July 29, 2010

A “New” Buffet – Getting Started


Several months ago, in oh…about May…. I had been keeping a close eye on Craigslist for a buffet or hutch for a certain spot in our dining room.  It had to be a smaller sized piece so it could fit nicely without extending under our pony wall.


Well I finally found one!  We rented the Home Depot truck and picked it up.  I should’ve looked it over more closely when we picked it up and probably negotiated the price.  The thing is abso-stinkin-lutely-filthy!  And it has a couple of minor cracks here and there.  But we were on the Home Depot clock with that truck, so I was in a rush.

Here are the two pieces showing how functional they are ;)

IMG_2087 IMG_2086 Actually, the buffet does have some neat stuff going on, as far as functionality goes.  The skinny pull out thing at the top there pulls out to extend the serving area.  And the two cupboards, two drawers, and the nifty wine racks are all nice storage features as well.  I plan to get some glass cut for those doors, too.

It sat in our garage until last week, when we had finished the cabinets and I decided it was time to get going on the buffet/hutch so Hubster could park his car in the garage again :)

The plan: 

Clean the bugger.  Sand the stain off and the paint as much as possible.  Re-stain the wood portions to match our fireplace mantel (dark) and repaint the painted portions to match our kitchen cabinets.  Poly the whole thing.

Disclaimer:  I’ve never refinished furniture and I hope to avoid using paint stripper at all costs. (!)

I’m also just tackling the buffet at this point.  I’ll work on the hutch some other time because I really only want the buffet inside for now…and I don’t know what I’m doing or how well it will turn out :)

First step: Clean it.  Formula 409 didn’t even touch the “dirt” on this thing.  I did find some rather large, dried orangey-brown splatters that looked something like perhaps baby food…and I got those off ok.  But all of this is another story:

Inside cabinet and drawer areas:

IMG_2265 IMG_2266


The cabinet doors:

IMG_2271 IMG_2274 IMG_2270

I’m actually starting to wonder if the “dirt” all over this thing isn’t actually a really sloppy glazing job?  Like maybe the glaze was just sprayed all over the thing (including on the inside) and only wiped off on the outside?  My other suspicion is that perhaps the furniture lived in a heavy smoking household.  I worked on repainting the inside of a house once where the former owner had been a smoker all her life….and let me tell you…..trying to clean tar and smoke out of walls/paint is very difficult and VERY disgusting!  (I’d spray TSP on the walls….wait a few minutes….and then the orange drips would appear and start to roll down the wall looking like something out of a scary movie.)

The other lovely thing about this guy is that the inside of the cabinets and drawers smell like some vintage Old Spice cologne was spilled in them.  Hopefully the Kilz will address that, as I’m not super wild about my placemats etc smelling like a man’s cologne :)

I can just imagine Thanksgiving dinner….”Wow, do your mashed potatoes taste like cologne too?”

I don’t think there’s any salvation for those drawer tracks, and I’m going to look into replacing them.  They just gross me out.  In fact, they gross me out so much that I haven’t gotten in there yet to remove them.  I guess I should do that…soon :)

As far as the dark stuff, I tried hard to sand off what I could, and now I’ll probably just have to cover up the rest with Kilz. 

I used our new orbital sander for the sanding.  It took several passes and a pretty coarse grit (followed by a finer grit) to sand off the stain and poly from the top of the buffet and the couple of shelves.  The bottom of the buffet and the inside back will just have to be painted because I can’t get in there with the sander well enough to strip the finish.  Hubby thinks I should make an extra effort to strip and restain the small portion of the bottom that sticks out, so I’ll think about that and how I could sand that the easiest (perhaps the Dremel tool….).

The top still needs some attention I think.  It feels totally ready for new stain, but as you can see, the top does still have darker areas.  I don’t know if that’s ok or not, since I’ll be using darker stain, but I’ll probably go over it again just because.


Here are the two shelves and the two wine rack pieces.  I only sanded the areas of the wine rack pieces that will be visible from the front of the buffet.  Sanding is hard work peeps!  I think maybe if I had a detail sander, things would be a lot easier.


I did my best to sand the painted areas to give them some extra tack for the primer to adhere to.  Between sanding, wiping the dust off, disassembling the various pieces, trying more 409, wiping again, then scrubbing, then sanding again….it’s been 3 evenings and I’m still not quite ready to get out the primer. 

Next steps:  remove the drawer tracks (eww) and take them to the hardware store.  Look pathetic until someone offers to help me.  Come home and employ Hubby to help me flip over the buffet and sand the legs etc. 


Then I SHOULD be ready to start staining and priming.

It’s gonna turn out great…It’s gonna turn out great…It’s gonna turn out great


July 23, 2010

DIY Cabinet Upgrade Part III – DONE!




(Disclaimer:  Subject to future glazing if I decide to go that route.  :))


In Part I, I installed the crown molding.


In Part II, we sanded, primed, and painted the cabinet boxes.


Somewhere in between Part II and Part III, I installed the last piece of decorative trim, and sanded, primed, and painted the doors over a couple of weekends. 

And our kitchen has been transformed from this (last July when we moved in):


IMGP0624 IMGP0655





IMG_2153 IMG_2155   IMG_2173



Whoo to the HOO!  It’s done and it feels so good to have a “brand new” kitchen :) 

I just get the feeling of CLEAN and BRIGHT and CHEERY and HERB-EY COTTAGE-GARDEN-EY GOODNESS about our new space, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for.

Y’all get what I’m saying?

I know you do!


Edit:  I’ve gotten a lot of questions on this project, so now there’s an FAQ post as well.


I’m linked up this week to:

The Shabby Nest

Keeping it Simple

The Girl Creative

Tools are for Women Too!

Transformation Thursday

Thrifty Decor Chick – Before and After Party

Please stop by these sites and check out all the great projects!

July 21, 2010

Back in the Saddle



Got home from my business trip last night at about 11.

Then the stupid decorative thing fell off the blinds downstairs at some point in the middle of the night and made a huge racket.  (Dag-nabbed decorative things!  The clips that are supposed to hold those things up there DON’T WORK and I’m constantly messing with that stupid top piece because it’s always crashing to the floor.)


So I’m pretty tired but glad to be home.  It was 107 degrees where I was.  YUCK.  Like walking into an oven whenever you go outside. 

Our kitchen cabinet painting project is coming along….We have the drawer fronts back on and a few doors back up (umm…9 out of 17) and our kitchen is looking better!  I’ll put the final coat of paint on a few more doors tonight.  I also got the decorative trim installed last weekend.  Here’s a little teaser shot for ya :)


While I worked on the kitchen, Hubby was being an angel and moving the final pieces of edging along the side “border” of our backyard (in about 100 degree heat).  The new grass is coming along over there, and once the two sides are filled in, the only maintenance required will be mowing!

 IMG_2136 IMG_2137


While I was outside taking those pictures….I also had to harvest some veggies:


And capture a new bloomer!

What kind of plant is this?

IMG_2148 IMG_2147 

And here’s the hibiscus (below)– getting really big next to some potted perennials!


Hey Mom, I guess my ice plant is a pink one after all :)

July 16, 2010

Little Buggers!

Someone…. has been eating my lilies!
Yesterday I mentioned that my red border lilies were finally blooming.   Well, I ended up with another batch of the same bulbs, which I planted in the back garden (much later than the first batch).
That back-garden-batch is now coming up.
And being promptly eaten.
Sorry bout the fuzzy pictures.  It’s really hard to get a clean shot without the flash when there’s nothing to rest against (the ground was a little muddy).

My mom suspects aphids.  I see slugs in the garden here and there, so I’m worried maybe they could be the culprit too. 

Strategy….a two-pronged attack. 
Part I….
Background… Mom recommends a spray bottle mixture of soapy water to combat aphids. 
Action Item…Mixed it up at lunch yesterday.  Doused the plants!
Evaluation… Pending.  (No additional munch damage as of this morning.)
Part II…
Background…Slugs are boozers.  They like beer.
Action Item….Make a beer trap.  I’ve heard butter containers work well….but I had an almost-empty yogurt container instead, so that’s what I’m using.

Take your container and cut square holes in it.  Bury it in the ground with the bottom of the holes almost level with the ground, so that the entrance to the holes is maybe half an inch above ground level.  Put enough beer in it to drown anything that falls in.  Put the lid on to avoid dilution by rain, evaporation, etc. 

Evaluation…Pending. (No slugs caught as of this morning…just a daddy long legs.)  And yes, I might’ve gotten some dirt in the beer. 

Whoops.  :)

July 15, 2010

A Yard in Progress


In the front yard, my “red border lilies” are finally blooming!

And in the backyard….

The grass is still filling in on the right side – we haven’t mowed it so it will get very tall and continue seeding the area, so it doesn’t exactly look *good* yet:

The lilac is planted and now I just need to get some mulch:

(Sharing its little area are some white alyssum as a border and two extra jalapeno plants that aren’t doing anything.)

The clematis continues to be appreciative of his new growing space:


   The newly seeded left side of the lawn is starting to grow and fill in (we still need to move the edging though):


The vegetable garden is literally spilling over its edges (because of the tomatoes in the little tomato cages – I should’ve known those small cages would be worthless.)


And some of the other perennials etc I’ve planted are doing fairly well (you can see the tall lilies bloomed and they are yellow!  They have very pretty blooms that sort of hang and point down at the ground). 

  • Also toward the back of the bed, the rhubarb is getting big, and the lambs ears has finally settled in after showing me some attitude for a couple weeks (very wilty, very perky, very wilty, very perky). 
  • You can see the pink coneflower blooming, some puny purple alyssum along the soaker hose,
  • In front of the tall lilies are some still-wilting-from-their-transplant daylilies, and old yucky iris leaves that need trimming. 
  • There are two dianthus hiding in the shadow of the tree, some ornamental grass in a group of three towards the front right, and along the front edge of the curve in the edging (admittedly hard to see the edging), a row of purple alyssum as well as the penstemon which is not doing well at all. 
  • There are some white alyssum planted between the pavers….. and the rest of the vegetation you see are weeds =/


I’d take better pictures  than these (taken from an upstairs window), but it’s about 95 degrees out there :)  The bucket is our tree-watering system.  It’s attached to a stake in the ground that lets us do deep-watering.

Looks like I need to fill the bird feeder, do some weed pulling and general trimming, and buy/spread more compost/mulch.

Oh yeah, and paint some cabinet doors, and mow, and…and…and



July 14, 2010

Cabinet Update Etc.



Remember this?


It still looks like that for the most part :) 

But… we did make some progress on the doors this past weekend.  To be precise, they are now sanded, primed and waiting for paint.  Once they are painted, I’ll reinstall them and install a final piece of decorative trim.  Then I’ll have to decide whether I’m going to do a distressing treatment on them or not.  So far I really like the clean look of the new paint without any treatment, but the trim has some pretty detail that I’d like to be more prominent, so we’ll see.

IMG_2084 IMG_2085

And remember that piece of Craigslist furniture I’ve mentioned  few times?  Last time I mentioned it, it was facing the garage wall and I couldn’t get a picture.

But now we’re using it to prop up cabinet doors, so here it is!

There’s the bottom half (the buffet, I call it):


And here’s the hutch, which I don’t plan to use inside right away:


Cool, huh?  

It needs some attention, and it’ll be the next ‘big’ project to do.  The whole thing looks pretty dirty, though I can’t tell if it’s dirt or glaze.  Either way, I’ll repaint it to match the cabinets, and I’ll do something with the wood-toned areas as well.

The buffet doors are missing glass so I’ll probably get a couple cheap pieces of glass cut to fit in there.

And other things I plan to get done in the next few weeks are:

  1. Moving the edging on the other side of the backyard – easy…just need to do it
  2. A kitchen window treatment
  3. Weed pulling as usual.  I can’t wait until next year when the plants are bigger and there’s less area of bare dirt to worry about.
  4. Buy some mulch or compost to use as mulch in the back garden.

I’ll be traveling for work for a couple days next week, Hubby will be gone for work for a couple days as well, and then we’re going camping next weekend.  So we’ll have this Saturday and half of Sunday to get some cabinet-door-painting done before I head to the airport.

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