Kitchen Renovation: Before + After

A friend of mine once said that it takes 10 times longer to complete a kitchen renovation than originally planned. It’s TRUE! I’ve been quite absent on my blog lately because of our kitchen renovation project. I won’t bore you with too many details so here’s a short list of what it took to get that beautiful “After” result…

Recessed Lighting.  We removed box light in the ceiling and installed recessed can lights (not DIY, electrician installed).

Re-stained Kitchen Cabinets with Java Stain

Demolished Existing Ceramic Tile Countertop and Backsplash

Granite Countertops.  We searched for MONTHS for a granite color/style we could both agree on. We chose White Galaxy, a creamy white granite with beautiful sparkly flecks.

Kitchen Sink & Faucet.  We chose the Kohler Vault Stainless Single Basin and Brizo Solna Faucet w/ Touch2O feature. We also purchased an air switch for the garbage disposal, a single button on the countertop which freed up a switch for under-cabinet lights.

Countertop Installation.  The crew did a great job and finished in one day! They also replaced the hall bathroom countertop with leftover granite. The hubs installed corbels under the island to give it an upgraded look.

Kitchen Backsplash.  It took me forever to find a glass tile to match the off-white granite countertop. Most white glass tiles have a green tint so I searched for something off-white or taupe. I ordered samples from and found one that worked! We chose Loft Horizon Sand Beach Frosted 2×16 Glass Tile.

Backsplash Installation.  This ended up being a relatively easy DIY project. We borrowed a tile saw from a friend and watched YouTube tutorials on how to install a glass tile backsplash. It took about a week to complete (since my hubs’ work schedule is horrendous), but the end result is beautiful!

Next up…. the baby’s room! After 4 long months… we are finally done with our kitchen renovation. FINALLY.




Re-Staining Builder Grade Oak {Part Two}

I’m a little behind on getting Part Two of re-staining oak cabinets posted. Life happens. 😉

I’ve made a ton of progress on the cabinets in our entire house. The master bath, hall linen, guest bath and laundry room are all complete! This project is VERY time consuming but the results are worth it. I’m currently working on the kitchen (ugh!)… but the progress is incredible!

Below are photos of completed cabinets and some pointers based on what I’ve learned through trial and error.

Before/After Photos:

Guest Bath

Bath 2 Before  Bath 2 Interiors  Bath 2 Complete

Hall Linen

Linen Cabs Before Linen Cabs After Linen After

Laundry Room

Laundry Cabs Before Laundry After

Part One included directions on how to stain your cabinets. Here are some helpful pointers and tricks I’ve learned through trial and error. In no particular order…

1. START with staining the corners of the doors. It’s really important to apply light coats to get an even and consistent look. Applying too much stain will look globby and sloppy. The trick is to start with the corners so you can spread out the stain from there. Cheese cloth is also great for smoothing out globs. (Photo shows Coat 1 on a door)

Staining Corners

2. If the Polyacrylic in Satin looks too shiny, you need to spend more time stirring the product together. Excuse my lack of technical terms, but there is “stuff” on the bottom of the can that needs to be mixed in with the rest of the clear finish. Spend a few minutes stirring the mixture together. It’ll keep the cabinets from looking too shiny. Same goes for the Java stain, stir it up!


3. If you still think the Polyacrylic in Satin is too shiny… trust me, the Flat finish does NOT look better. It looks dull and inconsistent. Save yourself some time and take my word for it… the Satin finish looks better. It’s not too late if you’ve already applied the flat finish. Just apply a coat of Satin and the dull look will go away.

4. Temperature is important! The stain is easier to work with if the space you’re working in is cooler. If the space is over 80 degrees, the stain will start to cure a lot faster and you’ll have less time to work with it. Do yourself a favor, do this project when it’s cool out. Temps in the high 60s to mid 70s are perfect for staining!

Temp Progress

5. Only invest in good brushes that can easily be cleaned, such as Purdy paint brushes used to apply paint and the water base Polyacrylic. I made the mistake of spending $12 on a brush specifically used for staining the corners of doors. The Java stain doesn’t come out without using harsh cleaners. I didn’t realize this until after the stain dried on the brush. Small foam brushes are very handy for wiping up drips and applying stain to details. They’re cheap too!

Sponge Brushes

6. It’s important to protect anything you don’t want to stain! If you’re working in an area where carpet meets the cabinets, take a little extra time to make sure the carpet is protected. I found a random stick thingy that apparently goes with my car (can you tell I have no idea what it is?!). I used this stick to press the painters tape over the carpet and under the cabinet. Taking this extra step completely protected my carpet.


Pave The Way: a design blog by Shannon Pavey {Intro}

Hi all! I have decided to start a blog that focuses on two of my favorite things: design and special events. Over the years, my family and friends have told me that I should be a professional designer or wedding planner. I’ve planned and hosted many parties: baby & wedding showers, graduation parties, holiday dinners and the biggest event of all… my wedding!

I also have experience as a designer, specifically in new home construction where I built homes from the ground up (with help from an awesome team, of course!). However, my biggest design challenge yet has been my own home! My husband and I have completed many projects but the list never gets shorter. It actually gets longer because with every project we start, we discover more things we’d like to change. Like my father-in-law once said…

“Congratulations… you now own a home. You ALSO own a never ending project.”

What can I say… he was right. We have done everything from epoxying the garage floor to painting the exterior of the house and everything in between. We have done so much yet there are still a ton of projects on our list. Oh, the joy of homeownership!

Another reason for starting this blog is that I’ve realized many of my friends are reaching a common place in life. They’re buying homes and tackling projects of their own. I get asked “how did you…” pretty often and this blog will feature some of those topics. Also, please feel free to ask questions about a project you’re working on!

2013 is shaping up to be a productive year… follow along and enjoy!

Shannon Pavey

P.S. It’s this beautiful lady’s 30th Birthday today… Happy Birthday Courtney!

Birthday Girl!

Birthday Girl!

It’s also my 2 year wedding anniversary… Happy Anniversary Hubby!

CinZo Photography

CinZo Photography

Re-staining Builder Grade Oak {Part One}

With all the home makeover shows on TV these days, it’s pretty much common knowledge that kitchens and bathrooms are most important when it comes to renovating your home. I’ve been itching for YEARS to get rid of the orangey oak cabinets in my kitchen, bathrooms, hall and laundry room. In my experience as a designer in new home construction, I am painfully aware of how expensive it is to replace cabinets. With my budget, this was simply not an option so I started Googling.


I came across a blog with a step-by-step tutorial on how to restain builder grade oak cabinets. Of course, I can’t immediately assume that it works simply because she did it. Then, I read through the comments from her readers swearing that it worked for them! That made me curious so I went back to Google to find more information on the specific stain she used. Sure enough, I found other blogs featuring Monica’s tutorial… I was in shock. Did this mean that my ugly orangey oak cabinets had a chance? Could they could be stained and actually look good?

Painting the cabinets was another option but I wanted to achieve a decadent espresso color. Paint is best for white cabinets. After conducting a ton of research, I decided to try this newly discovered (to me) staining method on my master bath cabinets. This was a safe place to test it out in case it didn’t work and ended up looking horrible.

This project cost about $100, give or take. Visit Monica’s blog ( for full details, but here are photos from my cabinet re-staining project. It took me 5 days to prep, paint the interiors and apply 3 coats of stain the cabinets/doors/drawers. Light, even coats and dry time are key to great results!

Before & After!

Before  Coat 3 on Boxes

Project table:

Supply Table

Before painting the interiors white:

Before Interiors Painted White

After painting the interiors white:

After Interiors Painted White

Coat 1 (very scary!): The KEY is to apply the stain lightly, do not try to force it on.

Coat 1 on Doors   Very Scary Coat 1  Coat 1 on Drawers

Coat 2: Looking better…

Coat 2 on Boxes   Coat 2 on Drawers

Coat 3: SO EXCITED!!!

Coat 3 on Doors   Coat 3 on Drawers   Coat 3 on Boxes

So far, I am THRILLED with the results! I still need to apply the Polyacrylic Satin topcoat and hardware. By closely following Monica’s tutorial, I ended up with beautiful espresso cabinets. My neighbors even stopped by to see what the heck was going on in the garage. They couldn’t believe how good it looked!

How did you do that?!

Looks awesome, huh! First, I gathered all the supplies and set up a work station in the garage. Woodcraft is a specialty woodworking store in Sacramento that carries the General Finishes Gel Stain in Java ($20) and General Finishes Polyacrylic Topcoat in Satin ($20). It can also be purchased online at The guy at Woodcraft helped me find the various supplies I needed for this project. I found some of the more common items at Home Depot/Lowe’s. I bought paper from a local paint store to cover our floors.


  • Sanding Block – I used an angled one which helps if you have details or edges on your cabinet doors/drawers
  • Lysol wipes or sponge with soap and water
  • Rubber gloves – this stain STAINS, protect your hands
  • Masking tape (for prep) AND painter’s tape (for taping where you’re staining), no reason to use the good tape on the floor
  • General Finishes Java Gel Stain – Like Monica said… “YOU CANNOT SUBSTITUTE THIS! …If you’re doing a small vanity, order a 1/2 pint.  If you’re doing a whole kitchen, order a quart… A little of this goes a LONG way.”
  • General Finishes Polyacrylic Topcoat in Satin (see photos below)
  • Ziploc baggy to keep track of all the hardware, screws, hinges
  • Screwdriver to take off hardware/hinges
  • Tack cloth
  • Men’s sock
  • Gauze/rag/cheesecloth
  • Foam brush
  • Paper or tarp to protect floors
  • Painters pyramids so you can paint both sides at once

General Finishes Gel Stain & Polyacrylic Satin Topcoat Poly

Next post, I’ll follow up on the cabinet re-staining project. I am very pleased with the espresso color and have started on the hall linen and secondary bath cabinet. Yipes! The kitchen will be done in the near future… after I take a week long nap. WARNING: this can be exhausting! However, it’s a great solution if you’re on a budget and want to say “Goodbye!” to builder grade oak cabinets.

Shannon Pavey

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