Andi's Kitchen: All the Pretty Colors

Renovation Diary

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Name: Andi Forker
Type of Project: Kitchen Renovation — full gut remodel
Location: San Francisco, California
Type of building: 1890's Victorian condo

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

We spent this week painting. This is our hallway, the painting project that enamored us of Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe (the top field). Lamproom Gray by Farrow & Ball is in the bottom field.

Here is our full list of colors:

Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball in modern emulsion for the walls
Lamproom Gray by Farrow & Ball in modern emulsion for the textured wall paper (historic Lincrusta)
Halo by C2 Paint in semi-gloss for the trim
Pearl by C2 Paint in flat finish for the ceiling & stove nook
Oval Room Blue by Farrow & Ball in estate eggshell for the vintage buffet & hutch (not yet painted)
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This is our kitchen at the beginning of the week, now opened up to the hallway on the left.

"House Beautiful: Colors for Your Home" is a little book in which accomplished designers reveal their go-to colors (much like the column in the magazine). It gives me great ideas and has never led me astray. I regularly give it as a housewarming gift and everyone tells me how helpful it is, which of course I already know. It was in this book’s pages that I first read about Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe two years ago when picking colors for my serpentine Victorian hallway (you can read about that process here).

Down Pipe is dark charcoal; chalky like a blackboard and sooty like a spent campfire. It is definitely a leap of faith to paint a room almost-black, but I am sure glad we bought a sample pot and tested it. We ended up painting the top field of our hallway in Down Pipe and it quickly became our favorite color in the apartment. Now that the kitchen is open to the hall, it makes sense to expand the Down Pipe onto the kitchen walls. I think it will provide crisp contrast with our white cabinets, trim, and ceiling, and give the kitchen a sophisticated, urban vibe.

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I tested a few colors before picking Oval Room Blue for the vintage buffet (bottom color). Oval Room Blue has a Swedish county-look that I like, and also pops against the gray walls.

I am no pro on painting, but have painted about 5,000 square feet of Victorian walls in my apartment. My best tip is to buy a paint brush that is good for edges (I like the Purdy brand 1.5” medium stiff nylon/polyester brush). I do not use blue painter’s tape anymore — it is too much work to put up, sometimes has leaky edges, pulls paint off the wall when removed, and I get a similar clean line by being careful and using a brush made for edges.

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We painted Down Pipe on all walls that will be exposed after the cabinets, tile and trim are installed. The chalky white ceiling in C2 Paint’s Pearl is gorgeous.

In our apartment there are layers of lead and oil paint on every surface. We have friends who have tackled the painstaking process of removing all of the old paint on their millwork, with crisp and clean results. We contemplated that option, but decided to take the easy road and paint over the layers. It is simpler and healthier than releasing all of that lead paint dust in the air. Because of the lead/oil paint, we always prime before applying a new coat of paint to prevent peeling and chipping down the road. This takes time — in fact, it took most of the weekend to paint the ceiling, trim, walls, doors and baseboards in the kitchen.

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Looking toward the kitchen from the front hallway, the “new” utility room door shines in C2 Paint's Halo..

We also set out to buy our stone counters this weekend. We already ordered a zinc countertop for the island, but we need to purchase something simple and complementary for the counters along the walls. I was thinking that a quartz product in white would be durable, modern and timeless. We went to a marble showroom and got a quote of $2,000 for a remnant piece of ¾” Cesaerstone in Pure White, including fabrication and installation. We need 24 square feet of stone, so this is about $85 per square foot. I had a hard time committing to it. Because Cesaerstone is a common and consistent product, I feel the need to comparison shop first.

Dean, perplexed by my inability to purchase the counter top that we have been discussing for months, drove us to another marble showroom around the corner. There I saw a marble called Snow White of Thassos and I fell in love. It had a depth and subtle pattern that Quartz products do not have, but it was still a crisp white solid surface. Of course marble is not reputed to be as durable as quartz, and I would have to buy a whole slab of this product (cost = $1,800, in addition to fabrication and installation costs of about $1,300). I was royally confused and needed to go home for a glass of wine.

We still have not chosen a counter top and need to start the installation process in 10 days. It is top priority for next week.

Estimated time for project: 9 weeks
Time remaining: 4 weeks

Check out the full series (so far) and be sure to join us next week for #9 of Andi's Diary.

(Images and diary text: Andi Forker)

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