New style for less money

Delores Robinson isn’t a fan of wood finishes in home decorating.

Though many homeowners in the Northwest love the look, she’s not one of them.

“I just don’t like wood,” she said. “It just isn’t my style.”

When Robinson and her husband, John, moved into a home on a bluff overlooking Possession Sound five years ago, she set out to remove almost all traces of natural wood.

She painted railings, mantels and other wood accents white or black. She had the home’s wooden doors painted white, even though it cost a pretty penny.

Her dining room furniture is fronted with mirrors and glass, not wood veneers. Even her grand piano in the living room is a luxurious, creamy white.

In 2009, however, when it came time to remodel the kitchen — dominated by natural-finish cherry cabinets — Robinson met considerable resistance from her husband. He said no one in their right mind would remove such beautiful, well-made cabinets.

And so the cabinets, which seemed especially dark when paired with the kitchen’s new black granite counters, stayed put.

By 2010, however, Robinson couldn’t take it anymore. She wanted a light, bright white kitchen, similar to the rest of their house, and she finally persuaded her husband to let her change them.

But instead of replacing the structurally sound cabinets, she went a much less expensive route: She refaced.

It cost her less than $10,000 and took about seven days.

Compare that to the six-week process of getting new cabinets, which typically cost $20,000 to $25,000, not counting any plumbing, wiring, flooring, countertop resurfacing and other work that comes with ripping out cabinets.

Robinson now has the kitchen of her dreams, all black and white with rich red and animal print accessories.

Her stainless-steel appliances, accented by a backsplash of textured stainless steel tiles, round out the fresh, whimsical, contemporary look.

Robinson hired Lambert Gray, a Marysville-based remodeling company that specializes in kitchens, baths and, as of about two years ago, cabinet refacing.

Refacing, which typically involves replacing cabinet doors, drawers and shelves, is an ideal option for homeowners who want a new look but not a new floor plan.

With a cabinet refacing, contractors leave the old cabinet boxes, which are attached to the wall, and cover up any remaining old wood with veneers or paint perfectly matched to go with newly replaced doors and drawers.

In the Robinson home, the effect is seamless. It’s impossible to tell the cabinets have been refaced, unless you open up the one cabinet where Robinson neglected to paint the cherry wood inside.

Though Lambert Gray did most of the work on her cabinets, Robinson painted over some of the cabinets’ old wood, including the insides of the cabinet boxes and the crown molding, which she painted black.

She knew how to do a good job.

As the co-owner of the Washington chain of 12 Buzz Inn restaurants with her brother, Bill Tackitt, she has repainted many a surface over the years, especially in the early days of starting up the restaurants when their restaurant remodeling budgets were practically zero.

Robinson didn’t just change the finish of her cabinets, however. She traded flat-panel doors for more traditional ones with raised panels, including arched panels for some of the upper doors.

Lambert Gray spokesman Shawn Haverfield said refacing isn’t a good fit for every home.

Cabinets that aren’t well made or don’t have sturdy cabinet boxes should be replaced. And homeowners who want to move appliances and do other major work might also be better off replacing and remodeling, rather than refacing.

Robinson said the refacing process was a snap in her home, far easier to live with than a drawn-out, dusty remodeling project.

“The mess is so minimal. I could use my kitchen every day,” she said, adding that she and her husband don’t miss the cherry wood.

“I just love it,” Robinson said. “It’s night and day.

“Even John had to admit I was right.”


Lambert Gray Kitchen and Bath, 1520 Third St., Marysville; 360-659-7482,

Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037,

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