My Mother’s Basement & a Countertop Makeover

Okay…so let me just put this out there.  My little sister got pregnant at 19.  Like so many other girls out there in similar situations, she was unprepared, scared and felt alone.  She was a single mom for seven years.  And like every other mommy out there knows…it doesn’t matter what your situation is, you want the best for your little ones.      

Thankfully my siblings and I have a set of amazing parents that work ridiculously hard, encourage us to be ourselves and help us up when we fall down.  In Nornie’s situation, she needed a hand.  With my parent’s help, she was able to finish college and get a solid job and provide for herself and her little family.  I just wanna make it clear that she worked hard.  really hard.  and so did my parents.    But there was also some ways that God provided for them…even before they needed it.  One of those things was with my parent’s basement.  This is where Lori and Cole lived for those seven years before they married Boots.  (you can see their wedding pictures here)     

This was Cole’s room.  He had a nautical theme going on.  At first, he had a fish theme…and that evolved into a little older look as he grew.  (these are not staged photos – this is how it looks when the boys went down there so this is us just keeping it real).  I love that little desk makeover with the stripes on the inside of the lid.

98% of his stuff is no longer in there (aka the majority of toys got cleaned out) but it’s still his room.  always will be :)

I also love the tall cylindrical vase with the shells…that would be a cool way to commemorate beach trips, huh?

Nornie’s room got a full fledged makeover because her furniture went with her.  My mom now hosts missionary families and friends and visiting family members down there.  My favorite part is the floor.  It’s actually just painted concrete.  Many many years ago, she used one of those faux bois tools to make it look like hardwoods….and it is awesome because they have had floods before (busted water heater and a big washing machine malfunction!) and this cleans up really easy with no damage.  

My mom pulled that bed outta a neighbors trash when I was just a little one.  Still going strong :)

Between the two bedrooms, there is a tiny living space and a kitchen and a mini bathroom.   

Mom’s in the process of redoing the living area…she just got the dark loveseat. 

I love that I have these photos…do you ever look back at old photos and think that the most interesting thing in the picture is the way things were decorated in the room?  I do that a lot. 

The kitchen looked like this up until recently.  The cream box. 

For seven plus years my mom left the space up to Norn…it was her ‘apartment’ (‘department’ according to Cole) and I think now that they are out, my mom feels inspired to switch things up.  My mom is a renovator at her core.  She must change things….work on things….make things more beautiful.

So when the peeps at Encore contacted me to see if I had any need for countertop renovations, I was thisclose to turning them down before thinking of Mom.  I don’t have any counters in my house that I need to switch up right now….but I knew mom was working on her basement and figured I would ask her if she could use new counters.  Her reply?  “YES YES YES!”   

As Cole’s puppy Luna is demonstrating, mom’s basement kitchen was boasting very standard neutral laminate countertops.  They were in good condition but Mom was saying how she would like to try something with a little more contrast.   

It’s a simple three day process….although in my mom’s kitchen it took a little longer since dude…we’re busy.

I helped with the Frog Tape :)  Here’s an in-process shot.  Basically after you prep everything, you apply a bonding agent and then put on your new countertop which is like a clay consistency (it’s made with the cement mix and your color of choice!) and then you finish it to make it shiny.   There is a lot of sanding and cleanup in between…but in general, it’s really really simple brain-wise to do.

This is after we taped off the entire edge (mom’s planning on repainting the cabinets but cement is hard to remove so it’s always best to use the good stuff coughfrogtapecough to protect it) and then applied the cement/color mix.   Doesn’t it kinda look like a slab?!

It’s a good idea to use a credit card for really making sure your tape is well adhered.  Just rub it over the surface and then after your counters are done, use an Exacto knife to cut away any pieces that you can’t pull up easily.  That will keep your line straight and your cabinets/walls/everything else clear of cement mix.

And here she blows after the finish coat, removing the tape and moving everything back in. 

I love it.  I think it looks like slab concrete stained black.

Mom loves it too…especially the fact that it’s scratch resistant and stain resistant…which is always nice when you have grandkids and their puppies around a lot :)

Sorry about the cray-cray photos…it’s really tough to take good photos in such a small dark space with weird lighting. 

A little side by side action…


See the movement and the variation in the black?  Looks like a more natural stone…

And because my mom was chatting to me about how this was just the starting point for a makeover, I got overly excited and decided to photoshop a pic to show her how a few changes could go a long way. 

I love the photoshopped stove with the new counters.  And I know she has plans for a curtain switch soon….and I thought a new backsplash (my vote goes to a fun subway tile) and a new faucet would be some simple things to make the space really pop. 

Pretty funny how a new countertop can kickstart a whole dream basement kitchen makeover, huh?  This is like something my mom would do…the apple doesn’t fall far from that tree.  But for now…..let’s just chat about countertop makeovers – ever use a countertop product before?  I hadn’t.  New DIY experience for sure.  Ever switch up your light counters for something to put in more contrast?  Ever see a puppy that cute?  Me neither :)  Stay tuned for an encore performance later today!   

disclosure: Encore Decorative Countertop product was provided at no cost for my dear ole mom but I was not obligated to write anything positive.  Just wanted to share a new product and fulfill my mother’s need for DIY.  The opinions were our own…and yes, I stand by the fact that I dig the new counters and think Luna is the cutest.

This is a sponsored post brought to you by FrogTape. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.




    • says

      I believe she’s an Australian shepherd. We had a Australian shepherd/German shepherd mix dog growing up and we loved him….so when Norn picked her out, she knew the breed would work well with Cole :)
      xo – kb

      • says

        I was just going to comment that I love Luna and she definitely looks like an Aussie. We have a black tri Aussie and we LOVE her, so Norn and Cole did a great job picking her out!

  1. says

    I LOVE the new look! I am curious can this go on top of any kind of counter tops? We bought our home 2 years ago and I hate the emerald green Formica counter tops. This sounds like a great way to get rid of them! It very well may start a whole kitchen makeover too :)

  2. says

    WOW….I didn’t even know that was possible!!! What a great product for someone who wants a new look without the cost of replacement.

    I gotta say, you got me back on the frog tape train too. I had used it before but never really had a preference. Until I decided I was going to put stripes on our living room wall. Then I went straight for the frog tape. You want to know my favorite part? I love the container it comes in :) I end up reuseing it to pour paint in to cut in!

    Great post, can’t wait to see it all finished!!!

  3. Shamaira says

    The DIY counters look interesting. Were there any strong fumes while you were putting it on? Any lingering chemical smells from the process? I was wondering how much it cost, and I found it on Amazon for $269. Hmmm….for a couple hundred bucks more I can get all new laminate counters installed.

    I’m looking to change out my white laminate counters for black, but I can’t afford granite, so I was looking at getting the WilsonArt HD laminate counters. Have you or your readers ever heard of this one and have any experiences to share about it? Thanks.

    • says

      I haven’t heard anything about the Wilsonart HD laminate counters…but I do know that most laminates are not scratch resistant…so that is definitely one pro of this product. Of course, everything comes with a cost and time to consider but I would say that if you are looking for something that won’t mar easily, laminates are not the best choice. They do come in a variety of colors though and sometimes that is the tipping point.
      xo – kb

  4. qs777 says

    OMG! I can’t believe how great that looks! We have soapstone and this looks like a shinier version of it. Can’t wait to see what else your mom does with the space. One question: Was there a heavy smell while using this product?

    • says

      The only smell that we noticed was during the adhesive stage…day 1…but it wasn’t strong like say, glue. We had the doors open and a fan going so it wasn’t evident to us.
      xo – kb

  5. Melanie says

    Hi Katie,

    I’ve looked at that countertop product before. Was it fool proof? Does it look like a painted countertop?
    Our counters are not nice looking, but in great condition. I would love to change the color of it, but worry that it will just look like I painted my countertops.


    • says

      According to my mom (who did most of the shmearing), it was fairly easy. She said that the hardest part was if you had a lot of corners and were trying to get the mix into the tight corners, you might have to use a q-tip or the end of your finger. And no…it does not look like a painted countertop. It looks like a slab of either concrete or natural stone. Obviously I have only seen the black and so if you went with another color it might have different results but I figure that if you have a smaller kitchen and want to do a makeover of the entire thing, you could use this product and keep your costs really low.
      xo – kb

  6. says

    The counters look great, KB! The guy we bought our house from used something similar on our counters, but ours has flakes/speckles in it. After 3 years, it’s kind of driving me batty. I think I’d have loved it if he had done something solid/nearly solid like that!

    I love the look of that green subway tile, too!

  7. Annaliza R says

    I love the photoshop picture. I love subway tile. We actually got new counter tops put in and went an entire year without a backsplash because I couldn’t find the right one. I finally found subway tile just like the one in your picture only a khaki color. Matches my new granite perfectly.

  8. says

    I have basement envy, but it doesn’t take much! My basement is a bondfide hoarder dungeon. I’m intrigued by the Encore product, and I wonder how it will hold up over time? Although, I’m much too lazy to cover up my ugly blue counter…I’d rather just wait for our great big kitchen redo, whenever that may be!

    • says

      It’s probably not as durable as granite or quartz but as a transition for say, ugly blue counters, I would say it’s probably really a good choice. I believe you can always do the top coat again too…just in case it is looking dull in five years.
      xo – kb

  9. Kate says

    Those countertops are beautiful! I never knew something like that existed.

    Do you know what the product would have cost if you were to buy it? Their website didn’t list any prices…

    • says

      I think it’s only available through certain retailers…so the prices will vary but I believe it runs around $250 a kit. The great part is that if you like the look of concrete counters and don’t feel especially comfortable with building forms and pouring concrete, this is a great alternative.
      xo – kb

  10. Jeanie says

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful family you come from (and are to them). Good for you.

    I am glad Cole still has his room there and always will. Love that for him.

  11. Kate says

    I’m suprised the counter tops look that good with that process. Good product idea.

    But more importantly, that was concrete floor! I can not believe your mom did that to concrete floor. I love that idea and have an entire basement I can’t afford to finish with carpet and hard wood right now but it feels so gross and ‘basementy’ with the bare concrete floor that we barely use the space. It’s begging for more polish. I’ve got to go search for tutorials on that now.

    P.S. You should have your mom guest post sometime.

  12. kelsey says

    It’s definitely an Aussie… looks just like mine when they were pups. Cole is a lucky guy, he’ll never find a more loyal friend than that dog {maybe tied with Will}!

  13. Jenna says

    Wow, that looks great! I just went to the site to see how much it was (found it on a retailer site) and I’m thinking about it… we have ugly ugly stained cream laminate countertops and every day I think about how much I want to change them NOW.
    I hope your mom has fun redecorating! :)

  14. chrissy says

    That is funny….it is a tiny version of my kitchen…I have green glass subway tile, white cabs and black quartz countertops. It is a bright and fun palette that can look classic or modern or anything. I love my kitchen. The walls are about to go a grey-blue slate color because they are primer white right now (have been for a couple of years….I think you know something about renovating a kitchen when pregs? lol). With our tons of big windows in there the space can take the hit of dark color…it will just cozy it up. Can’t wait!

    Your mom’s basement looks great!

  15. Martina says

    Adorable puppy! Our dog’s name is Luna too!

    The counters look great! I’m also pretty impressed with the concrete floor that your mom painted! Our basement is bare concrete right now, and I’m looking for a creative way to upgrade it. It would be great if you could show a closer photo of the floor and maybe a brief explanation of what your mom did! As always, thanks for the inspiration! :-)

  16. says

    Dude! KB! Any chance Encore wants to give us a coupon code with this awesome?

    I have been having the worst countertop dilemma. After Sherdog infected me with whitekitchenosis, I have been obsessed with painting mine (it’s that weird light brown “wood” like yours was before Demo More) and I hate it. But the countertops are those faux wood monstrosities. Because I rent and am now freelancing from home, my budget is like whoaihavenone so I was having a super hard time trying to figure out what to do with them. There’s nothing wrong with them, aside from being ugly and those boxed countertop makeovers look horrendous…like plastic. No thanks.

    But this? This is very much like the cement option I was considering. I love it. Seriously.

    You might have just saved my kitchen. Thank you Katie B!

  17. Lori says

    I love this post. Mostly because when you speak about your family, but primarily your sister and nephew, your love and admiration for them just pours through your words. It always touches my heart. I love you for that. :)

  18. lisa says

    wow–that really makes a big difference! the counters look great.
    i used giani granite paint kit on our counters 2 years ago and they still look great. maybe you’ve heard of giani…

    i don’t know if this is too personal, but does cole still see his father? if it’s too personal you can just tell me.
    my sister got pregnant at a young age also. my niece’s dad left when she was 2 years old:(
    my aprenst helped them out sooo much throughout the years. :)

  19. Terri says

    I have been following your blog for over a year now and there have been several times I have wished it was possible to send a real hug out to you instead of a virtual one. The love you have for your family just shines through in this post.
    The countertop transformation is truly amazing, but… The puppy pic made my heart stop… we had a wonderful blue merle Shetland Sheepdog for 9 short years. I have missed that dog so much! Please, PLEASE, continue to post about Luna so I can see that cute face again. I bet Will is just as much in love with her as Cole is.
    Can’t wait for the newest Bower to arrive!

  20. Kelly K says

    Thank you for sharing this! I didn’t know this type of product existed. We have white laminate countertops with oak trim – ugh – that I was planning to paint with this faux granite spray paint, but I’ve heard that method can scratch very easily (and, let’s face it, probably looks cheap). This would be perfect.

  21. Sara L says

    I would love to hear more about how your mom did her concrete floors – that might be just the thing for our basement (always worried about flooding) – thanks!

  22. says

    When I first saw the pictures (without reading the post), I thought you finally tackled one of the little boys’ room! Hahaha…I was about to say it must be pregnancy laziness but then I thought, you’re painting and redoing your kitchen, where’s laziness there?

  23. Mychel says

    This may be a dumb question….but is the texture of the countertops a good feel? Does it feel more like concrete? Or is it more smooth? I’m seriously considering this option for us, thanks so much for the post!

    • says

      It’s not like a rough concrete. I think it all depends on how much and well you sand it. It’s like a smooth tile feel….not slick like a marble but more like a regular tile that has a smooth finish if that makes sense.
      xo – kb

    • says

      They are! They don’t get as much use as the upstairs counters do but they still look great after infrequent use. Sorry I can’t be more help!
      xo – kb

  24. Jessica says

    Just curious if they still look great? I am contemplating trying this. But probably use a more inexpensive product. I wonder if chalk paint would work well since it sticks to everything? Any idea? Thanks!

    • says

      They do! This space doesn’t get a lot of use like a primary kitchen would so it’s definitely not put under pressure day in and day out but for minimal use, it has held up great!
      xo – kb

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