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:


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.


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.


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:



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.


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:


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.



Good luck with any projects you have this summer.



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
    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:


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:


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.




I hope you like!


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.

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.


(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.


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.


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.


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:

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.


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!

Refinishing Cushions: a How-to Guide

Here is how I refinished the cushions on my glider chair.

1. Figure out how much fabric to use
If your cushion is like mine, it will have creases that you will have to account for.  The first thing I did was lay the new fabric upside down on top of the cushion and push the fabric in to the creases.

IMG_4383Then I drew a line on all four sides of the cushion, where I would need to sew the seam.
IMG_4385Then I removed the cushion and cut out the shape, about and inch out from where I drew the line.  Then I cut an identical piece for the back of the cushion.
IMG_43882. Iron the fabric and hem the bottom.  Do this for both pieces (the front and back of the cushion).
IMG_43893. Sew the front and back together.  Only sew the two sides and the top.  You’ll need to keep the bottom open so you can pull it over the cushion.

4. Make the loops.  Instead of trying to cover the existing loops, I thought it would be easier just to tuck the old ones under the new fabric and then make my own.  I measured the old loops and then folded and sewed fabric of the same length.  I then pulled the cushion fabric right side up, opened up holes for the loops, pinned them in place, pulled the fabric inside out again, and then ironed.  It’s hard to explain; I hope the picture helps:


I pushed the loops in to holes I created in the fabric and then I pinned it in place. (as shown above). After this picture was taken, I pulled the fabric inside out and then sewed the loops in place.

And now you should have something like this:
IMG_43965. Make the creases. Pull the fabric over the cushion and then pin the fabric down into the creases.
IMG_4397I then hand sewed the creases.  My cushion had a crease in the back as well, so I made sure to follow both the front and back creases as I went.  This part took some time.

6.  Sew the bottom.  Once your crease is sewn in, you’re almost finished with the top cushion!  The only thing left is to sew the bottom shut.  You can do this with a sewing machine.

7. Cover the bottom cushion
I actually don’t have any pictures of this process because I didn’t know what was going to work until I was finished.  Here’s what I did:

  • I cut fabric that would go on the top and bottom of the cushion and then I cut fabric that would fit on all three sides. Now, this is the first time ever sewed something with 3 dimensions (vs. something 2-dimensional like a pillowcase) and it took me a while to get it right.
  • For the back side of the cushion, I only sewed it to the top of the fabric.  I left it open at the bottom so I could fit the fabric over the cushion once it was finished.  Like this:

    It’s not cut very pretty, but that’s okay because it ends up hidden.  The bottom piece (that has the jagged edge) is the fabric that is for the bottom part of the cushion.  I just left it long  so it could fold up over the back.  The part I’m holding up is a piece I cut for the back edge. 


    Fold the fabric down and now the back of the cushion is covered. This makes it easy to take the fabric off the cushion and wash it if needed.

    • For each button on the cushion, I cut a round piece of fabric, pulled thread around the outside, fitted it on the button and then pulled the thread tight to tighten the fabric on to the button.  Then, once the slip for the bottom cushion was finished, I cut small slits in it and then pulled the buttons through the top.  The end result was this:


That’s it!  Sorry if any of this was confusing; feel free to leave a message if you’d like clarification on anything or additional pictures.  Also, I am no expert, so it’s okay if you come up with a different plan for your project.


Glider Chair Before and After

A few years ago, my parents gave me a glider chair that they bought in the mid 1980s.  The fabric on the cushions is outdated and I really wanted to modernize the chair a bit so it matched the rest of my decor.  I was hoping to simply buy new cushions, but I couldn’t find any in the right dimensions.  So I decided just to sew new fabric directly on top of the old.  That way, I would still have the original cushions and I could restore them to their original glory if I ever wanted to, just by taking off the new fabric on top.  Here’s the chair before:

The original fabric

The original fabric

The original fabric

The original fabric

And here it is now:

The new fabric

The new fabric

The new fabric

The new fabric

IMG_4450I chose this fabric because I didn’t want it to look too drastically different.  And I also wanted to avoid choosing something that was too loud or busy that I might tire of quickly. In my next post, I’ll show you how I did this (though, I didn’t really go in with a plan, but instead just figured it out as I went).


Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

I bought and used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint today.  If you haven’t heard of chalk paint, it’s paint that goes on easily and leaves a matte finish.  It’s mostly used for furniture, but it can be used for just about anything, including walls and floors.  Annie Sloan also makes clear and dark wax, which gives the piece additional character and a protective finish.

Today I painted a desk the chalk paint color florence.  First, let me share the history of this desk.  My parents bought it for my sister when we were teenagers.  I think they got it at Walmart or Target.  When we moved out of our parents’ house, she gave it to me because she no longer used it.  Up until last year, I had it down in my basement and I was using it as a TV stand.  Here’s a picture:

IMG_1183About a year ago, I had some latex paint left over from a different project, so I painted the desk and put it in our guest bedroom.

IMG_4066I thought it looked better than it did before, but it still didn’t have a lot of character and I wanted a bolder color.  So, I decided to try again.  Here’s what it looks like now after the chalk paint.

IMG_4078Slide1BA_1I am very pleased with the results.  I love how the dark wax creates an antique/rustic look. Now I just need to figure out where I’m going to put it.