Priming In Progress!

Between finalizing our 260+ page book manuscript (due Jan 4th- ack!) and hosting/enjoying family time (and lots of delicious food), we’ve also been priming! Can I get a “holla!”? Or more likely, a “you’re crazy.”

Thank goodness our guests are so understanding! Oh man, and it feels great to be seeing some progress.

The beauty of primer is that it always looks a little rough (so you don’t have to stress about getting it to look perfect). By nature, it’s just a sticky sub-layer that helps grab paint and hold on for the long haul, so as long as you apply things thinly and evenly (drips = baaaaad), you’re all set to just follow the recommended drying time and then get right to painting!

You definitely want to use a stain-blocking primer when painting wood cabinets (especially when they’ve been stained and exposed to kitchen grease like ours). We chose Zinsser’s Smart Prime (a super high quality low-VOC primer sold at our local Benjamin Moore store that was recommended by two different pro cabinet painters). The nice thing about it is that it’s “open” a bit longer than some other primers, so it doesn’t dry right away while you’re still trying to work it into the cracks and smooth it out to make sure it’s not drippy or bumpy. And it’s nice and durable, so it should definitely help with those decades-of-great-results that we’d like.

Oh and we use a small foam roller and a 2″ angled brush for the smoothest application. Of course there are a million other primer steps to share (and even a video to show exactly how we apply it), so we’ll be back to detail every last step (arms. too. tired. to. type.) next week.

You know, after the painting’s done and our sweet and extremely understanding house guests bid us adieu. Until then, picture us painting / doing the happy dance / book editing / asking everyone if they’d like something to eat or drink (in the dining room or living room since the kitchen’s kinda out of commission).

Oh man, this is totally the exciting part though. And we’re inexplicably excited to add hardware once everything cures up. Yes, we’re strange birds. New hardware = beyond thrilling. Especially when the room used to look like this:

Wahooo progress!

Psst- Check out this kitchen post all about how we prepped our cabinets for paint and this one about how we picked hinges and a cabinet color.

Psssssst- We picked this week’s giveaway winner. Click here to see if it’s you!


  1. Beth says

    Wow–even the primer is an improvement from the wood! Keep on truckin’, guys!

    On an unrealated note, we’re going to start remodeling our bathroom soon. I know you guys used gorgeous brown marble tile in the bathroom in your first house. Doesn’t marble need to be sealed regularly? Did you seal your tile? Did you have any problems with water and the marble? Thanks!

    • says

      Ours was polished (so it was sealed, and would be ok if we sealed the grout every few years and the tile itself every decade or so I think). More raw marble (ex: honed) needs to be sealed a lot more I think! But shiny polished marble tile is super water-resistant, sort of like porcelain or ceramic tile!


    • Jill says

      Sherry, I don’t think your comment here is correct. Honed marble and polished marble are in equal need of sealing. Honed means “less sanded” and polished means “more sanded”. There’s no, like, furniture polish put on “polished” marble. That term means solely that it was painstakingly sanded to an extra-smooth surface. It’s still raw marble — just very smooth.

      And, like raw wood, raw marble is still porous regardless of how smoothly it’s been sanded. Sealing marble is like polyurethaning wood.

      If left unsealed, light polished marbles (and light honed marbles) will visibly darken wherever water touches the surface (the same way wood gets darker when wet) and then go back to their normal colors when the water fully dries (if it fully dries).

      If you and John left your bathroom floor unsealed, your marble was likely too dark to notice a difference between wet and not wet.

      Now, I don’t know if really matters if the pores in your marble are getting filled with water and then slowly drying out. Maybe your tiles would start to grow mold? Maybe not? I haven’t researched it. BUT, the definite issue that I know of is that if something with color or oil is spilled on your unsealed (honed or polished) marble, that pigment/oil will be sucked into the marble’s pores just like the water, but it may not evaporate like water, and then your marble may never go back to its original color. These are the stains everybody worries about.

    • says

      Thanks so much for the correction Jill! You’re totally right! I think due to the dark color it was easier to care for than white marble (dramatically easier I think!) and I remember sealing it after we installed it and detailing that step in the original bathroom post! Maybe it’s best to go back and read that post for anyone looking for that info since I clearly don’t remember a thing, haha! I know we resealed the grout and maybe even the tile about 6 months in (just to keep the bathroom super easy and autopilot when it comes to clean-up) so that might help too. We basically trust The Tile Shop a ton because they know soooo much about all that stuff, so maybe calling them to ask what they recommend is the safest way to go! Trust the pros!


  2. says

    Ahh you are getting so close. I am so ready to see those cabinets painted and put back on! I bet youre even more ready than me :)

    • says

      It’s going to be a dark mocha cork- it just goes in at the end so we can run it under the new dishwasher we have yet to install (and we’ll pull out the fridge and oven and run it under there too).


  3. says

    I am cheering you guys on with wild flailing arms! You two crazy kids are kicking some serious butt. Just looking at all that progress makes me want to take a nap. (And again the gorgeous brick wall in the sunroom slays me. Slaaays.)

  4. Riki says

    I don’t think you’re crazy to want to get to putting up the hardware already . . . installing new hardware is one of the world’s greatest and most exciting things.

    I LOVE shopping for new handles and hinges every time I refinish a piece of furniture!

  5. Cara says

    I can’t wait to see what you do with those fluorescent lights. I’ve got one in my kitchen, too. Of course, it’s set in a recessed ceiling so I’ve been stumped as to a replacement. At least the kitchen’s well lit!

  6. Alison says

    Im so excited!!! I can’t wait to see it all together! It’s like your painting my kitchen. Will putting in the flooring mess with any of the new paint you will have will have worked so hard on?

    • says

      We figured it would be easier to touch up the baseboards if they got a little dinged than to try to paint all the cabinets and frames with the new floor completely installed (we just worry about drips on the gorgeous new cork, so we thought waiting until the end was the best move).


  7. vickielovesjeff says

    Woot woot! it’s looking awesome guys! I love this stage when you can start to see the vision before your eyes not just in your head. Congrats!

  8. Miranda says

    Gosh, even the PRIMER makes it SO MUCH BRIGHTER in there!!! I cannot wait! Please keep hydrated with plenty of fluids, breaks, Clara-time and regular holidayish festivities! You’re doing great!

    • says

      We always look at coverage and follow the can to the letter. In this case that specific primer warned about over-priming, so we stuck to one coat since it gave us great coverage (it was amazing since the wood tone was so dark!). Definitely just be careful if you do two coats to wait the recommended time (sometimes it’s 16 hours or something!) just to allow the first one to cure so you don’t have any tackiness issues down the line!


  9. says

    love it!! I think I’m most excited to see the floor and the penny tile–oh, and whatever light fixtures you guys choose! Wooooo!