Paint magic in a kitchen! A total transformation with paint!

by Posted On

My brother and sister-in-laws new kitchen!!!    Before and after!

Via the internet from California to Connecticut!  Utilizing , my favorite tool, our iPhones!!!

My brother and sister in law bought their house 15 years ago; and wanted to add on a family room with a garage under it off the kitchen. They did that;  and they thought they needed to remodel the kitchen.

Having been paid for so many years for my advice;  I just assume everyone wants it! (guess what?  not everyone does!) Well, I suggested all they needed to do was to paint the cabinets; the walls  and the floor! My sister-in-law didn’t think that would do it; so they did the family room and other things in the house waiting to redo the whole kitchen.

Then the children grew up and flew the coop and they decided to sell the house!

The kitchen looked tired;  had a yucky tile floor; and kind of insipid pinkish color stained wood cabinets. It did not “show” well!

I suggested again that “Paint magic” was all it needed!  The cabinets looked “stuck on” the yellow walls; and weren’t tall enough to reach the ceiling; but they had attractive lines and the plan was practical!

Borrowing from my friend Brooke Giannetti’s weekend house makeover;  on her blog  “Velvet and Linen”;  (the most dramatic I have ever seen!) I suggested the color “Hardwick White” from Farrow and Ball for the walls and the cabinets. Then, the cabinets would not look “stuck on” and the color (which is not white);  looks really good with Stainless Steel appliances!


“Oh too dark! Cried my poor sister-in-law”.  Relentlessly, I nagged and needled;   and  explained  and nagged some more and sent more pictures of Brooke’s kitchen,;  and she reluctantly went  ahead!!

She was scared to death!  (This poor woman;  in her last house she  took our daughters water-skiing and when they came back; I had rehung every painting and picture in their house!) You either want, or don’t want, a decorator in the family!  I think they liked them there!  (Or every time I visited they moved them back!)

Here we go!!!  “Paint Magic”!  My sister in law did all the labor;   and we used our iPhones to send pictures back and forth!!!


I suggested that the black microwave and the black ovens needed to go.   She ( “she” henceforth is my darling sister in law)!   found some reasonable stainless steel replacements that fit!

A refrigerator that fit in a “Sub-Zero”  space, and an oven with broiler that fit where the ugly black thing resided!  And a  stainless microwave!!!  (I must give her all the credit for accomplishing this feat!)

She did all the painting work herself;  I think my brother supervised!  He may have been sitting in a chair at the time! ( I cannot be a witness……I am all the way out here in California!!!)

See the icky ceramic tile floor?  Is” insipid” the right word for the color of the cabinets?  YUCK.

I suggested the baskets to mask the fact the cabinets did not go to the ceiling;  nor have any finish molding! Rectangular baskets in different natural colors……filled in the space!  She found them!  I emailed pictures  to her!  She found them within an hour!

The finished kitchen with the icky tile painted (they make  paint that works on tile!!!!) and the walls and cabinets “Hardwick White” (and don’t believe the paint store when they tell you they can match Farrow and Ball paint with American paint.  Not true.  There are way more pigments; and the difference is vast!)

Most of the cost of painting is in the labor; so it is a fallacy that this paint is outrageously expensive. It isn’t!  Worth every penny!  (Says Penny!) In this case, my sister in law…….and I hope my brother, were the labor!  So the paint cost more;  but look!!!)

Waiting for the microwave…and a a close-up of a basket!


This is the original ceramic tile floor!  This would be expensive and difficult to remove and replace .  So we painted it!  (My sister in law did)  It needed a bit of sanding, a primer and then  painted with an alkyd  paint.


Pretty darn great, if you ask me!

We found very reasonable seagrass rugs  (they are all over the internet;  the most reasonable were at   Less than half the price of many others!

Another view of the “After, showing the refrigerator!

Here is the view of the” before” of the sink and window area

And, TAH DAH!!!  Here is the same view “after”!

Another before closer up!



And the “after”!!

The only down side of this story is now she doesn’t want to move!!!  She loves her kitchen!!!

Never underestimate the power of paint!!!

39 thoughts on “Paint magic in a kitchen! A total transformation with paint!

  1. Jennings & Gates

    Wonderful job! Such great style and reasonable, beautiful choices. Penelope, you should have your own television show!

    1. penelopebi

      Oh Thank you so much! That would be fun!!!

  2. The Devoted Classicist

    New knobs/pulls is another change that can make a big difference.

    1. penelopebi

      I agree!

  3. Thoughts on Design

    A sharp mind and a deft touch – a little paint, a few baskets, and some seagrass rugs from Overstock. Viola! Your post should be required reading for anyone who is nervous or wonders about the value a designer can bring to a project, even a small one like your sister-in-laws kitchen. Bravo!


    1. penelopebi

      Thank you so much!!! It really is true! I hate to see people wasting money and making mistakes! I honestly think I have saved many of my clients much more money that they have ended up spending! I saved one client $100,000.00 on the cabinets by convincing him to have them “paint grade”; and they looked wonderful painted and they loved them!

  4. Karen

    That kitchen looks great. I love Hardwick White, Farrow & Ball. P.S. I’d love to have someone in my family with your eye and talent for design. 🙂

    1. penelopebi

      Thank you!

  5. Janette@the2seasons

    If your family tires of your advice, you can send it my way. It would be fun – like playing Barbies.

    1. penelopebi

      that is very funny!

  6. Bette (@Ideezine)

    Hi Penelope,

    What a great family designer resource you are! Using your iPhone as well (I absolutely love my iPhone too). This is a great project for others to learn from and just do it! Paint the town you can always change it if you don’t like it or change your mind.

    This project really empowers those with a limited budget that seek out the advice of a designer. A great example of what edesign is
    (design services via internet) which is becoming increasingly popular.

    I’ve been getting requests for design services using smartphone photos for resourses, Face Time and Skype for consultations, email and iMessages on iPhone to communicate also.

    Options for designers and clients are redefined as we live and breathe. I love all of it.


  7. patricia gaye tapp

    YaY! Penelope, I am going to paint my Mother’s tile floor ASAP. pgt

    1. penelopebi

      You go girl!!

  8. Sandra Jonas

    That is a remarkable transformation! Love it!

  9. Nella

    Penelope, you are so down to earth and funny!

    This post is terrific for anyone with a little trepidation, which of us there are many!!!

    Not everyone has the inclination, or resources for major redos, and I agree paint is the quickest and most economical way to change up a room. I should know, I have painted furniture pieces which most people would shudder over!!


  10. Fabulously French

    The transformation looks fabulous and I too have used this technique in the past but have not tried painting old tile floors so will have a go.

    I totally agree re the comment on Farrow and Ball as one who has used F&B throughout our house here in SW France as other companies are able to copy the colours, there is no depth to the colour and it looks flat when compared to the “real thing”.

    A tres bientot,

    Leeann x

  11. Diana

    I am the lucky receiver of all this great advice and the family is keeping her for a little longer. Penny has helped me with many projects and I wouldn’t have any other designer giving me advice. I can’t believe I waited 15 years to get the message. It took about 3 weeks from start to finish. Now let’s see if it helps to sell it.
    Thank’s Penny, you’re the best.

    1. penelopebi

      How lucky I am to have a sister in law who will take my advice; do the work herself……..and then give me this great compliment! I love Diana!!!

  12. Tara Dillard

    It’s like being in a different house !

    Honestly, how long is that floor tile paint good until it scratches/chips?

    Love the price of this remodel.

    Garden & Be Well, XO T

  13. Dovecote Decor

    Hardwick White is the bomb! Your point really comes across with the many photos in different lights. The depth of the pigment changes in the light, the way things do in nature. I’m a convert!

  14. penelopebi

    That floor will not chip. It is the kind of paint that won’t chip! I will find out the exact name of the primer and type of paint. I did a ceramic tile floor in Pasadena 20 years ago. Not one chip!

  15. hong kong property

    the kitchen is looking real nice!;)

  16. Tara Dillard

    Me again, days later !

    Been thinking about your color F&B Hardwick White all during my 5 mile woodland walks at Stone Mtn. Park.

    Sold. Using it in the 1940 cottage project I’m starting.

    Amazing how different it looks in each of your pics. If you say 2 decades on the painted tile, I believe you. A stigma removed.

    Happy Fall.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    1. penelopebi

      Be careful Tara! “Hardwick white” is not a “use in every kitchen” color! Just this one! There is no such a thing as “use in every kitchen” color in my book! It all depends.
      In this case; there were already some stainless appliances…….and this house is not a “forties” cottage!

      I probably would say to paint…..but send me pics if you want to know what color! My brother had some stainless appliances already………so that is my practical approach. If there are no new appliances……..I would have different ideas!
      (And I would not recommend Stainless appliances for a forties cottage kitchen! ) Please send pictures……and then I can make recommendations!

      this entire exercise was to demonstrate that not every kitchen that looks bad; needs remodeling. Cosmetics can be very effective. Coming will be the “nightmare from hell “fifties” kitchen in our house in Pasadena (the owners never went in to the kitchen……they buzzed) Everyone who saw it thought it had been remodeled! Once again; “Paint magic”! Different colors for different places! I am so excited for a “forties Cottage”!!!

  17. Kathy Avakian

    You make a good point about trying to get a color by mixing up a different brand of paint. The paint stores always swear they can do it successfully but as you know and I have learned the hard way, if there is a color you like by one brand, stick with the brand rather than try to make the same color using a totally different brand.

  18. Cecelia DuPriest

    I bet Penny wishes she had listened to you YeArS ago…
    Sort of like what Erma Bombecck used to say… it is so funny that we get our cars and houses all fixed up in order to sell them instead of fixing them up early on and enjoying them…
    The kitchen looks fabulous. I did not know there was paint for tile that actually worked…

  19. Joni Webb

    whoa. whoa. that is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I really believe in paint too, but wow. i can’t get over this!!!! i love the painted floor – now, that i wouldn’t believed would look soooooo great!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I am drooling. great job.

    cote de texas

    1. penelopebi

      Thank you so much! Coming from you! Yowzers!!

  20. Michele

    I am now inspired to take on my original 1932 kitchen cabinets – which I love but need refreshing. I am wondering about painting the vintage tile kitchen counters as they are so worn. What do you think?

    1. penelopebi

      I cannot imagine they look worse than my brother’s floor! Just make sure you get the right advice on the preparation; the primer, and the proper paint! (Ask a respected paint store or hardware store!) not a “big box” store.

      Or an accomplished painter…..better yet! If the job is done well; and correctly! you will be “home free”!!!

  21. Heather in Arles

    Oooh, I am so glad that I didn’t miss this! It gave me just the right kick in the pants that I needed. 🙂

    I am also a big believer in the power of paint. When you have a tiny budget, you have to believe…

    A very fun post, Penelope, thank you!

  22. Blooming Rose Musings

    I am over from Jermaine’s lovely blog and the timing couldn’t be better. I am a big fan of F&B’s Hardwick White. And, you have given me the inspiration to get busy and repaint my home office. I needed that push!
    I also want to express my delight in seeing the Farmhouse on Jermaine’s blog. It is truly exquisite in every way. So very lovely to see.

  23. lissy parker

    This is Beautiful—oh the power of paint! Your sister-in-law did a great job!

  24. Family Vacation Ideas

    This is very intriguing, You are a quite skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to looking for far more of your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your internet web site in my social networks!

  25. Millie

    Nothing more to add here except if my Man-of-The-House EVER sees this post, the desperately overdue total gut job & rebuild of our digusting c1972 kitchen is off. Great job you 2 gals, & yep, a syndicated TV show is a must, Martha & Nate had better watch out Penelope!
    Millie x

    1. penelopebi

      Maybe all it needs is paint!!!!


    2. penelopebi

      so cute of you! Millie!
      My painter said today; (I swear to God) “You should be on TV doing these real makeovers for real people! I can travel!! More people need to see what you do with paint; and affordable techniques!! when we finish a project; it makes me really sad that more people cannot see how you can transform a really bad room into something great!!!! I see it, you see it, your client sees it…..and that is about it!

      You transform the dumb rooms using paint!!! And your imagination!! Now that would make a really great reality show!!
      Yes; I have added him to my will!!!

      I swear to God he said that this afternoon! 4:00 pm. Honest.

      Have painter , will travel reads the card of a woman……..

      Tee hee!

  26. Tony Whyte

    The New Kitchen is remarkable very different..such an improvement! It is just amazing how it looks… that it’s the same room… and now so appealing.

    I did get this before and was totally impressed. Thank you for all the help you gave Diana…

    As I do not generally respond to Blogs, this inspired me to tell you what I really think.


  27. Sherry

    Hi Penelope, Jermaine sent me over and I am so glad she did! Beautiful kitchen transformation. I will be happy to be your adopted sister anytime you want rearrange my house and pictures. Now following.

Leave a Reply

Gallery  -    Blog  - Press -  Contact