diy farmhouse brick kitchen

How To Transform a Tired Kitchen Into Something Fresh

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I love my brick kitchen! They say kitchens sell homes and I gotta say: I totally agree! We bought this house mostly because of the features of the kitchen and of course the space we needed for the critters (parrots, cats, the fowl, the chickens…and a partridge and a pear treeeee!)

My brick kitchen is highly unusual. When I first saw it I thought this is sooo cool. This is not your typical “gorgeous” kitchen nor the “cookie cutter” type kitchen either.

It does have some irritating quirks that I only found out after moving in (no one tells you that black granite shows EVERY water spot that lands on it! ARGH!!).

But overall a brick kitchen combines modern with “vintage”. Farm house with city living. Chic and rustic.

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 Love the Brick kitchen

I immediately fell in love with all the brick and the windows! Oh those windows! A lot of houses here in Arizona have what they call Arizona rooms: basically a porch that was eventually enclosed and turned into another room in the house. It adds square footage while being “kinda” separate from the rest of the house but still inside the house. 

Anyway, the builder of the house (he lived in the house after building it too) chose to enclose the porch with windows instead of putting up a wall. What is now the brick kitchen counter bottom wall was the outside wall (see second image above). Kinda clever, huh?.

Remodel Idea?

When the windows were added the builder only built a half brick wall to support the windows and added benches/window seats. So there is a lot of light and a lot of kitchen seating! (well, the light sure doesn’t translate into the pictures)

In the winter, the sun is lower in the horizon and the room gets nice and cozy. I can put the laptop right on the kitchen table and there’s plenty of room for a furry animal to cozy up with me while I’m working. You even need sunglasses to work! How cool is that?!

I love how the set up in the kitchen works. Notice I have two tables in the kitchen.

One is rustic in driftwood color (see pics 3 and 4). I got that table at Cost Plus. (I love that place! Kinda dangerous for my wallet! I could buy everything in that store!). I also love the bench and the chair that goes with the table. The table looks pretty cool against the window seat and it fits a lot of people. I once had 30 people in that kitchen with room to spare!

The other table has more of a grandma look to it with the fan back chairs. I Can’t remember where I got it but it fit in that spot perfectly, and I also added two chairs to it and put the table against the window seat. Anyway, I did not want both tables to match but they both go with the brick and the black granite.

I also changed the lighting in the kitchen because it was super outdated (80’s acrylic) and despite getting a lot of natural light with the windows the dark cabinets and black granite with all that brick still made the kitchen too dark.

What To Do With So Much Brick?

Well, after a while I got a little tired of the brick or at least the amount of brick. The builder also used terracota/red cement in between the bricks. So yeah, a lot of red! I needed to do something about all that red.

I didn’t want to paint the brick (that would be sacrilege!) and whitewashing the brick too much would take away the terracota color that makes all brick special. I wasn’t sure what to do.

There is also another kicker about brick: Designers like to show these gorgeous images of kitchens with brick over the stove and all over the kitchen, and yes, they look fabs. But I gotta tell ya, they don’t show the grease splotches that are nearly impossible to remove after years of use!

There is no de-greaser that will take that grease out. Yes, you can seal it all you want but the grease will eventually catch up with you. Plus the amount of dust sitting in the cement gaps. Argh. So gross!

For the area above both stoves (did I mention I have two stoves in the kitchen? Madness!!) I decided I was going to add a cool backsplash (more on that in another post).

Yes, the brick would be covered in those areas. But at least it would eliminate the grease and it would make it easier to clean them. Plus I wanted to bring some light into those areas so I figured a light colored tile would do the trick. 

Weekend Project

Back to the brick kitchen: Today, I’m going to show you how I took care of all that brick and how I brought more light into the room with a simple DYI transformation.

My choice? No whitewash, no painting. Well, a little of both!

Let me explain: I still wanted the red/terracota brick to show but I didn’t want all that red cement that was making everything blend into one big giant brick. So, I chose to redo the cement color in between the bricks.

How, you ask? Grout!

Yes, grout.

Hear me out. If I had painted the cement it would have looked “plastic-ey”. Yes, paint would have taken care of all the dust and it would make it easy to clean but it just wouldn’t look right.

Now, sanded grout on the other hand has the grainy-ness of the cement and it would look more “natural”. Plus, if you find the right consistency to work with you can use a brush to “grout, er, paint” the cement without having to do real grouting.

If you ever tiled in your life you know how much of a pain that can be: trowel, wait to dry, come back with a sponge and clean up. Now, imagine doing that with a vertical wall with a wood floored kitchen and all that water! Nooooooooooooooooo!

Confession: I did apply some grouting techniques to this project but on a lighter and less messy scale.

Painting” it with grout was easy enough to clean up and the prep was as easy as throwing newspapers under the area you are working on. No taping necessary either! If any drops of grout fell on the floor you just clean it with a paper towel. Unlike paint, grout doesn’t stick and it’s water soluble.

I like easy clean up! Even better: easy prep!

Another technique I used was the sponge process where you wipe the surface of the tile to clean up the grout. In this case, I used a sponge to “spread” some of the grout from the cement onto the bricks.

This technique worked just like a whitewash but without paint. You have more control over how “whitewashed” you want the brick to be. Since I wanted as red as possible but with some “white film” over the red I used the sponge to wipe off the grout over the brick to adjust the color I wanted (the brick would look too stark red against the lighter color grout if I hadn’t whitewashed the brick a little).

Paint would require more scrubbing and you know how brick “sucks” any liquids pretty easily because it’s so porous. Too complicated and messy!

Here’s the Scoop (pun intended!)

So the project starts like this: Pick a section of the area you want to work on and “paint, er, grout” the cement gap first. You may (as in on purpose) paint over the edges of the brick with the grout a little. That’s fine.

You can use that minor “spill” to whitewash the brick by wiping the grout with a wet sponge to spread the grout over the brick. 

Here’s a before and during the process picture:

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As you are wiping the brick, the grout will dry up and it will create a “film” over the brick. You then need to step back and figure out how much of the film you want leave over the brick. If you want a lighter color brick you can add a couple of drops of grout onto the sponge and wipe over the brick to add more “paint” to it.

If you want less white then rinse the sponge with water and wipe. Let the area dry a little so you can see how much you want to add or remove.

Here’s a section with the amount of whitewash I wanted:

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You can still see the red brick but the cement part is no longer that heavy looking red you see in the first picture.

The rest is pretty easy. Just rinse and repeat!

I mean, you know what I mean!

List of Materials:

  • Be seriously bored on a weekend
  • Sanded Grout in a color of your choice. You can be creative and use medium grey, light grey, or even this light color I used. This particular color created a lot of contrast and it helped bring more light into the kitchen and it made the tile (another post) make sense in the room.
  • Bucket for the grout and another for water to rinse the sponge
  • Brushes of different sizes (hair not sponge)
  • Grouting sponge (you can use an old dish sponge too)
  • Rags for touch ups and drying the brick
  • Newpapers

One important thing: How thick does the grout have to be? Imagine between yogurt and a thick paint.

Don’t let it get too runny or the grout will be transparent once applied. You also don’t want it too thick because it will make it too difficult to apply with the brush.

Eventually, you will get the hang of it once you start applying. You want it as close to a yogurt consistency: Your hands will thank you later!

After I was done I asked the hubs what he thought of the new look of the kitchen. You know how clueless they are. He says: “It looks like a pizzeria!” (sigh). Not the look I was going for but it’s still rustic and farmhouse-y. Wait til you see the tiles!!!

Well, here’s the final product:

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brick-kitchen-redo-final-product-window-seat-resized

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much better!

I like the fact that I was able to keep the red brick while adding more light to the room.

Let me know if you have any questions about this project. Click on the link to learn how I updated the kitchen with a Faux Cement tile DIY on a budget and see the final look of the kitchen

Cheers!

 

 

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