Kitchen table makeover

I picked this diamond in the rough up at my local Goodwill and it took FOREVER for me to finish…Slow and steady wins the race right? It was not cute to begin with: Image

Ew, right? Very dirty, plaid fabric and painted, sticky brown top! But it wasn’t hopeless! I wanted to the two tone look with white chairs/base and a dark beautiful wood on top. So I got to work! I sanded the top and it turned out to be a really cool grain that would show a lot of beauty once it was stained! But I’ve got to come clean…sanding isn’t all candy canes and lollipops…it’s hard, and messy, and difficult. Enter: Annie Sloan! Image

A water based chalk paint that dries in hours (seriously!) and has very low fumes…like so low that I painted INSIDE my house. It’s a thick paint that is sold in quarts…you’d think it isn’t enough but it is…it goes for miles. It does leave brush strokes but you can combat that if you want a really clean look by using a roller brush. But here’s the best part: NO SANDING!!!! You just brush right over your furniture. I’m not kidding. These chairs were glazed and shiny and so off white but in a bad way. After one coat of Annie, they were a bright white and fresh and clean. I could breathe again!


Trash bags worked great for this…. IMG_2528IMG_2529 Turning the table upside down to do the base is the easiest….word of advice: do the top last so you don’t have to worry about messing it up at this part

After a couple hours, the paint was dry….Annie sells waxes that I highly recommend using…it seals in the paint. If you want to sand or distress, you sand AFTER you wax. And a little wax goes a LONG way…too much wax is bad. bad. bad. Just trust me and don’t do it. Pretend you’re putting it into your hair…it should be VERY little. You can always add more.   After that, it was on to the top! Sanding the paint off to start off was truly the hardest part. Staining is best thought of in layers… The pre-stain is helpful for a lot of projects and I definitely used it here….It goes on very wet and makes the wood look conditioned and brighter. Pre-stain helps the wood get ready for the stain and go on evenly. I would definitely recommend it. Then lightly sand. Always sand in between your layers and coats. Always….that’s what gives it the nice smooth finish and not the sticky, cheap finish!!! It’s important! Then the stain…I love stains. They’re beautiful. I used Min wax (oil based) and really liked it. The grain on this top has so much character and staining it only adds to the effect. I decided to a stencil on my table so that went on before the pre-stain to make sure it was “locked in” and protected. I stenciled, sanded lightly, pre-stained, sanded, stained, sanded, went over stencil, sanded, stained, and sanded again. To finish: a gorgeous couple layers of wipe on poly in a matte finish. Glossy wasn’t the look I was going for and this matte finish was wonderful. Velvety smooth. IMG_0420IMG_0422   This is just your run of the mill black acrylic paint. I wanted a really thin brush so I ended up using cake decorating brushes and they worked great!

IMG_0423IMG_0424IMG_0550The finished product:

IMG_0882IMG_1087You can see a few “flecks” of unstained areas on the table that I probably could have sanded out…but I decided I like it! It’s such a smooth table and so much better than the sticky mess that was on there before!

Want a tutorial on how I recovered the chairs? Here you go

So….the real question: How has it held up?

Well….they’re still white! The Annie Sloan chalk does get a little dirty but nothing that gets under my skin….I haven’t even completely finished waxing them yet and they still look great. I just love the two tone look of the table and am so glad I did it! The top has held up great and I love to run my finger along the smooth top and not feel anything sticky….unless of course I served pancakes for breakfast!


DIY Built in Bookshelves

I’m baaaaack! I have been such a procrastinator with this post….It entails a lot of pictures that took me awhile to find since I took them at varied times….but no excuses! This is the mother of all DIY projects…at least in my books. It’s scary, somewhat easy & a bit confusing! Intrigued?


One thing we loved about our house is the big open, airy feel it gives with two story ceilings and combined rooms. However, it presents a challenge to fill these huge walls with something that does it justice!

I saw on Centsational Girl and a couple other blogs the idea of using Ikea Billy Bookcases to use as the starting ground for built ins…and they’re brilliant. Put together, secure, add molding…waalah! And that waalah turned into few months. Not that any step was very hard…it just took some figuring out.

Hope on my DIY magic carpet and I’ll take you on a tour.

The before:


Notice the bookshelf waiting to be put in place and the farmhouse table….that’s how long ago this was if you’ve read my other posts!

We measured our wall and figured out that we could fit 5 bookshelves across the space with a little room in between each. But then I decided if I ever wanted to have a TV, I needed to plan accordingly! So, the built in became an entertainment system to my husband’s delight!

We got:

2 half height billys

2 half width billys

2 15 inch depth regular heigh billys

and 4 height extensions (2 half width, 2 full)


To make it secure, we screwed all the shelves together in inconspicuous places (inside front near where the holes for the pegs are).


The bookshelves are not all the same depth so we put the 15inch depth ones flush to the wall and then lined them up according to those. We actually didn’t have to remove the back bottom molding because Ikea is brilliant and added a cutout in the back of the shelves! Thank you, Ikea!

You can see we started to add half doors too….they of course didn’t have enough so that set us back months!

Next, we started to add the bells and whistles. We went to Home Depot and Lowe’s to look at our options and compare prices. After a million trips back and forth over weeks, we slowly started to make progress!

First up: Beadboard wallpaper in the middle…I needed to fill in the empty space!Image

A little peek at the process:

Just wet and paste…and clean up the awful goop of mess that comes with it! No, seriously…I’m warning youImage


You can check out my beadboard wallpaper tutorial here

Then came the molding. I’ll be honest…we had a little trouble with that. We’re still working on the finishing touches but our problem was that the crown molding just wasn’t working for our space. So, we decided to cheat. We cut chair molding and glued and nailed them flat rather than angled like you would actual crown molding. This makes it a bit hard at the corners where you need to make right angles but it works.


As you can see, we had to add some extra boards and molding, to fill in the gaps and make the piece cohesive


Next, came the molding in the middle to “crown” the whole piece…we took some chair molding and cut it at a 45 degree angle to make it appear like a crown molding piece…but it’s just glued flat onto the wall!

To make each bookshelf blend together, we just cut lattice to end where the doors would be placed. This really made the shelves start to come together and look like one piece…crazy what a little nailglue and some finishing nails can do!

For the big gaps on the ends of the shelves closest to the walls, we took a big piece of molding and screwed them straight into the bookshelves. So they’re actually attached to the shelves but not to the walls. We had to remove some of the bottom molding on the walls with a dremel so that there was a little nook for the molding to fit in…


Is it contractor perfect? No. Could it be? Probably close. We are still tweaking it and working on little pieces but the naked eye really doesn’t see it. We have a few additions we want to add to hide the tv cables but are waiting until we know exactly what cords are going to be there…

The verdict? We love it. It was definitely worth it!


Recovering a chair

Want an easy project that can liven up the room in an hour?
Recover your chairs!
I got a table and chairs from goodwill ages ago and am just finishing up the work in progress… Today I started recovering them
This is what I started with:


So I got to work.

Here’s the moves:

1. Inspect your chair… Find where the screws are to loosen them and remove the seat from the chair

2. Turn the seat over and look at what you’ve got
In my case, I used a small flat head screwdriver to pry the staples out and pliers when needed for the little boogers that wanted to stay in their home


3. Remove the fabric… This one was yucky… And glued to the wood. But I just used my handy dandy pliers to peel it off with some force



4. If your foam underneath is in good condition there’s no need to replace it… Position your seat and cushion underneath your fabric to figure out how you want it to look


let us take a break and talk material for a minute.
I had a brilliant idea at first and ordered oilcloth to cover the chairs thinking it would be great and waterproof… But then I researched a bit more and found that oilcloth has a lot of bad chemicals in it which is a no no on my list
Plus, it sticks to your skin like leather in a car on a hot summer day!
Alternative? Laminated cotton! More choices, softer, less sheen and waterproof! Score!

5. Wrap material around seat making sure to really stretch it and work around the corners by pulling and folding till it looks right! Be patient!

6. Want my secret to securing the laminated cotton?
Drum roll please…….

Duck tape! So nice! Those pesky staples just don’t pull enough for me! Duck tape works wonders! You can even cover it with some extra lining and staple over it just in case your great aunt Sarah decides to peek under the chair and inspect 😉



7. Screw the seat back into the chair and bam! You’re done!

Wanna see the finished product?


SO much better!

Rustic Farmhouse Table: Part 1

I was in the market for a dining room table…and what I had my heart set on was a rustic look backed with gorgeous fabric dining chairs….which meant, I was in the market for a long time. These tables are expensive!
Then one day on the lovely Pinterest DIY section (is there any other section?) I found this beauty
I could hardly contain my excitement as I printed the instructions out and skipped along to tell my husband about our afternoon project….
Well, it’s been about two months now and we aren’t done yet. Life gets in the way… But the table is coming along beautifully!

We started out by cutting the wood according to the cut list provided
Let me paint you a picture:
We have limited tools… And me being cheap was able to convince my husband we could use what we have. My sweet man, bless him, went along with it. So, we used his truck bed as a table for the wood while I sit(this is not a joke) on the wood to hold it in place. Can you imagine what the neighbors thought? Yeah, we’re cool like that.
word of advice: we started with pretreated wood… We learned later that this is very bad wood… To cut, to breathe, to touch. Honestly, it shouldn’t be sold in stores.
So we did the safe thing… And started over

After the cut list was done, we sanded down the angles and parts and assembled the legs (aren’t they great?!)
We used screws but using nail glue in addition to screws is recommended

I sanded the legs once they were put together so I wouldn’t have to do it later

Next came the beams that attached to each ends of the legs… And the gorgeous diagonal supports that made me gasp when I first saw the table!

After that, I sanded the assembled table base and got to work on ebonizing the wood. I wanted a natural way to stain and was looking for a weather gray finish.
The two step process:
1. Boil about 10 tea bags in a pot and let steep for a coupe of hours and brush on wood
I was so excited cause I had some old tea from London… London tea stained table… Sounds lovely
This process preps the wood by increasing the tannins needed to react with the next step

2. After the wood is dry use a vinegar and steel wool solution… Seriously simple… Take a Glass jar with lid (mason jar or spaghetti jar) and add a piece of steel wool (0000 type) and fill the jar with white vinegar. Let it sit a few days and then brush it on the tea stained wood. The wood will darken immediately and continue to darken for days

The effect was definitely what I’d been going for but then I changed my mind… And sanded it down which gave it a really cool two toned effect

I decided to go with minwax oil stain in provincial and did a prestain conditioner on the wood and two coats of stain with a light sanding in between
For you impatient ones out there… Don’t skip the sanding process… This really makes all the difference in the end product and raises the grain each time

Now our table awaits its top. We originally bought the wrong size width for the top but took the wood back (home depot is good about that)
be careful when selecting wood, especially for the top. Lay the pieces next to eachother on a flat surface and try to fit them like a puzzle so there are minimal gaps… You can sand but only so much

Now as we approach fall, I’m ready to kick this into high gear!

to be continued…

Billy built ins: part 1

Around the time that I started our rustic farmhouse table, I also got into starting our built ins. I saw this fantastic tutorial from Censational Girl and decided my living room was a great place to do the same
So off to ikea we went… An hour away
And guess what? We needed 5 bookshelves. They had 2. And didn’t get any more for over 2 weeks!
In that span of time, I revised my plan and came up with a modified built in using billy bookcases that would accommodate a large screen tv (incentive for the hubby).
Here’s our breakdown:
-2 tall bookshelves (15 inch depth, 31.5 wide)
-2 tall bookshelves (11 depth, 16.75 wide cause that’s what they had)
-2 half bookshelves (11 depth but half the length)
-10 doors (half size)
-2 shelf extenders (16.75 width)
-2 shelf extenders (31.5 width)

We assembled and lined up the bookshelves against our wall. Our back baseboard was under the cutout in the bookshelves so we didn’t have to remove it! Nice one, Ikea!
Since the shelves were varied in depth, we lined the shelves up with the 15 inch depth ones so most of them aren’t actually touching the wall
Then we screwed them together using about three to four screws in each (be careful not to use too big of a screw… Two shelves together is only 1.5 inches)

Next, we added lattice to each of the fronts where the shelves meet leaving room for the doors… Really gives it a built in feel
For the half tall shelves we used a 3/4 inch width trim to so the lattice would be uniform

We’ve got a long way to go but it’s looking good!

to be continued…