...because home doesn't happen overnight.
01.29.10 / Fill ‘er Up!

This is the boring white cabinet that I bought from homedecoratorsoutlet.com.

I added new knobs and painted the back of it for a fresh look with a hint of color.

Today, I finally got around to filling it up.  Take a look.

The only thing I specifically bought for dressing this cabinet is the picture frame hanging above it.  I found it waaaaay on sale at a West Elm store closing.  It was just what I was looking for!  I filled it with some photos taken from my handy hubby’s high school trip to Spain.  (The only thing he knows how to say in Spanish is, “Donde estan mis pantalones?”)  So even though the trip didn’t hone in on his foreign language skills, at least we’ve got some sweet pictures to show for it.

A tray houses two IKEA vases and a lone candleholder that I found at Goodwill.  The tray itself is from Goodwill also.  It was originally hunter green and donned a country motif of painted apples.  I gave it the ‘white treatment’.  (My 4-year-old wants to know why I paint everything white.)  I stole the lamp from our office desk.

I dressed the shelves with some of my favorite interior decorating books and magazines.  The two wooden boxes hail from IKEA and are empty at the moment.  (You’d be surprised by how many of my ‘storage’ containers are actually empty.  Room to grow!)  A few family photo albums, a mortar and pestle (a prize I won in pharmacy college), and a lovely porcelain box given to me by my grandma round out the third shelf.  My grandma really enjoys playing cards.  Some of my fondest memories are of her staying up late to teach me new card games.  So, of course, I keep decks of cards in there.  The two sculptural lanterns on the top shelf were a steal from Big Lots.  Again, I had all this stuff sitting around my house just waiting for a home.

Don’t you love the way the green acts as a subtle backdrop for all the goodies?  The bottom drawer holds some activity books, Playdoh and art paper for the kiddos. 

What’s that, you say?  The knobs are different?!  Well, as with any project of mine, this one wasn’t perfect.  When I replaced the knobs I made a mistake.  Oops!  I used screws instead of bolts to attach the knobs and ended up stripping the knobs’ threading.  My 1-year-old had a knob off in two days!  Not good.  So, off to Lowe’s for new knobs and I actually found some clear, glass ones that I liked better anyways.  Handy hubby attached ‘em this time…the right way.  And he secured the entire cabinet to the wall for the kids’ safety.  He’s pretty awesome.  Finally, one last shot of the glass-front cabinet in all its painted, knobbed and knick-knacked glory. 

Have you ever ‘shopped’ around your house for decor items?  It’s amazing what you might find because you’ve stowed it away and forgotten about it.  Plus, it’s FREE.

Since phase 1 of our kitchen upgrade is well under way, it’s time to start thinking about the next step.  With all the DIY and thrifting that we do around here (not to mention working), we’ve saved enough cash to replace our builder basic kitchen countertops, sink and faucet.  We’re 90% sure that the perimeter countertops (which support the sink) will get switched out to granite.  So, we also want to upgrade the sink and faucet. 

I’m really digging the undermount sinks.  They look so easy to swipe crumbs and messes into because they’re flush with the counter unlike our current top-mounted sink. 

I also like the look of a single basin (with no divider) but that wouldn’t be practical for our household.  Since we have 2 kiddos, a lot of daily dishware requires handwashing and air-drying.  I let those things air-dry in the second basin.  So, two basins it is; although they need not be the same size. 

And as for the sink material, I think a high quality, thick gauge stainless steel would suit our needs best.  (Those copper sinks are way cool but totally out of our price range!)

Here are some sinks that float my boat. 




And since we’re talkin’ sinks, how does your sink look or function?  Do you work left-to-right or right-to-left?  For those inquiring minds, I wash in the right basin, air-dry in the left basin and load my dishwasher to the right of the sink.

An old 3-ring binder (from my college days) and loads of inspirational tear-outs…

Plus a $7.77 pack of page protectors…

Equals an organized, anytime flip-through of eye candy and endless ideas.

Or as I like to call it, My Little Black Book.

I strongly encourage anyone who is thinking of painting, decorating or buying new furniture to make one of their own.  In the end, this underestimated book will save you time and money.  Simply tear out magazine pages of rooms that you are drawn to.  Don’t think (yet) about why you like them or if you can afford them.  Just rip ‘em out for about 6 months or so before you do the aforementioned painting, decorating or buying.  Then compile all pages into a binder with page protectors.  (Punching holes into thin magazine paper results in torn holes and lost pages.  Believe me, I know.)  Organize them by room… kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. 

Periodically, go through and study your book.  Remove pages that you are no longer drawn to (because we all like to change our minds!) and look for a common theme in the pages you keep.  This should really help nail down a feel, style or color scheme.  Do you like bold, bright colors?  Or are you drawn to more serene rooms?  Is your taste pretty traditional or do you lean more toward straight lines and no frills?  Are the rooms in your binder mostly formal or casual?

Once you can pinpoint a feel, your projects and shopping lists should become more focused.  I didn’t do this for the first year we lived in our home.  I had all these little ideas but no overall concept of how I wanted our house to look.  Needless to say, I wasted some time, money and paint on things that didn’t turn out ‘right’.  I was in a hurry to get it done.  Once I took the time to compose My Little Black Book and discover that I like light, airy, neutral rooms with pops of color (especially green), texture and geometric details, it was easy to start working towards a cohesive vision.  Go ahead, try it for yourself!


So, remember me dreaming of a white kitchen?  Well, I finally got me a white kitchen!  And I didn’t spend a fortune on it either.  Take a look at our builder basic kitchen before we painted the cabinets white.

builder basic kitchen

Nothing awful but I’m not an orangey-oak, grainy wood kinda gal.  All the kitchen pictures in my inspiration folder are of light, airy kitchens with either white or light gray cabinets.

white kitchen inspiration

inspiration gray kitchen

Since our walls are already a gray color, I thought white cabinets would fit in nicely.  However, I didn’t have $10,000 sitting around (nor did I want to slap that down on a credit card) for new, custom white cabinets.  Needless to say, it was pretty easy to decide on PAINTING our current oak cabinets white.  Yes, that’s right, I said PAINTING over oak cabinets.  (My dad and grandpa are uneasy over this latest turn of events…being quite the handymen and thinking it a crime to paint oak.)

First, we removed all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts (and by ‘we’ I mean my hubby) and emptied the cabinets of their contents.  Our entire kitchen contents lived on/under our dining table for about a week.

The next step was to lightly sand and degloss all cabinetry surfaces.


Then we (this time I really mean ‘we’) primed and painted the cabinet frames that remained on the walls.  For maximum benefit, we let the primer cure well longer than the recommended time.  Same for the two coats of paint.

We chose an oil-based primer and latex enamel paint for durability.  (These cabinets have to put up with our two little boys.)  Both were purchased from Sherwin-Williams at one of their 20% off weekend sales.  The total cost in primer and paint was less than $80!  Once the frames on the wall were painted, our kitchen looked like this for 2 months while we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

We contemplated buying or renting a spray gun for the doors and drawer fronts.  But after reading about how difficult they could be to clean and how thinning the paint correctly took some trial-and-error, we looked into having someone spray them for us professionally.  Unfortunately, all the quotes were well over $2000… more than we were willing to spend.  We had every inclination to just prime and paint them by hand but knew it would be a loooong time before we were able to complete that task… it was January in Ohio… we didn’t want to paint them indoors…plus we have two kiddos that take up most of our time…not to mention jobs.  Then we found DJ.  DJ was hard up for some work, had a decent portfolio and wanted $280 total to caulk, prime and paint all the doors and drawer fronts.  Yippee!  And he did it in 5 days.  (DJ will definitely be considered for more time-consuming painting projects in our home!)

We got our doors and drawers back from DJ, then looked to IKEA for hardware.  We decided on the LANSA handles.  Luckily, I had $75 in gift certificates so we only spent $15 out of pocket on hardware.

Steve also made an extra trip back to IKEA for a handy tool to help him line up drill holes for the hardware.  It put us back another $2.  Here’s the drill template in action.

So, 2 months and $375 later, our kitchen now looks like this.

It’s not 100% finished.  I plan on adding a glass front door to the upper cabinet, left of the sink.  And Steve is trying to find an organizational rack for the pots and pans in the lower cabinet, left of the fridge.  We’ve also been putting away money every month for the last 3 months to upgrade our sink, faucet and countertops.  More to come on those changes soon…

But, for now, we are basking in the white-ish glow of our newly painted kitchen cabinets!  I might even take up cooking.