Kitchen: Embracing the Beech

Prior to us buying our home it had been rented out for a number of years while the previous owner lived in Australia, I know this from our lovely new neighbours but also from the cheap as chips ‘renters’ kitchen that had been fitted by said previous owner (probably with help from his Dad.)

The cupboards are cheap beech laminate, the worktop is laminate with a granite effect, the tiles are (wonky) mosaic style in blue and there’s a small breakfast bar with stainless steel legs. The term ‘Shitchen’ suits it down to the ground.

Case in point – The ‘Shitchen’

Apart from painting the tiles white using V3 tile paint I have lived with this kitchen for 2.5 years whilst we cracked on doing up the rest of the house but the time has finally come to turn my attention to this unloved area of our home. As we are not planning on staying in this house long term, another 3 or 4 years maybe, the cost of completely replacing the kitchen is not really an option so I’ve really got to use my interior design imagination here!

One idea I considered was to paint the cupboards, I was thinking dark blue on the base units and white on the wall cupboards, so I decided to use my Instagram stories to ask for hints and tips with painting laminate kitchen units. The response was massive with people sharing their experiences and sending before and after pictures and also those asking me to share any information that I found – I bloody love the Instagram interiors community for this very reason!

So having read and replied to all the messages here is a breakdown of what I learnt.

  1. Scrub then scrub again using sugar soap. Make sure your units are squeaky clean before you even pick up a roller.
  2. You can paint the cupboards in situ so that you can paint both sides at the same time and don’t have to worry about re-hanging them after but if you do want to remove them then make sure you label them so you can put the kitchen back together with ease when done!
  3. To sand or not to sand? This divided a lot of people but for my type of units it seems you don’t need to sand as long as you use a good all in one primer such as Zinsser Bulls eye 1-2-3. I actually used this when I created a chalkboard on the side of my tall fridge freezer unit and it hasn’t chipped yet *touch wood!*
  4. Use a small foam roller for a smooth finish. I made the mistake of using a brush when creating my chalkboard and I’m left with a bumpy surface which isn’t ideal when trying to write your shopping list!
  5. Use a good quality top coat such as Farrow and Ball Estate Eggshell and apply at least 2-3 coats allowing enough drying time in between. No need for a varnish with paint like this but if you’re using a chalk type paint you might want to add a clear topcoat for protection.
  6. Plan for the long haul. If you want a decent looking finish then this is a job that can’t be rushed, it’s going to take several days if not weeks to complete and your house is likely to be turned upside down in the process

The best piece of advice I was given is that a painted kitchen will always look like a painted kitchen even if the job is carried out by a professional decorator, it might be a vast improvement on what you currently have but it’s not going to look like a brand new show kitchen when being updated DIY style.

Having said that, below are some examples of very talented people who have pulled off the painted kitchen to perfection!

I hope this has been of some help if you are thinking of taking on such a project however, for now, I have decided to embrace the beech (after all that!) I figure if I hang on to it for long enough it’s got to come back in fashion right?!

My plans are to re-tile (bye bye mosaics) but this time take the tiling right up to the ceiling removing the stainless steel back splash and the trim / built in lights above the cooker, replace the worktops, sink and tap, update the cupboard door handles as well as ditching the ‘breakfast bar’ and glass fronted unit above it in favor of open shelving as well as painting the walls of course and fitting a new ceiling light (if my electrician brother can squeeze me in at some point!) Best of all I’m planning on doing it all for under £750…..wish me luck!

Thank you for taking the time to read my very first blog post, if you have any questions at all why not get in touch?

Jen xx


  1. July 24, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    I think it’ll look smashing. Our kitchen was painted (badly) by the owners we rent from, and as it’s rented has meant we can’t do too much. If it were mine it’d be ripped out and started from scratch! Although got some fab pewter cupboard handles off Amazon and it’s changed the whole feel. Looking forward to seeing it finished! X

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 26, 2018 / 12:47 pm

      Thank you! That’s the problem with painting – once you’ve started there’s no going back!! I’m going to do all the other bits before deciding if I really need to go that far! Thanks for taking the time to read my first post x

  2. Greta
    July 24, 2018 / 10:11 pm

    We have beech too, but cant even think of replacing it anytime soon and I’m way to scared to paint them, but it needs a revamp. I’m hoping a change of handles, removing 2 doors to make some open storage, and a bit of faffing will do ths trick.

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 25, 2018 / 11:01 am

      I think it amazing the difference a few changes can make. I’m going to respect my handles rather than replace at first to cut down on costs. Good luck with your makeover. Jen xx

  3. July 25, 2018 / 10:21 am

    We have beech too and I hate it and again have no budget so I managed to change them by using sticky back plastic in white for the doors and changed to look of the sideboards too. Made such a difference doe around £20/£30!! Bought it from b&q and Homebase. Worth a look! Good luck and look forward to the transformations

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 25, 2018 / 10:59 am

      What a good idea! There is so much that can be done to re-vamp a kitchen sonit lasts a few more years – or until the next owners in my case!! X

  4. Heather
    July 25, 2018 / 6:34 pm

    Can’t wait to see the progress! Keep us posted x

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 26, 2018 / 12:55 pm

      I will Heather, I’ll have you all bored to tears by the time it’s actually completed!! xx

  5. Philippa
    July 25, 2018 / 8:31 pm

    What a great read!! Well done on writing such an interesting blog…. and those painted kitchens are such an inspiration aren’t they?!! Good luck with your project, it’s going to be such an exciting and rewarding project!! Enjoy xx

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 26, 2018 / 12:54 pm

      Thank you Philippa! xx

  6. Inge
    July 25, 2018 / 8:37 pm

    Fab first blog Jen and great info! Thank you xx

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 26, 2018 / 12:53 pm

      Thank you Inge! xx

  7. Mandy Wilson
    July 26, 2018 / 5:41 am

    I love your Instagram posts and read about your new blog, so will now be following this too! Great first post! I’m also looking to update our dated oak kitchen with black laminate worktop and blue tiles – on a budget! The cupboards are really good quality and I’m also worried they will look too “painted”/ruined if I revamp them, although the ones in the photos look fab. Hoping that if I go for metro tiles (white or grey), change the worktop (white or grey), sink and tap and replace the handles too – oh, and paint – it will make a good enough difference! So I will definitely be looking to your posts for inspiration!

    Can’t wait to see the progress – good luck! x

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 26, 2018 / 12:53 pm

      Thank you so much Mandy, It sounds like we’ll be doing the same tweaks to avoid having to paint the units! I was thinking of spraying our current handles in a dark grey or black rather than replacing them all to save a few pennies x

      • Mandy Wilson
        July 28, 2018 / 6:07 am

        I like the sound of spraying the handles – so quick and easy too! Liking the sound of dark grey. What type/colour worktop are you thinking? x

        • thehousethatjenbuilt
          August 2, 2018 / 11:13 am

          I’ve gone for matte black (because I had some left over in the shed!) Initially I’d thought a very dark gunmetal grey but couldn’t find it in matte so went for black. I’ve tried a few already which look good but have already started to chip so definitely need to invest in a primer!x

  8. July 26, 2018 / 6:32 am

    Great read!

    I have a hand painted kitchen that was originally sprayed when first installed. I’ve just repainted it several years on and you are so right about accepting the flaws of a hand painted kitchen especially if you are a perfectionist 😩

    I think with your planned tweaks the beech will live to see a few more years.

    Well done on your first post xx

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 26, 2018 / 12:50 pm

      Thank you so much Anna, I am a bit of a perfectionist (which can be difficult in a old house and working on a small budget) so I’m going to do all the other tweaks before taking the plunge! xx

  9. Faye
    July 26, 2018 / 7:56 am

    Great blog, such a lovely compliment to your IG 🙂 looking forward to more stuff

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      July 26, 2018 / 12:48 pm

      Thank you Faye! xx

  10. Natalie
    July 26, 2018 / 10:35 pm

    Never really got “blogging” before, was just a general scroll and like on IG kind of person! I follow you on IG for interior advice and inspiration (I’m shower screen woman) but now you’re blogging I’m thrilled as you make things relatable!
    Your kitchen is a lot like our current rented flat, so I know what you mean about the beech!
    Would love to know how you get on with the tiling and the worktops. Our house has a fairly new and shiny cream kitchen, very IKEA, but these scratched and weirdly bleached once grey worktops (:( we’re also not sure if they’re fake granite, or laminate. It’s a weird material!)…. so I want to replace them. I’d also like to tile our kitchen so keen to see your choices and cost!

    I look forward to following your progress, congrats on the blog and thank you for actually getting me into reading blogs! 🙂

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      August 2, 2018 / 11:20 am

      Hi Natalie!
      Thank you so much for your message and for taking the time to read my blog! I couldn’t really tell you what our worktops are made of either, bumpy grey/blue flecked something or other! Thankfully ours haven’t faded though – how odd!
      I’ll be doing this project on a budget so I hope this helps save you some time and money too when it comes to doing yours.

      How did you get on with the shower screen?

      Thanks again

      Jen xx

  11. Helen Gosling
    December 28, 2018 / 7:41 am

    Hi Jen, just found you on IG and am loving your blog. I have just bought a Victorian two bed terrace and have been looking for ways to update on a very limited budget. Only planning on being here 2 or 3 years at the most so your blog has been an amazing source of inspiration on how to style and improve the living space without a huge outlay. Can’t wait to try some of your ideas and tips. Thank you x

    • thehousethatjenbuilt
      January 29, 2019 / 8:22 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind comments! We don’t plan on staying here forever either so I’m always trying to find affordable ways to update a space x

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