Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kitchen Cabinets: Knobs & Pulls

Now that you have painted, refinished or replaced your kitchen cabinets don’t forget the knobs and pulls. Perhaps one of the easiest and most dramatic changes you can make, even if you do nothing else to the cabinets is to replace the hardware.

All home improvement stores and/or hardware stores have knobs and pulls. You can find ultra contemporary, traditional, or even whimsical! They can really vary in price and some may need to be ordered, so shop around.

Some of my favorite places to shop are Home Depot, Lowe's and Ace Hardware. But also look into Ikea contemporary styles and good pricing. Restoration Hardware is a great place to shop online for historical products and replacement parts. Also check out places such as Habitat for Humanity and other salvage stores in your area for great deals, especially for replacement or vintage items.

Be Creative. I was invited to visit a home of friends that had been renovating their 1970’s home. I was so impressed with their kitchen. They had glazed their cabinets in a deep green and made all the handles for each door and drawer from 1/2" copper plumbing pipe. It was great! The handles on the drawers were almost the length of the drawer; at the end of the pipe they had attached plumbing fittings to make a 90 degree angle. It was not only a clever solution that expressed their personalities, but it looked expensive and was an amazing effect!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kitchen Cabinets: Revive the old!

I spoke about refinishing cabinets by painting and/or by replacing doors for an updated look, but if you have good wood cabinets you may just want to redo and refresh the wood with stain. This is a very inexpensive option, but it can be very time consuming depending on the specific project.

Let’s say, the cabinets are a good wood, but are dull and need refreshing, You may want to
stain them and keep the wood-look rather than paint over them. Let’s assume a scenario of cabinets that are in good condition, but need refreshing and perhaps a deeper stain. (The prep work is virtually the same as for painting cabinets as described in my previous post on kitchen cabinets.)

  1. Anytime you are working with wood, ALWAYS FOLLOW THE GRAIN OF THE WOOD!
  2. As in any case, be sure they are clean! Use degreaser or TSP. If you choose TSP, read all the label directions carefully, it is a very harsh and toxic chemical and you will need to take all the precautions very seriously. Do not work with this unless you are using heavy rubber gloves and eye protection and have good ventilation.
  3. Remove all cabinet doors, drawer fronts. Number each piece to matching cabinet.
  4. Remove all hardware and keep it in a container to avoid losing any pieces.
  5. Place cabinets/drawer fronts in a horizontal position. Wherever you choose to place your cabinets, cover the floor. Perhaps you chose the garage, (a good choice) and you don’t care if anything gets on the floor, but if not, be sure the area where you are working is covered even if only a piece of cardboard.

There is a product line which I have used in the past, called Fornby’s. It can be purchased at any hardware or home improvement store. It is more expensive than some of the other refinishing products available; however, it does not contain the harsh chemicals of most products. It removes the gloss finish, doesn’t strip the natural color or raise the wood grain; therefore, you can avoid the sanding process. I used it to restore a grimy, old table top. Probably not the best advice, but because the table was so large and heavy, I could not physically move it. I opened windows and worked in my house. I didn’t really notice any fumes, but cautiously took several “fresh air breaks” anyway. I completed the table top by hand rubbing it with their tung oil product. I was extremely pleased with the results.

However, if you have cabinets that have been painted or had several layers of paint that need to be removed you may have to consider a harsh chemical stripper. All cautions need to be applied. In fact, if you are working in an older home, it is very likely that any paint work done prior to 1978 was lead based. If so, be extremely cautious about any paint dust you may generate by sanding. For your own safety, you may want to consider wearing a respirator instead of something like a simple breathing mask.

I would suggest that you take a cabinet door or perhaps a drawer from to a specialty store for a product recommendation. I have always used Zip-Strip or Strypeeze for difficult projects, I have never really felt the milder chemical products did a very good job.

  • Follow the same steps as (1-5) above.

CAUTIONS: Read the product directions carefully. These types of stripping products are very harsh and have a strong solvent smell. You NEED to work in a very well ventilated area, such as a garage. If you are working on wood that cannot be removed from your house, do small areas at a time! Allow plenty of time to complete this project! Do this when you can open windows, take plenty of “fresh air breaks” outdoors. Keep your children and pets in a non-toxic area. You may need to wear a respirator, safety goggles and definitely good quality gloves!

  1. Use a brush to apply the stripper, using ample amounts and always following the grain of the wood.
  2. Allow the product to stay on the cabinet, you will see the paint “crinkle”. Don’t get too anxious to remove it, LET THE PRODUCT DO THE WORK!
  3. Use a putty knife (or other tools listed below) to remove the paint.
  4. Rinse with water, let dry prior to sanding.
  5. When all the paint is removed, sand the cabinets with a “hand sander”, not “by hand” or the project will be a life-long commitment! These products tend to raise the grain to some degree, you want a smooth finish. Also, if there are bits of paint remaining, sanding will also remove them.
  6. Apply new stain.
  7. Protect the cabinets by applying a varnish or polyurethane.
  8. Allow for a long drying time between coats. It may seem dry, but “curing” may take weeks.


  • Gloves – heavy rubber, not light latex gloves as in painting. In fact have at least two pair. If you get a tear in your glove, you want a replacement. This stuff WILL hurt on your skin! Also, “cuff” your gloves when wearing them to prevent stripper from dripping to your arm.
  • Metal or glass container with a lid. You can pour some of your stripper in the container and work with small amounts at a time.
  • Brushes. For a harsh stripping product use cheap brushes…when you are done you can dispose of them. (Most landfill areas have an area for disposal of household hazards.) Use better brushes for applying sealer.
  • Putty knife. This is used to remove the paint after it has “crinkled”. I also like to use an old kitchen knife with a fairly wide blade, it is sharper than a putty knife, but be careful not to “nick” the wood. For hard to get to areas or detailed areas, I will use a tiny flat edge screwdriver, a toothbrush or anything else I can find in my house to improvise!
  • Soft cloths (lint free) to apply stain and/or brushes.
  • Fine grained steel wool to help remove any bits of remaining paint. The steel wool can also be used between coats of sealer for a smooth finish. Be sure there is NO residue of the steel wool remaining on your work. Use that soft damp cloth to be sure the residue is removed prior to finishing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kitchen cabinets...More Options.

My last blog spoke entirely of updating your kitchen cabinets by painting. I assumed you had wooden cabinets that were usable, but perhaps older and just boring! In fact, you may even have a house that still has the old metal cabinets! They too can be painted. Just remember to purchase a paint that is designed to be used on metal.

Of course, make sure the cabinets are clean, and check out the foam roller I spoke about in my last blog. If painting on metal you could also use cans of spray paint, but really be careful of “over spray” and doing thin coats, just more of them to keep the paint from “running”. I like these cabinets because they are nostalgic, but certainly not as functional as the newer ones in which you can add many convenient organizational features.

I spoke briefly about considering the “investment” interest in your choices for painting, but if I had metal cabinets, this is a time where I might do something just for fun, something dramatic or just whimsical. For example, perhaps if you have artistic talent, paint a mural of a field of wildflowers across the doors or something that would address your lifestyle. I think it would be really fun to be creative or dramatic with these cabinets because in all honesty, if you eventually sell your home with metal kitchen cabinets, the buyer would most likely remove them anyway... Or not, if you are a skilled artist! (I'm still working on "stick people".)

Okay, no more painting….let’s get back to options for typical wooden cabinets.

  1. Change the color of the wood by refinishing with a darker (?) stain.
  2. Add moldings to the doors.
  3. Replace the doors and drawer fronts. There are companies that just specialize in doors and drawers like This site has a great page on how to measure the cabinets you have to be sure you know how to buy doors and drawer fronts. They are not inexpensive, but far less money than new cabinets plus installing cabinets is not the easiest project.
  4. You can also purchase cabinets that you assemble yourself. They are at all home improvement stores and available by many companies and in several styles, including unfinished if you want to save more money. You can choose which “add-on’s” you want, such as roll-out shelving, lazy susan, etc.

An important consideration, if you purchase cabinets: You can do everything on-line, but home improvement stores offer an in-store computer design service. If you just need to double-check yourself, take accurate measurements of your room, a drawing of the location of appliances, windows, doors, location of outlets, etc. with you to the store. They will go to their computers and design your kitchen, and give you a list of all the cabinets you need to complete the project. You might even get some great suggestions since this is what they do every day!

At one time, I purchased
Mills Pride cabinets at Home Depot and assembled them. They really are no’t hard to do, just like a puzzle but with really large pieces. Honestly, I have purchased Christmas toys that were more difficult to assemble! It can a bit awkward to handle larger pieces like a pantry cabinet. The real key is to read the directions! (In other words, don’t have a man help you with the project!) It’s been awhile, but if I remember correctly, there is a hinge that if placed in wrong and when “locked” in place, it cannot be removed. I had to replace a cabinet because a “helper” didn't read directions! Check out and make sure all the pieces are included. I had a huge pantry with some missing shelving, It was replaced and I must credit Home Depot for customer service that was far beyond my expectations.

  • If you don’t want to do that much work, of course you can go to any kitchen & bath store, or home improvement store and purchase ready-made and custom cabinets. Definitely, shop around. Most of these stores have kitchen displays for great ideas and as previously stated, design assistance. Home depot, and Lowe’s are obvious choice since they are located in all parts of the country. I would also suggest you also check out IKEA. This company offers a different type of cabinets, usually very contemporary, European style and can be purchased in “units”. They are reasonably priced and usually on sale twice a year. I have noticed that Home Depot now carries products from one of their suppliers. (Sorry, I’m guilty of not knowing if other home improvement stores are doing the same, but this could save money on freight charges since they do not have as many store locations.) While you are on the Ikea site, also check out their cabinet hardware and lighting. They are usually very stylish and reasonably priced!

If you choose to assemble, and/or install cabinets be sure you have:

  • A good tape measure, a level , a power drill, and preferably two strong helpers to “manhandle” the cabinets into place or hold the upper cabinets while they are fastened to the walls! This is really not a job for one person. You just don’t have enough hands and cabinets are awkward and heavy!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I hate my kitchen cabinets! Let's talk paint!

So every time you walk into your kitchen, you look at those cabinets and get depressed! That's a lot of depression! The ideal situation would be to hire a kitchen designer, hire a cabinetmaker, "gut" the room. Here comes the.. BUT, you know it is out of your budget --at least for now.

There are many alternatives that I will talk about, but one of the least expensive is painting, so let's talk about that option first. If I have to make budget choices, I will paint or glaze my cabinets, assuming they are in usable condition. Then, spend money on adding shelving that slides out, spice racks inside doors, or features such as "lazy susan" for corner cabinets, making what I have convenient to use. These features can be really expensive when purchasing kitchens, but it is wonderful to have a pantry shelf slide out and have everything on it visible. Most of these items can be purchased as an "add-on" in any home improvement store.

  • Consider the style of your home, is it traditional, historic, cottage-style, country or contemporary?
  • Do you want to maintain the integrity of that style?
  • Check out your paints or glazes based on the feeling you want when you are in the room.
  • Keep in mind the amount of space your cabinets assume in the room, do you want them to be the entire focal area or background?
  • Are you doing the project for your own enjoyment? After all, the house is yours...or do want to consider the possibility of this as "investment" for the future? If you will be selling your house in the future, will your choices be appealing to others?

Examples: I love a light, sleek contemporary kitchen, however if I lived in a older cottage-style home at the beach, I would probably blend the two styles the best I can without sacrificing the integrity of my beach cottage. I might paint my cabinets white, my surrounding walls a very pale beachy blue or green, with future plans to tile a back splash with small glass tiles resembling sea glass.

My sister, having purchased a late 70's style home, with dark wood of that era, did a deep green glaze over her cabinets. I would never have thought to choose that color, but with the traditional decor of the rest of her house the result was stunning! The glaze only required that the cabinets were clean prior to glazing.

Personally, I would never paint my cabinets a bold color such as red. If I wanted red in my kitchen, I would paint my cabinets white and accent in red with kitchen towels, art work, perhaps tiles, or even a wall! This is only because the cabinets in red would be so dramatic, too busy, and a very time-consuming change if I tire of it, or want to consider the "investment" possibilities of my home.

If you just aren't sure you can see the "whole" picture, try the Internet. For example,, a site for Inspiration & Ideas, Colors & tools. You can pick out a kitchen, drag and drop colors on the walls, cabinets, counter tops, etc. has the same type of virtual color design for their paints. If you haven't been able to decide what to do, these (and there are many other) Internet options are fun to play with....they also have some great design ideas, either for now for the future.

  • You have decided to paint your cabinets and have chosen the color you want.
  • Plan your to do at least two coats of paint. Leave plenty of drying time between coats.
  • Check with the paint store, you might want to purchase a higher gloss oil based paint (if painting on wood) for cabinets. You want a paint that you can clean repeatedly in the kitchen.
  • Clean the cabinets really well and know they are dry. (I like to use a degreaser.)
  • Remove all cabinet doors, hinges, and hardware. Keep these together with all the screws, etc., so you aren't searching for parts when putting them back together.
  • Number each door or drawer front to the match the cabinet you removed it from. They can have just minor differences and it is frustrating when you replace them and they just don't fit right...then waste time "juggling" them around for just the right spot.
  • Preferably use a sander. If you don't have one, you can hand sand, but a small hand sander is quite inexpensive, and you will be amazed at the number of times you will put it to use.
  • If the cabinets have been painted prior, you might have to use paint remover if there are several coats of paint. The point is to have a surface that is smooth so the new paint can adhere.
  • A good quality paint brush and/or roller. I like a brush about 2". Depending on the cabinet style, you may also want a small foam roller for smooth surfaces.
  • Blue painters tape.
  • Keep cabinet doors flat (horizontal) when painting to reduce the possibility of "runs" in the finished product.

Once when painting cabinets, I was enjoying my project, singing along to good music, admiring my precise work AND having an excuse to splurge on "take-out" dinners; I had a friend decide to be helpful and save me a lot of time by spray painting all the cabinet doors. I admit I was hesitant, but agreed. I noticed all the doors standing vertically against a building and my friend was spraying away! Perhaps it would have worked by spraying several really thin coats of paint, but every one of my doors had "runs". I had to wait until they thoroughly were dry and then sand them again and repaint each one. Needless to say, I was not very happy! Besides, I ended up with "overspray" on a newly painted building. Sometimes short cuts just aren't!

As much as I was irritated by the additional work and time this mistake was going to cost me, I also realized how much the details count. I could do the work now and make sure I had a completed project I could be proud of, or do a "quick-fix", hang the cabinets and say "it'll do". Knowing myself, the only choice was the first. Had I chosen "it'll do", I would notice every imperfect area on those cabinet doors forever and I would hate my kitchen even more than if I had left it alone. I also knew that once I stopped, it would be really hard to face the same project again. So I rolled up my sleeves, turned the music a little louder and started singing "I'm Walking on Sunshine..."

The final result was wonderful. Each time I walked into the room, I wondered why I hadn't done this project sooner. On this project, the wooden cabinets had been painted prior, I sanded them, used a Martha Stewart paint from Ace Hardware.

Now that you've finished painting, consider changing the hardware. Cabinet hardware can make a dramatic impact and a simple way to modernize any style.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More on Renovations!

I know I have already written about renovations and choosing whether or not it is for you, but I really need to share a TV show that I have recently discovered. As I have said before, I really love watching HGTV, all the decorating, the remodels, the real estate shows. Some of these shows have been around for quite awhile and they can be great for ideas. However, as a person that has done a lot of decorating and renovating on my own, I have learned to see when a project is "over my head" or "out of my budget". One of my greatest fears for someone, especially a first-time home buyer, is not realizing the amount of work, mess, and money that these projects can become. Even the best laid plans can end up with the unexpected budget buster.

HGTV just recently added a show called "Renovation Realities". It is worth watching if you are considering renovating your home on your own! It is a show of regular people that decided to do their own projects. It is hilarious!!! Granted, sometimes I wonder "what are they thinking", or "nobody would do that"! But it does show how much work the projects can be, how not "everyone" is a carpenter, how the unexpected can kill the budget, etc., During the show, they will "flash" things like "Jill would know how to install the sink if she went to "www.......". They also put up notes about cost. For example: Jill dropped the sink on the floor and broke it....the the sink was $300, and she is 3 hours behind. Joe bought a countertop, but measured wrong -- it is too short. The cost of the new countertop is $.

So far I have only seen three of the shows, one was a guy that decided to put up a deck on a 3-day weekend, a guy that decided to "gut" his kitchen and put in new cabinets with help from his mother (he didn't finish the project), and the last one where two girls decided to rip up the carpet in their apartment and replace it with laminated flooring. The girls did finish their project in 4 days, but they "borrowed" a friend to help carry the flooring to their apartment, exhausted themselves trying to get the carpet out of the apartment. They couldn't understand the directions and the flooring wasn't going in right, so they "borrowed" another friend that reminded them "it is not that hard" and showed them what to do. They finally hired help. At the end of the show (although not entirely finished with the project), the result on the screen was: "They spent $2500 for the flooring, $500 for the helper. They could have installed carpet for $500. (To be fair, the girls had decided on laminate because they had a bunch of pets that "did their business" all over the I don't think more carpet was going to solve the problem unless they house trained all those animals first!)

Now, I am not trying to discourage you from taking on projects, but as I said before, I think it is good to know what you are getting into. I think this show is worth watching, it might be exaggerated for some of us, but it sure does give an idea of how things don't always go as planned! It also shows how details, accurate measuring, and sometimes a helper are really important and maybe when the "idea" was better than the result!

I have checked HGTV. com and for the TV episodes, so far I haven't been able to find them. If I do find them on the Internet, I will post them for those without cable TV.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Painting: Tools

Whenever I engage on a painting project, my first reaction is that "I really hate to paint", actually, I don't think that is true...I think I really enjoy painting. I don't like the prep work and the mess! The reason I do it anyway is because I always love the result.

Some of things that I have learned to make my job easier:
  • Have the right tools. The first thing everyone does is to buy a paint roller and paint pan. If you are using a roller, especially if you are buying it in a kit, make sure it is right for the project. If the walls or ceiling are heavily textured, you want a thick roller. If not, a thinner one. They hold a LOT of paint.
  • I like to use a paint "pad". They come in all sizes and shapes. I usually use one about mid-size, perhaps 4"x6". The reason for I choose to use this rather than a roller: the roller gets heavy when filled with paint, it also splatters paint back on me. I personally feel that the pad gives me more control on how much paint I am applying, it doesn't splatter, and cleans up easier. I also find that when cleaning it, I am rinsing out a lot less paint.
  • A paint stick for stirring the paint.
  • A container for pouring my paint without a lot of mess. These can be purchased. A lot of paint now comes with a "pour spout" or you can simply take a funnel and a old plastic milk carton (clean) and pour your paint in it. By doing this, I don't have paint dripping down the side of the can or caught in the grooves of the lid. I can pour some paint in my pan, put the top tightly on my container. I find I don't dump as much paint into the pan and having it dry out.
  • Good Brushes. Buy a couple of good brushes, they really make a difference when painting. It is really annoying to do all the work and see brush strokes when your done or to have bristles stuck in the paint. Just remember to always clean them well and you can keep them for many painting projects. My personal favorites are the smaller ones, 1" - 2". I also like them to have a slant, but that is less important than the quality. I feel I have better control of the smaller brush when doing detail work like painting close to moldings, or edging areas like where the wall and ceiling meet.
  • Artist brush. I like to have a very fine brush also - similar size to a watercolor brush in a children's paint set. Actually, just a bit larger with good bristles. The reason I use this is for my final touch-ups, usually where the wall and ceiling meet and it is sometimes hard to be perfectly straight.
  • Latex gloves. I buy a box of latex disposable gloves. They are really inexpensive. Know matter how hard I try, I get paint on me! If I wear the gloves, they are so thin that they don't interfere with my work. I don't get paint on my hands and inevitably touch something and get paint on that too. If I take a break or change tasks, I can pull of the gloves. Sometimes, I can put on the same pair, but if they are "messy", I use a new pair.
  • Blue painter's tape. The blue tape is "painter's tape". I'm all for saving money, but not here. It is so important to tape off any areas that you don't want to paint, or to "edge" a ceiling, or protect a molding from paint. Be sure when you tape, that you run your hand over it so it is absolutely adhering to the surface. It is so much easier to prevent a mishap than to remove paint (even if it is water soluble). Believe me, I HATE to tape, but I have learned when it is important to use. I have also tried using "masking tape" or other types if I've run short or because I had it on hand. A definite mistake....not only will I have paint "seepage", but removing the "other" tape can really mess up my work.
  • Drop Cloth. You can buy may sizes and types of drop cloths. I have had room -size ones that prevent the paint from "soaking in" if spilled. They are great, not terribly expensive and especially good if you are doing a lot of painting. Of course, they will last forever! Removing spilled paint from a carpet, could mean new carpet. If you have hardwoods, tile or vinyl it is simpler, but still "a pain in the butt" job that you didn't need! If you don't have a drop cloth of this type, or don't want the expense, look around your house---don't just leave the floors uncovered and left to fate! Personally, I prefer a cloth that is not room-sized, they are just easier for me to work with. I prefer to use smaller ones, sometimes more than one or move them. If I haven't had the cloths, I've used really old towels and sometimes large pieces of cardboard or "Kraft" paper.
  • A ladder. Unless you play for the NBA you will need some type of ladder, preferably one with wide steps because you will be on it often. It is amazing how you can feel muscles you didn't know you had because you've been balancing on a ladder for most of a day. If you are going to paint every room in a house or a "foyer", you may have to rent scaffolding. Actually, in some houses "with fabulous entries", the ceilings are so high and some areas almost impossible to paint. I would strongly suggest hiring a paint contractor. This kind of do-it-yourself project is neither fun or safe without the proper equipment. Falling off a tall ladder or stretching to reach the impossible can and often does end up at the hospital!
  • Zip-lock bags. I always have plastic bags by my supplies when I paint. If I need to break for awhile or even overnight, I can place my brushes, my paint pad, roller in a plastic bag. When I am ready to go back to work, I just remove the bag.
  • Screwdriver. It is just simpler to remove all the switch plates, etc., around the room than to tape around them. The details are important to the quality of the paint job. If it can come off, or down without a great effort, it is often easier than avoiding getting paint on it.
  • Old clothes. No matter what I paint or how careful I think I am going to be...I will get paint on my clothes! So because I am no longer kidding myself, I wear clothes that are comfortable and don't matter!
  • Slip-on shoes. I usually don't wear shoes when I paint, but rather keep shoes by the door of the room I am working in. This is entirely personal preference. If I step in paint on my drop cloth with my shoes on, I probably won't notice it and then track it elsewhere. If I am wearing socks or barefoot, I will usually feel the paint on my foot before I track it somewhere else. With my shoes by the door, I can slip into them to walk to other parts of the house...if I do have paint on my sock, it might be in my shoe, but not all over my carpet!
  • Radio. I really like to have a radio on so I can sing along while I work. I have tried the tv, but I never look at it and it just becomes noise. Music on the other hand, makes the time go quickly and me "upbeat".

OK... so remove everything you can from the room. If you can't remove it, cover it. Before you think about opening the can of paint, be sure your the surface you are painting is clean and dry! No point in doing all the work, if the paint can't adhere to the surface.

If your surface has been painted in a bright color such as a red, you will want to use a primer to keep the old color from "bleeding" through to your new color. It is always nice to use a primer, but really not necessary if; for example, the walls are a neutral color.

More Painting...

I know I'm guilty of not following all the rules when it comes to choosing my paint or even when it comes to mixing my colors. However, I have yet to be disappointed with the outcomes.

Yes, I often buy the "oops" paint. I also will take paint that I have and blend colors. For example, I bought a color that I like, but would like to have a wall painted lighter. If I have a white paint, I will add it to the color I have and create the shade I want. I have also gone to the paint store and just purchased a tube of "tint" to change the color I have on hand. I always measure out the mix, and write down my "recipe" just in case I need to make up more of the color.

Just to be really fair, I have to say that when I have been at the paint stores and commented that "I might mix in some white that I have" or something similar, I have been met with shock! Comments like "you can't do that! Every paint has differences in it, even in the amounts of water!" I'm sure they are right, but it has always worked for me. In fact, I think about the number of times I have had latex paint sitting in a tray and it gets "thick", what do I do? Add water. What do I do when an oil based paint is "thick", I add paint thinner. Granted, I would NEVER mix an oil base paint & a latex paint together! Nor would I take a priceless piece and try to play with paints, but then I probably wouldn't be painting that at all!

The other advise I have found at the paint store is they always sell me way too much paint for my project. I am really "picky" so I don't want to feel like I've "stretched" my paint and can see any type of color distortions after it is on the wall. In my experience, usually the store recommends a gallon of paint for every 400 sq. ft., selling me (usually) two gallons of paint. I find that I paint two coats of paint, everything is evenly covered, and I have one gallon unopened and paint still left in the first gallon! Of course, you can't return the unopend gallon! I would rather order more if I run out - which has only happened to me once!

The only time I ever ran out of paint, I really feel had to do with the color I chose and quality of it. It was probably my mistake. I need to paint a fairly small bedroom and didn't want to spend much money. I went to Wal-Mart and found a beautiful shade of orange that "picked up" the shade of a thread in a brown bedspread. It was the perfect color! To be fair, the salesperson said the Wal-Mart brand was "good", but did recommend that I "step up" to their "better" paint, which was twice the money. I painted over a off-white wall so I didn't use a primer. The paint seemed "runny" and didn't cover well. I intended to paint a second coat and did, but I had to stretch every drop of the paint to get through the next coat. It appeared uneven with some shading. I hoped that when it dried thoroughly it would be even, it didn't. Granted, I was the only person that could "see" it, but for me--I could never see anything else!

I should have taken the advise of the salesperson in this instance. I have never used Wal-Mart's brand of interior paint since, perhaps had I not painted such a strong color the experience would have been better. I was confident their "cheap" paint ($11/gal.) was okay because I had helped someone paint the exterior of their house using Wal-Mart paint and I was very pleased when using it.

My favorite type of paint for walls is usually an "eggshell" finish. "Flat paints" are often recommended for bedrooms, but I find them dull. Eggshell is the step betwen flat and semi-gloss. Semi-glosses are good in kitchens or kids rooms because they can be washed easily, they are okay, but reflect a lot of light. So, if their are imperfections on the walls they will show up more as light hits them. High-gloss paints can be fun, but be selective to where they are used...perhaps a chair or other furniture in a childs room. When you are looking at paint charts, they will also have a chart of "glosses".

Paint stores will often have paint samples if you are not sure of the color. Martha Stewart paints sells a tiny jar for $3. It is a lot of money for a small amount of paint, but if you are doing a special project and just not sure, it can also save a lot of time and repainting! I'm sure there are many others that do the same or similar. I know that now many companies offer swatches that are as large as a sheet of paper. It is best to take your swatches to your home to select the color, rather than in lighting at the paint store unless you have a really good "eye for color". I also take swatches of fabric, etc., to the store with me. I have even been lucky enough to find the right "paint mixer" to make the exact color I need from my fabric swatch.

Painting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make dramatic changes in your home environment. The best part is only paint! If you don't like it, repaint it!

Good Luck!