Re-painting the kitchen cabinets

The base cabinets in our kitchen looked horrible.  It wasn’t the cabinets themselves, it was the finish.  As with much of the house, their paint job was pretty terrible.  It was streaky and bumpy, which made lots of grooves for oils and dirt to collect, and they were badly stained all around the handles.  Which meant it always looked dirty, no matter how much I scrubbed.

Kitchen after

I wanted something darker anyway.  The color they were painted was very similar to the wall color and it made the room look pretty flat and dull.  So I painted them Martha Stewart’s Zinc (which you can’t get color cards for anymore :( ).


Once again, I texted Dad, and asked the best way to paint over a badly painted cabinets in a semi-gloss finish.  I was quite surprised when he said to wet sand them.  But the results were amazing.  It smoothed all the bumps right out and left a nice, flat finish.

Of course, I removed all the hardware and took all the doors and drawers outside.  To sand, I took a sanding sponge, dunked it in water, squeezed out the excess, and lightly sanded everything.  The sanding block had to be rinsed out several times during the process.  (Very important note if you are going to try this: make sure that you put a drop cloth down, because the wet sanding re-activates the paint, and it will drip.)


There was a film left on the doors after sanding, but since mine were completely sealed with at least 4 coats of paint, I just rinsed them off with the hose and dried them with old towels.  The cabinets themselves took a little more work since I couldn’t just hose them down.  I didn’t get the sanding block quite as wet and then once they were sanded, I wiped them down twice with damp cloths.


To repaint, I brushed in all of the corners and then rolled on the rest with a 4-inch foam paint roller (similar to this).  Love the easy changes that make such a big difference!  There were a couple more changes I made, but forgot to photograph them.  I’ll tell you about then next week!


Turning Moroccan lanterns into hanging bedside lamps

Sometime around 2 years ago, I picked up two pretty little Moroccan lanterns for $15 each from Home Goods.  I had visions of them being real, hanging lights instead of just candle holders.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think I originally wanted them to be in the bathroom over the sinks.  (Since we’ll be moving, I’m glad we didn’t end up hardwiring them in there.)  I started waffling around a year ago and wanted them in the bedroom instead.  Regardless, that’s where they are now!


You might remember my post about how to turn a plug-in light into a hardwired one.  We used the $5 IKEA Hemma cord set as usual to turn these candle lanterns into actual pendants.  It was as simple as drilling a hole in the top of the lantern for the cord to fit through, and then snipping the plug end off so the cord can be threaded through the hole.


To hardwire the light, that’s all you’ll need to do, you have yourself a pretty Moroccan pendant for $20.  If we weren’t moving, I would have hardwired these lights into the bedroom ceiling, but because I want to take them with me (and I don’t know if they’ll be the next owner’s taste), we turned them back into plug-in lights by just putting the plugs back on.  We also added switches to the cords so we could turn them off without unplugging them.

I also picked up the chain at the home improvement store.  The shape of this chain was perfect, but it was BRIGHT brass-colored, so I did a couple very light coats of dark brown spray paint.  I didn’t want to cover the color, I just wanted to add spots of the brown to make it look old like the lanterns.  It worked pretty well!  The chain was under $1 a foot.

The shadows they cast on the walls and ceiling are really pretty.


I went to look for a similar lantern to link to, but there were SO MANY lanterns that would make gorgeous hanging lights that I put together several that would work well.  They are all under $20.  Now I want more of them.


PS: You may have noticed by the Instagram feed over there –> that we’re off at some beautiful place.  We are (or will be soon, as I’m writing this before we leave) on an amazing trip.  Ireland, Switzerland, and France more specifically.  (And please don’t worry about any lack of character on our part–this trip was saved for, planned and paid for in-full before the Hubs lost his job.)

One thing I (mostly) finished before we left was a simple change in the kitchen that made a huge difference.  Come back next Monday to check it out!


Removing paint from vintage hardware

Some of the few original details our Victorian still has are the doors and door hardware.  But the door knob plates (I’m sure there’s some proper term for them) in the mud room/hallway/weird spot looked pretty bad.  The doors had been painted several times and the painters didn’t bother trying to keep it off the plates.


When you’re renovating an old house, it’s super handy to have a dad who is a decorative painter and furniture restorer.  I texted him and asked how to get paint off of antique hardware.  I had tried the cook-it-in-a-crockpot method on other hardware, and that did not work.  At all.  Dad said soak it in vinegar overnight.  (Actually he said to test it first, because there are times when you shouldn’t–mine tested fine.)

After they soaked, the paint flaked right off.  It seemed to be spray paint too, which makes it even more impressive.


I was pretty excited about restoring them down to the original brass, even if it did look worn (I love that look).  But unfortunately, once the paint was off, it wasn’t so pretty.


I texted Dad that picture and he said “Eww.  Looks like all or most of the brass is gone, it’s down to the copperplate.  Replate or replace.”

They all 4 looked the same.  Replating, or even replacing isn’t in the budget right now, so since those were the only decent options, I didn’t feel bad spray painting them.  I actually liked the black look anyway–not as much as I would have liked the original brass–but the black looks good with the white porcelain knobs.


For some context of the area this is, the picture was taken from the kitchen.  The pantry is the door on the left and the powder room is on the right.


Next for this room is painting the walls.  Once I do that, I’ll share some tips (thanks again to Dad) on how to properly paint over a semi-gloss finish.