Paint the town white

White paint for everyone!

All the things will be painted white!


At least that’s how it seems lately, anyways.   And I’m not complaining.  This lightly-shaded mayhem began with the transformation of our dining table, and now our built-ins have gotten the blanco treatment.  And there’s more to come. Just you wait.  😀

White is one of those lovely shades (remember in school when they referred to white and black as shades, rather than colors?? This has never left me. I remember the weirdest things.) Anyhoo, regardless of the verbage, white is classic, clean, and still leaves plenty of room for character to seep through while modernizing the item in question. And that was exactly my goal with the built-ins. Maintain character while modernizing and brightening the space.

As a refresher, when we purchased our home, the built-ins looked like this…

They were stained a 1970’s wood tone… and don’t even get me started on those nose-cabinets.  Not only this, the finish was a thick, high-gloss shellac that was drippy and uneven….

The instant we saw these built-ins during our initial showing, I knew they needed to be white.   They were SCREAMING for it.  And so was the fireplace.  After all, he was the showstopper of the space.  The built-ins were basically zapping him of energy, what with them matching almost perfectly.  The fireplace deserved to be the star-attraction and painting the built-ins white would allow him to fulfill his destiny.

So, after more than a few pep-talks (3monthsworth) to motivate myself, I got going.   I’ll admit, I was sort of dreading the process.  The finish used on the built-ins was super glossy and clearly oil-based.  This meant that they would require mucho prep work to ensure an even, long-lasting finish.

I started by removing all the doors and labeling them both on the door behind the hinge (because I knew I wouldn’t need to paint over it)…

I also labeled the brown paper used to protect our floors under each corresponding cabinet….

Then, I sanded.

My goal was to rough up the surface so that my primer would adhere well.  I used my orbital sander with 220 grit sandpaper and hand sanded the crevices.   I sanded the doors and shelves outside to help minimize the dust indoors….

To be on the safe side, I also wiped down the entire piece with some liquid deglosser (as shown in this old pic)….


I simply wiped off all the dust with a few Swiffer rags first, then applied a nice, generous coat of deglosser (I just wiped it on with a lint-free rag).  Once it was dry, I carefully cleaned everything off with some tack cloth to remove any residual dust and dirt.

Next, came my favorite primer…


Zinsser shellac primer.  It sticks to anything, prevents bleed-through like a champ, and you can topcoat it with anything.  Plus, it dries fast and can be topcoated within 45 minutes.   Ever since this experience, I’ve used this primer on any project that I’ve ever painted white and have yet to be disappointed.

Once the primer was dry, I topcoated it with this paint in Extra White Semi-gloss….

ProClassic® Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel

Now, I’ll admit, I wasn’t so kind to this paint in this post when I first tried it, but it’s grown on me.   It really is very good paint that leaves a relatively smooth finish. Plus, this one gallon has lasted me through many a project.   I ended up doing 3-4 thin and even coats with a foam roller to get everything perfectly uniform (3 on the doors, 4 on the unit).  I used a 2 1/2 inch angled brush for the crevices and to edge the units.   My favorite is the Wooster brush… it just covers so well and with great accuracy.

Once all was said and done, I let everything cure for 5 days before putting it all back together.   I usually wait at least a week to be sure, but my impatience got to me this time (baddiyer!).

So you don’t have to scroll back up, here’s the before again…

And here she is now…

This view from the dining space is now SO much brighter…

Being that it started out here..


And this view of the living room is less brown now as well…

What’s funny is, I’d totally planned on filling in the middle hardware holes and drilling new ones at more traditional placements, but once I found the streamline knobs from Anthropologie and tried them out, I decided to keep the holes as is.


Both Joey and I were sold.   They just looked so cool in the middle of the door.  Sleek.  Different.   Color me shocked by this revelation.

Seriously, though.  Aren’t they snazzy?  And I have to admit… I feel pretty swanky now that I own something from Anthropologie.  Heehee!  Are you impressed by my trendiness??  😉   The knobs were a bit pricier than I’m used to at $6 a pop, but they MAKE the piece.  In my eyes it was totally worth the splurge. Plus, this makeover was pretty cheap overall since I already had the paint and primer.  And I decided to reuse the original hinges since they meshed with the new knobs (which was another money-saver).

I just love how the units now contrast with the fireplace, making both elements pop in their own way…

As for styling, I tried to keep it simple to prevent the unit from becoming too busy.  I used mainly neutral colors with a few pops to tie everything in to the surrounding rooms…

I couldn’t be happier about how these built-ins turned out.   They’re light, bright, but still have some of that 1970’s charm.   And now they royally put our wet-bar to shame…

Being that this guy is on the opposite wall in the same room, he’ll be painted next to match.  And I have a fun idea to try with the counter top as well.  Things are happening, guys.   Things are happening…   😉

And now I’m signing off… Until next time!  🙂

TDC Before and After

A little door piz-ainting…

Piz-ainting? Why yes, that’s a little gangsta speak for your Friday reading pleasure.  Word. 😉

So, what is this painting of which I speak?  Why, let me introduce you to our back door….


He’s a likeable guy.  Functional.  Happy to provide privacy when needed.  He’s quiet.  Not much of a talker.  Which suits me just fine.   Only problem… He’s a little dull.

Don’t get me wrong… white doors are nice.  We’ve got plenty of ’em.  Its just, when you take in the room from this standpoint….


It’s a lot of white.   White curtains, white blinds, white trim, white door, white fireplace.   Now, I like white.  A lot. Obviously… I mean, it’s everywhere in our house.  But I LOVE contrast.  Pop.  Excitement.  So, I decided that this quiet soul deserved a makeover.  A charcoal makeover.   I decided that charcoal was the man of the hour because it’s a fun contrast, but it’s more casual than a deep elegant black.  Plus, since our front door is stained an ebony color, I thought the charcoal would bring in a nice consistency among our exterior doors… Darker-toned but not quite black.

A while back (as in, pre-blog days) I’d planned to paint our fireplace a dark color (and have since changed my mind).  I purchased a quart of deep grey paint (Rockport Grey by Clark & Kensington) for this very job but never ended up using it.  Since I already had the paint on hand, I just assumed that I’d use it to paint our back door.  But, then I hesitated.  It’d been a while since I’d seen the actual color and I wanted to be sure. To be on the safe side, I painted a swatch of Rockport Grey onto a piece of cardstock and taped it to the back door.  And boy am I glad I did…


It’s hard to tell from this awful pic, but the undertones of the Rockport Grey (which are more blue) don’t go with our Dolphin Fin wall color (which has more of a green undertone).   It’s crazy how colors can read so differently in another room (or another part of a room in this case).   The angle of our fireplace and the difference in lighting due to the large windows in the living room allowed the Rockport Grey to take on more of a green cast which went great with our wall color when it was displayed on the fireplace.  Our windows are Low-E windows which have a slight green film to them (you can see it from certain angles when you stand outside) so the larger and brighter the windows, the more of a green cast the light provides.   The smaller windows in our breakfast nook don’t provide as much light because they’re under the covered porch, so… less green.   Which explains why the Rockport Grey appeared more blue in this part of the room.   If there’s one thing I’ve learned since moving into our house it’s that it’s always a good idea to hang paint swatches in multiple areas of a room (during multiple parts of the day) to make sure your chosen color is truly what you want.

After realizing that my paint was a no-go, I headed to Lowes and picked up a bunch of charcoal swatches and taped them to the door.  Enter the three finalists…


They stayed up there for about a week because I wanted to be sure that I liked my pick in all types of lighting.  In the end, the winner was the top swatch (Ebony Field by Valspar).  I went back to Lowes and picked up a quart of primer+paint in semi-gloss to save me a priming step…


I prepped our door by thoroughly cleaning it with my water/vinegar spray to remove any dust or dirt, then I wiped it down thoroughly with a deglosser (which is basically liquid sandpaper).  I taped around my hardware, window and door with painters tape…


In a perfect world, I would’ve removed my hardware, but it was a really windy day and I was afraid that the door would swing open and ruin my paint job if I removed them.  Also, I’m still very much a beginner in the photography department so I’m sorry about how dark some of these pics are.  I’m working on it for sure! 🙂

Now, it was time for painting.  I used my favorite angled brush and a small foam roller. I brushed around the trim…


and rolled the flat parts…


I applied a thin and even coat of paint, being careful to avoid drips.  Then, I allowed the paint to dry thoroughly.  Once it was dry (here it is after one coat)…


…I began to brush a second coat onto the window trim…  which is when everything fell apart. Sort of. I tried to remove a small piece of painters tape from the window. And a large portion of my freshly-applied paint peeled off with it.


Oh no.

That’s when I realized that the trim around the window is plastic, not wood as previously thought. And apparently, our builder had painted white, water-based paint over it without properly prepping the surface. Oy. So, I had prepped MY surface well. My grey paint stuck to the white paint just fine… The white paint just had nothing to cling to in return with all that slick plastic beneath it. So, when it was moistened with wet paint it totally bailed.

Needless to say, I was a smidge on the frustrated side at this point (understatement).. I explored the door further and realized that the peeling was only an issue on the trim around the window. The actual door was fine. So, I used a razor to score the paint between the trim and the door and then scraped the rest of the paint off the trim with my fingernail. It practically fell off. In large clumps, too. Which left this…


Attractive, huh? I used 220 grit sandpaper to rough up the plastic and dispose of any small bits of paint that were left. Then, I wiped down the trim with a deglosser (again). And I busted out the big-gun shellac primer (Zinsser BIN primer) and applied an even coat to the trim with a foam brush. Then, I called it a day and watched How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days for the hundredth time.

The next morning, after enjoying my giant cup of coffee (whilst whispering sweet nothings into my cup), I got on it with my next coat of paint. I brushed paint onto my newly prepped trim and boy did it go on easy. I should’ve been whispering sweet nothings to my primer, ’cause that stuff rocks. Then, I rolled on another coat of paint to the flat planes with my foam roller. … And I started to get excited. I could see the final result starting to shine through. Nothing feels better than that moment where you see a project starting to come together and realize that you’ve made the right decision. I’ve never wanted to hug a door more in my life.

Anyhoo, I waited for the paint to dry and then applied one more thin coat (for a grand total of three thin coats). I scored the painters tape with a razor (just to be safe to prevent additional peeling). Then, I used the razor to remove any rogue paint that had gotten on the glass. Once it dried it looked like this….


Hello, lover.

I need to redecorate a smidge around this area now to allow the door to shine.  In the first shot, I experimented with placing one of our bird chairs at the head of the table (instead of our black leather parsons chair).  Doing so definitely confirmed that a lighter, brighter chair is needed to replace the black one.   I ended up moving the black parsons chair back to the table afterwards since five bird chairs in one place looked far too busy, but now I’m definitely on the lookout for something new.    Different light, bright styling atop the sofa table is on the agenda as well.   I can’t wait to play!  So fun.

So anyways, that’s my door-painting adventure.  As with most of my projects, a few twists and turns made an appearance, but I reached my goal in the end (albeit in double the time expected).  It’s all par for the course, though, and I learn something new every time a project goes askew so it’s all very worth it in the end.   🙂

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