Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Cabinet door disaster

My plan had been to enter the story of this remodeling disaster in a contest, but I missed the deadline. So, I’ll just post it here. This is a story about our old house, so it happened more years ago than I want to think about.

Before I married Chris I had never held a paintbrush and barely knew which was the business end of a screwdriver.

But Chris was a remodeling contractor and out of economic necessity, I became his assistant. It turns out that one of the things I’m good at is painting—and I like it. I slip into a sort of mindless, meditative state, while I’m working. And then I get to see big changes in a hurry—painting satisfies the contemplative side of me and the short-attention span side as well.

Little did I know how important my new-found painting skills would be. We bought a house with a kitchen with lots of dark brown cabinets. We avoided the kitchen at night because the dark cabinets soaked up all attempts at lighting the room, and we stumbled around nearly blind no matter how many fixtures we turned on.

Those are Chris's legs on the ladder between the island and the upper cabinets.

After knocking around in the dark for several months, we removed all the cabinet doors and drawers and took them to the basement, where I set to work sanding and prepping them for painting.

Me sanding cabinet doors--before disaster struck!

I sanded at least a million drawer fronts and doors, then laid them on sawhorses to prime and paint. After painting a batch, I’d hang them with a screw (I had learned how to use a screwdriver by this time) and wire to another wire stretched across the basement to dry.

This project took several days, with Chris working upstairs on other things all the while. I had just put the final coat of glossy white paint on the last set of doors and had decided to leave them on the sawhorses to dry rather than hang them up.

As I surveyed my work, making sure I hadn’t missed any spots, rain began to pour on my head and on the freshly painted doors—an unusual occurrence because I was in the basement. I wasn’t so worried about myself, I needed a shower after all. But the paint on the doors wasn’t dry, and I saw my hours of work rippling and bunching up as the water hit it. I’d have to start all over with sanding, priming, and painting.

I screamed up through the floor at Chris. “Turn the water off. Turn the water off. It’s ruining my doors.”

But there was no answer from the kitchen, which was right above my head. By the time I ran upstairs, Chris was headed out the front door to the water meter to turn the water off. He had taken the kitchen sink supply lines loose in order to replace them, then gone to the store to buy new ones. When he got back, he went to do some work in the bathroom and turned the water back on to test that work without finishing up in the kitchen. Because we had no floor covering in the kitchen, the water poured through the cracks between the pieces of subflooring and straight down on my cabinet doors.

While I did all of the necessary repainting, Chris re-did all of the sanding—a job I hate.

Eventually, the cabinets and the rest of the kitchen came out great—nice and bright.


And, yes, after living through the winter with the snow-like look, we scraped the paint off the upper window panes.