Cabinets! Grout!

People who have gone through major renovations tend to have a lot of sage advice about how to stay sane, follow through on tasks, and get the job done in an orderly, timely, and efficient fashion. They excel by keeping careful lists, the items of which they dutifully check off, taking its diminishing length as evidence of their success and the motivation to keep going. They keep their tools organized, in polite drawers and on pegboards, and they always know where their drill bits and pliers are.

I tried kind of hard to be like that, at the beginning. I spent a good 45 minutes every single night putting away all my tools and organizing everything. I was even going to do a whole post about it, like a total model citizen grown-up who knows how to not be a disaster.

All of that fell apart really quickly when we decided in a bout of excited, rash decision-making to start painting the kitchen cabinets! Seeing as we have no furniture, I was storing all my things in the kitchen cabinets and drawers. Losing the use of the drawers, I just sort of threw everything into the side porch (mistake #1) and then proceeded to let everything go to pieces like a wild animal (mistake #2). I decided to maybe just relax a little. Loosen the reigns. Let instinct and intuition guide my process. What could go wrong?


First I removed all the cabinet doors and drawers and moved them outside. I’m not generally a stupid person, but for some reason it hadn’t occurred to me just how many there would be——I think 18 cabinet doors and 15 drawers. As we found out, having over 30 small separate kitchen components that all need to be sanded, patched, painted, and reattached with no plan or system in place is not a recipe for an efficient painting experience.

Then I put everyone to work (Max, Nora, Mekko) on sanding everything, because I’m a merciless dictator. Since we’re painting rather than refinishing, we didn’t need to go down to bare wood, but we did need to rough up the surface enough for the paint to adhere, while also smoothing out existing imperfections. It looks like at some point these cabinets were polyurethaned in place, so a lot of them were covered in dried-on bumpy drips or traces of old adhesive or other nastiness that had to be worked out.


SIDE NOTE. Before anyone gets up in my grill about painting perfectly nice wood cabinets!, know this: these cabinets were totally disgusting and totally gauged and messed up and terrible. They’re going to look way better painted, and refinishing them would have been a ton of horrible work for a really mediocre outcome and then everyone would be so sad.

OK. That’s settled. I said so.


After sanding everything, we wiped it all down with a damp cloth and a little slightly soapy water and patched all the old hardware holes! Originally, I thought maybe I’d reuse the old hardware to save some time and money, but it was really corroded and generally destroyed to the point that even Barkeeper’s Friend couldn’t save it, and I didn’t like it enough to spray paint, so it had to go. We’ll reuse the hinges, though.

We used Ready Patch for the holes, which is really a spackle compound made for walls, but I like it for small applications like this. I haven’t had good experiences with most wood fillers since they always tend to dry sort of grainy and weird, even after sanding (except for Bondo, but that would have been major overkill), and I didn’t want to have a visual textural difference where the holes were patched, so I figured this was my best bet at a seamless finish. I wouldn’t recommend a gypsum-based product for wood repair in any case where it has to hold up to heavy wear and tear, or any patch much bigger than something like this.


After the Ready Patch was dry (a few hours out in the sun), I went over all the holes again with a little mouse sander. A sanding block would have been just as good, but this made the whole process super fast.


The painting part is where having a good plan and system and dedicated staging area would have really come in handy. I’m not really sure what we were thinking, but we ended up painting the doors and drawer fronts days apart, and the whole process dragged on forever. It could have been WAY easier if we just took the time and set it all up and did everything en masse, but…I don’t know. There was a lot going on. I wasn’t thinking. Chaos.

We did up our speed and efficiency moderately, though, by using a roller to coat the surfaces and then quickly following up with a paintbrush. This might be controversial, and call me crazy, but I really don’t like the look of painted furniture when it has any kind of roller texture. Short of spray painting everything or using oil paint (spray paint doesn’t allow for the color selection and would get really expensive, and both spray and oil are hassles), it’s hard to literally have no texture when painting cabinets, so I guess I’d just rather see very subtle brush strokes than very subtle roller bumpiness. It’s a weird personal preference thing. I can’t explain it.

To minimize either, though, it helps to water down the paint a little bit. It wasn’t hard or terribly time-consuming to paint this stuff, so I didn’t mind doing 3 coats instead of 2 and waiting a little longer for it to cure. We used the same Clark + Kensington paint on the cabinets that we used on the walls, but the thickness of the paint that makes it great for walls isn’t exactly what you want for the texture of cabinets.

The color of the base cabinets is called Arabian Nights, by the way, and we used the Satin Enamel formula, which isn’t as shiny as semi-gloss but still totally wipeable and has a nice sheen to it. I love the color——like a super dark inky grey-blue-black. It’s going to look sooooo good.


We painted the doors the same way as the drawers, with the added help of a big bag of tea lights from the as-is section of IKEA! They were perfect for putting under the four corners to hold them off the ground a little, so paint didn’t puddle or anything. I felt very smug and clever about this.


While this drawer/door shenanigans were going on, we were also painting the cabinet frames! We prepped the cabinets by sanding all of the frames (there was so much dust and disarray in the room anyway that adding more didn’t really matter) and then caulked the seams, since gaps between the frames would be extra-noticeable once they’re painted. We didn’t prime the lower cabinets, but since we’re painting the upper cabinets white, we figured it would be worthwhile to do a coat of primer first, just to ensure that anything in the wood was sealed in and wouldn’t eventually visibly leech through the paint. Paint + primer types of paints are GREAT for covering dark-colored walls and stuff, but if stain-blocking is a concern, it’s safer to just go ahead and prime. We used the same B-I-N shellac-based primer that we’ve used on other parts of the room.

Also, look! Max is painting! All this kind of stuff has always been really more *my thing*, but there is way too much to do in this house for me to take it all on by myself (or with amazing friends, when we’re lucky enough to have them). It’s already made us so much better at working together on stuff like this, and I’m really proud of Max for being open to learning how to do things, even if it isn’t where his interests necessarily lie. He’s good, that one.

I mostly just wanted to use this picture because Max’s chosen painting outfit of a bathing suit and one of my t-shirts is really cute. He has thusfar refused to sacrifice any of his real wardrobe to a dedicated DIY outfit. Shall we wager how long that lasts?


Sometime during all of this, I also grouted the tile! Grouting tile (especially with black grout) is one of those scary and awful experiences, but once it’s done…


Oh yes. Hello. I want to lick you.

The corner and the gaps between the sink and the tile still need to be caulked and the wall and molding still need to be painted in this picture, but still. Tile. It makes my world go round.

I also changed all the light switches and outlets! I don’t know why, but this was honestly one of the best improvements in the kitchen to date. Changing light switches is INCREDIBLY quick, cheap, and easy, and just immediately makes things feel fresh and updated. I chose to use these flat switches instead of normal toggle switches. They’re slightly more expensive (like $2.50 instead of $1, something like that), but I think they look nicer.


I chose to install GFCI receptacles for all of the kitchen outlets, which is now required by National Electrical Code for kitchens and bathrooms. Each outlet costs about $13, which is kind of a drag, but it’s nice to make things safer and all that. GFCI outlets install a little differently than normal outlets, but it’s still something pretty easy that anyone can do, assuming you have access to turn off the power from your electrical panel first! (here’s a video if you also want fancy GFCI outlets with subtly modern little green lights on them. The outlet will also come with semi-clear instructions to help you out.)


Here is an action-packed picture of Linus assisting with the great cabinet effort of July, 2013, since clearly I’ve run out of things to talk about and it’s lame to end a post talking about electrical outlets.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 8.1.13
    Jp said:

    Wow everything is coming along nicely! Good call on the black grout – it looks great!

  2. 8.1.13
    ana said:

    looks good. been reading for a whillle now. im just too lazy to ever comment but considering u must be in a great deal of pain i felt a comment might make it if ever so slightly more worth it.

    kudos. yall rock. (from texas)

  3. 8.1.13
    Chris said:

    Oh, the shame I feel. We took off our 50’s cabinet doors back in 2007 when we moved in, with the full intention of painting them. We DID paint the bases. The doors, not so much. They had a layer of paint underneath the current layer of paint that was like freaking glass, which we discovered after sanding. Dammit. So no doors. Someday maybe I will find someone to make us new ones? Until then, I made little curtains for the lower cabinets and the uppers are just open.

    The shame.

    • 8.1.13
      Daniel said:

      No shame! You’ll get to it. And hey, making curtains is hard work!

      Maybe I’m missing something, but if the doors are in good shape otherwise (assuming you still have them?), I think you’d be totally fine painting right over whatever is on there…I’d just use some kind of non-latex primer (oil-based or shellac-based), then you can paint with whatever you want! Those primers are really good for that kind of thing.

    • 8.1.13
      Chris said:

      Yeah, about that – they may have overwintered on the deck. We live in Seattle. Ahem.

    • 8.1.13
      Daniel said:

      Uh-oh! :(

      Well…other options…most cabinets are pretty standard dimensions, so often you can retrofit with stock IKEA doors if your frames are functional. You can even buy adaptors for the hinges to work with cabinets with face-framing. Or…it’s supposed to be pretty easy to make flat-panel doors out of plywood, if you have access to a table saw. You can just use veneer edge-banding and stain or paint. I’ve never done that, but sounds pretty straightforward? Or just leave everything alone! :)

    • 8.1.13
      Chris said:

      Good ideas and thanks for the inspiration! I, of course, will not be making any of those – I’ll leave that to my people less likely to saw a finger off. Painting, I can do!

  4. 8.1.13
    Tracy said:

    Looking good – I always look forward to reading your updates! :) And – I love Linus.

  5. 8.1.13
    Jaimie said:

    Is the Arabian Nights a Clark + Kensington color? And is it similar to the BM Raccoon Fur color you did in your apartment bathroom? I wanted to pick up a sample of that one for my bathroom (it’s got vintage pastel yellow tile, I was thinking a deep charcoal with a hint of navy would contrast nicely?), but I’d rather pay for Clark + Kensington than Benjamin Moore.

    • 8.1.13
      Daniel said:

      Yes, it’s a C + K color, and VERY similar to what I remember Raccoon Fur looking like! Maybe a little bit darker…

      You can have Benjamin Moore colors color-matched to Clark + Kensington, though, if you really want a BM color. All they should need is a color code, which I’m pretty sure they can just look up. (and I think if you go on this Saturday, they’ll give you a quart for free!)

  6. 8.1.13
    louize said:

    I am impressed your place is clean/hazard free enough to DIY barefoot!
    And don’t feel like you spent a lot on light switches… I just paid 35 euro per light switch (!) for my apartment, and I got a good deal, they usually retail at 50 euro… if I had gone for the cheap off white option the electrician wanted to use I would still have paid 15 euro per switch!

    • 8.1.13
      Daniel said:

      WHAT?! For a regular light switch?? Oh my goodness. I guess I guess we really do have it made with our cheap home improvement supplies. Of course, I’d rather have healthcare… :)

    • 8.1.13
      louize said:

      well the ones I chose for 35€ aren’t regular switches, they are 1930s replicas (, but the 15€ option was just a plain boring switch… I guess we need our health care to get over the heart attacks every time we need to buy another home improvement supply ;)

    • 8.1.13
      Daniel said:

      HAHAHA, that’s sound logic. Touché.

      Also, OMFG, that’s the most beautiful light switch I’ve ever seen.

    • 8.1.13
      Christina W. said:

      I need this light switch in my life. O_O

  7. 8.1.13
    SWEDEV said:

    Oh, I am loving your bottom cabinet colour choices. And the white subway tiles with black grout? LOVE!

    You are doing a fantastic job! I love seeing it all come together :)

  8. 8.1.13
    Kirk said:

    Nice! I like this new rapid-fire posting you’ve got going now for each step of the process. My feed says 11 posts in the last month and a half. Can’t wait for more!

  9. 8.1.13
    elizabeth said:

    I seriously can’t get enough of this house, your progress, the details, PAINT! and everything else. and as much as I’d like more updates with more frequency, I also don’t want it all to end.


  10. 8.1.13
    Jill said:

    Next time I’m feeling sad or overwhelmed I’m just going to stare at that before/after outlet picture. So soothing…

    p.s. Linus is the cutest thing of all time

  11. 8.1.13

    Linus is adorable.
    Max’s bathing suit is awesome.
    And the painting might be madness now, but it will be oh-so-nice when it’s reassembled.

  12. 8.1.13

    Is it weird that Arabian Nights makes me think of Aladdin?

    We used the same painting method when we built our raised panel wainscoting. We applied the finish coats with a roller than went back over it with a dry brush to even it out and reduce flashing.

    The dark grout looks great!

  13. 8.1.13
    frances said:

    each post is better than the last! you’ve accomplished so much already. and it’s always a bonus when there’s a glimpse of mekko and linus……..unphased by it all.

  14. 8.1.13
    Katy said:

    Eeeeeeeee! I am loving your updates so much! I can’t wait to see what the final product will look like with the new cabinets. And that subway tile is TO DIE!

  15. 8.1.13
    RMC said:

    So you’re a DIY Dictator. My husband helped me paint once & ever since has referred to me as “The Paint Nazi”.
    I completely agree that all trim, doors & millwork should not have a roller texture. It should be either sprayed or brushed on. The orange peel roller texture on wood drives me crazy!
    See, paint nazi.

    • 8.2.13
      Daniel said:

      We could be friends.

  16. 8.1.13
    Alicia said:

    Ahhhhh! Can’t wait to see the room with the fronts back on and the rest of the room painted! So exciting!

  17. 8.1.13
    Taylor said:

    You tease! I was fully expecting to see some beautiful finished cabinets at the end. I will admit that Linus did soften the blow :)

    Can’t wait to see the end result, and good job so far.

  18. 8.1.13
    sherry said:

    I thought I was the only one who hated the roller texture on wood! I always end up using a brush. And seriously at what point did painting wood become like the design equivalent of punching a baby in the face? Let people do what they want with their own damn wood. That’s my motto anyway!

    Also, Linus!!!

    • 8.2.13
      Daniel said:

      HA, I don’t know!! I think it’s a weird American thing…this never seems to be a problem on European blogs.

      (also, that motto is so…suggestive. A+.)

  19. 8.1.13
    Steph said:

    MY BOYFRIEND DOES RENOVATION WORK IN A SWIMSUIT, TOO. Ahhh!! It’s sweet that you and Max are getting a lot out of working together, hopefully it’s feeling less awful and tedious for the both of you. :)

    It’s all really looking good! Not to sidestep your lovely tile job, but it’s amazing how much of a difference new outlets and light switches can make. That tip about thinning out the layers in order to not leave a textured surface is smart, I’ll have to remember that.

  20. 8.1.13
    M said:

    LOVE!! & hey, do projects as you feel inspired otherwise it kinda takes the joy out of the whole process! X

  21. 8.1.13
    kelly w said:

    I’m giggling at the cake tray/dome in the lower cabinet (in Max’s swimsuit pic_. Keep the essentials handy.

    • 8.2.13
      Daniel said:

      Like I said…CHAOS! I was hoping nobody would look too closely at the contents of my cabinets. I feel so naked!

    • 8.2.13
      kelly w said:

      No shame in having a cake dome, my friend. :) (And PS not naked! I figure you’re in your Demo Khakis / Demo Hot Pink Shirt.)

  22. 8.1.13

    It’s going to look so good, and of course another thing for me to be jealous of we have to get an electrician in when we want to change lights / even switches (legally).

  23. 8.1.13
    BONNIE said:

    I am really enjoying your blog! I’m 55 and my spouse and I moved into our 5th house last year. One of the first things he always does is replace all the outlet covers, and usually the outlets and switches too. For a small investment, it is an immediate improvement, and gets rid of the previous owners nasty hand germs! I wish you both all the luck and happiness in the world.

  24. 8.1.13
    Stef said:

    Love it all, of course, but the tea light feet are inspired. You should be feeling very smug.

  25. 8.1.13
    Rose said:

    Wow, this looks incredible! I love that you went with black grout-it really stands out and makes a world of difference. I can’t wait to see pictures of the finished result!


  26. 8.1.13
    Jo said:


    You just changed my life. Boom.

    Eventually, when it’s not 103* outside, I’m going to get around to repainting the kitchen cabinets and papering the kitchen and all that stuff. I had no idea that you could thin latex paint to make it go onto cabinet doors better. Again, LIFE CHANGING. BOOM.

    I love how you throw out little things like that, without realizing that at least one reader will sit, head spinning, at your paradigm-shifting wisdom.

    Oh, and Linus is a doll. How did Mekko handle supervising the project? Power didn’t go to her head, did it?

    • 8.2.13
      Elin said:


      You just changed my life. Boom.

      Yes! Genius. Thinking of this would have saved me so much grief when we were painting…all our stuff. :)

  27. 8.1.13
    lsaspacey said:

    You forgot foam brushes! I use those for painting furniture and not only does it eliminate texture but they are much easier to clean off than rollers or brushes with minimal damage. Try ’em, you’ll like “em!

  28. 8.1.13
    Jen said:

    If you paint any more cabinets/furniture, add some Floetrol to your paint. It’s an additive that will help your paint stay wet longer, so you have time to level it off, and it will eliminate brush strokes.

  29. 8.1.13
    C said:

    I am so inspired by the progress of the house. It’s going to be so beautiful when you have it ‘good enough’. I love that you are re-using things, working around imperfections and restoring the layout to it’s original gorgeous glory. What a fabulous home it will be.

  30. 8.1.13

    It’s really coming along! I have similar situation. Our house came with original wood cabinets and copper (i think) hardware. we would love to bring the hardware back to life, but it has that green (not mold!) corrosion on spots and looks dull. Any suggestions?

  31. 8.1.13
    Tux said:

    I want to lick those tiles too. Can I come upstate and lick them? Or, the next time you’re back in Brooklyn can you come help me have tiles in my kitchen that I can lick?
    Seriously though.

    • 8.2.13
      Daniel said:

      I will do it for unlimited habanero jelly.

      seriously though?

    • 8.6.13
      Tux said:

      It’s a deal!!!

  32. 8.1.13
    C said:

    I can’t bear roller texture either, and foam brushes are even worse. I tried out BM advance on our built ins and really liked the self levelling of it. But I still brushed it on. My husband is banned from painting because he doesn’t have the attention to detail I do.

    After I did our last kitchen I discovered thetrick of screwing in hooks to the top of the doors so you can paint both sides at once. Genius, and I’ll be doing it in this house.

    With the GFCIs, you onlyneed one per circuit. What you do is disconnect everything on the circuit, then test to find the live wire. That’s where you put the GFCI, and everything downstream is protected. You can reuse the others in all the other wet/outside areas of the house. (this is google-electrics, so don’t take it as gospel).

    • 8.2.13
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, I just found that out about GFCI outlets, too! Doh. Maybe I’ll try to figure that out…electrical kind of makes my head hurt.

    • 8.4.13
      Evan said:

      That is correct about GFCI outlets, they work by detecting imbalances in current likely cause by electricity flowing something it should not such as water or a person. One outlet will protect all down stream in the circuit, it doesn’t hurt to put more in (especially near a water source or far away) but if one trips it may take you awhile to find out which one. I would recommend looking into an electric code book that covers your area, there may be special restrictions for outlets within a certain distance of water sources or for a certain number within a certain distance or per sqft.

  33. 8.1.13
    caitlin said:

    HOLY FUCKING AWESOME!!!! I hope it’s OK to say that, because no other words can describe.

  34. 8.1.13
    Southern Gal (@sogalitno) said:

    oh my. such good work! cant WAIT to see the reveal! already its 100000 times better! all that paint and the tile makes it look about a million times cleaner too!

    sending waves of energy and prayers that the cool weather lasts thru the fall to help in your work…

  35. 8.1.13
    Sage said:

    Hi Daniel, I’ve been loving your blog for awhile now. I’m working up the courage to paint and tile my kitchen this weekend, so I’ve been thinking about your undertaking :) On the cabinet painting, have you ever used floetrol to thin latex paint? I used it on a dresser I painted, and it really helped minimize brush strokes. But maybe water works just as well and is free!

    • 8.2.13
      Daniel said:

      I haven’t! Maybe I’ll give it a shot and see how it compares. I’ve used Penetrol for oil paint and found it helpful then, but I’ve always just used water to thin latex!

    • 8.2.13
      Jessica said:

      I’m going to second the Floetrol recommendation. My Dad was a professional painter for a moment in time (ages ago) and always adds Floetrol for a smooth finish (I know I kind of sound like a commercial but it totally works).

    • 8.4.13
      Stephanie said:

      Ditto on the floetrol! My hardware store sells it simply as “paint conditioner”. I recently did a super smooth fireplace mantel and both the foam and brush textures were bleh. Not to mention the uneven sheen of the semi-gloss paint drove me insane. Paint conditioner fixed everything!

      Absolutely love the paint color you picked. Can’t wait to see the cabinets put together!

  36. 8.1.13
    Jen said:

    Oh Daniel, you terrible tease. I cannot WAIT to see the cabinets in all their finished glory!! I am taking this exact thing on coming this fall (just can’t face it until then), with gray lowers and white uppers, white subway tile, etc. I can’t WAIT. Until then, I learn from you, oh master.

  37. 8.1.13
    Courtney said:

    Oh Linus!

  38. 8.1.13
    Melissa Arnold said:

    I totally agree about the brush strokes vs. roller print on ANYTHING! I have never found that any paint rolled on, (latex or oil) looks like anything other than dimply doo doo. I have used the same technique of rolling and then brushing it out. It is also close to impossible to ever cover that roller texture once it has dried. Good choice and I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  39. 8.1.13
    Lauren said:

    I’m starting to wonder if you’re a replicant. I can’t believe how much you’ve done and how amazing it all looks. You are a bit of a tease, showing small sections of awesomeness/chaos. I’m happy you’ve shared so many great tips since we’re planning to paint our wood cabinets soon too. Can’t wait to see it!

  40. 8.1.13
    Jen said:

    After that post two days ago I thought for sure you would need more time to get your ducks in a row before sharing more of this kitchen, yet here you are with more great news today! Thanks so much for sharing! I love the way you are putting things together in there and really enjoy being along for the ride. It looks awesome so far!

    And, I love how your dogs find their way into your photos, kind of like they are taking it all in too. Or taking a nap, in the little guy’s case. They are so cute.

  41. 8.2.13

    I just had this amazing daydream about hopping on a plane (from Australia) and coming to stay with you guys and being paid 3 meals a day to help you work on your house and play with Mekko and Linus. Then I woke up to myself and realised how creepy that is because I don’t know you and you have no idea who I am and this is the weirdest comment you’ll get today. I love your blog/house/dogs x

  42. 8.2.13
    Florian said:

    Yay! So many new posts! And still I go: more, more, more!

    You really use the same paint on the walls and on the wood? In Germany wall paint and wood paint (lacquer) are totally different things and using wall paint for wood would not work at all! Is that different in America?

    Anyway, I’m so excited about the renovation. Please, more pictures!

    • 8.2.13
      C said:

      Florian, I’m intrigued, can you elaborate?

      In the US there are paints with different base solvents, and with different levels of shine. Most paint is water based, some is alkyd (used to be oil), a very small amount is shellac based (I’ve onlyheard of the stain blocking primer Daniel used, which I use too). You can use any of these on any surface, some need a primer to make them stick to shiny, metal or plastic surfaces. They come in sheens from matte (looks chalky) to high gloss (so shiny it looks wet).

      Traditionally you use a shinier paint on wood parts of a house, but it’s just style. Also, alkyd paints cure to a harder finish so on trim like windowsills, cornice/crown and baseboards/skirting which stick out and get knocked or shelves which have heavy things sitting on them an alkyd tends to be more durable. But it’s not a hard and fast rule.

      Clear or transparent finishes are mostly used over stained wood, but you could use them

    • 8.5.13
      Florian said:

      I’m really no expert on this (hence my question), but in Germany plain wall paint is very different from paint for other surfaces. The paint is called “Dispersionsfarbe,” it’s water based, pretty non-toxic (you could basically eat it). The resulting texture is very, very matte and powdery, it doesn’t come in any other texture. Stains, when fresh, can be washed out completely with water. Dry stains are removable with a scratchy sponge and patience.

      For other surfaces than plain plaster walls and wallpaper (like wood and metal) “Lack” is used, which seems to be the same thing you Americans just call paint. Even the most matte finish is quite a bit shinier than the normal wall paint. Sheens are called “seidenmatt” (as matte as silk) or “hochglanz” (high gloss) It is a lot more expensive, sort of denser and stain removal is a royal pain.

      This “Lack” can also be used on walls, but that is quite unusual and sort of odd. So for us it’s quite unusual to “lackieren” (use Lack on) an entire wall, to say nothing of a room or an entire house. Hence my surprise. You really don’t have or use Dispersionsfarbe? I can’t believe it!

    • 8.6.13
      mj said:

      In Australia we also have this distinction in the way paint finishes are used… matte for walls, gloss for trim. The idea that you can use paint with a lower-sheen finish on your trim, for example, is just catching on here in Aus. It’s sort of- cultural and technical tradition- that is all. Really the paints are the same all over the world- they are oil or acrylic (water) base, they are toxic or non-toxic. But in Germany you are lucky to have so many more ‘biologisch’ paint options.

  43. 8.2.13
    Serap said:

    it’s always fun to read your updates. I’m super excited about the outcome and I must say that I am quite impressed the work all you are doing. congrats! and it always makes me smile seeing Mekko being around, looking what’s going on with curious eyes. so lovely… :)

  44. 8.2.13
    Jack said:

    No lame puns, just congratulations! The kitchen continues to look amazing (although it was totally awesome when you first got it:)!!

    Also!! I saw a monochrome Mekko today, he would have totally matched the new kitchen!

  45. 8.2.13
    Sidonie said:

    I’ve been reading your blog forever, and I’ve never commented, but I really cannot believe how parallel our lives are right now. My fiance and I also just bought a house and I’ve been working on painting my kitchen cabinets for the past several weeks–with the same sweet color scheme! And the same miserable lack of coordinated organization, apparently. (Details are on my blog if you’re curious.)

    Two things I learned from professionals: (a) you are not alone in not wanting roller texture. You’re apparently “supposed to” roll on paint for even distribution and then “tip” it with a brush immediately–so your instincts are spot on; and (b) you can fill hardware holes quickly with dowels and wood glue. I was skeptical about the ease of that method, but it’s actually awesome. Before sanding, just drill out the holes with a 1/8″ bit, dip a 1/8″ dowel in wood glue, stick it in the hole (um, there’s got to be a better way to phrase that) and then clip the dowel off with a nipper. It takes longer to write it out than it does to actually accomplish it, I swear.

    Can’t wait to see how your kitchen turns out. (Can’t wait to see how my own turns out, either, for that matter…)

    • 8.2.13
      Daniel said:

      Oh, that’s so smart! Thanks! And good luck with your house, I’ll check out the blog! :)

  46. 8.2.13
    Anne said:

    Great work! Very excited to see it all together. And yes, visiting your blog and not seeing the end product is sweet, sweet torture.

  47. 8.2.13
    Meite said:

    It’s Christmas in July! Or, more accurate to this situation, Hanukkah in August? Anyway so gangbusters thrilled to see all your posts about the house. Like straight up crack in my system. Totally motivating me to get off my ass and finish doing stuff that’s been weighing on my soul in my apartment, like my incredibly nasty particle board cabinet doors that are disintegrating in front of my eyes. Seriously, caretaker why?!

  48. 8.2.13
    Amber said:

    I totally agree about the roller texture. Unacceptable! Also the black grout looks amazing. Keep up the great work!

  49. 8.2.13
    Jill said:

    Oh boy, do I ever hear you about the process of painting kitchen cabinets and the effort required to stage / sand / paint / finish / etc. Our repainting project (yep, white upper cabinets and black lower cabinets) was interrupted by the main renovation / demolition project and we still haven’t finished the damn painting 3 years later.

    Of course, now it’s been a long enough time that I want to change all of the hardware and latches and hinges, so I might as well just knock everything down and have a good cry about it. Haha.

    Anyway, I digress. LOOKING GREAT!

  50. 8.2.13
    Jesse said:

    Lookin good! I love the dark color..

  51. 8.2.13
    Bonnie said:

    You’re a riot! But my favorite thing is seeing Mekko and Linus included in the photos, whether watching or sleeping.

  52. 8.2.13
    PFM said:

    Hi Daniel – Been spending my summer on the couch so have had plenty of time to enjoy your blog. For some reason I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

    Anyway, you may have told us in an earlier post but what are your color plans for the window trim/moldings? Inquiring minds, etc.

    Keep up the good work!

  53. 8.2.13
    Chebrutta said:

    So I clearly do not DIY, because when I looked at the in-progress grout pics, I thought they were some sort of Art.

    Now I want black grout.

    Enjoying your blog!

  54. 8.2.13
    CakeMama said:

    Sooooo in love with your blog! I have been thru some renovations myself and can relate to almost everything you talk about. Just keeping your humor throughout the process is a miracle in and of itself!! Keep up the good work!!! :-)

  55. 8.2.13

    The cabinets look great! Love the color you choose!

  56. 8.2.13
    LisaB said:

    Longtime lurker with a sin to confess…Daniel, I curse at you sooooo much. It’s because I love reading your posts and seeing the progress and tons of pictures, I am obsessed.

    It usually goes like this:
    types in URL, crosses fingers while waiting for site to come up, no post – “Damn you Daniel!!! ARRRGH”

    or even better, site comes up “Yay! This is going to be good! Wait! Daniel you whore, you’re teasing me with this slow reveal, WHAT! The post is over! NO! NO! NO! NO! DAMN IT! I want more! That was too short!”

    So, sorry that I curse at you, but I love you in an only mildy creepy way. If you could just post all day long, everyday, things would be fine and I wouldn’t have to act this way. So basically it’s all your fault. (Victim blaming for the win!)

    Keep doing you, you’re awesome and you have a beautiful family. I can’t wait to see all the love you put into this home, slow reveals and all. :)

    • 8.5.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, LisaB! :)

  57. 8.2.13
    Mona said:

    This is like a soap opera – I can’t wait to see the next post to find out what happens and how this kitchen will look – it’s already taking shape and I know it is going to be awesome, it’s just so hard to wait!!! I thought I was the only weirdo who doesn’t like roller strokes, good tip on using a brush, I’ll try that. See, we all learn good shit here on this blog!

  58. 8.2.13
    Keenan said:

    First omg that tile is awesome and second what grout brand and color did u use for the tile. Can’t wait to see the finished product.

    P.S u have the cutest dog ever

    • 8.8.13
      Daniel said:

      Thanks! It’s Polyblend Non-Sanded grout, charcoal color!

  59. 8.2.13
    Bethie said:

    Oh goddamn, it’s awesome to watch this whole process! Really. Not getting to be in one place long enough to buy and remodel, I’m living vicariously through your projects. GET IT!

  60. 8.4.13

    I don’t know if I’ve commented before but I just need to say that you’re my DIY inspiration. I’m about to embark on a bit of an epic renovation with my mum (I’m Aussie hence the u) She is buying a beautiful old church near Hobart in Tasmania (I live in Melbourne in Victoria, Tassie is over the Bass Strait, essentially overseas) So not only is the fact that you’re doing this reno whilst still living in the city inspiring me because that is what I’m about to embark on, but also the sheer amount of work you’ve got done in such a short amount of time. Our project has some similarities with your house but also so many new challenges, like there is no town water connected at the property yet, no existing kitchen and our planned ikea kitchen needs to somehow get shipped over to Tasmania as there is no ikea there and also the people of Tasmania don’t seem to use ebay or gumtree (our version of craigslist) so finding the perfect vintage furniture is going to be hard when I’m not able to be in Tasmania full time. So please keep up the inspiring work, you’re somehow making this a less daunting proposition.

    • 8.8.13
      Daniel said:

      Thanks so much for the very kind words, Hayley! Sounds like a totally amazing project, and good on you guys for taking it on! Do you think you’ll write about it on your blog? Somewhere else? I’d love to follow along!

  61. 8.4.13

    I saw in the earlier comment about the “one GFCI per circuit” that you’d like to learn a bit more about electrical. I sort of love doing electrical work, I’m a nerd, what can I say? Anyhow, if you want a great reference book check out the Black & Decker Complete Guide to Wiring (5th Edition). This book is a great reference item for learning and understanding home wiring. It has code items, best practices, guides, etc. My version even covers basic phone and network wiring.

    Anyhow, as someone who went through a cabinet painting project of our own with limited space and planning, we ran into many of the same issues. Things are looking great and the black grout really makes your backsplash come to life.

  62. 8.4.13
    Elaine in Laguna said:

    So awesome! I for one am glad you cleaned up and painted those wood cabinets. No offense, but I thought they looked grotty-gross. Glad you’re dumping the messed up hardware, too. You’ll do it up better! Thought of you in a non-stalker way this weekend since I prepped and painted an upstairs hall bath. Kind of WWDD. What Would Daniel Do? Anyway, looking forward to seeing the next set of kitchen pics. PS Loved seeing Linus on his union break!

  63. 8.5.13
    Anna said:

    K, everytime I come to your blog lately I am sure there won’t be a new post, but then there is! And I squeal with joy! And I feel a teensy bit more motivated to strip the paint of my cabinet hinges and sand my dressers! And now I am going to scroll up to look inside your cabinets after reading all the comments!! Kbyyyyye!

  64. 8.5.13
    Simone said:

    Hi Daniel; amazing what you already have done. I was thinking today about the previous post on painting the walls. Over here (Europe) they have spraypaint machines that you can fill with wallpaint (and refill). We had pur ceiling painted that way after we had it plastered. It took one evening for 70 square meters (about 630 sq feet). It is absolutely perfect and will save you so much time. Over here we can rent or buy them, they cost about 140 euro’s.
    Also, my experience is that -wellchosen- light fixtures and things like doorknobs make such an incredible difference to the “feel” of a house. It really is worth the investment. And doorknobs, choose stainless steel over aluminium (I don’t really know doorknobs work in the US) it stays better and it feels better in your hand. A bit inexplicable. Try it (if you can spare the time).

  65. 8.5.13
    Lewis said:

    Totally with you on the brush texture v. roller texture.

  66. 8.6.13
    Joanna T said:

    Hey!! Where’s the next post??? It’s been, like, FOUR DAYS! You’ve gotten me used reading you every couple days, don’t leave us hanging now [runs maniacally away waving hands]!

  67. 8.6.13
    Kathy said:

    Wow, I love this crap! ;) You are awesome.

  68. 8.6.13
    Paul said:

    How has your DIY upholstered bed held up? Are you still happy with the wool?

    • 8.8.13
      Daniel said:

      It’s held up pretty well! The wool is still in good shape. My only gripe is that our dog’s fur sticks in the fabric, since it’s woven (instead of being more felt-like), and it’s really hard to get out. She’s a pit bull, so she sheds very short, pointy hair…it’s a problem with a lot of different types of fabrics. Something with a tighter weave or no weave at all would be better for US, but I didn’t know I’d have a dog when I did that project!

      Otherwise, though, I’m happy! It cleans nicely (I vacuum it every month or so) and still looks more or less the same as when I upholstered it.

  69. 8.6.13
    Krysta said:

    The roller then brush method of painting is my preferred method for furniture pieces as well, even when I use oil based paint. I think it turns out the best result with fewer textures coming through. I did finally get a paint sprayer but I’m a little terrified to try it out.

  70. 8.6.13
    Amanda said:

    small note, as I’m not an addictee and have referred many others to come share the opiate-esque DIY posts here… could you possibly do before and after shots side by side? I find myself doing a lot of scrolling up and down trying to piece the before of a particular angle against an after. with all the angles in the new house, its hard to try and understand which relate to which. Particularly in the kitchen, as I think we’re all dying for updated progress shots now that painting and cabinets and tiling are done.

    • 8.8.13
      Daniel said:

      I’ll try to be better about that! I put a lot of effort into trying to make sure things are clear in terms of which areas of a room we’re in and whatnot, but it’s a challenge! I also don’t always have a good before shot from the same angle or even of the same part of the room as the “after”…I basically snapped a bunch of wider photos of the space before I started working, and that’s pretty much what I’m working with. I can’t go back in time and take more, knowing what I know now about how certain parts of the space would transform and exactly how I’d be writing about it!

      These are all just progress posts, though, so the final “reveal” will be more like that. Lots of side-by-side comparisons, because I’m not a monster and I know that’s fun!

    • 8.8.13
      Amanda said:

      “Because I’m not a monster”


  71. 8.6.13
    deb said:

    I am the least handy person ever but am so enchanted by your projects and writing that I just sit there and nod along — “yup, Bondo would have been totally overkill, of course” — no matter what you say.

  72. 8.6.13
    tess said:

    wow, you and your team are getting tons of work done, the black grout and gray cabinets fronts look very moderne

    how much water do you add to paint to thin it enough for painting the cabinets?
    do you eyeball it? some paints are thick like bm, some already thin & runny like ms

    • 8.8.13
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, I just eyeball it…depends on the paint, really! The Clark + Kensington paint is really thick, so that’s why I mentioned it. I’ve done the same thing with the nicer BM lines, too!

  73. 8.7.13
    Nele said:

    I’m team LisaB, more more more please !! Pretty please!

    • 8.8.13
      Daniel said:

      I did not, but I just read about it! Sounds cool. I might look into it down the line for other projects…not sure what!

  74. 8.8.13
    Rosie said:

    Wow everything is truly coming together in the kitchen. I just finished reading all of 2013 and some of 2012’s MN posts (I stopped reading a while back)… I’m in love again :o) I can’t wait for your next post.

  75. 8.8.13

    Why was my comment not approved?

    • 8.8.13
      Daniel said:

      Eek, I just did! I just needed a minute to sit down and respond, which apparently took me a few days! This week was super crazy and I kind of stepped away from the internet by accident. Thank you again, though!! :)

    • 8.12.13

      Thanks Daniel, sorry I was worried my comment was too ‘me, me, me’ or something. Thanks for replying to my comment, I am thinking of starting a new blog to document the church project and hopefully more interior design bits and bobs. Thanks again x

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      Let me know if/when you do!! I’m so intrigued!

  76. 8.8.13
    AnaMaria said:

    Your blog is just amazing – I’ve been reading it all day and I am more and more impressed with your creativity, practical sense and generosity in sharing all the details of your work. Thank you very much – I have learned a lot in such a short time! :)

    • 8.8.13
      Daniel said:

      Yay! Thank you! :)

  77. 8.8.13
    Samantha said:

    Daniel, I’m going through withdrawals! The suspense is killing me–how will the kitchen cabinets look with the tile? Will Daniel and Max take a kitchen break and tear down the vestibule faux wood paneling instead? Will the next project be renting a bobcat and taking up the asphalt? What will happen?! I can’t wait to find out.

    In all seriousness, I hope you guys are going to be around in October and get a chance to make it to the NY Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck. It’s awesome if you like farm festivals, farm animals, tasty food, and, of course, wool.

  78. 8.11.13
    Mary said:

    Hey Daniel! Love the blog and as usual you are the guru of all things awesome! As a result, I have a question. Why don’t you “recommend a gypsum-based product for wood repair in any case where it has to hold up to heavy wear and tear, or any patch much bigger than something like this?” I ask this as right this moment I’ve layered old oak cabinets with many layers of Easy Sand,, to hide the grain before priming and painting (this was from several other DIY projects I’ve seen online).
    Thanks for your great blog and your thoughts!

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      It’s probably great for that! The issue with most types of fillers is that they don’t expand and contract like wood does, so over time, the two materials will separate——even with Bondo and really heavy-duty fillers. There’s special structural wood epoxy that is made for filling big gaps in wood (like for exterior, or if you needed to reinforce a joist with an area of rot, or something), but it’s complicated and expensive and overkill unless you really need it. Unlike wood fillers, gypsum-based products will break apart if they’re subjected to heavy traffic——like, say, if you tried to use it to patch floor boards or something like that! For furniture and walls, though, I’m sure it’s fine!

  79. 8.15.13

    If you can find it in a store near you, you should definitely pick up some Timbermate wood filler. It’s Australian, so I love to pronounce it tim-bah-maiyt even though the check-out guys think I’m a freak. It’s the best stuff ever. Water based. Tintable. Can thin it or re-hydrate it with water. If it freezes, you can microwave it to defrost it. It’s super easy to work with and leaves a great smooth texture. I love it. I get it at Woodcraft but I think Rockler carries it too.

    • 8.15.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you!! I’ll definitely check that out.

  80. 8.30.13
    Gail said:

    Those are the same cabinets in my kitchen (and almost the same hardware) when we moved into our house in 1985. We have since got new drawers and fronts and wood doors on the bottoms and wood and glass on the upper ones. Kept the main cabinetry – love the sturdiness and that there are no ‘partitions’ between sections!

  81. 9.6.13
    Tatiana said:

    Somehow I have never considered black grout on white tile, but it looks so awesome I can’t even. You didn’t use tile spacers, did you?

    • 9.6.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you!

      And no spacers! Most subway tiles in the US are self-spacing, which means they have a little ridge on the side that gives the exact amount of spacing you want when butted up against each other. Spacers would make the grout lines really big, and that would not be cute!

    • 9.6.13
      Tatiana said:

      That’s what I thought, ’cause those things are usually at least 1/16 in and it’s quite a gap. But here it’s so pwetty. Congrats on a job well done :)