Kitchen Breakfast Nook Redo

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Everything in the house is being moved around and becoming rather cluttered as our focus has been on another project: the kitchen breakfast nook.

kitchen breakfast nook

We love this little kitchen breakfast nook. This is the place where our friends and family gather when they visit. It seems our whole house revolves around this corner.

orange kitchen breakfast nook

But there was a big problem with it: it was orange. And yellow. And dark. And our beloved bench was totally unfinished, consisting of ugly particle board with placemats haphazardly tacked around the edges.

kitchen breakfast nook after airstone

So we updated our kitchen breakfast nook with a fresh coat of paint and some AirStone! How pretty is that? I'm not totally sold on the neutral buttercream color we went with: Olympic Premium No-VOC Interior Latex Semi-Gloss in Beeswax from Lowe's.

Easily incorporating stone into the home

The stone around the bench, however, is definitely a keeper. Here's how we did it.

Updating the Kitchen Breakfast Nook

painting the kitchen

I know that it can be a little tricky to get every nook and cranny covered when you're doing stonework, so I started by painting the kitchen breakfast nook gray (reusing the paint from the gray bathroom makeover) just in case there were any gaps in my stone work. I didn't want that ugly particle board showing through! While I was at it, I painted the moulding and those built-in shelves with a highly-durable paint: Olympic One Paint + Primer In One in True White. It's the only standard paint with VOC that we use in our house, as we've found that no-VOC paints just aren't durable enough for moulding and cabinetry. While I had out the white and gray paint, I went all update-y on the fireplace as well. Is it just me, or do these projects seem to rapidly spread from room to room?

airstone

Now here's the real star of the show: AirStone! I didn't want to deal with trying to cut real stone, on top of the fact that it was pretty much off-the-table budgetwise for this particular area. AirStone is an artificial stone that looks real, weighs 75% less than natural stone, and can easily be installed with pre-mixed adhesive, a putty knife and hacksaw. Best of all, it's made from 80% recycled materials. I found that the trick to applying it was going row by row from the bottom of the bench to the top, so that I could make sure all the stones were level all the way across.

hacksaw

That corner area shown above was definitely the trickiest section, with a couple strange angles. I was really nervous about that and saved it for the very end. I marked the angles and the lengths needed on the stone and then cut them with my hacksaw, re-cutting and sanding as needed to make them fit. I felt like I was totally winging it and honestly didn't expect it to come together properly, but it did! It was kind of like putting together a puzzle where some of the pieces aren't cut yet. Hard to wrap the mind around, but surprisingly easy once you get down to it.

kitchen bench stone

One of our AirStone boxes had a lot of broken stones in it, which I added to by dropping several throughout the puttying process. I'm a klutz, and this stuff does break pretty easily on tile floors. That's the downfall of using an ultra-light artificial stone – the upside being that it's super-easy to cut and adhere. I ended up just setting aside the broken pieces and cutting them down to the sizes I needed for those awkward angles and the ends of the bench, so it worked out well.

airstone putty

If you ever try to tackle stone work, my biggest piece of advice is to not stress about the putty application. I wasted a ton of time trying to delicately apply the putty to the stone all perfectionist-like. The stones weren't drying securely with that method and I realized that what was really needed was imprecision. I started thickly globbing the putty on there and squishing the stones up against the wall to let the mixture spread on its own through the nooks and crannies. They held WAY better that way, and I didn't have to drive myself nuts with delicate putty detail work!

down under sealant

Lastly, I topped the stones with a single coat of my favorite floor sealant, Carroll Down Under. This stuff foams up oddly when you apply it, but it somehow re-liquifies as it dries, leaving a strong and smooth coating to protect high-traffic areas from scuffs and splatter and make kitchen spaces easier to clean.

As you can see above, the stones are available in both straight and outer corner stones so there doesn't have to be an awkward abutting at the outer edges. The straight ones and the outer corner ones come in separate boxes so you can cater the amount of each size to your project. Since I didn't have a lot of outer corners on this bench I ended up having a bunch of corner stones left over, which I found could easily be cut down into small straight stones to help fill awkward spaces like that inner corner.

kitchen breakfast nook final

I'm thinking I may look for some 3/4″ trim to wrap around the top of the stone, just under where the bench cushions go. And I'm not wild about the brown cushion color, but that's a sewing update project for later. Overall, I think this is a HUGE improvement! The kitchen breakfast nook bench project cost around $220 including all the stone, putty, putty knife and hacksaw. AirStone even has a handy calculator on their site to tell you exactly how much stone you'll need. The stone work portion took about six hours for me (having never worked with stone of any sort before), with the vast majority of that spent on the inner corner. A straight bench could easily be done in three hours.

kitchen breakfast nook bench before and after

Now, guests keep remarking over the professional-looking handiwork in our kitchen breakfast nook. It does feel pretty snazzy. Best of all, I no longer feel compelled to constantly explain that the house's previous owners made some odd color and construction choices that we're…uh…working on.

How would you use AirStone in your home? It's even durable enough for outdoor projects!

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16 thoughts on “Kitchen Breakfast Nook Redo”

  1. What a total transformation. I don’t know if I could do that myself, but it looks amazing. Enjoy the new kitchen

    • You CAN! I totally didn’t think it would be doable with a plain old hacksaw (which, by the way, I had never used all by myself before)…but it was easy!

    • Thank you! We were going back and forth about the color for awhile, but it’s really grown on me. It gives me a nice, neutral canvas to put fun accents against.

  2. Wow, this redo is fabulous. You must be delighted with the results, it looks so classy. Give yourself a pat on the back!

  3. Oh my, I love, love, love this! Now I’m thinking about all the areas in my house I can do this and very worried I’m going to start AirStoning (is that a word?) every nook and cranny of my house. Headboard? Bathtub surround? Coffee table? Okay, so none of that, but maybe my kitchen island? Now THAT would be cool!

  4. Hi I am looking to replicate this amazing project in my new kitchen. I have a few questions. Where did you get the cushions? If you don’t mind me asking, what was the cost? Also, what is the dimensions of your kitchen nook so I can properly gauge the price I am looking at. Thank you! This is a beautiful project!

    • We are putting on an addition and would like to replicate this exact project as well!! It is exactly what my husband and I are looking for and would fit great in the new part of our house. We have done our own brick work in the past but I would love any details about bench dimensions (height, width, length), any cushion info, table size/ height, and ANY helpful hints to make this project happen over this summer!!! Since it is an addition that we are just starting we have a lot of options to move walls and make something like this fit. Thanks for any help that you have time to throw our way!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE this project!! 🙂

      • Wow, lots of interest in the nook! I’ll try to pull the pads off here soon and get a better picture of the wood, particularly how it all comes together in the corner because I’d imagine that was the trickiest part. The seating area is 1′ 6 1/2″ tall without the cushions on it and the back cushion height is 3′ 6″. If it were me, I’d make the bench seats slightly taller (probably another 2″) because at this height it’s too high for a traditional table and just barely too short to properly reach our pub-height table. We’re extremely tall people so it works for us, but I’ve noticed guests straining a little to reach their food. Haha. The back cushions are just straight boards with foam cut at a wedge angle, held onto the boards with fabric wrapped over the foam and staple-gunned onto the back of the boards. This really was a huge bonus feature of our new house – I’m glad the previous owners worked so hard on it. Let me know if I can help in any way, and I’ll definitely get going on a post with more detailed pics of how the nook is put together!

        • Thanks so much for the help!! Anything thing else that comes to mind please feel free to share! We just got our addition plans finalized and the nook is made for our area! My mom has the creative juices and I have her on board. If we pull this off this summer I will have to send you some pics! :))

    • Hey Jess! The nook was already in the house when we bought it, but it looks relatively inexpensive with the nook itself constructed out of regular old particle board and the cushions hand-sewn by the previous owner using a foam pad inner (that’s the priciest part of the nook itself I’d imagine, probably sourced from a furniture supply store) and a waterproof outer fabric. The nook is 6′ long across one wall and 8′ long across the other, with a depth of 1’8″. DIY Network has a fantastic tutorial for building a kitchen nook bench here. I’d budget $130ish for wood and building supplies, $150 for the cushions and fabric (unless you can find the foam pad at Joanns with a coupon or reuse an old couch pad?), and a little less than $200 for the AirStone and the putty, putty knife and hacksaw needed for that. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions at all!!

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