The current state of our kitchen:

We are knee deep into our biggest DIY project yet—refinishing the cabinets.

Before I give you the play by play of this weekend, let's get familiar with how the kitchen looked prior to the madness:

First thing on the agenda was building some open shelves on the big empty wall. I considered trying to fabricate my own for half a second, then reality kicked in and we decided to hire a pro (the same guy who built this wine bar cabinet, in fact...)

We paid him $250 which I thought was extremely reasonable. He built everything from scratch, including the corbels (and they came out exactly as I had pictured). He even installed the top shelf for us. The bottom shelf, however, was another issue. The corbels needed to be drilled into the glass tile, which requires a special drill bit—one which he did not have. We picked one up at Lowes for around $8 and (very nervously) gave it our best attempt....

The tile survived, but we drilled too low (oops) and were left with a big gap between the corbel and the shelf:

We shoved some shims (wrapped in paper) to try and fill the gap and thought maybe we could putty it in... but eventually came to our senses and decided we need to drill a new hole.

And so we did.

Then this happened...

Yep, it cracked. Not from drilling... but from tightening the corbel to the tile. It wasn't even that tight... glass tile is just sensitive. Lesson learned. There's around a half inch of crack visible below the corbel, but it's not very noticable unless you're really looking for it.

Mid-installation action:

For extra reinforcement, we drilled the corbels into the bottom of the shelf.

If you're wondering why the corbel is in the corner of the wall up against the microwave, that is (unfortunately) where the stud was so we had no choice. Safety first!

Finally, success:

 With the shelf installation out of the way, it was time to prep for sanding.

We removed all of the doors and brought them into the garage where we set up our workstation:

Then we carefully taped around the tile and walls:

To spare you the mundane details of everything, we're following John & Sherry's instructions for this process. Luckily, they've done all the research for us, so all we have to do is go through the steps and hope it works.

Here is a super condensed recap:

We spent the rest of Saturday patching holes and sanding (using 60 grit first, then 220 to smooth). Sunday morning we finished the last bit of sanding and wiped everything down with deglosser.

Then we primed using Zinsser's Cover Stain (oil based in the gold can).

One thin coat of primer on every surface did the trick.

We managed to get all of the priming done on Sunday, so this morning it was straight to painting. I picked up a gallon of Benjamin Moore's Advance line, in off the shelf bright white. For our application, we used a high quality 2" angled brush and a skinny roller (both recommended by the BM paint salesman). Grand total for paint supplies: $62.

Coat #1 is still drying, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow for coat #2 (the paint can says 16 hours between coats). Since each side of the cabinets will need two coats (at least), the paint alone will be a four day long process—not including any touch ups. Then we have to wait 3 days for it to cure.

And then...

New handles!

After going back and forth between oil rubbed bronze and brushed nickel a thousand times, I finally opted for the nickel. This is because a) the sink and faucet are both silver, and b) our hinges will be silver. As much as I die for ORB, it just wasn't in the cards this time.

I also got a killer deal...

That's 16 handles in all, and the grand total came to $78.66 after I used my ebay bucks certificate. Not too shabby! The reason they are all different sizes is because we have 5 different sized doors/drawers, so I figured it would be best if the handles were proportionate to the door size rather than consistent across the board.

As for the hinges, we're ditching the old exposed suckers and going with concealed soft-close babies. We did some research and found that you had to route a hole into the cabinet for the concealed type hinges, which is something we were neither capable of nor comfortable doing, so we called up our handyman (the one who built the bar cabinet and our shelves) and he said he'd take care of all of the hinges and installation for $325. Well worth it to us—I bet you won't be able to tell these cabinets were from 1992 by the time we're done.

So that's about all of the pictures and words I have for tonight. Our hard work and living in this mess has definitely been worth it—I'm loving the results so far.

The primer told me it loved me too.