Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Can’t Feel My Fingers, and I Smell Like Wood Stain


My brother and his wife have had lots of exciting changes take place in their lives over the past few months. But I must say that my favorite change for them is the purchase of their first home.


I know that I was excited about this for them because, before I realized what I was doing, I offered to stain their cabinets in their home to prevent them spending the quoted $14,000 for new ones.


As you can see from these “before” pictures, this place surely could use a stain update. The amazing thing is that this house is only seven years old. I just hope that rich, dark, chocolate cabinets aren’t out of date in seven years.

That’s the color that they wanted, and I was happy to oblige. Anything with the word “chocolate” in the description always means that I am happy to oblige.


It may be hard to tell from these pictures, but this kitchen is massive. Probably three times the surface area of my kitchen cabinets, which we stained over two years ago. I really had my work cut out for me here, folks.

Me and my big mouth.


Not only the kitchen would be needing an update, but also the laundry room and the guest bathroom as well. Luckily for me and my cramped fingers, they were simply replacing the master bathroom vanity. So no stain was needed in there.


The guest bathroom had the same wood and needed some lovin’. Unfortunately, I was just the gal to give it the attention that it needed!


So after an unsuccessful first hour of following the directions of application with a rag, I followed my sister-in-law’s brilliant advice to use a paint brush. Lo and behold, the color was just right!

Had I continued staining with a rag, I think I would still be in there working on a third coat to get the color just right. It was torturous!


But I am thrilled with the results of adding a whole lotta stain. It took just one pass with the paint brush to create the color and coverage for which I had hoped.


Luckily for me, I wasn’t alone in these endeavors. My Dad helped me every step of the way, and even my brother showed up to “stain” after he finished school for the day. On Day One, Hubby arrived after work and stayed to help us for another five hours.


I couldn’t have done it without them. And we all enjoyed the misery together.


Don’t get me wrong…I love doing stuff like this and was so excited to give my beloved sister-in-law a new kitchen. But after fifteen hours on the first day and still not being done, I was really questioning my sanity.


Thankfully, around 9:00 PM on Day One, we ran out of stain. And it was a specialty stain not carried at the big-box home improvement stores, so we needed to wait until the next morning to replenish our supplies.

Check out how excited Hubby is in the background. Cracks me up. This is how I felt but was too tired to show it.


I was really excited about how well everything was turning out, but I was so tired and already dreading coming back the next day! These dark pictures were taken after we gave up finished Day One.


It didn’t help that Day Two began at 6:30 AM when my brother told me the great news…he had just found enough stain for us to finish the entire house! Curses!


So I got to work with Dad once again. We finished the island and the bottom cabinets that hadn’t been touched the night before. And we were able to find some hidden-at-night corners that needed some touching-up.


It’s always nice to see things with a fresh pair of eyes. Even though the rest of me was still pretty puny from Day One.

IMG_3883    IMG_3885

We knocked it out, though, and even finished before Hubby had to come spot us after work. My brother showed up to help once again, and just ten hours later, every wooden surface in the house had been stained.


Except this. But I can’t take any blame for it. When we told my brother how impossible this would be to stain, we were hoping that he would let us remove the wine rack and replace it with adjustable shelves for cookbooks (or anything). They don’t drink alcohol, so a wine rack was not necessitated.

In an awkward turn of events, he said that he loved the two-tone look and wanted to keep it that way. Yuck. So we left it. And we will count the days after they move in before they realize how ugly and impractical it really is! Hint hint…


But, other than the wine rack, this place is looking pretty wonderful. And we finished after just ten hours on Day Two, which felt like a short day after being here fifteen the day before.


I finished the bathroom just as the kitchen was being wrapped up by my Dad and brother.


The laundry room was my test bed and had been finished since the day before. I wanted to see how it would look finished, so I closed the cabinets for a picture.

It made me very happy indeed. I love the dark look, and the hard work was really starting to pay off!


Perhaps the best news to me was that this stain needed to “dry” for forty-eight hours before a coat of polyurethane could be added on top. We finished the staining late Tuesday afternoon, which meant that we would need to wait until at least Friday morning to do the poly.


Luckily, I had plans on Friday and got to bump the poly back to Saturday. I thought that an extra day of drying couldn’t hurt, either, because we had painted the stain on so thickly. (Thickly…is that even a word?)


My Dad had to work on Saturday but showed up that afternoon when we were finished to see the final product. My brother, Hubby, and I did the poly in about eight hours throughout the house.


I was simply thrilled with the results and even more overjoyed that we were finally done! We didn’t have to worry about taping off these old appliances, since they were to be replaced with beautiful new stainless steel ones (I think today)!


It was a massive job, and I hope to never stain another kitchen again (ha…I just read my post about staining my kitchen cabinets and said the same thing then…I must have a short memory).

For just a few hundred dollars, we completely transformed their home. It is now modern and updated and elegant and rich. Their new granite countertops should be installed today. And the painter worked his magic over the past few days (which helped to clean up stain where the tape didn’t make a tight line), so it will be so wonderful seeing the finished product.


The bathroom got a careful coat of polyurethane as well to protect it from water and the use of two little girls. Once my brother gets some hardware on these drawers and doors, they will be even more stunning.


The laundry room also got some poly, which dries as a clear, hard, protective finish that will stave off any damage. Don’t these look incredible?!


And, although I had nothing to do with it, I thought that it would be fun to show you the before-and-after of the new master shower. This was after they tore out all of the old dirty stuff. They’ve already done some drywalling in preparation for the new shower tiles being installed.


And this is the mid-way point of their new shower. It still needs grout and sealing, but the travertine and mosaic border are just beautiful. They will be adding glass walls on top of both half walls. It will be perfect!


I, for one, am glad that such a monumental task of staining is over. But I am tickled with how things turned out in the house. They will be moving early next week into a practically-new home. And I am very happy for them.

But my sore fingers won’t be answering any calls from them over the next few days, just in case. Thank goodness for caller ID!


  1. Love it Micah! What is the stain color called and where did you get it? I love it all, makes the whole place seem like a palace than a simple home. Great job, go team! Ha ha! :)

    1. It is a stain recommended by their contractor called Zar in Moorish Teak. The poly was Old Master.

      We found stores selling it from Zar's website.

  2. Micah, this is incredible! It is beautiful! I'm sure they really appreciate all your hard work.
    You are not really serious about never doing another kitchen, are you? Remember, mine is not very big....

    1. You win, Mom. I'll do your kitchen, too. But only because I like you. And only because it won't be in the next few weeks...

      Let's do it! Next summer?

  3. Beautiful...would they mind if you did a whole home tour when they are all moved in?? I would love to see the rest of the house!! I am do happy for them!

    1. What a great idea, Dolly! They are fiercely private, so I don't know if this will be allowed. But I am getting pretty good at sweet-talking, too...


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