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Of Romans and a mahogany kitchen in Rampton

Listed under alcro, Blog, hand-painted kitchen, Richard Willott Posted Jan 31 2018

This spectacular mahogany kitchen renovation took Traditional Painter, Richard Willott, to the tiny village of Rampton, just outside Cambridge.

Painted mahogany kitchen – after
painted mahogany kitchen Cambridge

Painted mahogany kitchen – before
 mahogany kitchen Cambridge

About Rampton

Rampton is a small historic village situated on the edge of the Fens. It dates back to Roman times. When the Romans disappeared, so did the settlement, but it reemerged in Anglo Saxon times, built around the area of the present church.

Church of All Saints is one of only a handful of English churches with a thatched roof. There are only two examples in Cambridgeshire, and the other one is…? Answer at the end of the article!

It is believed that a castle was built just to the east of the village in around 1140.

Bringing a red mahogany kitchen uptodate

Fortunately with this particular project I didn’t have to deal with any disappearing Romans or thatched churches, I did however have to breathe new life into Mr & Mrs B’s dark red mahogany kitchen in modern day Rampton.

During our initial email exchanges, I had one particular question that I hear quite regularly. It is along the lines of:

It is such a dark base, doesn’t that limit how far you can go with changing the overall look of the kitchen?

These concerns are easily addressed on presentation of my sample doors and previous photographs from similar kitchens.

With minds put at rest, the colours were chosen and the start date was set.

My proven approach to kitchen painting

The specification for this project was: 2 coats of primer, 1 coat of undercoat and then 2 top coats in the chosen colour, which in this case was an Alcro equivalent to White Tie.

– Protect flooring and worktops

– Dismantle the kitchen, carefully removing and labelling all doors, drawers, kickboards and anything else which was to be worked on in my workshop.

– Clean carcasses and end panels ie wash down and sand.

– First coat of adhesion primer applied.

The same preparation process was applied to all the doors etc back at my workshop, to ensure a perfect and very durable finish.

– All the doors etc are painted to completion.

– Return to the house to finish the carcasses.

– Refit doors, drawers etc ensuring every door and drawer line matches.

– New handles fitted.


As you can see from the final pictures the transformation was spectacular.

painted mahogany kitchen Rampton

Mr & Mrs B were over the moon and very kindly posted this review.

From the initial preliminary contact to the completed kitchen, everything was done in a friendly and professional manner and on time. The final cost was the same as the quotation – almost unheard of in this day and age!!

To transfer a dark mahogany kitchen into a bright vibrant white one was a joy to behold. Thank you Richard for a first class job. We would certainly recommend you to anyone”.

PS St Michael’s Church in Longstanton is the only other church in Cambridgeshire with a thatched roof.

Richard can be contacted via his profile page on the Traditional Painter website, where there is a summary of his business, case studies, customer testimonials. His own website is FX Decor and as well as beautiful kitchen and furniture painting, Richard has a great portfolio of decorative paint finishes.

Tips and tricks

Colour is always a big factor in the kitchen painting process. One of many regular questions:

I have a really dark oak kitchen, I want to lighten up the whole space, so should we paint the cabinets and doors brilliant white?

It sounds logical, to paint kitchen doors brilliant (bluey) white in order to maximise the light in a room. It is technically correct of course, white will reflect more than any other colour. However, there is a significant amount of light thrown out by off-whites through to mid tone greys. Even dark paint colours in an eggshell sheen will brighten up the darkest of dark oak kitchens way beyond most expectations.

In other words, to brighten up a dark-ish kitchen, it is not necessary to limit your colour choices to brilliant white paint. Most colours are going to be significantly lighter and brighter than natural dark oak or orange pine.

And a little thought to lighting and types of bulbs can help too. Just make sure any changes to lighting have been made before you choose a colour while standing in the kitchen.

What makes matt paint appear flat, and gloss paint look shiny?

The basic choices for paint sheen are matt (10% sheen) eggshell/satin (20-40% sheen) and high gloss (80%+ sheen)

Matt paint looks flat because under a microscope you would see bits of pigment literally protruding out of the binder. (The binder is the “coating”, if you like.) Because the surface is “rough” or not uniform, light is reflected in many different inconsistent angles, so there is little glare hitting the eye.

Gloss paint is shiny because the binder forms an uninterrupted coating over the top of the pigment, and the even surface reflects light uniformly onto your eye.

(A gloss finish that is applied as rough as old boots, will tend to give off
spots of glaring lightness and brightness.)

Matt or gloss?

For decades there was nothing quite like a drop of white gloss on woodwork. Gloss was (and still may be) a synonym for “paint”. How many times I would hear

I would like emulsion on the walls, and white paint on the woodwork.

There has been a long term trend towards flatter finishes. Oil based eggshell was originally a wall paint – hands up who went to college and eggshelled walls with a 4″ brush and stippled out the brush marks as you went along?! But painters realised it was plenty durable enough for woodwork too.

When I started in the early 80’s, it was becoming ever more trendy to use eggshell instead of high gloss on interior woodwork on the grounds it offered a more sophisticated / understated / traditional finish, (pick your adjective),. And in recent years, matt paint has definitely come into vogue for kitchen cabinets, challenging eggshell finishes for popularity. (I can count on one hand the number of requests for high gloss painted kitchens.)

But with sheen comes technical challenges, because the usual rule of thumb is the flatter the finish, the less hard wearing the finish.

eg Trade matt emulsion. Every finger mark tends to show and won’t wipe off, because there is little to no protective coat on the surface.

You can protect flat matt emulsion walls with dead matt Polyvine decorator varnish. This will keep the low sheen too, but slightly changes the colour to a water wet version. More protective than dead matt is a satin clear varnish applied over matt emulsion, but you lose the matt sheen of course. For the longest time, if a customer wanted a durable emulsion paint for walls, you would look at a silk emulsion. Not the greatest of products.

Paint technology is however advancing all the time and there are many premium (posh) matt emulsions that offer a flat finish and excellent durability. Matt kitchen paints are increasingly well formulated too, but it is not unusual to advise clients with a busy household to consider a higher sheen to cope better with the rigors of everyday use.

How do I increase the durability of kitchen paints or paint for woodwork?

If you are thinking of applying a clear varnish as an extra layer of protection to kitchen paint, wait! You are much better advised to apply an extra coat of the kitchen paint.

Manufacturers have told us to not seal their kitchen paint with clear varnishes, because a second product could provoke any number of potential issues, from unwanted colour changes to poor adhesion. Exceptions don’t prove rules.

If the paint sheen you have decided on doesn’t seem tough enough for what you have in mind, you should consider a higher sheen paint, or a different technology. (More on that in a later post.)

We have plenty more information and answers to common questions on the TP forum.

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