The Grand Reveal: moving day

The house is not 100% complete but our apartment lease ended September 30, so it was time to move, ready or not.  Among the things still to finish:  paint & caulk main floor base & case, finish upstairs casing where we ran out, paint & install interior doors, paint & carpet the stairs, paint the entryway crown, re-install living room crown (where the wall was cut back).  It’s not a terrible amount of work and the house is definitely livable and cozy as is.  My plan going forward is to obviously finish the big things but then switch to a room-by-room approach.  Take one room each weekend and tackle all the little details that make a house a home.  Things like coat hooks, rugs, curtains, decor, etc.  Once that is finished it will probably be time to get started on the backyard … or the basement … haha.  It’s never ending 🙂  And now, a room-by-room look at the changes as they stood on moving day.

Entryway

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Dining Room

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Kitchen

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Half Bath

Playroom

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Living Room

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L’s Room

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2nd Bedroom

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Kid’s Bath

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Master Bedroom

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Master Vanity

Basement Stairs

 

Wow!  I know we’ve been working since June but, man, all these pictures really show just how much work we’ve done.  When I first walked into this house I was not impressed.  The evening after our initial showing I told J: “Every inch needs work *sigh*” and sure enough we have worked on nearly every inch — and those inches we haven’t worked on yet are simply waiting for future time and funds.  This house went from “meh” and “ick” to “Home Sweet Home”.

Going from a 990 sq ft apartment to a 2800 sq ft home is amazing!  There is plenty of room for all our stuff — our materialistic, American, collection of stuff; plenty of room for little L — I don’t have to dodge landmines aka toys just to sit on the couch; plenty of room for friends and family — we don’t have to crowd into a tiny living room.  The one down side of expanding our living space is that we don’t have enough furniture!  We technically have the same number of seats as before but at least people aren’t sitting knee to knee anymore.  And the basement is essentially empty except for storage.  Little L’s playroom is mostly a room of toys without kid-sized furniture (here we come, Ikea!).  The rug that used to fill our entire dining room/nook in the apartment is now a sized-too-small rug for the playroom — it looks so tiny!

I could go on and on about this house.  I haven’t even touched on the exterior work yet.  And I haven’t even started on about the neighborhood or our great neighbors!  This is simply, hands down, a very good move (pun intended). Our future looks bright (not to be too cliche).

P.S. I promise we will host a housewarming once things are a little more settled and the big work is finished 🙂

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Paint: Main Floor, part 2

I’m getting behind on posting.  I’m sorry!  All of this happened last weekend — it was such a huge transformation it’s a mystery why I forgot to post about it.  But here we go.  Paint colors for the main floor!  If you recall, the swatches were revealed a few weeks ago in Paint Samples.  We ended up not going with Sherwin Williams so we had to pick out paints again at Home Depot but since we already had the colors it was simple to just find a match.  Let our paint transformation, main floor edition, begin!

Ceilings

J managed to paint the entryway ceiling with only himself and a ladder.  I have no idea how he accomplished this in a 2-story entryway but it happened.  And it looks great!

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Dining Room

This isn’t the best picture of the dining room but here’s a mediocre before & after.  It went from thickly textured yellow-beige to smooth brown.  I think it’s a nice mature, calming color perfect for a family dining room.  With dark walls and dark floors we’re going to have to be careful about furniture and decor so as to brighten the room, not make it even darker.

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Before; After – Moleskin (Behr)

Living Room

The living room went from thickly textured white to an interesting pale green.  In some lights it looks avocado in others a light lime green.  When we first started painting it on it looked really yellow-green.  I called it “newborn poop” green.  But as it dried it turned out to be more what we were looking for.  I know it’s not for everyone but we like it.  I just hope once our existing furniture and decor moves in that it all coordinates.  I don’t have it in the budget to redo furniture and decor just yet!

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After – Fennel Seed (Behr); Before

Playroom

The playroom is mostly the same Fennel Seed color as the living room.  Being two connected rooms we wanted the same color to flow between them.  I wanted to add a bit of a playful, fun feature to the playroom though.  So we went with an accent wall.  At first we went with Carraway Seed (Behr) which was two colors darker.  The difference was so subtle that it basically looked like the same color wall just with a shadow.  So we went back to Home Depot for Dash of Oregano which is four colors darker than Fennel Seed.  And here you go!  A for-sure accent wall, no doubts about it.

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Before; After – Dash of Oregano (Behr)

Also, we had to deal with the mess left behind from removing the chair rail (Paint: Main Floor).  As you can see in the picture above, it turned out just fine.  Close up you might be able to see somethings — if you know what to look for.  Otherwise, it’s a perfectly plain wall again.

Kitchen

The kitchen was mostly cutting-in with all the little sections too small for the roller and around all the cabinetry.  It was probably the most time consuming room (if you don’t count the repainting of the accent wall).  It’s a fairly bold blue but J loves it.  I think it will work out well once everything else comes together.

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Before; After – Reef Blue (Behr)

All Together

And last but not least.  Here’s a shot of all the colors together.  It was important to both J and I that all our color ideas fit together well so even though the main floor is colorful it still has a cohesive feel to it.  I think we accomplished that goal.

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Basement Lighting

The basement is mostly going untouched during this current phase of remodel.  However, the recessed lights needed to be addressed.  As you can see below, the fixtures had no trim and even though the switch was dimmable the compact florescent bulbs were not.  Total waste of dimability (that’s a word, right?).  Plus, if the switch wasn’t fully on the lights buzzed trying to dim.

We found these lovely little LED trim kits at Home Depot (not that exact kit but pretty close).  They are wonderful!  So simple to install.

  1. Unscrew the bulb
  2. Screw in the LED adapter piece
  3. Pinch the springs in and slide into the little hooks in the recessed light
  4. Push into place, flush against the ceiling
  5. Done! Enjoy clean trim and LED lighting.

Just ignore the two-tone ceiling and enjoy those brand new lights. 🙂

Paint Transformation, part 2

This weekend was about more painting.  And lots of family help again:  me, J, J’s mom S, my parents M and J, and of course Miss L’s adorable “help”.  And this means the upstairs is done – well, mostly done; the bath vanity doors still need some finishing touches.  Like painting the backs and touching up the fronts.  Without further ado, here are the before and after pics that everyone loves (or maybe it’s just me that loves them).

Kids’ Bath

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Dark blue walls were switched out for light blue.  Brown, scratched-up vanity was repainted a nice berry gloss.  It might seem strange, but trust me, the color combo is going to look great for a kids’ bath.

Here’s a shot of the wonderfully blue walls.  And the paint covered in only two coats.  No joke.  Best ever considering how dark the original blue was. (P.S. Zoom in on those corners, I’ll wait, go ahead and check out that excellent cutting in.)

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Beach Foam (Behr)

Here’s a close-up of a vanity door.

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Sugar Beet (Behr)

Overall, I am much happier with the colors as they turned out than they appeared on the paint chips.  I hesitated that the blue was too blue not white enough and that the berry was too red not purple enough.  But I think they really turned out just as I had envisioned.

Oh, also (I’m getting bad at keeping up with all the weekday work – so sorry!) the floors were removed.  Yay!  But some water damage was found.  Not yay.  Hopefully, it’s easy to replace.  At first I didn’t want to replace the kids’ bath flooring since it wasn’t in terrible shape but I’m glad we tore it up or else we wouldn’t have seen the condition of the subfloor.

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Master Bath

The master was already partially painted.  Since the vanity/closet area is open to the bedroom we continued that Heather Sachet color into that area and decided to go with a white-ish for the water closet.  White because 1) it’s a smaller room and 2) the free tile from the garage is tinted blue and we couldn’t think of a light, airy color that would go well with the dark grey-purple walls in the vanity and the blue-tinted tiles.  So blue-tinted white it was.

It is really hard to see in the picture but if you look closely you can see the line where the blue-white wall ends and the pure white ceiling begins.

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Maui Mist (Behr)

Since the vanity/closet area is a bit narrow and again the darkness of the grey-purple, we went with a pure white vanity.  Doesn’t look half-bad does it? (Not really the best before & after, sorry about that!)

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Ultra Pure White (Behr)

Hallway

The last area to be painted upstairs was the hallway.  I wanted a bright white entryway, a fresh and open area to greet people.  Since the entryway flows right into the upper hallway it’s easiest if they are the same color.  We didn’t want pure white walls so J picked a blue-tinted white.  Blue is my favorite color but I’m starting to think J favors it as well (his idea for grey-blue kitchen cabinets with blue walls, blue-tint in the master bath, blue-tint hallway …).  The picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s really a nice bright white in direct light and then a soothing, subtle blue in shadows.

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Frost (Behr)

Don’t worry about the crown (I know you were worried about it).  It will get a fresh paint of Ultra Pure White gloss.  Unsure if we’ll do semi-gloss or high-gloss … Add your suggestion in the comments!

The final project of the weekend was to begin prep on the main floor.  Patch nail holes, smooth the wall where there once was chair rail, and address that torn-to-bits half-bath.  If everything stays on schedule, we’ll be able to paint the main floor this coming weekend and with that, only the kitchen cabinets and trim will remain to be painted.

Paint Transformation

This weekend was all about the paint.

Saturday

Saturday began with a morning run to Home Depot for 5 gallons of ceiling paint (Ultra Pure White flat), 7 gallons of bedroom paints, and painting supplies.  My sister and I got a head start, completing one coat on the ceiling and in the closet of miss L’s room.  Break for lunch which J and his mom brought over at just the right time.  Then we busted it out in teams of two: J and his mom, me and my sister.  Little L had a great time hanging out in the master bedroom watching everyone paint.  She was much happier roaming free rather than in her playpen.

The difference that a little white paint can do!  Fresh, white closets look amazing.  The closets were probably the biggest pain to paint – all those corners and crawling up to get the top shelf.  But totally worth it.  Seriously, I recommend it to all of you: paint your closets.

I think the biggest transformation on Saturday was the kids’ bath ceiling.  Here’s a “during” picture.  You can really see the grey, half-painted ceiling as compared to the fresh, bright white ceiling.

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Kids’ Bath Ceiling

All in all, we painted little L’s ceiling and closet, the second bedroom ceiling and closet, the kids’ bath ceiling and linen closet, the master bedroom ceiling and closet, the master bath ceiling, and the hallway ceiling.  And there was only one extra run to Home Depot for another 5 gallons of ceiling paint.  It was a very long day and no one died from the paint fumes so that’s good.

Sunday

Sunday morning everyone slept-in.  For J and I that meant 7:30am because miss L doesn’t really sleep-in.  J’s mom met us at the house a couple hours later and we started in on painting the walls.  Judgement day.  Hopefully we chose (paint colors) wisely.  Cutting in brings out the perfectionist in me.  But at some point you have to admit it’s “good enough” because the walls and ceiling are not perfectly straight.  As long as it looks good from the floor, it doesn’t need to look good up on a ladder 3 inches from the wall.

J, his mom, and I were able to get a first coat on L’s room and the second bedroom before lunch.  Another run to Home Depot for more rollers as we decided to have dedicated rollers for each room/paint color so we didn’t have to wash rollers between each room.  Just slid them into gallon-sized ziplock bags to keep them from drying out and move on to the next room/color.  During lunch my sister arrived to help.  The Dream Team was reunited for another day!

Again teams of two and we busted out the master bed first and second coats, the second coats on L’s room and the second bedroom.  Miss L wasn’t allowed to roam completely free today since she was tempted to touch the freshly-painted walls.  So when she was awake someone was on duty to watch her.  I have to admit, I failed when it was my turn.  L and I were watching the neighbor’s guests come and go from the master window when J pointed out that L had leaned against the wall to press her face against the window.  Oops!  I leaned forward at that moment too and left a little hand print but poor L pushed her whole toddler tummy against the wall.  So she now has an official paint shirt like us adults.  L’s first paint shirt!

The verdict.  I absolutely LOVE the master bedroom paint color.  It turned out perfect:  warm, colorful, darker, and not too feminine.  Little L’s room may be too much color.  I’m thinking with all the finishes, furniture, and decor it won’t seem so in-your-face-BAM-purple.  The second bedroom is my second favorite after the master. It’s brightened up the room and it a great mix of color pop but not too intense.

The Grand Reveal

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L’s Room, in-your-face-BAM-purple aka Evening Slipper (Behr)
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Before & After

 

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Second Bedroom, Wintergreen Dream (Behr)
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Before & After
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The two bright Bedrooms as seen from the Hallway
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Master, Heather Sachet (Behr)
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Before & After

Overall, it was a very productive weekend.  And it’s true what they say:  fresh paint does wonders!  It’s starting to feel like our home now, with the colors and touches that we want.

All that remains for the upper floor:  paint bathrooms, tile bathroom floors, base & case, carpet.  The List is getting smaller, step-by-step.

No Mas Vent

The swamp cooler is long gone but the giant vent remained. A reminder of older times I suppose.

But no more. A useless, ugly vent is not something we felt like keeping in the house. So last week, J worked Monday, Tuesday and Thursday graves. With a random Wednesday off and not wanting to get off the graveyard shift sleep schedule, J went to the house to do some late night work.

And ta da! The vent is no more 🙂

Before & After: Entryway

All the walls are gone!  We’ve completely opened up the entryway and it looks freaking amazing.  I was concerned about it looking too open and compromising the flow of the rooms as being separate rooms.  But after removing the entryway closet and taking the drywall all the way back, it was obvious that our original plan of taking it all out was really the best plan.  I love Before & After pictures so enjoy!  Here’s a sampling of what it looks like.   Since it’s a small area it is kind of hard to capture in pictures but we’ve tried our best.  All that’s left is to put the place back together:  drywall, flooring, paint, and other finishes.

From Above

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From the Dining Room

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From the Living Room

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With that last stair completely exposed we’ve now got the option to replace with a more decorative, larger stair.  So we’ll keep than an option as we move forward with finishing the entryway.  Let us know what you think!

Bye Bye, Wallpaper

The very first time J and I walked into this half-bath we knew the wallpaper had to go.  We also knew it would be no fun.  We’ve heard the stories of how tedious and frustrating it can be to take down wallpaper.  Well, have no fear!  It’s super easy these days.

We borrowed a steamer from a friend — thank you so very much! you know who you are 🙂 — which made it no trouble at all.  We steamed little sections at a time and the wallpaper just peels off, like the glue just melts away or something.  Excellent!

We did run into a few problems:  in some areas (especially the lower wall, as you can see in the picture) the wallpaper still took the paint with it.  I’m not sure if that was user error (too much or too little steaming?) or just the way that wallpaper glue interacted with that paint.  Either way, we have some sanding and patching to do.  Also, the window caulking was put over the wallpaper so we’ll have to get in there with an x-acto knife and cut out the little pieces still left.  Lastly, it looks like the toilet and vanity were placed after the wallpaper so we’re going to pull the toilet to get all the wallpaper off that back wall.  I opted to save that for another day when we have the supplies and time to replace the toilet same-day.  As for behind the vanity, that’s just going to stay.

Like many projects, it currently looks worse than when we began but as the old saying goes, “it’s going to get worse before it gets better”.  Now to pick a color for the walls … I’m considering doing a stenciled accent wall to jazz up the small space.  We’ll see 🙂

Manic Mondays

What to do when your boss tells you to go home early due to the Holiday?  Go to work on the house, of course!  J got a jump start on the kitchen cabinets before I came over to join him.  We now have drawer fronts done and the back of the upper doors done.  Check and check!  He also pulled out the old washer and dryer.  We going to try to sell them if anyone is interested.  But the main event of the night … drum roll, please … the closet is gone!

How To: remove a coat closet

The actual process of taking it out was fairly easy.  We took out the closet parts:  the door, the rod, the shelf.

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Then we went after the dry wall.  My first time attacking dry wall and it was fairly fun.  J has a rather humorous video of me trying to kick my way through.  Turns out I’m not a martial arts expert – who knew, right?  With dry wall done we unbolted the upper railing.  We originally tried to get it down around the handrails but that didn’t work so we removed the lower railing.  Still wouldn’t fit so J held it from above and handed it down to me over the closet.  We’re also thinking of selling the railings if anyone is interested.  Sure they’re green but wrought iron so still a good product.

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J then cut the supports and little by little tore it apart.  It was a bit of a messy process but clean up wasn’t bad – just took everything out to the trash pile and then swept up all the meandering dry wall dust.

And dun, duh, duh-duh!  All the way gone:

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Let’s take a moment of silence for the “diving board” part of the closet (the upper landing).

And we’re back. The entryway looks more than twice as big.  It’s open and you can really appreciate the high ceilings.  Even though it looks great now it’s going to look even better – if that’s at all possible!  J wants to cut back the wall to the living room and put in balusters so you can look into the living room.  We’re also going to cut back the doorway into the dining room by about one foot or so.

 

Before & Afters

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Kitchen and Vents: Saturday Edition

Saturday was a productive day for this little family.  During the home inspection, we discovered a roof turtle vent that was cracked and duct taped back together.  We thought it best to replace the vent entirely.  Well, during the week, J was up on the roof removing some old Christmas lights and discovered the turtle vent had sustained a great deal more damage.  Essentially, rain and various animals had direct access to the attic.  So that was project #1 for Saturday: replace the turtle vent.

We went back and forth all week debating what project to tackle for the weekend (prep bedrooms for paint, rip out carpet, take out the entryway closet, etc.) and decided to attack the kitchen.  The cabinets are a glossy black which does not work for that kitchen.  It’s a smaller space so it could really benefit from lighter colored cabinets.  The black gloss looks really thick and goopy so we decided to strip the cabinets before sanding and repainting.  That was project #2: remove cabinet doors and drawer fronts, get started on stripping.

Turtle Vent

Before: the broken turtle vent

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You’re doing a great job, turtle vent! *sarcasm*  Luckily, it’s quite simple to replace a turtle vent – and rather cheap too.  We spent about $13 on the vent itself and found some tape left in the garage (thanks, Sellers!).

After: new turtle vent

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Brand, spanking new!  And the fresh tape has a nice sparkle to it. 🙂  No more rain or critters in the attic (let’s just hope no one moved in before we noticed it was destroyed …)

Kitchen Rehab, part 1

We completely recognize that resurfacing the cabinets will be a big task.  And we were in no way looking forward to doing that work but decided we might as well just jump in. (I had intentionally started with removing baseboards upstairs as a way to get our feet wet. Me especially since I’ve no experience in home improvements.)  Neither of us have experience stripping paint so we weren’t really sure what to buy.  Ended up getting some mid-grade gel stripper at Home Depot.  $20 for one gallon. Klean-Strip Strip-X

Here’s one final look at the black kitchen. So long black cabinets!

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Removing the hardware was easy-peasy.  We numbered all the fronts, the cabinets, and the baggies of hardware.  Note: sharpie pens are in no way the same as sharpies.  We ended up switching to a ball-point pen as the sharpie pen and painters tape didn’t play well (e.g. numbers were smudging).  We could tell that some of the hardware was removed before the fronts were painted black, others were not.  I guess whomever did the painting got sick of removing the hinges?  Also, as we moved from top doors to bottoms the edges were no longer painted.  Again, seems whomever did the painting got tired of painting areas no one would see. J insists on “doing it right” so we removed all hardware and will be painting all edges and surfaces.

We’re also going to paint the pantry doors to match.  Currently, they are the original light wood but we want to tie them into the kitchen even though they’re over by the half-bath and soon-to-be mudroom.

We made quick work of it.  Getting little L to take a nap in her new bedroom and listened to some Radio West podcasts.  Also took the time to remove old baby-locks and replaced some broken and missing shelf brackets.

Bye-bye cabinet doors!

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The actual work of stripping the paint was no bueno.  Since neither of us had experience, we put the first layer on a little light.  And by we, it was really just me.  We had only one paint brush so J watched L while I got to work.  The fumes weren’t really that strong and it was easy enough to paint on.

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We found some old boards and PVC pipes left in the garage and used those to prop up the fronts so they weren’t resting right on the garage floor.  (P.S. It’s so nice to have a garage to do these projects!)

We removed the shutters while we waited for the stripper to work it’s magic.  With the shutters gone the house is a little boring so we’ve decided to paint them and put back up.  Sorry, no pictures of the house sans shutters at this time.  But I’m sure they’ll be a full before & after post once we re-install them.

The first layer of stripper worked but not as well as either of us expected.  Probably due to how thin I applied it.  We scraped and scraped.  The paint and varnish came off in gloopy glops that looked like tar.  I began applying stripper at 2pm and we ended scraping at 4pm.  Ugh!  We were both covered in black paint and had some burning sensations from the stripper.  No time to dwell though, a second application was definitely needed.  J started the second application right at 4pm while L and I enjoyed a snack (again, only the 1 paint brush).

The second application went on much thicker and you could see it getting to work.  We waited only 25 minutes to start scraping off and it went so much better!  Now we know:  apply generously.

A new neighbor stopped by to introduce himself while we worked!  That’s two we’ve met now.  Seems like a great neighborhood. 🙂

The second time round not only worked better but went faster.  Here is the finished product at 5pm.

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Look at the gorgeous wood!  And you can really see the details of the fronts now.  They’ll need a little sanding and some touching up but soon they’ll be ready to prim and paint a lighter color. (We’ve decided against keeping as wood because that would take even more work and we like the look of painted cabinets anyway.)

Unfortunately, this round was only the front side of the upper cabinets.  We still have to flip them over to strip the backs.  Then front and back of the lower cabinets.  Then the actual cabinets themselves in the kitchen.  Bleh.  It’s a long list but we’ll get there!  And we know what we’re doing now so hopefully it goes quicker 🙂