Aug 24, 2017

Prepping and Painting Our Cabin Interior

Last week, I shared what it was like to buy our little mountain cabin along with some before photos. You can catch up on that post here. Today, I'm sharing some quickly snapped during and after phone photos from our first visit to our cabin as its new owners when my husband I prepped and painted and got the interior ready for moving in.

Paint Central - A folding table in the kitchen.

Before painting: scrubbing, scraping and sanding. (Ewwww, ick!)

We didn't want any of the seller's cabin furnishings except the refrigerator and stove, so we knew we'd be "camping out" during our first trip to clean and paint the interior. We left Boise on a Friday morning after packing up our pickup with cleaning and painting supplies, sheets and towels, and an overnight case. We also stopped at Walmart on our way out of town to buy a queen size inflatable mattress with a built in pump that was on sale for a great price. We figured we could use it for a guest mattress later, so it was not only handy for us to sleep on those first nights, but a good investment for the future.

Unsightly cracks and seams between loose panels and along ceiling molding.

Original stain color of the paneling and newly caulked seams between panels, molding, and ceiling.

After picking up our keys and receiving the selling real estate agent's "best wishes in your new cabin" we drove through town and past the lake to our little cabin. It's impossible to describe the wonder we felt driving down the narrow lane under the tall pine trees for the first time, not as tourists, but as home owners. We were filled with excitement for a new chapter in our lives, and, somehow, everything looked and felt so different and so special. As we saw everything through "fresh" eyes, we both felt that this first experience in mountain cabin living was full of promise for an interesting and fun future. 

Miles of caulking! 

After parking in our circular gravel driveway and unloading the pickup, we slowly walked around inside the cabin taking in everything we needed to accomplish during our first three day weekend visit. We were happy to see that the carpet had been cleaned beautifully by professionals, so we could live with it and put off the cost of refinishing or replacing wood floors for now. We were confident we'd be able to clean and paint all the rooms that first visit; after all, there are only a tiny living room, one bedroom and bathroom, a kitchen, and a storage room. 

Our first romantic dinner in our new cabin. :)

Temporary air mattress set up in the living room for our first night.

When we inspected our cabin on pre-closing inspections, we couldn't help noticing how dirty it was. The bathroom was the only clean room in the cabin, and only because it had been recently refurbished with new fixtures, flooring, and paint. We knew we had a big job in front of us to bring the cleanliness of the other rooms up to our standards, so we rolled up our sleeves and got right to work. First, we dusted off the light airy cobwebs that covered literally every inch of the ceilings and walls and then we scrubbed every single surface and nook and cranny with buckets and buckets of hot water, rags, brushes and soap. "Ewwww" and "ick" were the words I think I used most that first day.

The dark gold paint sucked the natural light right out of the cabin.

Finally, let's paint! (The bedroom.)

As soon as the ceiling and walls were dry from their scrubbings, we started nailing, caulking and patching the gaps and cracks in the old paneling so it would be dry and ready for paint the next day. We had absolutely no idea this part of our prep would take so long because the dirty and dark gold paint hid so many of the imperfections until we got up close and personal with it. But it was this preparation before painting that helped turn the old dark gold paneling from cheap to charming, so there was no cutting corners. I think we must have caulked miles of cracks and gaps that weekend. 

New paint in the bedroom. 

Newly painted bathroom.

That evening we were exhausted and beginning to be a bit daunted by how much more work we had ahead of us. We hadn't even opened a can of paint yet! We pulled two plastic patio chairs in front of the living room window and made a table from two plastic storage bins, then sat eating our first dinner, takeout pizza, by candlelight as we gazed out at the pine trees in the fading light. We agreed there was no better place to be exhausted than together in our tiny cabin in the woods.

Let there be light in the kitchen! New white paint.

More new white paint in the kitchen. (Yes, that is the hot water heater in the kitchen!)

After spending the night on our very comfy air mattress and being rejuvenated by the fresh mountain air, we got to work again with more cleaning, prepping, and, finally, some painting. We decided to paint everything one color to make our painting go more quickly. We wanted a color that would lighten up the rooms, make them appear more spacious, and be a neutral backdrop for the photos and art we'd like to collect and hang on the walls. So everything is painted with my favorite Benjamin Moore White Dove Regal latex paint; the ceilings and walls in eggshell and the windows and doors in semi gloss. My husband rolled the ceilings and walls, using the roller edges to get into the paneling crevices; while I slowly and laboriously painted the window mullions, doors, cabinets and trim. It was, once again, all taking much longer than we thought it would. (We ended up running out of time and finished the kitchen and bathroom a couple of weeks later.)

A panoramic view of the tiny living room wearing a new coat of white paint. 

After all was finished, we were a little dumbfounded by how our little cabin was transformed by our scrubbing, patching, and painting; from a dirty, dark and dreary cabin to a shining, light and airy cabin. We were so happy with the squeaky clean interior and new look. We also had a great sense of accomplishment from doing all that hard work ourselves, and we were even more excited to move our things in the following week! Our cabin dreams were coming true!

Stay tuned next time for move-in day!


  1. I love the white, and can't wait to see you make it your own!

  2. So excited to watch this transformation in the little cabin in the woods! I too love the white. Makes it all so fresh and so much brighter inside since the days are already getting shorter and darker. Have fun and don't wear yourselves out with all the work ahead.

  3. I've seen it time and time again but it never fails to amaze me what a fresh coat of paint can do to a space - particularly white paint! It looks so charmingly beautiful!

  4. What a beautiful, clean, bright space! It looks amazing. Looking forward to move in day.

  5. Isn't is amazing what paint can do? I love the white and look forward to seeing your progress. Enjoy the process :)

  6. Laurel,
    I think our farmhouse had the same paneling only it was a very light brown color. It was filthy too and took lots of prep work to get it ready to paint. I honestly don't think I stepped outside much those first 6 months. It's amazing how much a difference a coat of white paint makes! Your cabin looks so much better and brighter all white. Yay for progress! :o)

  7. I love the white also, it makes everything so clean and bright. It will be so much fun to see all you will do (and your husband.) Take time to rest too!

  8. OOO,'s beautiful...I am always just blown away by what white paint can do. We are having our Summer House painted white (inside) the first week of I am gathering ideas for the color of white...BM seems to be a very popular paint and, so far, I have Simply White, Cloud White and now your White Dove. I will get paint samples on Monday and see if I can make a choice. :)
    I love your romantic diner...and your new blow up bed is lovely...all this with your love of ea other, nestled in the woods...we always wanted a little cabin, too. It would have been so much fun.....xoxo

  9. It is coming out beautiful, Laurel! I can't wait to see it finished. It is going to be amazing, I already know. xxx Maria


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