How we got custom cabinets without the custom price tag

Ok, so lets talk kitchen cabinets. When it comes to remodeling a kitchen, it can come with quite the price tag and one of the main expenses is likely going to be the cabinets. When we first began the kitchen remodel, I wanted to try as hard as possible to use the original cabinets and simply paint them. I was pretty positive we would need more cabinets, since we were expanding our kitchen to make it double its size but, I wasn’t too worried about finding cabinets to match though, because they were builder grade, and a simple search on craigslist or the local habitat for humanity restore would turn up plenty (I started my research in advance). However, after closer examination, the cabinets weren’t in that great of shape, and to top it off, they weren’t easy to take apart…. have you ever taken down kitchen cabinets??? You just can’t seem to find every screw, they’re hidden in every nook and cranny! Anyhow, we decided that we would have to invest. This wasn’t a terrible thing, since we would be able to start from scratch as opposed to trying to reconfigure the existing.

Soffiting doesn't make it any easier.

Soffiting doesn’t make it any easier.

I wanted grey and white cabinets. I had my heart set. I started doing my research. I searching some local builder outlet type places, but they didn’t have quite what I was looking for, and the price tag was still higher than what we wanted to pay. Most of my inspiration came from Pinterest of course, check out my kitchen pinterest board. Lots to look at!! This one over at lizmarieblog was one of my favorite inspirations. Caveat: If we didn’t have budget constraints, our kitchen would actually look like these all my pins!!!

I finally decided to check out the “builder grade” cabinets at home depot. We use home depot often, not only do they always have what we need, they have always had great customer service (in my experience) and they offer 10% off military discount – can’t go wrong there! I found that you can buy a standard unfinished oak cabinet for a pretty reasonable price. You can also purchase their standard white cabinets for about the same price. SO, we went with it! Unfinished lower cabinets and white upper cabinets.  As I mentioned above, I wanted white and grey. I started researching how to paint cabinets. There are 10 bazillion posts out there for how to refinish/paint/chalk paint (the list goes on) cabinets. It’s actually quite overwhelming! I came across this blog post here, read through it several times, and felt confident she was sharing some good information that I could most certainly use. I referred back to her post several times, and am very thankful for it!

I went to Sherwin Williams and stared at the hundreds of paint chips for what felt like hours…I finally took about 10 different paint chips to the counter for opinions from the nice girl there. She was super helpful and talked me down to the perfect color. There are a lot of different shades of grey (50 to be exact! ha, no, there are more!) and their tone can completely change the “look” you are going for. I had a couple that had more of a “green” tone and some more on the “black” tone, and one with a “blue” tone. It’s funny, I didn’t even realize this until she pointed it out to me. Thank goodness she did! I went with the grey with the blue undertones, since one of our other colors in the kitchen is blue.

I started by removing ALL the hardware from the cabinets – drawer hardware and hinges. I decided to purchase a paint sprayer, thinking this would help save on time and just overall be “easier”. I started with a primer, since it was unfinished wood, I wanted to ensure the top coat had a good surface to adhere to. The texture of the spray bothered me. It reminded me of an orange peel, and I knew it wasn’t something I could live with. Fortunately, I had only sprayed 3 or 4 of the 15 (roughly) that needed to be done. I had to sand them back down (not completely, but enough for a smooth surface) and repaint, using a nice smooth roller like this one. I should also mention that sometimes these unfinished cabinets can come a little rough and may require a light sanding before you start painting to ensure you get a smooth surface. You can also sand in between coats of paint for an ultra smooth finish.

During the "painting" phase.

During the “painting” phase (please ignore the poooooor quality cell phone pictures).

The cabinet painting took about a month. This was me working on them maybe one or two times a week and weekends. I should also mention that I didn’t have enough surface space in the house to paint all the of drawer fronts and doors all at once, so this played into the amount of time that it ended up taking. It’s something you definitely need to be committed to though, and understand the amount of time that it actually takes. Let me just remind you all, that at this point, we did not have a kitchen AT ALL, and the rest of our downstairs was torn apart – unfinished floors, no furniture (2 lawn chairs and a TV count as no furniture!!). The remainder of our house was in total disarray due to the fact we had just moved in a month prior and had barely unpacked our clothing!

Our delightful "livingroom" the first month and a half in our house!

Our delightful “livingroom” the first month and a half in our house!

Once the cabinets were ready, we enlisted the help of my mother-in-laws boyfriend Mike, who is a super handy guy, and he and my wonderful husband took on the labor of installation. (We already had the layout configured thanks to Jay R, he assisted in the “architectural” design of our new kitchen and we are very thankful for him!!) There was a little sense of urgency since we had already scheduled the countertop template guy (I’m sure he has a much more professional sounding title..) and it was literally 2 days prior to us finishing! For those who may not know, when you purchase stone countertops and have them installed, they come and create a template of the entire countertop area, and need all the cabinets in the place prior to. So, we met our deadline thankfully and they were able to come and template. It’s hard to describe the excitement of nearing this phase after not having a kitchen for 2 months. I don’t have the words to describe it.

The countertops were installed about 2 weeks later – I was jumping up and down at work when my husband sent me the text of them in!! Mike came back over and helped out my hunny bear with hooking all the plumbing back up along with appliances. I had a kitchen sink again!!!!!!!! The amount of exclamation points do no justice for my excitement I had at this point! That just about sums it up! We put all the hardware back on, added drawer pulls to all the doors and drawers, and I added a few finishing touches to the paint. I also ended up adding crown molding to our top cabinet, but that can be discussed later (it brings back some painful memories!!).

The only thing I’m not crazy about with the cabinets is the standard hinges and drawer slides. They are very basic. You can’t add the soft close “click-in” hinges (which I had planned on doing), you actually have to totally upgrade the hinges, which is fine, we will eventually do that along with upgrading the drawer slides.

DSC_0137 (2)

I would like to add glass to these eventually..

I would like to add glass to these eventually..

Our Wonderful Kitchen

Overall, I am very happy with our choice of creating our own “custom” cabinets.

So, you’re probably wondering what the price tag was – in the end, with paint and hardware, we spent roughly $2000.00 on our kitchen cabinets.

Thanks for reading along! I hope my post might help sway you in the direction of re-finishing or creating your own custom cabinets. 🙂




A new kitchen…my second favorite

I mentioned in my last post that I had 2 favorites in our new kitchen.

Here is #2.


So, since we gutted our kitchen and started from fresh, we also started with brand new, unfinished cabinets – I’ll tell you why later 🙂

Here’s an idea of what we were working with (sorry, bad cell phone pictures).2016-02-20 09.47.04 (2)

2016-02-20 09.48.22 (3)

Using the builder grade cabinets also means a lot of extra “finishing” work.  We have 2 “bar” like areas that extend from the lower cabinets.  Leaving a lot of backsides that need to be covered (there are a lot of backsides needing coverage out there as it is!!).  Standard cabinet installation would have a thin piece of plywood covering those end-caps and backsides and painted/stained to match the cabinets.

“Standard” and “plywood” are NOT words that I would use to describe me.. haha! So, I started searching for an idea or inspiration for something more “me” and a lot less standard. Pinterest of course.  Let me just make a side note – I could sit on Pinterest ALL day long and not get bored.. this is a horrible addiction, and I have to limit my Pinterest activity, I really hope I’m not the only one!!! – Ok, moving forward.  I came across a lot of people using beadboard, which I think looks great, and is a nice upgrade from standard.  I was almost set on going with it, and I stumbled across this beautiful picture!

kitchen inspiration

Which was linked to I couldn’t find the exact origination on her blog, but I wanted to make sure to give credit where credit is due!

I sure loved this look.  Not only did I love the look of the old wood, but the entire kitchen space was so similar to what we were doing as far as colors and design, it just made it seem right!

So the search for old wood began…….

Let me just tell you how difficult this was, and the things I nearly resorted to in order for this look to happen!

I started my search for “barn wood” “barn board” and “old wood” on craigslist.  I am a lover of craigslist and figured I could come across something pretty quickly, plus we live in New England, old wood is EVERYWHERE!!  I came across barn wood that was selling for $5.00 a board foot.  Now, this doesn’t sound terrible until you do the math… We needed about 40 sq. feet, so depending on the width of the boards, we were going to need close to 80 board feet, 80x$5.00 is $400.00………….. this was basically out of the question.  So the search continued, and I just kept hitting walls (aka $$$$$$ that I wasn’t willing to spend).  I was to the point of searching for old fallen down buildings and barns while I was driving places.  I nearly stopped at one house to ask if they would let me buy their “out building” that had fallen down, fortunately it was raining that day.  I found another building close by our house, and I had decided that if I didn’t find anything within a week or 2, I was going there and asking them for their junk wood! Silly… but the things that you resort to when you’ve set your mind on something! (maybe that’s just me…)

Finally I came across a vintage warehouse sale.  Long story short, these lovely gentlemen sold me all the wood I needed and MORE for $60.00.  And it was perfect, beautifully weathered and distressed, with that wonderful “greyed” patina that I wanted.  The boards were about 14 inches wide so I used our table saw to rip them down to 4 inches wide.  I began the process of cutting angles and fitting pieces – now, if I was good at math, this would have been easy, but I’m not that great at math and didn’t feel like taking the extra time to figure it out.  So I made rough outline of the space I would need to cover and started cutting and fitting.  This actually wasn’t too difficult, it was just getting the right measurement from the beginning and figuring out the width of space you’re covering.  Once all the pieces were cut for each panel, I used our nail gun to attach.  I had also installed a couple of pieces behind the wood to give me something to nail the boards to.   I probably could have glued too, but I chose not too.

There are still some finishing touches needed, mostly just trim, but I am LOVING this wood look.  Not only does it tie into the farmhouse feel, but the colors and the rustic-ness are just wonderful!  I am so happy I came across that picture on Pinterest for inspiration.


Next time I’ll tell you a little about our builder grade cabinets turned “custom” cabinets.

Thanks as always for reading!


A new kitchen with re-purposed farmhouse flare

Ok, so I want to brag for a minute.

There are two things in our kitchen that I just adore.

I would describe my style to be farmhouse/chic with a little extra chic..I love sparkle and shine, but I truly love to re-use and re-purpose and I love the idea of having a home with antique farmhouse flare.  So, I’ve done my best to incorporate all this into our home.

The first thing I just LOVE in our kitchen.  The end pillars…

DSC_0005 - Copy

A couple of years ago, my mother-in-laws neighbor gave us these old pillars that came off of his wife’s mothers childhood home (was that confusing enough???).  There were 2 whole pillars that were close to 6 feet long and I had originally envisioned cutting them in half and using them as big chuncky table legs on a “farmhouse style” dining table.  We still lived in D.C. at the time and never had the chance to build the table, plus we didn’t quite have the room to make the large table that we wanted.  So they sat…for almost 2 years.  As soon as we began our kitchen remodel, I knew I wanted to use these, I wanted an island, or a bar area, or something and was determined to make them work!

I began sanding and sanding all the old years of paint off the pillars – this was quite the task…imagine over a hundred years of paint, sun-baked on these things…and probably lead paint (if you have plans on tackling a project like this – using something with old paint – please use a face mask to protect from the possibility of lead paint poisoning!!)  It took a lot of time and patience to get these beauties cleaned up, but it finally happened.  I chose to paint them a bright white, to match the trim and upper cabinets.  I think it was the best choice!  I started with a coat of primer first, since I was working with mostly bare wood, and finished with a semi-gloss bright white – about 4 coats of paint in all.


This is one pillar cut in half, partially sanded.

I wasn’t sure how to install them, but I wanted to be sure they wouldn’t move.  I measured and straightened and leveled..shimmed them from top and bottom to ensure there were no gaps between the counter tops and the floors.  Once in place, I used a drill to make my own “pocket holes” so I could secure them to the floor.  I know I will never remove these, so I wasn’t concerned about drilling into our floors.  I used two 3 1/2 inch screws on each side.  Once everything was secure, I filled the holes.  I wasn’t sure at the time if I would trim them or leave them as is.  After a couple of days, I decided trim would add that finishing touch, so I added the  trim.  I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out!!!


Before they were installed.


Before the trim.

DSC_0006 - Copy


DSC_0009 - Copy

DSC_0007 - Copy

I wish I had a picture of the front porch they used to be on..I get giddy thinking about how old they are, how beautiful they once were, and how beautiful they have been made again, re-purposed in our kitchen. Ahh, the satisfaction of a re-purposed project!

1800 house


This is a house is the same town (I think the same street) where the pillars came from.  The pillars on this porch are similar to the ones we used. 🙂

DSC_0005 - Copy

One more look….ahh

So, I think I spent more time than I thought I would on this topic…so I guess my number 2 favorite thing in our kitchen will have to wait for the next post!


Thanks for reading along 🙂


The Beginning

Let me back up to the beginning.

Last September (2015) my husband and I bought our first home!! **Excited dance** We knew we couldn’t buy a home that had absolutely everything we wanted, but we knew we could find a home that had what we needed, and what we wanted would come along the way.

We made our big move from D.C. to central Massachusetts at the end of August and were fortunate enough to close on our house on September 1st. There were a whole BUNCH of cosmetic things I hated about our house, but it had so many great things with lots of potential – over and acre of land, a flat yard, 2200 finished sq. feet of living space, a garage..the list goes on.

On September 2nd, my husband, knowing how much I hated the kitchen, began demolition (his favorite). We had discussed re-doing the kitchen, the layout and of course I had already made my lists and had been pinning like crazy! We hadn’t however, discussed the time frame of when all this would be happening. I figured a month or 2, once we were slightly settled. My husband had other plans…So it began.

The first 3 months living in a renovation was rough! There was no kitchen, so there was no cooking…the living room was also torn apart, so there was no relaxing..we ate out and we worked our butts off and then we went to bed! Day in and day out. Let me just throw in a side note here – we live in a very SMALL town, we have very few options for eating out, pizza, pizza, pizza or chinese food (which I didn’t find this one until the kitchen was back together *sad face*).. so this gives you a general idea of what it was like.

Here is a picture looking into our kitchen when we moved in.


And here is a shot from inside the little cubby-hole kitchen.

2016-02-08_15.04.25[1] 2016-02-08_15.04.58[1]

Not only was it small, but the color choice was a bit lacking.

I’m an open space, airy, light colored kind of person. My husband isn’t picky, and tends to like my choice of style/design, so I was quite excited to put love for all design to use!

Here are a couple of photos from our kitchen now and I would love to share in future posts some of the projects within.


Remember that first photo..this is the same view 🙂 (sorry for the lack of better photography – a new camera is on the way!)

If you ever thought that you weren’t capable, or didn’t have the experience to do projects like this, think again! Sure, I grew up watching my parents to big renovation projects, but I had never done anything like this myself, and neither had my husband.

I’m extremely happy with how our house is turning out, I’m just slightly impatient…but I know with time we will get more done and it will feel more like home.

I will share more specifics soon!
Thank you for reading 🙂