Friday, April 11, 2014


You may notice that I do not do a ton of stripping and staining.  If I do, it is usually just on the top of a piece or the drawer fronts.  There is a reason for this…IT'S A PAIN IN THE BUTT!

I know everyone goes about stripping pieces a little differently and sometimes there will be a piece that needs a little extra work, but 90% of the time, this is the process I use.

in my bag….

Using the chippy brush above, I pour on a layer of stripper, spread evenly and let sit.  Not the cheapest product but Jasco is what I use.  

Sometimes I need to do 2 layers of stripper. 

 After the correct amount of time (15-30 min), I use my metal scrapper to pile it all in the middle.
I know you shouldn't use metal but it work best for me and I am careful not to gouge or dig. 

Plastic scrappers are for sissies.  I'm kidding, you can use your plastic scrapper:)

I then discard into an empty paint can.


I keep a LOT of these rags around.  I rip them into small pieces because I go through them quickly.  

I do not like to use a soft cotton t-shirt type clothes because they do not pick up the stripper as well,  but these 'nubby' rags work great.

This Pampered Chef tool didn't see much action in the kitchen but I use it ALL THE TIME while stripping furniture. This is were I can really get in there without fear of scratching the wood. 

 I had one of the kids bathtub toys for years before this guy came along.  Sometimes the strangest items just seem to work well.

This brush is also VERY handy for getting into grooves. 

Another tip... if you have some very detailed carvings, let it sit for hours, even until stripper dries then brush it out with this.  Of course you do not want to use a wire brush or anything too harsh, but a stiff brush works great!

 I do like to use steel wool for fine cleaning but they tend to get too gunky if there is too much stripper remaining, so use them sometimes for fine cleaning before I sand. 

Sometimes I use a rotary sander and sometimes I don't, it's about 50/50. I test it first and if marks are being left, I STOP and go to hand sanding.  I have NO IDEA why sometimes I can get away with using it and other times it doesn't work out.  But I do know that if I am able to use it, I will use a higher grit paper, in this case it was a 180. 

I always like to finish the piece off with a finish sander using a very fine grit paper.  This really makes a  the piece extra smooth.  Also, if you do have any swirls, this should help take care of them.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Well THAT was a lot of work! Don't get me wrong... I totally love how it turned out and actually had fun making the hardware but my OCD took over a bit:)  But what really makes this all worth it is that my customer LOVES it!

This was actually a piece that I did for a friend and designer, Mindi with Mindi Freng Designs.  She is fabulous with creating fun and "out of the box" designs and a great person to work with.

There was a lot of trial and error and figuring out what was going to work along with brainstorming how to simply attach the pieces. At least now I have a better handle on doing this if anyone ever asks me to do this again.

I had a little help from my son too.  He was like "why didn't you ever make on of these for me when I was little" and I was like "because you didn't pay me to".  But really, I wish I would have thought of something fun and cool like this when he was little and VERY into lego's.  Even now, at 14, he and his sisters still like to trash my house with them every once in a while.  I love when they spend 2 days building something and you can't "touch it" so it sits there for a week or so, on my counter or floor.     These are a toy I will keep forever!

And yes, that is wine you see in photo below.  It seems to me that I am more creative with a drink on hand:)

It quite a while to figure out a design that was not only functional but fun and creative as well, meaning they all had to be a little different. I also wanted to make sure I could drill a whole through the center and have no loose pieces.  You have to keep in mind the fact that you have a 1/2"-1" drawer front to go through as well.  I ended up needing a 3" screw that I could screw a bolt onto inside the drawer front.

I drilled a whole down the middle.

Because I wanted to 'cap off' the top with a lego piece that did not have a hole in it, I had to sink the screw a bit otherwise the top piece would not have snapped on because of the screw head.

Using this sinker tool, I created an area for the screw head to sink into a bit.

Now it is flush enough to have the top piece snap on.  I actually dabbed a bit of super glue on the top piece so that it would not easily come on off.  Those are no fun to step on!

 The before…pretty ugly huh?  I actually had to cut a dowel 1" dowel to size to fill in the holes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


The top of this guy was laminate and the box was a bit beat up.  The drawers however, were in wonderful condition, making this a great candidate to strip and re-stain, creating a fun two toned look.

After removing the back and rails, I cut a piece of plywood to fit snuggly inside.  Using construction adhesive and a lot of weights to glue it down, I let it sit overnight to make sure the glue it is good and dry.

Leaving the back off while refinishing and spraying is best because it makes it a little easier to get the inside sprayed out nicely as well as the inside back, the part you will see from the front, painted as well.


I pretty much have this project down to a science and actually enjoy converting these pieces into a functional, fun and beautiful TV console.

Running a bead of caulk along the front and sides then touching up with the color give the piece a nice, finished look.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I have not been good about sharing the updates that I've done to this house over the past 3 years.  We really have done a lot of things to make this house as pretty as we can, on a budget.

I guess after building a few beautiful homes I felt that the updates to this house were insignificant but actually, this has been a very humbling process and much more challenging that starting from scratch.  

After being on both ends of the design spectrum, I think it's much easier to fall in love with a brand new, big fat daddy house made all new and pretty.  If you want a real challenge, lets update a really outdated, ugly house on a simple budget and fall in love with that!

I have shared my master bedroom update as well as the master bathroom but really, no other areas of my house.  

Lets start with the dining room.  Here are a few 'before' pictures.

Pretty sure these drapes had been hanging here for over 50 years.  They were so nasty and dirty!
Notice the baseboard radiators? Yeah, they ran almost the entire length of every room in the house and had dirt marking up the wall about 3 feet. 
Removing those and getting forced air was one of the first major things we did after moving in. 

I worked hard to keep that room divider intact even when all the drywall around it was ripped down and replaced.  Pretty much threatened everyone who was working in that room with their lives:)

Check out the chandy!  I really did love that light!  It hung there for a few months but as much as I loved it, it didn't fit the style of the house or the look I wanted for the space.  I sold it. But truth be told, I still think about her now and then.

Yeah baby!  Check out all that yummy paneling!  Maybe this is the part that made the other 100 potential buys go running out the front door.

Notice the big bow in the upper cabinets of the hutch?  I ended up literally jacking it up, placing 1x4's in the back (over the thin plywood I faced it with) and calling it good.  Very well placed trim at the top helped hid the imperfection at the top of the cabinet.

Since then, we have removed the paneling and replaced it with drywall as well as replaced a 22' beam that spanned the living room.  With each room or section we renovate, we also update the window.  We actually replaced the large window with a sliding door for easy access to the back yard.  

We also removed the nasty carpet and added hardwood flooring. Knowing that a kitchen and den reno were in our future, we purchased enough to run it through those areas as well.  With my luck, this flooring would have been discontinued by the time we got to those rooms and didn't want to take the change.

We removed the paneling and drywalled the living and dining rooms.  Although we may be removing and replacing this hutch with new cabinets when we do the kitchen, I love the little update I did to it.

You can find the antique glass tutorial HERE.

Although not a high end built in, it has served it's purpose well as a great storage and craft area and the obscure glass hides all the paperwork that we store on the top.

This dining room might not be a fancy as the one in the home we built 10 years or...
or the one we built 5 years ago.  But that's ok, I am getting there!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I had my eye on this light for a few weeks. Every time I went to Lowe's, which is 1-2x a week, I would  swing by the lighting section and visit the light.  I didn't NEED it, but I really WANTED it!

As perfect as it was in it's original chrome finish, I have a lot of gold finishes going on in this 60's house and wanted the light to be in a gold finish as well.

I taped off the inside of the light sockets.  All 18 of them.  Not only because I wanted it to look nice and professional, but it's the safest thing to do.

Hanging in my spray booth ready to get sprayed.

I used a red primer for metal by Rustoleum.  I used red only because that is what I happened to have, white primer would work just fine.

This sucker is BRIGHT and I LOVE it! Pretty sure my electricity bill is going to go up…we are going to have to add a dimmer:)

I love the bulbs that came with it too…such a fun and funky light!

Monday, February 24, 2014


She turned out wonderful buuuut….

I will be honest, I was a wee bit concerned about this piece. 
I knew it was solid and well put together.  It had lasted for over 60 years and is going to last another 60 but it was on the "rough" side.  

Even so, I loved the sweet, simple detail and knew it would look beautiful with the right finish:)

Originally this piece was an antique dressing vanity.  But really, how often do we sit, gazing into the mirror and run the brush through our hair 100 strokes? Not happening often over here and I wanted to make it a function desk.  

I took it apart months ago and let it sit on the sidelines until the perfect top came along.  

Alas, this buffet top was available when I needed to remove it to make this piece into as a bathroom vanity for a customer (which was a pretty cool project and you can go HERE for details).

**side note…this is the first time I have ever used the word "alas" and am not sure how I feel about it**

I do love how it turned out:)  
I have never done a "colored" glaze before but the customer wanted a navy glaze over the gray/blue base.  

I mixed the glaze myself with 50/50 navy acrylic paint and SW clear glaze.  
I love how the dark glaze fell into the tiny cracks and imperfections of this piece.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014


**First let me start by saying that I am NOT a designer (or photographer), nor do I pretend to be one. So if "design rules" are broken, no judging:)

I have a fair amount of color going on in much of my house so really wanted a softer, "tone on tone" type of look for this room. 
I am super lucky in the fact that Marc could really care less about what I do, as far as decor goes, in our home.  Not only is he pretty much color blind, but he knows I will do what I want to do anyway, so why argue:)  Hence, the "blush"tone of the quilt... I LOVE that man!

Here is a before picture of your bedroom.  It was not bad, I was just ready for a change and had been wanting to do something different with this bed and nightstand set that we've had for years.

I really love this metallic finish.  I am starting to think that every room of my house needs it somehow!  Check out my post on how to fix floppy, sloppy shams here.  It works beautifully and wish I thought of it years ago!

The bedding was purchased from Target and I bought the lamps from Hobby Lobby.  I had my eye on these lamps for over a year and so excited to finally have a reason to buy them!

Finding bedding was as difficult as finding the wall color!  I bought and brought home 3 different combinations before I picked this one. 

I painted the nightstands in SW-Cotton balls. It is a nice, soft white and the same color as the trim throughout my house.  

 The curtains I found at BB&B.
I purchased the rods from Target and sprayed them in Rustoleum Pure Gold.  

Mini me helping iron the curtains.  She actually did a pretty good job!

I bought this wall art from an estate sale last year that I had forgotten about.  I was super excited to stumble upon it when I was working on this room.

 Love how fancy my curtains look when the heat is blowing!  Go here to see the post on our master bathroom reno we did back when.  Still one of my favorite bathrooms we have ever done.

I do not know the color of the walls because I mixed a bunch of colors together to get what I wanted after realizing I couldn't find it on a color strip.  I would say it's closest to BM Gray Owl with a few LESS drops of blue.

Now to be honest and show you the ugly bench at the foot of my bed. I have dragged this guy around for years.  It has been outside in 2 homes, in mudrooms and now in my bedroom.  Until I find a pretty dark gray little tufted sofa (for under 8 million bucks) it will stay at the foot of my bed:)