Makeover - Painting Kitchen Units with Farrow & Ball

April 25, 2017

{The Big colour reveal - Farrow & Ball Downpipe. After}

We kept our island from our last kitchen {you can read the story behind it below} yet knew that we wanted a different colour scheme this time around. Ben's Uncle who is making the rest of our kitchen will be painting the other units but we needed to sort having our island repainted. Last week she had her makeover and since then a few of you have requested this blog post on repainting kitchen cabinets so I thought I'd share some tips, and photos of the before/during stage below;

{Farrow & Ball Mouses Back. Before.}

This was the island in our last house topped with oak;

Ben's lovely Uncle Philip makes incredible kitchens up in Scotland. He's had Duchesses in Castles as his clients and only makes around 5-6 kitchens per year. He very kindly agreed to make one for our last house {here} - a Victorian terrace which was on a bit of a different scale to the castles he usually fits them in!} which we thought we'd live in for a long time. When we moved house just a couple of years later, one of the first phone calls we made was to Phil again very apologetically asking if there was anyway he could make us another kitchen for our new house - one that we promised we'd be in forever and ever this time! Luckily he agreed, woop! But one of the things we offered to do to help make it a lesser job was to take our kitchen island he had made for the last house with us. We loved that kitchen so much and didn't want to leave a beautiful piece of furniture, which to us had a lot of meaning, to the new owners who wouldn't appreciate the family connection. So we outlined from the start when selling our house that the island would be coming with us, we ended up replacing it in a similar looking Wickes kitchen {called Heritage} and left the piece of oak worktop with it. It looked fine for the new owners and meant we had an island that would reduce Phil's workload, and cost, for the new kitchen. So, long story short, we've had this island moving around with us during all the building works. But we always knew we wanted a different colour scheme this time around

I loved that kitchen so much! You can see more on it here. The island previously was in Farrow & Ball Mouse's Back, a greeny hue which Phil had sprayed when making it.

Whilst I loved the green, we needed something stronger this time. It's a large room which will have light walls and floor so we wanted something to ground the room. I've talked before about choosing colours with Farrow & Ball {here} and I'd had my heart set on something dark for the island for a while. We've got Downpipe in our dining room {a room that's been half renovated, half filled with storage whilst we have no kichen} and I really love the colour. It's a classic dark lead grey that has blue undertones. I was also tempted with Railings though although when tested it came out a little too black and flat. I like that Downpipe takes on different hues with different lights/throughout the day. It also goes with so many colours and looks great with wood and antique brass which we had planned for other elements of the kitchen.

So with the new colour chosen it was time to give the island her makeover. We decided to pay our decorator to do this for us. The island will be the focal point of the room and hopefully will last us for many years if done properly so for us paying a decorator for a few days work was more than worth it for the best finish compared to if Ben or I had attempted to do it! But you may be better with paint than us. Ben's Uncle will be spraying the rest of the kitchen units before he brings them down so it was just the island we had to get painted.

I've asked Cooper, our chief decorator for some tips. He tells me that; First of all you'll need to prep it, all of the knobs and plugs/items will need to be taken off. We emptied the island and took all the drawers out.

Then it will need sanding so that the protective lacquer coat it had previously is taken off and you have a keyed surface for the new paint to stick to.

Next it will need priming/undercoating. If you're going for a dark colour on top then use a dark undercoat and for a lighter colour use a light toned undercoat. Our decorator mixed his own undercoat between a mixture of the two. Once primed you'll see which parts need filling so he then spent a while filling any dents/holes and waited for that to dry. Once dry he sanded it back, primed those parts again and then checked he was happy it was smooth. 

He likes to use rollers rather than a brush so you don't get brush marks. It was also great that we could get it outside to sand/paint to protect the floors inside. And also you'll want to make sure you're in a dust free environment or it will stick to the paint and you'll need to rub it down again.

Once everything was primed and smooth he painted the first coat of Farrow & Ball Downpipe in Estate Eggshell on - this is a water based paint ideal for indoor woodwork. With a high pigmented paint you will definitely need at least two coats to get a true colour. The first coat may look different to what you expect but it will also dry a bit darker.  

At first it looked a bit teal like but gradually as it dried and the second coat got applied it got that trademark deep colour that Downpipe is famed for.

For 2 coats on the island we've used just over 2.5litres of paint so far. We'll probably need just under 5l overall. Depending on the size of your project you may need more or less.

We decided that until the kitchen and building work is properly finished, the island will probably get moved around a bit whilst the floors are being sanded etc so for now we've left it at two coats. But once everything is finished Cooper will come back to finish it with another coat, perhaps two. Because we've used eggshell paint it should be strong enough to withstand any knocks but if you've got a really high traffic area you may want to apply a protective lacquer over the top. If you're using an oil based eggshell paint then it could take weeks to dry. Farrow & Ball paints are very environmentally friendly so they only use water based paints.

I didn't want to leave the island outside to the elements so we've bought her back inside and covered her over for now.

I really really love the colour, she's been transformed! Amazing how the same piece of furniture can look so different in a different colour. I can't wait to change the hardware to antique brass and get some worktops. We're going to have a bit of an overhang for the stalls {from Loaf here}  so we can sit at the island this time. Although with an overhang and the stalls I'm conscious that I don't want to cover too much of the colour up! But people have assured me you'll still see it.

Dreaming of the day we have a finished kitchen and I can sit up at the island and admire it all. The rest of the units arrive on the 20th May so hopefully everything else will be finished by then eeek {in my head I'm expecting it all to be actually finished sometime in June and the utility as and when}.

We've used Farrow & Ball eggshell paint in Downpipe here.

R <3 xx

{with thanks to Farrow & Ball for providing our paint. It's a brand I've loved and used for years and years and as always would never promote something that I wouldn't pay for myself}.

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  1. Beautiful - My new favourite f&b colour having just finished the paneling in the cloakroom - next project will be the kitchen island I think

  2. It looks stunning! Did your decorater paint the whole island in one day?


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