Friday, February 26, 2010

Revisiting The Painting Of The Kitchen & Family Room Cabinetry

Since completing the Kitchen & Family Room Redesign a year ago I regularly receive emails requesting details about the steps taken to paint the cabinetry. So I thought it was a good idea to revisit this project and talk about the questions I get asked about most frequently.

First, I often get asked about the issue of painting cabinets, is it okay to paint wooden cabinets? When I first mentioned the idea of painting my cabinetry people who were within earshot responded with disbelief. What?! Paint perfectly good cabinetry?!

I think there is a perception that stained wood cabinetry is preferable and more valuable than painted cabinetry. I think it's a personal preference. I myself love painted cabinetry and in this specific case there were issues with the stain on the cabinets. This was the motivation that put the whole project in motion.

The cabinetry boxes, doors & drawers and crown molding had three distinctly different stain tones on them, almost different enough to look intentional. Look at the crown molding, it was much darker than the rest of the cabinetry. In the adjacent family room the built-ins had yet another stain color, this one with a burgundy undertone. After a couple meetings with the builder and the cabinetry company I received this explanation for the stain differences: all the various components of the cabinetry, while stained with the same stain, came from different factories. A complete lack of uniformity here! Fortunately I was able to negotiate a settlement, which paid for the cabinets to be painted. I was persistent in this process because I knew if I didn't address this cabinetry issue at the time, it could well become an expensive problem down the line when it came time to sell. (And no, there are no plans for this at the moment!)

The next step in this project, after I had negotiated a solution, was to obtain quotes. Yes, I did have the job done professionally, if I had attempted to it myself I'd still be trying to finish. The estimates ran about $45.00 a linear foot. I selected the painter that I was familiar with and who came with a great recommendation. LIC Painting, Inc. of Gervais, Oregon.

I then had this company paint two sample doors for me, so I could see what the finished product would look like. Luckily, the cabinetry company provided me with two cabinet doors identical to my original doors for the painters to use in making the painted samples. The cabinets are made of knotty alder, and I needed to see how the cabinets would look after the holes were filled, sanded and then painted, as well as a sample with the knots left unfilled and simply painted. I think in this case it was essential to see the entire process done on a door identical to my kitchen cabinetry before committing to the project. I needed to see the end result prior to making a decision. Do I have the holes filled or no, is this the right color, did the final result look high end? I knew if this project didn't turn out well I'd be stuck with it for years!

The samples were essential in helping me make the decision on which direction to take. I opted to have the holes filled for a timeless look and saw the color was perfect for this space. The sample also set a standard for the workmanship, which the actual job would need to meet. And you know when the painters came to start the job I had the sample door ready to show them, reminding them about my expectations.

The work began by covering all the surfaces that were not to be painted. Then the knots were filled and all the surfaces were sanded. Afterwards the filled spots were checked, filled again if necessary followed by another sanding. This team was absolutely thorough.

The day I stopped by to check on the work (a must with any job) and saw these red spots on everything, I was thrown for a second. What have I done?!

Finally, after all the effort to fill knots and sand, a layer of oil based primer was sprayed on all the surfaces. I thought it looked beautiful, mess and all.

Originally I had thought all the appliances would have to be removed and had contacted an electrician for an estimate. But the painters assured me this wasn't necessary. I trusted them and saved a bundle, crossing that line item off the to-do list.

And they were right. The team did a perfect job covering the appliances with exacting lines so that no paint got on these items while leaving every inch of the cabinetry boxes exposed to get completely painted.

The insides of each box were also lined with paper, so that this portion of the cabinetry would not be painted.

It was one smelly mess. The day I ran in to quickly to snap these photos I about fainted from trying to hold my breath! We obviously did not live in the house while this work was being done. My kids were thrilled to have a mini winter vacation at a nearby hotel, enjoying lots of time in the pool and eating out! "What project is next, Mom?"

The front edge of the shelves had originally been covered with a wood toned veneer strip. I had looked into having the edges stripped and recovered with a cream veneer, but again the painters assured me they could just paint them. I wasn't sure, but a year later these painted edges on the shelves are in perfect condition. Another item I was able to mark off the to-do list!

After the primer dried the surfaces were sanded to ensure the final paint layer had a smooth finish.

Finally everything was ready for a coat of oil based paint, using Softer Tan 6141. Many people have written me that when they see this paint chip they are surprised at what a dark shade it is. I am too. I look at my fan deck and my cabinets don't look that dark! I think the color works in this space because all the trim and doors in the home are painted the same color, the rooms get good light and against the dark floors the color just naturally looks lighter in contrast.

I thought the built-ins looked so pretty painted. What an improvement, but again...the smell. I ran our whole house ventilation system 24 hours a day to help circulate air in and out of the home.

Finally at the end of the week I got a call from the painters, scheduling a time to remove the paper and plastic coverings. I got there just before they arrived and I seriously was like a kid on Christmas morning! I could not wait to rip back a section of the paper to see how the new subway tiles looked with the newly painted cabinetry. I was beyond thrilled with what I saw! The Metro subway tiles in alabaster are a shade lighter than the cabinetry, while the grout is the same color as the cabinets. This was done to help the two colors work well together, the grout is the "bridge". It worked and I sighed one big happy sigh of relief.

Since I get asked what a job like this should cost, I'll share that information as well. The quote came in at $4200 for all the work and at the end of the job I did get a 10% discount, making the final bill $3780. While not inexpensive, it did prove to be the least expensive option for fixing my cabinets and a fraction of the cost of new cabinetry. The job took a little over a week and yes, was an inconvenience as well as a lot of work on my part. But I am thrilled with the result. As long as I'm not looking at the "during" pictures I say I'd do it all over again in an instant.

Have a missed any of your questions? Let me know...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mystery Design Project - Clue # 2

As I've hinted at in a couple posts, there is one project I am holding my breath I get to design this year. What type of space is it? Clue #1 is this Comet Pendant from Horchow.

Clue #2 is the Max Sofa from Van Gogh Designs. How about that name?! It is a newly released style that I am loving.
Van Gogh's Boswell Taupe fabric has a gorgeous basket weave pattern, with shades of taupe, ivory and a hint of gray. This fabric will make up beautifully on this pared down sofa design.

Keep posted, more clues are on their way in the upcoming weeks...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Drapery Tutorial Update - Hems

The cabinet in the Home Office Redesign is heading off to Houck's, to be stripped of all traces of lead paint. I know, it will lose all its aged character...but I have two kids, a dog, a husband and my own health to consider. So that trumps all. After it is returned I will attempt to paint it in a way that has a bit of patina, so the finish doesn't look oddly new on such an old piece!

Now let me revisit the drapery panels which were made for this room and their tutorial. I've gotten a few emails asking about the final step, hemming the panels, a step I didn't cover. You are a bunch of sharp readers and I am busted. Here's the deal, the panels never actually got hemmed, until yesterday. And even then I only hemmed one panel, and did so only to be able to get photos for this final drapery tutorial post!

Once the panels were hung on the rods I simply pinned the hems into place. I usually don't wait this long to get around to hemming drapes, but once you move on from a project it is so hard to return... right?! However, I do recommend you pin the hems in place and wait just a few days before stitching the hem, which allows the panels to fall into place. This ensures they don't get hemmed too short or long.

I personally like drapery panels to stop just above the floor, with approximately 1/2inch clearance. When the panels end here they won't 'break' and will have a clean tailored appearance. This is just my own preference. Allowing the drapes to hit the floor or even puddle creates a more luxurious look.

This is how I finished the lower sides and hems. The sides of the panels are turned back 2 inches, with the lining stitched down this edge stopping about an inch above the point where the turned up hem will be stitched. The remaining length of lining will be stitched down after the hems are sewn in place.

The hem is shown pinned in place. For these panels the hem is 2.5 inches wide with the cut edge turned under for a clean finish. For these panels I didn't add any weights, I've actually never added weights. Just one more step which for my application has not seemed necessary!

Starting at the bottom side edge the layers are stitched together, moving up to the top of the hem, continuing along the width of the panel. The hem is stitched into place using a slip stitch.

The hem height may not end up being the same across the width of the panels. I typically find the hem gets a bit wider through the center of the drape, probably due to the edges of the panels becoming slightly shorter after getting sewn. To make the hem height look even across the width of the panel, (this may be important on lightweight or solid panels) simply increase the amount of fabric which is turned under to create the clean edge.

Additionally, if the floor is uneven the hem itself may not be straight. By hemming the drapes in place you can account for this issue and the end result will look even, with the hem ending at approximately the same distance from the floor across the width of the panel. To avoid all this exacting work...I'm starting to see the advantage of letting drapes simply puddle onto the floor!

The final step is to stitch the last bit of the lining into place.

So there you have it, drapery panel tutorial: done. Of course, there are endless ways and variations to make drapery panels...this is a just a method I've gotten used to that tends to result in the look I like.

I wish I could also say the hemming is all done, along with this tutorial. The three remaining panels are still only pinned in place. I have to say there is limited motivation, they actually look pretty good as is. In fact, tell me, does the above photo show a finished hemmed panel or a panel that is simply pinned?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

News That Nearly Had Me In Tears

This cabinet, which was once in my grandfather's wood shop, is a key element in the Home Office Redesign. But I had a nagging feeling, remembering this post from Sarah at the Thrifty Decor Chick.

So off I went to Home Depot and bought a lead test kit. Yes, just as I had started to suspect, this cabinet had been painted with lead paint. I really wanted to cry. And then the debate in my head began. Do I get rid of it a fast as possible or do I find a way to remove the paint safely? My first reaction was to dispose of the piece quickly, but the thought of doing this made me even more upset.

This cabinet has history. I have some wonderful memories hanging out in the shop with my grandfather, dad and brothers, watching some beautiful things being made. My grandfather died many years ago, so these memories are precious. How can I just throw away an item that connects me back to those times?

I went around the house today and was surprised at how many wooden candlestick holders and bowls, which were made in the woodshop, are placed here and there around my home. The pieces are really quite beautiful.

After thinking about it for a couple days, making calls and researching ways to deal with lead paint I was referred to Houck's Process Stripping Center. This is an EPA approved stripping center located here in Portland. My friend and fellow designer, Dianne of simplydesign, helped me look into this. She has experience dealing with the issue of lead paint, as her previous home was built in the early 1900's. Here is the advice we received.

Steven, an architect, wrote, "I think she has two choices":

1. Strip the paint off herself or have it done at a place like Houck’s. This is where I took my doors.

2. Paint over the existing paint. Simply painting would encapsulate it. Not sure she would need to seal it first? However, I would recommend a good primer that would ensure her new coat of paint sticks properly.

Another architect Allen wrote:

"If she chooses to paint over it a sealing oil-based primer would be a good idea. I would recommend stripping if possible - the finish will be much better if the old paint is removed, and she can avoid sanding which is not a good idea with lead paint. I don't know any places that strip other than the one Steven mentioned. If she wants to do it herself it's not difficult, just time consuming. They sell everything she'll need at Home Depot, and she can call Metro to find out where to get rid of the stripped paint."

I can bet this is not the first time I've dealt with a piece of furniture with lead paint on it. This is simply the only time I've been aware of it. I think back to several pieces I've refinished, without a single thought as to whether or not the original paint was lead. As a result I've probably had more exposure than is this time around I'm leaving this job to the pros and calling Houck's!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Casting Call" - Room Redesign

As you must realize there are a finite number of rooms in my house, and I am going through them at a fairly rapid pace! So I am announcing a "Casting Call", a search for a room near me that is in need of a redesign.

Do you have a Family Room that presently looks like this?

Which wants to be transformed into this?

Is a Master Bedroom Retreat on your wish list?

Or a Dream Bedroom for your daughter? (Or a son?)

Is there a Master Bathroom in your home that would love an update? Taking it from this:

To this?

Or is your Kitchen crying out for a face lift?

Would a Chalkboard Art Wall be a wonderful feature in one of your rooms?

If you live in the Portland metro area and would like to work on a room redesign with me, I'd love to hear from you. What will I provide? A complete room design, assistance with formulating a budget that works for you, a flat design fee to be determined between the parties based on the scope of the project, the option to purchase goods for the room through my trade discount and the project management to see the job to its completion.

To be considered please send photos of the space to Please include a description of the room and what you hope to achieve with a redesign. The requirements to be considered are:

1) Be willing to have the space photographed throughout the design process and written about in posts on this blog.

2) Commit to completing the space within a given time frame.

3) Be open to creative solutions for the design plan...but trust me, you won't hear me asking you to cover any walls with feathers, like Hildi did on Trading Spaces. (Did you see that episode?!)

And if you don't live in the there a room you would enjoy working on with me, if I did live near you?