May 6, 2015

And I've got blisters to show for it

Sorry I've been MIA so far this week.  I spent eight hours on Saturday and Sunday working at the new house, and then starting the week back at work after that apparently just kicked my butt.

I went to bed at 9:30 on Monday night, so that's a SURE SIGN something was afoot.

On the plus side, our contractor made some good progress last week, and so did I. (Can't say the same for this week yet, but let's stay positive.)

He finished the wood accent wall in the den, and I love it. We still haven't found a way to stain the cedar that doesn't turn it deep brown, but I just read about something I want to try (staining it and then using watered-down white paint over the stain to lighten it). The issue with cedar is that it takes stain so well that it's going to take something pretty specific to get the "aged" look I want.

When this area is done, the mantle, wall and floor will all be clearly defined -- not all uniform like they are now. I love the warmth the wood wall brings to the room ... it's a nice contrast to the white-white ceiling (which I also love. It's freshly painted and I love how crisp it looks.)

This is the view when you come in the front door:

I mean, there's a small foyer, but your eye is definitely drawn past it to the wood wall.

And you might notice that the herringbone tile is IN!

The pewter grout really brings out the grey tones in it -- which makes me lean more toward using it in the kitchen. I'm 95 percent sure this is what I'll do for my backsplash now that I've seen it with the pewter grout.

Keep in mind: I'm not a fan of the dark-grout trend. I think it tends to make the grout look dirty before its time. But for whatever reason, I'm a fan of it with this particular tile. (Obviously this hasn't been cleaned or finished yet -- it will look better in a few days.)

Last week we also got a real step in the garage -- a promotion from the loose concrete blocks that have been stacked up there for the last six months. Who knew a step could make me so happy?

Our contractor also screwed our old kitchen cabinets to the garage wall, leaving room for our old fridge there in the middle.

He added birch-ply countertops for me, which kind of gives us the look of butcherblock.

Don't ask me why in the Sam Hill I decided I needed to sand, stain and seal these countertops, BUT I DID. Last Saturday I pulled out some old stain -- and I do mean OLD, like probably more than five or six years old -- from who knows what project.

I thought I had an old white T-shirt lying around at the house, but I did not. Do you know what I found in the backseat of Grayson's car? About 20 dried-out baby wipes, unused. Do you know what I used to stain those countertops? Those dried-out baby wipes.

Use what you have, Internet, use what you have.

I really didn't want to do much other than bring out the woodgrain a little, which is all one coat of this stain did. On the left is unstained, and on the right, stained.

One coat of stain. Applied with a dried-out baby wipe.

This might give you a better idea of the difference between the two ...

Finally, I attacked a project that's been waiting on me since the day we bought the house.


It was lacquered to within an inch of its life, and it had seen better days. I decided I was going to sand it down and paint it, because otherwise? It was going to the donation bin or the dumpster.

And as a very wise woman recently said: You can't ruin something you already hate.

Remember this beaut?

Free dresser. And I already had the paint. And the sandpaper. The only thing I lacked was the industriousness.

So when I fiiiiiiiiinally worked it up, I sanded that thing down like my life depended on it. By hand. With actual sheets of sandpaper. Do I recommend this medieval method?


After what seemed like 19 hours, I was done sanding the dresser. Then I realized I had to sand the drawers.

The sanding process probably took me -- honestly -- about an hour. Maybe closer to 90 minutes. But it felt like dog years.

Then I used my trusty baby wipes to wipe all the sawdust off and got out my grey paint.

One coat of grey paint later, and that dresser was already looking way better.

It may be hard to tell from that picture because it was my cell phone and that was bright sunlight, but it looked like a pretty good faux-paint job in some shabby-chic boutique somewhere. Some people probably would've told me to stop right there, after one coat.

Here it is after I started the second coat ... you can see how much more opaque it was going on there at the top.

Another shot of the second coat going on, but you can see what I mean about the shabby-chic look that the sanding and first coat gave it.


Like, you nick this paint, I WILL CUT YOU.

I've got blisters and cuts you would not believe, but I have to say, it turned out really well. I'm rather proud of it, actually.

Did I mention that I painted the insides of the drawers Palladian Blue?

I wanted to have a nice surprise every time I open them. "SURPRISE, ME!"

I still have to pick out new hardware, but other than that, it's finished. I hope my Very Professional Tutorial has been helpful. (A reader actually ASKED me to post this a while back. I doubt dried-out baby wipes and such were what she had in mind ... but you get what you pay for.)

I'm sure I'll post another picture once I have the new hardware on it and it's in its new home in the dining room. Hopefully that will still be in The Year of Our Lord 2015.

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