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Update Your Kitchen - Thinking Hinges


I am taking on more and more cabinet refresh projects (for hire), and still never tire of the transformations.  My latest project is an oak, galley style kitchen, and I'm digging deeper into ideas to make these older kitchens look more modern.  Paint is obviously a big hitter in terms of updating a kitchen, but let's talk about something else that is equally powerful - cabinet hinges.

You're probably already yawning at the thought of a discussion on hinges, but stick with me here.  It makes a bigger difference than what you'd think!

Many older kitchens out there have exposed hinges, where you can see the hinge mounted to the cabinet frame.  By swapping out that hinge for an updated, hidden hinge, the transformation can really take a space from dated to modern, just like that.

Look at this amazing kitchen reveal at Everyday Enchanting.  Now, they did more than just paint the cabinets - they added a new backsplash, island, hardware, sink, appliances and lighting.  HOWEVER, they did swap out their exposed cabinet hinges for hidden ones.  Take a look at her before and after photos - these are the same cabinets people.

Fantastic, right?  Now, think about how much busier the cabinets would look if they still had the exposed hinges.  Granted, with polished chrome hardware, it would minimize the hinge effect, but suppose you like oil rubbed bronze hardware?  Exposed hinges of that variety would really stand out against the clean white cabinets.  Having hidden hinges gives you the freedom to change hardware on a whim.

Here is an example of a kitchen that was painted, but the hinges were left exposed.  I still think it's a dramatic improvement, and in some cases, the exposed hinges can be part of the original charm of the style and era of the home.  But, it demonstrates my point that it gives the eye more to look at here.

In some homes it does serve as a character feature, adding to the original charm and period of the home.

I can totally appreciate that.  You'll notice that these cabinets are also flush with the cabinet frames, which makes the hinges a little less noticeable.  But sometimes, the hinge effect just isn't quite as charming, and can be more distracting than anything.  A lot depends on what kind of cabinet overlay you're dealing with and the aesthetic that you're looking for in this sort of project. 

Here are the three different kinds of kitchen cabinet doors that demonstrate the different overlays and hinge options.  The first is similar to what I'm working on now - a framed cabinet with an overlay on the cabinet frame.  The second is a framed cabinet where the doors are inset, flush with the cabinet frame.  And the third is a frameless cabinet where hidden hinges are utilized.
In dealing with oak cabinets, the trend seems to be towards modernizing vs. retaining vintage charm.

Here is a peek at the kitchen I'm currently working on:

The homeowner has already installed a new tile backsplash, and will also be replacing the floors with new tile and painting the walls once I'm finished with the cabinets.  But the homeowner was concerned about the hinges standing out against a light cabinet color.  A cabinet refresh is going to help tie the updates together, and when we got to talking about the hinges, I did some research, and found a great local woodworker to help change the hinges from exposed to concealed.

At face value, hinges seem pretty straight forward, but they can be tricky, depending upon the kind of cabinets you have and the "overlay" that I mentioned above.  So I'm leaving this task to the pros (although I'm sure I will learn something in the process).  But, I think the end result is going to be amazing!

In the meantime, I'm sticking with what I know.  Painting cabinets:

And starting to play with my new HVLP turbine spray system.  (Whenever I say HVLP turbine, I think of the movie "A Christmas Story" and how Ralphie describes his Red Ryder BB gun - "an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle."  I think I'm equally enamored with my new gun, even if it doesn't have a compass and a stock. ;-)

What are your thoughts on hinges?  Or have you not given a whole lot of thought to them until now?  Do you prefer the hidden or exposed version?  Have you ever changed them out yourself?

Linking up:

TDC Before and After


Say Goodbye to Oak Grain


I have been working on another client kitchen cabinet project, and continue to research new ways to minimize the grain that you get with painting oak cabinets.  (Here is my Tips + Tricks for Painting Oak Cabinets, in case you missed it).  This isn't the first time I'm working with oak, and I'm sure it won't be my last, but it's fun to discover and try new things in order to get a more refined end result.  So, I'm testing a wood grain filler product for myself to see how it fares.

I'm really excited about this latest job, and I think the end result is going to be fantastic.  I have primed the doors and have started painting them.  I thought I would try the filler on the back of a door and examine the difference.  I'd like to see how it works and determine whether it's a service I want to offer at an additional charge, since it is pretty labor intensive across a multitude of cabinets and drawers.

Here is a shot of the back of one of the oak doors, primed.

Here is a shot of another door, where I used the wood grain filler.  Definite difference, right?

You can still see some of the grain, but it's not nearly as noticeable as the grain in the untreated door.  Granted, this door has two coats of primer vs. one, but the grain is definitely diminished.  The nice thing about using a grain filler is that you can apply more than one coat if necessary.

I picked up some Behlen Water Base Grain filler at my local Woodcraft store.  The same place where I bought my amazing General Finishes gel stain for my "Stain Without Pain" projects.  Sitting on top is their "grain filler spreader/leveler" which is used to smooth it out and work it into the grain.

Now, I have some work to do with my technique, as it's not a pretty process.  This stuff is thick and sticky - not very easy to work with as a beginner.

Obviously, I have some work to do on my technique.  I used the spreader/leveler tool to apply it, and I think that was my mistake.  Next time I'll use a rag or even a paint or foam brush to work it into the grain.  The good news is that this stuff sands really well.

Definitely a product I want to master, since so many people are looking to say good-bye to the grain.  I have an oak bathroom vanity redo in my queue, which I think will be a perfect opportunity to work on my technique.

This video would have been a good one to watch prior to attempting this.  It demonstrates both solvent and water based grain filler applications.

What do you think?  Do you have some oak grain you want to banish from your home?


House Gawking


I hope your Easter weekend was as beautiful as ours was here.  Such a nice change of pace to have warm sunshine and clear skies, given what we usually get for the Easter holiday.

Our weekend wasn't without a baseball game, and we headed down to Indian Hill (near Cincinnati) on Saturday.  Indian Hill is one of the most gorgeous areas I've seen around Ohio, and it's unique in every way.  Many of the homes are set on large, sprawling lots (I think grounds is probably a better description), with homes that are off the charts beautiful.

Since we had some time to burn before the game started, we drove around, and I did some house gawking while my husband alternated between calling me nuts, crazy and a stalker

Here are a few shots I snapped with my phone (since my camera would have been a bit over the top).  If I hadn't been driving, there would have been more, trust me.  No worries, I stopped to take these shots and to pick my jaw up off of the floor.

When we rolled up in front of this one, I said, "Is that a house or a country club?"  Yes, it's a house.  Unbelievable.  Who lives in these places?

Amazing, right?

So, of course, I had to scour the real estate listings to get some more house gawking material.  Homes in this area have things that most neighborhoods don't, and it's fun to get a peek inside when you're a crazy house voyeur like I am.

First, let's look at some more exteriors, shall we?  (All photos courtesy of

Of course, pools are quite popular in this area.  And if you have a pool, you must have a pool house/guest house, right?

Not bad for a detached garage/guest house.  I could make it work.

A cute bathroom for a quaint guest house, don't you think?

If you have horses, you can surely find a home with some stables to hold them.

If you're a wine aficionado, wine cellars are an option as well.

And a butler's pantry that looks like a corner store.  LOVE.

Cool, black windows and doors here, and I love the tile pattern on the floor (same as the pantry).

Beautiful coffered ceilings abound - whether in your library/office - 

Or in a massive living room.  I wouldn't know how to live in a house like this, quite frankly.  It's too big for me.

I could, however, live with an awesome closet like this one.  I haven't come across a closet that is "too big" so far.

Plenty of charming elements in these homes as well.  I love this office/craft space.  So efficient, with so much storage!

And this cool and unexpected double sink -

Or a cozy little sleeping nook.  My daughter would love this.

I love this home - such character and charm, with lots of updates inside.  Sorry guys, it's already sale pending, with a cool list price of $1.5 million.  Definitely not as ostentatious as some of the homes we passed in the area.

Beautifully done kitchen with all of the features that I love.

A darling little girl's room.

With a perfect little girl bathroom to go with it.

And a crazy-cute and creative nursery.  Although I wonder how much work it would be to take down that tree...

A perfect little play room.  What kid wouldn't love this space?

Some of the views behind the homes are equally beautiful.

Many of the homes in the area have been there for a long time, and have a great deal of historical appeal.  They just don't build homes like this anymore.

Here's an interesting little piece of trivia about Indian Hill.  The movie "Traffic" was filmed in the area, with Michael Douglas playing the role of a politician who lives in Indian Hill.  He was appointed to escalate the war on drugs, only to find that his own daughter was an addict.  Interesting, yes?

Do you have any neighborhoods like this where you like to do some house gawking?  If you can't get enough - check out the listings here.