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Brightening up some kitchen shelves

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about one of our renovations projects, a bedside chest of drawers that we repainted in three pastel shades. This time the renovation project is a set of kitchen shelves that look rather tired and worn. The shelves were made up several years ago from one of those self assembly kits from B&Q. I always meant to either paint or varnish them but never quite got around to it. The shelves have moved house a few times as well as acquiring various marks, so I thought it was finally time to apply a little attention with a paintbrush.

kitchen shelves

The raw material…

We browsed the paint selection in Homebase once more, having again decided to play around with a multi-colour finish.  The idea was to choose three colours with a warm, Mediterranean feel that we could later pick up in other pieces in the kitchen. We have another larger shelf unit of similar vintage and a table and chairs that might benefit from an overhaul in the future. Without being too ‘matchy matchy’ about it, I think it would be possible to link these items together in a coherent way. Well, that’s our design theory anyway, let’s see what we can come up with over the next few months. After much humming and hawing we plumped for the shades shown here (match pot sizes) in a matt emulsion. We chose Moroccan Red, Zest and Village Green. The names alone sounded quite evocative, but that’s us falling for cynical marketing ploys I suppose.

This project was slated to be started right at the beginning of the school holidays but somehow it got pushed further and further back until it was no longer really even summer. Thus, one fine morning last week I cleared the pots and pans off the unit in a determined fashion and took it into the back garden for a scrub and sand down. The wood has never been painted or varnished and the surface is quite smooth so I didn’t really need to do too much preparation on the shelves. Fortunately I didn’t have any filling to do either, only a certain amount of residue from some stickers to remove.


Yet more match pots…

As before, I decided to give a base or undercoat to the wood before I started applying the colours. I haven’t used a specific primer, just a white matt emulsion to give a good surface to work on later. So far, I’ve only put one coat of white paint on, but I might do one more before starting on the colours. I’m undecided about how much grain I want showing through on the finished surface. As I don’t want a surface that looks too ‘finished’ I may end up leaving it at one base coat. Fortunately the weather held long enough for the scrubbing, sanding and painting process in the garden and I returned the shelves to the kitchen in the short-term.

For now, the saucepans are back in place until I earmark another day in the weekly routine to complete the next stage. If the dry weather holds, the Curiously, Creatively team may be in paint-a-thon mode at the weekend in a bid to get the task completed. That is, unless we get distracted by another activity. There are lots of jobs that need doing in the garden at the moment! But, for now here’s the stage I’m at: one partly finished piece of kitchen furniture which already looks brighter and fresher than it did before.

white painted shelves

The half-way stage

As I’ve said before, any painting tips are more than welcome as we’re working in an experimental, see what works, see what effects we can obtain, sort of way.

A Little Spot of Painting: Bedside Cabinet

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This furniture painting project has been lurking in the wings for a long while. The paintwork on the chest was faded and coffee stained (I will confess that as the chest lives on my side of the bed, any beverage staining is entirely my fault) and in need of a pick me up. An earlier paint job done by He Who Put The Shelves Up had been in different colours due to using up paint oddments. It therefore seemed to me to be a good idea to continue the multi colour theme and the broad colour and tonal range. I forgot to take a ‘before’ picture, but if I say that the piece had been painted in pastel shades of green and blue (vinyl silk I think) you will have an idea of the appearance. I can’t remember exactly where we bought the  cabinet from originally, but it was a second-hand piece that just needed smartening up a bit.

Painted Bedside Cabinet

Three Colour Harmony

I chose to use match pots of paint for this project, and having a rather economical view I bought from the Homebase range of colours. After much deliberation, my final choice was mat emulsion in Amethyst, Pale Green and Cobalt. After cleaning and sanding down the chest, I painted one coat of white matt that I happened to have in. I don’t know that it was really necessary to do so but it seemed a good idea to start with a clean slate, so to speak. Then I painted the back in green, the sides in blue and the top and front framework in the Amethyst.

As you can see from the photographs, I became a bit carried away with the drawer fronts and used all three colours. In the end, I gave all the sections three coats of paint because the wood seemed to drink up the paint. I know that the choice of paint probably should have been a gloss or satin but I wanted a matt finish so I experimented with trying this paint on the wood. I think it worked well, and with a reasonable cost of three small pots of paint it resulted in a bright, fresh piece of furniture.

Drawer Handles

Drawer Detail

My guilty secret (but not for much longer) is that I didn’t paint inside any further than I needed to for appearances sake. I did all of the edges and the drawer runners but stopped short of painting inside the drawers and main framework. One issue that I didn’t sufficiently take into account was that the finish needed to be coffee stain proof, so the nice matt finish had to be given a light seal with clear varnish. Again I used a Homebase product, choosing the quick drying clear varnish with a satin finish. The protected surface was much more practical from the bedside cuppa point of view, two coats being applied overall.

Cabinet Side View

I like the fashion for the chalk finish paints, but at about £5 for a match pot, the paint I used made for a cheaper version and there’s no reason to suppose that it won’t last well (or at least until I fancy a change of colour scheme). We’ve got in mind to paint some kitchen shelves next, so that will be the follow-up project to this one and we have even already agreed on the colours so keep an eye out for further painting blog posts. I might even experiment with the chalk paints at some point. I am intrigued by the claims that they cover any surface with no sanding required at all. It almost sounds too good to be true.

PS I have indeed managed to dribble coffee on the newly painted surface, much to my dismay. The cheering news is that it wiped off easily thanks to the varnished finish. I must however attempt to be more careful in future after going to all of the effort to jazz up the cupboard in the first place. Please note that these snaps were taken while the surfaces were still pristine!

If you have got any paint projects on at the moment or any useful hints and tips, then please let us know…

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