My Kitchen Hates Me: Failure or Success?

My kitchen

After the completion of the Impossible Shelf and the subsequent reorganization of my kitchen, my mind became obsessed with a few last things my kitchen was in desperate need of. Or at least a few last things that were actually feasible…

Ideas

The first and largest, of which was the idea of  adding some kind of island or counter to the space next to the stove. There is plenty of space for it, it would give me some much needed counter and storage space and perhaps even provide me with a way to hide my trash can and recycle bag.

My kitchen 2

So, I went on the prowl for a solution. I searched online for a ready made solution, but the cost seemed gargantuan when compared to what it would cost me to build an island with counter myself. However, I also wasn’t confident of my ability to build working drawers or even cupboard doors. I’m sure I could, but never having actually built them from scratch, myself, made me hesitate. I cruised Pinterest for days, gathering ideas, sketching, researching materials and hardware. As I was nearing a completed idea, ready to be put into a final design, I was standing in my kitchen visualizing the idea when I saw something and gave myself a facepalm that nearly knocked me off my feet. I’m such an idiot!

My kitchen with island

I ALREADY HAD AN ISLAND!!

Allow me to explain:

This is another one of those things that “came with the house”. Seriously, this rolling countertop on drawers and cupboards came with the house when we bought it over 7 years ago. Until a year ago, when we took down our Great Wall, it had resided in the dining room (because it didn’t fit in the kitchen) and I never used it much. I did, however, refinish it and update the hardware (it used to be very dark brown with scary brass hardware circa 1975) During our huge remodel last year when we redid the Entryway and closed up the floors, it became a giant rolling toolbox and work surface. When the remodel was complete, we had resigned the island to the far corner of the living room and stationed the cat’s food bowls on it to help keep them out of reach of the new puppy and I hadn’t thought another thing about it since.

So, after weeks of research and racking my brains: the answer was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! (insert one last epic facepalm! GAH!!)

Well … COOL! It doesn’t exactly match or anything, but who am I to say no to more counter and storage space?? Plus, I can fix that later. :D

So I cleaned it out and moved into it.

 Back of island

I even had a place for my trashcan!

Trash can before

But, if you know me, you know I need efficiency and opening a cupboard door and reaching in to drop something (or many things) into the trash is fine, but tedious and annoying when I KNOW there are better options available. Aren’t I the DIY Goddess? I can do better.

My first idea was to do a tilt-out trash can. In my mind the tilt out would provide the most ease 0f use and be easiest to build. Just a couple hinges and brackets and I’d be good to go.

MISTAKES

At this point I will admit that I made a (and then several more) HUGE mistake: I didn’t think to research other possible options. Had I done so, I would have saved myself A LOT of frustration and heartache. I didn’t though and this project has since become a harsh lesson on the importance of research. 

So I went shopping for tilt-out hardware. I searched online and in hardware stores, but I didn’t have much success. It seems that builders have their own custom blend of hinges and such they use when building tilt-outs and after awhile it all just became Greek to me and I gave up on the idea. I should also point out that, at the time, I had another couple ideas for the kitchen rolling around in my head and this was my second mistake: don’t take on too much at once. It will make your head (and your house) one big mess! 

The only other “trash can in the cabinet” idea I had seen was a drawer box on slides attached to the cabinet door. You pull the handle and the whole thing pulls out like a drawer to access the trash cans. I could do that. I think…. So while I was out, prowling hardware stores for tilt-out hardware, I bought a couple drawer slides and headed home feeling a bit defeated, but hopeful.

I sat on this idea for a few days, worked on my other projects and waited for a chance to bring it up with Hubby. By the time I brought it up with him, I had already decided that this would be a bigger undertaking than I wanted: I’d have to build drawer boxes and then find a way to hold the trash bin in place and on and on my brain went…. Surely they make something that has all this built for you? Something I could just install and possibly alter to suit my needs? They do! So, after discussing with Hubby and taking careful measurements of my cupboard, I was off to the store to return my drawer slides and picked up one of these instead.

Asinine contraption

Tears, Frustration, and More Mistakes

I purchased the, above pictured, slide out trash bin contraption. By my standards, it was not cheap ($55.99). Let’s just say that I could buy A LOT of lumber and hardware for that price. Especially, the way I plan and shop.

I knew this particular contraption didn’t accommodate being attached to a cabinet door, but I was confident that I could find a way to make it work. I had even researched it and learned that for an additional $30, a consumer could purchase a kit that would facilitate attaching it to the door. I studied the design of said kits and set to work confident that I could make it work the way I wanted.

Tears

Notice the dimensions given in the diagram on the box in the photo above. It gives the total height of the unit, the total width, and the depth. The depth of the unit FULLY EXTENDED is given at 19″. NOT the depth of the unit fully closed.

Tears

My cabinet is 19.25″ deep. Fully closed this unit is 20″. No where on the box or in the directions does it state the consumers cabinet must be 20″ to accommodate this asinine contraption.

When I set this stupid thing into my cabinet, I instantly knew it would not fit, but denial and outrage overtook me and spent a good 2 minutes trying to figure out why it wouldn’t fit (Is there something in the way? Did I do it wrong?), but I hadn’t even screwed it in yet. It couldn’t be my error! I looked back at the box, sure it was a mistake, sure the wrong contraption got put in the box for the 19″ slides…. but the diagram (the only place the dimensions were given) was misleading and I fell for it….

I don’t know if it was the sheer disappointment after being SO excited to FINALLY have a slide out trash bin, the anger over the misleading diagram, being overwhelmed with projects, the stress of life in general or perhaps it all just combined, but it overtook me and I laid my head down on the floor in my kitchen and cried.

This stupid kitchen hates me. It will never let me be happy. What a stupid company! I’m going to call and complain! I am going to sue!

These thoughts and a million others swam through my head as my tears dripped onto the beautiful Pergo tile I had installed, myself, not more than a year ago, DESPERATE to hate my kitchen a little less. I’m sure my reaction seems extreme and it probably was, but I suppose it paints a good picture of just how frustrated I’ve been with this space over the years and conveys just HOW MUCH time and energy I’d put into this idea and how hopeless I felt.

I don’t do hopeless.

I FIX!

I OVERCOME!

I DON’T GIVE UP!

I FINISH WHAT I START!

I WIN!!

It was these thoughts that pulled my head off the kitchen floor.

IT WOULD WORK! I WOULD MAKE IT!

I sat there for a bit and no ideas came. It was a midweek morning and Hubby was at work and unavailable for a consult. So I thought: what would he do if he were here? He (and his big muscles) would change the dimensions, either of the contraption or of the cabinet!

After a thorough and VERY LONG examination of the contraption and the cabinet and doing some maths … I learned some things. First, that I could not change the length of the slides/contraption. The slides are a precision mechanical unit and to shorten them in any way would render them useless. Second, I needed 3/4″ and then some to make it fit and the back of the cabinet is only 1/2″ thick and the door is only a 1/2″ think. That would leave me 1/4″ margin of error if I attempted to “dig out” a space to accommodate the slides and that simply wouldn’t be enough. Not to mention, if I failed I could seriously ruin the cabinet… GAH! Where is good old fashioned drywall when you need it!

So I sat there awhile longer and thought. 3/4″ of an inch. That’s all I need and I’ve been thwarted by less (I once purchased the wrong moulding and installed it before I realized it was 1/16 of an inch thicker than the adjoining moulding and looked terrible. 3/4″ could be Everest by comparison….)

And then it hit me. I could ADD to the door. Make the edges stick out just enough to conceal the opening, but make enough space for the contraption!

I was off and running again!

At this point I probably should have STOPPED, taken a break, researched, worked on something else, ANYTHING, but plow forward in this incensed and determined state, but I didn’t!

A New Hope and a New Door

You should have seen the hardware flying across my kitchen as the power drill and I made quick work of detaching the hinges from the cabinet door and removing the handle. Then I took the door out to the garage and began digging through my scrap wood to find just the right pieces to attach to the edges and “extend” the door.

I found some pieces that would give me about an 1.5″ of extra space (I wanted to be SURE there would be MORE than enough space), cut them to length and attached them.

Using clamps to hold them in place

Using clamps to hold them in place

nailing

Then flipped them over and used the nailer to secure them

deeper cabinet door

 

Right about now I was finally calm enough to REALLY stop and think. I realized I should have waited and researched more or spent some time thinking about this more. So I took my new creation back upstairs and did a dry fit.

  dry fit

The idea seemed to be working, so after a short break, I pressed forward with the idea. Just because I was upset didn’t make it a bad idea, right?

The pieces of wood I attached were just a hair too wide to perfectly fit the lip on the inside of the door and overhung the edge about 1/8″, so I spent the next two days sanding down that edge on all four sides of the door, but when I was done it was perfectly flush.

Flush 1Flush 2

Next I added a few more nails just to be safe), and some supports to the inside. These supports are also 3/4″ thick so they would enable me to easily attach the slides to the door.

Supports

Everything nailed in place, I checked it over and used a nail setter to make sure all the nails were deep enough to putty over the holes.

nail setter

I then applied a healthy layer of putty to all the holes and any gaps around the edges.

Putty

Once the putty was dry, I sanded it all nice and smooth and it was ready for some paint.

For the painting part of things I moved my project back into the house (where it is easier to control dust and humidity levels) and set it up on my counter using a couple of my paint jars to prop it up.

Jars to prop up project Primer

I then applied a couple coats of primer before it was ready for the FUN part.

Rust-oleum Cabinet Transformations

(Good Stuff!)

Rust-oleum cabinet transformations

I love this stuff! Then again, I love paint, so … I may be biased ;)

In case you were wondering; I’d already used this kit the last time I painted/upgraded that island. So now it is just a matter of repainting the door to match.

Kitty prints in the finish

One of my kitties put their paws to the island before it was dry and sealed… I could have fixed it, but I kinda like it.

Normally, when you use this kit/product, you don’t have to sand or prime first. You just take your existing cabinets, take off the hardware, clean them, etc., and apply the deglosser (then clean it off per the directions) before applying the bond coat (paint), but because I was starting out with bare wood, it is recommended that I use a good primer before applying the bond coat.

The bond coat is easy enough: you just apply with a brush. Using the brush vs. a roller or sprayer actually helps achieve a wood grain look to the project in later steps.

bond coatBond Coat

Two coats of the bond coating later and it is time for the glaze. Rust-oluem says the glaze is an optional step, but I think it MAKES the kit. Without it you’d just have painted looking projects. With it, you get WOOD looking projects. It is fine if you just want it to look painted, but I, almost always, prefer a wood look.

Applying the glaze

This glazing step is easily the most difficult, but also the most fun! I’ve had quite a bit of experience doing it though, and it has become more fun each time.

Rust-olums website has a fountain of ideas and tips for how to do this, but here are mine to help you achieve the look you want:

  1. Assuming you want a normal wood grain look: start by loading up your brush (like you would with paint), brush it on, in the same direction you painted on the bond coat and just keep brushing and spreading it until you have really worked it in and there are no more beads or puddles of glaze (like in my photo above). This is probably the thing that helped me the most once I figured it out. Otherwise you are prone to more blotchiness and inconsistencies.
  2. Take a couple of your included cloths and hold them like I am in the photo above. This gives you a nice even surface for your “blotting” and it keeps the rest of the cloth (the edges and such) from accidentally touching your project and ruining your pattern.
  3. I find the first few blotts with a fresh cloth take off too much glaze, so sometimes after the first few blots (enough to get the cloth saturated just a bit) I might go back over the area with brush and just a little glaze, work it in really well and blot again to get the look I want.
  4. Make your blotts random or place them in a line. It doesn’t matter as long as it looks pleasing to you. I tend to use the glaze as my guide: in some places it is already thicker or darker than in others or has formed little beads where it didn’t get spread enough. I tend to blott those spots first and then blot the areas in between until it looks balanced and how I want.
  5. Corners are your enemy! Do your VERY BEST not to apply glaze to any spot twice! It will look darker and be OBVIOUS! This has been a nightmare for me on past projects and I’ve spent many many many hours trying to fix it and am still not happy with most of my outcomes. When working with an outside corner like above, go slow and try to run your brush just up to the edge, but not beyond. Finish the whole side (top area in photo) Then do the same thing for each individual side taking care around the side corners too.
  6. If you do overlap near the corners: blot them lightly and right away. When you are done double check all your corners before they are dry to make sure it is not gonna be too dark in any one spot!
Glazed corner help

Accidental overlap

The photo above is a corner where I accidentally made an overlap. On the first part of the line I have already tried to blot away the darker line that resulted. This is a good example of how it still just doesn’t look right or like it should. It took me another 5-10 minutes to make this edge look right again and it STILL isn’t as “right” as I would like it to be. Go slow and use care to avoid these overlap problems….

Once you’ve got the glaze on and looking just how you want; it is a long 12 hour wait before you can put the protective finish on (make sure your kitties stay away from it!), but after that: YOU ARE DONE!

finished   finished

The clear coat on and fully cured: I FINALLY have a door I can install on my island cabinet to accommodate the trash bin from hell!

Affixing the Door

Somewhere between all that nailing, sanding, priming and painting; I took some time and rigged up a way to attach this door to the slide contraption.

attachments

As you can see in this photo I only had three holes and about three inches of space with which, to attach my new beautiful door. I also had to find JUST THE RIGHT hardware to attach it. The hardware had to hold the wood in place, but NOT protrude too far out the other side of the hole or it would block the slide from closing. Additionally. if I put the screw in through the outer side (so its long end could protrude inward and not block the slide), it had to have a PERFECTLY flat head on it or that too would block the slide mechanism. It took me about an hour, going through all my screws and bolts, but I finally found some that would work. I even got lucky and the screw’s rivets matched the rivets on the slide’s holes so I didn’t need a nut to hold it in place. I was pretty proud of my “hoarder skills” that day. :D

After much trial and error and some blood shed (gotta pay the blood tax…)

Blood tax

While attempting to bolt 2 pieces of wood together, my phillips head screwdriver slipped, and rammed underneath my nail. It took out a chunk of nail, bled for a half hour and a good sliver of my nail is still purple. Good times :/

I ended up with the following. The white rectangles are mounting tape I used to hold it in place while I tightened down the screws. If you look carefully at the second photo, you can see the screws I predrilled to make attaching the door easier.

support    support

And somehow, all by myself, I got it attached and even on straight.

I did it  installed

I DID IT!!

I WON!!

TAKE THAT KITCHEN FROM HELL!!

or did I?

Decisions

As I stood there surveying my victory and holding my skewered thumb above my head to stop the throbbing (Yep, that was the same stupid day), I knew the last thing I had to do was drill holes and attach the handle, but would it hold up?

If I attached the handle at the top, it would create torsion on the lower connections and over time it would break it or cause it to come loose and fall apart. Even if I attached the handle in the middle, it would take longer, but eventually it would come apart (and Hubby wouldn’t like it in the middle. He is 6’4″ and bending the extra 8-12 inches to open the garbage would annoy him to no end).

It seemed like an eternity I stood there, thumb above my head, trying to concoct a way to reinforce this stupid thing to eliminate or even lessen the potential for torsional damage. I thought about more wood braces, but where to attach them? I only had those three screw holes!! I thought about wire and even tried several methods for attaching them (or additional wood brackets) to the frame that holds the trash can in place. It didn’t work. The trash can frame is not fixed, but “pops” into place and the hold on it is not sufficient to endure the weight of the door too.

Totally stumped, out of brain power, having reached my pain threshold for the day: I took a couple last photos of it and then took it apart.

Weeks of planning, shopping, and frustration. Tears, blood and pain and hours upon hours upon hours of of work and I just took it apart, less than an hour after I finished it.

It didn’t work.

Or did it?

I obviously got it to work. Just because I have the experience and foresight to see that it would, sooner rather than later, come apart; does that mean I failed?

I won and still I’m not finished. In fact, I’m right back where I started….

I guess I’ll let you decide. Was it a success or a failure?

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