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A Square Dining Table

Monday, September 26, 2016



Today I have another project to share inspired by www.Ana-White.com.  I just can't help myself, I love the plans on her website!

Since we moved we have been making do with this incredibly ugly table that I swore I wouldn't ever bring into the house.  I bought it a few years back because after searching high and low for a set of dining chairs to refinish, the only ones I could find for a reasonable price came with this table.  I tried to talk the guy into letting me take only the chairs even if I paid him full price, but he said "no".  He didn't want the ugly monster, either.  So, the plan was to sell this thing on craigslist, but it obviously never happened.  Then, during the move, we had agreed to buy a new dining room table for our actual dining room and we put our multi-purporse game table/dining table in the basement to be used exclusively for gaming.  However, moving costs added up like they do and the dining table idea got the ax for a little while.  So here we are using it for the past year...

Barstool Makeovers

Monday, September 19, 2016


I'm excited to share a little makeover today.

These simple, but boring, barstools are inexpensive and readily available from most department stores.  They typically come in a couple of heights as well, which makes them nice for multiple purposes.  I have seen these used as end tables or nightstands.  Mine are actually going to be barstools, but you know how I feel about oak and pine finishes.  Blah.



I had the majority of a gallon of paint leftover from my entertainment center and console table, and the gel stain from my banisters, so I put them to use to make matching stools.

The process was really similar to the banister project.  If your stools have been used prior to their makeover, make sure to give them a good cleaning before you begin.



Give the stools a light sanding by hand just to scruff up the finish a bit.  If you are using a different type of stain you will need to do some heavier sanding.  That is why I am a big proponent for the gel stains, 'cuz ain't nobody got time for that!



Apply stain to the entire stool.  It's not necessary to get it completely even, we just want a general base.  I used a rag to wipe the stain all over the stool and it took only a few minutes.  The only place I was careful with the evenness of the stain was the actual seat where the stain is going to be fully exposed in my final product.



After the first light coat dried, I added a second and third coat, to the seat only, to get a richer color to match my other furniture and floors.


After the seat had completely dried (I allowed it extra time to fully cure so that I wouldn't destroy my beautiful newly stained seat!), I taped over the entire seat area with painters tape.  In hindsight, I would probably have cut a circle of newspaper to cover the bulk of the seat and only taped the edges.... but oh well.  (I didn't get a picture of it all taped up, but I think you get the idea.)




Then I got out the paint sprayer and sprayed the entire base of the stool.  If you don't have a paint sprayer, you could use a can (or two or... I don't know how many it would take...) of spray paint instead.  Again, I wasn't really that careful with getting an even coat of paint.  Since I was going to distress them anyway, it was fine that I had a few heavier and lighter places.  I even have a few places with the spray splatter showing through.  We're calling that character.



Allow the paint to fully dry, remove the tape/cover from your seat and then lightly distress the paint with fine-grit sandpaper.  Distress to your hearts content.  I chose to distress the areas where I did the worst with the sprayer, and the areas that seemed like they would naturally distress, like the foot rails for instance.  This is where our base layer of stain really shines through.



Once you are happy with the distressed look of your stools, then spray the entire thing with a few coats of clear sealer.  And that's it!




The only real drawback here is the drying time, these require very little active work time and are actually quite simple.  My favorite part is that you could use any color you want without paying a small fortune for custom furniture.  These would also be great if you are nervous about adding a piece of large, colorful furniture to your room.  A small pop of color can make a big impact!

Chalkboard Wall

Monday, September 12, 2016


Once I started decorating the walls with the map art and the gallery wall, I was on a roll and decided to keep it going.  Next on my list was the wall between our alcove and the kitchen pantry.  This tall narrow wall of gray needed something to make it less.... boring.  I was also looking for a way to incorporate a message center for the family, since we were already using it for that purpose on a regular basis, anyway.



My first thought was a magnetic chalkboard wall, but when I started reading into magnetic paint and seeing things like "multiple coats" and "sand in between coats" and "need to use strong magnets or it won't work" my interest started waning.  In the end I decided to skip the magnetic paint and went straight for the chalkboard paint.  This means I will have to find another solution for out kitchen counter paper problem, but it meant that the wall got it's makeover fairly quickly and without a lot of fuss.

I used a laser level and painters tape to mark the vertical boundaries of the wall all the way to the ceiling.  Thankfully, the pantry and the alcove formed most of the boundary.

The chalkboard paint works exactly the same as regular paint, which is probably why I didn't think to take any pictures of the process, because it wasn't very exciting stuff.  Make sure your surface is clean and dry, use a brush to cut in the edges and then roll the rest.

The hardest part was definitely waiting for the paint to cure.  While the paint dries to the touch in about an hour like typical paint, it is recommended that you let it cure for an entire week before you put chalk on it.  I thought the kids were going to die while they waited, but somehow they managed to hang in.



It gets tons of use for everything from artwork, to messages, to to-do lists and grocery lists.


The Never Ending Gallery Wall Project

Monday, September 5, 2016


I have had some major anxiety over hanging things on the walls here in the not-so-new-anymore house.  Which would explain why it took me six months to hang the first artwork.

However, this big empty wall was BEGGING me to do something with it.



I have picture frames coming out of my ears that we have amassed over the years, and most of them have been rotated in and out of our displays based on what size photos I want to display or which ones go with our decor and tastes at any given time.  Which basically means that we have a huge hodge-podge of frames of all sorts of colors and styles.  I also wanted to mix a few art pieces in, some of which I had and some I had just started working on.

I started by laying out a few different options on our garage floor and playing with the arrangement until I found something I liked.  I numbered the frames with post-its to make the next step easier.



Then I did the most time consuming part.... I cut paper squares and rectangles to match the size of each and every one of the frames I wanted to use, numbering them to match.  Honestly, this didn't take that long, but it was a bit tedious.  I believe it was worth it, although most people thought it was yet another indication that I was crazy, because it allowed me to tape my arrangement to the wall and make adjustments accordingly.  It also ended up making things a whole lot easier when I was putting nails into the wall (remember the anxiety I was talking about?!?  I worked around that like a boss and in the end I only had to readjust a couple of my original holes).




After I was sure what was going to go where, I decided which frames to paint.  I wanted most of the frames to be black, and most of them already were anyway, with a few turquoise to match my curtains and other decor.  I spray painted the ones that needed the makeover.




Then came the actual hanging.  I left the papers on the wall, measured the approximate location of the hangers on each frame and placed the nails.  Because of the "organized chaos" nature of a gallery wall, nail placement is much easier than if you are trying to hang multiple frames in a straight line - which I have done before and do not recommend if you are the slightest bit OCD.  The nice thing about the gallery wall is that if one picture is higher or lower it really only helps, as the gaps are not supposed to be exact or consistent.  As long as the overall arrangement looks balanced, there really aren't any rules.



Once the frames were up, the project pretty much stalled at 95%.  I have this real problem with my projects stalling in the "nearly finished" stage.  Anyway, it was partially a problem of interest - at this point, I had already sunk about a month into this gallery wall and I was getting tired of thinking about it.  Once it was finished, however, it was hard to imagine this wall any other way.  I love it, and I couldn't be happier with it.  I especially like that we have the ability to easily add pictures of more children (which is important for a foster family!) without having to completely change the configuration.




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