Photography by Madelynn Furlong

Published on April 23, 2021

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When Madelynn Furlong moved into her 400-something-square-foot West Village apartment this February, everyone told her to paint her teeny kitchen white. Because then it will make everything seem bigger, right? “I don’t actually think that’s the best way to approach a small space,” says Furlong. The style setter, who has accrued hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers, wanted visual drama and a touch of sex appeal. “It’s my first New York place. I’m single. I want this to be my Carrie Bradshaw–type apartment,” she explains. So Furlong did the opposite of the obvious and started infusing the space with hits of black. The cabinets were an easy enough fix, but the ugly, stained white laminate countertops posed a unique challenge. 

It’s worth noting now that before picking up a hammer or paintbrush, Furlong presented detailed renovation plans to her landlord (specifically her ideas for the kitchen). Not only did this give her some negotiating power with her lease, but it meant she could create a space that made her feel good without worrying about losing her security deposit. “It really should be gutted, but I wanted to find a middle ground, because that can get super-expensive,” she explains. So instead of tearing out the ugly countertops, she resurfaced them using a $200 paint kit she scored on Amazon that’s supposed to look similar to black marble. “It’s pretty convincing,” she says. “It’s like a fake ’80s resin marble, which I love.” Here’s how she gave her tiny, but now mighty, kitchen new life—and you can do it, too. 

The Supplies

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Step 1: Prep the Paint Surface

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Starting with a clean counter will ensure the painting part goes smoothly, so go over the surface with a wet, soapy rag, then give it a light sanding with a fine-grit sandpaper. This won’t take long if your space is compact—just don’t forget the backsplash if you’ll be painting that bit, too.

The kit Furlong purchased comes with all the essential tools (brushes, foam rulers, mixing sticks), including a wax tarp you should tape down to any surfaces you don’t want to accidently paint. So go ahead and cover up your appliances, floors, and cabinets. 

Step 2: Paint It Black

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Apply two layers of the black matte paint that comes with the kit to your countertops and backsplash. Furlong notes the base color takes a few hours to dry, so turn on a good podcast or run a few errands in the meantime.

Step 3: Be Your Own Stone Yard

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Next up: the fun (slash hard) part. To get the look of marble’s veining (or something that sort of resembles it), begin to apply the white paint that comes in the kit to the black surface. Furlong compares the stuff to Funfetti or Silly String and suggests holding the bottle at a 45-degree angle as you spray it in long strips. 

Psst: It’s helpful to have a photo on hand of a stone surface you want to loosely replicate, that way you can get a feel for the spacing. Or take Furlong’s approach and cover up any parts you’re not working on with cardboard so you are only focusing on one section at a time. “I found that there were a few moments where I had to sand out the white stuff and repaint it black because I didn’t like the way it looked,” she says. Less is more. 

Step 4: Wait for It to Come to Life

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Once the white spray paint has dried, it’s time for the top coat. Don’t worry if your counters don’t look “natural” yet—Furlong says the self-leveling resin mixture is the thing that does the trick. “It really seals the deal,” she says. Pour the thick liquid on the surface and smooth it out with a foam roller, showing a little extra love to any spots that have a curve. Let the resin cure for 48 hours and you’ve got a kitchen Carrie Bradshaw would most certainly approve of.  

For hands-on advice from designers and pro DIYers, plus more scrappy before-and-after transformations, subscribe to Reno. Let your in-box do all the hard work—for now.

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