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!

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.)

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.

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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.

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(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.

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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!"

Pretty (at least I think so) Painted Vases

This is a FREE and EASY project that I’ve been meaning to do for a long while. Years, actually. I have no idea why it took me this long, because it was really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really easy.

diy painted glass vases

I had a collection of glass vases left over from our wedding. They were used for our centerpieces.

When was our wedding? Three years ago. These vases languished in a storage box for THREE YEARS.

Four vases are now rescued and the rest are sadly left behind…for now.

The four vases that I chose for this project:

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You probably should use enamel paint that’s designed for glass for this project, but I used latex paint from the 382 sample pots I have on hand. I’m not worried about painting peeling off because I don’t plan to put anything inside these vases. These will be purely for looks.

I have paint samples in many different colors, but I really liked this photo that I saw on Pinterest and wanted to keep all the vases in the same color family:

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These vases will hang out in our Expedit in the game room once they’re good and dry.

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They look so much better painted! The one on the left is sporting a very light gray shade (it looks whiter in person) that we considered for our living room back in the day, but passed over. The middle one is proudly wearing a Scrub color, but it looks so much better on her than on our laundry room walls! The left one is also painted with another laundry room reject. It looks a little more teal-er in real life, not so gray.

Paint colors: Sherwin Williams’ Site White, Martha Living’s Araucana Teal, Benjamin Moore’s Mount Saint Anne.

For the vases with crazy shapes, I went with more subdued colors and had fun with bright colors for vases with more classic shapes. I think it’s a good strategy!

I wanted to experiment with tape on the 4th vase, so I grabbed some green tape and tried to tape a simple border just below the rim, but it didn’t work out. The tape was hard to apply since I was taping it inside the vase and it just wouldn’t go around in a neat band. So I just let the tape do its thing and the ends met up alright in the end.

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Something different, I guess?

I decided to show you the progress while painting this vase. I didn’t use a paintbrush or anything fancy… I just let gravity do its magic. (Paint color: Sherwin Williams’ Calypso, briefly considered for our office and rejected because it was too bright)

pouring paint in vase

I protected the countertops with some foil – much more neat than paper towels.

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This is the fun part.

And then the light flashed! You can see the light plugged in the outlet just behind the vase. That light is SO annoying… it flashes like a fire alarm. I hate it. But it lets me know when Janella is crying.

So I had to stop the… ah, see? The light just went off. Speak of the devil. Hold on.

OK, I’m back.

After attending to the little queen for around an hour and half…

janella has two teeth!

“Look, ma! Two teeth!”

I finished swirling around the paint only to find a few splotches:

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This was caused by the paint drying before I could finish it. Luckily, it was easy to fix – I just wiped off the splotches and spread around the paint again and voila!

However, I don’t think the tape will work out…

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It seems like it leaked through in some spots. Nick says the leaks will give it “character”. I think that’s a great way of looking at things. That giant scratch on the dining table? Character. That stain on the rug? Character. A spot in the carpet that has been scratched up and destroyed by a certain cat? Character. Baby spit-up on the sofa? Character!

blue vase with tape

Well, come back in a week to see how this project pans out. The paint isn’t dry yet. There’s actually a lot of paint at the bottom of all the vases and I’m waiting for them to dry… it might take a while. Cliffhanger!

A few tips:

– Do this project only if you already have some glass vases and sample paint pots laying around. If you’re going to buy supplies for this project, get enamel paint for glass and get glass vases for 50% off at Hobby Lobby, please. *EDIT* Go to the Dollar Store instead! $1 each, can’t beat that.

– Don’t get interrupted by a baby.

– Do all the swirling in the vase at once, before paint dries. Then pour out the excess paint immediately. I didn’t, so it’s taking forever for the paint to dry.

– Don’t use a paint brush (or your finger!) to spread around the paint – they can leave marks on the inside that will turn you off if you peek inside. Just swirl it and the paint will level out by itself and look SMOOTH and professional.

– Bold colors for simple shapes, calm colors for crazy shapes.

– Don’t use these vases for anything – no flowers, no rocks, no nothing. They’re just for looks.

Despite the mistakes I made and some imperfections here and there, I really love these vases. When they were just glass, I had no use for them… and now I can’t wait to really decorate the Expedit with these vases. And the other vases that I have will be painted in other colors for other spaces in the house. Fun, easy, and FREE!

If only all of our projects were like that…

I first got the idea when I saw this at Sugar and Charm through the magic of Pinterest.

9 Things I Learned While Painting the Laundry Cabinets

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Before... with a bad paint job and 1,000 weird holes.

all sanded down and ready to go laundry cabinet

All sanded down and ready to go! (and the 1,000 holes have been filled with wood putty)

first laundry cabinet completed

It's a darker gray than what is shown here... but it's done!

Well, I had the whole weekend and what did I complete? One cabinet. Sans door. Out of three cabinets. But to be fair to myself, I did do a whole lotta of sanding, wood filling, re-sanding, more wood filling, san.. you get the idea.. on all three cabinets and four doors.

I also wanted to complete one cabinet first to see if the primer and paint could completely cover the old (badly-applied) paint. So far, so good…

Sanding, wood filing, priming, and painting aren’t very exciting activities and they can take forever, so you get a lot of time just thinking. Which can be dangerous for people like me, because sometimes I rehash the same thought again and again and again and again…. It’s so annoying to be me sometimes.

What did I think about while working on these cabinets? I thought about the things that I’ve learned, that I’m learning right now, things that I wouldn’t do again, and things that I was glad I took the time to do.

And of course I just had to share them with you. Here we go…

1. Bring the light into the garage.

I can only find the time to work on the cabinets after 6pm and seeing as that it’s winter (summer, hurry up already!) it’s already dark outside by the time I even think about putting on my painting clothes. At first, I just made do with the garage light but I was upset the next day when the paint dried and I could see all the imperfections. So I bought a floor lamp into the garage and it really made a HUGE difference!

2. Don’t put the lamp near the garage door (aka outside, aka where all the bugs are)

I think this one is self-explanatory. I had to quit my priming last night when stupid bugs kept on flying into the light and falling on my freshly primed cabinet and quaking to death. And I think I saw a black widow. Nick killed it. Texas… it’s warm (it was 80 degrees yesterday!), but it’s full of bugs and spiders. Especially in the springtime… Ulkghuuuu. Summer, hurry up already!

3. Inspect used cabinets thoroughly, no matter how much of a good deal they are.

I mean, open the door, look at the shelves, look at everything. The cabinets looked like they were in great shape, other than being dirty and suffering from a bad paint job, so we were thrilled with the price we paid for them ($55 for all three cabinets). But remember what I said about the 1,000 holes? Yeah. They were everywhere. I have no idea what the previous owner was doing with these cabinets! Holes in the bottom, holes at the top, holes at the sides, holes in the doors. All drilled in for some purpose… I think? I filled them all with wood putty, so they should be all covered up and undetectable once they’re all painted, but still! Hours of my life… gone… because of these 1,000 holes.

4. If you use a foam brush with primer, work slowly and with patience (if you have any).

Many blogs say they use a foam brush when applying primer and I always thought, ugh! I tried that before but it didn’t work well. But this time I just didn’t want to ruin another brush with oil primer, so I just looked at a foam brush in its eyes and told it that I would try my best. I took my sweet time and was gentle with that foam brush. And it worked great! And once I was done… throw away! Bye! No washing! Except for my hands… which brings me to the next point.

5. Wear sexy doctor gloves when working with oil primer.

Yes, you can wash the oil primer off your hands with olive oil (true story), but it’s gross and a waste of good olive oil and not really THAT effective. Just wear latex gloves. If you’re allergic to latex, there are latex-free gloves. And if you’re breastfeeding? When the little baby screams for food, you just pull them gloves off and wash the latex reside off your hands and become food! Easy.

6. Just do it. Or you’ll wish you did it… for the rest of your life.

I had a few moments of staring at a hole that I had overlooked and thinking, “I don’t care anymore. Just leave it. Nobody will notice.” This also was my thought every time I saw a little ding here and a paint splatter there. But I just knew I would only see these things and not the things that I did right when they were done and up in the laundry room. Just buckle down and do them. The first cabinet I finished… well, there’s a little ding in there and I completely didn’t see until it was all done. I am pretending that it doesn’t exist (it totally doesn’t exist! it’s not there!) and I refused to make the same mistake with the other cabinets. Thus, all the sanding, wood filling, etc etc etc that I did this weekend.

7. Tack cloths are a gift from heaven.

Tack cloths aren’t new to me, but I really realized how wonderful they are this weekend. I was getting sick of how my tack cloths were getting so dirty so fast that I just tossed them aside and used wet wipes instead and then paper towel to dry up. Then I was ready to paint… but I still could feel dust laying on the wood and smiling up at me. I took a swipe with a tack cloth… ALL GONE. They really do work. If there’s a LOT of dust, I do the wet wipe, paper towel, and then tack cloth. And if there’s a LOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT, I…

8. Just vacuum the dust up. Even if you don’t have a shop vac.

I was getting really frustrated at all the dust that built up in the corners of the cabinet. And when I turned it to paint another side, all the dust would come out and land on my fresh paint job. So I vacuumed it. Ahhh. It’s more fun to vacuum up sand dust than it is to vacuum the carpet. Because I hate our carpet. And I’m beginning to love our laundry cabinets.

9. Putting tape on wood is evil.

I really dislike the person who had the cabinets before us. They put tape on the back of one of the doors and that tape must have been 10 years old or something. There were four pieces of tape and I tried taking them off but the sticky-ness stuck around. I had to sand them off. Sanding worked, but still. Don’t put tape on wood. Please. Thank you. I hate tape on wood almost as much as I hate winter. Can summer please come now?

Well. If you’re looking for me tonight, I’ll be in the garage.