Yesterday Cal and I started refinishing the kitchen cabinets. (I had no idea how ridiculously time consuming it would be. I hope I can finish by Christmas time.) At any rate, we stripped the blond stain and lacquer off the first set of double cupboards. Yes, they were blond. Our house is old, build in the 40s. And the last time the kitchen was updated was the seventies. Before we stripped, I had to pull off orange, green, and yellow contact paper off the shelves—it had become one with the wood. Ugh.
Given the cupboards age and slightly worn condition, the only finish that made sense was a distressed finish. So we decided to pickle/whitewash the cabinets and seal them with polyurethane. We purchased the required chemicals—no thanks to the completely ignorant salesman at Home Depot, who didn’t seem to know the difference between oil-based and water-based. (Next time, we’ll try Lowes.)
We distressed the cabinets. Basically, we painted the cabinets with white stain and then scrubbed off the excess before it dried. It sounds easy. It wasn’t. The wood didn’t absorb the stain equally. And it didn’t dry at an even rate. Imagine white blobs and peeling stain—I’m not sure how stain can peel. But then, I only had one semester of general chemistry in college.
After some experimentation, we discovered a way to make it work. And when we finished staining, it didn’t look bad. Cal says it will look good when it’s polyurethaned.
But I’m a little disappointed. Calvin says it’s because I’m a perfectionist. And maybe that’s the reason I don’t like it. I can pick out all the little flaws. After all, I haven’t liked most home improvement projects I’ve completed—like retiling the bathroom floor and refinishing the bathroom door—until later.
However, I’d prefer not to have my reactions categorized in pop psychology terms. So I’ve decided it’s not perfectionism at all. Instead, it’s Platonism. The ideal distressed cabinet door exists only in my mind (or in the shop of a really skilled craftsman whose services we can’t afford), the reality can only be an approximation of that ideal. Thus, the door is not the only one that is distressed. Eventually, I’ll come to terms with the lack of ideal cabinet-ness and appreciate it for what is it… Yeah, okay, maybe this isn’t exactly what Plato meant. But I’ve got to do something with that year of philosophy/critical theory I took in college. You should see what I can do with Kant.