Monday, July 14, 2014

Mini Projects: Refreshing The Linen Closet

While massive undertakings in home renovation are always massively satisfying, there's also something to be said for the joy of tackling the little things. Case in point: the hallway linen closet.

Okay, I know it looks harmless enough from a distance, but up close this sucker suffers from the same gross old cabinet disease as every cabinet in every place I've ever lived. The yellowing, way-too-glossy paint. The years of gray globby build-up around the handles. The dreadful contact paper lining the shelves. And, most disturbingly, the distinct yet untraceable smell of old-ness. It's just not the sort of environment that screams, "I'm a great place for storing your pillow cases, toilet paper, freshly-laundered towels and other items bound for close contact with your person!"

Let's go in for a closer look.

Yellowing, way-too-glossy paint?


Gray globby build-up around the handles?
Check. And while we're on the topic of handles... bleck. I know, I always replace handles in every single project. It's sort of my go-to fix. But these ones were really asking for it.

Anyway, on with the tour. Dreadful contact paper lining the shelves?

Check. Layer after stinking layer. Actually, if it weren't so filthy that bottom layer could almost pass for fun and retro.

With every project I start, it's only once I get up close that I really understand the level of neglect. Like, that the paint on the bottom never actually made it all the way to the floor.

And that inside, there was only ever one layer of paint and so the knots in the wood showed through and looked, at first, like gross stains.

I tasked myself with this mini project over 4th of July weekend. Coincidentally, the weekend marked the first anniversary of living in our house, so it seemed only fitting to celebrate with some DIY.

I've dubbed this a "mini" project because the scope of it is small. It probably could've taken about 3 hours. In actuality, it spread out over a full week. This is because during the weekend of its inception I had more social engagements than I normally have in a month. So I had to complete the work in small chunks. Then, it spilled over into the work week, which is bad timing for any project, but this work week was a particularly brutal one. Then, the following weekend I got sidetracked with another project (details to come!). And I finally wrapped it all up by Sunday afternoon.

So I guess my point is that I could've just told you I did this in 3 hours.

The other reason this project felt mini is because there wasn't much to do in the way of prep work. I already had all of the supplies, even the paint! Remember all those gross miscalculations during the fireplace project? I had more than a half gallon of Snowfall White just burning a hole in my work bench. All I needed was some new cabinet hardware so I picked up a value pack of 10 brushed nickel knobs at the store.

Beyond that, I didn't do any hard labor getting ready to repaint.

First, I removed the ceramic knobs. I paused for a moment before tossing them in the trash, wondering if there was any chance they were antique and of value. Particularly the one with the rose design. Then I thought, nah forget it. Yo homes, to Bel Air!

Then I went over the surface with a Magic Eraser to get rid of the grime. [By the way, Magic Eraser, if you're reading this and looking for a blog to sponsor, I promise you'll get your money's worth with mine.]

Finally, I set about removing the contact paper. The top layer gave up really easily. The bottom held on for dear life and, in full disclosure, I gave up in a few places and just covered with new paper.

But look, you can't tell!
I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to alternate patterns other than I had two different rolls of paper sitting around so I figured I may as well. Perhaps I hoped the variety would help take the edge off. I'm not sure if I've told you how much I hate laying down contact paper, but it's really terrible. And it never seems to matter how much time I take with it, or what techniques I try, because it always winds up looking like it was handled by someone who doesn't have full control of her faculties.

Fortunately, you can't tell from a distance. And you really can't tell once the paper is covered up with all the crap that's going back on the shelves afterward.
The second most challenging part of the project was painting the insides of the cabinets, just because I had to lean in at odd angles and my pregnant belly got in the way.

And then of course painting the face of the cabinets was a breeze. And now look, it's crisp, and clean and flat and it smells like paint and not old-ness.

So that's it. The before and after isn't particularly dramatic.
Up close, you can better see the improvement.
But I swear, in person it makes all the difference in the world. I've actually paused to admire it a few times while passing by.

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