Just a Coat of Paint

By on 18 April, 2012 in DIY with 3 Comments

We bought this circa-1938 Cloverdale-Idlewild cottage ten years ago despite the dated kitchen. We never fixed the kitchen. Everything worked well in there and I just got used to it. I’d stopped “seeing” the kitchen. Yes, for ten years.

It is kind of a galley. One side is original, beautiful white tile counter top with a wonderful huge old sink that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The other side is an update in the late-50s when they added all the (very sturdy) cabinets and a green Formica counter top and backsplash. The oven sits in front of what used to be an exterior window, with another cabinet filling in the cavity above. I always hated that cabinet over the stove, the way it was so jarring and hard to ignore. I might have stopped “seeing” the kitchen as a whole, but I always saw that cabinet. And that’s how this whole project started.

In March, I had the simple thought: “What if I just painted that cabinet over the stove the wall color?” But then …

… to paint that cabinet a wall color, I needed to paint the walls. Which meant painting the ceiling. Which meant cleaning and patching and sanding the ceiling. Which meant, probably, having to scrub down all the cabinets and maybe … should I get new hardware? Hinges? Well, why not just paint the cabinets, too? They’ve never been painted before. I mean, it wouldn’t take that much time to scrub and sand and color-up 34 cabinet doors, right? I did some research. I thought about colors. I came up with a plan.

But I had no idea where to actually begin. Ten years in a kitchen that I’d never taken apart before. Things were stuffed places, like on top of the fridge and in some rarely-opened drawers. I had acquired a bad habit of taping whatever recipe I was working on to the front of one of the cabinets. Even the oversize dish rack was a bad habit. I stood in there, looking around at so many of my bad habits, and was completely overwhelmed. Maybe I’d rather not see any of this after all. But …

Step by step, I just started somehow.

I broke the project into five parts and just started. First, the grimy ceiling. God help me. It took 8 days of constant labor and several days of piddling labor. When I was waiting 30 hours for each of three batches of cabinet doors to dry, I was scrubbing everything else. I scrubbed things I hadn’t used in years and all around the appliances (go on, you’re not scared of what’s under your oven are you? Heh.) I ran the always-full dishwasher a couple times a day. I washed Grandmother’s china by hand, no small task. There was no small task about any of this. The more things got cleaned up, the worse the remaining dingy things looked to me. But I was so grateful that now I could finally “see” how bad it had gotten. I was actually fixing it.

To most people, the before-and-after photos are just evidence of a coat of paint. That’s fine. To me, though, I remember the total guts-and-all renovation. There are still some things that need to be done, but I am happy with how things have turned out so far.

I still have a lot of stuff, the kitchen is still kind of small, I will still have moments of clutter going on in here — but not usually. Usually, I’ve put everything away and get to be surprised every morning I walk into my kitchen and get to “see” it anew.

Hilary Funk is a Cloverdale-Idlewild resident who occasionally contributes to Midtown Montgomery Living.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Gail Heston says:

    I am helping someone who is moving to Montgomery because of a job transfer. Real estate agents have not been too helpful and he will be moving within 2 weeks. He loves the look and vibe of a historic district and wants to rent a modest home in the historic district. Do you know of any homes? If not, can you recommend a realtor? This is probably a strange request, but I sure would appreciate your help. Thank you. Gail Heston

  2. Jay Croft says:

    “Hi Gail, We’d like to recommend Sandra Nickel from The Hat Team, or someone in her office.”

    I second the motion!

    But–just drive around the Old Cloverdale area. Note houses for rent and for sale. There’s one on either Westmoreland Ave. or Willard Ave., I believe.

    Sandra can explain the advantages of buying vs. renting.

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