Second Time Around: new life to tired cabinets

I’m not fanatical about the environment. I don’t come unhinged at the site of a plastic straw or a single use bag, but at the same time, I try to do my part to limit unnecessary waste. That might sound rich coming from someone who is a serial renovator, but it’s true nonetheless.

Factory Finish – nearly indestructable. No. 1

So I am guessing you are wondering what qualifies when it comes to assessing whether it stays or goes? Having good bones is essential to passing that test. I am always going to struggle with getting rid of something that is perfectly good, just because I don’t happen to like aesthetically speaking. When the bones are bad to begin with, you don’t have much of a fighting chance with me. I am unsympathetic as I load you into the landfill.

No. 2 began their life in mahogany. Re-imagined in Benjamin Moore’s Dior Gray.

I got to thinking about kitchens this past weekend. Long weekends that hint of summer beg for a BBQ in the back yard. One can’t help but be in the kitchen, opening and closing cabinets in the quest for a pretty platter or the perfect stemware in which to pour ones pale pink rose. All that opening and closing of cabinet doors brought me back to the hundreds of cabinets I have owned and sold in the kitchens that I been on my journey’s path. The first was so old it could have been in a museum. The cabinets were metal, had been painted many times over, and clipped in place to close. Ba Bye. They were replaced by a traditional white painted cabinet. Factory finished – which means they weren’t likely to chip or peel or look unsightly unless you ran a child’s bike into them. That kitchen was too small to have a child or a bike, in addition to me, so that wasn’t going to happen.

No. 2 Painted off-site in a spray room. Note – no brush strokes.

My next kitchen presented a test. It had been newly renovated. The cabinets were solid wood construction, stained to look like mahogany. They were a simple Shaker style that I quite liked, but the color – no – simply no. This was the first time I embarked on changing my existing cabinet color by painting them. They really were in excellent condition and cabinets are super expensive, so replacing them was out of the question. Now I had my builder take all the door fronts off, remove all the hardware, carefully cover and tape all the surfaces and surrounding area, and then spray the base and hanging cabinets in place. This was done after giving all the base wood a light sanding. The door fronts were taken to an auto shop and sprayed in the paint room (dust free and nail hard). It’s really difficult to sand and clean surfaces, in situ, but if you are going to attempt this on your own, you must ensure all the surface are wiped with a damp cloth to remove any particulate matter. Trust me on this one, it does in fact matter.

Painted in Benjamin Moore’s Thundercloud Gray.

No. 3’s kitchen was perfection, but No. 4 – that kitchen got the same treatment as No.2, perhaps I was influenced by the fact that they were the same unoriginal faux mahogany stain – yuck. I painted these, though this time the door fronts did not leave the site, and the quality wasn’t as good as the first time around. Not my previous warning. The color however was on trend and fabulous.

No. 4. Benjamin Moore. Palladian Blue.

This latest renovation I think even an environmentalist would have forgiven me for throwing out. They were plastic coated MDF. That violates every possible rule of good taste and sustainability, made worse for the fact that their proximity to the stove resulted in the edges melting and curling up at the edges. Just thinking about it again makes gives me the shivers.

No rose while you’re painting!

If you are going to attempt to paint the cabinets on your own – I admire your DIYourselfery, but please remember the following steps:

  • strip and stand doors and base if they have been previously stained, varnished and/or painted before,
  • apply a wood knot and resin blocking primer
  • between coats allow surface to fully dry
  • apply a primer coat and/or two coats of your chosen color allowing a minimum of four hours drying time between coats. Note that different climates and weather conditions will impact drying time.

I am all about giving second life to beautifully made things, and while I promise I am not casting any aspersions on your ability to make your cabinets beautiful in the most important way – which is of course – to your own eye, it is not an easy task. Take your time, do lots of research beforehand, and maybe even conduct a test run on something a tad less precious first. Good luck!

Moving Day

Yesterday I moved.  I did it without fanfare, anxiety, or anticipation.  I just did it.  I made the call to Humboldt Moving and Storage who have steadfastly supported me throughout this quest.  I packed my boxes in-between the dozens of events I’ve had over the last few weeks.  Tossed the clothes, donated the books, re-gifted, re-cycled, re-peated all the things required of someone moving, for the 8th time in 10 years.  It no longer feels special.  It feels mechanical.  Even the hunt, which has always been one of my most favorite activities – seems less exciting.

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It’s a wrap.

Is it the fact that there are so few properties on the market?  Is it the fact that the stocks are being batted around like a ping pong ball being hit by a pale blue Tiffany Paddle (it’s true – they have these – I just saw it advertised for the person who has everything – good golly!  If I was gifted such a thing I’d feel compelled to encase it in a lucite frame and design a room around it.  Suffice it to say, that I am not in danger of having this happen, and you are not in danger of having to witness it.)

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See…there they are in all their Tiffany Blue glory.

So what is dampening my enthusiasm?  Number 5 should feel like a milestone – half way to my quest.  Is it that I am not half way to my financial goal of $1M.  I say this and fail to scowl as I envision Mike Meyers with his pinkie finger poised at the corner of his mouth….one million dollars – as if that were a lot of money.  But it is a lot of money to me, and I imagine to many of you, and that does make me smile.  Am I making more money for the people associated with the process than I am making for myself?  Is the only way to do this, to do it on the cheap.  I rail against that realism, and steadfastly refuse.  I am interested in design.  I want to create beautiful spaces.  I believe that the beauty of them is not skin deep, that proper wiring, sound structure, solid doors, and working plumbing are all beautiful – even though, like a problem child, they are only given any attention when they are acting up.  I know, and work hard to leave what lies below, better than when I found it.  This costs money.  I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.

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Adios pretty pastel kitchen.

This is an important time.  I have four months to find a place or I’ll be forced to rent.  Four months of living out of a suitcase, and by the kindness of friends.  Four months to figure out if a need to move into another that I own, invest in a rental with friends, find a suburban property that I can flip for the cameras.  It’s a lot to consider, and I have never before had to consider so many options without a clear answer.

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Sayonara!

Advise welcome.  Happy Sunday.

DO IT YOURSELF

Is something I say to others – as in “Do it yourself – I’m up to my eyeballs in my own projects.”  When it comes to doing it myself – well…I can haul things, drag things, move things, lift heavy things – but you are unlikely to come to me,  asking me to whip up a few  curtain panels or a couple of pillows for you, and while I’ve painted a time or two in a pinch, no one is complimenting me on a job artfully executed.

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Found at Bungalow. Chatham. MA for $195.

I’m more of a project manager than a DIY’er, and yet The Manse has forced me to resort to just that.  Attempting to furnish a home from top to bottom is EXPENSIVE.  But that is exactly what I am attempting to do.  The Manse had become The Land of Misfit Toys – in a manner of speaking.  In her rundown state, the bric-a-brac that had collected within her walls was fitting, but now that she’s the proud lady on the block, she’s demanding a whole new wardrobe.  People are coming for tea and she wants to be ready to receive them.

I’m doing my best on behalf of the old lady, but some things are indeed going to receive a light sanding and a coat or two of paint – in a coordinating color of course.  I feel like I’ve been on the hunt all over the northeast for tables of all sorts, side, bed, coffee, dining – for dressers, and bar carts and shelves  – for things that started out as one thing and will end up being something else entirely.

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The Caning feels very Cape Cod.

All this hunting and sleuthing has resulted in my very first DIY project.  Aided by a couple of 50 degree days, I singlehandedly dragged a desk out onto the deck, found one of my Father’s 4 – yes you heard me correctly – 4 sanders, I know not what makes one better than the other, but I am certain their is a reason to have that many.  Maybe they are like shoes?  If that IS the case, than I certainly cannot argue with having four – in fact I might ask – why not more?

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Ta Da!  What do you think?

At any rate.  I sanded and cleaned and painted, and repainted and low and behold, I did it.  I think it looks pretty good, and I hope you do too, because I have a set of $10. bedside tables that need to be done – a real find!  I have an old ice box that I am going to use as a linen closet, and a coffee table that would have been perfectly perfect, if it has only been gray.  It will be when I am done with it.  If you are worry, I would say that it may not be misplaced.  Fingers crossed.

What a difference a day makes – or two

I love a weekend project.  The feeling of accomplishment that comes from doing something that I think is going to increase my enjoyment, comfort, or make me money!  There’s always that.  The making money part is a decidedly motivating factor in sacrificing a weekend – one of just 52 after all.

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There might be more than a weekends worth of work here!

Marni Elyse Katz, writer, design blogger, art collector and self-proclaimed reluctant chauffeur offers advice in this article she wrote for Coastal Living, where she called on me to ask if I had any thoughts on the matter.  Check out the article and prepare to draft your weekend plan.  It might just end up paying for your next vacation.

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Venice anyone.  Nothing says worth the effort like a ride on a boat through the canals.

 

 

Money Can’t Buy Me Love: Finding a way

Money…what a disdainful word.  I sometimes love it, sometimes hate it, and often live in fear I won’t have enough of it.  This is all normal.  Everyone must make choices, decisions, look longingly at an item, or a destination that must wait for another time.  This longing is a good thing.  It forces you to ask why you want something (in my case it’s typically because it’s beautifully designed),  and it keeps me up at night, devising ways in which I might obtain said object, or falling into a fitful sleep where I dream I own it. That about sums up my obsessiveness in a nutshell.

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Amir Khamneipur’s . Gold Table

Unrequited love got me thinking about this.  A few months back I read House Beautiful’s edition about small spaces.  They featured an interior designer’s home in Manhattan.  Just 700SF.  Amir Khamneipur’s home is exactly the home I would craft if I had that kind of money.  It’s so clever, it’s a grey goddess of color beauty, and it’s accented by mirrors, and metallics.  I am a big fan of all.  It features a gold dining table with a powder coated base in off white.  It’s heaven, and I have been like a lovesick teenager doodling images of it on the pages of my notebooks, expressing my adoration at every turn, and finding a way to bring it up, casually in conversation.  Ugh, a fool for love.

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www.thechroniclesofhome.com – Jen’s DIY Grasscloth coffee table.

This table is in fact, one of Mr. Khamneipur’s own designs.  You can buy it.  This tiny little bit of a table, just 2 feet wide by 44 inches long, runs at a cool $7900.  Well that price made my love go stone cold.  The table is too small for even my little dining nook.  If I am completely honest I had a moment of total insanity when I contemplated getting two to fill the space.  Please!  It clearly was not meant to be.  Fate has a plan for me, and it’s not Amir’s table.

Left:  Grasscloth Wallpaper . Wallpaper Direct  Right:  Benjamin Moore’s Peach Cloud

I got to thinking about customizing a piece that will appropriately fit the space.  I do want that gold top, but the logistics and timing, not to mention the cost, had me considering another option altogether.  What about grasscloth?  How hard could it be to do make one on your own?  Surely, there must be someone out there that does just this thing.  Well in fact there is.  I found a gal who has a blog called The Chronicles of Home.  Jen even lives locally.  Now she is a DIY’er, and I am not.  I like to say – “You Can Do it….I can help”!  Jen made her own custom grasscloth covered coffee table.  Quite lovely.  She riffed on a World’s Away Design, covering the base in grasscloth as well.  Me, I plan to have my Dad construct the table, and my wall covering expert paper it.  Once it’s papered I plan to run two fat gold metallic stripes down the center with a peach stripe crisply inserted between the two before I varnish the whole thing.  I may paint the legs gold too instead of covering them in the grass cloth.

Left:  Ralph Lauren’s Metallic Gold Paint Right:  Farrow and Ball’s Lotus Wallpaper.

Love should be willing to meet you at least half way, don’t you think?  Happy Home Adventures.