Laundry Cabinets: Covering Up Gaps and Installing Molding

After we installed our laundry cabinets, we were left with two gaps – a huge one on the left and a sloped small gap on the top.
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Here’s how we covered up these gaps.

We cut a piece of wood to fit in the gap between the wall and the cabinet and painted it gray. So much painting. My painting clothes are covered with Web Gray. I’m so sick of Web Gray at this point.

Nick’s parents flew back to Pennsylvania and we were left behind to finish up the project on our own.

Nick pushed up the wood piece into the gap. We originally thought we would glue the wood piece to the cabinet, but the fit was so tight that we figured glue wasn’t necessary.

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Nick used a piece of wood to hammer on to make the wood piece flush with the cabinets. If he had hammered straight on the cabinets, we would be left with unsightly marks.

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All flush and ready to be screwed in!

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Yes, there’s still a gap at the top, but we’ll get to that later.

A note – our cabinets are solid, solid wood… VERY solid. Thus, we had to pre-drill all new holes. Here, Nick’s pre-drilling the hole where the screw will go in.

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Janella woke up from her nap so she joined into the action. But she apparently was still tired… She was reaching for the drill bits and yawned just as I took this photo!

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So cute. I look forward to having her hang out with us with her toy tools when we’re working on DIY projects in the future. So fun!

The last step was to put in molding (or moulding, which is the UK spelling that’s used in Northern U.S. Since we’re in Texas, I’ll spell it molding. Yes, I googled it).

Here’s a dumb and low-quality photo (thanks, Photobooth) of me holding up a primed but not yet painted piece of molding to show you its shape.

Photo on 2012-06-26 at 22.44 #2

We cut the corner edges using a saw and a plastic miter box. You don’t need a huge miter saw for this simple project. But that doesn’t mean I want one as a gift in the future (hint, hint).

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See how the molding covers up the gap perfectly?

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Next up was putting in the finishing nails. We were scared to do this part… and I really wished that we had a nail gun. In the end, I do think a nail gun would have been MUCH EASIER and efficient and would have given us a prettier result.

Nail gun, another possible gift in the future, cool? We could have rented a nail gun but this was such a small job that it wasn’t worth the price of rental.

We got this small hammer and a box of 1-1/2″ finishing nails. Some tutorials out there say to get 2-inch nails, but this worked just fine for us.

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The hammer, however, didn’t work so well. We quickly abandoned it in favor of a regular ol’ hammer. The process DID put some dings in our ceiling, but that was easily covered up with minimal drywall putty and touch-up paint.

We used this thing.. a nail set, I think it’s called… to drive in the nails some more to sink it lower than the molding.

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It worked okay. The thing is, our cabinets are SOOO solid that we actually had to pre-drill the holes before hammering in the finishing nails. Ugh. Another reason I really wish we had a nail gun. Newer cabinets might be easier to hammer in than the ones we have.

Then we filled in the holes with wall putty… because I just DIDN’T FEEL LIKE priming the holes, which I would have to do if I used wood putty. But it doesn’t look perfect. So… I will go back and cover them up again with wood putty, prime, and paint sometime later in the future. When I detox from all the painting I did. But this is a BIG IF because you really can’t see anything unless you look at the nail holes closely.

After lots of touching up on the ceiling, the walls, and the cabinets with lots of weird body bendings on my part…

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WE ARE DONE!

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The only thing I’m not sure about is the piece of wood that we added on the left. Should I caulk the space between the wood and the cabinet to make it look like one piece? Or would it look funny in the end?

Nick says we should just leave it, but I’m not so sure. I’ll decide later.

So happy that part’s done. We tossed our towels and stuff in these cabinets and it’s amazing how much these cabinets can hold!

There are even plenty of space left and we’re still planning on adding more storage solutions to the room. We do have lots of things, such as toilet paper and paint buckets, hanging out in random places around the house that I would love to transfer to the laundry room.

The laundry room is far from done, but the cabinets were a HUGE piece of puzzle and the room is now FUNCTIONAL. So happy.

What about you? Would you have done some things differently? We’re still new to all of this, so if you have any tips for molding or covering up gaps or installing cabinets, share them in the comments!

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How To Install Cabinets (or at least, how WE did it)

After refinishing the cabinets, it was time to install them.

At first, we weren’t sure how we would do it. I did some research on the internet, but so many “tutorials” were vague and made a lot of assumptions that the reader would know how to do a lot of steps.

We kept on putting it off… until Nick’s parents visited us in June. Nick’s dad, Anthony, is a whiz DIYer. He refinished his whole basement, built a deck and a porch, and did countless projects in his home and everything looks professionally done.

Anthony, move to Austin, pretty please?

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First, he found all the studs and we tried to figure out if we could just use the studs to drill in the cabinets. But since I wanted the cabinets to be arranged in this way:

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The studs just wouldn’t match up. We devised a solution with two long strips of wood. We drilled them into the studs and then drilled the cabinets into them. It worked perfectly!

Here is Nick marking out the stud placements on the strip of wood (I think we used white wood for this).

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Since the bottom strip of wood would be shorter due to the small left-most cabinet, we had to put in a strong anchor to make up for the lack of a stud in that spot.

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Here’s what it looked when the strips were drilled in and ready.

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We left the top strip naked of paint because you wouldn’t be able to see it when the cabinets were installed and I painted the bottom strip because… you would still be able to see it. You’ll see what I mean in later photos.

Nick’s mom, Sandi, jumped in and helped hold the cabinet up while Anthony did the drilling.

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There were already holes in the upper part of the cabinets that Anthony just used again to drill in the screws.

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We did two screws in the top and two screws in the bottom.

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We added the second cabinet and we tried our best to push together the two cabinets. We used a tiny clamp for this, but it worked okay. After we were all done with this project, Nick and I bought a pair of bigger and heavy-duty clamps so we wouldn’t be stuck with these tiny clamps anymore. Oh well!

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Then Anthony screwed together the sides of the cabinets to make sure everything was secure.

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The screw was put between the two little holes you see here – they’re for the cabinet door hinges.

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Then we put up the third strip – the smallest and also painted gray – for the bottom of the small cabinet.

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Some more drilling.

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Finally done with this step! All the cabinets are up and I’m happy.

But…. BUT. Look at the small cabinet…

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Do you see it? Of course you do. There was a huge gap between the side of the cabinet and the wall. AND the ceiling sloped up so there was another gap at the top of the cabinet. How annoying.

Come back on Friday to see how we covered up the gaps. It’ll be the last post on the laundry cabinets for a long while, I promise. I think.

Refinishing Old Cabinets

The saga of the laundry cabinets is so long, I’m dividing it up into three parts.

Today, we’ll talk about how I refinished the cabinets. On Wednesday, we’ll discuss how we installed the cabinets. Finally, on Friday, I’ll show you how we covered up all the gaps and finished it off with molding.

Here we go!

This is what we started with.

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The cabinets had dirty white paint that was sloppily applied.

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Paint spilled over the edges and the brush strokes were obvious.

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I took my detail sander and sanded off the paint drippings on the edges. I wish I had an orbital sander, which would have been a much more efficient tool.

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I thought I would sand off all the paint, but it was too thick and it kept on clumping up the sandpaper. So, I just focused on the edges and smoothing up the brush marks as best as I could.

In the next photo, you can see what the edges looked like before I sanded them on the left side of the sander, and the sanded down edges on the right side.

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After a LOT of sanding and going through several sheets of sandpaper, I was finally done! Well, eh. Done with the first step, at least.

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You can see how all the sand built up in the edges of the cabinets. I vacuumed them out with a vacuum (I need to buy a shopvac soon) and cleaned them up as best as I could.

Unfortunately, the cabinets STILL weren’t ready for paint. There was thousands of holes and dings that I had to fill up with wood filler. This was almost as fun as doing my taxes. No, doing my taxes was SO MUCH MORE fun than filling up all these tiny holes.

The next time I buy used cabinets, I will be sure to check for tiny holes. If there are too many of them, I will pass on them because of how long this step took me in the refinishing process!

But again, all that work and time was worth it because in the end, the cabinets were (mostly) smooth and looked like new.

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To reach that point, I used oil primer (two coats) and two to three coats of Behr paint color-matched to Sherwin Williams Web Gray. I used a foam roller and a high-quality brush.

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Come back on Wednesday to see how we installed the cabinets!

Before and After: Laundry Room Cabinets

The saga of the laundry cabinets is a long one. Luckily for you, I won’t discuss it now. I will go into all the details next week.

For today, I present you some instant gratification! A simple before and after.

This is what the cabinets looked like when we bought them from a Habitat For Humanity Restore.

Peeling old cream paint, filthy both inside and outside, and many dings and other defects all over that required wood putty. Lots and lots of woody putty.

This is the wall in the laundry room that waited SO long for the cabinets.

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I can’t find a true before photo that shows you the inefficient shelf and clothes hanger rod that were there before, but this is the best I could find. The shelf was too shallow, so towels kept on falling off and a little cat kept on making the situation even worse.

And today, it looks like this!

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Never mind the stuff on the machines. Focus on the cabinets. And the pretty knobs! The knobs are from Hobby Lobby.

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The cabinets make me so happy. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s all worth it.

I’ll discuss later about the other things that we’re working on in that room and what things we want to change (the ceiling light, for one).

But for now… let me bask in the cabinets. You are done, cabinets. D-O-N-E.

Tutorial: How to Prepare Plywood for DIY Art

plywood

I have a few ideas for DIY art for my home, but pre-stretched canvas can get expensive fast.

Allow me to demonstrate. A standard 4 feet by 8 feet birch plywood, 3/4 inch, will probably cost you around 40 bucks. A pre-stretched canvas in the same size might cost you around 150 to 250 bucks, depending on the quality of the canvas and where you buy it.

Now, if you cut up that piece of plywood into four 2 feet by 4 feet pieces, you would have four surfaces ready for artwork for the same price: $40. To buy a 2×4 (or 24×48, in inches) canvas, you would have to fork over around $20. For four canvases, $80.

I want to do a painting for the space above our bed with plywood and latex (wall) paint, but I wanted to see if these elements would work well in creating an art piece. I didn’t want to do all the work just to end up with a disappointing result.

(Why latex wall paint? Well, I have a very specific color palatte that I would like to use for the painting for the bedroom, but I have no idea how to mix acrylic paint colors. I’m not an artist. It’s easier to get the specific colors I want from Home Depot than mixing them myself.)

I found a small piece of plywood smiling up at me in the garage so I said to it, “Plywood, you shall be experimented upon.” Don’t worry, no plywoods were harmed as the result of this experiment.

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I started with a piece of plywood, gesso, sandpaper, and wood filler. Not pictured is primer spray paint.

The first step was to make it smooth as can be. My plywood had splinters on the veneer, so I tried to sand them down with grit 80 sandpaper, but the splinters didn’t go away and I created new splinters.

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I tried 120 grit sandpaper and it worked so much better! Too-high grit sandpaper and plywood don’t play well with each other, apparently.

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Some really big splinters were filled in with wood putty.

The edges of the plywood are… well, it’s plywood, what do you expect?

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I read somewhere that you could add wood putty to fill in the edges to make them look more solid. I thought I would try it.

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I let it dry completely and then sanded it.

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Not perfect, but much improved.

Then I primed one side with primer spray paint, along with the edges. I ran out of the primer so I couldn’t do the other side, but that was fine because I wanted to experiment with gesso and see if it was better to apply primer on plywood before adding gesso or if primer was really unnecessary.

Finally… it was time to put on the gesso!

(If you’re wondering what gesso is, read this.)

See how thick it is:

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That’s from the seal on the bottle. So thick. You can use it to give your painting some texture, like I did on one side (more on that later). You could thin it out with some water if you want a smoother coat.

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See how thick it is. And you can see the primed side of the plywood in the above photo.

Then I just used a small paint brush and put the gesso on the plywood – thickly. I wanted to add some texture to the final painting.

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And on the other side (which was unprimed), I brushed the gesso on carefully to make it as smooth as I could. I wanted to see which application looked better. After two coats, it looked like this:

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It’s not as opaque as the primed side, so I had to do a third coat. it’s now 100% white but the texture is a little weird, almost like the wood buckled a little in some areas, a little wavy. I would definitely do the primer first for future plywood paintings.

Ok, finally ready to start painting!! I’ll show you the final result and how I got there in a later post. This post is too long already!

I won’t hestitate to do future DIY art on plywood. It’s pretty easy to do and the savings are great! But sometimes there are great sales on canvas that I just can’t pass up… such as this one at Michael’s:

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Buy one at regular price, buy second one for a PENNY. Isn’t that crazy?! I think I will stop by there tonight and pick up a couple. Why not?

(Check out your local Michael’s if they have this sale, too. This sale lasts until May 19.)

Spray Paint Mania

Do you get spray paint mania? Right after you spray paint something and you remember how easy it is and you love the result, you go foraging around the house looking for things you can spray paint.

I’m in the middle of a manic episode right now. I’m even considering spray painting my dining table. Fortunately, there’s a wise guy here named Nick who will stop me from committing this madness.

But nothing is stopping me from spray painting things that don’t work in our house in their original state.

It all started with this little project:

the thinker and the cat, before

The Thinker and the Snobby Cat were both Home Goods finds. We grabbed The Thinker a long while back for the office and I planned to spray paint it white, because it was just too dark and we don’t need any more gray things in this house. The Snobby Cat is a recent find and it was too silver – the kind that looks cheap. It looks better in the photo than it did in real life.

My original plan: turn The Thinker into a white statue and paint the Snobby Cat a cool orange.

I gave both mini-statues a coat of primer. This step changed everything.

The Thinker just didn’t look good in white. It made him look fat… well, not really. He just had too many dents and dings and he looked weird. This photo shows this, but this was after the first coat of teal spray paint.

The Thinker doesn't look good in white

Sorry to ruin the surprise but we decided to make him go teal.

Also, the white primer on the Snobby Cat looked really good and I decided that he had to get a lighter color than orange. What about a bright yellow?

Snobby Cat turns yellow

He’s still snobby, but he looks better doing his snobby thing.

Here’s The Thinker in all of his teal glory.

The Thinker goes teal

Why does my camera curse me so? That’s not teal, that’s blue, camera!

Here’s the same photo, edited heavily to show you the real teal color that it looks like in real life.

This, but only darker.

Well, this is a really simple project (spray paint projects always are) but let me tell you something that I learned…

Rust-oleum spray paint is the best.

rust-oleum spray paint is the best

It coats BEAUTIFULLY… Just be sure to shake the can constantly as you spray. It costs slightly more, but it’s worth it. It’ll be the only spray paint I’ll use from now on – if the color is right. I just wish they had more colors!

The Thinker was sprayed with Rust-oleum Satin Lagoon and Snobby Cat was sprayed with Rust-oleum Gloss Protective Enamel in yellow. Both great, bright, saturated colors.

The pair is now happy in their new home – the Expedit in our game room.

The Thinker and Snobby Cat in their Expedit Home

The nice thing about creating a home with a good color flow is that these things can be put in any room and still look good. So, even though they look good in the expedit right now, they might make a move sometime in the future.

Remember what I said about my current manic episode? Well… guess what I’m working on right now. Here’s a hint:

In other news – I hope you had a great Easter weekend!! We spent ours at the park and it was perfect. Mounting Bloggif

Finding a Home For My Swirly, Colorful Painting

I thought it was time to get started on the art for our living room. I saw this beautiful art installation at an Anthropologie store in Austin (at the Domain) and I wanted to recreate it for our home.

art at anthro

It’s much more majestic in person – it’s huge, spanning the entire wall behind the cash registers, and it’s outlined in gold paint.

But I didn’t want to get started on this without doing a test drive first. What if it didn’t look good in our living room? And what colors would I use?

So, I did a much smaller version of the artwork.

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With the help of the photo of the artwork on the laptop, I sketched out this outline. But before I put pencil to paper, I put tape to define the art space and to divide it into three parts to fit into our three large frames in the living room. If you look closely, you’ll see the tape – along the bottom, the top, and between the three sections. You can see the tape better in the next photo.

tape on painted artwork

It was hard trying to choose the colors I wanted to use. I also was somewhat limited by the acrylic colors I had and they didn’t take too well to color mixing, or I don’t know how! I wish I took color theory or something in college. I took a bunch of drawing classes, but no painting ones. Regrets, terrible regrets.

The tape was really helpful when it was time to paint. As you can see above, I painted over the tape and then it was easy to remove the paint from the tape. All I did was to add a bit of water to the tape and then wipe it away with tissue.

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I wasn’t completely happy with the color choices I made, but this is what I ended up with:

completed artwork... hmm

Now it was time for the big test. I brought it to the living room and held it up to see how it would look in the space.

My face looked like this:

Old photo of Janella - from late November, when she was around 6 weeks old. She was so tiny!

It didn’t look right. The art was whimsical and the living room was more simple, modern, and had clean lines. The painting, not so much.

But I did like the painting. So, I thought about where else in the house I could put it in. I held it up at different places and finally arrived at my bedroom.

Here’s what it looks like (sorry for the MESSY bed and the blurry shot, I was holding a squirming Janella in my arms).

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I think it works better in there, but the bright colors don’t really go with our chandelier. I downloaded a free trial of Photoshop Elements and played around with the colors.

painting over the bed, after photoshop

I think this could work! I can add outlines of silver paint, like how the original art did with gold paint, and paint the sides in silver as well.

I have a few large pieces of plywood in the garage that I’ll use for this project. Since I’ll be using plywood and not canvas or paper, I think wall paint should work just fine. This gives me much more choices in colors without worrying about color mixing!

Off I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s to pick up a few paint chips and figure out a good color scheme.

I’m not sure whether I will be doing a triptych for this room or do it on one large piece of plywood. Let’s see. What do you think? I also plan to add mirrors behind the lamps on both sides of the bed. Maybe round mirrors to offset all the sharp lines. We’ll see…

It’s great how doing small-scale samples can help us make better decisions for our home. Along with the help of technology, of course!

What will we do with the still-empty frames above our living room sofa?

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Do another small-scale painting, of course. I think I will try making some swirly black art, like I talked about 3,221 years ago. I thought I should go with something with a bit more color, but my original plan is probably the best one. Funny how that works out.