Painting a Built-in Bookcase

We are in the process of replacing all of our old wood trim with white trim.  I am going to write a separate post about replacing trim once we are further along but one thing we finished is a built-in bookcase in our dining room. The back of the bookcase is drywall which is why the back of it was originally the same color as the rest of the dining room walls.  Here is a before picture:

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I started by removing the shelves and taking them outside to sand.  I used an electric sander and 80 grit paper to remove most of the stain from all sides of the shelves.  When that was done, I applied one coat of primer.  Then I added two coats of semi gloss white paint from Behr using a roller brush for smooth surfaces.

Back inside, I removed the tracks from the sides of the bookcase. They were really flimsy so removing them was easier than I thought it was going to be. Then I filled in the holes that were created when the tracking was nailed in to the bookcase.  I used DAP DryDex for this.  After the filler dried, I sanded it smooth.  Then I sanded the wooden sides of the bookcase by hand with 80 grit paper.  I wanted to keep the amount of sanding dust to a minimum so I only did enough sanding to scuff up the wood and allow the paint to adhere better.  After sanding, I wiped the wood down with a damp cloth to remove all dust.

Next, I added a layer of primer.

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After the primer dried, my husband caulked the joints to make everything connected.  It made a pretty big difference as you can see below:

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Then I added two layers of white semi-gloss paint using a roller brush for smooth surfaces.

We decided not to install a track similar to the one we removed.  The nice thing about the track is that you can easily adjust the height of your shelves or add more shelves.  But we wanted to go for a cleaner look so my husband made small wood supports that we nailed to the sides (and then I filled the nail holes, caulked, and painted).

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After the wood supports were installed and everything was caulked and painted, we added the shelves back and put up new white trim (that had also been caulked and painted). Here is how it looks now:

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I hope you like!  We still have some old trim to remove and new trim to put up as you can tell from the above picture but we are getting there.  Thanks for reading!

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Refinished Desk

This past week I worked on refinishing a desk for a friend.  When I first saw the desk, I thought it was really cute and didn’t really need to be refinished but it did have quite a few scratches on the top and drawers and the finish was dull in a lot of places.  I was excited to work on a quality piece, especially since my last project was built with wood veneer and that can be a pain to work with.  Here are some before pictures:

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I started on Monday by taking out the drawers and sanding the top.  I took most of the finish off with an 80 grit and then I moved to 100, 150, and then 220.  It took about 45 minutes to get everything completed removed.

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Afterward, I turned the desk upside down on top of towels so the top wouldn’t get scratched and then I taped off the edges and added a layer of primer.

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After the primer dried, I lightly sanded it, otherwise the brush marks would be visible underneath the paint.  on Tuesday I added two coats of Undersea by Behr which looked dark when I picked it out in the store but it turned out much more blue than I wanted:

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I also thought I would like the flat finish but I didn’t.  So the next morning I went to Lowe’s and bought Corduroy Black by Valspar in a satin finish.

On Wednesday I added a layer of Early American stain by Minwax.  I also filled the holes on the small desk drawers because I wanted those to have a knob instead of a pull.  I also vacuumed out sawdust that had collected inside the desk.

On Thursday I added a 2nd layer of stain and a coat of the new paint I purchased. It was starting to look pretty good.

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On Friday I added 4 coats of satin polyurethane from Rust-Oleum and wiped the painted part of the desk and drawers down with a damp cloth to remove any remaining dust.  On Saturday morning, I distressed parts of the desk with 220 grit sandpaper, had my husband drill holes for the knobs in the small drawers, and then I added the knobs and drawer pull and brought it inside.

Here is how it looks now:

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I am really happy with how it turned out! If you like the hardware, you can find the knobs at Lowe’s and the drawer pull at Home Depot.

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Good luck with any projects you have this summer.

 

DIY Professional Looking Pedicure

Hello!  Now that the weather is getting warmer, we’ll probably all start wearing sandals more often.  I know it can be relaxing to get a professional pedicure at a salon but sometimes we don’t have the time or money.  If you are looking for tips on how to do your own pedicure at home, here are some recommendations I have.

DIY Pedicure
Purchase quality supplies
I know one purpose of doing your own pedicure is to save money so this might sound counter-intuitive but keep in mind that whatever you buy is going to last a long time.  I’ve had most of the products in the picture below for years.  Here is what I use:

  • A good cuticle softener and oil.  I currently use products by California Mango but you can use whichever brand you’d like.
  • Nail polish base coat.  Some people skip this part but it’s really important because it helps your nail polish stay on longer without chipping, it prevents your nails from being stained by your nail polish, and it also helps your nail polish dry more smoothly and evenly.  I use OPI for this.
  • For nail polish, I really like OPI and China Glaze.  I sometimes use cheaper polish like Revlon which looks fine if I use good base and clear coat nail polish.
  • A good quality clear coat.  For me, it’s important to find one that dries quickly because I want to get on with my day.  I have previously used Poshe which I recommend.  I am currently using a quick drying top coat by OPI which works just as good as Poshe but is more expensive.
  • Optional – I use OPI’s Rapidry Nail Polish Dryer spray to help the polish dry even faster.  I think it also gives a nice finished look.

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Prepare your nails
After you’ve cut and filed your nails, put a bit of cuticle softer on your cuticles and leave it on for a minute or so.  Then push back your cuticles using the nails on your other hand or a tool.  Wipe everything off with a cotton ball or tissue.  Then, put a small amount of cuticle oil around your nails.  Leave it on for a minute or two and then wash and dry your hands.  It’s important to hydrate everything around your nails because your pedicure won’t look as nice if it is surrounded by dry skin and cuticles.

Apply a base coat
After your nails are prepared and clean, apply a coat of base.  A thin coat is perfectly fine and it dries quickly.

Apply 1-2 coats of nail polish
A minute or two after you have applied the base coat, you can start painting. I usually have to apply 2 light coats to get an even finish.  Waiting 2-3 minutes between coats is fine.  It’s helpful to have some q-tips nearby so you can wipe off any paint that gets on your skin.  I sometimes pour some nail polish remover in the bottle cap and dip my q-tip in it to make cleaning off nail polish easier.

Apply the clear top coat
I usually let my nails dry for at least 5 minutes before applying a top coat.  You only need one layer.

Optional – Spray on nail dryer
If you have purchased spray that can help your nails dry faster, you can spritz it on soon after applying the top coat.  The OPI spray says 45 seconds but I usually wait a minute or two.

If I use the products listed above, I can go about my day pretty quickly.  Actually, I usually paint my nails at night and have no problem taking a shower and going to bed within an hour of painting my nails and everything stays in place.

Happy painting!  If anyone likes the nail polish in the picture above it is called “Rose Among Thorns” by China Glaze.

DIY – Installing Hardwood Floors

I mentioned in my previous post that my husband and I have been working on a project since September.  Back then, we decided to rip out the old carpet and replace it with hardwood floors.  Just the two of us.  With no prior experience with such things.

Now, my husband is the type of person who can really do anything he puts his mind to.  He spent months beforehand reading directions for installing hardwood floors and watching how-to videos.  So when it came time to do all of this, I just did what he told me to.

After finally agreeing on the type of hardwood we’d buy (I wanted thick, dark planks; he wanted thinner, lighter ones), we compromised and went with a 3 inch hickory plank by Bruce in the color Oxford Brown.  Honestly, at first I wasn’t thrilled with this selection because the samples we had didn’t show much character and that’s something I wanted.  But when we received our order and started looking through the boxes, I was happy with variation of color and the interesting marks on some of the planks.

After we pulled up the carpet and the carpet padding, we had to remove the baseboards and tack strips from the subfloor.  Then we had to remove any staples that held down the carpet padding.

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tack strip and staples

We started in the hallway that leads to the bedrooms and everything was going fine.  We then moved to the entry room and found out things were not fine. When we pulled up the carpet and padding at the front door, we found this underneath:

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The tiles came up pretty easily but we found concrete underneath.  We can’t staple wood floors to concrete so it had to come out.

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We bought the necessary tools, fashioned a plastic curtain, and got to work. Actually, all I did was fashion the plastic curtain. My husband did the rest while I worked on removing staples from the subfloor.

He worked on removing the concrete for 3 evenings in a row. Then we bought a sheet of plywood and used it to cover the hole.  Success!

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The subfloor was finally free of staples and tack strips and we went over it with the shop vac to make sure it was free of debris.  After that, we laid down a layer of rosin paper (which acts as a barrier between the subfloor and hardwood floor and minimizes squeaks that can sometimes occur with wood flooring) and we were ready to start laying our floors.

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We were thrilled with the first few rows we installed during the second week of the project.  My job was to pick out each wood plank to make sure we had variation with color and size.  There are also “rules” you have to follow when installing hardwood floors, for example, you should keep joints between two rows at least 6 inches apart and you should try to avoid creating patterns, like a stair-step pattern that can occur between several rows.  I also inspected each plank to make sure we weren’t installing something that was scratched or damaged in some way.  So I was in charge of the design part of the installation and my husband did the physical installation.  We made a good team.

Working mostly on the weekends, we finished the entry room, dining room, and hallway leading to the bedrooms in about a month.  I also painted the ceilings before the hardwood was installed in each room.

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The dining room being torn up was the biggest pain for me.  For some reason, the subfloor was really grimy despite vacuuming so we always had to put shoes on – even when getting up in the middle of the night for water.  After we pulled up the carpet, we didn’t install the hardwood for about a month because it took longer than expected to work on the entry room and hallway so we had to live with it for a few weeks.

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This is our sad attempt to have a normal dinner amidst the mess

When the dining room floors were finally installed, we couldn’t wait to get everything cleaned up and back to normal.

We moved on to the living room the following weekend.  We pulled up the carpet on a Tuesday so that we could have it out for trash pick-up by Thursday (yes, they will pick up old carpet as long as you follow their guidelines and give them a heads-up) and then we painted the ceiling on Saturday.  On Sunday, we started installing the floors and, because we wanted the planks to line up with what was installed in the entry room, we started with a runway sort of look.

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The “runway” which took forever to start laying because we had to make sure whatever we laid down was square with the walls and the rest of the house.

Here are before and after pictures of the living room

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Before (taken right before we pulled up the carpet)

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After

We are really close to being finished.  We are waiting for the weather to warm up because we need to be outside when cutting wood to the right length. We have about 2 rows left to install in the hallway leading to the back door and then we are going to install the hardwood floors in the stairway leading down to the basement.

But in the middle of all of this, we decided to give ourselves even more work by replacing all of our wood trim with white trim.  This was my husband’s idea which I was initially not on-board with but after looking at the state of both the baseboards and the trim around the doors, it’s clear it all needs replaced because they are scratched and dirty from almost 50 years of use.  We’ve barely started this but here is a picture I took today with the trim we are planning to install.

IMG_5432I think it’s going to make our house look cleaner and more modern.  I will post more before and after pictures after we are completely finished later this year.

In case you are wondering why we did this ourselves – we did it because it saved us about $5,000 in installation fees.  I am glad we did because now I have a new set of skills (want me to remove your baseboards or paint your ceilings? No problem, buddy!) and we are really appreciative of our new floors because we know how much work it took.

Thanks for reading!

3 Year Blogiversary!

I created the project board exactly 3 years ago today.  I’d like to highlight some of my favorite posts from the past year.

Click on the picture to be taken to that post.

  1. Autumn Leaves – October 3, 2014
    October2. 2015 Calendar – December 10, 2014January
    3. Coffee Chocolate Cake – January 11, 2015

    Coffee_Cake4. My Starter Story – January 18, 2015
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    5. I Made Bread! – January 19, 2015
    IMG_633426.  Foggy Day – March 10, 2015
    IMG_64217. Refinished Buffet – July 14, 2015
    Buffet1_words8. Moths and Butterflies – July 25, 2015

    moth9. Morning Light – August 28, 2015
    IMG_976010. I Opened an Etsy Shop! – August 30, 2015
    CongratsDots1You can see the highlights from my first and second year of blogging are also available.

    Thanks to everyone who has followed me over the past three years!

Refinished Buffet

Last week my husband and I were driving home when I noticed a blue piece of furniture sitting out at the road with the trash.  I was so excited, the only thing that came out of my mouth was, “Oh! Ohhh!”  We stopped, checked it out, and put it in the car. When we got home, we unloaded it and I snapped this picture:

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Then I sent a text message to my sister that said “Look what I found for free on the side of the road!”  I’m not sure that she was impressed.

When I first brought it home, I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I decided to put some paint stripper on the top to see what was underneath the paint.  The blue paint came off with ease but there was a layer of pink paint underneath so I added another coat of stripper.  When it was ready, I cleaned off the paint stripper and found beautiful wood grain underneath.

I still didn’t have a plan for it, but I knew that I wasn’t going to strip all of the paint off.  Mainly because it would be a ton of work to strip two layers of paint off the entire thing – I mean, look at those intricate legs!  Secondly, I didn’t want this piece to be all stained wood because I thought it would be too much brown.  But I still didn’t have a plan.

A few days later I was drifting off to sleep and it hit me!  Stained on top, painted white on the bottom.  Of course!  Four days later, here’s what it looks like:

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Here’s what I did:

Most of Saturday was spent trying to get the paint cleaned off the top.  The paint stripper worked well, but it left a sticky residue that I had to clean off with paint thinner.  I had to do a few repetitions of this and then I had to sand by hand because the remaining residue was making my electric sander gunky.

I also took off all of the paint on the doors because if I had tried to paint over them as-is, the chipped parts would show through.  That took some time as well.  I wiped off the other parts of the buffet with a damp cloth to try to remove some of the dirt and grime.  I also vacuumed the inside and underneath.  Some spider homes may or may not have been destroyed in the process.  I applied my first coat of Winmax Dark Walnut stain at the end of the day on Saturday.

On Sunday, I hand-sanded any painted areas that were chipped to try to smooth it out and get it all ready for a new coat of paint.  Once that was done, I painted the bottom white (“Ash White” by Behr in eggshell finish).  I used three coats total – two on Sunday and one on Monday.  On Sunday, I applied the second and third coats of stain and further removed old paint and residue off the doors.  At the end of the day on Sunday, I added my first layer of clear coat to the top.  I used Winmax satin finish polycrylic.

On Monday, I painted on my third and last coat of white paint and two more layers of polycrylic.  I also went on a hunt to find new hardware.

On Tuesday, I added the fourth and final layer of polycrylic. I lightly distressed the piece by sanding the edges and then I added the new hardware and brought it inside.

It didn’t cost much to refinish this piece because I already had most of what I needed.  The white paint was left over from when we painted the stairwell to the basement.  The paint thinner and paint stripper were left over from a previous project.  The only things I bought were the hardware, stain, polycrylic, and some more sandpaper.  So, I spent maybe $40.

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I hope you like!

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My Starter Story

My husband and I recently looked at pictures we took when we were house hunting during the summer of 2011.  The first house we looked at was located on an acre of land just outside of a small city.  Three things I absolutely loved about the house: it had a huge bay window in the living room, about 30 beautiful ash trees in the front yard, and the location was ideal for us.
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We put in an offer on the house, but another couple came in with a higher offer, so we had to continue searching for our first home.

Throughout August, September, and October, we looked at several houses each week and didn’t find anything that stood out to us. Then we received a call from our realtor.  The couple who put an offer on the first house we were interested in changed their minds and the house was up for sale again!  After a week or two of negotiating, the house was ours.

On a lovely November weekend, our families helped us move from our tiny apartment to our new house 25 miles away.

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(left to right) my mom, sister, and me on moving day. The house was a bit of a mess!

After we bought our house, I was really excited but also a bit overwhelmed because I knew we had a lot of work to do before the house would look and feel like a home to us.   Our 900 square foot apartment didn’t allow us to have much furniture, so our new place looked rather empty by comparison.  People who came to see our house would ask, “Where is all of your stuff?” to which I would reply, “We don’t have any!”

Since we had just spent a majority of our savings on the down payment for the house, we couldn’t afford to rush out and purchase new items to fill up the empty space.  Instead, I had to get smart and creative.  Emily Clark’s Blog was super helpful to me because she posts before and after pictures of furniture she’s refinished.  Prior to reading her blog, I had no idea that old pieces of furniture could be brought back to life like that!

Here are some projects I’ve completed over the past few years:

Hall cupboard
I found this at a Goodwill store for $25.  You can’t tell from the picture, but it had a bunch of scratches on it and the color of the wood was outdated. The paint I used was only $3, bringing the total to $28.

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Wood Pew
My father-in-law bought this pew for $5 and gave it to my husband and me.  We originally had it outside on our porch, but I thought it would look better inside.  I sanded it, stained it with red mahogany stain, and topped it with three coats of semi-gloss polycrylic.  There are two pillows on it – one I made and one I bought, and I also made the cushion.  Total cost comes to about $30.

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Bed Frame
When I moved in to my college apartment, I bought a brass bed frame from a garage sale for super cheap.  It was fine for back then, but I didn’t like the look of the brass and it didn’t match anything in our new house.  I painted on primer and spray painted it black so that the bed frame went with the other furniture I had planned for the guest room.

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I also refinished a glider chair, a night stand, and my dining room table, but I won’t go in to depth about those as they were featured in previous blog posts.

And when you put it all together with a fresh coat of paint on the walls and some decor:
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The biggest mistake I’ve made so far is the paint color I originally picked out for our entryway.  I remember telling my husband that one of my least favorite colors is country blue and then weeks later I picked this color for the entryway.  In my defense, I didn’t realize how blue it was going to look until after it was done.  Below are pictures of what the room started as (it was a light yellow when we moved it), the horrible blue I picked out, and then the color it is now.

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If you’re interested, you can find additional pictures and stories of our home in the below posts that I’ve written previously:

1. Our Home Then and Now (September 2014)
2. Adventures in Removing Wall Paper (May 2013)
3. Kitchen Gets a Facelift (April 2013)
4. Bedroom Makeover Pictures (January 2013)
5. Bathroom Before and After (October 2012)

Thanks so much for reading!