Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: We put every last penny in the remodel, literally.

So anyone who has ever been to our house knows that we have unique counter tops in our kitchen.  When we were redesigning our home we wanted to have as many upgrades as we could, and save where we could.  The counter tops were going to be a challenge.  What is it that every person wants more of in their kitchen?  More counter space, right?  Well we were going to have that and then some, but with that awesome long run of counter space came a problem.  If we really wanted to rock we could do quartz (pun intended).  Let me say I really wanted quartz, but it came with a huge price tag.  The price was a deal breaker.  Our kitchen was going to have to be attained on a budget.  We could have picked to do lower grade cabinets, and have crazy awesome counters.  However, I personally think thats insanity.  So my goal was going to be to have awesome cabinets (mission accomplished), and figure out how to still have cool cabinets.  Counters can be changed fairly easily, but doing a full kitchen remodel wasn't something I was willing to endure at a later date.

So the first thought I had was that we could just put on regular formica.  That was the most cost conscious option, but then we ran into a big problem.  We had such a long run of counter that we couldn't even get formica without having a seam in a weird place.  Here is a little known fact about me.  I'm kind of prissy.  A weird random seam in my counter wasn't acceptable, and would have driven me insane...see?  Prissy.  So the best idea I had was...wait for it...PENNIES! This should be read like the showbiz pigeons on Bolt (moms will totally get this reference).   Honestly I thought of pennies, and then poured over Pinterest for any information I could on how others might have accomplished this.

My first step was calling the bank.  The teller I spoke with thought I was crazy, and was majorly skeptical of whether or not we could pull it off.  Which I thought was somewhat uncharitable since she didn't know me, or how stinking awesome I can be.  She was feisty though, and I liked her a lot.  We talked about all kinds of things.  How they don't keep $500 in pennies on location (because I was initially going to do the island as well).  How they order their money (don't know why I never thought of this but made sense).  How they could order that many, but that I may have to pay a fee for them ordering so many (I didn't have to pay a charge).  How they come in boxes of $25, and how that box would be freakishly heavy (no joke).  Her biggest quandary was if it was illegal to use pennies as a counter top.  We never could decide.  So just in case it is...don't rat me out guys.  Using pennies for new, and creative ways though is all over the internet.  So if they ever decide to prosecute...I'll have company.

So then I started sorting out the clean from the dirty.  FYI money is filthy, and most of the pennies fell into the filthy category.  So I greatly lowered my expectations.  This was tedious and gross.  Then I decided to try to clean the dirty ones that I had left over.  Just an FYI they don't clean well, and the ones that do get slightly cleaner then have a weird pinkish hue to it.  Just a random bit of knowledge, if you soak pennies in straight white vinegar for 24 straight hours when you go to rinse and try to rub off gunk (scientific technical term) most of them will disintegrate.  My advice would be to just redeposit the dirty ones, and get another box.  

Then it was time to prep the surface.  We had put down 3/4 inch ply wood as a base.  I didn't want a light background so I stained the background with Minwax Dark Walnut.  We allowed it to dry overnight.  We used a red oak piece of wood as trim that my awesome brother-in-law, Señor Senior, routed the edge of, stained again in Dark Walnut.  We then put clear caulking around all the seams, and taped around the hole cut out for the sink.  After that dried it was time to lay out the pennies.  This also was super tedious.

I actually really loved the color variance that my lowered expectations resulted in.

Then it was time for the epoxy (here).  I don't have any pictures of this step because sometimes I'm a loser, but in this case I was busy helping Señor Hotness spread the epoxy.  We had to mix it in small batches and put it on thin.  You have to be careful about bubbles.  A butane torch, or a blow dryer should generate enough heat to pop the bubbles.  Make sure not to hold the torch in any one place to long as it will burn it.  This required two coats.  You have to follow the directions precisely, and once you get it all mixed together the clock is ticking.  You have to move fast.  The epoxy takes 8 hours to set up to touch, and 3 days to cure.  It is self leveling so it just needs to be spread.  It will dry super shiny since it only comes in gloss.  The only downside is that the finish isn't very heat resistant, but that isn't any different than your standard formica.  So if putting a hot pan down, use a trivet, and if your need to cut something use a cutting board.  I'm going to try to sound modest when I say that it looks awesome.

See?  AWESOME!!!  Ignore the lack of wall paint (this picture is old), and try not to be jealous of my crazy awesome mixer.  It'll be hard since Bertha is so big, red and beautiful.

The final finished product took only $125ish worth of pennies, and two standard sized boxes of epoxy from Lowes.  So all total we have crazy cool looking counters, and we only spent roughly $300 for the whole thing.  So the moral of the story is with a little imagination, willingness to do dirty tedious work, and put in the sweat equity you can get something cool for not a lot of money (again pun intended).

Here are some pictures of it while I was painting the wall.

Its held up beautifully this last year, and is still a big conversation piece.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Its Mime Time!

Okay so at this time in the "Week of Redos", Señor Hotness was losing patience.  He wanted me to be done with my incessant projects.  So imagine his surprise to find out I had not only been working on, but had practically finished a project without him even taking notice.  Remember those two french provincial end tables that were remade into a vision of gray (here)?  Remember how they were FREE?  Well there was more to the set then just the two tables.  They actually came with a coffee table that would turn out to look like this.

This craigslist freebie I loved because it was the absolute perfect size for my narrow formal living room.  The tables in this room were some antiques that I had redone a few years back, and they looked like this.

So this was a mimic job.  I had done the original tables using Kilz spray oil primer.  Then followed that up with Krylon Blue Ocean Breeze spray paint, and the top was stained straight up Minwax Dark Walnut stain.  This is what I was starting with though.

Can you say YIKES! (to both the room AND the table)

Again no nudity was happening in the background of the middle picture.  Destructo Girl has super fair skin, and a fondness for pale pink.

The tops were awful.  Mostly because my awesome three year old had finger painted the tops on the sly two separate times.

  She was saved from a beating simply because both messes were discovered immediately, and we were able to wash off most of the wet paint.  So the first step was to lightly sand the bottom that was going to need priming.

Just a light sanding

I had a little help with the task.

After a very light sanding I lugged out my primer.  For this project I brushed on Kilz oil based primer using a foam brush.  Then let it sit and dry for the rest of the afternoon.

I don't put on really thick coats.  If I had really put down a better layer I probably would have been able to spray less paint.  My lunch break was over though so I left it as it was.  My next step was to hit it with spray paint.  I used Krylon Blue Ocean Breeze on the bottom in gloss.

Already it was looking fantastic!  It is always amazing to me how different a piece of furniture can look with just a little bit of paint.  I let this dry for a day.  Mostly because I was working on other projects that needed to be finished up, like, yesterday (hello barstools).  Next I sanded the top down.  I sanded the top of this at the same time I did dresser (here).    The table top was in rough shape so it sanded off really quickly.

Then I stained it with Minwax Dark Walnut stain, and then let it dry for the next day while I worked on another project (hello dresser).  So I have to say that at first I wasn't happy with the results.  Different types of wood will take stain differently, and have slight variances in color.  My antiques that I was mimicking were made out of Maple, and so the way the stain looked initially on what I think is Oak wasn't what I was looking for.  It had a slight orange/yellowish quality is certain areas.  After painting the edging in the black it really brought it all together.

I don't have a picture of it, but after this step I hit it with glaze.  After letting it dry for a day I also clear coated the heck out of this.  While working with the furniture it looks super dry and very matte until you get it clear coated.  I personally prefer a bit of a shine to the finish of my pieces.  That gives me piece of mind that my paint won't chip, and it will be more kid friendly in that it is easier to dust and polish.  Which is good because more times than not this is how things look around here.

So there you have it.  It looks awesome in the room.  It is no longer an eye sore, and really flows with the funky eclectic look I'm going for.

And now its time for a rest...or a smaller project.

Friday, March 21, 2014


When I say this post title in my head I read it as if I were Eric Idle from Monty Python Search for the Holy Grail calling for everyone to bring out their dead.  The yowling cat is there in my head and everything...maybe I should keep that part to myself.

I have already written about refinishing two end tables (here), and one coffee table (here) for the family room.  We also had a dresser that we used as an entertainment center in the family room.  I had Craigslisted this bad boy 3 years ago for $60.  It was solid wood, and had a good finish still on it.  So I left it be.  Which turned out to be a good thing as we moved, and the color scheme of the room this made it into changed greatly.  That and my teething child chewed on the front, ruining its pristine finish.  So if she had done that with a refinished piece.  I may have killed her, and I am actually fond of the child.  So this blog will show how THIS

came from this.

Sorry for the picture missing two drawers, but I had already moved them to a different room.

This piece had wonderful bones.  It had a lot of things going for it, and a different person might well have left it as it was.  I, however, am not a huge fan of a completely stained furniture pieces.  I simply adore a paint, and stain combo.  Also I'm not so in love with any stain that has any red in it, and all the other furniture in the room was rocking the gray.  So it was in major need of a gray finish too.  It was looking intensely like a piece of junk furniture now in a room where it was once the nicest looking piece.  

Speed wise this piece literally took the least amount of time at two days from start to finish.  That however came at the price of less pictures.  So right after I put the baby down for a nap, and the other four were eating I hauled this sucker outside and hit it with the sander.  The finish as I said before was actually in good condition so it took a bit more time than the other pieces.  I only sanded the very top because, like I mentioned, my darling three year old had decided back when she was teething to nibble on the front of the piece around the edge.

Do you see it?  Isn't she a doll?  She is a really tall kid.  Its okay because it was fixable, or more like I was able to disguise it.  So after sanding the top I did my current fad of Rustoelum Driftwood followed by Minwax's Dark Walnut.  When you are midway through refinishing a piece of furniture that already has a different color pallet happening, it is hard not to panic when the first step makes it look super dumb.  So in short my washed out dark brown stain was looking super stupid alongside all that red cherry like stain.  So I needed to get cracking on the rest of it...for my peace of mind.

First though, life intruded back into my peaceful interlude of refinishing things into beauty.  So the refinish took back seat to life once more.  The sanding and staining process took maybe 45 minutes total.  So when I was done with that it was time to get back to school work.  Remember I'm homeschooling in the midst of doing these.  With the exception of the barstools (here) because I didn't have the luxury to take my time on these.  They needed to be done quickly because we use them tons daily.

So after making a super yummy dinner because thats how I roll.  I sat the kiddos down for dinner, and then I sat down to put the first coat of paint on the dresser.  To date this is the biggest thing I've ever done.  This is what it looked like after two coats.

I gave it two coats of the Krylon Classic Gray that I had turned into chalk paint.  I used a foam brush for all the staining and painting.  It gives a really nice smooth finish.  It still looked crazy stupid at this time because I hadn't yet done anything with that half chewed trim section that was still looking crazy awkward sporting its cherry color on my mostly gray piece of awesomeness.

My next step was giving this an wash of glaze.  I needed it to look similar to the other pieces already in the room.  Unfortunately I don't have a picture of this stage.  I would also recommend that if you could bring a piece of the furniture you are trying to match into the room where you are refinishing the new one.  So that you can see if you need a lighter or heavier hand with the glaze.  I didn't think of that, and I think my finished product could have used just a smidge more glazing.  Then I hit the awkward cherry trim section with black paint, and then suddenly it all tied together beautifully.

Then I let it dry for at few hours before giving it several good coats of Minwax Polycrylic which is a water based sealer.  I also used a foam brush for this.  It leaves a streak free coat on the surface.  It will tell you to absolutely not to use this, and to use an expensive paint brush.  I'm here to tell you that no matter how awesome you are with that brush, your finish will look streaky and every last brush mark will be VERY visible.  Believe me the foam brush is worth it.  It does tend to want to soak up the Polycrylic, but so long as you don't try to squeeze the excess out of the brush you will be fine.  When you press to hard with the foam brush it bubbles, and causes problems too.

The only real hiccup I had in the redo was the Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze can of metallic spray paint I've used on all the other handles decided to die on me.  It had been acting up on all the redos, but for some reason it decided to completely kick the bucket when I was halfway through this one.  So I used Rustoleum Hammered Bronze metallic spray paint.  Huge let down people.  It came out looking more gray than the awesome intensely dark color that I've come to expect from oil rubbed bronze.  So that will get a redo at a later date.

This thing was ready to move back into the family room.  As I was moving it back into the family room.  I scraped some of the black finish off.  So after touching that up.  It was good as new.  I'm in love with my new gray living room set.  It is similar in color, but still eclectic looking as all the pieces are very different.

What a beauty.  It turned out even better than I envisioned, and Señor Hotness was even happy because if you look closely you will notice a complete lack of chevrons.  I'll have to update with another picture when I get the handles the color I ultimately want them.  I hope you enjoy following along as I stumble through these refinishing projects.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: Island Awesomeness

I was looking up fun island quotes on pinterest, and came to one that read, "I'm an island of such great complexity".  I really liked that one, but with the horde around, this house is more like the island of misfit toys.

So a year and a half ago we bought the trashy house, and the renovating began.  Remember this?

Its okay to be jealous.  I know most people that come visit are struck speechless when they pull up.

Sadly this is much the was our place looks today.  Our big project for this year is going to be updating the siding, and putting on new front and back porches.

When we bought the place it had a kitchen too small for a dishwasher (WHAT?!?!?), and only enough standing room for one person.  It was in short, claustrophobic.  However just on the other side of one of its walls was a fairly big room rendered completely useless because someone had dumped a big rusted wood burning stove in the middle of it.  I do mean in the middle.  There was maybe 3 feet of walk space all the way around it.  So I had a brilliant we had the brilliant plan to knock down a wall, and use the entire space as our kitchen!  It was going to be epic, and a ton of work.

We replaced everything in this house.  We had the walls stripped to studs, the wires completely pulled out,  and in some areas the flooring pulled completely out or to the subfloor.  When this was happening, we decided to knock out the wall.  This of course was all in Señor Hotness's wheelhouse.  So I made myself scarce, and Señor Hotness had the missionaries come out to help him do the heavy lifting.  After we put everything back together it looked somewhat like this.

Isn't she pretty?

Look at all that space!  I needed to have a huge flipping place for us to eat, play, and do any and everything.  Especially since our old house didn't have a table the could even fit our entire family.

See?  Tiny.  Much to small for a family of 7.  We lived in that tiny house for 3 years, and had no room to entertain or have over friends anywhere in the house.

You always hear about how the kitchen is the heart of the home, and the place where everyone congregates.  That is absolutely what I wanted here.  On top of that I have a horde of ladies to teach to cook, craft and be awesome.  So what better than to have a ginormously awesome island.  Then we started to brainstorm.  During the actual construction I watched a ton of HGTV.  Just a heads up HGTV has next to no actual design shows actually on anymore its all House Hunters which someone with a new house/remodel project couldn't care less about.  The few that they had I DVRed to watch later when we would drag in after working crazy late hours on the house.  

This is when inspiration struck in the form of the HGTV show Meg's Great Rooms.  The episode we were watching they were making over an area for a family with 4 daughters.  HELLO!!! It was meant to be that we would fall in love with the concept of the island displayed in the show.  The island in that was a 9 foot by 5 foot with a concrete top, and it was awesome.  Our room could totally handle something that massive so then Señor Hotness got to designing ours.  He kept trying to make it a little smaller, but I was adamant that I NEEDED it that big.

We had Señor Hotness's older brother, Señor the Elder, custom built our beautiful cabinets, and he also made Señor Hotness's drawing come to life.  He took the drawing, and built this.

The picture is weird because we had it set on panorama, and it is sitting in what would be our family room.

Here it is in the kitchen.

We placed it back in the kitchen after it got a coat of stain.  The wood we used for this was birch, and Minwax Dark Walnut was WAY too dark for the room so this was covered with Minwax Provincial.  I'm kind of sketchy on the exact process used to finish this out as my awesome brother-in-law, Señor the Elder, did all the work on this because he's awesome.  Doesn't it look pretty though?  We really wanted this to have a solid stone top, but by this point in the renovation our time was gone.  We had sold our other house...the trashy trailer.  It sold on a Monday and was gone the next Monday, and we had one of the most epic cases of stomach bugs EVER.  Our move consisted of shoving our crap in trash bags, and bringing it over to the new place.  So due to time we put a wooden top on it. 

I blogged earlier about me finally making over the top here.  The island top was a bit of an eye sore, but it was useful.

Again forgive the wonky picture it was a panoramic.

It was awesome, but not with out its draw backs.  It is too wide to play card games on, but the awesome WAY out weighs the downsides.  For instance.

It has this awesome shelf for my crockpots and pressure cooker

And its wired for power!  Which is good because this is where I usually get on the computer.  The plug allows me to have marathon computer time.  You know if I wasn't the homeschooling mother to the horde, who also does WAY to many DIY projects.  It was also a big hit with the kiddos.

The ladies sometimes use it as a permanently built fort.  Because at counter height it is the perfect height for them to play under.  In the future I want to figure out a way to put cloth sides around it temporarily so that it feels more like an actual fort, and with this in the room...

They have been known to pull the bar stools out, and watch movies under there with sleeping bags and pillows.  It can easily and comfortably seat 12, but I only have 8 stools currently around it.  

My goal with this was absolutely to make it a gathering place in our home, and it has become that and so much more.  When we bought and remodeled the house we weren't homeschooling, but this is an awesome place for us to do school work with the kids, and that TV mounted on the wall also acts as a monitor for a computer.  Which helps us to look up learning aids.  This also seems to be the room that parents congregate at when we have friends over, to watch funny Youtube videos, or just laugh around the island.  The kitchen is by far my very favorite room in our house, and hands down where I spend most of my time.  The island makes the room, and I wouldn't change any thing if given the chance.  

Random Truths of Being a Girl Mom

I am often laughing at what random people tell me about being a girl mom.  Even if they themselves don't have experience being an exclusive girl mom.  Its a hard club to get into (Ha!).  I thought I would take a moment to debunk some of the myths, or "truths" that random strangers have laid on me over the years.


I have photographic evidence that this is a load of bunk.  Girls leave dirty panties on the floor too.  The difference is they are sporting pretty pretty princesses instead of superheros.  Maybe little girl messes seem cuter than little boy messes because it is a sea of pink and purple, ruffles and lace, but lurking somewhere at the bottom is a broken toy just WAITING stab a unsuspecting barefooted mother person in the foot.


Anyone that has come into contact with my 3 year old will find this one laughable too.  My husband and I often giggle that she sounds like swat trying to break down the door when she knocks on our door in the morning, or evening or anytime really.  Not having any boys I don't know how this compares, but my girls are certainly not always gentle.


False.  That's all I have to say on the matter simply because I don't want to pay for the therapy that would surely be needed if I revealed how gross it can really get.  I will say that I'm sure this will get better when all of our girls are fully potty trained.


I've got to say this is true, but honestly I'm thinking all kids are dramatic.  I personally am use to the girl brand of drama.  I'm sure little boys fight over toys the same as my girls do.


It would be more accurate saying that 'Girls are Full of Giggles, Gas and Startling Amounts of Hair'.  Everyone is gassy, and girls are no different.  One of mine use to give me a gas report from her kindergarten class.  She was shocked that the little boys DARED pass gas, and then not say 'excuse me' immediately after.  A well placed 'excuse me' makes gas passing completely okay for little girls everywhere.

As for the startling amounts of hair.  I have found random hair in all kinds of places.  In our house our dryer gives us a minimum of 5 hairballs with every freshly dried load of laundry, and hair somehow get literally woven into our clothes.  You know those no loss of suction vacuum cleaners?  The ones that are supposed to be beasts?  Yeah vacuuming up after the female horde can, in fact, clog those up in a few months.  Also well draining bathtubs are nothing but a fond memory, and fishing the hair out of the drain requires a stronger stomach that your basic fear factor contestant.

At the end of the day when you are surrounded by your horde you can't help but feel blessed for not only having the worlds best kids, but for being blessed to be able to literally dedicate you very existence to the raising and rearing of these beautiful ladies.  Myth or truth being an exclusive girl mom is a hard job, but somebody has to do it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

For the Love of Chalkboard Paint

Last week I had a mental breakdown.  I was on a mission.  A refinishing mission of epic proportions. The kids went wild.  I would share photo evidence, but lets just say that I was so crazy busy that my camera was WAY in the back of my mind.  I usually try to do a redo slowly over the course of a week, or more so that life still happens.  Thus why my productivity rate is usually low.  So the week started off with something simple that then morphed into a full-on overwhelming project.  Like doing eight of these suckers.

When we built our awesometastic kitchen a year ago we put in some cabinet framing on the side of our wall oven for the express purpose of having a chalkboard area.  We bought our chalkboard paint, and no I didn't make my own.  We bought Rustoleum Chalkboard paint.  They only offer it in 12 different shades.  So our choices were limited to say the least.  I chose the shade Deep Teal.  We were also going to be super cool, and use magnetic paint under so we would have a magnetic surface under the chalkboard paint.  FYI if you are going to do this make sure that when you buy it, you use it immediately.  We bought it WAY to early, and the metal shavings had become super settled on the bottom.   There was no way to shake or stir those bad boys back in, short of heading back to HomeDepot to use their paint shaker thing.  We tried in vain to make do at home.  This was the result.

Most people thought this was the chalkboard, but this was the failed magnetic paint.  We might try this again at a later date, but as of now it was scraped.  Then we left it to sit for months...almost a year really.  Because thats how awesome I am.  Fast forward to last week.  Señor Hotness and I were watching TV in the kitchen after the horde was blissfully in bed.  I was wasting time on Pinterest, as usual, and the hubs was doing actual work.  So to be productive I decided to pull out the chalkboard paint that has been taking up shelf space for a year.  I can do that while we watch tv.  See I do have great ideas for being productive.  So I did this.

I'm not sure why this looks so stinking streaky in the picture.  It looks fabulous in real life.  Thats my completely honest observation.  After getting it on the wall I made a discovery.  The color was super close to some new kitchen rugs I had just bought...that I loved.

So I had the bright idea to finally paint my EIGHT barstools.  Now I buy 99% of our furniture from craigslist, but these I had purchased brand new at a raw wood furniture place in Tyler a year ago, and was promptly stumped with how I should finish them out.  So they sat, and sat and sat...for a year.  Do you know what can happen to raw wood things in a house like mine over the course of a year?  The result wasn't pretty.  So it was a good thing I decided to re-sand the tops to better accept the stain.

This was one of the less gross chairs.  We had six saddle style stools, and two with back and swivel seats.  So because I've been on a bit of a kick here lately I did this to them.

Which prompted Señor Hotness to politely ask me not to chevron anything else.  I thought that was sad indeed, but have respected his least for the time being.  Then I hit them with my stain combo choice here lately.  I little bit of this.

And a little bit of that.

I let the Dark Walnut stain really soak in there.  You should never allow excess stain to sit on top for longer than 7-10 minutes.  Any longer and the stain becomes gummy and difficult to wipe off, and looks supremely awful. The end result was this.

See those swivel chairs in the back?  Those were the really crappy part of this project.  That and I kept changing my mind about how I was going to do them.  So at first I stained the bottoms only, and then decided  that the spindles needed a shot of stain as well.  Only to then decide that the top above the spindles needed to be stained too.  Be decisive.  It saves you time, and sanity in the long run.

Then it was time to give the bottoms a paint job.  I had decided on the chalkboard paint because I just really needed a clean dry surface, and then I could paint.  No need to prime.  This is where things got overwhelming.  Each chair needed two coats for proper coverage, and it took me SIX stinking hours of continuous painting to get every nook and cranny these chairs had to offer.

That seemed too blue so I got out my trusty glaze, and went to town on them.  A couple of things happened in the glazing process.  Number one was I ended up putting it on WAY darker than I had originally intended.  That and I missed some spots.

Dont glaze in a dark room folks!  Things happen!  Bad things, like you end up having a heavier hand with the glaze, and then miss super noticeable spots.  Also when you tend to be heavy handed with the glaze it can greatly alter the color of an object so...


became this

Now the top color didn't look right with base, and apparently this rug looked like teal and pink to some of my Facebook peeps.  Not so folks.  The rug is cream and teal.  So I was going to tweak the chevron color to cream to better fit in with the rug inspiration that I had used.  However, at this point I had started a buttload of other projects, and we desperately needed our stools back.  Our kitchen island is primarily where we eat our meals.  So I just put them all around the island to use momentarily, and something magical happened.  They didn't look awful.  Which of course is high praise indeed.

Now I think they really tie in nicely with my other great kitchen love!  My vintage blue jars.  I'm going to finish painting that wall tonight...I promise.  I have picked these up several places.  They are mostly from the 1930s and I love them. 

So the idea is to eventually give those chevrons a cream redo, but until then we are happily using them once more.