When I bought my house in November 2007 (holy crap, has it been that long?), I knew one of my first priorities would be to update the kitchen. The sellers had begun restaining the cabinets and I liked the way they were looking. I asked if they could leave the products they were using so I could continue; they were kind enough to do so.
The counters were probably original to the house. They looked 80’s-style and they had multiple places of knife and water damage. I remember taking a brief visit to Home Depot to price new counters and it was a bit out of my range for just having all the moving expenses.
So fast forward to now. I got a nice tax return getting to itemize for the first time and decided now was the time! Or if you’d like a more noble purpose, I felt like doing my part to stimulate the economy.
So my experience shopping for counters was pretty interesting. I’ll pause here if you want to go back and read that. … Okay, back. In the subsequent weeks, I tweeted a lot about my indecisiveness and experiences. Since I have Twitter update my Facebook status, many supportive friends weighed in. Here are a few of my comments:
- alright twitterati and facebook friends, tile or Formica kitchen counters? weigh in on pros and cons. (Feb 20th)
- not only was the plumber not scheduled yesterday after my counter install, now he has a flat tire and *maybe* can get to me today. /sigh (Mar 25th)
- ok so staining isn’t so bad. a little messy and long periods of waiting…but pretty easy. (Mar 26th)
- part 1 of staining project completed. this. is gonna take about 4 more days to finish. (Mar 27th)
- well, poop. no staining today. too cold to have the windows and doors open. 39…brrrr. (Mar 28th)
- back on cabinet duty…stripper isn’t removing old finish as well today. looks bumpy from the right angle. oh well, not going back now. (Mar 29th)
- cleaning up from a major project sucks but it’s also good b/c it means I’M DONE! pics to follow. (Apr 3rd)
- why can i only see the imperfections in the work i did on my cabinets? (Apr 4th)
I did end up going with Formica. And when they called to tell me the counters had arrived, I took up an offer from a friend to help me tear the old cabinets out. As I was working daily, I literally went to Home Depot for supplies every day. Just some little something I didn’t think of.
My friend and neighbor Daniel had a good suggestion of spray painting the hinges when I was telling him I forgot that those would have to be changed out too after purchasing new handles. Great idea and turned out nice!
Let me tell you using chemical stripper is nasty stuff. A drop of that gunk would get on my arm past my gloves and it would BURN! It was sticky, nasty goop. Almost every day for two weeks that is what I did. Strip, sand, stain. Each of those was about a 20 minute chore followed by 3-4 hours of waiting.
Needless to say, this is pretty much the biggest project I’ve ever done. Much thanks to everyone who helped me. Leslie for helping me tear out the old cabinets, Michael and Daniel for helping me re-hang my doors, and Larry for letting me borrow his tiling supplies. Oh forgot to mention that part.
Behind the stove was a sheet of the old laminate. So I tiled over it. Pretty simple job, having been taught to do it by Larry when he helped me with my guest bathroom. Well, like an idiot, I accidentally skipped a line on the directions for the grout. After spreading it, I read “let it dry for 3-4 hours before cleaning.” I took that to mean, leave the grout alone, then wipe it off later. So I had grout spread all over the place and went to a movie. Came back and it was hard as a rock all over the tile. DUH! I missed the line that said “after spreading, wipe off excess with a damp sponge.” So I had to scrape dried grout off and scrub the grout to make it smooth between tiles. /sigh Live and learn.
So here’s what it used to look like:
And here’s the new:
I have this perfectionist problem of only seeing the imperfections and mistakes in what I did. Like the rough spots where I didn’t notice the old finish hadn’t come off. Or the variations in the darkness of the stain across all the cabinets. I know that’s just something I’ll have to get over and hopefully stop focusing on as time goes on. But if I’m really honest with myself, for my first time to do this…it’s not too shabby. 🙂