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!

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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.)

The Story of the Headless Teal Lamp

Remember my spray paint mania? Well, it’s still going strong.

I ended the last post with this photo as a hint…

lamp in living room

I thought it was really obvious but nobody guessed it correctly!

I’ve had these headless lamps for a long time now…

They are beautiful and a smoky purple color. I bought them for our master bedroom, but the side tables we got later on were too small for these lamps.

So they were just hanging out in our office, doing nothing.

We had nowhere to put them. I thought they would work in our living room, but they added absolutely nothing to the room. The room needed more COLOR other than yellow and the lamps just didn’t do the job.

We looked for a great pair of teal or blue lamps, but couldn’t really find anything we liked or in our price range.

And so… you know what’s coming.

glass vase waiting to be spray painted

Yep, I decided to experiment on one of the lamps and spray painted it the same teal I used on The Thinker!

At first, it felt crazy to be spraying such nice lamps. But they were lamps we had no use for. And they were pretty inexpensive — we got them from Target. Instead of buying another pair, why not just use what we have?

Tape off the top and the cord. Prime it. And then… TEAL SPRAY PAINT TIME.

use blocks to keep lamp from falling over

I carefully covered the lamp with several layers of thin coats. I wanted it to be perfect. Near the end of all that layering, I needed to spray the bottom of it, so I turned it over but it wouldn’t stop rolling over. I was paranoid that I would come back into the garage to find the lamp broken and crying after falling off the box.

I added two little wood scraps on both sides to keep it intact. The lamp didn’t fall off, so I guess it worked!

teal lamp

I can’t believe how grainy this photo is. It can get dark in the living room when all the shades are pulled down and most of the time, they are, because the houses next to us are too close for our liking. We will need to add frost to the windows to give us more privacy, and then I will keep them pulled up much more than I do now.

But anyway. Look at the teal lamp!

teal lamp

Remember, they’re teal, not blue like they seem to be in these photos. Cameras hate teal.

The teal lamp just works beautifully in the living room. It adds COLOR and LIFE – two things our living room needed. Now, with the addition of some colorful pillows and some more color touches here and there, it will all work together.

Okay, let’s talk about the lamp shade. In the photo above, it looks great and white. But in real life, it was kinda loose and flimsy and when the light was turned on, it looked sickly yellow.

The lamp shade is from Target as well and I was so excited to finally have heads for the headless lamps, but I hated them so back to the store they went. And I will never (never say never) buy a lamp from Target again, because it is so hard to find decent compatible lamp shades for them.

Here’s why:

kinds of lamp shade types

graphic from LAMPS USA

Most lamps require a spider/harp fitter shade, but Target lamps use slip UNO fitter shades. Then what happens? You tear your hair out when you can’t find a cute slip UNO fitter lamp shade for your stupid lamp.

I did some research to see if I could convert the slip UNO fitter lamp into a spider/harp fitter lamp. Behold.. this tiny apparatus.

Slip Uno Adapter Harp Converter Lamp Shade Uno Euro Fitter

It’s called a slip uno adapter. The amazon description explains it well:

“Slip Uno adapters are made to fit directly over a plastic lamp socket found on lamps usually purchased at places like IKEA. This adapter will then let a harp attached to it. Then it will allow you to use nearly any replacement shade on that lamp. This is meant to be an alternative to the lampshade which has fitter already attached to it. You can now easily attach a harp to a lamp without one.”

Cool, right? But it costs $10. Yes, $10 for that tiny thing. Plus $4.18 for shipping. Then I will also need to purchase a harp and then… the reason I’m doing all of this work… a lamp shade.

*EYE ROLL*

I did some more research and one website (HERE) calls the little circle thing a “saddle” and says it should be 50 cents. What? Really? That sounds slightly better.

I’m going to make some calls to local lamp shops and let you all know how it works out. If you have any tips, bring them my way! Otherwise… give me good vibes.

Closing off this with a cute little Instagrammed photo of the lamp! Yes, we finally got a iPhone and hell didn’t freeze over. As far as I know, at least!

teal lamp

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.

sketch for art

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.

no paint on tape anymore

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).

painting over bed

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?

ribba frames

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.

Pretty Painted Vases, Part 2

I should probably explain my absence for the past three weeks.

Janella learned how to flip to her stomach and that resulted in days and days and days and days and days of sleep deprivation on my part, but now she is 100% happy sleeping on her stomach and I am 95% okay with it. Maybe 85%.

So. Where was I?

Ah, yes. The painted vase project.

painted vase fail

The good news? The paint was easy to remove.

peeling off the paint glass vase

After peeling off the huge globs of paint, I was able to remove the rest with a damp paper towel.

So you can see that the tape on the vase didn’t work out… but in some parts the tape really did work. You can see some crisp lines here and there. I think that tape COULD work if you had a lot of space (e.g. a bigger vase) to maneuver and press the tape on the glass harder than I was able to.

Once the vase was free of the paint, I just poured in some new paint and followed all of my tips. I tell you, I give great tips. The painting of this vase went beautifully and it dried much faster than the other vases did.

pretty blue vase

(Ugh blurry photo) Boring, maybe? But still pretty!

Since I still had several more vases looking forlorn, I tried another paint trick.

A few weeks ago we stopped by West Elm (aka Heaven on Earth) just to look around (and pick up a few cute things, of course) and I thought this vase was cute:

west elm vase paint stripeI told Nick, “Hey, what do you think of this? I could attempt this with one of our glass vases!!”

Nick chuckled to himself with one eyebrow raised and then gave me a little shrug and stuck out his bottom lip (the international facial expression for ‘maybe or whatever’) and walked away with Janella. The nerve…

I made this, and Nick loves it. Elisa for the win!

yellow stripe on vase

I just poured in a little of the paint – enough for it to slide down the side, but not too much that it’ll drip all over the place. But the paint was a little too thick so it moved way too slowly for impatient little me. And the stripe turned out to be triangle-y.

painting a yellow stripe on vase

I’m waiting for it to dry before doing the other side to reduce the likelihood of drips – and I will try thinning out the paint with a little water. That should work.

OK! Enough about vases! But wait. I want to bask in the glory of “I FINALLY DID IT AND IT LOOKS PRETTY” so look at this Expedit set up with my “new” vases.

expedit in game room

Can you spot all the painted vases? I also experimented with a painting technique from this tutorial (see the green vase on the right, second row) but it didn’t really make for a pretty result.

I enjoyed playing around with the styling of the expedit! It gave me a few minutes of relaxation in between Janella’s cries today. It’s still very visually cluttered, but it is so much better than what was there now. I “shopped” the whole house to try to fill out the expedit and now I know exactly what we need for it. We need some white things (see the closet light cover on the bottom right, ha) that pop, five baskets to line the bottom to fill games with and reduce visual clutter, and a few colorful frames here and there of our favorite people.

I’m also SLIGHTLY considering spray-painting some of the game boxes. That’s a little crazy, maybe?

Now you can go! And I promise I won’t disappear for three weeks again. Unless Janella learns how to stand on her head or something…

laughing janella

"HA HA! I have PLANS for you, mom! HAHAHA!"