Painted Doors Once, But Never Again

Would you spend two or more intensive weeks going through the tedious process of painting your cabinets – doors, drawers and all - only to achieve unsatisfactory results? And then face the prospect of needing to redo it all over again in less than a year?

Fargo entrepreneurs and owners of Flying Dog Collars, Mark and Michelle Ferrell faced that identical quandary this spring.

A long and tedious process

When they were asked to reminisce back to those weeks they originally spent painting everything - including doors and drawer fronts - looks of dread filled their faces.

Even though the approach to their full paint makeover was really the right method - they removed all the doors and drawer fronts, removed all hinges and hardware, primed and hand painted the boxes and primed and spray painted the doors and drawer fronts – all the right steps of what to do - they still encountered all the common problems that come with trying to paint doors and drawer fronts and retrofitting new components, such as hardware and hinges.

“It was a long and tedious process, requiring several coats of primer and paint,” Michelle shared. “And I am a person who likes order, so it was really wearing on me. And, when it was all done, there were drips and paint pooling in the corners, and it was really hard to sand and repaint those areas.”

AFTER: Our rich, dark Zanno Wenge on all new doors and drawer fronts converted the existing cabinets of this kitchen from dated to divine!

AFTER: Our rich, dark Zanno Wenge on all new doors and drawer fronts converted the existing cabinets of this kitchen from dated to divine!

Mark, who considers himself a handy guy, agreed. “I've always been a hands-on guy when it comes to home repairs. But, for this project, I remember it being a time consuming and cumbersome process since I did not have a spray booth, or any way to hang the doors and drawer fronts to paint them.”

Common problems

BEFORE: Here we see dated arched doors, a tired paint job on the doors and drawer fronts, exposed hinges, and outdated hardware.

BEFORE: Here we see dated arched doors, a tired paint job on the doors and drawer fronts, exposed hinges, and outdated hardware.

One of the common problems homeowners also encounter when trying to paint their doors and drawer fronts is getting new pull hardware and handles to fit – especially if they are upgrading to a different size hardware. Drilling new holes and keeping them centered, even and uniform across everything is nearly impossible, much less filling in old holes and keeping those level and unnoticeable after the priming and painting is completed. Although they didn't have problems with that, they did have problems with new hinges they purchased. “The new hinge hole pattern did not line up the same as the old hinges, causing some difficulty in alignment,” Mark shared.

With Kitchen Refresh, every new door and drawer front set that every kitchen remodel gets is custom manufactured to their kitchen with the proper hinge locations and pull hardware locations pre-drilled to precision.

The other common problems they encountered were paint chipping on the doors and drawer fronts, discoloration, and a paint surface “stickiness” that wouldn't go away, thereby attracting dirt, grime, and dust and making them nearly impossible to keep clean.

Paint chipping comes from everyday use and will show up especially on the most commonly used doors and drawers where hands, sharp fingernails, and jewelry are more frequently colliding with the surfaces: your silverware drawer, the door where you store your daily use dishes and cups, the door under the sink where you store the garbage can, dish soap, and cleaners, etc.

With Kitchen Refresh, we manufacture and install all new doors and drawer fronts, each of which are coated in a durable, easy-to-clean, Thermofoil finish - meaning no chipping, no stickiness and a surface specifically designed for no-fuss cleaning.

The discoloration they experienced most commonly occurs from everyday wear and tear and uneven paint application.

With Kitchen Refresh, the Thermofoil finish we apply to each new door and drawer front is ultra-durable to resist everyday wear, and the finish itself is manufactured and applied in such a way that it’s always a uniform application.

When searching for the paint “stickiness” cause - again, a common result - the issue has a myriad of explanations, as well as a myriad of suggested “remedies” that seem to yield no results, including one horrific suggestion to remove all the paint and primer that you just applied and repaint everything again – but with no explanation of why it happened the first time nor guarantees they still wouldn't end up with a sticky surface again.

The cabinet transformation journey

Mark said he knew Michelle was really frustrated with the existing cabinets and something was going to have to be done, but he was also looking for a budget-friendly approach.

And, when they started thinking about what they were going to do, there was a little bit of serendipity involved. “I had searched online, found Kitchen Refresh, started researching it and really liked what I saw. I was shocked to see the service was actually offered in North Dakota,” Mark said. “I liked that the finished product looked professional and did not require a total rehab of the kitchen. Since we had pretty new solid surface counters, this method also allowed us to keep our existing countertops. Also, we have very high quality, custom made cabinets made specifically for our kitchen. If we were to replace them, they would have had to be replaced with custom rather than standard size, big box store, pre-made units.”

Lo and behold, just a few days later, Michelle, who is a follower of Maren Jensen's Midwest in Style blog, saw that she had featured her own kitchen transformation in her storyline, which was completed by Kitchen Refresh.

Michelle then shared that information with her husband Mark, with him then revealing he had already been looking at Kitchen Refresh as the contractor of choice.

“After looking at the cost of replacing all of the cabinets, it was clear it was much more affordable to go this route with Kitchen Refresh,” he said.

After they contacted Kitchen Refresh and set up their free design consultation, one of the most surprising results to them was how the designer recommended going with a dark finish rather than a white finish they had both originally preferred.

“The consultation was mind blowing,” Michelle said. “It helped us imagine an option we had not even thought of. We really thought we would be going with a white option but ended up with the dark, rich Zanno Wenge finish.”

“The designer was spot on in determining that it would complement our existing decor and style,” Mark added.

Final words

When asked to give advice to others looking to paint their cabinet doors and drawer fronts, here is what Mark and Michelle had to say:

Michelle: “Don't do it. Let a professional come in and do it right the first time. You may think you’re saving money but in the end, when having to touch up or repaint, you really aren’t saving.”

Mark: “It's too much work for the end result where constant touch up was necessary due to chipping and-or peeling. Call Kitchen Refresh and have the pros handle it.”

And, in sharing some final parting words, Michelle added, “I would have to say that it had to be the easiest project we have ever undertaken in our house. It was a pretty quick decision to do the makeover after looking at many of the makeovers Kitchen Refresh publishes on Facebook and on the website.”

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Mark & Michelle And Their Flying Dog Collars

Mark and Michelle’s kitchen makeover was a delight, but we couldn’t end the story there. As we got to know them in their kitchen transformation, we knew we had to also share their Flying Dog Collars story.

Flying Dog Collars started in 2010 in a spare bedroom of their home, a business that really began with Michelle making dog treats and selling them online and to close friends.

“After some time, we saw that it was a difficult business to make a profit without having to invest a large amount of money, and I decided to see if I could make a dog collar to supplement the treats,” Mark said.

A boutique meeting

“Since my day job was in graphic design, I built and maintained our original website,” Mark said of their business. He also did the coding, took all photos, did the photo editing work and all of the other aspects of getting it launched and maintaining its presence.

Kitchen Refresh clients Mark and Michelle Ferrell are the owners of Flying Dog Collars, an innovative dog collar manufacturer located in Fargo.

Kitchen Refresh clients Mark and Michelle Ferrell are the owners of Flying Dog Collars, an innovative dog collar manufacturer located in Fargo.

Mark said the business really took off after meeting with a pet boutique owner from Grand Forks who was selling their collars. “She suggested that we try and get our products listed on a national wholesale pet supply site in Virginia, and they took us on,” Mark said. “That gave us some national exposure. And we still continued with the boutique business, until we introduced the buckle personalization, and then we transitioned the focus to be a manufacturer/retailer.”

Mark said they were then selling to small boutiques across the country and also online through their website, and another large pet products website. Since they were using an aluminum buckle, unique at the time, they partnered with another company that had a laser engraver to start personalizing the buckles for retail sales. Mark said it was in that niche that he had the innovative idea of engraving pet name and owner contact information right onto the buckle or on a stainless steel plate riveted to the strap of the collars.

Moving everything in-house

After a short time of having an outside vendor engrave the buckles, they decided to go all in and purchase their own high end USA-made laser to do all the engraving in house.

Mark said that it was then sales really started to take off even more. Within a few years, a separate standalone shop space needed to be constructed to handle the growth in business.

“We were unique in the industry to have a pet’s contact information engraved on the buckle, eliminating the need for traditional dangling tags that are so noisy,” he said. “We started an Etsy shop in 2011 and, by 2015, we were the 10th highest ranked shop in the pet category and still maintain that ranking today.”

Ordering a collar for your pet

At that time, he was still working a full time job until 5 p.m., getting home, eating supper and then working on collar orders at night and through 1 or 2 the following morning. “I finally had to quit my regular job once I realized we were making double from the business versus what I was making at work and I've been doing the business as a full-time, self-employed venture since April of 2015.”

To find and order a collar, visit or their Etsy store at Laser Engraved Personalized Dog Collars and Leashes by ShopFlyingDogCollars.