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My Kitchen Refresh – Part 2



We are finally done!!  Let me tell you, painting your kitchen cabinets is not a difficult task, but it is also not for the faint of heart.  The entire transformation took four weeks, working mostly on the weekends, to complete.  It is a lot of work, but I absolutely love my “new” kitchen; it’s light and bright, has much better flow without the breakfast table in the middle of the walkway, and I have counter space enough to start a baking business (although, I am a terrible baker – too much measuring.)

So, here’s the wrap-up on how we went about painting our honey-oak cabinets:

Because it’s a big kitchen (and we had to live through it), we decided to attack the cabinets, drawers, and boxes in shifts.  We started with the left side, which included taping around the refrigerator and double ovens.  This is where I learned the importance of not only numbering the doors as they are removed, but also numbering the hinges.  When we put the doors back up after completing the first section, every one of them had to be adjusted to hang properly where it belonged.  Do yourself a favor, and don’t skip this step.

Once the doors and drawers were removed and the  hardware was removed, they had to be scrubbed with a de-glosser and ScotchBrite Pad.  This is where I conducted my first experiment: I used Krud Kutter on half the cabinets (including boxes) and Clorox Wipes on the other half.  I’d seen in my web-trolling, that many people only use Clorox Wipes.  So, I tried it and found that I got pretty much the same result with both.  I guess the takeaway is that either way you go, the General Finishes Milk Paints go on beautifully.

My wonderful husband agreed to help me with this giant project, bought us a finish paint sprayer, and even built a makeshift spray enclosure in his garage.  Being able to spray the cabinet doors made the whole project go much faster.  And, this is where I conducted my second experiment: would the paint cover the wood grain better or go on any easier if I primed the doors first?  I used Zinsser 00908 B-I-N Primer Sealer – White, 1- Pint, which I learned the hard way cannot be sprayed on.  But, I found the doors primed first did not cover the wood grain any better than the ones without primer.  In fact, I found that if I brushed on the first coat of paint, then sprayed the second and third, followed by three topcoats, I got the best finish and definitely the greatest diminishing of the wood grain.  I used General Finishes QSW Milk Paint, 1 quart, Snow White and General Finishes QTHS High Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 quart, Satin both of which I purchased from Amazon, at a cost of about $30/quart.



I painted all of the boxes with a brush, which is time-consuming, I won’t lie to you.  But, since the General Finishes Milk Paints self-level, I ended up with an absolutely beautiful finish, which made all of the time and effort totally worth it!  You can see from the picture above that the wood grain is only noticeable if you look hard for it.  Once one side of the kitchen was done, we put all of the hinges back on the doors and hung them on the newly painted boxes them.  One thing to note here: we decided to put new pulls on all of the doors and drawers.  In the case of the drawers, we just replaced the knobs with new ones.  The cabinet doors were a different matter altogether.  We decided to go from a knob to a true pull that required a second hole be drilled in each door.  We measured with a knob and pull template that’s available at any Home Depot or Lowes.  The important part of this is that the holes should be drilled BEFORE painting in order to be sure any splintered areas get paint coverage.

That’s it!  Four weekends and about $200 in supplies (not including the paint sprayer which we bought from Amazon for $104) and I have the kitchen I envisioned when we bought the house.  I really couldn’t be happier with the result.  Oh, and I saw an idea on Pinterest that I thought was brilliant, so I hacked it.  You know those faux drawer fronts in front of your sink and sometimes in front of your cooktop?  Well, I didn’t want to put tilt-outs like we’ve done in previous homes. So when I saw the idea to put towel bars that match the cabinet pulls, I was thrilled.  I hate having dish towels on the drainboard so for me this was perfect!

And finally, the finished product:



img_2112  img_2114 img_2115 img_2125img_2058

Tips & Tricks Learned:
  • Be sure to number cabinets, drawers AND hinges.  This will save you a lot of time in the end.
  • Probably the most important step is cleaning the cabinets.  My cabinets appeared to be clean until I got them down and started the cleaning process.  Yuck!  The amount of grease that builds up  on your kitchen cabinets is really amazing.  If you don’t get all of that grime off, it will eventually bleed through your paint.
  • Take the time to decide on exactly the color you want and whether or not you want a glazed look, a distressed look, or just a clean solid look. You really want to do this before you start so that you can keep moving forward once started.  It’s also a good idea to decide on pulls and knobs ahead of time.
  • When we finished painting the boxes and hanging all of the cabinet doors, the spaces between boxes stood out much more than it ever did when they were orange.  We took care of this and created a very finished look with white paintable caulk.  Once it was dry, I went over it with two topcoats so that it would have a seemless finish.

Thanks For Reading


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My Kitchen Refresh – Part 1


I was given no product from General Finishes. All opinions are my own.


A big hello to my readers (all three of you :-)!!  It’s been quite awhile since my last post.  But, I promise I haven’t been sitting around eating bon bons.

Over the past 20 months, we sold our home, packed up our life, our kids, and our dog, and moved back to California.  We spent 9 months living in a manufactured home my folks owned, then bought a home so that they could move back into their place.  Suffice it to say we have been crazy busy.  But, when an upstairs toilet leak forced us into construction mode, I decided is was time to fix the two pet-peeves we have about our new house.  First, let me say I love my kitchen – it’s big, it has double ovens and it has an island.  But, our breakfast area was a pub table in the middle of everything, rather than being part of the island.  And, while the rest of the house certainly worked with our taste, the builder’s special honey oak cabinets didn’t.  I mean, they’re orange for heaven’s sake!

img_2012-1    img_2017

We have now embarked upon an adventure (not sure that’s the word my husband would use) that includes removal of the granite top on the current island, building an extension, having a new granite top installed to include a breakfast bar, and of course, painting all of the cabinets.  I know what you’re thinking, “she’s completely crazy!”  Well, yes.  But, we try not to call names on this blog.  Instead, I can justify this decision by telling you that I did get bids from three contractors to paint the cabinets, but $9,000 just isn’t in our budget.  Besides, why would I want to pay someone else to have all the fun?

After a lot of reading and trolling the Internet for information, I decided to use General Finishes Persian Blue Milk Paint Quart, which isn’t milk paint at all.   As the name suggests, milk is a principal ingredient in the real milk paint, acting as a binder for pigments the same way polymers do in latex paints and oils do in oil-based paints.  General Finishes Milk Paint is actually a water-based acrylic paint that dries with a finish and sheen that closely resembles milk paint.  It’s a breeze to work with, dries fast, and is very forgiving.  It also glazes and distresses beautifully.  So, that’s it – we are off on this wild adventure.

Once the granite was removed from the island, I painted it Snow White and went to the garage to help my super handy (and hunky) hubby build the new breakfast bar extension.  But, as often happens to me, I woke-up in the middle of the night with the realization that having every cabinet Snow White might make the kitchen seem too sterile, rather than warm and inviting.  That’s when I decided to paint over the three coats of Snow White I’d already put on the island with Persian Blue.  My sweet hubby just shook his head when I told him in the morning.  He really is a good sport.


Island painted Snow White


My handy, hunky hubby building the breakfast bar extension.


This extension had to be built, attached to the existing island, and pinned and glued into the tile floor before the granite could be installed.

I got busy repainting the island in the General Finishes Persian Blue Milk Paint Quart.  This paint runs about $30/quart, but is super easy to work with, very forgiving, self-leveling, and goes a long way.  I used about half a can to finish the island and extension.






I also decided to glaze the island in order to give the Persian Blue even more depth and character.  I accomplished the look I was going for by painting on two coats of the Persian Blue, then one coat of General Finishes QTHS High Performance Water Based Topcoat, 1 quart, Satin(first door pic above).  The photos make it look more green than it really is; it’s a beautiful muted bluish aqua color.  Let me stop here to explain two things: first, I would normally have used three coats of the paint color.  But, in this case, I had already put on three coats of Snow White, so the Persian Blue covered very well and really only needed two coats.  The second thing I want to explain is why I put topcoat on BEFORE glazing.  This paint and glaze are water based, so they are very forgiving.  General Finishes recommends glazing over a coat of finish in order to make the glaze even easier to work with.  Once the glaze is put on, you can take off as much or as little as you want, even pulling it off completely with a damp cloth if you make a mistake.  I really only wanted the glaze effect in the nooks and crannies.  So, I put it on the entire door face with a foam brush, then wiped it back with a damp cloth, leaving more in the crevices and much less on the fronts.  There are dozens of tutorials for General Finishes glazing techniques on YouTube.

So, that’s it for now.  In my next installment, I will show you how we painted the rest of the kitchen, then pulled it all together.  I hope you’ll stay with me.  And, thanks for visiting.


Tips & Tricks Learned:

  • Clean all cabinet doors and boxes thoroughly with a good degreaser and de-glosser and a ScotchBrite Pad.  I used Krud Kutter, but anything will work.  Not only does this clean the grease and grime off the cabinets, it also opens the wood grain so they accept the paint beautifully.  Skip this step and risk grease bleed-through – Yuck!
  • Number your doors, drawers, and hinges.  I cannot stress enough how much time and effort this step will save you.  I used painters tape to number the doors and drawers and a Sharpie to number the hinges so that when we re-hung the doors they didn’t all have to be adjusted.
  • I used a total of three coats of the topcoat on each surface in order to ensure a really hard, durable surface.  This is especially important in a kitchen where they get some rough use and you will certainly want to scrub them at some point.
  • Don’t forget to clean your hinges while you have the opportunity.  They get caked with grease and grime that rarely gets addressed.

Thanks For Reading


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**NOTE: This post includes affiliate links**

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My Pinterest Breakfast Room Redo

I hope I’m not alone when I say that I love Pinterest for gathering home decorating ideas.  Because I also love to refinish furniture, I most often find myself looking at painted furniture ideas and dreaming about all of the additional rooms I will need to house the pieces I want to paint and decorate around.  One of my favorite pins is for an oak dining set (see picture below) with a pedestal table and pressed back chairs, pinned by  I so loved the look of this set, that I pinned it and determined to have one of my own. The problem was that a) these oak sets typically sell for  upwards of $900, b) I couldn’t seem to find anything used for less than $400, and c) I really didn’t want to spend more than $100.  One day while scouring Craigslist I saw an ad for “oak table with four chairs $50”, and even though there was no picture, my gut told me to ask for one.  Imagine my shock when the picture I received was exactly what I was looking for – for $50!!  The set was missing its extension leaf, but this didn’t worry me.

My Inspiration Set by Serendipity Furnishings

My Inspiration Set by Serendipity Furnishings

Needless to say, by day’s end I had the set in my garage and was revelling in the deal I had made.  It wasn’t until later that evening, upon closer inspection, that I realized the chairs were not in good condition.  Someone had attempted to repair them in many places and had used a crazy amount of glue, brackets, screws, and pin nails to do so.  I wasn’t too concerned though, because I knew that my super handy hubby could fix whatever was wrong with the chairs and make them better than new…I just had to tell this to him.

The table, which was in excellent condition, was the first thing to get finished.  Like the inspiration set, I wanted to refinish the beautiful oak top in a dark stain, but the apron in the same Olive Annie Sloan Chalk Paint I would be using for all of the chairs.  In my excitement, I once again forgot to get a before picture.  But, here is a representation of what it would have looked like new.

table before

After sanding the finish off the entire top of the table and applying one coat of MinWax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, I stained it with a beautiful Espresso stain from Rustoleum.  The result was beautiful, but I decided to make the color even richer by applying a layer of Annie Sloan Dark Wax over a protective coat of Clear Wax.  Beautiful!!

Table top

Table top stained espresso

This is when the daunting task of repairing the chairs began.  Every chair had to be disassembled, repaired, reinforced, and rebuilt.  My hubby worked for a few weekends on these chairs, meticulously fixing all of the issues and rebuilding them to be strong as new.  He truly performed a miracle with this task, and even though I had confidence in him, I have to say that truthfully there was a moment when I looked at all of those pieces and thought we may be buying all new chairs.

Every chair had to be disassembled

Every chair had to be disassembled

Another shot of the pieces

Another shot of the pieces

This seat split right up the middle and had to be completely rebuilt

This seat split right up the middle and had to be completely rebuilt

The end dowling that held the top portion of the chair to the seat was completely broken off this chair

The end doweling that held the top portion of the chair to the seat was completely broken off this chair

Once the chairs were rebuilt and all holes and scratches were filled and sanded, I got to the painting.  I applied two coats of ASCP in Olive before applying a coat of clear wax to the entire chair.  In the words of my friend, Mary Ann, who did a similar set, “Holy spindles Batman!”  Because there are so many spindles on these chairs, I wanted to have a little extra working time when I applied the dark wax in order to have all of the details highlighted.  So, I mixed-up a glaze of 50-50 dark wax and unscented mineral spirits.  I applied the glaze over the clear wax before allowing it to dry.  Then, I wiped it back, making sure to push the dark wax into all of the nooks and crannies.  The Captain’s chair was finished first, and the change is quite dramatic.


Very golden oak


With two coats of Olive ASCP paint

With paint only

With paint only

After clear and dark wax

After clear and dark wax…look at how the wax makes the beautiful oak leaf pattern pop

I am so happy with the way this set turned out!  The design on the chair backs is so beautiful and really made to stand out as a feature by the addition of the dark wax.  As an unexpected bonus, the nice lady I bought the set from emailed me last week to say that her ex-husband had brought back the 24 inch leaf and she was holding it for me.  Score!

Finished Breakfast Area

One more thing I want to mention here is the addition of the beautiful bakers rack on the wall behind the dining set.  I have been looking for a large bakers rack for this corner ever since we moved into this house four years ago.  Last month, I noticed several posts by a local woman trying to sell two bakers racks that had been stored in her barn for years.  The first, a nice bronze-colored rack, sold very quickly.  The second, a very dirty hunter green and light oak rack was not moving.  So, when she lowered the price to $10, I jumped on it.  The whole piece was in great condition, albeit very dirty and funky colored.  I brought it home, hosed it off, and spray painted all of the metal with Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze.  While the metal dried, I lightly sanded the wood tabletop and added a coating of the espresso stain to match the dining table.  What a transformation – it went from drab to fab in about two hours and with an expenditure of about $12!  I absolutely love this bakers rack now.

Bakers Rack1


Tips & Tricks Learned:

  • One chair per day is an ideal way to go without causing spindle overload!
  • It is recommended that waxed surfaces be allowed to cure for 21 days.  This is especially important for a surface like a dining table that will take a great deal of wear.
  • Don’t be afraid to scour Craigslist and your local Facebook flea markets and yard sales for bargain pieces that may need a little reloving.  The result is a bargain that is very gratifying to live with.

Thanks For Reading,


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Transformed Cedar Chest

We live in a lovely housing plan with nice neighbors and a good sized annual yard sale…not thrilling, I know.  But what happened during last year’s sale was kind of thrilling for me.  My wonderful neighbor told me to please take the Lane cedar chest that she’d been trying to sell for a couple of sale cycles.  I was shocked.  It was so kind of her, but it was also very “golden oak” and I didn’t have anyplace for it, but it was in beautiful condition and I knew that when the time was right I could make it into a family treasure.  Last week the time became perfect for just such a transformation.


Before minus a couple of knobs that I took off before remembering to photograph...oops!

Before minus a couple of knobs that I took off before remembering to photograph…oops!

...with trim removed

…with trim removed


After hefting the chest down the two flights of stairs and into the garage, I began by removing a couple of pieces of trim from the front, sanding the area, and sealing the whole thing with Zinsser Clear Shellac (with the exception of the cedar lining of course).  Having decided upon the perfect location for the cedar chest – under the massive window in our master bedroom – I also decided to paint it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite because the accessorizing decor in our room is all black and white.  Before I go on, I want to emphasize that ASCP Graphite IS NOT BLACK.  I say this only to caution those who may be looking for a true black not to be disappointed when they purchase the closest ASCP color.  There are ways to “tint” graphite to becoming true black, and many websites that will walk you through it if that’s what you are looking for.

...after one coat of Old White

…after one coat of Old White

Back to my cedar chest…once the shellac was dry, I painted the chest with one coat of ASCP in Old White.  I did this because my plan was to embellish the front (where I removed the trim) and lightly distress the whole piece.   The look I was going for had the old white peeking through at the distressed areas rather than the golden oak.  When the old white was dry, I sanded the chest lightly with 600 grit sandpaper to smooth the finish out.  Next, I painted two coats of graphite, allowing for plenty of dry time and one more sanding in between coats.  After all of the paint was dry, I used old white to paint the stencil I had chosen for the front of the chest. At this point, the cedar chest looked beautiful, but a little flat to me.  I also decided that I wanted to deepen the shade of the graphite ever so slightly.  So, after applying ASCP clear wax to the entire chest, I immediately used a layer of dark wax.  By applying the dark wax while the clear wax was still “wet,” I had a longer working time, thus giving me time to get just the look I wanted.

This is how it looked before any wax - nice, but a bit flat.

This is how it looked before any wax – nice, but a bit flat.

This shows a comparison between with clear and dark wax (left) and with only clear wax (right)

This shows a comparison between with clear and dark wax (left) and with only clear wax (right)

I did some light distressing at all of the high points on the chest and over the embellishments I’d painted on the front, giving it the look of a much-loved, older heirloom.  The final thing to add was the new knobs, and I really wanted to get some vintage looking crystal knobs.  However, since my wonderful hubby is not a fan of distressed furniture, and I had already distressed this piece, I decided to compromise and put on brushed nickel knobs that would match the rest of our bedroom decor.  I’m a big believer in picking my battles, wink, wink.  Now, in retrospect, I wish I had filled the knob holes and not put on anything at all.  The front is so pretty with the aged, distressed embellishments that I think I would have preferred it without hardware.  Perhaps that will be a future project.  For now, I absolutely love this cedar chest and hope it will be a piece that I can pass on for generations.


Tips & Tricks:

  • Be bold when it comes to altering even really nicely made pieces.  I was a little afraid to remove the trim pieces from the front.  But once removed I knew I had done the right thing.
  • Try using 000 steel wool to buff your piece to a fabulous shine the day after your final waxing.  It makes an already beautiful finish shine.

cedar chest done2


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