December 1, 2015

Kitchen Cabinets: More Details

One of the most daunting projects on my Sixteen Days of Getting my House in Order was painting the cabinetry in our kitchen.  I finished the week-long project early-mid October, so we've been living with white cabinetry for six weeks now. 

My overall six-week-in evaluation?  I cannot believe the difference white cabinetry has made in this space.

I thought I would share more details about my process in this post, and also give an update on how the paint is holding up in our busy family kitchen.

First of all, there were a lot of beautiful things about the original kitchen, specifically the warm tones of the wood stain and the textured travertine backsplash. 

However, as we've worked to make this home more our style, the dark colors in the kitchen began to clash more and more with the brighter, whiter spaces we were developing in the remainder of the house.  (Plus, although you can't see them well, the kokopellis featured in the backsplash ~ did you know these little hump-backed flute players are fertility deities in Native American cultures?? ~ are not really my first choice.  Cute, yes.  But in tile?  In my kitchen?  Not so much.)

Another reason for making the change was that the finish applied to the original cabinets was wearing badly on the lower cabinetry, and it was in such bad condition I cringed every time I looked at it.  Which was numerous times every day.

Finally, with Fireman out of town and my inspiration surging, I dove in on a Monday evening to remove all the drawers and cabinet doors so I could start painting on Tuesday.

This task alone took me two hours.  I used a DeWalt drill, labeled all the hinges and cupboard doors/drawers with masking tape, and hauled everything down to the garage (I wrote the cupboard/drawer contents on the tape, like coffee, cereal, bowls, etc since I'd recently reorganized our kitchen and was happy with the placement of things).

I began with the drawer fronts, sanding with a handheld mouse sander, and then applied a coatprimer.  I used Sherwin Williams PrepRite.

I let the primer dry over night, then applied a coat of Sherwin Williams Pro Classic Creamy, in Satin finish.  I used a brush on the drawer fronts simply because I hadn't decided if I was going to roll or spray the cabinet doors yet.

Plus, I was very excited to see what the Creamy color looked like in the kitchen, and drawers were a quick way to view results!

Next, I laid out the cabinet doors on any space I had available.  By this point, I had decided to brush AND roll the cabinetry all by hand.  I had a couple reasons for doing this.  One, I have never used a sprayer and was nervous to experiment on my highly visible cabinetry.  Two, I've painted so much furniture over the years, I trusted myself to do a quality job.  My last consideration was that ProClassic paint is a self-leveling paint, which naturally minimizes brush-strokes and roller dimples as it dries.  This leads to a beautiful spray-like finish.

I won't lie...sanding all these cabinet doors took a long time.  I put on my mask and simply walked around the tables sanding everything with my mouse sander.  Because the finish was wearing off on so many of my cabinets, I didn't have to sand long and hard on them, but it was still time consuming. I sanded both sides since I planned to paint both sides.  I would guess, in all, the sanding took about two hours.

Next, it was time to apply primer.  I used a brush in all the grooved/detailed areas, then rolled out the flat areas, taking care to blend the brush application with the roller.

I let the primer dry for the day, then turned all the cabinet doors over and primed the other side that evening.  Each coat took me one hour for all the cabinet doors, so I've now completed two hours of actual painting.

(Note: I planned application so the "finish" coat was always the front of the cabinetry.  Using cuts of short 2x4's underneath the doors, I tried to be careful not to mar the primer and paint as I turned them over, but there was a very little bit of scuffing I had to sand out and touch up when all was said and done. They make dandy little yellow supports for jobs like this at Home Depot, and I think I have eight of those things around somewhere, but we're pretty Old School around here and wood is always aplenty.)

By the next day, the doors were ready for the first coat of Creamy paint.  Again, one coat on all the doors took an hour.  I let the first coat dry at least 6 hours, then flipped them over and painted the other side.

My paint brush is fuzzy in this photo, but you can see here how I painted in the grooves first.

For the second coat, I again flipped all the doors to the "inside" of the door (the one you wouldn't see when installed) and applied the last coat of paint.

I let this last coat dry at least six hours, then flipped them and painted the final coat on the fronts of the doors.  At this point, I was downright giddy with how the finish was looking!

Now, as a furniture painter, I know it can take up to 30 days for paint to cure.  As excited as I was to get my cabinetry reinstalled in the kitchen, I knew it was in our best interest to wait an extra day or two to get the paint as dry as we could manage before attempting to hang them back up. I believe we waited two days before reinstalling.

And oh, how fun that was :)

I was so busy sorting out hinges and screws and holding cabinet doors level for Fireman and reinstalling hardware I didn't even have time to snap pictures of this process.

So I waited until we were done ~

I still love it each and every day!

We already had bronze knobs for our cabinet doors, but ended up having to fill the original drawer holes and drill new ones to replace the handles.  I love the vintage look of the beaded edges.

I gave special instructions to everyone in the family to please be extra careful with the cabinets for the next 30 days...but you know what?  They've held up beautifully!  My three kids are very active participants in food prep, cooking, and cleaning, so this area gets its crazy fair share of activity every day, but this painted cabinetry is working hard right along with us.

We did have minimal chipping around the knob to the undersink cabinet door, but this is where we keep our trash and that door is opened hundreds of times a day.  Just yesterday, I lightly sanded it and touched it up with more paint.

Which brings me to a finish coat.  You'll notice I didn't apply a polyurethane or wax finish coat, and some may think I'm crazy for not.  However, I am such a firm believer in the ProClassic paint, and its enamal-like finish once cured, I believe it's enough of a protective coat in itself.  Also, I wanted the freedom to touch up any chip spots as we progress through our daily lives, and not having to work around a polyurethane makes this option easier.

That said, we are six weeks in and the paint is holding up beautifully.  Even better than I expected.  I absolutely love it.

Total sanding, priming, and painting for all drawers and cabinets took eight hours, but the drying time in between each coat is what makes the process drag out for a week or more.  Worth it?  Absolutely.

Now my Christmas wish is for Santa to bring me a new tile backsplash....minus the kokopellis ~

November 30, 2015

DIY Christmas Ornament

Today I'm sharing a little DIY project because it's been awhile.

This year, more than any other, I am committed to savoring small moments during the Christmas season.  I've found that these moments can sneak up on you when you least expect them.  Here are a few from our weekend:

  • Roaming through Santa Claus House in North Pole with the kids and stumbling upon a video of a lady painting glass ornaments from the inside.  Captivating! (To clarify, the lady wasn't on the inside, but her paintbrush reached inside the ornament.)
  • Turning to see my two teenage sons carrying the very heavy Christmas tree box up two flights of stairs...and realizing it was no longer heavy for them.  My heart filled with gratitude and thankfulness for two strong, maturing young men in our home.  
  • Watching my daughter open the first Christmas storage box and seeing her eyes fill with delight at the light-up Santa ornament on top.

Crafting is a way I savor small moments, too.  Working with my hands, 'O Holy Night' playing in the background, I find calm in the midst of busy.

One of my goals this year was to add a few large ornaments and red/white greenery to our tree before adding all the traditional personalized ornaments we've collected over the years.  But when I priced large snowflakes and tree ornaments, I was seeing price tags around $12 apiece.

As is often the case, I opted to make my own.  I found these large chipboard shapes at JoAnne's for just over $2 each (they were 50% off yesterday).

After removing the tags, I drilled a hole in the top of each one for a string.

Then I painted them white (I used a chalkpaint I had on hand so it dried quickly). I painted both sides.

Then, I took a gold paint pen and outlined around each ornament to add some detail.

I had planned to distress and paint the ornaments; however, when I held the white up to our tree, I decided I liked the brightness of the white better.  It stood out more.

To finish, I sprayed this gold glitter spray over each ornament.  I don't know how long I've had this spray.  At least ten years.  I don't know if I've ever used it before, but it worked great.  (I placed the ornaments on Safeway bags to protect my counters. I was enjoying being in my kitchen and didn't want to take them all out to the garage.  The fumes were strong, though, so I turned on the kitchen fan to air things out.)

Here's a glimpse of the snowflake on our tree this morning.  The sun was shining brightly through the window, highlighting Isaac's 2015 raccoon ornament.  It's a Coon, which is our last name :)

I took this photo with my phone so it doesn't show the glitter much, but when the light hits it right, you can see a subtle shine.  The size of these ornaments makes a nice statement on the tree.

Our family will be home this evening so we will decorate the rest of the tree then.  It's been up for two days already and we've slowly fluffed the branches, added a new tree skirt, poked and prodded flowers in its branches, vacuumed all the misguided needles on the floor......

....and patiently waited for Dad to have another day off so we can add the final touches as a family.

Savoring the small moments.

October 30, 2015

Sixteen Days: New Kitchen & Surrender

Okay, I'll admit it.  When I originally committed to getting my house in order in Sixteen Days, I truly believed I would be done by Labor Day.

Please don't laugh.

Have you ever experienced one of those seasons in which it felt like each circumstance and event was strategically lined up for the sole purpose of challenging your personal resolve and commitment?  In spite of best-laid plans, sky-high inspirations, and truckloads of work ethic, so many things came flying your way that you finally had to throw up your hands in the air, take a gulpy deep breath, and do the one thing that is


The thing is, in the midst of surgeries, septic issues, broken garage doors, red-eye flights, bladder infections, a very sick dad, and a deeply-loved family member working her way through her own life-altering decision, one Scripture verse keeps running through my head over and over again.

We can make our plans,
But the Lord determines our steps.
Proverbs 16:9 

Having always been a planner, I become easily thrown off when I find myself responding to urgency and unexpected events throughout the day. I am much more comfortable mundanely stepping through the to-do's of order and structure.

The palpable unnerving I experience when unexpected situations arise resounded like a Holy Ghost alarm 20 years ago as I considered a career in EMS (I met Fireman while we were both student firefighters in college). Probably best I didn't go that route.

I like predictability, function best with a plan, and become quite keyed up if a day is too disorganized and uncertain.  I can actually feel my cells vibrate from too much stimulus.

I'm not joking.  Ask Fireman.  He knows that look on my face when cells are over-stimulated. 

But at 44,  I've learned to swerve and dip of necessity, recognizing that my schedule can become an idol if I'm not careful.  I practice "letting myself" flow with the current, belting out the words "All to Jesus I Surrender!" ~  all the while trusting things will certainly be better tomorrow.

Back when I' guessed it...on a schedule.

O wretched man that I am.  What I will to do, that I do not do; 
but what I hate, that I do.  
Who will deliver me from this body of death?  
I thank God ~ through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Romans 7:15,24-25

Whatever would I do without the grace of the Cross?

I do believe our God is a God of order, and that schedules and planning are a good thing.  Where I get into trouble is when my scheduled steps begin to diverge down a grassy path I feel is in need of wear...

....and I inadvertently miss the most important path which makes all the difference.

There is a path He has lovingly and graciously prepared beforehand.  For ME.  Steps He has ordered and determined for my growth in faith, my trust and obedience, and ultimately my greatest fulfillment. 

Even if My Sixteen Days turn into Sixteen Weeks.

I am learning, sometimes painfully, to be okay with that.

September 25, 2015

Sixteen Days: Food Storage

One goal I had in mind when I set up my Sixteen Days of Getting My House in Order was to rethink our household food storage.

Our kitchen is not large, and therefore does not offer many options for food storage.  One way I've worked around this dilemma is to repurpose furniture pieces as food storage areas.

Just this morning we finished "moving in" to one of these repurposed furniture pieces and I quite simply can't believe we didn't do this sooner.

We have needed a designated space for snack items, lunch prep things, plastic utensils, and party items (think birthday candles, candy sprinkles, etc.) for a long time.  This hutch sits directly in the midst of our dining/kitchen/living rooms which makes it an ideal storage place for these items.  The only thing is, when we tried to use it without adequate shelving, it ended up looking like this:

I'm sorry you had to see that.

Once I decided a couple months ago to build shelving in this space, it quickly became a dumping ground.  I justified it by telling myself it was just a matter of time before we solved the problem.

But still.

The red teapot and rice cooker ended up in there after I put open shelving in our kitchen, but they never really belonged and simply took up room.  They now have a designated space in a hall pantry. We also moved the games down to the family room.

Here's the front of this beautiful hutch.  It's been ours for almost 13 years, and it's one of the few pieces Fireman has asked me to please not paint. I originally fell in love with this piece on the JCPenney website, and we waited and waited for a good sale to take the plunge.  It was still frightfully expensive to our young married selves.  I can still remember the delight and celebration of purchasing a quality piece of furniture back then.  It was like we had finally arrived.

The first thing I did was to prime the black interior with SW PrepRite primer, and then I painted two coats of Farrow & Ball's Light Blue.  I used a small sponge roller to paint and it went pretty fast.  I listened to "The Best of..." Midday Connection reruns while I painted because...well..... I love them, too.

Then, Fireman came home.

And before breakfast was over, I had sketched out my shelving idea on a yellow Post-It pad. Here is our conversation in brief:

Fireman: You want CURVES??
Me: I want it to look pretty.  And the curved edges on the shelves will mimic the curves on the front of the doors.  It will look like art.
Fireman (defeated): Why must you make everything so hard.....?

And then I went to the store, and I came back, and he had lovingly crafted this:

I couldn't believe how pretty it was.  And that it had curves.  That he had taken my HARD and made it a reality because he loves me that much.  I'm still getting emotional about it while I'm typing. I told him he's an artist because he truly is.  He just doesn't want to admit it.  

Before supper I primed his beautifully curved shelves, after supper I painted them, and by morning they were ready for move-in.

I split our placemats and table cloths into fall/winter on the left, and spring/summer on the right.  I may have to explain this a few times to my staff for proper future placement.

I already had the 2 woven baskets, and I bought the small wooden bins at Michael's for $6 each (all baskets at Micheal's are 50% off right now).  I had some adhesive-backed blackboard paper leftover from another project, so I traced around my yellow Post-It notepad to make three squares on the paper, then cut them out to stick on the front of the wooden bins.

I told Fireman I may never close the hutch doors again :)

I will end this post by encouraging you.  When I set out to complete these Sixteen Days, I didn't expect the process to be so rewarding.  There were so many small areas in our home I had neglected or kept meaning to address, but never seemed to make them a priority.  Making a list of all these areas, putting myself on a schedule, and then telling you all about it has not only been motivating, but the unexpected delight is that I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor in my very own home.

It feels good to be "watching over the ways of my household" as described in Proverbs 31:27.

For me, it was simply a matter of making a list, having a plan, and getting busy.  Let me encourage you by prompting you to take that first step!  Make your own list, put yourself on a schedule, and see where it leads.  I'll be cheering you on the whole way.

September 21, 2015

Sixteen Days: Stairs and Bravery

The last few weeks I've been preparing a Bible study based on Annie F. Down's book Let's All Be Brave.

According to Annie, painting risers on the stairs as part of my Sixteen Days of Getting My House in Order definitely qualifies as brave.

Here's why:

"The moment you take that first step,
the moment you start,
little seeds of courage,
the ones already planted there right now,
begin to sprout in your heart.
You aren't headed out to find courage.
It's in you, it is blooming,
and it is with you as you say yes 
to things that seem scary."
p. 23, Let's All Be Brave

The thought of painting my stair risers was, indeed, scary for me.  In spite of many hours painting furniture, walls, and various accessories over the years, painting laminated risers in a high-traffic stairway scared me.

I was afraid the paint wouldn't adhere, afraid that it would chip and scuff over time, worried that painted stairs would negatively affect the resale of our home down the road.


Because that's what it was ~ fear.  As I've studied, pondered, and evaluated the concepts of bravery and courage, I'm learning to better recognize and identify fear voices within my own mind.  This has been an intriguing journey for me.  In the past, I haven't been quick to identify certain internal voices as fear, but instead would have described my thoughts using the word "concern," or "nervousness."

As I'm becoming more self-aware, I'm learning to identify fear for what it really is ~ voices and thoughts set on sabotaging my freedom in Christ ~ and to consider how willing I am to let those fear voices dominate my daily choices.

Even if it's something as silly as painting my stairs.  Because yes, painting stair risers is not a life altering decision.  However, for me, the process of painting these risers last week brought me one step further (pun intended :) on my personal journey of courage and freedom.

The same fear voices I hear when I set out to paint my stairs are the exact same voices I will hear when I worry over my children, or feel a prompting to reach out to someone hurting, or agree to teach a class at church. 

Fear voices are prolific, but only if I let them be.

Now about those stairs....

I had this beautiful picture in my mind ~ a seed if you will ~ that was overdue to bloom regarding these stairs. Adding this home project to my Sixteen Days calendar was just the impetus I needed to take that first step.  And Annie F. Downs was exactly right:  The moment I placed the first run of blue tape on the first stair, my courage began to grow.

The thought of sanding all those narrow risers by hand would have certainly pushed me over the edge, so I opted instead to rub a Sander/Deglosser over each riser with an old rag.  The deglosser took the shine off the surface and helped prepare the risers for primer and paint.  When applying, I placed a sheet of wax paper over the stair below to protect it from drips.  I used blue Scotch painter's tape to protect the top of the steps from paint.

After the sander/deglosser dried (about 10 minutes) I applied one coat of Prep-Right primer and let it dry for a couple hours.  The primer application took me two hours, and I listened to Dave Ramsey podcasts the whole time.  I love him.

PrepRite® ProBlock® Primer/Sealer

That evening, I applied one coat of SW ProClassic (color: Creamy) in a Semi-Gloss finish.  The ProClassic line is amazing for cabinetry and trimwork since it self-levels (eliminates brush strokes) and dries with an enamel-like finish.  This coat, too, took two hours to apply. I let the first coat dry overnight before applying a second coat the next day.

ProClassic® Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel

The second coat didn't take quite as long, just over an hour to apply, and gave the risers that quality, professional-style finish that will hopefully be a selling point rather than a detriment should we ever sell this house down the road. 

As you an see, I also painted the ledger boards along both sides of the stairs.

I think I love it. 

For comparison, here is a view of our stairway the week we closed on the house five years ago:

And today, after a large dose of courage:


Bravery doesn't mean abandoning caution.

Bravery doesn't mean throwing yourself into an activity without first counting the cost (Luke 14:28).

What bravery does mean is listening, identifying and evaluating the voices in your head, and stepping out with an assurance of who you are in Christ.

You are not responsible for the outcome; you are responsible for the stepping.

And remember, you aren't headed out to find courage.  It is already in you, through the power of Christ.  And it is blooming.