What to Put on Top of the Cabinets?

Looking around here lately, it appears like we have gotten away from our DIY roots and I have just been sewing(barely).  Not so. 

Back when Carter was tiny I was watching a whole lot of HGTV.  He was a very slow eater and I did a whole lot of sitting.

David Bromstad did this cool wine bottle art installation on one of the shows…which gave me the idea for the top of our bar cabinet.


Now in perfect world, we would just have cabinets going all the way up to the ceiling and I would not have to worry about to put on top of them.  But we don’t and I do.

This was a super simple DIY….first drink lots of wine and save your bottles.  No problem there.  Although I think some people who saw the bar during the “save the bottles” phase may have come to the conclusion that we have a drinking problem.

above the kitchen cabinets

Then, to get the labels off, fill a bathtub full of hot water, add some cheap shampoo and soak them.

At least that is what David told me to do.

Some came off super easy and others took a little bit of scrubbing. 

I initially envisioned straight rows of bottles lined up…but the wires for the lighting and the cabinet tops prevented that.

IMG_0098 (2)

So instead we went with using some scrap wood to achieve different heights for the bottles.

After some arranging and rearranging we got this…

above the kitchen cabinets

Or should I say this…

above the kitchen cabinets

I think it adds some visual interest to the tops of the cabinet.  For free. And since the labels are off, I think it makes it look less “college dorm room alcohol trophy” and more “classy display of bottles”.  At least that is what I tell myself. 

I also love how it looks when it is lit up at night.

above the kitchen cabinets

I am toying with idea of adding this to other cabinets on the other side of the kitchen.  It would be a whole lot of wine to drink, but I think we would be up for the challenge.  I am not sure if it would be too much or make the room look we were trying for a wine theme.  Which we aren’t.

So for right now I am just going to enjoy them on the bar cabinet.  And continue to drink more wine….just in case we need the bottles.

2 Steps Forward….and 1 Back

I had this blog post all planned out in my head yesterday (first mistake)….it was we got a new fridge and I love it and the white monstrosity is gone and here is also how we finished updating our cabinets with glass. Yeah!

Not so much.

But at least it is going to start the way I planned.  Here is the white box that is was our fridge. 



Not terrible and actually a pleasant surprise when we closed on our house as we thought the previous owners were taking it and we assumed we were buying a new one right away.  But we are slowly changing the appliances to stainless in the order of function.  As I mentioned before the dishwasher…well sucked so it was the top of the list.  The water and ice in this fridge has never worked so it was next…even though the stove won in the ugliness contest with the bisque color. Unfortunately totally functional.

Shopping for fridges made me realize that we have a really short space to work with that severely limited our choices especially in the ones with the features I wanted.  But we found one and I love it.

Unfortunately, to get the height we needed, it is about 3 inches narrower than our old fridge.  Which did not sound like a big deal in the store.  But compared to the old fridge that slid next to all the cabinets with less than a 1/4 inch to spare, we have some gaps. 


Not a big deal from across the room, but up close you can see the sides of the cabinets.  That are still honey oak. 



Way to be really thorough in my cabinet painting.

I told myself that we left it way on purpose so if I ever wanted to remember the pink countertops and honey oak goodness, all I had to do is pull out the fridge.


Oh and there is a little wallpaper left too….


So even though I had the official “I am not painting in anything else else in the kitchen ever again” celebration, I am sadly breaking up the paintbrush today.  But this can be a lesson if you are painting cabinets….don’t be lazy like me by not pulling out the fridge….or just never buy a thinner one.

What I Brought Back From My First Time

I know most people do not detail their IKEA purchases.  Because they go all the time and it could get really boring really fast.

But unluckily luckily for you, I am not one of those people.

Being that it was my first IKEA trip, and I am still 8 hours away from one, I just have to share.

The fabric was the first thing that went into the bag soon to be cart. 


I had heard about the great fabrics at IKEA from my modern quilting guild friends and was really excited to see what they had.

And I even I had purpose in mind….those shrunken office drapes.  I wanted something more modern and washable and cheap because I needed a lot.  And before IKEA I was coming up with nothing.  A whole lot of nothing that was not over $20 a yard.


Of course as soon as I got the bolt home I had to hang it to make sure I loved it as much as I thought I would.  Not sure what I would have done with it if I hated it, but it turned out OK because I think they will look perfect. When I finally get around to sewing them of course. 

The next purchase I really  had no plan for.  I knew I wanted rugs for  the entryway, kitchen and possibly office.  And that black and white would look good in all those places.  So I bought it thinking that we could make it work.

So it was unrolled and tried in the entryway…




Ehhh not my favorite there.

Office?  Nope does not fit under furniture without covering up vents.



(Imagine flowing white panels on all the windows)


(At least we have the rods up)

Even without the curtains I think we have a winner.  Which is good  because I was out of options besides Craigslist.

My final purchases were a pretty (and cheap) silver bowl that I am thinking about using in the dining room.


And the classic white pots which I am thinking will house herbs in the kitchen in the winter.  And an aloe plant which came highly recommended by Kim.   It had a couple battle scars from the car ride.


I could have bought a lot more….especially in the fabric if I had unlimited time to browse.  But I think for my first time I got a nice collection of things that ended up working out great.  And crazily enough not one of those items required any assembly.

Now if I can just become a curtain making machine……

Dishwasher Naïveté

Hope everyone had a wonderful long holiday weekend.  We finally had some cooler weather and it was so nice to be able to be outside.  And of course worked on home projects.  Most of which are not ready to unveiled yet…except for one.

Since moving in, this appliance has been a major source of frustration.


Not only was it ugly  with it’s cream bisque color, it did a terrible job of getting dishes cleaned.  No matter what detergent we used (believe me we tried them all) and using the heavy wash all the time, things still came out dirty. 

Since we remodeled the kitchen, the appliances have been on the to-do list and we had the last straw with it this weekend.  So we decided to upgrade.


We thought we would install it ourselves…..and by ourselves I mean Derek would install it and I would watch.  And in case you were wondering we went with a Kitchenaid.

Naively we thought that it would be no big deal.  Just slide the old one out, rehook up the new one and slide it back in.  Cake.

It did not exactly work out that way.

First issue, one of the bolts on the little feet was stripped and would not move.  After trying multiple solutions, googling extensively and calling people more knowledgeable than us….we were brought to this.


Nothing like taking a sawzall to a brand new appliance that just cost over $1000.  That was not anxiety provoking.

After we he solved the foot problem.  We encountered more problems.  Most of them centered around the new dishwasher being slightly bigger than the old one and the way the wood floor was installed underneath.  Enter a chisel and prybar.  Neither of those tools were on the install directions either. 

Sorry I don’t have pictures of those…by that point we were past the “this is fun and let’s document for the blog” mentality.   It was more the “this is the stupidest idea ever and our new dishwasher is not going to fit and hopefully they won’t notice we had to use a sawzall when we have to return it mentality”

We did learn that the hardwoods in the kitchen were not original to the house.  There is ugly baby blue linoleum under there.  So even though I am not fan of the honey oak color of the wood, I now have a new found appreciation for them.

We finally got it done a little after midnight.  But it we did not turn it on.  Because if it happened to spew water everywhere I think Derek may have taken the sawzall to the front if it.

The good news was when we woke up with clearer heads and turned it on it worked beautifully.  Whew. And I happen to like how it looks too.


It blends in so much better with the cabinets and really completes the kitchen.  Just don’t look at the cream fridge or stove.


So we ended the holiday weekend with doing lots of dishes and marveling how clean they are coming out no matter how dirty they are going in.  And it is super quiet too.  And the pain of the install makes me appreciate it even more.  Well me at least, I am not sure if Derek is that stage yet.  It might some more clean dishes to accomplish that.

Wanna Paint Some Cabinets?

So did you happen to see our bed on the bragging board on Knock Off Wood?


Welcome to all the new readers/followers that found us.  Yeah!

With all the new people joining us, I have been getting a lot of email and one one of the most frequent questions is “What’s your process for painting cabinets?”

I touched on it on my post about my love affair with Ace Cabinet and Trim paint.  But I did not spell it out specifically for cabinets.  Or windows.  And I want to give you guys what you want.

So why have I not done a post like this before?  Was it a secret?

Well, back before I was blogger I did not take pictures of every.single.step of a project.  Crazy huh?  I always thought that the next time I decided to paint a cabinet that I would make sure the camera was not far away.  Because strangely that is the way that DIY bloggers have to roll.

But that has not happened because frankly I am starting to run out out of honey oak to paint.   Which is a tragedy/celebration at the exact same time. So if you can forgive this post for the lack of pictures on every step, I hope you can learn a little something about how I did things.

Without further ado, the process for painting cabinets-

!. Start with gorgeous cabinets.  Pretty pink counters and florescent light fixtures were an added bonus in our kitchen.DSC00912.

2.  Take down all the doors and remove hardware.  I would recommend numbering the doors with blue painter’s tape and draw yourself a diagram about which goes where.  Unless you really like puzzles and think that a game at the end of the project would be fun.DSC01136

3.  If you are replacing hinges or drilling for a different type, this is a good time to do that.  We went from exposed brass hinges to concealed hinges.  Was it a huge pain for a minor detail?  Yes.  But it was so worth it because I truly believe that this little detail helped make the kitchen.  For the handy hinge how to go to this post.

4. Wipe down cabinets with TSP substitute (buy at a hardware store).  I did this step outside on a tarp and let them dry on the drywall.  I was amazed how much grease and grime came off with this step. Yuck.

5. If you are replacing you old hardware with new hardware that will be installed in a different location, fill the old holes with wood filler.  If you are doing the new hinge thing, this is also the time to break out the wood filler.  For large areas to fill on the hinge holes, I used wood epoxy (also can be found at your local hardware store).  It had to be mixed and it was more difficult to use than wood filler, but it is sturdier and does not crack.

6. Empty your cabinets.  Unless you want them covered in dust and paint.

7. Sand with an orbital sander with a medium grit sand paper.  I would suggest wearing a mask and protective eyewear while doing this.  Being outside for the door sanding  is another bonus because it gets everywhere.  I did a quick sand by hand on the parts that I could  not get with the orbital.  But if I am being honest, it was not the most through job (just a couple of swipes) and it turned out OK with the paint.DSC02764

8. Wipe down everything with a tack cloth in order to get rid of the dust.  Vacuum the floor and any other flat surface where dust collected. A smooth finish and dust are mortal enemies.

9. Set up you cabinet doors and drawers in the area you are planning on painting them.  Make sure to tarp the floor. We were lucky enough to have two empty bedrooms and the cabinets took every square inch of them.  To minimize the amount of contact the doors had with a surface while they were drying, I set up thin boards to keep them off the ground.DSC01140

10. Prime with water-based Zinsser 1-2-3 primer.  For the black cabinets I used a gray primer (tinted at hardware store as "dark as they could make it").  For the doors, flip and prime the other side.  Except for the cabinets that will eventually have glass doors, I did not paint the inside of the cabinets.  One because I am lazy and two I think it would be difficult to find anything in black cabinets.


11. Apply two coats of your paint.  I used Ace Cabinet and Trim paint in Cannonball.  (post here for paint application tips…check it out)  For the doors this means paint, flip, paint, flip, paint, flip, paint, flip.  Since the paint takes a least 24 hours to dry, this takes while.  Read more about this here. I started with the back so that the final front side would never touch the wood support and possibly mess it up.  To apply the paint, I used a high quality brush.  Even on the larger surfaces, I did not use a roller because I wanted to minimize my brush marks as much as possible and with a brush I had figured out how to do that using the technique I linked to earlier.  Could a roller have worked just as well?  Possibly, but I cannot comment because I never trusted tried  it.


12.  After they dry, finish two coats of polyurethane in a satin finish.    I skipped this step the first time I painted the cabinets.  Frankly I was sick of painting and I thought they looked fine.  And they did, but a year later they were not cleaning as easily as I would of liked them to.  So I had to do half of this process over again (like I mentioned here).  Not fun.  Learn from my mistake and do the poly the first time.  An added bonus to the ploy? This also seemed to also make the paint harden faster.  I did not sand in between coats of poly, but make sure you apply it really really thinly or you it has the potential of it getting overly shiny.

13.  Re-install with hardware and hinges.  And enjoy your brand new cabinets!DSC01411  Hope this tutorial helps if you are thinking about tackling cabinet painting.  It is a huge job but makes such a difference for not a whole lot of money.  I am starting to get reader pics of their results following my process and I hope to share them soon.  If you have any you would like to share, send them my way!

If painting is not your thing, check out my how-to on cabinet glazing.  Another effective way to tame the honey oak beast!  Happy painting!


Glazed Over

Wanna know one of my favorite parts of blogging?

Seeing how readers take my how-tos and run with it which result in stunning results.

I was on the Nest the other day and happened to see how Beth&Derek was doing her part to rid the world of honey oak one room at a time. 

She used the glazing technique from my honey oak bathroom vanity and applied it to her entire kitchen with amazing results.

Here is what she had to say-

We're still not completely done refinishing our cabinets (need to finish adding the molding and hanging a new wine rack),  We used 4 parts clear mixing glaze and one part paint (BM Branchport Brown).  The hardest part was definitely the sanding. Removing the hardware was easy, but the pulls we had were 2.5" and 3" is pretty standard (the new ones we got are 3") so we needed to fill one of the holes and drill a new one on each door/drawer before painting.  I should add that even though the sanding sucked, it only took 2 days (I was home on vacation). The painting and the poly took longer because I had to wait for each coat to dry. I have to thank you for the inspiration!!

Here is the honey oak glory she started with-eh0rax

And then after the glazing-2iuxlhi

Wow! I can’t get over how much better the appliances, wall color and counters look with a different glaze on the cabinets.  She did an amazing job and it looks like a completely different kitchen.

Want to try it for yourself?  Check out the how-to here.  I would love to see what you come up with!

On a unrelated note….after many emails about how to become a follower of my blog I finally put the gadget in my sidebar.  You see when I first started writing it, I did not want a big fat “0” sitting there for everyone to see how pathetic I was so I left it off.  But since it has been requested many times and I want to make it easy to be follower, it now there and I would love if anyone wanted to click it to make me look less pathetic…..or you could just come over to look at the number and laugh.  Either way your choice…..


Black or White?

I am on a mission to 100% complete the kitchen. Those pesky cabinets that are waiting on their glass fronts are almost on their last coat of paint and poly....a year later. Derek has been assigned the task of finding the best price on glass. The bar stools have also been decided on.

still no doors....

Next up-the drapes. This has been a difficult project from the beginning. The pink mini blinds were trashed the first week we moved in and the windows have been bare ever since. While I am sure the neighbors love the view of the kitchen, I think it is time to put up some window treatments.
Ahhhh the memories

I decided I wanted long panels in between each window (7 total) but on one long rod. The first issue was finding hardware to fit such a long window. Add two corners to that and this task took us awhile. We finally found wooden rods at Lowe's that we can cut as well as extend with screws and bonus-they have corner pieces.

a pic with almost all the windows

Now that we were successful in getting the hardware...onto the drapes! Remember how my goal was to get them done before summer to block the light and heat that bakes the kitchen during that season? Yeah, obviously my new goal is winter to block the drafty cold.

In my defense I started them. Remember again the two bolts of fabric sitting in the (old) craft room?

I spent an afternoon measuring, remeasuring and cutting all the black and lining fabric. I laid it all flat and was all ready to start sewing. Then I noticed something odd.....the black fabric was actually two different colors. After I stopped hyperventilating, I decided that maybe I was just being too picky and Derek would look at it and tell me that I was being stupid.

I was wrong. He agreed that the colors were very different and that hanging next to each other, they would look funny. We couldn't return the fabric because we bought it over a year ago and from a discount place that does not guarantee things like that.

I was so mad that I was going to spend more money on more fabric, that I just left it sitting there and did not think about it for a couple of months. Well now that I have cooled down and the drafts in the kitchen are there on cold nights. So I am ready to think about it again.

Now that I have to buy new fabric, I am second guessing black as a color choice. The first time I picked it the conversation went something like this-

J: do you like this for the kitchen....not sure about black, but it is heavy and only $6 a yard?
D: that's expensive...
J: actually for home decor fabric of this weight that is incredibly cheap
D: do they have enough?
J: there is two bolts..
D: get it then
J: really....you don't want to think about it? It's a big decision....
D: we are here, it is here and I don't want to have to come back again

The pluses of black is it is a dramatic color and I like how it balances the black cabinets on the other side of the kitchen. The minuses is that it will fade in the sunny windows and will show white dog fur.

Here is a "sample" (a piece of cotton that I bought to sew a dress from)

Disclaimer to make sure you do not think that I have lost my mind: a) the actual drapes will be lined b) they will go all the way to the floor and c) there will be a panel in between each window.

But what about white? (this sample is actually a sheet)
The pluses of white is that is airy in the kitchen. The minuses is that it will show dirt and dirty fingerprints when we have kids and it is a little more "beachy" than the rest of the kitchen.

Here are the two together for comparison-

If I could, I would take a wide angle shot with the cabinets on the other side but my camera does not have that capability. (believe me I tried and Derek was shooting me looks while he was cooking-for some reason he did not want to make this blog post). This is the best I have showing some cabinets and some windows. (note the white appliances will be gone as soon as we can afford new stainless).
Every person that has walked in the house over past week has been forced to go into the kitchen and give me their opinions. The results have been mixed. Personally I am leaning towards the black and of course Derek is leaning towards the white. Hence why they are still hanging there.

I also thought about other colors or prints. Gray is between the two but I don't have anything that long in that color to hang there. Also I don't want to do a loud or busy print because I want the backsplash to be the focal point.

Since I need 24 yards to make all the panels and since I have already spent money on fabric once, price is also a huge component of the decision.

Decisions decisions.

Now that I am in a better place about the old fabric I am starting to come up with creative ways to use it. Craft rooms drapes? Basement panels? Curtains for a stage that we could make for our future children? Dog beds?


An Underwhelming Reveal

I have been MIA lately but it is not because I have been at the pool.....really. I have been so busy with projects that I have not had time to blog about them. I have one more full week of vacation before going back to work so I am trying to cram as much in as possible. So hopefully after I am back on the schedule of working that I will have more structure in order to get posts done and also tons of things to post about since I have been so busy. Sometimes I am more productive when I have less time in my day.

Anyway the first project of my summer vacation was the kitchen cabinets. Yes we just redid them last year so this was a sad project deja vu. What did we do to them? I added a coat of paint to everything and two coats of polyurethane. Sounds simple and quick but the entire process took me a week. First we had to take off all the hardware, wash all the doors, remove the doors from the hinges, tape the backs, tape along the floor, drop cloth and then move it all upstairs (which also needed to be set up). That was before I even started to paint. So here is the house in disaster state all week.

Obviously we are not ever going to be able to pull off the open shelving look.

This is definitely not going to be the most rewarding project I have ever done. A) because it forever and B) no one is even going to be able to tell the difference. Case in point- here is the dramatic before and after pics-
I bet you keep scrolling back and forth wondering if it is possible that it is the same room....

So why go through all the trouble? We learned over the past year that black cabinets are difficult to keep clean especially when there is no protective coat over them. You would think white would be more difficult but every speck of dust and fingerprint is visible with black. Were they OK? Yes, but I was worried that once we have little ones with more messes that I would be kicking myself for not adding poly when I had the time. On the other hand, I was also worried that the poly would make them too shiny but we used satin finish and they look about the same as before. But now they just look cleaner and feel even smoother.

I still love my Ace cabinet and trim paint and for anything else besides black kitchen cabinets, I am not even thinking about adding the poly step. It is just the combination that those cabinets get so much wear and the black color. The moral of this project is to not cut corners the first time so you do not have redo it again and waste a week on an boring project. Learned that one the hard way.

Before/After-Kitchen Remodel

While 1992 had thrown up all over our entire "new" house, the kitchen was by far the worse so it has the honor of starting the before/after pictures. Behold the ugliness.

Pink must have been their favorite color as we had pink laminate counter tops, pink baskets, pink mini blinds and of course more glossy honey oak, wallpaper and brass going on.   Bleh.


Unused empty space by door

Nothing like a florescent light surrounded by oak

The original plan: the kitchen was ugly but functional so we were going to wait a year or two, plan, save money, be smart and not bite off more than we could handle.

The revised plan: one weekend Derek was out of town and I decided (with the help of some wine) that I was ready to start the kitchen. No time like the present.  I had 4 weeks of vacation coming up so that it would be perfect timing. So I got a spray bottle, a ladder and a putty knife and started stripping wallpaper. Derek came home and SURPRISE!  He was so thrilled.


Overall we had a very low budget for our kitchen remodel and planned on doing it DIY. We priced new cabinets and knew that it was not going to be in the budget cards.  And I wanted some solid surface counters….again after the pricing of a solid slab we decided to go with granite tile.  How much did we spend?  Well this DIY remodel was back in the pre-blog era so I was not keeping meticulous records.  We estimate under $3000.  Which in the world of kitchen remodels is nothing.

After the wallpaper was scraped, I realized that light blue lines were visible.  I first thought it must have been the adhesive of the wallpaper.  And then I realized it was a second layer of wallpaper that they had painted over and then applied the newest layer that had already been scraped.  And the first layer was attached directly to the drywall.  So that when you futility tried to to remove it, chunks of drywall came with it.  After cursing and sleeping on our option of re-drywalling the entire space, we went with painting over the first layer of wallpaper.  Hey they had already done it.  I will say three years later, i have never regretted this decision.

The wallpaper was not the only only issue.  We also had a giant hole in the ceiling.  This was the result of water running into the kitchen the first week we owned the house as I settled in to enjoy my new whirlpool bath.  Double lovely.

We scraped the old greasy popcorn, removed the florescent monstrosity and added can lights as well as pendants.

And then the cabinet painting started.   The grey primer brought out the pink countertops even more.   For the complete how-to click here.  I will say it totally changed the look of the kitchen, but it was a very.long.project. 

kitchen remodel
   Good thing we had some empty rooms to paint doors and drawers in…
kitchen remodel
kitchen remodel

The brass cabinet hinges were also replaced to concealed hinges.  Does not sound like a huge detail, but it made such a difference in updating the look of the cabinets.  It required some re-drilling and the how-to is part of this post.

We also added some features during the construction process.  One was a second tier to the peninsula for barstools. kitchen remodelAnother was a bar/wine area (on the left) to fill the empty awkward space.  And give us a bar.

Derek also added over cabinet and under-cabinet lighting.

kitchen remodel The old stained sink was replaced with a single bowl black granite one.

And then we resprayed the ceiling. 

After that was more painting.  Since we went black with the cabinets, I knew we needed something super light on the walls.  I got some inspiration from the backsplash tile and went with Sherwin WIlliams Sea Salt.  Oh and we can’t forget the trim.  The beautiful honey oak trim.  There are six windows in the kitchen alone and they all have mullions in them.  Which take forever to paint.  But I had started this project and we were getting closer to the home stretch.  At least that is what I tried to repeat to myself as I spent hour upon hour painting them. 

For the counters and the backsplash, we had help with the install by Derek’s stepdad.  He installed the granite tiles on the old pink countertops with the help of cement board in between.  He then used a grinder to smooth the edges of the corners to make them round.  Here is what the layering looked like:


We added new hardware to the cabinets and inserted glass into some of the doors (tutorial coming soon).   Outlets and covers were also replaced.

The appliances are/were ugly but they were not in the original kitchen budget.  The dishwasher was replaced first with stainless and the refrigerator followed.  Hopefully the completely functional but incredibly ugly bisque stove and microwave be bye-bye soon as well.





In addition to the white stove, curtains also need to be added before this space is considered really an “after.”  We are only two and a half years removed from the start of the remodel, so we would not want to rush anything though.

I am linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick Show Us Your House!