Kitchen Makeover Update: One Year Later

One of the biggest projects to date that I tackled was my kitchen makeover.  I can’t believe it’s been a year, but this time last Summer, I was finishing up the final details and sharing it with you.

Since that time, I’ve been flooded with questions (and many kind comments – thank you), and thought a One-Year-Followup post including answers + an update a year later would be interesting and helpful for those thinking of tackling something similar.

There were alot of details and updates that went into the entire Kitchen Makeover, resulting in quite a few posts to explain all the steps.
Here they are:

Since this is a followup post, let’s start with some of the reader questions that I received related to…

painting the cabinets

From Shani:
it is beautifully done! i painted my cabinets in my previous house, and found that if i hit the cabinets hard (with a pot handle etc) that the paint you find that to be the case? great job!

From Kyra:
Did you use primer on all of the cabinets ? I would think you would want to use primer everywhere? DId you sand the cabinets first? You don’t mention it but I would think you’d want to.

From Julie:
Looks great!!! Did you not use a primer on these..or did you tint the primer? Also did you sand these first?How is the paint holding up?

I absolutely used Primer and wouldn’t do any project like this, without! Primer is key to a great finish and a long-lasting result.  To start off, I gave the cabinets a light sanding, then applied one coat of Kilz Primer. When using the Kilz Primer, sanding isn’t really needed, but I did it anyway to remove the sheen from the cabinet face.  Plus the Kilz Primer is great for blocking the wood grain and stain from showing through.

Once dry about 24 hours later (the paint can says wait 7 days for it to fully cure, but I didn’t), I applied 2 coats (in some areas 3 coats) of Benjamin Moore Aura Paint. Their Aura paint is a primer + paint in one, but I still felt that it was important to use the Kilz primer first.


From Stachia:
What color and brand of paint did you use for your kitchen cabinets?

The paint color that I used for the cabinets was Benjamin Moore Berkshire Beige in a semi-gloss finish using their Aura Paint line (primer and paint in one).  A semi-gloss finish is important to use on cabinetry and/or furniture so the surface can easily be cleaned and/or wiped off.

updating the countertops

From Amy:
Just one question, does the countertop have bumps, or does it just appear that way in the photo?

My Response:
With the Rust-Oleum kit, the countertop is slightly bumpy to imitate the look of a natural stone surface. It’s not overly bumpy, but also not completely smooth.

From sl:
I would love to do this to my kitchen countertop. Yours look GREAT!!! I am still trying to convince my hubby. Did you put the color chip on the backsplash and edges? Is so was it hard to get them in these spots? Is not, does it look odd without color chips? Thanks for any info you can share.

My Response:
Yes, I did put the chips on the countertop edge and backsplash. With the tool that is provided, it sprays the chips all over and will cover the vertical surfaces. If there are spots that don’t get covered, you can throw chips on them, which will adhere because the adhesive is very sticky. All surfaces of the counter, absolutely needed to be covered with the chips or you won’t achieve the quality needed to hold up.

From Marti:
Could you please elaborate on your comment that the chips must cover all areas or the quality needed to hold up won’t be achieved. Do you mean that the chips facilitate the hardening process, and without them, full hardening won’t occur? Also, did you notice any odor at any stage in the process? I have an allergy to paint. Many thanks.

My Response:
When you are at the point of adding the “chips”, you want cover the entire countertop surface – the more, the better. After the chips are added, the next day you put on the sealer (top protective coat). If the countertop is not covered enough with the chips, your old countertop color will show through. The chips DO NOT facilitate the hardening process, but the chips are essentially the color that changes the countertop. So the first coat is the glue, second is the chips a.k.a. “color”, and the last coat is the protective seal. There was very little odor throughout the process. I was very worried about this with having two young kids, but it really wasn’t an issue. Honestly, we ended up going out for meals during the process since the kitchen was OFF LIMITS!

From Kristin:
Hi there! You mentioned the peeling of the top coat when the tape isn’t properly removed. We just did these countertops this weekend and had one spot where it did that. What did you use to fix the area??? On another note I would totally agree that the difficulty level is at a 2. It was SO easy and the instructions were great. The scoring of the tape, though, really is vital.

My Response:
If part of the countertop peels after you’ve applied the “chips” and sealer,  the instructions say to go through the entire process again for that specific spot.

Overall the process of the Rustoleum Transformations Kit was not difficult and the instructions were very thorough.  Included is a comprehensive video that is a must to watch! We took the weekend to work on the project, but it didn’t take all day.  Also, thankfully there wasn’t ANY ODOR – big checkmark ;)

I received quite a few questions and comments about the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Kit.  I have not had the pleasure of using the product, so I really can’t comment, BUT some readers that used the white or lighter colors had a bad experience with it yellowing.  Has this happened to you?

tiling over laminate

I guess my tutorial on this part of the makeover was easy to follow (or no one liked it – hehe) because I didn’t receive one single question.  Anyway, with tiling over the 3″ high laminate backsplash, the kitchen really has a custom and unique look.  Often seen in typical kitchens, is a 3″ high backsplash to match the countertop which is sealed at the joint so no water or liquid will leak behind the base cabinets.  Great concept, but very ordinary and not really interesting.  Because we were “painting” over our existing countertops, there was no way to remove the laminate backsplash, so I just tiled right over it!  It was easy and there was nothing different or special than tiling any other surface.

adding decorative brackets

By introducing the decorative brackets, the kitchen has a sophisticated aesthetic with interesting architectural details.  Before, there was one long row of cabinets, but now the brackets add an unexpected element.

Update One Year Later

Now that I’ve highlighted a few of the popular questions from the makeover, it’s time for me to share some images and updates a year later.

Thankfully the cabinets have REALLY held up well over the past year.  We’re a family of four, with two young kids, so the kitchen is used ALOT!  It has received so much wear and tear, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the cabinets.

Unfortunately, I wish I could say that about the countertop.  Within the first few weeks of using the Transformations Kit, the newly “painted” surface started to scratch, show spots and wear.  That being said, I am still happy with the overall look and how much the kitchen changed by using the Rustoleum product.  I’m often asked, “Is the product worth it?  Is it more of a temporary fix?”… well that’s difficult to answer.  It comes down to your budget and how long you plan on living with the kitchen.  The product is around $250-$300 (the last time I saw it at HD or Lowes), which is pricey, but at the same time we didn’t want to invest in a more expensive countertop.  Honestly, looking back knowing the imperfections today, I’m still glad we chose this product.  A bigger, more $$$ kitchen makeover might be ahead of us in 3-5+ years and until then, the updates we made are just fine (and actually more than fine). So my roundabout answer is, if you have the money and plan on keeping the countertops for 5-10+ years, go with another surface, but if you’re on a budget and/or want a quick and on-budget solution, the Rustoleum Transformations Kit is a great idea.

Here are some images of the kitchen that I just took yesterday.

I’d like to stress that even though I’m an in-real-life designer, my home is not staged and looks like most everyone elses.  The kitchen is often the most messiest place in our home and before cleaning it up to shoot some pics, this is what it looked like…

You can see the multiple DIY projects that I’m in the midst of.

Does your kitchen look like this ever?

Thankfully a few minutes later I got it all cleaned up and this is what it looks like a year after the makeover…

These are some of the scratches and wear marks on the countertop.

And this is a stain (completely my fault) where I dropped super glue.

And like I said, the cabinets have held up GREAT, but there are touch-ups that will be needed here and there.  For instance, the shelves on the open cabinet get alot of wear multiple times a day when I take out and put back the baskets.

But there really is no reason to complain, because this Benjamin Moore paint was easy to apply and has held up SO well.

These pictures were just taken yesterday and I haven’t made any paint touch ups since the day they were painted a year ago.

And this quote – a favorite of mine -sits on the window sill by the kitchen sink and keeps me in check many moments throughout the day.

So that’s the makeover update one year later.

Are there questions that you have that I haven’t answered?  If so, Ask Me, and I’ll add them to the post.

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  1. says

    Thank you SO Much for this post. For many reasons. 1) for showing your kitchen as it really is and 2) for following up on the projects.

    I am in the midst of a whole kitchen makeover, and I also primed with Kilz (2 coats) and did 2 more coats of BM Regal Ultra. I am already noticing a problem where the doors contact (or, in my house with kids.. SLAM) into the cabinet boxes. So I added those little cushion stickers to help. Did you have any problem with those areas or any tips to keep the paint in tact where the door touches the cabinet?

    Also.. how do you clean off the grubby little finger prints/spatters etc? I am using a damp (water only) cloth, but I was thinking of using windex, but I was nervous. I also painted over oak and didn’t add any final polyurethane coats, so I am worrying about taking off the finish (I used the “pearl” finish)

    Thanks so much for this post! You rock!

    • Jenna says

      It takes a good month of so for the paint to really dry and cure. Even though it will be dry to the touch in 24 hours, it takes time to really cure. For the first few weeks scratches may happen more, but after that, it really shouldn’t. I haven’t had any scratches even with doors and drawers opening and banging into each other. Because of the semi-gloss paint, I use a damp cloth to wipe down the cabinets. And lastly, make sure to seal you cabinets with a clear poly (I prefer water-based to avoid yellowing). -Jenna

  2. Danielle says

    I love the color and I’m thinking of painting my kitchen cabinets a similar gray, but I’m worried that it will look idd because I really don’t have any other gray in the house. Do you use gray elsewhere or is the kitchen it?

    • Jenna says

      This specific gray, Danielle, is more of a taupe color and takes on a green hue sometimes. My home has more warmer color and this color is a beautiful complement. -Jenna

  3. Jada says

    I actually used the Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations product in my kitchen and it has held up for two years with no problems. We kept it pretty textured though (countertop was previously scratched, burned with cigarettes by former owners) so that may have something to do with its performance. I’m so happy to see someone else has chosen this much less expensive route too. Your kitchen looks great!

    • Jenna says

      Interesting Jada – glad to hear you had success with the product too. Do you find it scratches though? Jenna

      • Jada says

        No, I haven’t noticed any scratches at all. Ours is no where as smooth as what your pictures show though, so it doesn’t give the granite look. The one thing that does bug me is around the sink where we taped it off. The instructions say it can be done either way but I definitely recommend installing the sink afterward so there’s not a hairline gap around the entire thing.

  4. says

    We bought an old, foreclosed on and poorly taken care of farmhouse. There are things that have to be done before we move in – big, expensive things. The basement needs to be gutted. It is moldy. The septic system is not in compliance. So we are definitely on a budget!

    The kitchen is just filthy and ugly. (It is poorly designed too and could use a major renovation.) I had hoped to use Rustoleum’s Countertop Transformation to hide the old, ugly counters. So, I appreciate this review. Sadly, when I was cleaning, I found a patch of linoleum near the stove that probably had a hot pan placed on it. There is a significant bubble under the linoleum. I am going to try ironing this to melt the glue and putting a few salvaged bricks on it while it cools. But, I think we might have to invest in something more expensive. I am hoping not to do anything that will make my husband think I can wait for 10 years for a new kitchen. :o(

  5. Joe says

    Love your new kitchen! Like you we recently updated our kitchen appliances to stainless, now our problem is displaying children’s artwork!

  6. Abby says

    I love the idea of tiling over the laminate backsplash but my issue is that ours curves at the top and doesn’t make a straight edge at the top. Does that make sense? It isn’t a right angle where it goes from the verticle backsplash to where it meets the wall, it’s a rounded edge and I wouldn’t know what to do with something like that. Any suggestions?

    • Jenna says

      Hmmm.. yes I know exactly the scenario you have and yes, it’s a tricky one. Because of the curve, there really isn’t much you can do other than use the countertop kit to go over the top and backsplash. Sorry this idea won’t work Abby.

  7. courtney says

    Your kitchen came out so clean and calming! I realize you were sponsored the products used so might be somewhat swayed in your answer, but I thought I’d ask anyway! :)

    Would you use the countertop transformation if you had to pay for it, knowing you could DIY a new laminate for the same price or less? I’m weighing my options and budget. Rustoleum’s countertop product is NOT CHEAP! Would that money be better spent on a new counter and not a coating that we see does scratch over time?

    I’m partially jaded about Rustoleum in general right now…I’m going on 4 months with no cabinets/drawers in my bathrooms because of Rustoleum’s cabinet transformation product! The deglosser did not work which added extra nights of sanding. The instructions, well, I’m going to flat out call them wrong. Don’t use a natural brush with polyurethane! The top coat dried with massive bubbles and foam (no I did not shake, backstroke, nor overstroke), which I then had to sand. However polyurethane is a thin and sanding the top coat removed the base coats. I had to just step away for a couple weeks or go mental, which lead to winter finally arriving so it’s too cool to do. And now I’m literally STUCK with indecision if I need to re-sand everything since I have a partially satin topcoat, which required deglossing/sanding to begin with. Do I risk it or start from scratch…..

    (I found that no matter the shade of modern brown I chose, brown will draw out the ugly yellow hue of my 1980’s almond counters. Hence the first question.)

    Finally, I’ve thought about throwing in the towel and painting the cabinets with a paint/prime mix so I’m curious about this Flowtrol you used as well. Was that also a sponsored product? You said it left a professional finish – what does that mean? I envision those modern smooth surfaces of new cabinets yet I can see the wood grain in your kitchen (not a bad thing, just clarifying my expectations!)

    In the meantime, I just keep looking the other direction. If I don’t see the cabinet frame, then the bathrooms might as well be assembled in my mind….. :)

    • Jenna says

      Hi Courtney,

      Thank you for reaching out to me. Let me start out by saying that just because product is provided to me doesn’t automatically mean that I will say something positive. I’ve been given product many times in the past, used the product, and am unsatisified with the result. I’ve gone back to the company, told them, and do not share their product on my blog. I don’t want to give any company a bad name. That being said, I only share what I truly stand behind – product that is provided to me and product that is not. I will not give me 100% seal of approval if I did not truly love how it worked.

      Regarding the Rustoleum countertop product, initially the result was great. It held up fine after a few months, but just like I said here:, it started to scratch and chip after about 6 months. I still think it was a good temporary solution and wouldn’t change my decision to use the product since at the time a new countertop wasn’t in the budget.

      Floetrol is a great product and slows down the drying process allowing you to get a result with less brushstrokes. Yes, in my cabinets you still see the grain, but there are very few visible brushstrokes.

      Lastly, I have had no experience with the Rustoleum Cabinet Kit, so I can’t weigh in on the result.

      I hope this helps and please know you can always count on my 100% REAL opinion!


  8. Beth says

    I’m curious, above where you show the scratches/wear on the counters, is that the WORST area? Or are there others that are worse? How many areas have that? Is it just one or two spots are is it all over?

    • Jenna says

      It’s alittle tricky to explain, but in one specific area there are alot of scratches and that’s due to our fruit basket which should have a pad underneath but doesn’t. The other areas that have alot of wear are on the countertop edges. You can see some of the new “paint” coming off. Overall I’m happy I chose to use the kit, but we will probably do something in a year or so since the surface never looks fully cleaned. I hope this helps and answers your questions.

  9. Sassy says

    I know this post is old, but I love it. Try gluing felt on the bottom and edges of the baskets so they don’t scratch up your shelves as much. I did this simple thing to shoe baskets, and it worked so easily and looked great!

  10. Heather says

    I painted our kitchen cabinets a light cream. I am finding that the edges on the trim of each door is wearing away after a week or so. Used primer, two coats of paint, and 3 coats of polyurethane. Any suggestion

    • Jenna says

      I would say the reason for the paint peeling is that it’s only been a week. Paint does not fully cure till after 30 days so within that time you need to be very careful with wear + tear on the painted surfaces. For those areas that have peeled, I would sand them slightly, repaint, and finish with poly. I hope this helps! – Jenna