8 Tips for the best DIY Orange-Oil Dusting Rags

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There’s a couple of different versions of this recipe floating around the Pinterest boards. Over the year of making and using these I’ve found a few tricks that I’ll share here.

Oranges or Lemons – the procedure is the same regardless of what citrus you pick. Lemons gives a stronger smell than oranges which are milder. I find it easiest to sit down with a bag of oranges (bought on sale) and just peel and keep the segments back for snacking and the rinds for the cleaning project. If you try to collect as you eat oranges through the week the project drags on forever.

Clean Rags – T-shirt material is ideal as it is thin and you want something that will soak up the cleaning mix. Another option would be microfiber washcloths and I love the price at the Rag Company. If your using microfiber cloths plan on keeping the oil in a dispenser (like a recycled condiment bottle) and squeeze onto the washcloth instead of soaking it (soaking it would take a lot of oil to gain saturation).

Olive Oil – it is not necessary to use the expensive kind. Cheap is fine.

Vinegar – I prefer White Vinegar as it doesn’t have as strong a smell as Apple Cider. If using ACV it will overwhelm the citrus scent, FYI.

Essential Oil – optional for those who like a stronger citrus smell. I’ve added about 1 teaspoon per one batch (as described here). Luckily, citrus essential oils are some of the cheapest EO’s. Orange and Lemon are very affordable.

Containers – I started out using recycled glass spaghetti jars with lids but I’ve switched to quart or gallon sized, Freezer bags as I really like to tuck a baggie of dust rags in my cleaning bucket – one upstairs, one down, for quick access.

Solution:

1 c. water

1/2 c. vinegar

1/4 cup Olive Oil

10 Citrus fruits – trim off for the rinds – they should be dry – not wet! All pulp should be removed.

TIP #1: Cut your rinds into thin strips. This shape is easier to wrap cloth around and to tuck into the bag over the quarter/wedge size.

TIP #2: If orange peels are damp or wet, pat dry, and stick in a low temp (150 degree oven) to dry out for about 10 minutes. Let them cool before using.

TIP #3: Oil and water will continue to separate so whisk your liquids between each rag you are soaking.

TIP #4: If you mix in one large batch and dump in a rag, it will soak up ALL the oil, leaving you only with vinegar and water for the subsequent rags! Get a shallow pan, pour in a quarter cup or less of your mixed/whisked solution and put in a rag to wipe it up. Wring out the rag, wrap up your orange rinds inside and tuck into your plastic bag. Repeat. This way oil is spread evenly throughout your batch of cleaning rags.

TIP #5: Do not put used rags back in with the clean as this brings in contamination and starts mold. From my experience, these should last (unopened/unused) for at least 6 weeks maybe longer.

TIP #6: Once used these rags start to dirty up fast! Rinse in the sink and you can re-use immediately about two more times before there is no more oil in the rag to collect dust.

TIP #7: For best results, wait to use for at last two weeks after setting up. My only problem with these is I go through these very quickly and it takes so much time for them to set up. If you need dusting rags right away skip adding the fruit rinds and just go with the oil and vinegar to use immediately.

TIP #8: When wiping furniture, if you find it leaves too much oily residue to your liking, than go back over with a clean and dry microfiber cloth and next time you make the recipe cut the oil in half.

EXTRA TIP: A week after setting up a batch, doublecheck that nothing is molding. Sometimes despite your best efforts, mold enters and starts to spoil your batch. If caught early you might be able to save the rest by removing the offender.

I prefer these soaked cleaning rags over dusting spray. They work best over flat wooden surfaces like bookshelves, dressers, nightstands, sideboards, dining room tables, bed frames, etc… For my own cleaning routine they really work out for what I clean and how I do it!

My Favorite DIY Glass and Mirror Cleaner

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Most of these DIY cleaners simply don’t work (for example the popular Goo-Gone recipe of cheap oil and baking soda simply is not Goo-Gone and will never be). However, this is one recipe I came across that I’ve tested over the last year that is excellent for cleaning mirrors and glass. I’ve used it to bring a shine to my stove top too.

I mix it up at a gallon at a time in a clean kitty litter jug (with handle and lid properly labeled).

1 gallon of Distilled water (I use distilled because the water at my house is heavy in mineral content)
2 cups of Rubbing Alcohol
2 cups of White Vinegar (you could use Apple Cider but it increases the vinegar smell)

When I’m ready to finalize the mix into spray bottles I put 1 Tablespoon cornstarch to 2 cups of solution. Be sure to shake well before using as the Cornstarch likes to settle.

I also add 10 drops of Essential Oil. Some of my favorite cleaning EO’s include: Pine, Lemon, Lemon Eucalyptus, Orange, Lavender, and Rosemary. Be aware that some Essential Oils are packaged in oil (such as Vanilla and Rose) do not use these – as it will make your final solution oily.

Often most of these ingredients can be found on sale; here is an average cost of raw ingredients:

Distilled water (1 gal.) = .88
Rubbing Alcohol (16 oz) = $3.50
White Vinegar (1 gal.) = $2.50
Cornstarch (16 oz.) = $1.70

Essential Oils range from cheap (Orange at $8 a bottle) to expensive (Lavender at $35 a bottle) so that price is not included. Of course if you don’t use distilled water the price comes down a little more.

Homemade DIY cleanser is $.52 cents (2 cups) versus the same amount in Windex is $1.30. As I’ve gotten older I have found the smell of Windex more pungent. Not sure why that is but if you don’t like the smell of chemicals, going DIY on your cleaning solutions is smart.

I have three bathrooms so I leave a small spray bottle in each bathroom so mirrors can be cleaned whenever I grab a moment instead of searching around for cleaning solution downstairs when I’m upstairs.

Not all DIY cleansers are made equal. I’ve found many of these recipes don’t measure up but this one is easy, quick and effective! Great stuff!

DIY Changing Solid Cabinet Doors to Glass Inserts

I found a great article here about the step-by-step process of converting solid cabinet doors to glass. We lucked out and our cabinet doors were panel doors. In the long run, this saved us some substantial money as we were able to change the look of our kitchen without paying a carpenter!

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Like I’ve written before always do a test door before proceeding with your actual cabinets. I had several cabinet doors I was removing for good (converting to open cabinetry) so it wasn’t a problem for me. However, if you don’t have a spare door, check out your local Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore where they sell odds and ends for home remodeling for dirt cheap prices.

Husband used a router but if you don’t have one, they are available for rental from tool shops. You can also find them used at tool consignment shops, on sale during Black Friday at Home Improvement stores, and off of Craigslist. They have great uses!

In the following photos, I marked important areas with a black Sharpie so you could better see what we were doing. Lime green lines are to show areas of interest.This work is done on the INSIDE of the cabinet door, not the face.

For this DIY experiment, we used the paint test door I made for the kitchen.  The areas marked with an X will be removed during this conversion.

When you look at the door edge you can see where the pieces have been fitted together to make the door. A panel cabinet door is not cut from one piece so it makes it easier to do this conversion.

Measuring this area tells you the depth to set your router blade.

Measuring off this side joint, you can figure the depth of the long cutting line from the edge of the inside of the cabinet door. We first measured the longest sides of the cabinet door, the short side, and lastly, the short side with the arch.

We will be clamping down a guide board. The Guide Board helps the router give a steady pass down a straight line. Measure the edge of the router to the edge of the other side of the blade, like so:

The Guide Board is measured at both ends to match the router edge to blade measurement and is clamped down.

The Guide Board was adjusted after we checked the router blade at the draw cut line. The router blade is sitting on the inside of the cut line and that is where it should be (click photo for a close up view).

VERY IMPORTANT!

The Router must be moved around the OUTSIDE of a rectangle (or circle) on a COUNTERCLOCKWISE movement.

The Router must be moved around the INSIDE of a rectangle (or circle) on a CLOCKWISE movement.

If you goof up that is okay – the above directions just make it easier for the router to cut.

The first pass of the router doesn’t make the cut we need so we go back for a second pass. This isn’t unusual during the first cut and you can always adjust the blade. We did the two longest sides first, the short side, and lastly the side with the arch. If you look closely at the second pic in this series (click on any photo for a close up) you can see how the panel is made up of fitted pieces:

The Guide Board is moved when we do the short ends.

All four sides of the inside of the panel are now cut.

The arch of the panel (on the inside of the door) also needs to be removed. You can do this with your router, by just scrubbing the bits out by running the router against the edges.

The inside of the panel lifts right out:

and the cabinet door becomes two pieces…

The doors were painted with chalk paint and went from orange oak stain to an off-white and distressed.

Glass was installed by Robinson Glass with 4 doors: 9″ x 21″ glass inserts with “seedy” (glass with a slight bubble pattern) at approximately $14.50 each panel ($54 total). If doing the glass installation yourself, remember to use a clear silicone caulk.

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Want to see more about cabinets? There’s more on the blog right here….

Painting Oak Kitchen Cabinetry with Chalk Paint (drawers)

Before reading this post, remember that I’ve done a test door and I’ve already done many of the cabinet doors. This blog post goes over making the new drawers blend with old drawers by using stain and chalk paint.

Matching Old with New

If you’ve read the other entries on the kitchen, you know we’ve made some new drawer additions to the cabinetry. I always knew we would be painting cabinetry and with paint I would be able to blend the new blend with the old. This would be almost impossible to achieve if I had planned on staining the cabinetry. Blending old with new is done easier with paint, then stain.

When choosing wood to paint, try not to pick pieces that have strong grain patterns. It takes more paint to cover this up and may even require a primer for heavily grained woods like oak. I ended up using two coats of primer before using one coat of chalk paint. That got rid of the strong oak graining on the kitchen cabinet doors and drawers.

However, when doing an addition to old, try to pick wood that is all the same type (i.e. all Aspen, all Oak, all Pine etc…) instead of mixing. This will also help with the end appearance as one type of wood acts the same during painting vs. different types may require more layers of primer.

The steps on painting the drawers are basically the same as the cabinet doors but with a few extra steps…

1.) Clean and/or prep the wood (pick one or more of the following):

~ TSP (Trisodium Phosphate): removes grime and grease. It’s found at many paint stores and is a very strong cleanser so use with care and follow instructions;

~ Krud Kutters Gloss Off:  I found at Sherwin Williams. If using Gloss Off do wear gloves as it is a skin irritant;

~ and/or sand the surface smooth using a rough grit (i.e. 80) and electric palm sander.

Black and Decker Mouse Sander

If you try to paint over the wood without any prep work your end appearance and durability of the finish will suffer dramatically. Please don’t skip this step!

Using Gloss Off, soak clean rag and wipe in a circular motion. Let dry for 10 minutes before proceeding. Be sure all grooves are completely clean of grime or build up. If you need too, use an old toothbrush to scrub the edges. I also like the fact Gloss Off doesn’t stink!

IMO the Gloss Off is a product that shines when you start to sand. Sanding with my Mouse (electric palm sander) took less then a minute per drawer and I believe the Gloss Off helped the shiny layer come off more easily as I’ve sanded without it and it took a lot more effort. I don’t need it down to bare wood but I need the drawer to accept a good priming coat.

2.) Help new wood blend with old: With the new wood drawers, I started somewhere different. I needed them to match when I distressed, so I bought some Maple Stain (on the test chip it looked the closest to the red-orange of the current stain). Using a cloth and wearing latex gloves, the stain was rubbed into the drawer fronts (two coats, drying between coats).

3.) Apply two coats of primer. I used Glidden’s Gripper in white (it also comes in gray). I use a primer because the Chalk Paint would have taken three coats to get complete coverage. 1 gallon of primer was $38; 1 quart of Chalk Paint was $38. You can see the financial logic behind using a primer!

The first coat was applied using a brush. With the first coat be sure to work the primer into any grooves yet maintain the edges as crisp and well defined, not blotchy with paint globs. This primer is thick and goes on thick.

I paint my drawers by paying attention to the edges first – this is also the most likely area for drips so always continue to check for them as you rotate the drawer:

The first coat of primer will show a lot of brush marks:

The second coat of primer was applied with a 4″ foam cabinet roller.

4.) Sand with 120 grit. The drawers were much rougher after priming then the cabinet doors were. This is probably because of the deeper grain pattern and the hard use they’ve gotten over the last15 years. Because of this,  I decided to use the electric sander before applying the chalk paint.

Do very little – just skim, with a light touch, the sides of the drawers where drips are likely to have happened and make sure the front panel of the drawer is smooth. If it distresses some don’t worry – the chalk paint or your next distressing will fix it.

5.) Apply Chalk Paint with a 4″ cabinet foam roller.

The small, old drawers only needed one coat of Chalk Paint; on the new drawers,which started as bare wood, I applied two.

Troubleshooting tips!

Drips are most likely to occur on the edges and sides of the drawers. Always do a smoothing pass over these areas before quitting the paint job.

Be on the lookout for any hickeys, blemishes, dried paint flakes that fell onto fresh paint, foam roller bits flaking off (the roller is old! trash it and get a new one), hair etc… Remove immediately and roll back over the area to smooth.

If you paint at night or dusk your light can attract bugs which will get into your paint finish.

Make sure your chalk paint is THOROUGHLY mixed! If not, you might get some gray or greenish bits of clay that didn’t get blended.

Because I was painting cream over white, sometimes it was hard to see if the cream thoroughly covered the white. Always look at your project from different angles and strong light to make sure that the last paint coat covered your base coats completely.

Chalk paint dries very fast so within the hour I could have started my final sanding. However, it was late at night so I decided to save it for the morning! Always distress when you are well rested and NOT impatient! It takes a steady hand and an eye to get it done right. If you are in a hurry, most likely you will take off too much.

BTW I did not apply Chalk Paint on the inside of the new drawers but only used one coat of primer. I’m not going to waste chalk paint on areas like the interior of drawers but I also don’t want to leave them bare wood.

When working with drawers, always use weights to keep them standing.

6.) Sand smooth and distress with 220 grit. Since I had done a smooth sanding at the end of priming, I started with a quick, light touch across the flat facing of the drawer to smooth the chalk paint and then immediately moved into distressing the edges.

Tip ~ Chalk paint makes a lot of dust! Do it in a ventilated area and you may want to wear a nose/mouth paper mask.

I only distressed the edges and corners of the drawers. Some folks also like to distress where the handle will go, simulating natural wear. For me this would have been too much distressing for a kitchen, though I think it would look fantastic on furniture.

Tip~  if your undercoats are tearing or chipping in away you don’t like, wax first, then sand.

7.) Compare your cabinet doors, drawers and facing.

Important! I learned this from my other cabinet project… If you plan on doing any distressing, you need to constantly compare the different components of your project so they match when you bring them all together (click photos to see close ups):

8.) Wax the drawer fronts (3-4times) for protection. The drawers get the most punishment in my kitchen as we open them when cooking and our hands are floured, wet, etc… and drips from the counter usually go down onto them. The cabinet doors (located on the wall, over the counter) will get only two coats of wax as most of their punishment is right around the knob.

I used the wax that is sold by the chalk paint manufacturer because I like how it glides on smoothly and is easily applied.

Waxing tips ~

Until you wax, your drawers are vulnerable to fingerprint dirt smudges and other damage. Keep them in a safe place until you can start waxing.

Wax picks up lint, dust and even eyelashes! Keep your application cloth or brush completely clean and don’t wax in the area where you are sanding.

Don’t skimp on wax. Especially be generous with the first coat.

Make sure you don’t get wax clumps in the crevices of your door or drawer profile. Wipe out these clumps with a lint-free, clean cloth.

Clean your kitchen doors and drawers with a non-abrasive cleaner.

Plan on updating with fresh wax in heavily used areas in about 2-4 years. This depends on how you clean and the wear an tear you put on your kitchen.

Remember! If doing white or cream colored cabinets do NOT use polyurethane or varnish! This will yellow.

*~*~*~*~*

The drawers have been waxed, but the cabinet unit has not. In this photo you can see the difference in the colors (drawers were installed to measure for hardware placement):

I’ve still got plenty of more painting to do!

Painting Oak Kitchen Cabinetry with Chalk Paint (doors)

Okay, here we go folks, I’m starting the kitchen! Yeah!

Before I got started on this cabinetry project, I did a test door. This is essential on a large project of this scope where there isn’t room for error.  These cabinets were solid oak and really the only issue is the original stain – they are not damaged or ill-made.

With the test door, I tried darkening it with stain and it gave very uneven and mixed results. Paint was definitely the way to go and if you choose to go with regular paint, go with enamel not latex.

The big reason I chose Chalk Paint is how it adheres to the wood, how it distresses and the end finish.

Cabinetry Prep Work

All the cabinet doors and their hinges were removed. It’s easiest to get a box and put all the screws, hinges and handles in it right from the start. This prevents stuff being lost.

If you were replacing with new hardware you might need to fill in and sand smooth original screw holes. However, this wasn’t necessary on this project as I was re-using the hardware I had installed and the drawers, which were getting new hardware, had never been drilled.

How much prep work you will need to do will depend on the condition of your cabinets. Again, I see a lot of folks skipping prep work because it is slow and tedious. However, lack of prep work WILL impact the end appearance and I don’t care what type of paint you use.

I started with a product new to me: Gloss Off by Krud Kutters. I found this product at the Sherwin Williams paint store for about $8; be careful not to buy the cleanser by Krud Kutters as it has a different purpose. The Gloss Off wasn’t a Miracle Product as it did not remove 100 percent of the polyurethane top coat, however, I did notice it raised the grain and made for easier sanding (80 grit with electric, palm sander).  It did seem to help the primer adhere and gave a smoother attachment.

NOTE! If you decide not to use this option or do any sanding of the original cabinetry, try TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) found at Lowes, Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams to clean the doors of any grime before painting or priming. Remember, lack of sanding will result in a more uneven, end surface and the paint layers will distress more.

After doing my test door, and seeing that it took three coats of expensive chalk paint before the oak pattern was covered, I decided I would use two coats of a primer (1 gallon = $38) to cut down on the costs of the chalk paint (1 quart = $38).  I also think the primer helped the end cabinet as all the paint sanded nicely during the distressing.

The primer I used was another new product to me:  Glidden’s Gripper (comes in white and grey). One thing I really liked about this primer is when I got to the distressing stage, it sanded off smoothly… sometimes with primer or undercoats of latex paint you get the paint peeling off in an unpleasant tearing strip. It’s the major reason to avoid latex paint if you plan on distressing.

I start with a foam brush and push the primer into the grooves of the cabinet door.

The face of the cabinet door has paint applied with a 4″ cabinet foam roller. Be sure you get all the edges of your cabinet door and paint the back. Continue to smooth, using the foam roller to work out any bubbles or blemishes. See the product’s advice on how long it should dry before coats. I did the primer the day before I did the chalk paint so it could dry overnight.

Here is a comparison of the first coat with the second coat of primer. It clearly shows the difference that another layer makes in hiding the oak grain pattern and giving a uniform, end color.

Chalk Paint

After the priming coats are completely dry, next is the Ce Ce Caldwell Chalk Paint in Vintage White. If you prefer Annie Sloan Chalk Paint the directions that follow will be the same.

This is applied with a foam paint roller. I did the backs (let it dry), and then the cabinet face and the edges (let it dry). This stuff dries quickly so this step will easily get done in a day depending on how many doors you have to do.

When you click on the above photo, you can see that the Vintage White has a creamy color, like light colored eggnog.

You may not be able to tell from this photo, but after the chalk paint dries, there is a rough surface due to the foam roller application and the nature of the chalk paint itself.

I used the electric Mouse Sander (also called a palm sander) with 220 grit and LIGHTLY sand it smooth. I first sand all the edges of the door as this is where drips may have occurred and then do the cabinet face. This removed the dimpling that the foam roller caused but be careful with how much you do or you will start distressing.

Distressing

From the test door I did, I knew what distressing I liked. Using the Mouse Sander and 220 grit, I work around the edges of the cabinet profile. I am aiming almost for an outline. I like to change the direction of the sander, zig-zag it against the door edge, and apply different amounts of pressure depending on how much I want off; this is where experimenting with a test door can really help you.

One thing I noticed is that by having the two layers of primer and using a higher grit of sandpaper (220 as opposed to my usual 120) I got a much softer distressing which was exactly what I was going for!

If you want a rougher distressing use a coarser grade of sandpaper (i.e. 120) and don’t put on a primer. For example, this was my first test door with much more distressing (used 120 sandpaper, no primer with the electric palm sander was aggressively applied):

Distressing is a job that should be done by one person and if possible, all in the same day too for consistency. Always check the doors against each other as you progress through the job.

Wax top coat

Once everything is the way you like it, it’s time to put on your top coat application. You MUST topcoat your kitchen cabinetry – paint alone will not be enough. In this case, I’m going to use clear wax specifically designed for chalk paint (sold by the chalk paint dealers). The wax sold with the chalk paint products is a soft, malleable wax that is very easy to apply. The type of waxes you can buy at Lowes or Home Depot are harder, paste waxes and don’t go on as easily.

I apply three coats (because it’s the kitchen), with t-shirt rags in a circular motion and let it dry to a haze between coats. One problem I find with wax, is that it builds up in corners and seams. Use a piece of thin cardboard or poster-board to draw out any excessive wax that isn’t able to be smoothed out in these areas.

The wax SMELLS! So far everything has been low odor, but with the wax you need to work in a well ventilated area – open windows, work in the garage with the door open, or wear a respirator etc…

BTW I find applying wax to be hardest job on my wrists. This is another part of the job that having a back up helper would save you time and effort.

Be aware that in a few years, wax will need to be freshened up on your cabinets to retain their waterproofing. If this is a maintenance issue for you, I would choose another top coat sealant.

Options

Other things you can do different with this project to change the type of end surface:

The chalk paint folks encourage you to wax and than sand. You might want to experiment with that, however, I have to scratch my head… why put on expensive wax and then sand it off? I would rather sand before wax application however, you may find that waxing and then sanding gives you an effect that you like better, especially if you want to use a tinted wax…. Use a test door to find out!

Use a custom tinted wax you mixed yourself (clear + paint color). Wax can be worked into the grooves for more definition and won’t change the base color of your cabinet face.

Use a dark wax for an aged look. Dark wax is already tinted however, be aware that on some projects it gives a “dirty” appearance that can overwhelm your project especially if you are working in white or cream. I just didn’t think it would look good on kitchen cabinets; I’d keep this back for your antiquing furniture projects.

Another choice would have been wipe-on Polyurethane but in my experience with it, it does not give enough of coverage (even after 2-3 applications) to really protect the undercoat. Polyurethane (and Varnish) will also yellow anything that it is applied onto so if you wanted white cabinets you will get white-yellow cabinets in the end. As polyurethane continues to age, it yellows even more.

If money was no object, I would probably have paid for the cabinets to be professionally coated and sealed. However, this is a DIY project so I do what I know I can afford and can achieve on my own.

Since this is a big project – far bigger then one blog post, I will be putting together several entries about how the kitchen was done, over the next several weeks.

Tips on painting a ceiling

When remodeling a room you should plan on doing the work from the ceiling down when it comes to repairs, painting, installation etc… One major reason for this is painting a ceiling IS messy! Splatter WILL go everywhere.

Everything on the floor must be covered, remove what you can, and have a wet rag on hand to immediately clean up drips. Since I plan on replacing counters and painting the cabinets, I was only concerned about splatter hitting the ceramic floor. It’s the reason that builders, spray plaster on and paint before the flooring goes it. It makes the job go a lot faster and the risk of damaging anything is lessened.

Equipment

Roller, can opener, stir sticks, damp wiping rag for splatters, and lots and lots of dropclothes. If you step away from your job for a while, wrap the roller in a plastic bag so you can re-use. If you will be gone for over two hours, put the plastic wrapped roller in the fridge to slow down paint drying.

A paint roller handle that has an extension is necessary for doing ceilings. Without it your back will start to hurt.

I bought a paint roller screen which sits down into your 5 gallon bucket. This removes the need for a tray or pouring out paint into a tray so the job goes faster, it wastes less paint and the jobsite remains neater.

When planning the amount of paint you will need, if painting over fresh plaster (which we did) consider that you will use half again as much paint. For example, the ceiling would probably normally take a gallon and a half; I planned on using two gallons at least.

For the majority of the house, I used a simple white flat latex ceiling paint. That way I could extend the paint and anything left over could be used in any room. However, for this room I will be choosing a color.

Choosing a Color for Ceilings

When I used to watch Christopher Lowell’s show, he always recommended painting the ceiling of a room a color. I would pick two complimentary, but different colors and the ceiling was always too obvious. I mean your eyes would zero in on the ceiling and that wasn’t where I wanted the eyes to go. 

Martha Stewart also paints the ceiling of rooms a separate color then the walls. She does it in this matter: Room A has Color 1 on the walls, and Color 2 on the ceiling; then the adjoining room would have Color 2 on the walls and Color 3 on the ceiling and so on. This was profiled in one of her magazine articles yet, all of this seems overally complicated to me and means more colors you have to deal with in your design. More colors also means more paint left over and increased costs.

OTOH sometimes a white ceiling doesn’t do it for me, especially in a room which has a high ceiling. For example, in the powder room, I painted the ceiling a silver. It’s so high that the color is not oppressive which it would be in a lower ceiling room.

Because the kitchen has a high ceiling, has a lot of views while you sit in the breakfast nook to eat, and I will be installing white crown molding, I wanted to paint the ceiling a color other then white. Over the years of experimenting, I decided that what I would do is take the wall color (Rock) and use some of it to tint white flat ceiling paint. It would be substantially lighter in color then the wall, but would not be white, and the colors would automatically compliment each other.

Mixing Paint

To start with, I got two large, clean 5 gallon containers ($5 each at Lowes), two gallons of flat white ceiling paint (about $22 each), and I had a quart of Valspar’s allen + roth Rock ar720 (Lowes) leftover. Rock is the color all the downstairs walls will be painted in order for the downstairs to appear bigger for sale purposes.

I poured both of the two gallons of white together, and hand stirred. Then I added the Rock color gradually. Stirring and testing the color on the walls. Depending on how picky you are with this you may want to make a bigger patch area and let dry before proceeding with adding more color to your white base. If you get it too dark, it’s very hard to get it lighter again while it’s easier to keep darkening the white. For my purposes, I wasn’t that picky so used about a quart of Rock to two gallons of white.

TIP! ~ If you were mixing more then two gallons I suggest you get a paint mixer attachment for your drill to ensure thorough mixing.

Then I pour out about half into the second bucket, hand stir again, and then pour back to the original. Mixing paint in this manner should be done if you will be using more then one gallon of the same paint color in a room. For example, the family room will take three gallons of paint – I will mix all of them together to ensure the color is even throughout the painting process.

TIP! ~ Even if the paint is bought from the same store, at the same time, with the same product color and brand, slight variation can exist between cans. This variation will be blatantly obvious when applied to the walls or ceiling. Mixing the cans will ensure you don’t end up with streaks.

If using a custom mix, always, ALWAYS have enough paint on hand to finish the job. If you run out of a custom mix in painting a large flat area such as a ceiling you have no where you can conceal a break and change in paint. For example, when painting walls, you can switch to a new gallon of the same color at a corner but that isn’t true of a ceiling. And expecting a color match to be accurate on a custom mix is simply not going to happen.

While the job isn’t quite finished, and it’s hard to take a photo showing the proper color on the ceiling here is a bit of how the colors are working out. Between the ceiling and wall will be crown molding painted the same white as the door trim. This was another reason I wanted a color on the ceiling – the white between the two will have a sharper definition.

Project: Transforming builder grade cabinets to Old World (ASCP Old White with Dark Walnut glaze)

The Project: builder grade, oak cabinets installed when we built the house 14 years ago. They have one layer of stain and varnish to deal with and are in excellent condition, needing no repairs. If you have older cabinets, with more paint layers you may need to do more prep work (more sanding or a chemical stripper) then I did.

Here is our master bathroom (before) ~ nice but still a builder grade cabinet with a medium oak blah finish that is very dated:

Before working on paint colors know exactly what else you will be changing in the room. Eventually the counter, sinks and faucets will be replaced, the mirror framed, new lighting installed and paint color changed (for the Pinterest Idea Board look here). Overall, the room will be in the brown-tan, off-white creamy family (here’s the overall planning post).

Hardware was removed; drawers and doors were taken off and moved to the garage. All the cabinetry was first sanded (electric sander, 80 grit and then 120 grit) to remove the top, shiny coat and encourage paint adhesion.

The Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) states you don’t have to sand or prime but if you are re-doing cabinetry, either bathroom or kitchen, I would at least give them a good clean with detergent to remove oil, grease, or any residue before painting. I did do a test board that was sanded and another that was not sanded: the sanded side had better paint adhesion and a smoother, end appearance.

needs a cleaning!

To make these cabinets special, I’m adding wood appliques and some very nice hardware. These appliques were found at Lowes but you can also find them online in a wide variety of patterns and sizes:

To apply, two tiny holes are pre-drilled for small (brad) nails. Wood glue is applied on the back and then the small nails are tapped into place after the applique is properly aligned:

checking alignment

Three coats of ASCP in Old White was applied to the vanity, cabinet door fronts and drawers with a 1″ brush and a 4″ foam cabinet roller. Love it!

For the cabinet door appliques, I first painted the door with one coat of ASCP, and spraypainted the wood applique white before gluing and nailing it down. This made it easier on getting the second and third coat to look even.

The first day cabinet door backs, drawer fronts, and the vanity were painted. The second day I painted the cabinet fronts with three coats and applied their wood appliques.

Tip: when painting both sides of a project like doors, be aware when you flip it and the newly painted (but dried) side is down, it can be damaged. Make sure you have a clean and non-stick surface for it to rest upon when you paint the second side.  When I’ve used plastic garbage bags they also removed fresh, but dried, paint. Now, I use a plastic sleeve from a box that originally contained blinds, over the top of the sawhorse.

Quart cans of paint and stain are used to elevate cabinet doors so I can paint the edges and let them dry. You can use cans of vegetables/fruit from your cabinet too.

The drawer runners make these drawers stand slanted, so gallon cans hold the drawers in place so all painted edges can dry without falling over.

Tip: If you are uncertain as to your color choices on your cabinets, it’s always best to do a test board; this will save a lot of time and aggravation! Especially, if it is a project that would be a big pain to redo or is a very important feature to your house (we can all afford to experiment on a small table!).

After doing a test board, I decided to go with ASCP Old White and a glaze of McColkseys (same as Valspars) Buff glaze with the glaze applied with a ragged on/off method (used about 2 cups). This method was done on the cabinet door fronts, the drawer fronts, and the front board where the appliques were mounted on the vanity. Other flat surfaces were left ASCP Old White.

Ragging on is the application of glaze with a clean cloth (i.e. cut up t-shirt). This method works well across large flat surfaces. Depending on the color difference between undercoat and glaze, you can have a high or low contrast. The cloth is saturated with glaze (how much depends on how much color you want applied). I like it soaked but not dripping.

The rag is crinkled in a long tube and then rolled across the surface. I re-crinkle the rag about every 3 to 4 times of rolling and every other roll I change direction. This gives a random pattern.

Ragging on randomly applies paint to a surface

If you get too much glaze or want more exposure of the undercoat you can rag off. Take a clean cloth with no glaze and roll across the wet surface to remove glaze. You will need to keep using clean rags to keep removing; using one that has glaze on it will re-apply the glaze to the surface.

Here I use a clean rag to pat/blot off excess (pat down and lift straight up so pattern is not smeared) or I can use it by rolling it across the surface to remove paint (ragging off) which softens the overall pattern.

ragging off with a clean rag removes excess paint

For comparison, here is a ragged on, glazed door with Buff (left) and an ASCP Old White only (right) cabinet door comparison (click photo for a close up):

You could stop there if you like that look but I wanted to take it further. After the glaze was left to dry for the afternoon, the edges were distressed with an electric palm sander (Black and Decker Mouse) with 120 grit. I blew off the sanding dust with a hair dryer (set on cool) before moving to the next step of glazing with Cabots’ dark Walnut stain (project used about 1 half pint).

A coat of dark Walnut stain was wiped on and off (wear a glove if you don’t want to get your hand stained; I clean my hands with NEXT brush cleaner).  Or you could use a chip brush which I did on the door backs and vanity.

Saturate the rag or brush with some stain and then wipe on your cabinet door, paying careful attention to the distressed areas. Because this is a distressed finish, the stain can be applied in a criss-cross pattern or rubbed on in circles.

worked in circles over center panel

Wherever you have sanded down to bare wood, the stain will be asborbed. Aim for raised areas such as the edge of doors and drawers. Work in circles and straight lines to get the stain worked into the crevices. If you put on too much and it gets drippy, just wipe and blot off with a clean rag.

A stain glaze is asborbed by the undercoat paint more then a traditional, glaze medium; depending on the product it may have a faster drying time then a traditional glaze medium. It’s important you immediately get a feel for how quickly the glaze you are using dries. Different brands have different working times which can be further extended with other products.

The stain on the back of the cabinet doors and the base cabinet was simply wiped off with a clean rag used in a circular motion. The stain on the cabinet door fronts, I wiped off and Ragged Off using clean t-shirt rags. The ragging caused the stain to make a really neat, aged pattern!

Doors for overjohn cabinet

Why did I go with the Dark Walnut stain and not the dark wax? To use dark wax properly, the entire piece has to be coated with clear wax first then dark wax, making this project even more expensive ($28 a can of wax) and time consuming. I also find, for my taste, the dark wax can start looking dirty over certain colors.

I like the clean lines of a liquid product such as stain or glaze and the variety of colors to choose from (ASCP can be diluted into a glaze also). A similar door glazing project (using black glaze over gray paint) is shown for the downstairs bath. I guess it comes down to a personal choice but I prefer glaze over using wax for distressing cabinets.

I left the Dark Walnut stain to dry overnight and the next day (fourth on the project) I darkened the back of the cabinet doors so they would be more in keeping color-wise with the overall project when opened. After everything dried, Annie Sloan clear wax (for water protection) was put over the cabinet doors and drawers. All the hinge hardware was given an oil rubbed bronze spraypaint and left to dry overnight. The vanity was stained and also left to dry overnight.

cabinet door backs

The fifth day the vanity was was waxed and buffed. MISTAKE! When I brought the doors and drawers back in, I realized I had made a mistake on color. The vanity was more chocolate, the drawers and doors a bit lighter. To correct, I sanded them down lightly with 120 grit on my palm sander and applied more stain glaze. This set me back a day as I left them to dry again overnight.

Sixth day, the doors and drawers were waxed and buffed, the hardware installed and the door  and drawers put back in place. Wow!!! So happy with these new cabinets! (but totally disappointed with the photos which don’t show the loveliness as the flash washes out the color)

This was the first time I’ve worked with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on cabinets and here are my thoughts on the matter:

~ The paint dries incredibly fast with good adhesion, has little drip factor (in it’s original mixture it’s quite thick), and has very low to no odor. This makes it great for in-house projects and “get-it-done-in-a-day” projects.

~ This paint screams to be distressed. Over sanded wood that was quite smooth, when being brushed applied at full strength it did not go on smooth and clearly wanted to become distressed when being brush applied. The unsanded, test door immediately displayed craquelaure when paint was applied in the second coat.

~ It gives a flat, chalk feel and color to the paint; there is no shine unless you wax or coat it.

~ It sands amazingly well! This makes it ideal for distressing as over the counter latex paints peel when sanded.

~ I was concerned about how it would work with other products but it did well with the Cabot’s stain and the Buff glaze.

~ The chalky feel concerned me that it wouldn’t be protective for cabinets, but once it was glazed and waxed the surface is very protective.

~ The project went faster then using the enamel white paint in the kids bathroom so working in a team of two we were able to get them done with three coats of paint, front and back of doors, along with a glaze coat of ragging, a stain coat, and a wax coat in five days (not counting a mistake day).

~ It was brushed on over oak, the hardest grain pattern to conceal with paint. After two coats the undercoat of stain and oak grain were still visible. This is not a high conceal paint. If you want a solid, smooth coat, like I did on the kids bathroom cabinets, I would pass on this product for that purpose.

~ The paint produces the same amount of brush strokes as other paints, latex and enamel, when used without Penetrol. Because it dries so fast it is a bit harder to “feather out” brush marks.

After working with it, I do think it’s a do-able paint for the downstairs kitchen as long as I wax the doors twice. I’m excited that we’ll be able to trim costs and have me give the kitchen a professional finish without paying a professional. woohoo!

Updated ~ New hardware has been added