Hello, rice phone. And clean hinges.

7:53 AM

I am the guilty starter of half a million unfinished projects.

One of them — we'll call it "ongoing" — is the transformation of my 1950's home into a functional rental house. It's a three bedroom, two bath with great bones that works perfectly for me and my SO, our pup, a lazy cat and three wild outdoor kittens, But in order for two or three responsible adults to want to pay rent here, I'll probably have to lose the pistachio green dining room, for starters. (Yes, I bought it that way and yes, I hated it. But strangely, I've come to like it.)

Another project on my list was to document said transformation, in case I should need to remember a thing or two about what not to do next time.

The latter project would likely never see the light of day, were it not for a bucket of baking soda and a garbage can full of orzo pasta, both of which took place by necessity yesterday.

So, our first hard knocks lesson will be: How to remove gross old paint from original hardware. 

Shiny and made new!
I'm hosting an art party at my house just before Halloween, and I'd like to get the joint in tip top shape before then. So we're painting the kitchen. And the breakfast nook. And let's hope it stops there. (If you've done cosmetic improvements to your house, you know just how quickly things can get out of hand.)

Earlier this summer, I had some kitchen ceiling cracks repaired, a stomp texture added to mask the ceilings general basic-ness and match the breakfast nook and den ceilings. I also had replaced the existing fluorescent tube fixture with an LED light. (I'll forever regret not installing recessed lighting, but live and learn.) This isn't even worthy of mention, but there were three different ceiling textures when I bought the house. But why? Spoiler alert: there are still three different ceiling textures.

Cut to the chase: our current kitchen cabinetry features at least two layers of crappy, lazy paint jobs.
And the metal hinges that attach the doors to the cabinet were painted over as well. ALL 24 of them. (Don't worry, the other side of the kitchen features an entirely different style of cabinet, hinge, etc. It totally makes sense. Bugh.)

Originally, my plan was to replace these hinges with sleeker, silver versions.
But when we took off the doors, we made two discoveries:

1. The doors and the hardware have a 1/2 inch inset which would make them difficult (though not impossible) to replace.

2. Under the nightmare paint job was antique copper hardware.

What??? Okay, I never would have picked these particular hinges out of a lineup for my dream kitchen by any means, but now that we have spent hours (at midnight no less) removing paint and shining these parts up, I can't understand why they were ever buried under latex.

How to remove gross old paint from original hardware

You'd think you could just remove the hardware and start peeling away paint like it's crawfish season. Nah. You'll be struggling with that for days.

Here are the steps that will save your sanity and fingers. Per YouTube and our experience combined:

What you'll need: 
2.5 gallon pot with lid*
long tongs (or needle nosed pliers)
2 boxes of baking soda
gloves (rubberized/fitted gardening gloves work great)
steel wool
old toothbrush
can of Goof Off
2 hours and an extra set of hands

*You will never be allowed to use this for food, so don't even try to store it in the kitchen. This is your project pot and bad toxic things are going to happen here, particularly if your home was built before 1978. You can buy one at the dollar store.

1. Remove any pulls or knobs from the cabinet faces. Unscrew the hinges from the cabinet faces, then remove the hinges from the doors. It will be harder than it looks since the screw heads are likely flush with paint. Setting the doors on the ground and standing on them to give yourself leverage worked for us.

2. Place all the hardware in the pot (hinges and screws). Cover with baking soda. Add water to 2-3 inches above the parts.

3. Heat up the water to simmering (baby bubbles, not a full rolling boil). Preferably, do this outside. We used a gas grill. Paint in homes built until 1978 can most definitely contain lead and it's toxic. You really don't want these scraps any where near food or children.

4. Remove the pot and place it on the ground. Don't drain the water. With your tongs or pliers, fish out your first piece. Wave it around in the water to slosh off as much baking soda as possible. The latex paint should have softened up nicely, and it's ready to remove. You can use your gloved fingers, the pliers, an old toothbrush, whatever means necessary to pull the paint off. The heat should have released the stickiness in most places. The hardest parts are the crevices behind the hinge since paint likes to wedge there. This is what you need the toothpicks for. We didn't have toothpicks. Don't be us.
Here's what they look like right out of the water.

Rub and scrub by any means necessary.

While it's beneficial to be OCD here, remember that you have a lot of scrubbing to do, particularly if you're cleaning hardware for a full kitchen. Thankfully, we were working with only half of the total number of hinges. When it gets tough with one piece, put it back into the hot water and move onto the next. If the paint becomes stubborn again as the water temp cools, reheat your pot with everything in it.

Removing strips of paint from the flat parts of the hinge is strangely calming. I wouldn't go to a zen retreat for the experience, but I can think of worse thing to do than sit across from a cute man and remove paint from hinges. And that's not even a euphemism.

Extra credit:
Once you have the hinges clean, place them on newspaper to dry a little. Get out the Goof Off and rub it into the hinges. I'll admit, Drew did this part while I went inside and watched Pretty Little Liars and ate hummus. This is why he's the best. And also, he's just better at finishing jobs than I am. See beginning of this post.

Here's the end result. Don't they look like candy?

Final word of caution: Don't have your phone anywhere nearby for this process. I took mine outside to snap pics of the Hissyfits being cute and put the phone in the pocket of my flannel shirt. While trying to fish out a hinge, that sucker fell straight into the hot water and baking soda and sank like a stone. I grabbed it quick, and threw it in a container. I was almost out of rice and for this my Asian card is now being revoked. There were barely enough grains for the phone to sit on, much less cover it. Thank God for that likely expired box of Orzo. I dumped it, said a prayer and returned to my hinge scrubbing. Who needs to be reachable, anyway? Realtors, that's who. Whatever. It was at this point I realized that it was after 1 a.m. We really know how to party.

Tail-less and the Hissyfits in a kitty sandwich

Good news/bad news: My phone is fine. So I decided to blog in a hurry and preserve these images. 

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