I wasn't kidding myself. I knew this was a tremendous undertaking, being undertook by a crazy woman with little to no free time and a 1-year-old, stage 5 clinger on her hip at every waking moment. The only way I thought I had hope of completing this in the calendar year would be with very careful planning, and that meant minimizing potential for nasty surprises. So before the official official kickoff, I would spend time testing all of my ideas to find out the best way to pull this off.
First, the paint. Before I decided on General Finishes Milk Paint, I was actually planning to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, mostly because people seem to go gaga bananas for it. But I ruled it out for two reasons:
1. They only offer one shade of gray and it's too pale for this
project. Custom mixing is an option but you basically have to do it all
at once and if you go back for seconds you can't guarantee the same
results. And I've learned I am terrible at estimating how much paint
2. The stores that sell it, or "stockists" (eye roll), are inconveniently dotted around the city and I don't have the time or inclination to spend a half day picking it up.
The milk paint line, on the other hand, had three choices for Gray.
And it can be ordered on my beloved Amazon Prime. So, suck it, local businesses.
Testing out the paint, I brushed a little of it onto the inside of a cabinet door. It was basically the shade of gray I'd been picturing for this.
Because of the price tag and the plenitude of surfaces I had to cover, I thought it might be smart to opt for a lesser paint for the inside of the cabinets.
Then I had the brilliant idea to buy spray paint to do this part of the job. With all those hard to reach angles, up high, down low, in deep dark corners of the cabinets, perhaps this would be a way to simplify. I picked up a can of the closest spray paint color I could find, and tried it out on one of the shelves.
As I sprayed into the cabinet, my head was instantly enveloped in a visible cloud, my throat started burning and I felt sick. I'm not sure why I thought blasting paint into an enclosed space was going to result in any other outcome, but suffice to say this was not going to be a workable plan. See why I wanted a testing phase?
Back at Home Depot the next day, I picked up a gallon of flat latex paint, custom color mixed to my Driftwood milk paint.
Testing it out at home, it revealed itself to be a perfect match. I was back on track.
Next up, I had to find the best way to clean these bad boys. They were covered in spots, spills and sludge. And it was important to get them as clean as possible because deeply embedded grease can slowly rise to the surface over time, staining nice new paint.
Pinterest provided a bevy of suggestions and recipes for the best cleaning solution. Many contained the usual suspects: baking soda, dish soap, vinegar. New to the mix was 20 Mule Team Borax which has an amazing name that sounds like it is going to clean through sheer determination.
I tried out many different combinations. Baking soda didn't seem to do anything. Dish soap was a pain to rinse off. Vinegar smelled, of course, but wasn't making a noticeable dent in the solid grime. The Borax was really gritty, which was great for scrubbing, but then the grit wouldn't go away. I'd rinse an area clean, then glance back at it only to find it repopulated with more little grits. After ONE FULL HOUR I'd managed to clean 2 shelves. These home cooked recipes were adorable Pinterest fodder, but they weren't going to cut it.
Bring in the toxic chemicals!
Introducing Trisodium Phosphate, or TSP. I'd never used this before but the warnings on the packaging were intense.
Testing it out on the cabinets, I was expecting it to fizz or emit orange smoke or something satisfying like that. It did no such thing, but it did clean things up significantly in minutes, proving that it's not about the product with the best name. It's about the product that is so badass its name is just a chemical compound.
Now all I had to do was empty out all of the cabinets, spread their contents all over the entire house, inconvenience everyone indefinitely, and get to cleaning!