Saturday, November 6, 2010

A day at the beach!

That is if the following equation applies:
water = rain
sand = wood particles
fun = progress

My kitchen... is a mess.
It started back before we moved in. March 25th in fact.
I hired a girl off Craigslist to do some basic cleaning for us while we could be at work making more than we were paying her. I don't mind cleaning my own dirt, but not someone elses. Actually when I posted the ad on Craigslist, I got 140 responses in 48hrs.  Oh my! To skim thru those was a nightmare.
I picked 3 to respond to (if you know Craigslist, you know about people who back out!)
I asked a trivia question: What will you spend your $150 dollars on?
She was buying diapers and groceries. Sold.
She did all right on most things. But she called me frantically on the 2nd day. "I cannot get the cupboards clean! I have tried 6 different cleaners and I think I may have ruined your cupboards. The varnish is coming off and they are still dirty!"
I wonder how much time/money she spent on those when the floors were still dirty...
Anyway--I told her to move on to something else and I would figure it out

Come June, I did alot of research on cleaners and found TSP. I worked on this each morning while making coffee and it seemed to work, but was still taking off the varnish with it.
I felt quite a failure.

Fact: Grease of 32 years penetrates varnish.
Solution: The varnish must come off.

Now I have never attempted this, but the pictures I have found of other kitchen makeovers show me I can make this happen. I can have pretty cupboards!!
I have also never come across a make over blog that SHOWS any cupboard nearly as disgusting as these:

Now maybe no one else wants to SHOW how disgusting the cupboards were, but this isn't my mess so I don't mind. Has anyone turned a nightmare kitchen in to a clean lovely place?

This drawer isn't even on the same side of the kitchen as the stove where most the grease is!
While cleaning out these crevices the toothpick got stuck and when it came unstuck I got this gunk in my eye. I threw up...
my hands.. and called it a day. Bought some goggles and ignored the kitchen for 4 months.

Now it is November and I want to move upstairs in 25 days so the pressure is on.

Now let us back first solution back in March was to clean the cupboards and replace the handles.
Here I vowed to replace the handles quickly. I even bought new handles. ALOT of them. I originally bought 6 different handles and had my painting party vote without knowing which one Travis or I was leaning towards.
The new handles are lovely. But they are still in the cupboard unused.  Except this one.

Time for work!!!
Here we are starting last week on the floor of the garage. It was pretty painful kneeling and squating for hours.

Travis was struck by inspiration and a bunch of junk in the corner of the garage (and my incessant whining how this was painful). A broken ladder left by the previous owners and an old bookshelf of my childhood that I can't seem to get rid of on craigslist (for years!) and this workbench he created this:

It is just the right height too. Which is good. Had I been left to do this on the floor I would have conveniently forgot I even had a kitchen up there!

 I had a sunflower knocked down by rain that joined me in the garage that day.

Here we are after cleaning round 1

This is the problem here. This cupboard was right above the oven. This was also after scrubbing it!

Now that I have thoroughly disgusted all my readers before breakfast.....

Today I continue sanding. I got quite a lot accomplished on the first 4(of 22) doors last night and I hope to be priming by the end of the day.

Let me tell you just a little more story first.
In the process of removing these doors I also had a moment where after removing 4 screws from hinges, the door magically stayed connected for a good 5 seconds, held on by grease.

And also what did I find?
No no, not Cilantro. Duct tape around some wiring... Oh Travis!!!

Travis does not approve duct tape around wiring

The hinges have been soaking for about a week in a bucket of soapy water. After a day I dumped the black water out and replenished the soap and clean water. After 2 days I dumped the black water out and replenished the soap and clean water. After 3 days I dumped out the black water... you see where I am going with this?
It is now time for me to make my rounds with the hinges again...
Working on a budget means I don't get new hinges yet. Maybe I can break them? THEN I could have new hinges :)

Today while I sand doors, Travis will be sanding beams. Time for the beach!!


  1. I love reading your blog because you remind me a bit of myself 30 years ago. We also moved into our first house and I had to redo a nasty kitchen on a budget, scrubbing and refinishing cabinet doors. It was hard work, so I know what you've been going through. We had a strange combination of metal cupboards with wooden doors, so some of the pieces had to be taken outside to be spray-painted. We had the outlines of metal drawers on our driveway for years, until we had the driveway resurfaced.

    Instead of cleaning and sanding, have you considered using a chemical varnish stripper? Since the TSP is penetrating the varnish anyway.

  2. I did think about using the chemical stripper, but I would still have to sand after and the caustic removal of the stripper would be more work I think.

  3. Oh, what a lot of work...I wish I had your ambition. I'm learning so much from your blog!

  4. Karen-alot of work is true--but it is only the bare minimum we can do to make it clean(plus the beams, which couldn't be ignored!) I cannot wait for it to smell clean!
    What can you possibly learn from me? You're the one with an amazing quarry garden! Which I have yet to tell Travis I want one :)

  5. You two really are working hard! We have a 40 year old house and have done lots on it ourselves, only a few things have we hired out - like the roof and pouring a driveway. It's very rewarding after it's done, but sure does get old some days. Every so often my husband and I list off all the things we've done here to make ourselves feel better about all the work :)

  6. Our kitchen was absolutely nasty when we bought our house as well... we used TSP on the walls to remove some of the grease before painting it all white. Everyone always asks why my kitchen is such a crisp white, I always say it's because I know how nasty it was before we painted it. The cabinet have been painted at least 4 different colors previously, we repainted them white. Someday we'll get new ones, until then we'll have to deal with the paint constantly sticking the drawers shut. I did change out all the handles though, when we tried cleaning the old ones we'll just say they became even worse. Oh, and behind our fridge (and under it), someone had spilled what appeared to be an entire bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup, who knows how long ago... it was all crusty and oh so much fun to clean up. Good luck with the cabinet cleaning, I don't think mine are worth trying to get the paint off, some year we'll hopefully get new ones... right after we get a new pellet stove, patio, windows, and well... yeah. Always more to do. :)

  7. Wow, that is so fantastic that you are trying to saving those cupboards. The house my husband and I bought last October has lots of renovations that we need to do as well. The house is over a 100 years old. I don't think I would be brave enough to try to save the cupboards. I can't wait to see what it looks like when you are finished! It will be so great!


I always appreciate input, advice, ideas and telling me I'm doing it wrong. So chime in!