Almost more than I could chew

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This is my biggest project tackled to date. My trusting sister in law let me refinish the cabinets at her rental property when I insisted they were too dark and made the kitchen look like a dismal room that was dropped in the middle of an otherwise cheerfully finished house. Shortly after starting the kitchen cabinet refinishing I was near tears thinking ‘What have I done?’ As I looked at a sea of 35 cabinet drawers and doors strewn across previously unmarked hardwood floors on top of plastic sheeting I thought there was no way that I could ever finish. I’m here to say I survived the project, and now after seven days the kitchen is complete and it turned out amazingly well.

The prep work and steps in between are key. Have a lot of plastic to spread. I was lucky in that I knew the counters would be changed so spillage wasn’t an issue. I also needed sandpaper, blue painter’s tape, steel wool, TSP cleaner, screwdrivers, scrapers, paint, rollers, a good brush (I’m partial to one old goodie that I always rely on), and a paint tray.

I started by taking apart the kitchen. All drawers came out and all doors were unscrewed. I created a map of the kitchen and lettered the cabinets using pieces of masking tape that correlated with my map. It seems easy enough to put the kitchen back together without a plan, but after getting up close and personal with every nook and cranny of a kitchen during seven days of truly blood, sweat, and tears labor – the last thing you want to do at the home stretch is play Cinderella and the slipper with openings and cabinet doors.

I also recommend cleaning the cabinet frames and drawers and doors with a good cleaner. I use TSP. Kitchens have so much traffic and oils that you don’t want your paint bubbling due to lack of preparation.

In selecting paint, I spoke to the guy at Benjamin Moore who suggested using their Advantage paint line. It’s an oil that acts like a latex offering soap water cleanup with a quicker drying time. I used the Advantage primer and paint in Spanish White satin finish.

I coated the frames, doors, and drawers with one layer of primer and waited a day before sanding everything down and applying my first layer of color. Since it’s summertime, I made sure to allow a full 24 hours between coats to ensure adequate drying time and left the air on. It takes extra time to sand between coats but I do highly recommend it. I used steel wool not with the intention if removing finish but just to prevent lint from goobering the surface and also to create a little bit of an uneven surface for each subsequent layer of paint to cling to.

To cover the dark finish I ended up using three coats of color. In hindsight, I probably could have applied two coats of primer and been fine with two coats of paint. The finish is very smooth and after I reassembled the kitchen I decided to sand the edges to give it an antiqued finish. I added new hardware and the Santa Cecelia Classico granite counters were installed. It makes the entire house brighter and the kitchen more welcoming.






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