Posts Tagged ‘Cabinets’

Fourth post in series of four.  Related posts: Part I, Part II, Part III.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce my gray kitchen cabinets:

To fully appreciate the change, here’s where the kitchen started:  flower accented backsplash, honey oak cabinets, and brass hardware:

May 2008: Home inspection day

We’ve come a long way.

Painting the kitchen cabinets was a far longer lived project than I ever envisioned.  Each coat took longer to put on than I’d expected, and it took more of them – one of primer, and 3 of paint on everything.  Even after the doors were finally finished, they couldn’t go up until I found hinges that would work.  We’d had 3/8″ overlay hinges like these:

which, who knew, aren’t available in nickel, or anything else that would work.  So we ended up going with a variable overlay hinge that screws onto the front of the face frames instead:

From taking the doors off their hinges to putting them back up ran from March 27 to August 8.  I never imagined it would stretch beyond a month or so.  In my defense, in the intervening 19 weeks, we were unusually busy.  We climbed four high peaks in the Adirondacks in April/May, visited Alaska and British Columbia in May/June, spent time visiting family, and did what felt like a million other things.  Thankfully, Guinness was totally uninterested in the contents of the cabinets, so having open shelving for a few months wasn’t a problem.

It’s so nice for the center of the house to feel “together” again, but I think the work and the delays were worth it.

The next tasks will be picking out new light fixtures and deciding what to do with window treatments.  I’m thinking of taking down both valences and the blind over the sink, and replacing with a roman shade over the kitchen sink.  I don’t think the slider needs anything.  (It has blinds between the panes.)  I also don’t think we need to replace the valence piece over the sink where the scalloped piece was, which is a happy discovery.

The gray does make me look forward to the stove’s and microwave’s eventual replacement with stainless steel, but in the grand scheme of things, I can wait.  (Obviously, I’m good at that.)

For now, though, squee!  It’s so good to be done.


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Picking up where I left off

Having decided that my cabinets were far too light, I took a trip down the paint chip.  Chatroom, one step darker, had been a front runner all along.  But looking at how minty the cabinets came out, I was afraid it wasn’t different enough.  So off I marched to Sherwin Williams for “Hardware” – the darkest pictured:It was, to say the least, an unsuccessful venture:

Top cabinets: Hardware; Lower cabinets: Techno Gray

Looking at the photo, I’m partly surprised by the fact that it looks more or less fine to me.  It didn’t in person.  It actually went really well with the backsplash tile, I just wasn’t prepared for it to be green, which in person, it was.  I wanted my cabinets to be gray, albeit with green undertones.  It’s definitely MUCH darker than the first attempt, still on the bottom cabinets (I never got any further with the dark paint than pictured), but I couldn’t shake the feeling that a MASH unit should pull up any minute.

So I thought, and I pondered.  One is too light… one is too dark…


That’s a good 7/8 gallon of Techno Gray, maybe 15/16 of a gallon of Hardware, resulting in a close approximation to Chatroom, which I’d been entertaining, and should probably have chosen all along.  Slap it on the cabinets and call me convinced, I finally love it:

For comparison, all 3 shades in one picture – and probably one of the truest to real life color:

Admittedly, I'm not as brazen as I sound, just tossing 2 gallons of paint together... I tested a mixture in a plastic cup and painted a door as a trial run first!

The combined color isn’t as olive green as the darkest version, or as minty green as the lightest version.  It’s a mid gray-green, which I was going for all along – coordinates with the backsplash, looks good with stainless steel appliances, without starting to make the kitchen feel cave-like.

I don’t actually have much more painted than the last post, but I feel like I’ve made progress!  (Additionally, the fronts & backs of all 27 doors + drawer faces are primed – so I’m completely done with the primer phase.  Yay!)

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The first coat of paint is dry on the kitchen cabinets, and it’s looking like it needs some revision.

The current color is Sherwin Williams Techno Gray (SW6170).  In some lights it looks gray…

but in others, it looks green:

and in still others, it looks oddly pastel and minty:

Yikes!  The chip looked so grayish tan!

I don’t so much mind the green in it; it looks deliberately different from the grout and the accent tile, rather than looking like we swung and missed at matching either one.  It’s way too light, though.  It was the lighter of the two I ultimately narrowed it down to, which I chose because it’s easier for SW to re-tint darker than lighter.  Looks like I should’ve gone with my gut.  Now, though, the question is…

If these are techno gray (at left) and the two next shades on the same chip (middle = Chatroom; right = Hardware), I’m not sure if one further step darker will be dark enough!

The gallon will wind up being a custom color anyway, because I used part of it on this coat, so whatever tint they add won’t add up to a pre-set formulation.  Maybe if they add what it would take to get to the middle shade if the gallon were full, it will end up being just darker, but not quite to the right-most shade.

Like the bathroom project, although the color isn’t exactly right on shot #1, I do think I like the overall effect on the room.  It feels brighter and cleaner than the old honey oak, and I like that.

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This weekend, I started the cabinet painting project.  There was actually no paint involved.

I learned that the good part about having done a bathroom vanity as a trial round was that I knew how everything would go.  The bad thing was that I thought I knew how it would go when multiplied by many more cabinets!  I wasn’t prepared to spend two full days working and still not open the paint can.

First, I pulled all the hardware off the cabinet doors, the doors off their hinges, and the hinges off the cabinets.  I left the hardware in each cabinet, so I’d be able to put everything back on the same door at the end of the project.  When I replaced the cabinet hardware a few months ago, I learned that while all of my drawer fronts, etc. may have been created equal, some were more equal than others.  No sense setting myself up for a wrestling match with a bowl full of hardware in a few weeks.

Next, the scalloped valence over the sink came down.  It was a dead giveaway for the 80’s completion date of the original kitchen.  My resident demolition expert was happy to oblige.

It remains to be see whether it will be replaced – we visited Lowe’s, and found that anything new would need to be special ordered.  We decided to wait and see how we liked it without anything there at all.  If anything, a shaker style piece of an arch might look nice.

After each door came down, it was labeled by cabinet location

These masking tape labels will follow each of the 21 doors through the painting process to keep them all straight.

Wiping down and sanding came next.  And if I never sand another piece of wood, that would be fine by me!  It took about 8 hours of continuous work to sand the 21 doors, 6 drawer fronts, and all of the cabinet frames.  I didn’t take them all the way down to bare wood unless there was a flaw that needed to be sanded out, mostly I just sanded away the polyurethane and some of the orangey stain.  The laminate end panels just got scratched up a little and cleaned.

I skipped the sanding when I did the bathroom vanity, but these cabinets clearly needed it, especially the ones next to and above the stove.  They were covered in sticky grime that had probably built up over 25 years of sautéing on the stove.  UGH.

Sunday morning started with the cabinets themselves; I wiped them down one more time, and primed.

Unlike with the bathroom vanity, this time I bought a small roller to help with the bigger expanses, and to avoid brush marks.  Two thumbs up.

Originally I’d planned to do the cabinets in phases, only taking on half or so at a time.  But then I saw what a mess the sanding made, and realized that I didn’t want coats of paint going on in one part of the kitchen when sanding was going on somewhere else.  Plus, cleaning up after sanding only once was appealing.  So I just went for it.

…which reminds me.  If I EVER mention open shelving in a kitchen, please direct me back to these photos.  Just looking at them, and everything in them, stresses me out.  Even the “pretty” ones with bowls, mugs, and stemware.  Solid doors, yes please.

At any rate, with the cabinets done, I set up painting camp in the basement with the doors and drawer fronts.  I wish I could tell you I had some elegant solution for working on 27 pieces, and then drying them, but it mostly involves a few shoe boxes, a table, a chest freezer, two drop clothes, and some patience.

The boxes make it easier to paint the outer edges without drips, smudges, or sticking to the drop cloth, and make for a convenient place to stick the blue masking tape location labels.  I can also pick them up by the boxes to move them down to the floor when they’re dry (or not quite) to the touch to paint a next group on the table:

Boxes from place settings of china were perfect.  Solid, sturdy, and wide.  LLBean boxes are great too.

Progress ended up stopping for the weekend when I kicked the can of primer.  Based on how much I used on the vanity, I had expected to finish the job with a quart, but no such luck.  My leftovers from that project are tinted a shade or two of gray deeper.  I’m not sure if I can use it, or if it will change the final color.  When I bought my supplies, they told me it was a little too dark to go under the paint I’d chosen.  Unfortunately I think I need to go buy more.  I’m glad I bought a full gallon of paint; hopefully it will be enough.  (I think it will be if I can do it in 2 coats; 3 will be tight.)

So now that my basement is littered with cabinet doors that are primed on one side, we’re starting to get an inkling of what the kitchen will look like with gray cabinets (albeit a different shade):

I am so looking forward to seeing what the actual paint looks like!

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After much staring at paint swatches and gnashing of teeth, we’ve decided on a cabinet color and bought paint!

We’ve decided on Sherwin-Williams’ Techno Gray (SW6170).

I expect that with 21 cabinet doors and 6 drawer faces to remove and paint in addition to the cabinets themselves, this will be a lengthy project.  I also want to pay a visit to Lowe’s to find a new piece of molding to replace the scalloped valence over the sink.

I’m using the same kind of paint and primer that I tried out on the bathroom vanity.  I’m hopeful that I may be able to do it in 2 coats, although the blue vanity took 3 (of paint, not including primer).

Although I haven’t decided exactly how I want to tackle it, I’m looking forward to getting started!

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Without further ado:

1 coat of adhesion primer, 3 coats of water based enamel, four new 89 mm center-to-center chrome drawer pulls, and two mirror knobs later, the bathroom vanity project that I started last month is finished!

(I may consider adding new hinges to the list, but it’s good for now!)

It took WEEKS of drying time for the enamel to lose the slightly sticky finish and dry hard enough to screw the new hardware on, but the satin finish looks and feels really nice.

Cabinet finish and hardware, now and then:

and medicine cabinet/mirror frame and knob, now and then:

Goodbye, honey oak!

Conventional wisdom and most advice may not have been on the side of painting it blue, but now that it’s done, I like it every bit as much as I’d hoped to.  The first shot at shade was bad, but the additional black tint made a great difference.  Besides, a bathroom with a floor as loud as this one didn’t beg me for conventional wisdom on the vanity.

I wish I could say that this project has solidified my decision about the kitchen cabinets, because this was the trial run for that (much larger) cabinet painting project.  I learned a fair amount in the process, though.  First and foremost, I’m really happy with how the paint covered the oak fronts and laminate side panels of the cabinet equally well.  That was important to ensure before going ahead with the kitchen cabinets.  I’m not as sure as I want to be about color, though, so I think I may give it some time living with the finish and seeing how it wears before moving on to the kitchen.

Three cheers for finished projects, though!

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I’ve long been considering painting the cabinets and replacing the hardware in our kitchen to update the existing honey oak, but was a little overwhelmed by the project, choosing materials, and how it would turn out.  So, I decided to try it out on a smaller scale – the upstairs bathroom vanity.  I figured if it turned out badly, no big deal!   We have the same honey oak cabinet fronts with laminated plastic/fake wood grain end panels (next to the trash can) in both bathrooms and the kitchen, right down to the same brass pulls all around (also on the chopping block).

I also wanted to paint the frame around the medicine cabinet/mirror.  It is also plastic fake wood grain, with a gold painted inner edge and worn chrome-painted plastic knobs.  Not anyone’s finest decorating hour…

I bought primer and water-based satin finish enamel at Sherwin Williams, since priming sounded like a better option than sanding cabinets with a laminate panel.  They tinted the primer for me to make it easier to cover with a really deep color.

Rainstorm (SW6230)

I chose “Rainstorm” for the vanity and mirror frame — it’s the darkest of the 7 colors on the same paint chip as the walls, which are Mountain Air, the lightest color.

I wiped down the cabinets and frame to remove any dirt and grime, removed all the hardware/hinges, and took the doors and drawer faces down to the basement to work there.

The primer went on pretty easily, and actually looked pretty good!

Primer only

It looked awfully blue, though, for only being tinted with black!  That should’ve been a tipoff that the blue paint might come out less dark and more bright than intended.

One coat of Rainstorm

So… yeah.  That’s a lot bluer than I had anticipated.  Two thumbs down.  In smaller, less well lit doses it might almost be tolerable…

but up close, under the glare of a flash, it’s an epic ‘no.’   It makes me think of circus performers.  😦  Unfortunately, the warm tones that made Sleepy Blue (see family room and powder room; also on the same paint chip) so watery and non-snowy, made this blue too bright and gave it almost a mallard bluish green look.

As an aside, at left is the first coat, now dry.  The enamel goes on very thick, almost like an oil based paint.  I’m not sure whether a 2nd coat will get all the brush stroke marks down, or whether a third coat will be necessary.  It’s a little difficult to work with because of the thickness, particularly keeping the brush dry enough to avoid paint pooling in the corners on the cabinet door fronts, but you get the hang of it.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take the quart (of which I’ve used… a sixteenth?) back to Sherwin Williams to see if they can re-tint it for me.  Upon re-visitation of the paint chip fan, I’m thinking of trying Dark Night (SW 6237), which is a little darker and grayer.  If they can’t do that, I’m just going to ask them to add enough black to turn the current paint navy.  The nice thing about this project is that it doesn’t have to match anything (except coordinate with the floor), so the paint color doesn’t have to be a reproducible formula.

While the bad news is self evident, the good news is that while this paint job is clearly a flop, it’s easily redeemed with subsequent coats (which it would’ve needed anyway), and the painting process is nowhere near as hard as I thought.  I am totally on board to paint the kitchen cabinets after I correct this.  The paint and primer covered the laminate so well that you can’t really tell that the material under the paint isn’t the same.

The only thing I need to figure out (besides what color) is how to set up a big enough station to paint and dry all the cabinet doors efficiently.  Hmm.

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