Kitchen painting, by way of attic insulation

It took 2 years and 8 months of living with a disgusting kitchen color to finally DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

You never saw proper photos of our kitchen before, because I was embarrassed over the paint color. I would literally apologize to new guests about it. Wait, you saw me stand against one of the walls when I posted my Emery dress a year ago, and I even apologized for the color in that post! I filled it with cute vintage kitchen items and I still was too embarrassed to photograph it.

You can see the gross green that we let ourselves live with for nearly three years, in a photo I shared in my first kitchen post. Trust me, it was more green and more drab in person. And while you can’t really tell, the beige on the soffit and below the chair rail has a pink undertone. Gray green and pink beige, which both made the grayish back splash look even more drab. It was a one-two punch of blah.

kitchen when we moved in

The previous owner was a nice elderly woman who raised two kids in this house, but she certainly didn’t have my taste in paint color and finish. Every single room in the house was semi-gloss. Every. room. And every color was ugly. It all seemed to have either a grayish or pinkish undertone, too. Unless it was actually painted pink, which one bedroom and the hallway were.

We were lazy farts and did nothing about the kitchen color for nearly three years. For a long time I even refused to put anything up on the walls, figuring it would spur us on to paint. I don’t know why, but it didn’t. Lazy farts, like I said. Really, we have no excuse, especially considering how much we loathed that color.

Then my dad came in December to help blow in a massive amount of cellulose insulation into the attic. Since you access the attic through the broom closet in the kitchen, and we were making a mess anyway, to me it seemed like the perfect time to buckle down and paint!


Blowing in cellulose insulation isn’t that big of a deal as we all learned, nor was it actually that messy inside the house, until the point that my insulation-covered dad had to get back down out of the attic into the kitchen. πŸ˜‰

And it was plenty messy out on the deck, where Mel had the labor-intensive job of adding the insulation to the hopper. The tube from the hopper just came into the house via the back door, straight through the kitchen and up into the attic via the broom closet. We locked our cat Dinah in another room during all this, and our dog Pia mostly hovered around me wondering what all the noise and ordeal was.



Beforehand, my dad did all the research, including recommended level of insulation for our climate. All said and done, we brought our attic up to around R60 (which will probably only mean something to you if you’ve ever had insulation put in). It’s a far cry from the piddly amount of insulation that was up there before, which wasn’t even a few inches deep. Now it’s something like 15″ deep or so.

Want to know what that much insulation looks like piled up on our deck?

insulation bags

I had the easiest jobβ€”I was working during the day, but just had to occasionally turn back on breakers after they tripped them, until we finally put my dad’s 500 watt halogen work lamp on a different breaker, and put the insulation hopper on the 20-amp breaker for the washing machine. So there were a few phone calls between my dad up in the attic and me telling him the status of things. I think in total it all only took about 4 hours. And we should see a nice improvement in the heating and cooling costs as a result!

While we were planning the details on the insulation project and a few other fix-its my dad was helping out with, I made a pit stop in the paint department at Home Depot to get samples for the kitchen. And then stared and stared and flip-flopped about them for the next few days! Below is the four samples. It’s the same color above and below the chair rail, for reference. I did that because even in this bad photo, you can see the lighting is a little different above and below.


For over a decade I’ve wanted an aqua painted kitchen with red accessories. I made many of the red accessories (and a few aqua) happen back in our condo, but we never painted the kitchen there because it was a galley style and had so little actual wall space that it just never felt like it was worth bothering! So I knew from the second we bought the house that this would be my aqua kitchen! (Um, nearly three years later.)

The fun thing is that I’m pretty sure our kitchen was aqua at some point in its life! Under a phone jack in the kitchen, we found some insanely psychedelic wallpaper remnants and behind that, aqua paint. Who knows when it was from!

old phone jack

I had a really hard time selecting just the right paint color. Our house, much as I love it, is kind of a dark little box that doesn’t get a lot of natural light in most rooms. The eat-in dining area has a south-facing picture window that’s great during the day if it’s sunny, but the lighting in the kitchen is fluorescent lights recessed in the soffit, so nighttime lighting isn’t very becoming. I knew if we went too dark it would shrink the space, plus we’d run the risk of the paint on the soffit looking darker than the rest of the room when the lights were on, which I thought would look weird.

So I waffled and waffled, and walked around carrying aqua things in my hand, comparing it to paint samples. Seriously, I really did!

paint samples for aqua kitchen

What we ended up selecting was a color called Aqua Spray by Behr. And by “we” I mean me, because my dad and Mel both left the final say to me. There was even a phone call to my mom who of course couldn’t see any of this, but that didn’t stop me from asking her opinion. Her reminder not to go too dark kept me from picking the color that was technically the best aqua match, instead picking a shade a touch lighter.

I should mention here that it’s not like we needed my dad in town to paint. I really just wanted his help to move the fridge since he was going to be there anyway, and I was at the “I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS GREEN!” breaking point, anyway. But he’s far too professional to be around a painting job without patching holes, sanding and patching spots of wall you didn’t even notice were lumpy or cracked, and helping out with everything.

Here he is below, working on the tiny back door foyer. The door you see a bit of is the back doorβ€”to its left is the door to the den, and opposite of the back door is the door to the basement. Like I said, tiny foyer.

Feel free to laugh at the amount of crap piled on our poor dinette table during all of this. Also, this gives you a much better idea of what that green looked like when it wasn’t bright daylight.


With three of us working, painting went lickety split. I practically did a dance when we covered the last disgusting spot of green! Because as soon as we started painting it, I knew I absolutely picked the right color, even after only the first coat!


When Mel and I paint, Mel rolls and I’m the one who cuts in. We kept to that routine, and my dad some of both. Here’s my only painting tip: if you’re like me and wear vintage specs, don’t paint in them, no matter how much you’re tempted. I never do it because carved and sometimes rhinestone-filled frames do not play well with paint.

painting our kitchen

The painting went swimmingly. How much better does that soffit look already, below?! The side-by-side comparison still impresses me, even with all the crap out on the counters while we painted.

before and during painting

I’m going to save the paint reveal for next week, where you’ll get a full look at our little kitchen. Suffice it to say that one small paint job and a few new blinds has been a HUGE improvement!

stay tuned

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Golly, 38 Comments!

  • Oooooh, fantastic color! I finally repainted my dining room a light minty green (with red, white and black kitchen—kitschtastic) after a loooong time, and it really does make a difference. I can’t wait to see your finished kitchen pictures—it’s a lovely space! Maybe I’ll eventually get around to painting the dumb living room…


  • That looks so much brighter! I can’t wait to see the reveal — gorgeous colour choice!


  • Very pretty! I want an aqua kitchen too someday. We just painted our kitchen but green (and removed some seriously hideous wallpaper). Unfortunately, the cabinets we have have an odd greenish undertone so aqua wouldn’t have worked. Thankfully, playing into the green tint makes the cabinets look much better so they don’t need to be replaced!


    • Sounds like a nice way to work around greenish cabinets! I think the aqua, while it’s not near the grayish back splash much, hopefully brightens that up a bit too.


  • the colour is awesome, really good decision


  • OMG, it looks like a different kitchen! It’s true that that disgusting green color made it small and almost ugly, but the aqua has transformed it into a beautiful and cozy space. I’m impatient to see the reveal!


    • Thank you! Wish we had more actual wall space in the kitchen proper to bring more of the aqua in, but at least around the window and the soffit it’s a bit help! πŸ™‚


  • Oh its so wonderful & fresh. I have been on an aqua kitchen & accessories kick since I graduated with my BA degree (so yeah quite some time ago). I keep waiting to tire of the color – but so far I haven’t. Such a lovely color. I love how fresh it makes your kitchen. Coordinates with your bathroom now too.

    P.S. I have that same exact hand blender as you too. πŸ˜€ And spatula too I believe (MS line at Macyss? lol)


  • Love the colour! I have a similar shade in my living room and I adore it, it’s my favorite room in the house due to the colour! Can’t wait to see the big reveal it’s going to be fab I know it!!


  • It looks so fresh and bright! You’re going to be doing little happy dances every time you walk into your kitchen for the next while, I’ll bet. πŸ™‚


  • Absolutely divine!!!
    As I scrolled along, I glanced away form my monitor and realized your glorious aqua is an exact match to the color I painted my living room. Hooray for the aqua love! May I also mention that I have complete cabinet envy? My little 40’s house unfortunately has an “updated” kitchen (Translation: Boring 90’s Home Depot stock cabinets and bargain tile. Blegh!) and I’m on a quest to internet stalk those with kitchens far more fabulous than mine for inspiration. I *need* some of those darling, curved open shelves in my kitchen! *swoon*
    Thank you for showing the wonderful transition from blah to fantastic! I look forward to seeing how everything pulls together.

    PS So. Much. Insulation. *thud*


    • Thanks, Lauren! The cabinets are about the only original thing left in the kitchen (I’m so glad to have them), and I feel you on the 90s updates as our appliances are from the 90s and so is our counter top!


  • I had to google with a soffit is, but now that I know, yes, yours looks way better in the after shot! And I love the combo of aqua and red. It’s funny how your house (or at least, your kitchen) now sports the same colors as your blog background.


  • It actually makes me feel A LOT better that we are not the only people who wait lengthy amounts of time to do projects around the house. We’ve been in ours for about 15months and there are still so many things on my ‘list’….


  • Ha, we’ve just been doing very similar! Most of the colour in our kitchen comes from the cabinet doors – they were an overcooked-pea-green similar to yours, which we’ve just painted a deep aqua (Pelorus by Resene, if you’re wondering). We could get away with a stronger colour since it’s broken up by the framing and everything.

    We also highlighted with red – not all the appliances are, but there’s the rubbish bin, the toaster, and the light shades, and I’d like to get a few vintage trays with bright red touches to display on the pelmet above the window.

    The walls were a soft grey courtesy of previous decorators, which we’ve actually left because it’s so subtle you don’t really even notice it (we didn’t realise it was grey until we spied a paint run on the white skirting board) but it makes all the white and blue really pop.

    Isn’t it fun to take away light fittings and see what garish wallpaper used to be up! When I sanded and repainted the cupboard doors I disovered that some used to be bright orange and some used to be daisy yellow. And based on the layers, that was at the same time – terrifying.


    • When we remodeled the bathroom, we discovered a huge piece of wallpaper that was brown, bronze, gold and white with gigantic flowers. Can you imagine that in a tiny bathroom! πŸ˜€

      Your kitchen sounds lovely. Since we don’t have a lot of wall space in the kitchen proper (it’s mostly taken up by the huge back splash), having the red and bit of aqua pops really help bring in the color.


  • Great choice of colour!
    We moved last summer in an ugly green (almost neon) kitchen too. We did’t paint over it yet because I’m not sure what other changes we will do to improve it.


    • I knew we were safe to paint since we don’t have any immediate plans to make changes. Although that still apparently didn’t stop us from waiting nearly 3 years to do it. lol


  • That’s the shade I’d have picked from those four, so that’s good! Much brighter, can’t wait to see the big finish : )


    • Thanks! We definitely picked the right color. Probably a hair less aqua and more turquoise, but it’s the perfect color and brightness! πŸ™‚


  • LOVE the transition! Our kitchen in our house has a distinct 1940s farmhouse vibe…and I am mostly cool with it. Its the one room we haven’t redone yet, and we need to strip wallpaper and do…everything. The cabinets are starting to fall apart a bit, so in order to keep them we are going to need to rebuild some of them. πŸ™ The aqua color you use is one of the colors I was looking at for the cabinetry! Love it!


    • Thanks! Our cabinets are in good condition (well if you don’t include some weird shelf paper and a few drawers that periodically give off a bit of sawdust onto the shelf below, lol), so we plan to keep them and only build additional boxes or shelves if we need to reconfigure anything.

      I think aqua cabinetry looks awesome!


  • So great! I wasn’t such a fan of aqua but since several month i was searching to change my tablecloth from the neon green color that i carry in my kitchen accessory and stuff since many years now. I wanted a new bright color that scream “SPRING” or “SUMMER” in my kitchen during the cold winters. And i took aqua, very bright, and it’s spring and summer at every meal! So perfect!
    It’s so important to feel good and surronded at homme by color that makes you happy!

    The green was similar to this one:


  • I love love love your color choice. I use semi gloss in my house because I like the washability of it and like the light reflection. I don’t know how many places I have lived that had the awful rose beige walls.
    I went with a house of pale blue, white and cream. It took me 8 years to redo the kitchen so 3 years is great.


  • Aqua/turquoise is one of my top five favourite colours of all time and I have always, always wanted a kitchen (or pretty much any room for that matter) in this awesome, feel good shade. The sneak peek is so exciting and already gives us a solid hint of just how gorgeous your kitchen is shaping up to be. I can just imagine how great it must feel to be happy with that room after nearly three years of loathing its colours.

    β™₯ Jessica


  • My kitchen/ dining room is a light aqua colour too, so I heartily approve! It looks wonderful with red accessories too. Great minds…..! x


  • Your new colour looks great – so much fresher! Good call on choosing the slightly lighter shade. I would have picked that one too πŸ™‚ I have a similar aqua/turquoise colour in my bedroom (which I finally decorated last year, after 4 years of avoiding) and I absolutely love it.


  • Lynne Johnson February 8, 2015 at 7:55pm

    Pretty! The new color will look so much better with your kitchen accessories. I can hardly wait for the full reveal. By the way, you mentioned your little home was dark….have you heard of the tube sky lights? My friend put several in her house and her rooms are now bathed in natural light. What an improvement! They are expensive, but make a huge difference!


  • My mom said the same thing when I was choosing paint colors. She said paint always dries darker than you expect so choose a shade lighter. What a relief it must be to have finally painted your kitchen! It definitely looks so much more alive.


  • […] blinds and installed a new doorbell. But if you’ve seen my previous two kitchen posts (where we painted and the “before before” photos), you may agree it’s a pretty big change! […]


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