I am great at starting projects.
I quickly map out a plan, get my supplies and I’m off! It’s usually about halfway through that I fully realize the investment I’ve made (whether an afternoon project or one that lasts a week+). And then I press on because it’s “too late to turn back now…”
That was me a few months ago when, before moving in, I decided to refinish the 1990’s oak-stained kitchen cabinets of our new home. I researched online (using Pinterest, of course!) and decided upon a lovely gel stain promising to “quickly and inexpensively” transform the new-to-me dated kitchen.
I went to the specialty paint store and made my purchases, and my husband and I started the very night we closed on the house. First washing, sanding, staining, sanding, staining, sanding, then staining again, then very lightly sanding, and a few coats of polyurethane. Did I mention there are 17 cabinet doors and drawer fronts?
Reading that last paragraph back to myself, I realize how naïve I was to think it would be a quick project. I knew each coat of stain needed about 24 hours drying time in between, but somehow thought that I alone (the hubby still had a day job to attend to) could easily stain all the cabinetry in a couple hours each morning during the next week and have plenty of time for cleaning and working on other small projects around the house in the afternoon prior to moving in the next weekend.
Did I also mention, I am solely responsible for the daytime care of my 3-year-old during this week like every other?
In reality, I spent ALL DAY – EVERY DAY of that week working on the cabinets (with quick breaks to pass out snacks, help move toys or tuck in my girl for her nap). And I actually finished the last two coats of polyurethane after we moved in. Thankfully, my sweet in-laws showed up during the week of staining ready to help clean the house so it was prepped for moving day, also entertaining aforementioned 3-year-old for that one full day.
While the work was anything but “quick,” the kitchen looks gorgeous today. My dated cabinets were given new life which revitalized the whole room. And it was a fairly inexpensive project (less than $125 so far).
But here’s the catch: the cabinets aren’t fully finished. Sure, we’ve been living in the house and using them for months, but to best protect the new stain – and as part of our original project – we planned to add hardware to them. Pretty little nobs and pulls as the finishing touch. And it just hasn’t happened.
By the time I was finished with the topcoat, it was time to unpack boxes and move dishes and cups, and all the kitchen supplies I have into the cabinets. Then summer and life happened, and that finishing touch wasn’t a priority anymore.
I was ready to be done with the project before it was fully finished.
Until I started seeing little, tiny chips from my nails on one of the smaller doors, and noticed some tacky residue stuck to a drawer. And I was reminded of why I wanted the hardware in the first place: to protect the very-time consuming project I had just finished. I want to keep these cabinets looking as nice as I can for as long as I possibly can (preferably until I sell the house to someone else or die, just as long as I never ever have to refinish them again).
Unfortunately, this tendency to be done before a project is fully, fully finished doesn’t just apply to home projects for me. Oh, I get most projects to where they look done, but that’s when it’s especially hard for me to press on to the end.
If it looks good enough, and works well enough … why worry about it?
Except, often it seems, that finishing touch is what gives a “project” its longevity. For example, I rarely finish non-fiction books. I get most of the way through and seem to just forget about finishing them. Because of this, even when what I’ve read is fabulous, I am hesitant to pass a book on to a friend, fearful that they might mention something that I hadn’t yet read and that I would look silly and foolish.
What about you — is it hard for you to fully finish something once you’ve started or do you maybe struggle with the getting started part? Where do you struggle with the finishing touch?
And just in case you were worried, I found some lovely, reasonably priced hardware I plan to install soon. And finally my kitchen will be fully finished.Sometimes it's tempting to quit right before you do the final finishing touch. Finish anyway.Click To Tweet