Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Gel Stain Kitchen Cabinets

We needed new cabinets for obvious reasons, but also because I was tired of seeing our kitchen stuff all over the house.  I knew I wanted espresso colored cabinets with white counter tops and I also knew that we didn't have a lot of cash to spend on them.  Craigslist to the rescue!

While endlessly searching Craigslist, day after day, I stumbled upon a seller selling all wood upper and lower kitchen cabinets.  The price was right and I could have them right away!  The only drawback, they were honey colored.  Minor!

I packed up my husband and brother to do the heavy lifting and off we went to meet the mysterious Craigslist seller.  She turned out to be a super nice lady and the cabinets were everything that I wanted them to be!  (Despite what others may tell you about those on Craigslist, I have met nothing but super friendly people that are genuinely willing to help you.  My husband will tell you that it's just because I'm me and that people are always willing to help me.  Maybe I just look super friendly or completely lost and in need of saving, but people seem to respond well to me for some reason. It's probably the latter...lol.)

The cabinet closest to the camera is the original color of the cabinets.  It's nice, but just not the color I had in mind.

I had the men load the cabinets into the truck and we headed home.  The cabinets came disassembled, so while assembling them I came up with a plan of attack to change the color.  I knew that I wanted the grain of the wood to be able to show through, so that meant that painting them was out.  The only option left was to stain them in order to achieve the look that I wanted.

Side Note: Staining is a lot of work!  There's the prep work (ie. the sanding and the cleaning), then the actual staining (multiple coats with drying time in between each coat), and finally the topcoat (also multiple coats).  Thus, I tried to talk myself into just painting the cabinets.  It would have been much faster, but the wood grain was so pretty that I just couldn't do it!

After researching various staining techniques and products, I decided to use General Finishes gel stain in Java.  It is a stain that sits on top of the wood rather than permeating it like normal stains do.  It allowed for less sanding, which I wish I could have avoided all together, but if you want it to look nice then you need to do it right the first time!

Awesome product!  It looks exactly like chocolate pudding, but it's not! So don't eat it. ;)

 Here's the step-by-step process that I used:
  1. Sand the parts to be stained until they are no longer shiny.  The shiny part is the original top coat, which the gel stain will not stick to.  It might stick on the first coat, but once the second coat is applied it all wipes off.  Super frustrating! So be sure that you get off all that shiny top coat via sanding before you even think about starting to stain.
  2. Clean!!!  Use your vacuum to suck all of the dust out of any cracks or crevices.  The last thing you want is to be staining and a whole bunch of dust puffs out from a crack and onto your nice fresh stain.  There's no easy way to come back from that.  You'll have to sand it out and start over. 
  3. Apply the first coat of stain.  It will look streaky and gross.  Don't panic! 
    • Be sure to wear latex gloves.  You don't want stain on your hands or your on your nail polish.  The horror!  
    • For the larger sections you can use an old sock to apply the stain with.  With your gloves on first, stick your hand inside the sock.  Now you can use the sock as a mitt, dipping it into the stain and wiping it onto the wood.
      • Side note: If you stick your used sock into a resealable plastic bag and stick it in the freezer, you can reuse your sock for multiple coats.  The freezer keeps the stain from drying.  Remember to squish out as much air as you can from the bag.
    • For smaller more precise sections (ie. the inside panel of our shaker style cabinet doors) I used a make-up sponge.  (Hey, I'm a girl!  We use what we know.)  The make-up sponge was small and gave me the most control out of any of the other options that I tried.  It took longer, but those doors look perfect and smooth!
  4. Let it dry for the full 24 hours.  I tried to rush it and do two coats in one day.  Bad idea.  If the stain isn't completely dry, the next coat will wipe off the first coat.  With this gel stain, slow and steady wins the race.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the desired color is reached.  For me that was 3 coats.
  6. Apply the Gel Topcoat.  I used the satin finish, but it does come out more shiny than matte.  Use the same application as you did for the stain.  I did two coats of topcoat. 
 This is what it looks like after just one coat of stain.
This is after two coats of stain.
 Just a few of the doors I had to stain.  You can kind of see the wood grain in this picture.
 After two coats on the doors.
Installing the finished cabinets.  I opted to only stain the outside that way the inside still looked bright and clean looking with the factory finish.
 Fitting the new Corian counter top.
Fitting my Corian farmhouse sink.  I love it!  You need a farmhouse sink in your life, you really do!
By the way, don't you love my chevron curtains?  I sewed those babies myself!  Toot, toot...lol.

I loathed the whole staining process while I was in it.  Now looking back on it, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  That's how much I love the results.  If you're holding back on staining or even just repainting your current cabinets, you should go for it.  It's a big project, but so totally worth the work.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Out with the old and in with the new!

In the last couple of posts we've perfected our baseboards and painted.  Now comes the hard labor...removing the old cabinets.

I know, I know.  I should have removed them before we painted.  Yes, of course, in a perfect world I would have had the time and money to do it all at once, but I need to live in the construction while working on it.  Thus, we're only doing one project at a time.  Yes, it does take more time and effort to do it this way, but I wasn't blessed with a ton of cash to just go ahead and do the whole house all at once.  I wish I were.  On a side note, if you'd like to contribute monetary donations to help this wish come true, I'd be more than willing to accept. ;)

Getting back to it...

Here's a reminder of what the cabinets and windows looked like before:

You can see why they had to go.  They're old and outdated, first of all.  Secondly, we found this once we started removing the old cabinets.
Gather, students!  This is the remains of a termite den.  They ate all the wood they could and moved on to a new home.  
Actually, the termites were found out by the previous owner way too long after they started making a home for themselves and were then evicted via termite tenting and ground treatment.  Needless to say, I have a lot of patching to do all over the house.  On the plus side, I'm putting all of my culinary skills to good use since patching termite homes is similar to frosting a cake...lol.

The termites demolished much of the cabinets this way, but strangely (Or maybe not.  I'm no termite expert.) left all the cabinet doors in tact.  I feel like there's something romantic about keeping something from the old house and having it in the new updated house.  So I had my husband save the cabinet doors to eventually build a dining room table out of.  He was against the idea in the beginning and it took a lot of convincing to get him on board, but now I think he's really digging on it.  
So far this is the table design that we have come up with.  I love herringbone and chevron patterns!  I also love the various shades of wood due to use over the years.  I feel like this piece will have so much character and meaning to us down the road.
Here's the hubs taking all of the door hardware off the cabinets before hulk smashing everything.
 There it goes!
 Goodbye old cabinets and appliances!  Hello more painting!  Check out the old shelf liners.  That's legit, right there! ;)
 A better view of the wall without the oven or wall cabinets.
There's where the old island was.

Once it was all removed I had a better idea of what I wanted the space to look like.  First thing we did was replace the window facing the street with a larger one.  I'm a sucker for natural lighting.  The brighter and more open, the better.

Ahhh, much better!

I loved the new window so much that I decided we needed one more on the the adjacent wall.  We moved the old fridge out of the way and cut a hole in the wall to add the new window.
With so much natural light, the house was starting to feel more modern already!

After installing the new windows we decided that we wanted to drywall most of the kitchen.  It would allow us to hide the wiring and give it a more modern feel.  Don't get me wrong, I love the old tongue-in-groove wood walls, but the mix of drywall and those old-style walls makes my heart sing.  I will never let my husband talk me into drywalling the entire house, but I do love how the mix of both looks together.  Again, with the romanticism of keeping the old with the new.  I just can't get enough of it!

Up next: Staining cabinets!

Monday, September 8, 2014

How to create a flawless baseboard...

Today I decided to do an instructional blog post about baseboards.  You know, that bottom part of your wall that you're always trying to hide because dust collects on it.  Oh, that old thing?  That's the one!  Let's give it a little bit of a makeover, shall we?

Since we were starting from scratch at my house, we ripped out all of the old carpet first.  If you want to keep your existing flooring, I'd strongly suggest covering the area you're working on with cardboard or plastic wrap.  Even an old sheet would work!  (Try to avoid using old fitted sheets.  Speaking from experience here...they're a pain because they keep pulling themselves back up into a ball.  VERY entertaining if someone other than yourself is being forced to work with it as a drop cloth.  I know, I'm a bad girl.  Heheheh!)

 This is what the old baseboards looked like after painting.  Pretty uninspiring.
Look at all those cracks and crevices where dust can get into.  Doesn't that just look like a joy to clean time and time again?  No?  I'm with you on that one!  So let's fix it!

 I went around the room and placed some painters tape just above the part where the quarter round (The rounded piece of wood on the top.  Don't feel bad, I only learned what that was when I started this project.  We're learning and growing together!) meets the wall and on top of the quarter round itself just below where it meets the wall.  
Using a caulking gun fitted with a tube of white caulk and armed with a roll of paper towels and a bowl of soapy water, my husband caulked in between the two pieces of tape.  With his finger dipped in the soapy water to keep the caulk from sticking to it, he forced the caulk into the crack thus filling that dust collecting chasm!  Then he wiped the excess caulk on to a paper towel.  (There will be excess.  There's just no way around it.  I've tried being thrifty with it, but you still end up wasting a little no matter how careful you are.)  He also caulked in the corners and any where else where we saw a noticeable crack.
 Once the caulk was laid into place and given a little bit of time to dry, we went around and removed all the tape.  Look, Ma!  No more cracks!

The next day when the caulk was completely dry, (You really only have to wait a few hours, but we did this to all of the rooms.  So we spent one day just caulking.) we repainted the baseboards. The above picture was taken before we painted.  Doesn't it look so much better already, though?

Here's the final product with the new carpet installed!

Not too hard, right?  It's a great weekend project to refresh those neglected baseboards!

Pro tips:
  • Why did you use painter's tape?  Couldn't you have just caulked it without the tape? 
    • Yes, we could have.  If you have a smaller area to caulk, I would say to lose the tape.  Since we chose to caulk all the baseboards throughout the house, we used the tape because it allowed us to make less passes to get all the excess caulk off of the walls.  The excess could be left on the tape to dry rather than having to make so many wiping passes to get it all off of the wall.  It was one swipe and we were onto the next spot, rather than going over and over it again.
  • My tape keeps coming off of the wall!  How did you get yours to stick so well?
    • First of all, make sure that your wall is well dusted.  Bust out that vacuum and use that hose attachment!  Then wipe down your wall with rubbing alcohol.  The alcohol removes any oils from the wall that could be keeping your tape from sticking.  (It's similar to what they do at a nail salon when they prep your nails for a manicure.  They lotion up your hands and nails in the beginning.  Then before they put the new polish on they use nail polish remover on your nails to remove any lotion residue.  Thus giving the polish a nice clean surface to stick to!)  Lastly, always have a clean putty knife handy!  Place the tape against the wall and stick it down.  Then use the putty knife, keeping the edge flat to the wall, and run it along the line of tape.  This secures it down and removes any air bubbles that could have formed beneath the tape.  This is an excellent tip for paint prepping as well!
  • If you already painted, how did you paint just the baseboards?  Won't there be a line between the two paint jobs?
    • Remember to feather out your paint.  Paint the baseboard and then starting from where the baseboard is connected to the wall, lightly pull your brush up the wall.  Most the paint will be near the baseboard and just a very thin coat will be going up the wall.  This is called feathering.  It helps to blend the two paint jobs together so you don't just have one line starring at you as a reminder that you painted it on two separate occasions.
Let me know if you have any questions!  I'd be more than happy to answer them.  Also if you have a pro tip, go ahead and leave it in the comment section.  I love learning new tips and tricks of the trade!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Just call me Construction Barbie...

The first step to getting back on the wagon is to get back on the wagon.  So this is me officially getting back on the blogging wagon.

It's hard to believe that I haven't blogged in over 2 years.  It's embarrassing really.  I think about blogging all the time and even come up with posts in my head, but never actually sit down to write them.  (No, not just post ideas, but full on posts.  With edits!  I know, I'm a little crazy, but that's what you all love about me, right?)

So what have I been doing in the last 2 years?  You know I haven't just been sitting around doing nothing.  I'm the proverbial Jack-of-all-trades!  Well, maybe the first year I was kind of just sitting around and living life... But the second year!  Wait for it....

My husband and I bought a house!

It's small, and old, and needs a ton of work, but it's ours!  This is where things really start to get interesting.  Did I mention it was old?  Like really old...

 Are those original cabinets?  Why yes they are!  They were made back before drawer slides were invented.  So you get a great workout every time you need a utensil!
 The view of the kitchen from the dining room.
 Yes, that's a washer in my kitchen.  That was the first thing to go.  It just didn't make sense to me there.  Eventually I'd like a laundry room, but for now its home is in the garage.
 And there is the lonely refrigerator.  In, what I think, is the worst place you could ever put a refrigerator.  The door opens and bangs against the island and it is so far away from the stove.  You do get cardio points from that placement though, as you will be walking back and forth more times than you could possibly imagine while cooking a meal.

Let's just say it was updated never since it was built.  Which is both good and bad.  Good because it's pretty much a blank canvas.  Anything I want to do to it, I can!  Bad because with no updating means you have things like old weird wiring (Why is the light switch for this room smack dab in the middle of the wall rather than near the door?  Probably because back in the day people liked a challenge!  Yeah, you might trip over a bunch of stuff and die, but hey, you're out there living life on the edge.  Or...the easiest way to run the wire was to the middle of the room rather than to the door...hahaha.).  Pretty much anything you can think of I'll probably have to eventually fix.  Don't get me wrong, the house has good 'bones'.  So it's mostly superficial. 

I think this shower is too small for me. :/
 The kitchen, bathrooms, and one bedroom were the only rooms in the house that had ever been painted.  Here's the hubs getting ready to paint the whole house.
 Here's my father-in-law a couple hours in.  I guess I should have bought him a ski mask....oops...  He's been helping us with all of our remodeling.  He's awesome and doesn't ever tell me that any of my bright ideas (ie. my farmer's sink or my waterfall counter top.  Hey, I have a lot of design ideas.) are not possible.  He rolls with every curve ball that I throw at him and I love him for it!  He is the ultimate "make it work" guy.
Here's the hallway and dining room after being primed and painted.  Sooooooo much better!  Oh yeah and there are just a few rolls of the super old carpet that we had to remove.  Old carpet is really heavy!  Please, don't tell me why.  I can only imagine all the dust bunnies, skin particles....and that's enough of that.

Me, the girliest of girls, has really gotten into the whole DIY spirit.  I'm actually out there demoing, sanding, painting, laying tile, building cabinets.  Hey you name it, I've probably done it or at least stood there while my husband did the scary parts!  (Confession time: The nail gun scares me.  I don't want to touch it or go near it.  It's loud, huge, and just all around scary.  It's my husband's main goal in life right now to get me to fire it.  So far he's losing.  He did however get me a jack hammer and I'm pretty good at using that.  Now he fires nails and I jack hammer out tile.  So I guess on some levels he did win...hahaha.)

We've done a lot of updating already.  The kitchen is almost done!  (Yes, I have pictures, but you'll have to wait until the next post to see them.  I can't give everything away in my first post back!  If you really must see them right now or you'll explode from excitement, then you can check them out on my instagram @lb_dub77.)  Next to go is that hideous avocado green tile and matching green tub in the picture above.  We're smashing that to bits with a sledge hammer this weekend.  And you know what?  I can't wait!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Instagram is an insta-good time!

Hello my faithful bloggies!  I know that I have been terrible at blogging as of late.  I'm working on it, I promise.  Pictures and adventure stories from Italia are on the way!

For those of you that just can't get enough of me, I'm on Instagram. 

Just look me up, @lb_dub77.  I'll wait...

Did you find me yet?  Okay, good.  Now press follow.  

Yes, that's it!  Now you have 'Arielle to-go'!

I post pretty regularly on there.  Honestly, what's not to love?  Pictures with filters and one lined explanations.  It's right up my alley.  It's quick, dirty, and gets the job done...lol.

I've been having a lot of fun with it.  The best part is being able to take pictures of what I am doing on-the-go and posting them right away.  It's 'real-time Arielle'.  Oh yeah!

Looking forward to seeing you all on my Instagram feed!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Day 7: Touring LA

We finally made it back to the good old US of A.  Woohoo!  It's good to be back in the states and even better to know that we are headed to Rodeo Drive.  Hooray for shopping!

First we stopped for pizza...

Then we headed on over to Rodeo Drive.

It was pretty cool, though much smaller than I thought it was going to be.  It's just a small street filled with high end stores.  Beautiful, yes.  Luxurious, yes.  Mall-like, no.

All the stores are in their own fancy buildings.

We made all the touristy stops...

Posed with the mannequins in Prada.
 Serious face.
 Glamazon face...lol.
Stud-muffin face.

And of course, stood in front of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Recognize it from a famous movie?  I'll give you a minute to pick your brain.  Did you get it yet?  That's right!  It's the hotel from "Pretty Woman".

 Now it's time to hop on a plane and head back to paradise. :)

Day 6: Cigars!

Just a warning...I am in no way condoning, promoting, or justifying smoking cigars, any tobacco products, or anything else that one may also smoke (You know what I am talking about...lol.).  So now that we have that out of the way...

I have a confession, while on the boat I smoked a cigar.  I am not and never, ever, ever will be a smoker, but yes, for special occasions, I'll smoke a cigar with the boys.  I know it's not the most ladylike thing to do, but it gets me points in the boys' club...so yeah I'll man up and take a few puffs...lol.  Hell, I'll even down a few sips of scotch with it!  (Just a few though, because scotch is kind of gross...lol.)

So since we were on a boat all together, for maybe the one and only time (hopefully not, but one never knows.  Yolo and all that...lol.), we decided to smoke some cigars.  All the boys got their own cigars and I said I'd just share.  There is no way that I could smoke a whole one myself.  (I'm a lady, remember?  Ladies don't do things like that...well not well behaved ones anyway...lol.)  And boy am I glad that I didn't get my own.  I ended up smoking Tom's cigar because after two or three puffs he decided that he didn't want his any more!  I also ended up with his scotch because, as he stated, you can't drink scotch without a cigar.  Hmmm....lol.

 Here's Tom with his cigar and scotch...before he handed it to me.
 My brother, the ham...lol.
  The hubby, looking very smashing in his blazer.  Yum, yum. :)

We smoked cigars on the pool deck.  It was freezing by the way.  Thanks for caring.  Glad I brought a jacket to throw on over my tank top.

Studly, guys, just studly.

Even though it was cold, I made the best of it and held my own with the boys.  I even got a few thumbs up from other male passengers.  Sometimes it pays off to be able to run with the boys.