The en "light" enment

March 2010 – from dark to light
Saying it came in like a lion or out like a lamb would be a severe a understatement. I have a tendency to do 2 things: (1) get a project idea in my head, shove it around for a few days, and decide it must be done as soon as possible and (2) underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete. I’m hoping that writing about the projects will help to slow me down a bit.

In our house, March was the month of the kitchen. ML and I made a little deal when we bought the house. The kitchen would be the first thing to get a makeover. Apparently, we disagreed/misunderstood the timeline for when “first” would occur. For me, it was less than 2 months into homeownership. For ML, “first” could have happened 2 years down the line. An exercise in effective communication was in order, but only after we each sufficiently peeved each other. The kitchen was our first place to start for a few reasons: (1) the wallpaper was the same stuff that had been in my 4-8th grade home (it was my first source of laughter when we did our walkthrough with the realtor) and (2) we hate dark walls, dark wood, any furnishing that absorbs rather than reflects light. The kitchen was covered in wallpaper dotted with small bunches of wheat, the countertops were bright blue, the cabinets were oak (stop screaming wood lovers!), and the layout wasn’t conducive to cooking or hosting friends.

pre makeover photos of the kitchen. The flash on my camera makes the space look deceivingly bright. 

Again, I took a few days off of work, invited my friend MD and ML’s brother, CL to help with the transformation process.  We first started with wallpaper removal. I did some internet research and ended up purchasing a wallpaper removal paper tiger, wide putty knife and a chemical spray. After the first 30 minutes, the verdict was in; paper tiger – YES!, wide putty knife – YES!, chemical spray – NO! The spray was awful. It didn’t do much to help remove the wallpaper, but did provide an unpleasant lightheadedness for me and my counterparts. I had heard that a 1/3 vinegar, 2/3 warm water combo worked well, so we switched to that method and SUCCESS! The method was perfected and away we went: scratch, spray, scrape, wipe (remove glue remnants with old cotton rags).

wallpaper removal process. beginning of my foray into spackling wood paneling crevases to look like drywall. ML in the doorway.

Once the wallpaper was removed, we began taking the doors off of the cabinets, wiping them down, and preparing them for painting. I also began researching ways to make wood paneling blend in with drywall.  There are plenty of websites out there, but most made it seem more daunting than is actually the case. Here are the steps I used and my walls turned out just fine:
(1) use a hand sanding tool and rough up the surface of the paneling
(2) wipe down the wall to remove dust
(3) using a wide putty knife add water-based spackling compound to the crevases applying horizontally and once filled, follow with a vertical swipe
(4) let this dry for a day or so, sand with fine sandpaper until the spackling blends with the paneling and redo steps 2-4 until you don’t see any cracks in the spackling
(5) sand a final time, use a shop vac or vaccuum with a brush attachment to remove dust
(6) prime and paint the wall

paneling in the back of the kitchen showing first round of spackling. kitchen after spackling and painting

The wall painting followed the cabinet painting and a trip to IKEA to pick up new butcher block countertops. A word of advice on butcher block – there is a bit of maintenance involved and you need to be careful about leaving metal, specifically copper-bottom pots, resting on them. They will leave stains that can only be sanded out. The general rule of thumb is to apply linseed oil once/day for week, once/week for a month, once a month for a year and once every year after that. I’ve been using that method (with a few missed months here and there) and it seems to be working. In the winter, when the heat is on, you may have to apply additional coats to areas where the wood is splitting due to dryness. Once you reapply, the wood starts to go back together and I’m told that once the summer humidity returns, I wont even see the cracks anymore.

The last thing we did in the kitchen (in March) was to move one of the cabinets out of its corner and turn it into an island. I found super cute stools at IKEA and we had our island with its butcher block top for additional food prep and dining space. By the close of March, we had a light filled, gold and white kitchen.


One thought on “The en "light" enment

  1. Pingback: Cookin’ | mylittlehousethatcould

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