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Kitchen Cabinet Restaining…

12 May

I’m about all Java-gel stained out. Well, to be honest I finished back in October 2014, but I STARTED in May 2014. Took a bit of a hiatus while I settled into a new job over the summer, and feverishly worked in the fall in order to complete them by Eloise’s first birthday party. Task accomplished! But it wasn’t without some major burnout in the end.

This recap isn’t a how-to (you can find that here); it’s a before/after plethora of photos so you all can get a feel for what this technique can do for the look of your kitchen (since my bathroom redo is a much smaller space).

Here are a few before photos:



Notice the upper cabinets in the photo below – can you see how uneven the knobs are? Due to settling in our house (it’s over a half-century old), everything was a little crooked. I’ll address this issue toward the end of the post.


I just wasn’t into the honey-oak color, and honestly they were looking a little worse for wear over the past 60 years or so. I love white cabinets, but I didn’t want to paint them because I was afraid of chipping where the doors hit the cabinets, plus these are just so flat and smooth – not much margin of error for paint. Plus, I just like dark, especially with our light floors.

So, here are few “during” photos.

Getting started – there’s still life left in me. Dare I say it – I’m energetic about this project! The ol’ sock hand is back and rarin’ to go!


Just a reminder of the streaky ugliness of the first coat – this is normal.


Not a pretty picture of our kitchen while I did the lower cabinets.



This is me, in between complaints to my husband about how sick of this project I was.


But this story has a happy ending! As much as I complained about it, it was WORTH IT!




I used the same oil-rubbed bronze knobs from before. I wasn’t sure at first how the dark knobs would look against the dark stain, but I really think it turned out well.


We replaced all the hinges from the previous original copper-colored ones to these oil-rubbed bronze ones. They really blend in nicely since these old cabinets don’t use hidden hinges like most new cabinets.


I would be remiss if I did not mention the work that my husband, Ryan, put into these cabinets as well. If you recall that “before” photo from above – the uneven knobs – that issue would come to bite us in the behind at the end. We basically realized we’d have to refill the holes on the doors and the cabinets and rehang pretty much every single one of the 33 doors. Let’s just say I didn’t do it, so thank you Ryan, for rehanging the cabinet doors and for putting up with all my whining. Both were very challenging and annoying.

So, now that I’ve been officially done for 7 months, here are a few pros and cons for those of you thinking of doing this:


  • Beautiful! (If you like dark, rich cabinets. They’re not black – they’re dark brown.)
  • An easy, simple and pretty much foolproof process (here’s that link again)
  • Pretty durable so far. It’s gotten a couple knicks, but nothing I can’t touch up with a tiny paintbrush. And some of those knicks might have been due to the rehanging process.


  • Time-consuming when you’re working with a large area like this. I had a system down where I completed three coats of stain on one side, then turned them over to complete the other side. Be sure to put a towel down so the first side doesn’t get scratched while you’re doing the second side. Then repeat when you do the poly.
  • They’re a little shinier than I prefer (however, some of the photos look WAY shinier than they do in person). I used the General Finishes satin finish, and as far as I know they don’t offer any poly finishes that are less shiny than that. I wanted to use the General Finishes brand poly to match the gel stain (the guy I bought it from couldn’t guarantee how another poly would work with it), but I prefer a less-shiny finish. Maybe if I was doing a table or something small, I would try a different, more matte poly.
  • Fingerprints are more noticeable due to the finish and the dark color. I knew this going in and did it anyway because I didn’t care. I just wipe them around the knobs with a dishrag every now and again – it’s not that big of a deal. And it actually grosses me out to think about how dirty my cabinets were before I did this! 🙂

So, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Best of luck!



Recover a Storage Ottoman – It’s Easy!

22 Oct

Disclaimer: This project requires a sewing machine. So, if you don’t have one or can’t sew, I can’t help this time. All you need besides your sewing machine is a staple gun.

It’s no secret – I love me some hidden storage. I’m realizing that maybe I even love it TOO much – I have clever storage areas that are…ahem…still empty. Maybe that’s because I’m an anti-hoarder. But hey – these little nooks and crannies are nice to have, just in case.

Anyway, I really wanted something to put my feet on when rocking the wee one in the nursery. We have an extra ottoman that I thought about covering, but it’s pretty much just a cube – no storage. I really wanted something with storage to put little baby toys and such in it.

I ran across this gem in Target for – wait for it – six bucks! 75% off! Sold…I took it home. However, the fabric was aaaall wrong based on the nursery colors.


I found some yellow and white chevron fabric at Hancock Fabrics that worked. I wanted to bring in a pattern but not too much extra color. I completed the barrel part of it first.

I basically laid my fabric out, right side up, and cut enough to have about 4″ or so extra on the top and the bottom. This is what you’ll fold under and staple, so it’s nice to have a little extra to work with. If I did it again, I’d leave more like 5″ because it was a little tight to fold over and staple. Since my fabric has a pattern, I was careful to keep it as straight as possible.


Next, I pinned my vertical seam, and I pinned it tight. Really tight – I didn’t want any slack on this fabric.


Next, just sew your vertical seam. I turned it back so the right side was out, and shimmied it on to the barrel. If you do it right, it should take some effort to work it back on!


Next, just fold under your rough edge and start stapling.


Here’s what the bottom looks like. Not the prettiest, but it’s functional and no one can see it. Except whoever is reading this, I guess.

Do the same for the top:


Barrel is done! The cover is next. Still pretty easy, just a bit more sewing and measuring. First, I laid the cover out on the fabric. I did a rough pencil sketch about a half inch wider than the circle; that’s for the seam allowance. Cut out your circle.DSC_0726

Next, I cut out a strip of fabric for the outside. It’s the same length as the barrel; it’s just maybe 3″ or so high. Be sure to leave a few extra inches to fold under and staple.

And that’s where I forgot to take a picture. Moving along…

First I sewed the outside strip, pretty much the same way I sewed the barrel fabric. Make sure it’s nice and tight around the edge of the cover. Then I worked it on to the outside of the cover (wrong fabric side out).


Next, take your circle and lay it on top (wrong side out). Pin it around the circle so you have about a 5/8 inch seam allowance. Never mind the wet spot on the fabric. That’s just where I washed the fabric after bleeding on it when I stabbed myself with a pin.


Sew those two pieces together, turn it right side out and shimmy this piece onto the cover.


Last but not least, turn under your fabric and staple along the underside of the cover.


Done! This took me a surprisingly short amount of time to complete – maybe between an hour and an hour and a half. So, if you have a sewing machine, it is super-easy to create a new ottoman cover!