Monday, October 31, 2011

Easy Mailbox Facelift

Our mailbox needed a little help.  It worked perfectly fine and served its purpose; therefore, we didn't feel the need to replace it with a new one.  It just needed some love.

We were originally just going to spray paint it black, but then Evan got a great idea. Remember Pixar's film, Up?  It's one of our favorites.  

When Carl and Ellie bought their house, they went on a redecorating marathon to make it all bright and cheerful (sound familiar?).  As Ellie was painting their mailbox, Carl placed his hand on the top of the mailbox, accidentally leaving behind his hand print in purple paint.  Ellie merely giggled and then placed her hand print right below it.

Evan and I didn't exactly have purple, green, and pink spray paint on hand, but we did have black and silver.  So, per Evan's suggestion, we took off the mailbox from its post and doused it with Rustoleum's Hammered Silver spray paint.  Once that first layer was dry, we put on some latex gloves, propped our hands on the mailbox, and asked my mom to cover the silver with Rustoleum's Hammered Black spray paint.  After waiting a little while, we blanketed the mailbox with plastic wrap and spray painted the flag a bright Rustoleum red.  

My hand on the left, Evan's on the right.  Apparently I have huge hands?
And, well, once everything was dry, we re-installed our easily-transformed, happy little mailbox.  I smile every time I see it as I pull into our driveway.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Kitchen Reveal: Day TWO

Before I started this project, I had these high hopes that I'd get it all done in one day.  Uh, yeah right.  What was I thinking?  My whole body was sore for a week after this.  Who needs a gym membership when you've got a house that needs help?  Seriously.

Anyway.  With the doors hung and the drawers in place, I used a fresh brush to apply a thin coat of Rustoleum's Ultimate Polyurethane in a semi-gloss.  This was completed haphazardly, in which I just kind of brushed it in all different directions on the inside and outside of each door and drawer; it honestly didn't take more than 45 minutes.  The polyurethane gave the cabinets a pretty sheen and sealed the stain and the cabinets nicely.

Now for the best part.  Paint.  I adored the Olympic "Guacamole" green that I had in my last apartment's kitchen.  It was bright, it was festive, and, well... it made me crave guac 24/7.  As I was painting my apartment, I realized that all of my red appliances (blender, KitchenAid mixer, food processor) might clash with the green, and wondered if I had made a mistake.  Much to my relief, the green walls and red appliances ended up being great accents together.

Remember my apartment's kitchen?
For the house, I justified reusing a color by saying that not only will the green and red look great again, but that both colors would "pop" on the cream countertops and white kitchen appliances.

So, Guacamole green it was.
I've used paints in satin and flat finishes before, but I never tried a semi-gloss or gloss.  From my previous experiences, it was often difficult to wipe away any flecks of food from the walls, even with a "scrubbable" satin finish.  Therefore, I chose a semi-gloss finish, also hoping that the recessed lighting would shine nicely as it cascaded down on the glossy walls.

It's true.  Kitchens and bathrooms are the worst when it comes to painting.  There are so... many... edges.  I spent all day climbing on top of the refrigerator, crouching behind the sink, reaching on the step ladder, and laying on the floor to paint.  I think even my dogs were laughing at how ridiculous I looked.  Luckily for me, the green covered extremely well and only took one gallon, two coats of paint, and a little bit of leftovers to spare for touch ups.

"I'm judging you."
Now for the finishing touches.  I re-installed all of the freshly painted door knobs and outlet covers, performed a thorough cleaning and wipe-down of the countertops and floors, and put all of my countertop appliances, spices, candles, pictures, towels, and random tchotchkes in place.  And voila!  A brand new kitchen.

Comes with a puppy, too.
I adore everything about it.  I was originally not a fan of being stuck with white appliances, but they certainly look pretty for the time being.  I also love that the colors are bright and bold, but they still are versatile:  I can add orange, yellow, and purple accents without hesitation.

I'm obviously not a professional, so the cabinets aren't perfect, and there are visible drips and imperfections with the stain.  But, you know, I'm just going to call it rustic.  It looks loved, and lived-in, and worn.  And, most of all, it looks like home.

Oh, and the price?  Get this:  It cost me only $62 bucks.  How?

1.)  1 can of Rustoleum spray paint:  $7
2.)  1 container Mineral Spirits:  $5
3.)  1 pack of 10 sanding sheets:  $8
4.)  1 quart of Rustoleum Ultimate Stain:  $12
5.)  1 quart of Rustoleum Ultimate Polyurethane:  $12
6.)  1 gallon of Olympic Guacamole paint:  $18

Of course, with paint supplies (brushes, rollers, painter's tape, etc.), it cost more than that, but I already had those items on hand.  REGARDLESS, that was cheap.  And cool.

... and AFTER.
And there you have it, an inexpensive kitchen face lift that ANYONE can do on a weekend.


In case you missed day one of this kitchen reveal, you can read it here!

Update:  I created new, easy DIY curtains for the kitchen!  Read about them here!

Update: I painted the kitchen door!  Here's the post!

You may find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

Monday: Boogieboard CottageBurlap and DenimC-R-A-F-TCraft-O-ManiacDIY Home Sweet Home,  Everything Under the MoonGet Outta My Head PleaseThe Girl CreativeThe Graphics FairyMad in CraftsMaking the World CuterOur Delightful HomePolish the StarsSew Can DoSew Happy GeekSkip to My LouThrifty Decor ChickToo Much Time on My HandsTuesday: A Bowl Full of LemonsCherished BlissCoastal CharmConfessions of a Stay at Home MommyFunky Polka Dot Giraffe,  I'm Topsy TurvyThe Kurtz CornerMommy By Day Crafter by NightNap Time CreationsNatural NestersNot Just a HousewifeSugar Bee Crafts,  Sweet Little GalsTip JunkieToday's Creative BlogWednesday: Free Pretty Things for YouGinger Snap CraftsJAQS StudioLet Birds FlyRae Gun RamblingsThe Sasse LifeSew Much AdoSew WoodsySomeday CraftsSouthern LovelyThursday: A Creative PrincessA Glimpse InsideCrafty, Scrappy, HappyHouse of HepworthsJust Winging ItMade in a DayThe Shabby Creek CottageSomewhat SimpleThrifty DecoratingYesterday on TuesdayFriday: 2805The Answer is ChocolateBacon Time with the Hungry HypoCreation CornerFinding FabulousFingerprints on the FridgeHappy-Go-LuckyMom 4 RealMy Simple Home LifeOne Artsy MamaPerfectly ImperfectThe Rooster and the HenSimply DesigningTatertots and JelloWhipperberryYoung and CraftySaturday: Be Different... Act NormalCandace CreationsFunky Junk InteriorsIt's So Very CheriNutmeg PlaceSunday: Embellishing Life with Homemade GoodnessFlamingo ToesG*RatedNifty Thrifty Things

The Kitchen Reveal: Day One

When Evan and I were house hunting, the first thing we wanted to know was what kind of shape the kitchen was in.  Was it small?  Too large?  How old were the appliances, the cabinets, the countertops, the flooring, the fixtures?  We saw some beautiful kitchens with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.  And we also saw some scary kitchens... you know, the kind with peeling vinyl floors, crumbling ceilings, and appliances and fixtures circa the 1950s.  We weren't being snobs; we simply didn't want to gamble with a fixer-upper house that would require a $30,000+ kitchen renovation just to make it livable by our standards.

Yeah.  Not happening.
We wanted a kitchen that would simply work for us and our lifestyle.  It didn't necessarily have to be perfect.  That's what paint's for.  We wanted a fairly updated and large kitchen that would enable us to feed a small army for Thanksgiving and football games.

Call me crazy, but I wasn't completely in love with the kitchen that we chose.  It had some fantastic elements to it:  beautiful Corian countertops, a deep sink, newer appliances, a corner window, a pantry, recessed lighting, and an island.  I've always wanted an island... EEEK.  What prevented me from adoring the room was, quite frankly, the cabinets.  They were boring, had been through some wear and tear, and the dirty gold knobs bothered me. I settled with the hope that if we planned to live in this house for a long time, that I could update the cabinetry in 15, 20 years.

And then it dawned on me.  Why wait.  Why not try to update the cabinets?  Why is it preconceived that all kitchen renovations have to be expensive?  They don't.  So I decided one evening (with the help and persuasion of several Bob Vila videos on, and with Evan's blessing) that I was going to refinish the cabinets myself. 

This guy knows EVERYTHING.  How can you not trust that face?
I began by taking off those hideous brass knobs from every cabinet and drawer and washing them.  Replacing hardware has the potential to be very expensive.  Each knob usually costs $3-8, and multiply that by 30-some cabinets and drawers... yeeeeeeah, not worth it.  I opted for the inexpensive route by buying a $7.00 can of Rustoleum spray paint in a Metallic Satin Nickel finish, and used that to update the knobs.

Rustoleum's great because you don't need to clean or sand the project before painting, and can be applied directly over rust. 

I liked the look of the handles so much that I decided to refinish the dirty and white electric outlet covers with the same spray paint.  Outlet covers are typically $2-10 bucks, so I saved a little money there, too.

Then came the overhaul.  I removed all of the cabinet doors and drawers, careful to save all of the screws in Ziploc bags.  The hinges, thankfully, were in great shape, so I kept them where they were.

Welp.  Here goes nothin.'
Over time, cabinets get pretty filthy from not only food residue and cooking oils, but from hand oils, as well.  Per Mr. Vila's recommendation, I cleaned each cabinet and drawer by brushing on and wiping off a dab of Mineral Spirits ($5).  This stuff can also clean your paint brushes and rollers, and is generally handy to have around.

Apparently I can't rotate this picture.
Then came the sanding.  I debated buying a Craftsman hand sander from Sears for $40-150, but decided against it, thinking that the sander wouldn't be able to reach into the grooves of each cabinet door.  In hindsight, I probably should've just bought the darn thing.  The sanding took about three hours and turned my hands raw, but it was kind of exciting to watch my progress.  I used a 220 fine grit sand paper, which is usually used between paint coats on furniture, but I didn't want to scratch up the cabinets too much by using a heavier grit sand paper.

Surprisingly, I ended up using only two of these sanding sheets.
That's about as "sanded down" as they need to get.  You don't have to overdo it.
Check out my lovely pants.
Next was the fun part.  I have mostly black furniture, and with the open floorplan, I thought that brown or maple-colored cabinets wouldn't coordinate very well.  And, well, I always dreamed of having red kitchen cabinets, so I took the leap and just ran with it.

Minwax makes a one-coat stain / polyurethane combo, but Lowe's didn't carry any colors of theirs that I liked.  I opted for the two-step process of Rustoleum's Ultimate Wood Stain in Cabernet, and planned to finish with a second coat of their polyurethane.  Using a nice, sturdy brush meant for stain, I stained each cabinet door and drawer with one coat of this stain, making sure to apply it in the direction of the grain.  Since I wanted a bold red finish, I didn't wipe off any of the excess stain, and just left each door to dry on its own.

After waiting an hour, I turned the doors upside down and stained the underside, as well.  This was a good opportunity to make touch ups on the sides of the doors that I missed on the first coat.

Hey, I made good use of all of the leftover moving boxes.
Once that was done, I cleaned, sanded, and stained the frames of the indoor cabinets.  Once these "skeletons" were stained, it was easy to picture how the kitchen was going to turn out, and how drastic of a change it really was.

Thankfully, I managed to finish both sides of the doors and the indoor cabinets by nightfall.  I carried the doors in one-by-one and reattached them to the cabinets and drawers.  It was pretty late at night by this point, so I called it for the day, took some progress pictures, and prepared to finish the job the following day.

Stay tuned!  Day Two of the Kitchen Reveal can be read here

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Closing Time

Let me just admit that closing day was the most stressful day of my life.  I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, and couldn't even sit.  I was on the brink of a panic attack all morning and all afternoon.  My wedding day was a cinch compared to this.  What caused all of this anxiety?  A multitude of things:

1.  It was still uncertain whether or not we could actually close on the house that day.
2.  Friends and family were going to help us move in on Saturday, so if we didn't close on Friday, then we'd lose our help.
3.  A big proposal at work had blown up a few days prior, and I was afraid I was going to have to work that day and all weekend.
4.  The majority of our savings account was about to vanish in one afternoon.
5.  I am just a neurotic and emotional and wacky human being.  It's my nature.

Evan felt the same way.  We drove to our 9:00 a.m. final walkthrough of the house in complete silence.  And then we got all giddy once we pulled into our future street and into our future driveway.  Yes, giddy.

I feel spoiled.
Our realtor, Carol, met us in the driveway with a huge grin. We were also welcomed by our future cat (the seller offered us his outdoor cat), Mac, who proceeded in molting hair all over us.  And we got word that closing had been postponed from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. -- but who cared?  It was TODAY.  Life seemed surreal.

ALMOST ours.
Then... we walked inside.  The seller's belongings were scattered everywhere.  He hadn't moved out yet.  There were tables, chairs, boxes, trash, linens, and even a dozen or so tea settings left on the kitchen counter.  The kitchen, dining room, living room, and garage were a mess.  Carol immediately embarked on a battle of phone tag with the seller and his realtor.  They made a deal that we would reschedule a final final walkthough at 1:00 p.m., and that the seller would get all of his stuff out by then.

I guess a plus side was that when we looked into our backyard, we were greeted by a flock of wild turkeys.
Hey, dudes.
From there, Evan and I didn't know what to do.  We were still incredibly nervous and talked a thousand miles per minute, but were elated.  We ate breakfast at Panera; coordinated working efforts with my company's teaming partners; spent too much money at Bed, Bath, and Beyond; and putzed around to kill time.  It felt like an eternity.

The seller and his grandson were still hard at work when we returned to the house. They weren't able to completely remove everything, understandably, and I was a little bummed that the seller didn't clean the house at all.  Regardless, he handed us the KEYS, told us to be good to Mac, and promised to return on Saturday for the remaining items.

We met, as scheduled, at the attorney's office at 2:00 p.m.  We read, initialed, signed, and dated a heck of a lot of papers.  But there was also a lot of laughter and a lot of smiles.  We were homeowners.

The best part of the day?  Releasing the hounds.  They had NO IDEA what was going on, where they were, and why there weren't people in every room to greet them.  All we heard for hours was the constant clicking of their toenails and jingling of their dog tags as they raced from room to room.

Wild man Crash.
Floppy-tongued Zubie.
Lap #659.

Happy.  Very, extremely, incredibly... happy.

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