Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Painting My Cabinets

I never really intended for this to turn into a decorating blog, this is just what I've been up to lately. Creating makes me happy. I've felt SO alive and fulfilled these past few weeks doing these projects I can't even explain it.

Anyhow, I had planned for a LONG time to paint my built in cabinets around my fireplace in my den white, but every time I thought about doing it I just lost motivation. After I finished the bathroom I decided since I had just conquered those cabinets that I would tackle the ones in the den. After all, I'm not staining them.

Easy peasy.

Um. Did I mention my husband and oldest kids were out of town that weekend I decided to do it?

Did I mention that I had my four year old and two year old alone in the house with me?

Yeah, I wasn't thinking clearly. Obviously I'm pretty delusional about the amount of work that this was going to take.

Here is where I started. The bookcases were a mess. Not only were they ugly, they were COVERED in polyurethane and they were cluttered.
My messy bookcases filled with UGLY paperbacks.

My mantel

The whole room.  The fan has GOT to go, but that's another project for another day.
My vision for the room is to get rid of the overstuffed furniture, put a desk on the right wall, remove the DVD cases, add two wing-back chairs (currently in need of reupholstering- but I'm too freaked to start that project) under the windows.  But alas, this was JUST getting the built ins done.

So I moved all the books, games and everything out of the cabinets.  I moved the sofa, and covered it a bit because I knew some dust would kick up.  My plan was to give enough "tooth" to scuff up the poly and let the primer do the rest.  I should have just sanded by hand everything, but I decided to grab the power sander.

I was delusional on just HOW MUCH dust this was going to kick up.  I quickly grew weary of sanding.  I was NOT as diligent as I should have been about the sanding process.  Yes, this would haunt me later.
You can almost still see the dust in the air. 
See that shiny poly on the back cabinet.  Yeah, I didn't.  Tsk.  Tsk. Bad Julie.
My goal was to prime that night, but after all the sanding I was pretty worn out and decided to wait till the morning to prime it.  I started reading some forums about what was the best primer, and come to find out with stain and poly since it is oil based you need to use an oil based primer.

I went to the garage to check my primer.  Latex.  Drats.

I loaded up my two little ones and went to Home Depot.  My 4 year old was running a slight fever, so I parked near the carts, and put both girls in the cart, and ran in.  It was my fastest trip in and out of Home Depot ever!  I got my primer and came home and started priming.

I've never used oil based paints or primers before, and oh GAWD it's the worst smelling stuff ever.  I mean it's bad people.  I figured I'd do a quick coat of primer and be done.  It took me THREE HOURS to prime these things because of all the nooks and crannies that I didn't sand.  The primer just was wiping off the corners of the cabinets and wouldn't stick.  Finally I had this foam brush and I was dabbing it into the corners and that seemed to work at last.
My mantel, primed.

My cabinet primed.  See those corners.  Arrgh.  They were the death of me I tell you.
And no, I did NOT paint the inside of the cabinets.  I had originally planned to but gave up on that pretty quickly.  I was regretting this project, my 4 year old wasn't feeling well, but I was too far into this to not finish.

Anyhoo, the next day I woke up after a horrible night with my four year old and decided I needed to take her to urgent care.  Turned out she had strep again.  I got her her medicine, brought her home and got the girls down for a nap and I started my painting.  The first coat took forever, but the second and third went much faster.

I let the paint cure for a few days before I started putting things back on the shelf, in the meantime I did the doors of the cabinets outside during the girls nap time and the rest of the project was really relaxed and I had a lot of fun.  I'd take a few hours a day and put things back on the shelf slowly, getting them all to look good.  My biggest problem was the paperbacks.  I found a few small baskets that held SOME but I had a TON left.  I had no place to put them and I didn't want them back on the shelf.  I was at Michaels the other day and ran across this gem for only $6:
Its a decorative box!  Held a TON of paperbacks and looks pretty on the shelf!
I still had a TON of paperbacks left even after purging a lot of them, so I got this at Ross for $12
It held ALL the rest of the paperbacks and it was pretty!  YAY!
 So, painting cabinets was NOT easy.  Staining cabinets is NOT easy.  These projects are NOT for the faint of heart, but I'm pleased as can be with how it turned out.  Here is the FULL reveal:

I can't BELIEVE how much brighter the room is.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it.
No more cluttered books.  I streamlined.
Seriously a MILLION times better.
My mantel with my bird painting.


  1. Oh. I love the white shelves. You did a GREAT job!!! Love it!

  2. Following you from Thrifty Decor Chick-stop by for a visit!


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