Kitchen Makeover: Our New Counters

Have you been following me on Instagram? If so, you know that we have made major progress on our kitchen. Whew. That’s why I haven’t been showing up much here lately. But be prepared to see lots of updates soon!

counterI told you about our plans to use the Encore countertop kit in Onyx here. I ordered it online from Ace Hardware for $267 and used a 10% off coupon which covered the tax.

We started by removing the laminate backsplash and sink.

photo(14)Then the hubby cleaned the counters with a degreaser (TSP) while I taped off and put up the drop cloths around the counters and on the floor (we are messy folks).

We watched the video included in the kit and then jumped in!

However we were stopped short in our tracks to head to Lowe’s to buy several items we didn’t already have, like a 6” putty knife, mixing containers, sand paper, measuring cups, drop cloth, foam rollers, and foam brushes. So in addition to the $267 on the kit, we spent about $60 on supplies.

photo 2 (74)Then we jumped in. The box comes all organized to keep things separated by each day- 3 days total.

Day 1, step one was a little nerve-wrecking, because it looks awful. It’s all thin and doesn’t cover well. But it said “THIN” layer. Don’t quit there. Thankfully, Day 1 step 2 looked much better. It was so much easier to apply and turned out much smoother.

photo 1 (74)We sanded with a 100 grit sanding sponge after each application to get the ridges and globs. photo 2 (76)Thankfully, the Day 2 steps were a lot quicker and saw more progress toward what the end result would be. Remember how this was supposed to actually be a 3 Day project? Well, by the time we finished the Day 2 steps we had been working on it (or not working on it due to some puppy-related issues) for 5 days. Gulp. This was taking longer than we expected. But when we both have full-time jobs and don’t get started until the evening and things take longer to dry and you don’t want to stay up ‘til midnight to wait for it to dry… well, this is what happens.

Fortunately it doesn’t truly have to be a 3 day job, as long as you haven’t mixed anything. And, pretty much everything comes in individual bags to mix so it’s easy to drag it out as long as you don’t quit mid-step. Whew.

So Day 2 had us mixing the color stain, water, and cement. This consistency was much thinner than Day 1, like coffee creamer since it had some viscosity.

photo 4 (56)After sanding with 100 grit and wiping it off, we poured it onto the counter and spread it around with rounded movements with our 6” putty knife. We found that the best way to do the edges was with a foam brush. So the hubs (so kindly) would do that while I started on the tops and then he would jump back in.

photo 3 (67)After it dries, which is pretty fast,you can really see the variation. We were so excited! This time you sand lightly all over with 220 grit sponge. I also used a metal putty knife to get off globs and try to flatten ridges- especially on the edges.

Two more coats of the color stain with sanding in between and that’s it! We really enjoyed this part and loved to see how each coat brought more depth.

And we finally and actually did both Day 3 steps on the same day. The mixing was simple enough but it sure was smelly! Gloves at a minimum are a must for this step, but we wore them for each one, and I donned a mask and eye protection for this last one.

The process is the same for both Day 3 steps- you pour it on and use a foam brush to “cut in” and for the edges, and a foam roller for the top. Then roll back over lightly to make sure there are no bubbles, ridges, puddles, or drips. It dries 4 hours in between, and it’s ok if it’s a little tacky before doing the next coat. It looks milky when applied but dries clear, which reminds me of using Polycrylic sealer.

photo 5 (50)After drying overnight, you are done! It had to cure for a whole week but it was nice to clean up the kitchen. At first the finish was pretty glossy looking which I was not a fan of. But over time it has developed a matte finish which really brings out the dimension.

IMG_0668I think it really looks like soapstone which I LOVE.

IMG_0666IMG_0664

IMG_0667We didn’t achieve a perfectly smooth finish, especially on the edges, but I think it makes it feel more like a poured cement or stone.

My overall thoughts:

- This is a great, relatively cheap way to completely transform your countertops, and use can use it on laminate (like us) or even over tile

- Remove your stove when doing the entire thing- we taped off but had a difficult job getting it off the stove since we had effectively cemented it on by that point. We scored it with a razor blade and were able to move the stove but when I pulled the tape off a little piece on the edge chipped off. But I was able to glue it back in place. Completely user error.

- The process is pretty simple. You could do it alone but doing it with someone else is easier of course. Especially with all the sanding.

- Be prepared to be without your counters for 10+ days. This was a bit of a hassle especially since we removed the sink, but we are glad we did it right! Thank goodness for our big ol’ laundry room sink.

Overall we LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Wanna see it again?

IMG_0667What do you think of it? You got a sneak peak of our backsplash too. More deets on that soon!

DIY Chicken Wire Cloche

By the last day of our counter project, I was in the mood. The project mood. I could feel this one drawing to a close and I know that there is a lot to do coming up and I just couldn’t sit still. We had to wait 4 hours between the last coats on the counter, and even though we ate dinner and watched a movie, I was still impatient.

We are working on the backsplash now and so the new counters are covered, or else I would have posted about that. Soon! :) They look fab.

Anywho, I was just burning time on Pinterest and saw that someone made a cloche out of chicken wire. I read the tutorial and thought, hey, I have chicken wire. I LOVE cloches. And that’s kinda a spring-related décor thing. Let’s do this. Now.

And I did.

I ran out to the garage and grabbed what I needed:

  • Chicken wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Wire (I actually used picture hanging-wire but baling was recommended)

My camera memory card is M.I.A. so I don’t have the step-by-step photos anymore. :( Check out this tutorial I used from Thistlewood Farms (complete with step-by-step photos).

I grabbed a smaller glass cloche and used it to guide how large of a piece to cut out- I wanted it larger and specifically taller than the glass one. I cut it out the chicken wire with my wire cutters.

Then I left the finished edge at the bottom and wrapped the piece to form a tube, twisting the unfinished wire edges together, using the pliers as needed (needle nose would be easier but I had these on hand and was just too excited to run BACK out to the garage. Sheesh.)

photo 2 (71)photo 4 (52)I left a few of the hexagons un-done toward the top and started forming them together to make a rounded top. I cut off a section that would be overlapping, and tried my best to twist any unfinished wires together. But really, it’s wire and I figured it wouldn’t move much once it’s bended in the shape I wanted.

photo 4 (53)photo 3 (62)I used my picture-hanging wire to make a handle by cutting a length, forming it into a circle, and wrapping more wire around it.

I left a little tail and used it to attach to the top of my cloche. That way I can pick it up by the handle and not smoosh it.

photo 3 (61)And that was it. Took me all of about 20 minutes and didn’t cost a dime.

photo 3 (63) photo 1 (71)

And it’s the perfect addition to my spring mantel.

photo 4 (51)Pretty awesome, right?

photo 5 (47)What do you think? Are you in love with cloches like I am? If you are looking for a cheap spring-themed project just in time for Easter, this is it!

Are you doing any cheap, free, or fun projects lately? Are you decorating for spring or Easter? I would love to hear about it!

Want to see all the progress we have been making on our kitchen? Chat with me on Instagram here!