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The Cruise Ship is our very own test kitchen. I learned I can do cabinets, was reminded that I shouldn’t do drywall and we have a hung jury on baseboards.

When we set out to build this new house of ours we were pretty certain that our desires would exceed our willingness to pay if not our pocketbooks. We thought we could benefit from doing some of the work ourselves. I am a middling level DIYer so I thought realistic that we could do some of the work ourselves if chosen to match our skills. However, some of the work we can do I am not sure about how well we can do.

testkitchenIt was not our intent but the little apartment which is the size of a cruise ship cabin, hence the name, has turned into our test facility. When we are upstairs we ask the question, “can I do that?” We do downstairs to the Cruise Ship and try. Some jobs I can do. If I cannot do something I usually just sidle over and cover up the problem and then take it out before someone sees it and we get a bid from a professional. If I can do it, I decide how much it is worth to do it. Some jobs I can do but should not do.

Take dry wall. I know how to hang dry wall and I can tape it. I am pretty good at hand texturing it. However, if we relied on me to do the dry wall we would be moving into the Cruise Ship with its total of 390 sq ft in 2019 and into the house in 2021. It is not a good idea to depend on me to hang drywall. But we knew that going in. We always intended for someone else to do the drywall–someone who is a professional.

To my surprise I did a pretty OK job with the finishes on our new unfinished cabinets here in the Cruise Ship. I was not sure I could pull that one off without it looking like someone’s 1950s kitchen gone wrong. I even made a cabinet for our bathroom.

We had bought a surface mounted medicine cabinet for the bathroom. When I went to hang it I cannot say how bad it looked. I ordered it online at one of the local box stores and my spouse picked it up. He went out of town and I took the cabinet out of the box to hang it. It was just awful. I put it back in the box and set the box aside. Like so many things we have, it had been dragged from one location to another until the box was pretty battered. I judged that I could not legitimately return it. We owned a $61 medicine cabinet that was disgusting. I tried to get another mirror which was $50 and looked pretty bad too. I took a jig saw to that one. It will eventually be OK but it is going to take a lot of work. 0 for 2.

We needed some sort of mirror in the bathroom and we needed some storage. I went back to the box with the ugly mirror and inspected it. The mirrored doors were horrible. The plastic box they saw on that passed for a cabinet was horrible. Charging forth with the blinders only a DIYer can have, I took the doors apart and made a new frame for the cabinet. I used two of the three doors. I painted it from some of my bargain bin $1 quarts of paint. I put a little antique glaze on it and hung it up. It looked good. I could not decide if I was more pleased that it looked OK or if it was because I made a square frame for the cabinet.

The frame was square but the shelf in it was wonky. I figured the tooth paste would not slide on it so it was good enough. I used scraps I found upstairs to build the cabinet. I needed better scraps so we did not have sliding tooth paste the cabinet was a little deeper. The following week I actually bought a short piece of 1 x 3 MDF and tried to improve the cabinet. Curiously, I ended up learning to cut and install baseboards with that MDF. I set out to find better scraps. I had some MDF left and could do the cross shelves. I did not have enough for the frame. I searched for 1 x 3 without success. I finally took 1xs and screwed them to my 2bys. I had a three inch deep cabinet with three 3 x 1 shelves. I replaced the doors and rehung the cabinet and we now have a pretty darned good looking cabinet.

We are finding things we feel confident in doing. I feel OK now about my rash statement that I would do the cabinets in our kitchen. I expected to do some sort of ugly shelves but now I have unfinished cabinets that I know will work out nicely. I have several thousand dollars worth of cabinetry for $800. I like that.

It is a good thing that we have our test kitchen. We don’t have to find out upstairs in the “big house” that we cannot do something. It is good to sneak down to the Cruise Ship and try something, especially if you find you can do it like I did with the cabinets. With so many cabinets in the main kitchen above I have to learn how to use a paint sprayer.