How to Redo an Old Brick Backsplash (Without Tearing It Out)

Join me in this post where I’ll tell you everything you need to know about painting that ugly brick backsplash in your kitchen. There’s no need to pry away brick after brick! This easy DIY is a great and inexpensive way to bring your outdated kitchen into the modern times with a pop of retro fun.

When we first looked at buying our current house, one of the biggest concerns was updating the kitchen…especially on a budget. It was a hot mess of modern and outdated, but as they say–location, location, location! Our quaint, 1960 abode is right in the hub of Tennessee’s Oldest Town, and it is the perfect starter home for our family of two (plus Oakley *wink*). So, we started planning how we could best update our kitchen without breaking the bank or totally ruining its midcentury charm.

We tackled updating the kitchen cabinets for under $100 first, but the bright red, brick backsplash really threw us for a loop.

Kitchen before cabinet + backsplash revamp.

While researching the era of our home, and why in the world it had a bright red, brick backsplash…I found out brick backsplashes were apparently quite the rage back in the day. It was especially trendy with midcentury-style ranch homes, like ours (read more about kitchen trends of the 60s and 70s here).

So, if you have a brick backsplash and feeling a little stumped on how to update this old trend, you’re not alone *wink*

One of our many “Lowe’s dates” after we first bought our house.

Our first idea was to simply tile over it, but that could get pricey and take away from the midcentury modern character. So, that was a no-go.

Next, plan B. Let’s paint it….brick by boring brick *cue Paramore*

In general, our home is filled with LOTS of bright, retro colors, so an all-white kitchen didn’t really fit the vibe. I took more of an artsy approach with tonal blues, purples and deep greens (specific colors noted below)…BUT if you’re more into neutrals, earth tones or soft hues, you can easily pick variants to create a similar look that matches your personal style or home décor. See some of my initial inspiration + other ideas on Pinterest.

Okay–let’s get down to brass tacks. Here’s everything you need to know about how to paint a brick backsplash in your kitchen!

Specific Valspar Colors Used:

Skyler is much better at taping straight lines *wink* Thankful he loves crazy, home-revamp projects as much as me!

Step 1: Clean & Prep

Cleaning: Before getting into the fun stuff (painting), it’s important to start with a clean and taped area. I cleaned the bricks with a Dawn soap and warm water mixture and let them fully dry overnight. A cheap sponge gets the job done, but if there’s a lot of dirt/grease/grime build-up, I suggest doing do two or three cleaning cycles before priming. Avoid using a Mr. Clean sponge–while this is my usual go-to for household messes, it leaves a white, dusty residue on the bricks!

Prepping: I am definitely not an expert painter, so painter’s tape and drop cloths are always a good idea *wink* Skyler taped around the wall where the bricks go past the corner cabinet to avoid getting paint on the kitchen walls (see above). We also taped around window sills and draped plastic on the countertops. While these things aren’t totally needed to revamp your brick backsplash, I definitely recommend: Frog Painter’s Tape (my favorite at Lowe’s) and plastic drop cloths (my favorite at Lowe’s). Note: We did a single prep for the backsplash and cabinet painting project.

Step 2: Prime

DO NOT SKIP THE PRIMER! Priming the bricks with the KILZ 2 not only gives you a fresh canvas, but also helps the interior paint stick or adhere better to the brick. The KILZ 2 is my favorite primer because it specifically states you can use it to prime masonry/brick. It also helps block stains (water, rust, grease, ink, pencil and felt marker), and it creates a protective layer to fight mildew. I prefer using KILZ 2 because it’s water-based, so you don’t have to worry about it smelling to high-heaven, which was a big plus in our small kitchen *wink*

Step 3: Swatch Colors (if alternating)

Putting this much color in your kitchen can be a bit nerve racking, so swatching helps give perspective of the end result. It also makes it easier to enlist your fiancé’s help in painting lots and lots of bricks *wink*

Since this project was a bit different than anything I had found online, I took my time and tried to take steps to make sure it was exactly what I had envisioned. I avoided a particular pattern and kept the colors more sporadic to play on the contrast of dark and light hues. Unless you’re painting the entire backsplash a solid color (like white or blue), I recommend swatching and not following a certain pattern–it gives a bit more of a high-fashion and artistic look.

If you’re nervous about swatching, you can start by painting bricks you wouldn’t see anyway. I painted few bricks behind the oven to see if I were going to like the colors I picked out before swatching the entire kitchen.

Step 4: Paint First Coat + Let Fully Dry

At this point, the vision is starting to come together. While it is time consuming (note the nighttime/daytime in the above photos😅), you start to see how truly amazing your new backsplash is going to be! Also, Krispy Kreme donuts (Skyler’s favorite) are a great incentive for helpers *wink*

I recommend taking it color-by-color…brick-by-brick because it saves you from having to rinse your brush each time. I took one color and followed my swatches until I was done with that color, rinsed out my brush, and then started on the next color.

Overall, the first coat will feel like forever, but remember to not get sloppy! It’s important to keep this first coat light; otherwise, you’ll have drips and runs which will only cause more headaches later. When you’re done with the first coat, take a break and walk away. Let the bricks dry at least 8 hours or overnight for best results for the second coat.

Step 5: Paint Second Coat + Let Cure Overnight (8+ hours)

Basically…repeat step 4 *wink* BUT pay close attention to how the color absorbed into the brick during the first coat. Sometimes, you may need to follow the same brush strokes to get an even surface. I tried to vary the directions I painted on the first and second coats to ensure a full coverage overall–this is a method a lot of artists use when applying gesso to a canvas.

Once you’ve completed the second coat on all of the bricks, it is very important to let them dry or “cure” overnight. Because interior paint can stay tacky for a few hours (even if it “feels” dry), I suggest walking away for at least 8 hours, ideally 12 hours.

If you see a brick or two that needs a third coat or touch up, wait until the curing period is over to make sure your brush doesn’t peel up any drying paint.

cleaning tip:

Never scrape or scrub hard! I used a wet Mr. Clean sponge to wipe down bricks behind the oven and sink. I did not use any harsh chemicals or solvents, but where there was grease/grime, I used a little bit of Dawn on the sponge and followed with Windex (sprayed on a paper towel, not directly on the brick).

Life Update: Tearing Up Our Yard, COVID, and a Happy New Year

Here’s a quick update from the last few months of the most chaotic year ever–2020. I am excited for a new year of awesome new content!

Hi there! Yikes…. It’s been a little while since I have been on the blog, but if you’ve been keeping up on Instagram, then you know the past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind. While 2020 was chaotic all by itself, the last few months took quite the toll on Skyler and me. For one, we totally tore up our backyard… *cringe*

Skyler living the dream and making a mess he couldn’t get in trouble for haha

Okay, I am being a little dramatic about it, but it is quite the muddy mess right now–especially after the bouts of snow and rain we’ve been having. It’s never easy watching your soon-to-be-husband run a Bobcat through your neat yard (no offense, honey *wink*) What started out as a simple retaining wall project to widen the driveway has turned into a lengthier project due to weather…Isn’t that how home projects always go? Oh, the woes of home ownership *wink* –a BIG thanks to Skyler, my dad, and a good buddy of Skyler’s for tackling the driveway/retaining wall project!!

Oakley is such a good little training partner *wink*

The end of 2020 was super busy with my buying a new car (one that gets way better gas mileage than the Jeep I had), visiting my grandparents in Mississippi, and celebrating my 25th birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (via video chat–see below for why). Besides doing home improvement projects and other adulting matters, I have also been busy training for a half marathon.

Nothing beats being back home and seeing my two favorite people: Paw Riley and Maw Maw.

The end of 2020 also brought COVID to Skyler and me…like days before Christmas. Definitely not a “gift” we wanted! Ugh! Thankfully, we didn’t get as sick as many others, but it was still a scary time for us because of the unpredictability of the virus. Even with our mild cases, we felt the effects weeks afterwards, and not to mention, I never thought I would be able to smell again haha But…I digress.

Oakley knew we were sick and constantly insisted on being held/cuddled. She was a good little nurse *wink*

To be honest with you guys, I have missed writing on VIP so freaking much. 2020 was such a weird, dysfunctional, and depressing year for like the entire universe. It was hard to write because I felt my content would be taking away from something more important like COVID-19 updates or Presidential debates. Now that things are finally settling down a bit, I feel like I can finally breathe and truly share fun, happy, real content.

I have lots of posts planned for the coming months–home projects, renovation updates, and outfit posts, as well as new content like running and fitness, inspirational posts, and my favorite local shopping and dinning spots in the Tri-Cities (Tennessee) area. Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, Skyler and I also have some fun travel plans later in the year I hope to blog about *fingers crossed*

Oakley enjoying her first White Christmas…that girl LOVES to play in the snow.

Thank you SO much for sticking with VIP through thick and thin. You guys are seriously THE BEST. *wink* Here’s to a new year (over a month in 🙃). I cannot wait to share upcoming posts, so stay tuned for Everything You Need to Know About Painting a Brick Backsplash next!

How I Updated My Kitchen Cabinets for Under $100

A step-by-step guide on renovating outdated, wooden kitchen cabinets from drab to fab for under $100

Renovating or revamping interior spaces is no small feat, especially when it comes to the kitchen. It’s so easy to get on Pinterest and gather big ideas. But it’s even easier to become overwhelmed with where to start, what to buy, and how much it will cost.

If you’ve been wanting to tackle your kitchen cabinets and have been struggling with getting started, today’s post is for you. I’ve got tips and tricks you need to take your kitchen cabinets from drab to fab for under $100! Yes, you read that correctly *wink* under one hundred dollars.

My fiancé and I recently purchased a quaint, mid-century modern home near downtown Jonesborough, Tennessee. While a lot of the major renovation work was completed like new flooring throughout the house, the kitchen was a typical flip job that needed some personality and cohesiveness. I knew when looking at the house, I was going to immediately change the mismatched cabinets and red-brick back splash.

Before painting and revamping

After some investigation, we discovered the bottom cabinets are brand spanking new, but the top cabinets are the original, wood cabinets. The bottom cabinets have a beautiful, smooth enamel finish, while the top ones had a dingy texture–like they had been stripped and re-stained many times over the years.

Rather than destroying our kitchen + spending a fortune on matching top cabinets, my fiancé and I embraced our inner DIY and decided to paint the upper cabinets. Again, I say–this was no small feat *wink* but it was totally worth the time, effort, and “choice” words that were said.

So, if you’re ready to tackle your outdated, wooden kitchen cabinets, here’s what you’ll need to get started:

Step 1: Remove cabinet doors + hardware

It’s much easier to paint cabinets and get a nice finish when the doors and hardware are removed. I set up the cabinet doors in a different room on a clean plastic tarp to ensure they didn’t get dirty, and I didn’t mess up the tile floor. If you’re a messy painter or are handling a bigger project, this is also a good time to put a tarp or plastic covering over counter tops, appliances or flooring. And if you’re cabinets hug the ceiling like mine….I suggest using painter’s tape as well.

Step 2: Clean / wipe down the cabinets and doors.

While this is not an instruction detailed on the can of Valspar enamel paint, I found it extremely helpful in achieving that nice, smooth finish with my older cabinets. This ensures that there’s no dust, oil, pet hair, or any other un-wanted goop on your cabinets prior to painting. I simply used Windex and paper towels.

Step 3: Take a sigh of relief because you don’t have to sand or prime ANything!

Unless you have an unruly or intense texture on your cabinets and cabinet doors, the Valspar enamel paint is so awesome that you can skip sanding or priming and jump straight into painting.

Step 4: Ready, set, paint!

Skyler and I tag-teamed this project. While he painted the doors, I worked on the cabinets. It took three coats to get the finish we wanted. We were able to complete the cabinets over the weekend, starting on a Friday afternoon and finishing Sunday evening.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES:

  1. Keep in mind it is a very thick paint. Avoid putting too much paint on the wood surface, especially with the first and second coat! It will begin to drip and dry, creating an unwanted and bumpy texture. If this happens…don’t panic. Wait for the spots to dry and use a light grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface before adding another coat.
  2. Each coat needs to dry 4 – 6 hours, and the last coat needs to cure for up to 48 hours. Because kitchen cabinets are commonly touched surfaces, you want to let each coat dry really well before applying any additional paint. Once you’ve painted your last coat, let your cabinets and doors dry separately for at least 24 hours before adding hardware and hanging. Leave the doors open and do not touch/use them for another 24 hours. This helps prevent chips or scratches.
  3. Use a small craft brush for touch-ups. If you notice a few chips or scratches after re-attaching your cabinet doors, you probably didn’t let them fully dry (24 hours) before. If you made this mistake, like me, use a small craft brush + the enamel paint to fill in. Depending on how deep the chip/scratch, you may have to repeat this a few times.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stay tuned to an upcoming step-by-step post on how I painted my ugly brick backsplash *wink*

Life Update: Engaged, New Home, & Painting Projects

To say life has been busy and filled with (good) stress lately is a huge understatement. In a short period of time, I got engaged, bought a home, and immediately jumped into revamping it.

As I step into a new phase of life with my fiance Skyler, I am looking forward to sharing updates of all of our adventures with all of you! I will continue blogging about all things fashion and vintage, but I will also be adding posts about easy home projects, decor ideas, landscaping, and more! But before I kick start new content, I want to give you all a little life update + share some sweet pictures from the last few months!

Since Skyler is a pretty new topic on the blog *wink* Let me tell you our little story ❤️

Skyler proposed on July 15th in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I absolutely didn’t see it coming, and he is very proud of that *wink* It was a lovely moment we got to enjoy together, just us–without the distractions of a Pinterest-inspired celebration or photographer. While I am sure many wanted to see a behind-the-scene reaction, we wanted to keep that special moment just for us.

Skyler and I went on our first date in May 2018, and the rest is history! Our first summer together was filled with fun adventures, concerts, and coffee runs. There were lots of late-night trips for Peanut Butter milkshakes, long talks about our goals in life, and so many other little things that made the beginning of our relationship so sweet. After Skyler learned about my obsession with ducks, this boy took me to every county fair in the area that summer just to see baby ducks. He brought me Coke Zeros to work without my asking and often surprised me with flowers. Relationships really are about the little things.

We had only been dating for a few months when Skyler took a civilian contract in Afghanistan. For that next year, we only saw each other two weeks at a time, every four months. Despite the time difference and our busy schedules, we made it work. Even though there were many challenges along the way, the time apart taught us so much about ourselves, our relationship, our future, and the true power of prayers.

In the past year of our relationship, we have been blessed to spend it together, and believe me, we have made every moment count! Whether it is going to the gym, grocery shopping, or going on an actual date, we have soaked up every laugh, smile, and story. And yes—Skyler still surprises me with little (and big) things…

AND NOW…WE ARE HOME OWNERS *gasp*

After realizing we needed more space and freedom than a one bedroom apartment could offer + wanting our money to go towards something we would actually own, we started searching for a house. The housing market in the Tri-Cities, Tennessee area has been (and still is) a hot market–with houses getting snatched up faster than hot doughnuts at Krispy Kreme (which Skyler LOVES hot doughnuts from Krispy Kreme).

After losing out on a few houses and thinking we would never find the one, God blessed us with finding our sweet, little home in Jonesborough, Tennessee…just blocks from Main Street–which is filled with darling shops, restaurants and a coffee shop! As we get settled in our new little town, I will also be exploring local shops and dining + sharing it all on VIP!

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Views from the Chester Inn porch 😍👍🏼

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I know y’all are dying to know what kind of house we got. So without further ado…DRUM ROLL…a funky, mid-century modern built in 1960. What else would the VIP have picked *wink* I’m not going to show you photos yet. You’ll have to keep visiting the blog for sneak peeks and reveals.

The house we purchased was recently renovated, but it needs some personality and some paint for all of the red brick (inside and outside). Did I mention this house has a lot of red brick inside and outside? Like a lot. Skyler and I have plans to make this little home ours and to fill it with love (and possibly get a couple of ducks) *wink* I mean….Oakley needs some siblings!

As a first-time home buyer and revamper, I’m learning home projects are not as glamorous as HGTV makes them out to be. They are messy….They are challenging….They are totally worth late nights and paint in the hair!

Here’s a little sneak peek of what we’ve been working on *wink* And…if you can’t wait until another post to see what’s happening, follow me on Instagram @AbbyHathorn.

Well, that’s all I have for you on this Life Update, but I promise to share more soon! I can’t wait to show y’all the finished kitchen, but I have to get back to painting bricks one-by-one *wink*