Monday, May 5, 2014

The Black Door Project

As most of you know, Brian is an architect (and a very good one, I must add!).  This often makes people assume some things: a) Brian designed our home and b) we make a lot of money.

(pause for any architects reading this to quit laughing)

We live in a tract home and though Brian would love to design something for us, it is a very expensive project which the modest architectural salary doesn't cover.  That being said though, I love love love our house!  Brian bought it without me seeing it when we moved across the country six years ago now.  It has amazing natural light and the space is used incredibly efficiently.  If there is one person to buy a house for you, it is an architect!

Because this is a builder home, it was fairly basic and looked like most of the other homes on the street.  With Brian itching to make it his own, we have spent many a "date night" working on it together.  We've been problem solving:

Our kitchen is extremely white.  With white cabinets, countertops and backsplash, the effect is, well, stark.  On top of that, when we moved in, all the appliances were white too.  Thanks to a leaky dishwasher and a refrigerator that failed to actually refrigerate, half of the appliances are now stainless and the space has a little more definition to it.  The way it is situated, there is very little wall space since it opens onto the living space which I absolutely love since I get to keep an eye on the kids while I make dinner.

Right now, the expensive fixes of new countertops and backsplash has to wait, but paint is cheap so that seemed like our best option thus we decided to paint our doors black to inject some personality.

I usually use Valspar paint from Lowes since it is inexpensive and does a great job.  This time I used a semi gloss because I needed to be able to wipe down the doors.  If I'm perfectly honest, I have to admit that the they desperately needed to be painted since they were permanently stained with little mucky handprints.  (It was these same little grimy hands that stole my camera's memory card that have the before pictures on it; if/when I find it, I'll upload these, I promise!)  It gives it a nice sheen too and provides some continuity with the trim since it is the same finish.  I would never use anything less glossy than semi for something like this.

When we bought our home though, it didn't look like it does now.  It was seriously the colors of Easter M&M's: pink, lavender, dusty blue, minty green, and several shades of yellow  The one room that didn't fit the color scheme was the secondary bathroom that was highlighter yellow.  I painted it after getting a couple migraines while bathing kiddos. 

It surprised me how many people won't buy a house because of it's color.  Painting is easy and cheap!  For the cost of a gallon of paint, you can completely transform a room.  No other fix can do that for $25! Even if you hate painting, you can probably cajole some friends into helping with the offer of pizza and tacos.  Hey, you find me good Mexican street style tacos, I'll be there (as you rightly observe, I am still a Southern Californian who is languishing with the state of Mexican food in the South)!

The color is Valspar Lincoln Cabin.  If this is something that you would like to do in your home, don't just pick up regular old black paint.  It might seem easy, but don't.  Straight up black is far too harsh and will look really stark.  I love this color since it looks black, but it blends with our wall color (which is Valspar Arid Plains) because it has a hint of gray in it.  If you are scared to take the plunge and do something striking in your house, going a slight off black is a great way to get started.

It looks far more designer as an off black and hey, my architect picked it out!

We painted all the doors in the house like this... all fourteen of them.  I spent a weekend in the garage and I think somewhere around door seven I started wondering if this was a good idea after all; it took a long time to say the least!  But, we did it right and it makes all the difference in how the finished product looks.  As I usually say, no shortcuts!  Do it once; do it right!

Here's the steps to getting your doors done right and adding some really fun, custom character:
  1. Take the doors off the hinges.  I know this seems annoying to live without doors and a hassle to take them down just to put them back up.  But, for the finish to be right, the need to come off.  There will be far fewer paint drips if you paint them flat.
  2. Take off all the hardware.  Don't even try taping around the door knob.  I made this mistake before; it never looks right because if you are off just a little bit, you can see the other color, get paint lines, paint on the hardware, have paint leak under the tape... you name it.  Thirty seconds and you don't have to worry about that; all it takes is a hand held screwdriver for this and step one.
  3. Wash the doors.  You know how I said that our doors were stained from little hands?  All that grime and even just normal dust will make the paint not stick uniformly or worse, get mixed into the paint and dull the finish.  After hours of painting, you really don't want to see a sandpaper like finish in the crevices!  The paint job is only as good as the prep work.
  4. More prep work.  Fill any holes and sand out any rough spots.  I have wood texture on my doors so I did my best to only fill where I had to lest I get a bunch of smooth spots in the middle of wood grain.  Just do your best to match it and it will be great!
  5. Two coats of paint.  I used a brush to fill in the panels in our six-panel doors and used a roller on the rest to get it as smooth as possible.  The black can take awhile to cover so a second coat is an absolute must.  Just make sure that the first coat is completely dry.  I did this in really hot weather so it didn't take too long for me fortunately.
  6. Put them back up!  This, of course, when they are fully dry.  Also make sure that you have the right size door in the correct frame since that will be a bummer if you get it all screwed in and then you have a two inch gap.  Our bathroom doors are a different width than the bedroom ones and closet ones so just keep that in mind... speaking humbly from experience. 
  7. Re-install your hardware and you are done!  If you wanted to change out your hardware, this would probably be a good time too!
I was worried that it might be a little dark, but it has actually reflected more light especially with the new finish.  I have to say that I think this might be one of my favorite projects; it cost less than $30 for a dramatic transformation.  My white kitchen has so much more character since the doors read differently than all the cabinets.  I love the way too, that they blend with the painted furniture we have in the dining room.  And it helps that it hides little hand prints!

And again, sorry for the lack of before photos.  It is late as I write in order to get this done for it's scheduled post time and the two year old is sleeping already.  I will be interrogating him about my missing memory card when he wakes up.

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