Powder Room Reno Pt. 2: Painting Our Cabinets with Chalk Paint

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

You know that expression, "opened a can of worms?" Well, I opened a can of chalk paint and now I CAN'T STOP PAINTING.

Guys. Why did I wait so long to do this? I am so, so , so happy with how this project turned out. I cannot wait to do it upstairs on our other bathroom cabinets in the future! I promised Spenser I would take a break from house projects for a bit and enjoy the rest of our summer with pool time and relaxation instead of spending our nights and weekends on a project, so this will be my last big overall for a while. But I can't waiiiiiiiiit to tackle our other bathrooms once my chains have been released ;) 

I was nervous about painting the cabinets because I tried to do it at our last house and the paint peeled horribly. I later realized that was because our cabinets at the old house were coated with thermofoil, a plastic coating that doesn't adhere to paint well. This house has wood cabinets, so I was willing to give it another shot. 

The process was relatively straightforward, but did require some patience and proper steps to get it right. 

Here's how we did it:

1. Remove the cabinet doors, hardware, hinges. 


2. Sanded everything down with an orbital sander. Our cabinets were coated in the factory with an ultra glossy coating, so we wanted to sand as much off as possible to make sure the paint sticks. The electric sander in this instance worked better than doing it by hand. We didn't make them rough to the touch, but we did make sure to get as much sheen off them as possible. 


3. Wipe off all residue with warm water and dry, making sure no sawdust remained. 

4. Prime everything with 2 coats of KILZ stainblocker primer. This part was more to help the chalk paint stick, but isn't completely necessary. Chalk paint doesn't require a primer, but I figured it was an extra step that may help extend the life of the project! Also, sorry for the dark photos.  I definitely did this at 9PM. It was too hot all day here in NC, so I waited until the sun went down. 


5. Using a small angled brush, paint in the crevices of the cabinet to make sure all the edges were covered. We got our chalk paint at Ace Hardware. They had a new Magnolia by Joanna Gaines paint line you KNOW I was excited to use. 

6. Use a roller to roll out the flat areas, ensuring a smooth finish with no brush strokes or bubbles. 

7. I did 3 coats to make sure I got solid coverage, waiting until each coat was fully dry before applying the next. Chalk paint dries really quickly, so this didn't take too long. Maybe 2 hours or so in total. 

8. Coat everything with the Rustoleum chalk paint sealer. Chalk paint has a chalky feeling - it's really dry and rough. I don't love that texture, and the sealer helps protect it from wear and tear, so we did 2 coats of this sealer. Again, letting it dry completely between each coat. 

9. We let them cure overnight before flipping them over and doing one quick coat (without primer) on the inside of the cabinet. I figure this area isn't going to experience much wear and tear, so we just did it quickly. 

10. Let cure again overnight. 

11. The next day (2 days after the start) we reapplied the hardware, and reattached the doors. We also spray painted the existing hardware -- it was brushed nickel, and we sprayed it gold to modernize a bit and tie into our new, gold mirror. I am loving the look and cost savings since this project did go a bit over budget. 

12. STEP BACK AND MARVEL AT YOUR BEAUTY!  I am really thankful that the cabinetry in this home is nice and new, but it just wasn't my style. Thankfully, I was able to update the look of it and make it look 10X better (in my opinion) with a relatively quick paint job! 

I really am so, so happy with how this turned out. I'll give you guys an update in 6 months or so about how it's holding up to normal wear and tear. This is our most frequented bathroom, so I definitely think it will get a good amount of use and be a good case study if it's worth doing in our upstairs bathrooms, as well! 

OH and exciting update! My extra roll of wallpaper from my #icantdomath mishap got delivered today from WallsNeedLove.com. This room will be *finished finished* today! Yay!

Powder Room Reno Pt. 1: My biggest DIY fail ever!

Monday, June 24, 2019

We are hosting a party for some friends in July, and in preparation, there were a couple house projects we really wanted to prioritize before then:

1. Fixing up our downstairs powder room 
2. Red-doing our pack patio 

I have a post coming about our patio soon, but our bathroom is *almooooost* finished! This project started out as my "strict budget" renovation and slowly creeped into the "more expensive than I planned" category.

This project all started because the toilet in this bathroom is broken. I've had it repaired 3 times, and just keeps randomly running  (all. the. time.) and has a reaaaally hard time flushing anything solid (if you catch ma drift). Every time I have him out, the plumber says "You just need to replace it. It's cheaper to replace it than to keep calling me out." When he put it that way, I knew we needed to go ahead and do it. With this impending party, we didn't want anyone to accidentally clog it and then have to deal with that throughout the night.

Since we were going to make a big change with a new toilet, I figured it was a good opportunity to do some cosmetic improvements along the way. I'm going to share these in separate posts, because each one deserves it's own time in the spotlight, so here's the outline of how I'll be sharing these reno:

Pt. 1: My biggest fail ever, painting our DIY cabinets
Pt. 2: Painting our vanity with chalk paint
Pt. 3: Installing wallpaper
Pt. 4: Painting the tile floor
Pt. 5: The finished room reveal

When we bought this house, we inherited these sandy quartz counters that just really aren't our style. I'm a huge dummy and didn't snag a photo (I thought I had one) until I had primed the counters, but here's a selfie of my old hair cut where you can see what they looked like:

We were glad they were relatively new, but they just weren't our style. Plus, they match our kitchen and other two bathrooms (the previous owner must have bought them in bulk) so there was really no escaping it. The cherry colored cabinets are also new (they also match our kitchen and our two baths), so that is a nice perk, but again.... not my style. I knew I'd want to tweak them with some paint. My hope was with some creativity and paint cans I could make over this room, but it led to my biggest. fail. ever. To be honest, I'm not even going to share the process of how you paint granite, because I don't think you should do it. Ever.

Let me caveat by saying I knew painting the countertops was a risk. We discussed going in it would be worth trying, and if we hated it, at least we were starting with the smallest bathroom and could replace it if necessary.

Well, it was necessary.

Here's the thing about painted counter tops: they actually photograph really well! From a distance through a camera they really do pull off the overall look. I saw so many well edited examples in Pinterest. These were two success stories that had me thinking it might be possible to try! They look pretty good right?

Mine didn't come out that way. Honestly, here's where I'll own up and say I'm not the most artistic person. I think if I had better dexterity skills it may have worked better. I probably rushed, but it was also just dabbing a sponge around... not that detailed work. From a distance, mine didn't look *that* bad.

But up close they were so, so splotchy. Someone said it looked like 90s sponge paint and they were so right! Can you see the black line along the crease to the left? There was the tiniest bit of silicone deep in the crease that no matter what I did I couldn't get out. The counter paint doesn't adhere to silicone, so along the entire border was this small sliver of black that really ruined any chance I had of this looking remotely legit. 

There was also just so much bumpy texture, not enough sheen in the top coat, and if your counter tops have any creases or backsplash like mine did, it's nearly impossible to apply the sponge paint the right way. Like I said, maybe if I was a better artist it would have worked better, but for me the overall look was just off. I didn't realize that the paint would not adhere to the sink basin, either, so once I had painted the counter, the sink was way more noticeably beige than it was before.

So, I started weighing my options. Live with it? Replace the whole vanity? Replace the counter top? Spenser voted full gut, but I was hopeful we could find something to fit on top for a good price. This is a small powder room under our stairs, and it doubles as my cleaning supplies storage.

A new vanity would cost around $300-500 depending on what we bought. We checked a few out, and then realized... the vanity in this space is a non-standard depth. Standard depth is 22 inches. Ours is 19 inches. If we bought a standard vanity it would sit in the door frame. Same rules applied if we bought stock counter top.... we were either looking at a pedestal sink for $150ish or replacing the counter with a custom cut.

We took our measurements to Lowes and had them work up an estimate for me.... with solid surface (AKA not stone or quartz... it's basically plastic) the estimate came in close to $1000.... for our small vanity! I was so stunned I couldn't believe it. I knew I could find a better price, so I started calling around. The benefit of having a fixer upper and being a Realtor is that I have worked with a lot of awesome vendors- I texted all my favorite people and one of them came through! He had a friend who cuts stone and could come give me an estimate. He came over the next day, took his measurements and brought a small supply of samples.

Want to guess what his estimate was for a granite slab... with a sink.... with installation?


No joke. My original budget for this project was $150, so this was only going to set me back a little bit above my original plan, and get me closer to what I wanted in the first place! He installed everything the next day.

I am so, so happy with how it turned out. It's better than I ever hoped it could be and just goes to show.... sometimes mistakes lead you to a better place than you would have been.

Here's what it looked like once I applied the primer for the paint: 

And the mostly finished product again: 

The lessons I would take away from this experience are: If you're going to take a risk on a "cheap" fix for a problem, make sure you vet it really, really, thoroughly. And, always be prepared for a Plan B if it doesn't go the way you want. In this case, it was a challenge that didn't work out, but I'm thrilled with the end result so I guess it's all worth it, right? 

One more thing... Can we all have a moment of praise for decorative mirrors too? Like DANG! That mirror was $35 on clearance at Target. I ended up selling the wall to wall builder mirror that was in here for $25.... so that improvement cost me $10 and makes such a big splash! #Iloveyoufacebookmarketplace

Later this week I'll be working on a post about painting the vanity cabinets with chalk paint. It went super well and I'm really happy with the outcome! After this, I promised Spenser I wouldn't start any more projects this summer, but having seen how well these turned out, now I can't wait to paint the upstairs cabinets when I'm set free! ;)

Be Our Guest - Our Guest Bed Makeover

Friday, June 7, 2019

We are making the most of my returned energy and the bliss of late summer sunlight and cranking through some more big home projects. A few things we currently have on deck and are simultaneously tackling:

- Re-doing our brick patio: We are hosting a party in July for our friends' engagement, so we felt like it was the perfect time to re-do our mess of a patio and walkway. We spent a few days demo-ing, and are ordering our new stone pavers this weekend.

- Garage organization: This one just couldn't wait any longer. Our garage was so built up with junk we really needed to do something about it. This will be an on-going project, but we have a junk hauler coming for an initial load of cabinets and counter tops we removed from our garage today!

- Powder room makeover: This goes along the lines with this upcoming party. The toilet in here does not function properly, so we've decided to go ahead and replace it with a low-flow toilet, and take on a few cosmetic improvements as well. Right now, I'm working on painting the countertops with Giani granite paint (will definitely let you know how that goes), will be painting the tile floor, cabinet, walls, and installing wallpaper and a new mirror! It's a bigger project but my budget is $150 (aside from the toilet), so I am going to become VERY friendly with cans of paint since that is the quickest and cheapest way to change a space! I knew I've wanted to wallpaper part of this room since we moved here (more details to come) and I found the perfect wallpaper accent wall. I'm so excited to share how this goes! Stay tuned!

Aside from these immediate projects we're working on, I put my energy to use on re-doing our guest bedroom, a few weeks ago as well. We have a few house guests coming next week (Hey Alex, Meg, and Sean!) and I really just felt like our paint and water stained walls were not suitable for guests any longer. I knew we needed to do some improvements in here making it more cozy, so I got to work and I'm so glad I did!

Because this room sits at the top of the stairs, I knew I wanted it to be peaceful and serene, not too colorful. I already had some simple white bedding I knew I was keeping, so aside from paint, the only things this room needed were:

- Decorative pillow
- matching nightstands & lamps
- Phone chargers
- Fresh art
- Luggage rack
- Curtains

Here is a before photo from when we moved in:

Earlier this year we tackled: 
- Replacing the carpet (this room had paint splatter all over it) 
- Scraping the popcorn ceilings 
- Installing a ceiling fan 
- Installing window blinds

Because of scraping the popcorn, we had water stains and dirt marks all along the beige walls. It wasn't cute. We had a lot of other things going on, so painting this room wasn't a huge priority, but it definitely was not welcoming. 

Here's where the room was when I started getting to work: 

And then, I had my "hidden corner" which 100% became a junk collecting area. I had left paint swatches up on the wall for weeks... it was a mess. 

We ended up swapping out (and selling) a bed that had come for free with our last home and moved our old queen from our bedroom into this room. They were similar, but I liked my old bed better so made Spenser swap them out. It's almost hard to tell in the photos that the beds changed, but I know they did and I'm happier with it 😅

Here are the afters of this space: 



Overall I am so happy with how this turned out, and can't wait to show it to our friends coming to visit next week! It's going to be like a fun college reunion for me with my Big and Little from my Kappa Delta days and even more fun, 4/5 of us are renovating our houses DIY haha! I know they will appreciate all the hard work we've put into this space and we may even get their help on a project or two while they're here ;) 

(Just kidding, Sean!)

Paint color: Olympic Mountain Ben Moore 
Wall art: Free printables from Pinterest 
Bedding: Pottery Barn 
Decorative Pillow: Target (appears to be sold out!)
NC sign: Homegoods 
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