Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Take Five: Painting Tips

When we moved into our house a little over a year ago, I knew we had some painting to do to make it our own.  Little did I know that I would actually enjoy painting our house and I'd start painting other things like cabinets and furniture later on.  Even though I'm no expert, I've learned a lot after painting 11+ rooms in our house.  Here are some tips--

1.  Get this brush.  Really.

I learned about this little guy from this post at Young House Love.  It is the BEST brush for cutting in and painting small spaces (i.e. between a cabinet and wall, inside a cabinet).  It fits comfortably in your hand and it's really easy to control.  I'm the one who does the cutting-in in our house, and with this brush I can freehand it with no tape.  I'm not sure if I have the exact same one as in the YHL post, but I've seen similar brushes at Home Depot and at our local hardware store.  They're pretty easy to find.

2.  Your best friend while painting:  A wet rag.
The paint department manager at our hardware store recommended this trick to us.  I am eternally grateful.  When you're painting, keep a wet rag handy.  Got paint on the crown molding?  Dripped on the floor?  Rolled too close to the baseboard?  All of these common slip-ups can be immediately corrected with the swipe of a wet rag.  The reason our house looks like it was painted by an adult and not a 3 year old was because I constantly wiped up any mistakes before they dried.

3.  Use good quality materials.

Paint:  I love Benjamin Moore's Regal and Aura lines.  The coverage is great and the paint is a good consistency to work with:  not too thick, but not too drippy.  I've tried Olympic, Duron/Sherwin-Williams, and Behr and I just don't think the quality is the same.  I know BM is pricier than other brands, but I think it's worth it.
Supplies:  I use the Wooster Pro-Doo-Z rollers that I buy at our local hardware store.  I also use Frog Tape instead of regular blue painter's tape.  Bottom line, pick products because of how they work instead of how cheap they are.

4.  Don't underestimate the power of sanding!
Sanding roughs up the surface to help the paint stick.  Before we painted our kitchen white, I sanded the red semi-gloss walls with a medium-grit sanding block to scuff it up a bit.  I sanded down the textured bathroom walls before painting them.  Electric sanders are also super helpful when you're refinishing or painting wood furniture.  You don't need to sand regular walls that you're just repainting, but keep sanding in mind when you're working with more-stubborn-than-normal surface.

5.  If it makes you smile, go for it!
Painting a small room or closet a fun color can brighten the space and your spirits!  I painted the laundry room/garage door entry BM's Kalamata and I absolutely love it.  It's my little space of happy off the kitchen.  My friend Mandy painted her laundry nook bright green and it's so bright and cheery when she opens the doors.  A favorite memory of my sister-in-law is when her mom allowed her to paint her closet doors hot pink because it made her so happy.  It's really amazing what a pop of color can do!

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Tip Junkie handmade projects

Monday, July 25, 2011

What I did this weekend...

Isn't it beautiful?  Don't ask me how long it took to make that.  I've found a new favorite toy...Photoshop Elements.  I now have a new place to exercise my love of fonts.  Score!

I literally spent most of the weekend playing on the computer.  It was fun making my brain do work to figure things out.  When my brain was in meltdown mode, I went to Jeff.  He's so handy.  And he knows computer stuff like it's his job...because it is his job.  Ha ha.  

I think it's time for bed.  :)

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Learning the (technical) blogging ropes.

I'll just put it out there:  I want my blog to look pretty.  I want to do it myself.  I had no idea it was so difficult.  

I have a pretty decent threshold for learning technology.  I say that because it takes me a few hours of tinkering around on a new program before I want to throw the entire computer out the window and cry.  I'd say someone with a low threshold for learning technology would have their computer (and perhaps other desk accessories) out the window in about 30 seconds.  I have personal experience with several people who belong in the latter category. 

So, even though I consider myself somewhat tech-savvy, I'm really reconsidering what I thought I could do.  I give HUGE props to the ladies who have beautiful, sleek, eye candy blogs.  

Please forgive me if in the next few weeks you see my blog take many shapes and forms (some more pleasing than others, I'm sure).  And if you have any beginners advice on how to make scrapbooky backgrounds on Gimp, Pixlr, and/or Photoshop Elements I'm all ears. 

I'm pretty sure I'll need the "In the event of tears..." hankies from our wedding, too.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Done and done: Painted China Cabinet

I finally finished my china cabinet!  Here she is:

Here are the before photos.  The peeling paint was so so sad.  And so so annoying to get off.

Here's the process I used for refinishing.
Note:  I tried to repaint our bathroom cabinets a few months ago and failed.  The paint comes off when you scratch you fingernail across the surface.  I'm pretty sure it's the paint's fault (Behr) because the Kilz primer is still on there!  I undoubtably overkilled this project to make sure everything would permanently stick.  I'm having trouble letting go of old scars.

1-  Disassemble
First, she had to be taken apart.  All hardware, drawers, and cabinets were removed.

2 -  Sanding
The paint had to go.  The previous owner spray painted the cabinet without any sanding or prep work, so the paint was literally peeling off the heavily varnished wood.  Remember putting Elmer's Glue on your palm and peeling it off during art class?  Yeah, we had that going on.  I used my handy electric sander with 120 and 80 grit sandpaper and went to town.  I really, really didn't want to take all of the paint off since I was just repainting, not staining, the piece, but since the paint was still gummy and coming off in long strings, I felt like it all had to go so I could get a clean surface.  Bummerface.  Two days later (plus a garage COVERED in a fine, white dust), sanding was complete.

{If I had remembered to take a picture of the sanded pieces, it would have gone here.  Drat.}

3 - Priming
After several passes with the ShopVac, a wipe down with a damp cloth with castile soap & water, then another wipe down with a clean, dry cloth to get any other dust off, I was ready to prime.  My "research" led me in the direction of Zinsser brand primer.  I ended up buying the shellac instead of the oil based primer for some unknown reason (inhaling too much sanding dust?).  Whatevs.  The shellac was reeeeally thin, drippy, and difficult to work with because it dried almost immediately in my hot garage.  Immediate drying = streaks and drips.  However, it did stick to the wood and covered really well.  No hard feelings, Mr. Shellac.  

4 - Painting 
Painting!  Finally!  I went with Benjamin Moore's Aura paint (semi-gloss, Navajo White).  It's my favorite.  It covers anything (like a red semi-gloss kitchen) in 2 coats and it's really easy to work with.  Painting was the easiest part.  Yes, there were a ton of little crevices, but it was something I knew I couldn't screw up too bad.  I painted 2 coats on the entire base and top portion of the cabinet before doing any of the cabinets and drawers.  I needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I also did some sanding before I started to get rid of some shellac drips.  

5 - Distressing
I wanted my china cabinet to look like it has been around for a while.  Some people wonder why you'd make a perfectly good piece of furniture look like it was rolled down a hill, but I like it.  So there.  I started sanding the edges with a sanding block to take some paint off.  It wasn't going fast enough so then I used the electric sander with 220 grit sandpaper...Much easier.  I distressed mostly on the edges and corners so it would look semi-realistic.  I didn't go overboard since my dining room table is solid wood and I didn't want an incredibly chippy china cabinet next to a finished, solid wood table.  Too much contrast for me.   I also roughed up some of the center surfaces so the wax/glaze would have something to stick on.  

6 - Finishing:  Wax/Glaze
I was undecided about whether to wax or glaze on the piece after distressing it.  I honestly don't know a ton about either, so I went with my "research" again and got a can of Minwax Dark Wax and Minwax Dark Walnut Stain to use as a glaze.  Basically, I wanted an aged finish on the clean, white, newly-painted wood.  I tried the glaze first: I wiped on some stain with a foam brush and then rubbed off with a lint-free cloth.  Eh...I wasn't impressed.  It wasn't as shiny as I wanted it to be.  Next, I broke out the Wax and a lint-free cloth.  I rubbed the wax into the wood...And it looked the same.  So, I glopped the wax on the wood without rubbing it in and then went back a minute later to smooth it out.  Big difference!  The wax stuck to the paint and left a dark residue.  I thought it ended up looking dirty instead of tastefully aged so I went back and buffed it with a cloth again.  Finished.  Finally.  (Below is a close up of the distressing and wax on the top of the cabinet)

7 - Putting everything back together
Apparently it takes about 30 days for latex paint to fully cure.  But, I went ahead and put the hardware back on the piece and I left all of the drawers and cabinets open so things could dry out for a little while.  I guess I could have left it unassembled, but I was getting impatient.  In a couple of weeks I'll start deciding what goodies I'd like to have displayed in my new china cabinet. :)

8 - Next steps
I'd like to put some fabric liners in the drawers and in the cabinets.  Nothing too fancy, just fabric cut to the size of the area.  The previous owner spray painted inside the cabinets so they need some help to both look and feel less rough.

What I've learned...
-When you're painting a piece and planning to distress it, it doesn't need to be perfect!
-Painting unpainted furniture is probably easier than re-painting poorly painted furniture (less prep!)
-Dry paint brush = amazing dust remover for nooks and crannies
-If you're a novice (like me), try working on simple tables to figure out what you're doing.  Don't start with a gigantic china cabinet with a lot of detail (unlike me).
-I want to try Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint.  No sanding or prep work before painting!

A huge thank you to the blogs Miss Mustard Seed and Perfectly Imperfect.  I pretty much learned how to do this from these talented women!

My next project?  Painting the bathroom cabinets.  Woohoo!

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Sharing at...
Domestically Speaking
Primitive & Proper
Modern Country Style
Not Just A Housewife
Sugar Bee Crafts
Addicted 2 Decorating
Miss Mustard Seed


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My New Hobby

Last week I found a lovely china cabinet at an antique shop in Richmond via Craigslist.  I had been looking around for a while and I finally found something with character for a fantastic price-- $150!!!  The shop owner was very nice and explained that one of her vendors attempted to paint the china cabinet but didn't really know what she was doing.  The paint was peeling off and it was "distressed" in the most random places.  The piece itself is in great shape, though...Solid wood with nice hardware and lots of vintage details.

I purchased a project!

I read a lot of blogs by people who paint and refinish old furniture, so I decided that I'd give it a shot.  I read several different peoples' techniques and learned as I went.  Fast forward 6 days and I'm almost done!  I've actually enjoyed the process and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on another piece to reinvent.

I'll post pictures and a how-to soon.  The how-to is mostly so I remember how to do it next time. :)

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Summer of Cucumbers

It's like Red Lobster's "Summer of Shrimp" promotion...but not.  Has anyone else noticed that it's always the Summer of Shrimp according to Red Lobster?  I wish their food was as delicious as it looks on the commercials.  Damn advertising is setting the public up for disappointment when we realize that butter never splashes as elegantly as it does on TV.

But I digress.

This is the 2nd summer I've planted cucumbers in our my garden.  When I was younger I remember that we used to grow cucumbers and tomatoes in the backyard (and maybe a melon of some kind?), so I thought I'd see what I could do on my own.  Success.  We have about a billion cucumbers.  The tomatoes are mostly still green, but they're growing!  And I have 4 bell pepper plants that have actually produced fruit.  I'm amazed.

The one major issue with our garden is thieves.  I've put up some garden fencing and I attempted to have the cucumbers grow on stakes (fail.), but the vegetables are still within reach of those who want them bad enough.  Here are the culprits:

Ferocious beasts.  

But really, they do go up to the plants and pull ripe and unripe things off.  Felix enjoys cherry tomatoes and Bosco will do almost anything to steal a cucumber.  At least they haven't started eating my herb garden...yet.  

But back to my cucumbers...They grow quickly.  We eat a lot of cucumber-based dinners in the summer.  Tonight I made a Cold Cucumber Soup that was pretty good.  Next on the list is a cucumber-watermelon-mint cocktail.  Mmmmm.

And those are my thoughts on cucumbers.  You just lost precious moments of your life reading this.  I really thought I had a point when I started... :)  

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Thursday, July 7, 2011


Better late than never, right?

I'm talking about my blog post, not Jared and Meredith graduating from college. :)

In May, Jared and Meredith graduated from the College of William and Mary and the University of Delaware, respectively. Jeff and I traveled to Williamsburg and Newark for the festivities and I got to feel old while watching my younger siblings receive college degrees.


...received his bachelors in accounting and graduated summa cum laude. He also received an award at graduation. Impressive. He's going back for his masters in the fall, so he isn't entirely done with college yet.


...earned a bachelors in leadership. She also rowed all 4 years; quite the accomplishment. She's working for ING up in Wilmington, DE.

Welcome to the real world, Jared & Meredith!

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