The Whoas Of A DIY

Many of us adore the one we are with, most of the time. There are times, for example doing a DIY project, that you look across the piece in front of you, and wonder WHY haven’t I tried to harm that person yet with the hammer in my hand ? DIY projects are NOT for the faint of heart, especially if you are doing that project with someone else, someone you love.

My husband and I, throughout the years, have taken upon many of these so-called “fun” DIY projects, only to find out that they are not so much fun. Right after we were engaged, we decided to spruce up his house for our engagement party that happened to be in three months. So we repainted the exterior shutters, almost every room in the house, retiled the laundry room floor, and added a chair rail to the walls of our dining room. Not too bad, or too hard.

But our worst project came right after we were married. We had (2) dogs, one his, one mine. His dog was very jealous and aggressive, so we needed a way to separate them. So we came up with the brilliant

plan to remove the kitchen door, and turn it into a Dutch door, to allow air circulation while keeping the dogs at bay. We watched videos on YouTube, just to help us determine what we were doing, and what we needed to do. We thought it would be easy, just cutting the door, adding some hinges, and adding a nice shelf in between for aesthetic purposes. Turns out, making a Dutch door = extremely difficult. Once you take the door off of the hinges, fill in all holes in the door and the jamb, next is cutting the door in half. Now you have (2) pieces of a door… now what ? Both pieces of the door have to be mounted flush, new holes for new hinges have to be drilled into the jamb and door, the hollow door needs a piece of wood to fill in the void at the top and bottom of both door pieces, and the shelf needs to be nailed into said piece, without the top piece of the door scraping across it. Once the pieces of the Dutch door are hung, it looks very nice and professional. My opinion is to buy a Dutch door. It was not worth the hassle, the arguments, and the swearing that each of us did to make this door.


Our current project, because we both are gluttons for punishment, is to completely refinish a full-size bedroom set from the 1880’s. We bought this for my 3 year old daughter (the headboard detailing was what won me over), and the finish on it when we bought it, leaves a lot to be desired. They used a milk-based “chalkboard paint”. Please do not ever use this paint on anything !! It is so disgusting to get off, and likes to smear into the wood when stripped. Stripping wood is very time consuming, and tedious.

We are using our basement bedroom to strip all pieces so far, using a tarp with a large piece of plastic folded over many times as our base. For the stripper itself, we are using Citristrip, a low-odor, orange smelling stripping agent. After trial and error, we have realized that application needs to be thick, but not too thick to goop all over the floor, preferably administered with a paintbrush. Leave on for about 20 minutes to an hour, then slowly and meticulously with a stripping blade, apply pressure to scrape off in long, smooth motions. My husband then researched and found that once the stripping is done, to wipe it down with very warm water, and scrub the remaining paint and stripper off.

We first stripped the (2) nightstands, which to our amazement are very new, and do not match this set at all. Then we partaked in the dresser drawers, then lastly the mirror and mirror stand. We still have the dresser itself to do, which cannot be taken to the basement, and must be stripped in the garage, and the headboard, which is our next fun-filled project for the basement. This set is dark wood, and beautiful, with the most interesting joints I have ever seen, with many details and filaments. The handles are brass and wood tear drop pull handles, and we are keeping those, and trying to find ones to match for the nightstands. If it were up to me, I would add a few coats of shellac or polyurethane to the exterior, give these pieces their original shine back, and be done with it. But my daughter has other plans, and has chosen a color called “Apricot Fluff” for us to repaint this set with. It’s a beautiful color, and I am sure that it will look amazing when we are done, I just prefer dark wood, and to be able to see all of the details that someone so lovingly added to this wooden furniture. We are planning on thinning down the paint, so when applied, it is not too thick NOT to see these amazing details and indentions. Unfortunately, we will be moving soon, so this project’s completion date is set for much later rather than sooner, but my daughter is not even ready for a full-size bed, so we have a little time to take our time to make sure this set looks stunning.


Written By: Dana Thornton

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