From Muddy Mess to Welcome Back

I have good news today, I just learned that my apartment complex is no longer for sale. The owner has decided to keep the building and make necessary repairs and  improvements.  I am sure this will bring a bit of an increase in rent but it will be worth it to me.   I no longer have to plan what I will be doing in the garden by how difficult it would be to move it should a new owner decide we can’t use the field.  As for rent, I am very fortunate to have open land and a beach across the street.  Where most properties are very pricey this close to the water, I pay a total of $410 which includes all utilities, so an increase won’t break the bank.

found this guy outside, not sure how he survived winter.

found this guy outside, not sure how he survived winter.

Now for an update on the kitchen I am working on.

If you don’t know what I am talking about a good friend and neighbor had had enough with her ugly, muddy kitchen and was planning to have a new kitchen put in at her own cost.  I talked her out of it by offering to redo the existing cabinetry.

Here is a look at the before of one of the cabinet doors.  Yes, there are many stains on this door but I had to give her a pass when I realized the dark stained door was given a single coat of flat latex paint.  Everything stuck to this and nothing was washable or it damaged the paint.  Anyone considering painting kitchen cabinets, go ahead and do it. It’s cheap, easy and eco friendly because you won’t have a stack of cabinets heading for the trash.  Just be sure to seal the finished cabinets with a water based sealer.


The sanding went along just fine….until I started on the recessed panel in the center.  I had a feeling this was going to be an issue. Unfortunately I was right.  The panel isn’t wood it’s Masonite, something you don’t see very often any more.  Trying to remove the paint left the surface scratched and it was an ugly brown.  I had to call my friend and suggest a few alternatives.  She settled on paint but had no idea what color.  We narrowed it down to three. I painted each of the colors on a section of the door and sent it home with her to consider.


The colors aren’t very clear in this photo, but from left to right there’s white, khaki, and sand. The khaki and sand were similar but the khaki was a bit darker.  Sand was chosen so I got back to work sanding off the samples, prepping and painting.   To hold up to anything a door can take in a kitchen I added three coats of polycrylic, sanding lightly between coats.  This is what I sent back up stairs.



I left the original dark stain around the edges (same as the drawer) to tie in with the darker cabinet bases.  When my friend spotted the finished door her response was ” Oooo I like!”   While this isn’t what I would have done if given free reign as painted cabinets would have a wider appeal in a rental, this is what my friend wanted.  She is a purist when it comes to wood despising paint on wooden objects. I’m still waiting to hear back whether she wants pulls or knobs on the doors as they didn’t have them.

Total cost is negligible for the kitchen.  Some sandpaper, a bit of polycrylic and paint I received from Freecycle  All total my cost will be between $5 and $10 for the entire kitchen.  Once again:





What would you have done with this door if it were in your kitchen?

22 thoughts on “From Muddy Mess to Welcome Back

  1. … Hi Lois … 1st of … I AM SO HAPPY for YOU that you get to keep & stay on in your apartment complex … God Bless the owner … that cute little furry guy on your palm is sooo cute … i too share your love for living beings … i too had numerous cute guests like him … whom i found while shelling my peas … & then they turned into pea moths & flew away … your little fellow has been gifted with extra resilience to take on the winter … Bless him Bless you … & about your friend’s cabinet door … i’m convinced that you are Einstein reborn … the door looks amazing … i totally am on your side … recycle & redo … you asked what would i do if this was my kitchen … well … i’d pray to have a friend like you to help me redo my kitchen … Bless your heart Lois … God Bless … : )


    • Dina, if you had a hideous kitchen and lived nearby I would be more than happy to help you out. ;-) Not sure I qualify to be in the same company as Einstein but much appreciated.

      I was very much relieved to learn my home would not be changing owners any time soon. This has become more than just a roof over my head,

      My little caterpillar has been on my mind, I should have brought him inside rather than simply saving him from being run over in the parking lot.


  2. Decision have never been my strong point. My cabinets, I am told, have been replaced (or refaced) once since the house was built in the 50s. They are a golden brown (I know you know what I’m talking about). I would choose something different, but for now I will live with them. Perhaps different knobs and draw pulls would liven it up. If I decide to replace the hardware, I will let you know. I would hate to throw away all that hardware, but don’t know any other person as resourceful as you. My brother is VERY handy, but not as much of a re-user (there’s a better word, I just can’t think of it right now) as you.


    • Jean, I can picture your cabinets simply from the date and the color. I recently bought all the discontinued knobs, pulls and hinges from the local hardware store. I haven’t had time to sort them all, but planned to sell off most of it. If you decide you want new pulls and or knobs let me know and I’ll send you pictures of what I have in the quantities you need and give you more than a fair price on them and discount it if you want to send me your old ones.

      As for your brother, reuser is good enough, I knew what you meant. I tend say say I upcycle or repurpose but they all mean the same thing. :-)


  3. First I am pleased Lois the building is not being sold on.. So I am doubly pleased you can begin to plant and plan your Spring Veggies again..
    Those cupboard doors~ What an improvement. Well done, and for years we did the same in our kitchen -repainting and revamping until we did splash out with a New Kitchen.. I am sure your friend will be delighted with her new Kitchen look…

    I hope the weather is improving Lois.. I know you have had further bad storms over there.. So I hope you kept warm and the power stayed on..

    take care.. Sue xox


    • Thank you, Sue. I was so excited to learn the building wasn’t being sold but even more thrilled to hear the necessary improvements along with updating the apartments is on the agenda. This place is such a gem just needing a bit of love to shine.

      My friend is loving the new look of the cabinets, they aren’t all finished as she sends on to me at a time. Being as there are 13 in total it will be a few weeks before she has her new kitchen.

      I’m not surprised you made do with your kitchen for years, but a new kitchen must be a joy to work in with all you do in there.

      Appreciate your concern over our storms, While not our worst storms, for this time of year they weren’t pleasant. Only once did my power go but it came right back on so I was lucky. Are things drying out for you there?


  4. Hi Lois! Glad to you hear aren’t going to have to move. I sense you like where you live for several reasons and moving can be both a distraction and an expense if unnecessary.

    And I think you did a great job with the cabinet doors. I think I would have gone with a coordinating color OR white. That’s very modern looking and easy to add accents to add a bit of color.


    • Thank you, Kathy. Yes I love it here and did everything I could to protect myself in the event the building sold. the biggest thing I did was to extend my lease for an extra few years locking in my rent to buy time should the rents be increased when sold.

      I agree with you, I would have painted the cabinets white, which I had out and ready when I was told white was not an option they wanted to live with.


  5. The black detailing on the cabinet door makes all of the difference in the world. While that’s not what I would have chosen first either, I really like it.

    I am glad you can get to stay where you are. The not knowing part is always hard and now you know. And now the gardening can begin. (when you can see the ground again.)


    • Live and Learn, the detailing I kept on the drawer and am glad I did once I started to work on the doors. The plan was to leave the details in the original dark stain (not the ugly brown paint color). When I first saw the kitchen my idea was to paint them all white and add decorative hardware to make them look up to date.

      While my neighbor is excited and loves them, if I were going to live there I would redo them as I find them too dark for a room with no natural lighting.


  6. Pleased to hear you won’t have to face moving Lois, you have a great location and I know nothing about rents there but here you place would cost around $200 a week in our smaller towns, alot more in the cities.
    Lovely work on the cupboards. We have 70’s brown veneer too but the shape of the cupboards doors doesn’t lend itself well to trying to update them….not holding my breath for a new kitchen either though!


    • Wendy, even in this town the rents around the rest of the lake area are really high, this is the only affordable place in the entire town. The rest is similar to places around you and then would still charge utilities extra

      I would have to see your cabinets, but there is always a fix for everything. If they are flat with no details you could add trim (moulding) pieces to give it depth and then paint them. Of course you could paint them and then add a decoupaged or painted design on the fronts to give them interest. Sorry, I love coming up with new ways to save older things. :-)


  7. I am so HAPPY to hear the building will not be sold….It is (to my mind) amazing, I have not even met you, yet I felt concerned for you re this. so glad it is more solid and secure for you now.

    and, for sure you are right about the value of what you have/what is across for you.
    the rent seems pretty good, when it includes utilities, so that is good.


    • Thank you, Lynn. I do love living here and am thrilled I can stay long term (which was my plan when I first moved here). The rents in this town are pretty high so I too was shocked when told what this place rented for. Between being a university town and having the lake there is a large vacation community here which pushes up the costs. But yes, including utilities this place is a steal!


  8. Lois, wow.

    it is truly shocking what a difference (wow) a bit of paint (and no doubt hours of hard work) made.

    to my mind, that expanse of plain colour on the recessed middle panel cries out for something….

    -stenciled pic/pattern
    -decoupaged pic
    -mm maybe even some nice pics from a calendar pasted on
    -Indian pattern stencil


    • Lynn, you are so correct. I would have loved to do something different on the panel but this is what they wanted and the customer is always right. ;-)

      I would have loved to decoupage large pictures or even a lovely fabric on it. Of course I would have painted the entire cabinet door/drawers and added pulls or knobs to make them stand out.


  9. Great you don’t have to worry about moving. Your rent cost is fantastic. I wouldn’t want to leave with.
    I’m going to try painting my kitchen cabinets this summer. They are an ugly dark colored veneer from the 70s. I like the way you solved the problems with this one you refinished.


    • Cynthia, I painted my laminate cabinets here. I used a latex paint then used two coats of polycrylic and they have held up nicely. My kitchen is very small so to hide the fact that I had cheap cabinets I added nice pulls, it changed the entire look. What color do you plan on using?


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