Design Hints

Counter Intuitive

Get step-by-step tips for transforming outdated countertops into a show-stopping centerpiece for your country kitchen!

Blush-colored laminate countertops didn't fit in with the country primitive style Cheryl Mills, whose home was featured in our July 2009 issue, wanted for her kitchen's new look. However, the prospect of spending thousands of dollars on new counters was even less appealing than that tired old laminate. The solution? Instead of being ripped out, those outdated counters got a budget-friendly makeover thanks to a friend's husband, a painter who applied a paint treatment that gives the counters a completely different, wonderfully rustic appearance. "I figured if it didn't work, then, worst-case scenario, I would have to buy new counters," Cheryl says. "But the cheaper route was worth a try!" The counters proved to be both beautiful and economical, a winning combination. Here's how to get the look:

1. Lightly sand the laminate countertops, just enough to take the gloss off the surface.

2. Apply a base coat of paint and let it dry overnight. For her counters, Cheryl chose Linen White latex paint by Calkins.

3. Apply a crackling compound, available at most paint and hardware stores, following the manufacturer's directions.

4. Apply a coat of contrasting-color paint over the crackling. Cheryl chose Saltbox Blue latex paint by Calkins.

5. Allow the paint to dry overnight.

6. Apply a coat of oil-based polyurethane, and let it dry according to the manufacturer's directions. Follow up with a second coat for extra protection.

Note: An alternative to the crackling treatment is to sponge a contrasting color of paint over the base coat, let it dry, and then follow with the polyurethane. Cheryl recommends using large cutting boards to protect the finished counter surface and cautions against letting water stand on the counters because it will damage the finish.

Written by Nancy Anderson Hedberg
Photographed by Bill Mathews
Styled by Gloria Gale