Swanning around

I had forgotten how time consuming it is to paint cabinets. You look at the object, and it looks relatively small, w-a-y smaller than a room, so it should be quick and easy to paint, right? Wrong!

Painting a cabinet takes at least as much time as painting a room, usually more. And you have to be careful with your brushstrokes, otherwise it looks like rubbish, which means you have expended ALL THAT EFFORT for something that looks worse than when you started. Plus there are lots of corners and fiddly bits and annoying parts. And you have to contort your body to get into the difficult places.

Let me tell you, lying in a strange position with your head in a cabinet, your arm crooked over your head and off to one angle, breathing in lungfuls of paint fumes is not for the faint-hearted. For the faint-headed, perhaps …

Before I get the OH & S police knocking on my door, I will now point out That Was A Joke. I only use low VOC paints, and I wore a fume respirator while painting the inside of the cabinet. Which, of course, only made the whole thing even more horrid. Have you ever worn one of those? Ewwww, ewww and eeeewwww.

You would think I would remember all this, having only recently painted the kitchen cabinets, but I think painting cabinets is a bit like giving birth. You forget how hard and painful it is until you are in the middle of it, and then there is no choice but to put your big girl pants on, and proceed.

So if you ask me what I have been doing for the whole of this week, I will say ‘Oh just swanning around painting a cabinet. For. A. Whole. Week.’ As you can tell, I am still a little bitter and twisted about it.

And boy did that cabinet need painting. The cabinet I am referring to is, of course, the Ugly Duckling (UD). Here is a close up of the fab finish on the UD before I painted it.

Classic late 60s finish. Glorious yellowy varnish, and what were they thinking with all those little black speckles?

First I removed all the handles. I would be dealing with them separately.

Then I washed the whole cabinet with TSP, then sanded before wiping it down with deglosser. There was no way the primer wasn’t going to stick to this baby! Next I masked off the glass on the doors.

Glass masked ready for painting

I really like this paper tape stuff that I found at the local paint store. One half is sticky, like tape, then you get that extra bit of protection from the paper part. Cool.

This means that I can slap the paint on like crazy, right? WRONG! You still have to be careful, and I have yet to find any sort of tape that doesn’t bleed. Yes, even that clever blue tape that the paint shops swear by. Hello, people?!?! It. Still. Bleeds. But scraping off small areas of paint on the glass, and touching up a few bits here and there is a whole lot easier than all that careful cutting in.

If I gone done the cutting in route I would still be painting the wretched thing.

I separated the two halves again, and set to work with the primer.

After priming

Looks better already, doesn’t it?

While the primer dried, I dealt with the handles. They also got a good washing, and then I primed them with spray paint primer.

Handles before

Handles after priming

My plan for the handles was to zhoozsh them up a little with metallic black spray paint. Here is what they looked like when they were done.

Handles after

Nothing like a coat of black metallic paint to make things look more exciting.

At the same time as putting coats of spray paint on the handles, I was layering up 2 coats of paint on the rest of the UD. So what color did I end up painting it?

Well orange was a very strong contender for a long time, but in the end, I decided to paint it in keeping with the rest of the shelving in my studio (ahem, garage). Benjamin Moore Abyss. I just love that color at the moment.

Here is the bottom after the first coat:

Bottom half after the first coat

Now it is starting to look better!

So Abyss again … but with an extra twist! But what twist? If you are open to it, inspiration comes in many ways, and my brilliant plan for the UD was no exception.

One of the things that attracted me to the UD in the first place was it’s excessively over the top molding on the lower doors and at the top of the cabinet. After all, why have molding, when you can have MOLDING?!

How deep is that molding? C-R-A-Y-Z-E-E deep

Don't you just love those dimply bits in the middle of that row of squares? Mad!

I am sucker for anything that is a little bit whacky and out there, and to me  all that molding just screamed ‘crazy’. Just painting the whole thing Abyss seemed a little too dull, for a piece as out there in ugly land as the UD.

Ah, the internet. How did we ever do anything before the world wide web? One of the big fads doing the internet DIY rounds at the moment is stenciled walls, particularly chevron stenciled walls.

Chevron stenciled wall. Image source.

While this is not something I am planning to try myself, I always love to see people doing something a little outside the box with their decorating. Life is way too short for beige, right? Right! I love the graphic two tone interplay here.

Anyway, I was perusing some examples of wall stenciling, when I had a light bulb moment for what to do with the UD. Ting! I realized that two tone thing was something I could apply to the UD, and that nutso molding was begging for it.

Then I remembered I had two quart- sized tins of Benjamin Moore silver metallic glaze that I picked up from the mis-tint section of the local paint store.

Always, always, always check the mis-tints. I got those tins of paint for less than half price. At the time I had no idea how I was going to use them, but they were too good a bargain to miss, and I knew at some point I would find something to do with them. And I was right.

The silver was too pale and creamy for what I had in mind, so I mixed some of the Abyss into it to get a nice dark silver.

Mixing paint

And yes, I checked the technical info on the metallic glaze before I did this, so I could be sure it would be ok.

I decided to paint the ditches between the molding silver, but before I did this I had to retape the UD, to mask off the parts I wanted silver.

Ready for silver detailing

Once I had two coats of silver on the appropriate parts of the UD, I pulled the tape off, reunited the two halves of the cabinet, then spent 3 hours cleaning up the glass, touching up the missed and bled bits and making sure it was as perfect as I could possibly make it.

So before I do the big reveal, here is a reminder of what the UD looked like when it first came home:


And here it is now:

And after ...

What a difference a bit of paint makes. Now it looks as whacky as it really is.

Before I go, I will let you in on a little secret: all that molding? PLASTIC!

Yep, the UD is wood veneer with plastic molding. Bahahahaha! So, in doing a number on this cabinet, I broke all the rules in the upcycling book. They tell you that you only only only EVER upcycle solid wood pieces.

I chose something ugly and veneered and plastic and worthless to upcycle.  But isn’t that part of the point of upcycling? Isn’t it better off as storage in my studio (ahem, garage) than in landfill?

I was attracted to the piece in the first place for the brash nature of its hideousness, something that was somehow made even better by my discovery that the moldings were plastic.

Before I painted it, it was masquerading as an innocent wooden cabinet, but now it is Out and Proud. And, perversely, I love it more than ever.

So what is the ugly duckling doing these days? Swanning around in my not-finished-yet studio. This morning I am going to put it to use, and our over-stuffed kitchen cabinets will heave a sigh of relief.

And I will be one step closer to finishing my studio.


2 responses to “Swanning around

  1. Pingback: Playing Garage Tetris (3rd move) revised edition | Quirk Street

  2. Pingback: Studio a gogo | Quirk Street

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