set some fans up if using indoors. The fumes are pretty pungent and not healthy to breathe in.

Sponging and Painting… Over.. and Over.. and Over again…

This part can be exciting. I collected a bunch of different brushes and a faux finish sponge, as well as a couple of sample jars of paint – in my case grey and tan. Important note – in the end I realized how important a turkey feather is for this project so get one if you’re going to attempt this!

I wish I could give a full tutorial but I really had to trial and error this for hours and then days to get the result. You’ll have to experiment with your sponge and brushes and also different ratios of paint to water. But there were four main components to my method:

  • A light sponging for the base layer
  • Painting veining (with a feather preferably)
  • Blending with a dry brush
  • Using a spray bottle at liberty wherever blending is needed, then dabbing the water away. This was the trickiest part!

When I started off, I was very skeptical it would work. As I went along it looked better and better. Before I added any veining, the countertops looked like this:

I thought it actually looked pretty realistic and natural, and considered stopping here! But it looked more like granite and busier than what I was going for. I wanted it to have veining but I was nervous that if I added veining it would be too busy. I’d have to sponge more white over it first. Yet another poll on Instagram and my followers agreed I should tone it down and add veining!

Painting the Veining

Round two involved sponging over the entire countertop with watered down white paint. This also took a lot of trial and error. Then I fashioned a little feather sponge and tried my hand at veining.

From here, the hardest part was blending. The spray bottle is both your friend and your enemy. Too much water and you’ll have to start again.

I used a dry brush at times and spray bottle at others to get the veining to look natural.

The more dabbing and blending. This whole process probably took three days and I’m not even sure how many hours – a lot though. If you want to see the whole process in 30 seconds, you can view it here:

For the topcoat, I used oil-based this time. I usually have a fear of yellowing, but since the grey has a purple undertone, yellowing would actually even it out. Epoxy is a great option for countertop topcoats too, but is a larger undertaking. It also has a high-gloss finish I didn’t want.

In the end, they turned out almost how I wanted. A little more grey than I’d planned, but I am not going back for more! It was a fun experiment and learning experience. I’m challenging myself to complete this kitchen on the smallest possible budget, but I am curious if another process may have been more efficient.

Some products I could have tried:

Like I said, I really wonder how another process would have turned out. There are also some really cool products I found after the fact that could have helped big time! If you try any of these other products or methods, I’d love to hear how it went!