If you have no interest whatsoever in a kitchen reno, save some precious times and don’t scroll. But, in case you ever wanted to lighten wood–you probably should continue.

Almost a year before our wedding Ryan and I bought a 5-acre wilderness. literally. The split level house lost behind garbage bags filled with Diet Pepsi cans (true story) and grass that hadn’t seen a lawn mower for years. The tenants were known as drug dealers and had 2 large Ukrainian dogs in the house. My heart still breaks remembering the toys scattered below the knuckle holes punched through the dry wall. This house has been prayed over, cried over and celebrated. It truly was a gift from God and the view we wake up to each morning, worth it.

The first steps included
–tearing out the carpeting, which included the bathrooms AND kitchen
–removing several walls
–installing a beam in the kitchen
–new flooring throughout
–painting every single surface.
All this during a 5 month engagement and the busiest time of the year for Abiart. Yes, we were in love and crazy. Shout out to the best family and friends who scrubbed, installed tile, killed snakes (outside the house) and brought weedeaters.

Nearly 2 years later we finally tackled those nasty cabinets. The smokey blue countertops and dark cabinets, now matching the floor had to go. The budget didn’t allow for new cabinets, so we committed to creativity and hours of elbow grease. Ryan, bless his dear heart, spent an entire day sanding the cabinets. Plans had been to sand everything but discovered our island ends were made of particle board which proved unsandable. We both agreed on one color – Balsamic Branch, [brand:: Do it Best, Best Look] even the name sounds cool, right? It was a blessing in disguise, we both love the pop it adds to the neutral kitchen.

PROCESS The red oak cabinets had deep pink tones after sanding and looked terrible with the concrete countertop we had chosen–but hey, gone was the dark chocolate stain. Ryan discovered a youtube recipe for DIY wood bleach, removing any color tones. The needed pool shock could not be found in the dead of winter… in Ohio, but we discovered this days before Ryan left for 2 weeks of Hurricane Harvey relief work in Texas– perfect! After he returned we mixed our first batch and were thrilled with the results. 3 coats later, a final light sand and top coat– we were happy. Raw, natural and complimented by the concrete. The dark stain remained in the wood grain, adding a dramatic flair.

OPEN SHELVING We also removed 3 top cabinets and installed open shelving. One day we stopped at a local dry kiln for “2 shelves” and left with an entire bunk of rough cut maple–for free, saving it from the burn pile. The metal brackets + screws from a local hardware were a $12 investment. Hallelujah! Note:: family who travels the world and bring home gifts are the best! Thanks mom for the real olive wood cutting board, and dear sister Grace for the Turkeyish coffee grinder + maker.

BACKSPLASH The lovely fruit and vegetable decals on the tan tile backsplash were covered with a white silicone-base paint which has held up beautifully. It will stay plain jane, for now.
COUNTERTOP Our neighbor, Andrew Weaver, made/installed custom countertops, the patterns + color options endless. Best neighbor award! Thank you Andrew for the hard work and wife Wilma for the late nights. For more info, email andrewjrw@icloud.com or comment below. We chose a bit of white to lighten the gray and smooth edges vs. live edge. The island now has a curved, elegant edge instead of the original rectangle shape, but the quest for completion continues… still searching for the perfect set of white corbels and industrial bar chairs. Meanwhile I’ll keep rearranging the shelves and attempt to not burn dinner.
Hardware Source

  1. All those hours of hard work paid off – good job!

    I especially liked the contrasted cabinets. I wouldn’t have thought it would ‘go’ but it does look intentional; not mis matched!

    I was looking at your knife block. We need to replace our set after eight years of hard use. What kind are they?

    1. Hi Shannon, thank you for the kind words. We bought ours at Kohls, brand Chicago Cutlery for under $100 and I love it. They told me that is their top brand, I esp. like the built-in knife sharpener.

  2. May I ask how your bleached cabinets have held up? Has there been any yellowing affect over time since you did apply a the top coat? I can not find the bleached out barnwood color I’m looking for on new cabinets. I’ve run across several builders that have used the cabinet color I want and only disclose either a “bleach technique” or “add white paint to the top coat”. Thanks for any feedback on your cabinets Ü

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