Monday, October 29, 2012

Lego Flashlight

My youngest is obsessed with flashlights which means I can never find one when I need one.

With the kitchen half ripped apart, I hollered for a flashlight.

 "Mom is my laser gun ok?"

The laser lego gun was JUST perfect for the task at hand.  I think it actually worked better than the flashlight alone would have.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Ikea Kitchens Are Awesome

Lets face it. Ikea is great but it is also considered, as Douglas Copeland so famously said in Generation X, semi-disposable swedish furniture.  Ikea kitchens don't fall into the same category as their furniture.

Ikea kitchens are by far the best stock cabinets you can buy.  The drawers have premium, heavy duty slides and the boxes are thicker and better finished than a lot of seemingly higher end kitchens.

That is my builder kitchen.  YES those are staples by the single screw.  These cabinets were made by now defunct Canac  Kitchens which was a division of Kohler.  They are LOUSY.  They were made with thin unfinished particle board, cheap drawer glides and cheap hardware.

Now a side by side comparison with my cabinets on the right and the Ikea on the left.  The Ikea one is a finished on ALL sides.  Its 3/4" thick vs  5/8".  The writing on the side of my old cabinet is so PRETTY -not. 

These are the drawer glides on my old drawers.  This glides are about $3 a set.  They only extend 3/4 of the way out of the box which makes finding things in the back of the drawer a challenge.

Ikea's drawer hardware is substantial.  Its heavy duty and is full extension.  

See, it pulls out ALL the way.  Yeah!

Lego for Big People

Well, hubby was at hockey this afternoon with my daughter.  Its raining and miserable out.  I seized the day and ripped apart the kitchen.

It was shockingly easy.  I removed a few screws and slid out the old drawer and the old tiny cabinet.  I have done a lot of demo in my day and had been dreading doing this.

I will admit, it was a a bit of a what have I done to my house moment.


My older son got into the action.  He has helped with reno projects in the past and was right into this.  He LOVED lego when he was little and gets that Ikea kitchen components are lego for big people.  Can you believe he opted to help me do this INSTEAD of playing video games.

My white oven is going to blend right in and be pretty seamless looking when this is done.

It looks great so far don't you think?


I have been debating pulling out these two cabinets ....

and replacing them with pot drawers since we moved into this house.  The narrow cabinet to the side of the drawers is useless.    

Just between you and me, I was worried about how hard it would be.  I wasn't sure how exactly they were attached.  Well, I should have done this years ago because THIS is all that was involved.  

A screw driver and FIVE screws.  Not complicated at ALL.  In fact, the most complicated part was finding the bit for the screw driver because the narrow cabinet is too narrow to fit my drill into.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My kitchen gets a lot of sunlight, but with the orange oak cabinets, its always felt like a bit of a cave mostly because the window is on the far wall.  I wasn't good or cool like the bat cave but bad neanderthal living under a rock and I should seriously think about taking up cave drawings. 

I have dreamt of changing it up since we moved into this house. I finally pulled a pictures of kitchens that I like and quickly realized that the ones I drooled over always had white cabinetry.  

Have I mentioned that I am surprised at how much nicer my poor old microwave looks with the white doors?  I know I need to deal with that awful shelf its on.  Its a builder special with a really bad mac-tac like faux wood grain.  I'm not even sure I can paint it.  I think it might be time for a nice new piece of freshly painted plywood.  Or maybe a new microwave.  What do you think?

Friday, October 26, 2012


Yes!  I know, my kitchen is a MESS and my floor is full of fur balls from the dog. Please forgive me for I have been painting.  House keeping is not my strong suit and likely never will be. 

Don't they look good so far? 

My teenager IMMEDIATELY pointed out that the knobs are wood and look terrible. I REALLY need to figure out a better plastic tub storage method as you can tell from the picture.  

The contrast is pretty shocking don't you think?  My oven, however, will blend in REALLY well with the white.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Concrete Walls - not

Are you getting sick of me posting what are essentially the SAME pictures of my doors.  Its about as exciting as watching paint dry isn't it?

My oldest son told me the other day that he REALLY likes concrete walls.  I had given serious thought to leaving one of our walls concrete when we finished our basement.  I decided to drywall it because raw concrete is dusty.  If you seal it, it changes color.  

I hit some shops with a friend today and VIOLA, they had concrete walls.  GORGEOUS concrete walls.  SO gorgeous I had to touch them.  And can you guess what I found when I touched them?  ....THIS

Its WALLPAPER!.  Can you believe it?  WALLPAPER.

The company that makes is is  They have all sorts of FABULOUS photographic wall paper. They have some pretty spectacular ones that look like 100 year old pressed tin  with peeling paint that would be to die for on a ceiling.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Giddy Like a School Girl

Every time I walk in the garage and see them, I am giddy like a school girl.  WHITE DOORS.  Bliss.

I had a white kitchen in my old house and oh how I miss it.  It was SO pretty, bright and white. It was small but it was functional.  We used Ikea Adel in white.

Would you believe I've looked high and low for those red and white oven mitts and for the life of me I can't find them.  I know they are in this house SOMEWHERE!  These pics are my photo proof that I really did have them!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

First Coat

Its pouring and dreary outside but its white and fresh inside.  I put a second coat of primer on the doors today.  Yeah me!

They were looking great with just the primer.  They are SO not orange anymore.

In this picture, you can really see the color difference between the Farrow and Ball fronts and the primer color on the sides.  Pointing is a really nice warm, creamy white.

I had been warned before hand that panting with Farrow and Ball was like painting with pudding.  Its REALLY thick and, because its clay based, it actually smells like clay.  I feel like I'm in pottery class only this is so much more satisfying than the ugly bowls I made in pottery class.

I'm surprised at just how hard it is to photograph these suckers. You can sort of see the nice finish they have in this shot.  I can't believe just how great they look.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


After a lot of debate and back and forth on which paint to use for the cabinets, I've settled on using Farrow and Ball pointing.  Its a very nice warm white.  It also has a very nice sheen without gloss to it.  The pot drawer front now has two coats on it and its VERY smooth and looks just lovely.  I am hesitant to use latex but F&B is a premium paint and it really does go on very nicely even for a hack like me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I really hate that that this is true, but the key to a great finish really is in the sanding and prep.  I loathe sanding.  I really do.  Here are two of the drawer fronts in a rather un-glam before and after shot.  

Here is another after the sanding step and after one coat of primer. Yup you have to sand again, and again, and again.  So far, my process has been:  sand primer, skim coat of MH Ready Prep, sand, prime, fill in any missed spots, prime.  My goal is a piano smooth finish.  I don't want my doors to look like I threw on a coat of paint.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Drawer Pulls

This decorating thing is a funny thing.  I bought pulls for my office and decided that I didn't want to use them there.  I've had them tucked away in my sewing cup board since 2008.  I know that, not because I remember, but because I have the receipt still.

I LOVE cup pulls but they have to be square.  I am a very linear kinda gal.  Most cup pulls are just too curvy and floopie for me.

I fell in love with Restoration Hardware's Gilmore pull a REALLY long time ago.  Justifying the cost, though was a problem.  They are not cheap.  They do have a very industrial feel to them and that is my leaning when it comes to design.

Here it is on the pot drawer front. This particular drawer is painted in Farrow and Ball's pointing in the estate egg shell finish.

The door behind is my test door.  It has four different paints on it in various states of damage:  Farrow and Ball pointing, pavilion blue,  and pale powder.  The lower left corner is Benjamin Moore cloud white in satin alkyd.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I did a lot of research before tackling this project.  I knew I wanted and needed to hide as much of the woodgrain on my doors as I could.    The choices of products to do this with are limited.  I opted for MH Ready Prep and its giving me quite a smooth surface and filling the grain nicely. The paint dear told me to add a bit of water to it to make it more spreadable and that did the trick nicely.

For primer, I opted for Ins-x Stix. This is some good stuff.  I primed my test door and it was ready to sand about a half hour later.  I am impressed at how well this stuff sticks and how fast.  I've used primers in the past that needed a day or so to cure to the sanding point.

Here are the brown Ikea drawers next to my original orange doors.  In the kitchen, they will never be this close to each other but you can see that, although not the same, they are similar enough that they will blend in together.  I think you get a good idea how just how well they blend in this shot:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thanks Gramps

My maternal Grandfather died in September 1962.  He was a custom home contractor and had a stroke while up fixing the roof of the house he built and the one my mother grew up in.  He died long before I was born which is sad because I clearly inherited his home building gene.

Even as a kid, I was always about nails and saws and WOOD.  I built a lean to play house in our yard and my friends and I spent many, many hours huddled in it.  It felt like a million bucks back when I was 8.

Being the kind of guy my Gramps was, he built not only houses but also a things to make his job go smoother one of which was a set of saw horses.  During one of my childhood building sprees, my aunt decided that I ought to have the saw horses.  They have travelled around with me and been part of my life in many different ways over the years.  They have hosted many neighborhood block parties and been part of many of my projects.

Can you see it peeking out from its duty there.  They have the best 50 year old grey patina and lots of old saw marks.

Round one of painting my kitchen cabinets.  Primer looks so much better than ORANGE don't you think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ikea Score

Its no secret in DYI home reno circles that Ikea is where its at for a good kitchen at a good price.  The best thing about Ikea kitchens is their drawer systems.

The big ugly orange kitchen in my house is a big time fail in the drawer department.  I have four TINY 17" drawers.  We have FIVE people living in our house.  To give you some perspective, we have NO junk drawer.  Try and find a pen in my house....I dare you.

That picture was taken with my phone which gives everything an odd blue hue.  It actually makes the cabinets look better.

The worst part of it isn't even these sad little drawers, its the even more sad little cabinet next too them.  Its only 11" wide but is an absolute volcano.  I double dog dare you to open it.....

I have lived with this pending explosion for ELEVEN years.  I have spent years dreaming of Ikea pot drawers and their delicious horizontal storage potential.

A few years ago, Ikea came out with a door style called Liljestad.  Although a dark brown stain, I had palpitations just thinking about it.  I pondered if the profile was a close enough match to pull out what I had and just slide in some pot drawers and paint the whole kitchen white.  By the time I decided last spring that, yes it was close enough, Ikea discontinued it.

Clearly, however, the Ikea gods were working in my favor.  Last week, a good 6 months after it was discontinued, I walked into my local Ikea and found, on clearance, one last set of Liljestad pot drawer fronts sitting in the "as-is" room.  Grand total:  $10.  I also scored drawer boxes for $5 each and a cabinet base for half price.

And so begins the transformation of my orange kitchen into a sleek white beauty.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Every story has to have a beginning....

When we bought our builder house 11 years ago, we bought it for the location.  The house, while a new build, had been finished.  Its called an inventory house.  When builders build houses they always have a few that fail to sell for what ever reason.  In order to sell them, they pick finishes for them and sell it as a finished home and often put it up on MLS.  The upside of this process is that you can purchase a brand new inventory house with a very short closing.  The downside, well, it looks like this:

Are you scared?  Its ok, I completely understand.  The builder called the profile Village Oak and the stain was fruitwood.  I'm not shy, I call a spade a spade and this sucker is ORANGE.

I am not sure why, even 11 years ago, the builder of our house thought that an orange oak kitchen was something that would sell a house. I have had neighbors tell me that they would have bought my house but the kitchen was ugly.  Sadly, my kitchen was dated when we bought it.  We figured that we would replace it and taking it "as is" was a better option than "upgrading" through the builder which would have cost us as much as a new infinitely more functional Ikea kitchen.

What I failed to factor into my equation was life.  We had two kids when we moved into this house and soon after had a third.  We ended up doing ended up doing a whole house reno on my parents 1960's bungalow a few years after our youngest son was born and by the time we finished with that, our reno mojo was gone.

So here I am 11 years later, FINALLY deciding to DO something about my orange kitchen.

The doors have good bones.

And I did do a subway tile backsplash years ago that I still really like.  Honestly, it really is the best piece of design in the kitchen.  

I think with some effort and creativity it can be rescued from the 1990's.  Or so I am hoping...