For those of you who don’t know the story of our move I’ll break it down as quickly as possible for you. Shaun and I lived right outside of Detroit and Shaun got an offer to open up an office for Quicken Loans in Charlotte. We kind of laughed at the offer until we realized how big of an opportunity it actually was. Quicken sent us down here for 3 days to pick out a place to live. Shaun and I really didn’t want to get into a year lease in an apartment so we set out to look for a house. I work from home so we needed something with enough space for me to have an entire room dedicated to an office. In 3 days we looked at 22 houses. Most of which, because of the Charlotte real estate market, sold within the matter of hours. Shaun and I saw a brand new house that was just built right outside of the city and we decided to put in an offer. We had 1 day left to find a house so we pulled the trigger.
I knew right away after looking at the house that there were some things I would want to do to it but I knew they would take time. Yes, the house is brand new and everything is done in very good taste. However, everything is dark. The builder put in dark cabinets, dark floors, and dark countertops. With very little natural light during most parts of the day the dark features don’t help. I knew this would be something I would change but I have been so afraid of forever ruining the cabinets and Shaun never forgiving me.
Finally, after staring at our dark cabinets in the guest bathroom I decided I would just start the project so I couldn’t procrastinate anymore. I figured if I did an okay job on this bathroom I would move to the master bathroom and hopefully by then I would be a professional and I could do our kitchen cabinets. For those of you that will ask I will not be doing an in-depth tutorial on painting the cabinets. The reason for this is I am nowhere near an expert and there are plenty of tutorials you can follow on Pinterest. I don’t feel like I’m qualified enough to tell you how to do it perfectly. However, after I paint these other cabinets if I feel I have any advice worth sharing I will consider doing a more in-depth post. So, I started by taking some before photos.
Here are the things I bought to start the painting process. I bought a gallon of Lowe’s cabinet paint. I’ve painted plenty of furniture before this and I typically just use a water-based paint but I figured for this project I would get the cabinet paint just to be sure. The color is Simply White by Benjamin Moore mixed into a Lowe’s cabinet paint. Pro tip: You can get any color mixed into any paint. For example, this is a BM color but I had it mixed into a different brand of paint. So if you don’t feel like spending the money on a more expensive brand of paint but you still want the color you can totally do that. I bought two different strengths of sand paper. One of them is for taking the actual shiny top coat off of the wood so it should be pretty coarse. The other is for sanding in between coats so the finer the grit the better. This is for removing little imperfections before you paint the next coat. You’ll notice in the picture I have foam rollers which I typically use on furniture to eliminate brush strokes. However, I didn’t end up using these. I painted with my Wooster shortcut brush (not pictured) because that is my ride or die brush and then I rolled with one of those mini fuzzy rollers you can find at Home Depot or Lowe’s for like $2.99 and they come with a little handle in a plastic kit. This ended up working perfectly and I don’t have a single brushstroke. Also, another pro tip: I make a yearly trip to Dollar Tree and I stock up on shower curtains. I use the shower curtain as a drop cloth and bonus: because it only cost me a dollar I can throw it out at the end of my project and not feel bad about it.
Pictured below is the before and after of sanding because I want to explain this to you guys. On the left is the cabinet that has been sanded and on the right is the cabinet that has not been sanded. There is a common misconception with sanding furniture. Even Shaun came in while I was starting this project and asked me if I still needed to sand. In order to paint furniture you DO NOT need to sand down to the raw wood. You ONLY have to take off the top coat (the shiny coat) and the paint will adhere. Trust me on this one guys, you have to do this correctly. If you have any spots that the top coat still remains on you will paint these spots and the paint will drip right off. Trust me, I had a few. But it is harder to miss spots than you think. The spots I missed were up at the top where the countertop meets the vanity so they were hard to reach. If you do miss spots just go back and sand them quickly. The whole point is to create a “gritty” feeling on the cabinet so the paint can stick.
The brown cabinets have no coats of paint on them yet and have only been sanded. The top cabinet has two coats of paint and the cabinet on the right has one.
Warning: They will start to look worse before they look better. At one point I sat in the bathroom with the door shut (don’t worry, it’s water-based paint) and I googled how much bathroom vanities cost. I thought I would completely destroy what we currently had and would need to replace it before Shaun got home.
Pro tip: Put something on TV to keep you entertained while you paint because it can become mundane. I chose to watch the Hills. #Speidi4L
Next, I removed the fixtures from the bathroom including the hardware so I could spray paint them. After googling how much new fixtures would cost I decided to give this a shot first. I thought it wouldn’t hurt and if I failed then worst case scenario I would have to spend the money to get new stuff. People ask how I spray paint stuff all the time so here it goes. I find a really sketchy looking area in our backyard where Shaun won’t care if I totally destroy the grass, I have him set up wood logs to balance my stuff on, I put my stuff on top, and I spray away. Seriously though, follow the instructions on the can and you can’t go wrong. This still remains my favorite gold spray paint and the one I used for all of this stuff.
Here is a picture of the cabinets done but the hardware is still not installed. I always wait 24-72 hours for the paint to fully cure before I put the “earrings” back on. I call the hardware earrings because having the right hardware can make all the difference in the appearance of a piece.
We also removed the builder grade mirror from the wall. We were lucky and only had to deal with a mirror that was held up by clips. It wasn’t glued to the wall. If yours is glued to the wall you will have to follow a Pinterest tutorial very carefully if you plan on doing it yourself.
While I was waiting for my faucet to fully dry I started doing the countertop. I used my trusty contact paper that I always recommend to you guys. I told you I would cover my entire life in this stuff. I told you. People will ask so the answer is yes, of course I would like marble countertops. I have the exact marble picked out. However, this isn’t our forever home, or at least we don’t expect it to be. Therefore, I don’t feel like spending the money on getting the countertops done, especially when we already have granite. Enter: fake marble. Just go with it, guys.
Once that was finished I put the hardware back on the vanity and hung a new mirror. This is a mirror from my Grandparent’s house that I’ve always had but it’s always been featured in different areas of my home. I wanted to do something unique in here so I chose this as a statement piece.
Shaun requested I hang some of our famous black pipe shelves in the bathroom so I hung these and decorated with a few simple touches and some extra guest towels.
These jars that I stored the cotton balls and q-tips in are old candle jars. I cleaned out the remaining wax and repurposed them because I needed a pop of color and I loved the cute little sayings on them. I’ll be doing a tutorial on this soon since I get asked so frequently about this.
I still have to touch up the contact paper around the sink with my X-Acto knife and super glue. This was a pretty difficult part of the project because it’s a round undermount sink.
I filled this apothecary jar with samples from hotels we’ve stayed at during our travels so that if our guests need anything they can just grab it from the jar. 🙂
Disclaimer: No, it’s not meant to be perfect. This was meant to be a quick, cheap, and easy fix to make my dark bathroom a little bit brighter and happier.
Disclaimer II: It wasn’t quick, cheap, or easy. Maybe when I do our bathroom it will be a little bit easier now that I know what to expect.
Disclaimer III: I am not a professional cabinet painter or contact paper installer. This is what worked for me, my budget, and my project. What works for you may be a little different and that’s okay. 🙂