Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bedeviled, Bothered and Bewildered

Okay, I have pictures but in a minute.  Like I said, my house was owned by my grandparents and they both had very strong ideas about decorating.  My grandfather's idea was "Eh, beige is good for everything" and that was the case in most of the house except for the kitchen, which was my grandmother's domain.  She had very grandmother taste:  two patterns of pink and white wallpaper, pink and white curtains, pink carpet.  Did I just say carpet?  Oh yes I did and it was as much of a mess as you're imagining.  It was really nice for about a week before the first spill. 

So with huge plans and some elbow grease we stripped wallpaper and installed a light colored (I think it was called Applewood) laminate floor and repainted the walls and cabinets, uh, pink.  It was a TOTALLY different non-grandmother pink, though; it was more of an Inner-Teenager-Who-Was-Never-Allowed-To-Paint-Her-Walls pink.  The counter that we chose was a pink-and-lavender-and-blue-and-cream beauty and the pink came from there.  The mistake we made was that we used flat paint, which is impossible to keep clean.

There was also a lot of Stuff in our kitchen.  We had a small table and chairs but a huge free standing pantry and a smaller free standing cabinet in the same finish that we got at Lowe's.  In our first house after we got married (which my DH owned before we met) we had a dining room and I found myself pining for one while I was stumbling around all the crap Stuff in the kitchen.  We really needed a bigger table and couldn't we maybe convert the living room into a dining room?  Yeah, I get these ideas every once in a while.

My DH, meanwhile, had ideas of his own.  He was so done with the pink walls and cabinets and the impossible to clean flat paint that he started looking at paint samples on his own.  The tricky part was that we weren't going to switch out the counter top so whatever he came up with had to go with that.  What he showed me was a gorgeous combination of lavender and gunmetal.  Seriously, it was beautiful but ultimately bedeviling.  Why?  Because the paint refused to dry.  Enamel can take longer than flat to cure, plus it was November which meant we couldn't keep the windows open to speed things along and of course it was the very humid kitchen.  It was tacky for weeks and then it started peeling almost immediately.  The worst was my little free standing cabinet.  The kids have unfortunately found the soft peeling texture irresistible and have done quite a job on it.

 I hear you asking, "What the hell is that?" and I'm there with you.  The piece of wood leaned between the cabinet and the stove is the shelf that's supposed to be in it but has fallen out more times than I can count.  And where's the door?

There, of course.  It's still in good shape because it's spent the last two years leaned up against my dresser instead of on the cabinet.  So let's get started saving this poor thing.

The gear I used is all from Lowe's, clockwise from the top:  personal protection (long cuff chemical proof gloves, dust mask and chemical splash goggles), after wash, plastic scraper, short handled brush, stripper.  I chose Citristrip because it doesn't smell as bad as other stippers (although it still wasn't fabulous) and because it's a thick gel that wouldn't drip down the sides if the cabinet was standing up.  I got the short handled brush because I mistakenly thought it would be easier to control but the gloves made it really difficult.  Once the gloves were on I didn't take any pictures so we're going to jump to just about and the end of the process.  Oh, and a blooper.

Okay, see the white bits?  That's bad.  That's where I didn't put the stripper on thick enough and it dried before it did it's job.  I added more and waited the 30 minutes and then started scraping.

As you can see on the left I still didn't get it on thick enough in spots but what I was able to scrape off looked pretty good.

 It's ultimately taken me two tries to strip the cabinet totally and while I wouldn't call it fun it was pretty simple and I have plenty of stipper left so now I'm looking at an old dresser that's seen better days.  I'll be using the after wash on the residue in a little bit and I'll post pictures of that process later this week.  What new process are you learning?  Comments are open.


  1. Jazzy, you have me wondering if paint stripper would help me out on my trim that I messed up. It is taking me forever to remove the latex paint I put over oil. Hmmm...lots to think about.

    I hope you put up a picture of the finished cabinet! I'm sure it will be beautiful when you're done.

    1. Thanks, Jas! I really liked the stipper that I used and you can find it at Home Depot or Lowe's and online. You just have to be really patient with it. Good luck with your trim!