Sharon Arnoldi is a family photographer specializing in families with small kids  


Personal DIY Project

So I realize this isn't photography related so I'm sorry about that... but I've had A TON of people asking about my cabinet project so I wanted to blog about it so I don't have to send instructions to 15 people on how I did it.

Our house has (had) honey oak cabinets in the kitchen and upstairs bathrooms... I really am not a fan of the color.  Our countertops are a neutral color throughout the house and would probably match any color cabinet.  I've been using Pinterest to find a solution that doesn't cost a fortune.  My husband is a huge fan of keeping wood - wood... as in not just painting them black and I agree.

Here's two of the blogs I read and followed:



So please use those for detailed instructions but I'll give you the run down on what I did.  This is my very first DIY project for our house.  James was scared so he had no interest in helping.

First of all... here is BEFORE:

The first thing I did was take apart the cabinets and put all the hardware in a ziplock bag... then I used blue painters tape to tape everything off and I put some cardboard and drop cloths over our carpet.

I told James I was going to paint the cabinets pink so he would be extremely frightened and less disappointed if the project didn't work out... I think he believed me for at least a couple days. 

I did sand barely, I spent about 5 minutes on each cabinet door front & back and maybe 10 minutes sanding the base just work on getting the clear shiny coat off. 

This is the product that I used: 

I ordered it from Amazon - I bought 2 Quarts and I probably only used 1/4 of one can for my bathroom.  I bought a lot because I plan to use it in the master bath and kitchen. 

I definitely learned a couple things... first of all the gel stain does go on easy... one of the blogs said it was so easy her 4 year old could do it... yea no.  You have to be very very very careful of your strokes and make sure everything goes WITH the grain.  You will spend 2 minutes coating the cabinet with stain and 15 minutes making sure all your strokes are perfect, no drips, no accidental marks going the wrong grain direction.  The first coat makes a HUGE difference. You've instantly transformed your house from the 1990's to 1980's.  James wasn't impressed. 

The base was pretty easy compared to the cabinet doors. The top and bottom seemed to pool the stain and it was a lot of work to make it look smooth.  I tried wearing gloves when I did this but it was really hard to work in the stain when I couldn't feel my fingers.  I used a mens sock for the base of the cabinets just on my hand with a glove and it worked great.  The cabinet doors were harder because of the grooves so I took the glove off and just used the sock.  Then I decided this would be way easier with a foam brush.  I used a foam brush for the cabinet doors and that made a huge difference - it was easier for me. 

Sanded cabinet door leaned against the base with coat 1 - see huge difference. 

This project is one of those where you start out really excited and kinda lose steam as you go because you have to wait and wait and wait for it to dry. Honestly I think with out low humidity here in Colorado the stain dried really quick.  In fact it would start drying while you were applying it which made it a little hard.  I did the cabinet doors outside on our deck because the stain is stinky and our garage is full. I waited anywhere from 48 hours to a few weeks in between coats... YEP weeks... I know thats bad but hey I have a baby and it keeps snowing so life is busy. 

I put on coat #2 and I freaked out a little bit.  Honestly I freaked out A LOT it didn't change much so I was worried that I would never get to that gorgeous Java color.  James even commented that it looked horrible - yes it did.  I didn't take many photos of the second coat because it looked so bad - I was embarrassed to show anyone. 

I waited about a month maybe a little less to put on the third coat... I now know the third coat is like magic and to keep going it will all be just fine. So i'm telling you... its fine just keep going :)

Comparison between second and third coats

See aren't you glad I posted those... 


The backs of the cabinet doors were harder than the fronts - I don't know why but I did 4 coats on the backs so they'd look uniform and not streaky. Once you've built up the stain on the cabinet door it works really nice to use the sock to just work in areas instead of the brush. 

Here is the back after 2-3 coats, they needed one more to look uniform

If you are still reading this... I just want to let you in on a little secret - I did NOT sand between coats... I tried and it didn't work for me (it took the stain off) I tried with a very fine grit sand paper and it may very well be that I have no clue what I'm doing.  My results are fabulous so I honestly don't think you need to. 

I took the fabulous looking cabinets and I applied 3 thin coats of satin general finishes brand polyurethane.  I didn't think the cabinets could look better but the poly really made them shine! Seriously WOW!!! 

I put the cabinet hardware back on (this was the original hardware) 

Then I put the cabinets back on... I did all this myself! 

I can't even tell you how proud I am of this... every time I walk by the door I look in and think WOW I did that. It looks amazing. James is impressed I'm impressed.  I can't wait to take on the master bath and then eventually the kitchen. 

And again a comparison from where we started

Do you love it? What do you think???


Our Little Bubble said...

Those look amazing! Can not wait to try this out on the bathroom and then move on to everything else from there! Thanks for sharing, Chance passed this great idea along.

Anonymous said...

I am in the process of doing my kitchen. And I can say that I agree with everything you said. It takes time but the product is excellent. You did a beautiful job!

*the six of us* said...
This comment has been removed by the author.