Kitchen Update: The Part Where It Starts to Get… Better?

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve said anything meaningful about the kitchen, mostly because I haven’t felt like there’s been anything meaningful going on in the kitchen. Do you know why?


Because I effing hate sanding ceilings, apparently. That’s where I got stuck… well, there and with the-painting-of-the-cabinets which is a story unto itself, but let’s start with the ceilings.

Actually… no. Let’s start with feeling like shit about your progress on a project. Because sometimes people say things to me like “I can’t believe how much you get done” (and every variation of that you can think of), and I can tell you I never feel like a bigger fraud then when that comes up. Because, shiiiiit…


Have you seen my house? This is what my life looks like when I’m “getting so much done.”


It’s like, “Oh, YES. I get so much done, but none of those things are laundry or dishes or putting my tools away or actually sanding the kitchen ceiling so that I can finish this project and cook like a real effing adult again, but other than that…”

And that story– the sarcastic one– is the thing that plays on repeat in my head when it’s been three weeks and I haven’t made any meaningful progress on a project. Which I try to talk about at the time… I even wrote 1200 words about how much shit I have not gotten done a few weeks ago…


But I can never quite finish those stories. Even though the whole reason I write is to be authentic, when I’m authentically feeling like shit about my progress, it’s actually hard to talk about it.

So I didn’t.

Oh, but now I’m super excited to talk about it, because look!


Actual progress.

I feel like there’s something hypocritical in all that but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, so just know that for three weeks I basically frowned at myself every day until last Wednesday when I finally gave myself the “spend and hour finishing sanding the ceiling, or else…” talk (no idea what “or else” was going to be, but it worked.) So I sanded and even primed part of the ceiling…


Then I primed the rest of it Thursday. I’ve been posting a lot of “in progress” pics to Instagram lately, and I just have to give a big shout-out to the people who encouraged me Thursday when I was exhausted and ready to give up. I did not give up. I got it done, and now we’ve gone from this…


To this…


And that was an epic pain in the ass. But I already love it for a lot of reasons… it’s so much calmer and brighter in here, and that’s just with a coat of primer. (Also I’ve got nothing against pine paneling–obv, I’ve spent a lot of time installing pine ceilings in other houses I owned–but it’s not what I want in here. And I know, I know people have feeeeelings about painting wood, even in houses that don’t belong to them and that they’ll only ever see through pictures on the internet. Which, yes, I find weird, but you do you guys. I’m doing me, and in this case that means painting some shit white and loving it.)

I’m hoping to add some old barn beams eventually… something like this:

The ceiling needs a couple of coats of paint before I can really start thinking about beams though, and since my neck and shoulders needed a little recovery time, I decided to start on the cabinets instead.

In my head, the cabinets were going to be pretty easy… I have a sprayer that a company sent me for interior work that’s been sitting in a box in my tool room for 2 years, soo I just assumed I’d open it up, use it to spray the cabs and doors a couple of times, and be done with it… right? Right.


Until I actually opened it up and realized it’s not meant to give a fine finish on cabinets like a more expensive sprayer would, it’s meant to spray walls and leave a stippled finish like a roller. So I panicked and bought some chickens. I also looked up “the right” type of sprayer to use for cabinets, which, as it turns out, cost about $700. After reading some paint-sprayer horror stories online it occurred to me I might spend an additional $700 and still eff it up, so I decided to call a local paint company and just see what it would cost to have someone else deal with the cabinet doors.

Just for reference, 3 years ago I had someone come out and give me a quote on painting all the wood paneling and the cabinets in the kitchen, and that quote was $5100. Just to have the cabinet doors done was a little less than half that. And I’m at the point in my life where I will happily spend some money on some shit I don’t want to do, but, honestly? Not that much money.

Also, the guy who quoted me on the paint job was an awesome dude and when I clearly had reservations about the price he said, “I know my job is to sell you on this, but you’ve got the right paint and you’re clearly capable, you don’t need us to do this….”

Seriously, I’d have paid him just for the confidence boost.

So, Friday night I decided to test out whether or not I could actually paint the cabinets with a professional-looking finish. It meant cleaning everything with warm, soapy water…


Then, because some of the wood is raised/damaged and I needed to do a legitimate sanding on a few of the doors, clean with a tack-cloth, followed by a sander/deglosser… and then, finally…


I’m using the same shellac-based primer on the cabinet doors as I did on the pine paneling, and then Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint in satin. The finish is actually perfect with a little foam roller. (I’ve used the same paint on some other doors and the mudroom lockers but with a brush, and you can definitely see the brush-strokes, but with the foam roller it’s as good as any sprayed finish I’ve ever seen.)

And, since I was doing the doors, I also did the cabinet bases, in the hopes that I might be able to put some dishes back in them soon. This was before…


And then with primer…


As of this post I just need one more coat of paint on those uppers before I can put stuff back in them. Hopefully that will happen this weekend.

Then it’s just a lot more paint on the cabinets and the doors before we’re ready for counters and moving back to the ceiling. In the meantime I’ve made some exciting progress on the new sink, but that’s a story for another time…

34 Responses

  1. Oh my gosh, the ceiling, so much better! I had the same feeling when you painted your pink room. And, even if you don’t agree, remarkable progress. Thanks for the update.

  2. Perfect timing. I have my own cabinet doors to paint. Was planning on the BM Advance paint. I’m starting as soon as my grades are in (I’m a college professor). Your experience makes me less trepidaceous.

  3. Yes, I groaned on FB at the painting of the wood grain….but now I’ve seen *your* ‘light’. 😉

  4. ” I know people have feeeeelings about painting wood” Too true. People do tend to flip when wood gets painted, but, your house, your rules.

  5. Thanks for the honesty about the reality of being one of those people who ‘gets so much done’. I’m one of those people, too and my life looks a lot like your kitchen. I over-reach. I live with messy people. I do not have Martha Stewart’s staff. On cleaning day my house looks great for approximately 10 minutes, then we live in it again. On a very dusty gravel road. The rewards outweigh the inconvenience, but it’s not very pretty.

  6. Pine ceilings and paneled walls become very popular in lake cabins, dens etc. in the late 60’s on for a more modern outdoor look…pretty knots and all. 90% of all pine is painted today, so many more prettier woods for the natural look of grains. I was going to write more but I know I get long winded n sometimes digress LOL…;) I’ll just say your rocking it, the icky ceiling sanding is going to be all work it when it’s done. It’s only primed in the photo and it already makes it look much bigger and brighter.
    As for the whirlwind kitchen look, anyone who’s ever done a big project as this knows things are right where they belong…you know where they are, a project of this magnitude (whole kitchen) would take three times as long if one straightened n organized for the camera.
    ~~~~~ “Actually… no. Let’s start with feeling like shit about your progress on a project. Because sometimes people say things to me like “I can’t believe how much you get done” (and every variation of that you can think of), and I can tell you I never feel like a bigger fraud then when that comes up.” Because, shiiiiit…
    Near as I can tell, but I’m just a hick from Dakota, most all your readers know you hold down a full time job in addition to daily farm chores including caring for the health of all your animals. Fraud shiiiiiiit…. I think not. Inspiration > yup! constant growth 😉

  7. That looks so much better and the barn beams will be gorgeous.

    When people compliment you on accomplishing things you should not feel like a fraud, no matter how long it took you–or the state of your kitchen. We all want the satisfaction of moving a project along (or finishing one) and stories like yours remind us of how good that feels–and inspire us to buckle down and do what needs to be done.

    Now I need to get my act together (but like Kelly, I am a prof and grades need to be in first) and finally paint that ugly orange utility room.

  8. My list is always longer than what I can accomplish, and my time estimates are always exceeded, but it doesn’t stop me from trying! It will look fabulous when it’s done, baby steps!

  9. It is popular in some circles to look down on using a roller for wood, but I have done it myself for the reasons you cite. It looks better and keeps me away from drips and runs. And it enables me to get the job done quicker. Personally, I much prefer varnishing wood because I have that part things down to a science. And if I could still get oil-based paint, I’d put that down with a brush too and get the same good results. Water-based paint is hell to put down. Spraying it requires equipment and skills I don’t have, so I use a roller. And we’re totally happy with the results.

  10. I’m NOT one of those judgy people – so I’ll just say GO, GO, GO!!! 🙂 You’ve got this! I love, love, love how you tackle all of these projects as a real person, leading a real life, in real time. Life is beautifully messy ALL the time, and those other blogs that don’t make it look that way are just fooling themselves. I love your honest updates and quick wit. No other blog makes me snort coffee out of my nose as much as yours does. Keep up the good work – you’ve got a lot of us out here rooting for you!!!

  11. I would love to know your paint choices/process for the pine paneling – I’m about to attack a TON of it and I’m really nervous about picking poor products and having to redo things several times. Would you be willing to share, please?

    1. Monica, we are currently having to re-paint all our panelled walls and celings! Unfortunately we were told to use a normal primer over the knots, and a few months down the line, they started “bleeding” through the painted surface. After a lot more research on the topic, we will now use a Zinsser B-I-N shellac-based primer/sealer AFTER we have first sanded back the knots that have bled through the paint. A big job ahead! My advice is to take more time with your prep and learn from my mistakes. Good luck! ~ heather

    2. Kilz worked very well for me hiding water stains. It takes like a week to dry and then when you paint over it those spots also take days to dry and look shiny while they’re doing it, so expect that. I assume it works just as well on anything that tends to bleed through paint.

  12. What kind of shit is that? You’re rocking this kitchen reno and you damn well know it!

    I have feelings about painting wood – I feel like if it be fugly, paint it, but if it be pretty, stain it. I think the primer looks amazing and paint will only make it better. And I can’t wait for the beams – pure heaven!

    Oh, and for the record, my kitchen always looks like a bomb went off.

  13. I’ve followed your blog for a long time, but never commented. So happy to hear about your experience with the Advance paint and a roller! I was told to use a brush and have done several projects with it, but it’s a pain. I also find that it takes a long time to cure. Would love to hear more about your experience when everything is wrapped up! Looking great!

  14. You were right. The ceiling painted has just opened up the room.
    Weeks of sanding …. Years of pleasure in your airy space to enjoy.
    Glad you undertook painting the cupboards.
    Looking good.
    Regards Janine

  15. Never apologise for any “lack of progress” Kit – I’ve been renovating the same 2m x 2m bathroom for well over a year now, and it’s still not finished! Meanwhile you’ve completed tons of projects, kept the farm going, held down a demanding job…the list goes on. You’re already amazing, you don’t need to be Superwoman!

    PS I think the ceiling will look awesome painted.

  16. Love how the kitchen is airy and bright … can breathe in there! You’re no fraud, Kit. Full-time job, full time farmer and renovating a house and out buildings, not just a kitchen.

    As for never painting wood … bah. Yes, there are some things I don’t paint (ie my family antiques in good shape ), but that is me. Your painted ceilings/cabs are beautiful and my oak cabs are on the list to paint. Already relatives saying, “But they’re wood!” Yes, they are … ugly orange wood and they will be beautiful white wood when done. Still wood … not like I’m changing them to plastic. Lol Yeesh!

  17. “So I panicked and bought some chickens.” made me laugh out my coffee.
    Looking good and really, what’s the rush? You know the kitchen will be finished eventually.
    Keep it up!

  18. If it makes you feel better about your lack of progress, your lack of progress makes me feel better about mine. My basement has been a work in progress for two years. 🙂
    It just makes you more real.

  19. Damn! You go girl! I am in the unpainted pine camp, but as you say, it’s your house. I had my cabinet doors painted, and it cost as much as having them made! I admire your dedication. I’m going to search your blog for inspiration on removing my vinyl kitchen floor. Thanks for sharing!!!

  20. Ahhh! That ceiling! PERFECT! And congrats on your (new-ish) dude, which I’m guessing sports some fine facial hair. YOU GOT THIS!

  21. People definitely spout opinions when you say you are going to paint wood or brick, always frustrates me. I am glad you do your own thing. Your kitchen looks fabulous already!

    I have painted cabinets and I too used a foam roller. It was a giant pain in the ass, but I am pleased with the finish. Your’s are going to look great. You really are doing a wonderful job, don’t worry that it feels like you are not making progress, it is hard work!

  22. Foam rollers and good paint work really well. Hope it goes quickly for you.

  23. It’s looking amazing! And honestly – you get more done when you don’t think you’re getting anything done than most of us do when we DO think we’re getting stuff done!
    “So I panicked and bought some chickens” made me LOL too!

  24. I read everywhere to use BM Advance, and I was very unhappy with it when I did my cabinets. I had terrible luck with a foam roller (left tons of tiny bubbles), so I switched to a brush. I would love to hear more about your experience using it in another post, because I found it to be a headache in so many ways and overall I really was not impressed.

    I had no idea that cheaper sprayers left a stippled finish; a paint sprayer has been on my wish list for a long time. Boo. People rave and rave about painting furniture and doors and such with them, and I’ve never heard that mentioned.

    Kitchen is looking great! I would have painted those ceilings too…but my god, that’s a lot of work!

  25. I don’t know what paint sprayer you were looking at that cost 700, but based on a recommendation from another blog I bought the Critter paint sprayer from Amazon. It’s 50 bucks, uses mason jars as the paint holder so you can buy 50 of them and keep all the paint just sitting around in different jars and cleans up super easy. I’ve painted all my kitchen cabinets, oil primer and face paint and multiple pieces of furniture with it. Best $50.00 I ever spent.

  26. Hey I love the way you manage all these projects in real life, as a real person. Your blog always inspire me. The paint sprayer impressed me the most but it cost lots of money (700$) so I need to reconsider it though. Still like your kitchen!

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