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April 03, 2018

The School House Kitchen | Blue Painted Cabinets

Yesterday we had our first day of operations at the School House.  We're working on getting organized and set up this week.  On Thursday morning, I'll launch the new "School House Blue" Block Prints that you've seen previewed on Instagram.  In celebration, I thought I'd share some more details on the kitchen transformation there.

We looked at the School House last fall just a couple of days after it came for sale and I knew exactly what I'd do with the kitchen - I'd paint it Navajo White, put in wood tops, replace the appliances.  Done.  Exactly like our real kitchen at home, but with a more country flair.  Perfectly perfect and predictable. 

Tessa ( kept sending me inspiration photos of dusty blue painted rooms.  A blue kitchen?  That seems a little wild, right?  I wasn't sure it would be the perfectly neutral backdrop that I wanted.  I typically like really creamy neutrals with touches of seasonal colors in the form of tea towels and flowers.  

Then, as we spent more time here this little place started to speak to me a little more.  Something about it just seemed like it needed some character and charm.  It is, after all, a One Room Rural School House  (read details, here).  One afternoon it just clicked.  Why not?  Why couldn't I have a little fun with the paint in a country kitchen of my business's new home?!  

The truth is, this kitchen needed the blue.  The huge windows, the simple layout, the only lower cabinetry, which feels very old fashioned and shaker-esque.  It needed to feel special and charming and country.  

This was the most rewarding kitchen renovation in history.  We lucked out on having great quality cabinets in a simple style that just needing painting.  Because of that, I was able to splurge on the appliances, really the only big expense.  We did make some little tweaks to the cabinets to give them more of the Shaker look that I was after (adding furniture baseboard + wood knobs), more details and step-by-step of that below.

Overall, we spent about $3,000 to completely transform this kitchen.  Yep!  I did some major research on appliances, which were a big expense, and found great deals on really great looking ones.  Resources and all kitchen details are below!

Before :  It started as a very 90's pre-fabbed looking kitchen.  Dark, factory finished stained cabinetry with brushed nickel pulls, a beige solid surface countertop, and hand-me-down white appliances.  

Putting an inspiration board together always helps me solidify my vision.  On my Mac, I alter the images in Preview (adjust color, crop, etc.), then put them in Pages for the layout.  

Resources : 

Paint : Benjamin Moore Puritan Grey 
I went round and round with colors.  Everything that looked a little blue was a lot blue when I painted the sample.  This cool, neutral grey has just slight undertones of blue on the swatch (if any), but perfectly blue when on the cabinets.  I used a satin... but sort of wished I'd used a semi-gloss.

*I don't know why, but when we bought this exact range, it was on sale for $750.  It is now $2,000... sorry!  But, we do love it and I LOVE the look.  We didn't have a gas line, so I needed an electric range that had the look of a professional one.  This fit the bill and was perfectly in budget... when we bought it.  Sorry : )

This was the biggest chunk of our budget.  I couldn't go too low on the price, because I needed counter-depth (our fuse box is next to it).  It is a great refrigerator - the best priced with all of the elements I needed.  $1,200

Ikea Wood Tops : Karlby
We had Ikea Wood Tops in our kitchen in Concord, Ma.  We spent about $300 + $200 to have them installed by a local carpenter.  They are exactly what the kitchen needed.  They warm up the blue grey nicely and complete the classic Shaker look.  

I knew I wanted Oil Rubbed fixture in here - it just felt right.  I also knew I wanted porcelain knobs.  I tried to find the most classic, simple, country faucet I could to fit the kitchen.  I wanted to avoid the bridge like I have in our kitchen, but now I'm not so sure : )   I do like the look, but I'm not 100% in love with this faucet.  I feel like it might be a little 1990.  Thoughts?

Here are some inspiration photos for the right Blue.

I also came across this quilt at a local Lexington store.  I loved the blue.


To really see the color choices, I painted the back of a cabinet drawer front and sections of the baseboard and windows.  Paint can look so different in different spots, this can really help.  These were all too grey, too purple, too green...

Can you believe how some blue grey paint transformed this into a charming country kitchen?  As I mentioned, the cabinets were already a great style, but they didn't really look like it because of the dark stained factory finish.  

In a few months, we'll make a hood for over the stove that fits the style of the kitchen.

The windows are outragous.

We installed peg rails along here and have brooms and mops hanging here now.

This is the original library of the school house (the kitchen being a work room for the teacher).

I love the patina of the original stained wood.

 The wood stained doors also give some needed warmth amongst the blue.

Here is a photo of us mid-progress.  You can see how the blue didn't look great right away... it made the counters look pink, and the brushed nickel/pewter makes the blue look dull.

We took all of the cabinets, drawer fronts and hardware off, then primed.  We painted a high-bond primer, then applied 2 coats of the paint on the base and cabinets and drawer fronts... both sides.

The real game changer was adding the furniture base at the bottom of the cabinets.  If there is a space underneath it is called a toe kick.

We built out the the base with some blocks to have something to attach the trim baseboard pieces.

The baseboard gives it a really clean, built-in look.  We did a similar look in our own home. 

We're having a great week at The School House getting everything ready and are officially all set to start shipping out orders. 

I'll see you Thursday morning for the new Light Blue Block Print Linens launch!


  1. The blue is simply adorable. A beautiful choice. I like the faucet as well. It doesn't scream 90's to me.

  2. It is so cozy and lovely. Wonderful and inviting. Love it all. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. It looks fabulous - I am curious as to why you went with an electric range instead of an induction? I am getting ready for a total kitchen reno and we don't have gas in our town. I have cooked on electric for years and do not like it so I am going to get induction. I'm curious if there is something I don't know about induction that you might shed some like on. Thanks.

  4. I think you did an excellent job! You totally kept the schoolhouse charm but in an updated way. I am especially jealous of your existing beautiful schoolhouse doors and bookcases. I have been searching for a similar but smaller (24") door for my new pantry but alas the size is very hard to find. I will be recreating the look myself with a new door. Enjoy your new space!
    Stacey Trap

  5. Did you make the long peg rail or buy it? I would love the DIY tutorial or the source. Thanks!


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