Mission Control

So all the blogs on the Internet (all of them!) are very insistent that houses need a “landing strip,” a place to drop mail and keys next to where you house your coats and shoes. I didn’t take a proper “before” photo but this was ours:

Essentially, one of those ubiquitous chalkboards from Ikea covered in art from EDB’s daycare, and an old padded fake-leather storage ottoman covered with EDB’s jackets and shoes. And–there it is–a place for us to hang our keys. A landing strip!

But the blogs taught me that I needed a more functional piece of furniture there, and I have to admit, they were kind of right. Behold:

Check that landing strip OUT! Isn’t it awesome? It is blog-worthy (and hey, it is in a blog!). Here is what the cabinet looked like before, when we were storing it in the basement:

We got it off of Craigslist here in Cheverly. The person who posted on craigslist (with whom I had emailed) was actually the owner’s son; we arrived at the house to take a look at the cabinet and a delightful older gentleman showed it to us. The cabinet had been listed for $30 and I had negotiated with the son down to $20, since it was obvious from the photos that it was pretty beat up. We told the owner we’d take it, but that we’d have to go get a Zipcar van and come back later. He immediately insisted on following us home with the cabinet in his minivan, because Cheverly is the nicest town in the world. So I wound up giving him t he full $30.

(Sidenote: we pulled into our driveway, and he got out of his van and immediately exclaimed “Oh! You live in Nida and Fred’s old house!” Because Cheverly is the best.)

The cabinet was built by a friend of the guy’s, so I guessed that the wood wasn’t the highest quality and that the best plan would be to repaint. It was a little rickety so it needed some TLC, and the door clasps didn’t work too well so I knew it would need new hardware. So on a nice spring day, we hauled it out to the driveway. First step was to take off all the hardware and give everything a good sand and wipedown. That gave the surfaces a nice smooth starting point and roughed up the top coat of paint so the primer would stick better. I borrowed a sander from some friends to make it a little easier.

 Next step was primer. I used an oil-based primer since there were some stains and stuff on the top of the cabinet that I wasn’t sure would sand all the way off. I was glad to be outside because that stuff STINKS. One coat of primer did the trick. I primed the outside of the whole thing, plus the inside shelving.

I let the primer dry for two hours (as instructed on the can) before moving on to the paint. This is Valspar Deep Twilight Blue in an eggshell sheen. The woman at the paint counter at Lowe’s tried to sell me on semi-gloss but I didn’t want it too shiny. Plus I planned to seal it (as you’ll see below). The blue is actually a little lighter than I was thinking it would be but I dig it.

I started off using a roller for some of the larger sections here, but quickly moved to just a paint brush for the whole thing. The key for painting furniture is to do really thin coats of everything, and the brush gave me a lot more control over that than a roller.

Here it is the next day after the second coat of blue. I could have done three coats probably but it was getting late and the sun was setting. I also settled on a minty blue-green that I had left over from samples I’d used for our kitchen walls for the shelving (I think it’s Valspar Delicate Frost?), and slapped a quick two coats on of that (which mercifully didn’t need to be as neat and tidy as the outside of the piece; my arms were getting tired!).

The most painstaking part of the process was the poly. I used Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Satin. You want your layers of Poly to be suuuuuuper thin, using a brand new clean brush. Otherwise you get bubbles and brush strokes and other ickiness.

I haven’t gotten hardware for the piece yet (drawer pulls, hinges, magnetic closure thingies), but I’m wondering if it almost looks better without the doors? Certainly makes it easier for EDB to grab his shoes!

Eventually I’ll add some low-profile storage to the top for catching things like spare change and outgoing mail. On the right side of the shelving is Josh’s and my bags for easy grab-and-go in the mornings.

One thing I realized after we had the cabinet in place was that it didn’t really have a spot for EDB’s jackets, which had previously been stored in a pile on top of the ottoman. So I grabbed some cup hooks we had lying around and screwed them to the underside of the top. Ta-da! Instant EDB-height jacket storage! Aesthetically pleasing AND toddler-independence-encouraging!

What projects have you completed lately that you’re proud of? And do we think I really need to hang those doors back up?

PS Hat-Tip to my mom for making that amazing stained glass lamp. She is super talented!


One response to “Mission Control

  1. Wow! That looks great. I’m so impressed with your DIY skills!

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