Customizing the Builder Grade

We’ve lived in our house for 4 years. The starter kitchen that I thought I could deal with is now driving me insane.  It feels dark and moody, not bright and refreshing. And now that we don’t have immediate plans to move, it’s time to add some custom touches to our builder grade finishes. Starting with our Kitchen.

The Banquette will be finished by our anniversary, believe you me. And along with the Banquette, our kitchen’s getting a face lift. The only reason we haven’t done this sooner? We were worried about the appeal of painted cabinets for resale. But we’ve done some research and looked at some options for moving. We could move to a bigger house with my dream kitchen, a fourth bedroom and a bigger yard, for sure. But B and I have pretty big financial goals for our future and at this point we’d rather put our extra money each month into retirement, savings and college funds.  So why not just stay in this house that we LOVE for a few years longer than expected, put some cash into upgrading the things that we don’t love, and live really well within our means until our means allow us to buy a house with a big kitchen island and a 4th bedroom?

So, our “Walnut” kitchen cabs are going white. Yay. I’m adding crown moulding to the tops of the cabinets, and I’m toying with the idea of beadboarding the sides facing out and adding a subway tile backsplash. But we’ll see on that step. And for the big money portion, we’re replacing the countertops.

I’ve narrowed down my search to the eco-friendly Quartz options in a concrete gray (I’ve heard a lot about radon off-gassing from Granite lately and am just not gonna go that route). Now we’re just getting bids from the different brands before we purchase. I’m very excited about the project


  1. Love your plans! Can’t wait to see it finished.

  2. Sounds like fun! I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

  3. Oh, fun! Our dining room table is quartz and we both love it so, so much. I’m sure your kitchen will look awesome when you guys are done! And that will make it a huge selling point when you are ready to move. (I’m ready for you to move any time now…)

  4. You and I are on the same train!

    I’ll post some updates as we get through the rest of the cabinets, but I am liking the Ace Hardware Cabinet Enamel that I’m using–the only pain is that it starts drying within 30 seconds or so, so you have to work fast…but you have to wait a full 24 hours in between coats.

  5. I actually have a friend who did the research for EPA on the radon in granite countertops. After everything I’ve read I would avoid granite if possible. Love the white cabinets!

  6. This is awesome! I’m super excited for you and can’t wait to see it all come together. And, I’m still pscyched to see that banquette, too. Yippee!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Very fun! I just redid my kitchen from scratch (had to, the previous owners removed the entire kitchen!). We went with Caesarstone countertops. We’ve had them for about 6 months and LOVE them! My hubby is pretty messy, and when he doesn’t wipe up, spills don’t leave a stain. We just clean them with any product, and they look good as new. It’s pricey, but I think well worth it! –Jillian

  8. How exciting!! Can’t wait to see the finished product!!

  9. oooo! I’m very much going to enjoy this adventure! Love the inspiration!!

  10. Oh I love this! I bet it will make such a huge difference in the space and I can’t wait to see it come together. Not to mention that banquette….it will be like a brand new kitchen!

  11. Yay! I can’t wait to see! That backsplash is the someone I did. I love it and it was kinda fun installing it. It didn’t take long, nor was it pricey. I got the tile at HD, it wasn’t much but my tip is to buy twice as much as you need then sort through the boxes. Some tiles are way more yellow and red then gray/blue/white (which is what I wanted). I repacked the boxes and HD let me return them no problem.

  12. OOOOOOOOOOO…..cannot wait to see this unfold. I love love love white kitchens (you may have noticed from my pinterest board). Good for you for changing it to something YOU love! 🙂

  13. You will love your cabinets painted. I was amazed at how much bigger my kitchen looks with the oak cabinets gone. New countertops, applicances, and backsplash are on my wish lish. I look forward to seeing how your kitchen turns out.

  14. Can’t wait to follow you along with this project. I can’t wait to redo our kitchen!

  15. I’m excited to see this all come together! And I vote a huge YES on the beadboard. 🙂

  16. Exciting! Can’t wait to see it all come together! Just curious though as to why painting cabinets might affect resale? Personally, given the choice between ugly cabinets and painted cabinets, I would choose painted cabinets all day, everyday. I’m strange though, so I guess I’m not a “typical” buyer.

  17. Longbrake – I guess my concern was more about what would appeal to the typical buyer, and lots of people like wood kitchens. There’s nothing inherently offensive about our cabinets, they’re just not my preference, but they’re a current cabinet and color many people choose in newer homes. When this house was just our starter home, we didn’t want to take the risk.

  18. What’s awesome about you is that you post your plans and I know that soon enough, we’ll get some After pics. I totally support painted cabinets and I know the backsplash will kill it. It will look so bright and new and awesome.

  19. Those changes will make SUCH a difference & won’t do a number on your wallets! Can’t wait to see the after! It’s a makeover that would appeal to me as a buyer for sure.

    Mr. FC’s a geologist & he can talk for days about granite off-gassing (talk about a hawt topic). It’s like the Kryptonite of countertops.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Quartz countertops have the same issue with radon as granite countertops.