DIY Chalkboard – No Chalk Paint Required!

mirrrrr

As much as I love to craft and create, the easier the project the better! I love chalkboards and had been searching for one to display in our kitchen as a menu/note board for quite some time. Problem was, anything I was finding on Etsy or at local homegoods shops like Marshalls was way too expensive for my decorating budget. After hopping on Pinterest and seeing what my DIY options were, I found that most people were using either old frames or mirrors and inserting a piece of plywood painted with chalk paint or simply painting over the existing mirror with chalk paint. I knew this would be perfect since I had two dresser mirrors left over from my repurposed entertainment center, good thing I resisted my husband’s pleas to take them to the dump every weekend, my subconscious must have known I would be able to reuse them somehow, haha! I began this project while snow-bound during our “snow storm” aka 3″ of snow which is nothing to us northerners but apparently here in the south it was enough to get my hubby a week off of work, lol. After inspecting the mirror I was going to use I decided to go with adding a piece of chalk-painted plywood instead of painting over the mirror since the existing piece was super heavy and I have a phobia of hanging super heavy items on the wall with a soon-to-be-crawling baby in the house. I removed the mirror from the piece (very carefully!) and disposed of it, left with only the wood frame I prepped it to be painted (see my tutorial on how to paint wooden furniture here). After finally getting out of the house (4 days inside is NOT fun lol), I headed to Lowes to pick up my sample size paint (I used Farmer’s Market by Valspar to match our dining chairs), chalk paint and plywood. Here’s where the “no chalk paint required” part comes in, the craft gods must have been smiling upon me that day because Lowe’s saw was broken so they were going to be unable to cut my plywood to size, so I decided to go to Home Depot instead. There as I was picking out my piece of plywood in the lumber aisle I found that they had pieces of plywood that were ALREADY CHALKBOARDS, WHAAAAAAAT??!!! I was so thrilled! This was amazing since it eliminated quite a few steps in making my chalkboard, now all I would have to do was paint my frame and glue the board in place. I even saved some coin since the chalkboard only cost about $9.00, and the chalk paint alone would have cost $9.00 in addition to whatever the plywood would have cost me, I still have quite a few pieces left over for future chalkboard projects. This was a fun and easy project and is great for birthday boards, menu boards, you name it! Here is my tutorial:

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Mirror or empty frame
  • Chalkboard cut to size (available at Home Depot here, they cut it for me for free)
  • Latex Paint or spray paint (if repainting frame)
  • Black Foam Brushes (if repainting frame using latex paint)
  • All Purpose Crafting or Wood Glue (preferably something that is fast-bonding, but as long as it dries clear and works on wood, you’re good to go).

 

HOW I DID IT:

  1. If you are using an empty frame, go right to step 2. If you are using an old mirror, CAREFULLY remove the mirror from the frame. Mine was not secured with any adhesive so it came out easily. I do not recommend busting up the mirror, I’m no health professional but I do know that nobody wants a DIY project to land them with a hospital bill, which WILL happen if you cut yourself with a piece of mirror glass or drop a heavy mirror on your foot. You have been warned lol.
  2. If your frame is wood you can follow my steps for repainting wooden furniture using latex paint here  . If  your frame is metal or even if it is wood, you can hit it with spray paint if you’re looking to save time. My frame was very think and ornate so I painted it using my latex paint method, but since the piece wasn’t going to see much action I cut down on the dry time allowing only about 6 hours between coats, then using 2 coats of polyacrylic as a top coat.
  3. Once your mirror is painted and dried, you are ready to glue in your chalkboard. Apply a line of glue to the inside of your frame where the board will sit, then insert your board, pressing down hard (I used a tackier glue so that it wasn’t running all over the place and I made sure that after pressing it in I turned it over to wipe up any glue that had gooped out onto the front). Allow the glue to dry for the recommended time and you are done! Check out my before and afters below.

mirroba

Here is my before and after of the mirror. You can see from the before pic why my husband wanted to throw them out, what the heck were we ever gonna do with these things? lol I didn’t include the cost of the paint because technically I purchased it to use on a bigger project that I am working on. The color is “Farmer’s Market” by Valspar. COST: ~$9.00

mirrorblu

Since I had an extra mirror and I’m an awesome sibling haha, I made one for my sister’s apartment to match her jungle-y printed chairs. I used a sample size of “Painted Parrot” by Valspar. COST: ~$3.98

 

Repainting Wooden Furniture – Latex Paint Tutorial

securedownload

My obsession with repainting furniture was born when we moved into our new home. Trying to furnish a large house on a small budget was presenting us with quite a task, so I decided to get creative. After experiencing success using gel stain on the dresser I repurposed (see my tutorial here), I decided to redo two chests for our bedroom (since our dresser and all the closets in our home still weren’t enough to house all of my clothes lol). I located one at a thrift store for $35.00 and another on Craigslist for only $15.00!!! Since both of the chests were going to be used in our bedroom, I painted them black to match our bedroom furniture, not too exciting in the creativity department but they look great in the space!

My next wooden redo (and the mother of all projects) was a super long dresser that I repurposed as an entertainment stand/center for our living room. This is probably my favorite redo yet. Given what it looked like to begin with this came out amazing and I am so proud of it! I spent quite some time looking for a piece that would work as our living room entertainment center, everything I was finding was too small and the ones that did fit my size requirement were too pricey. I finally located a long ornate looking dresser at one of our local thrift shops and knew it would be perfect, especially for the price – it was only $85.00! Yet again, I am sad to say that I do not have step-by-step pictures of these projects but I will do my best to explain in detail, check out my pics below for before and after images of all three projects. Here’s how I did it:

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Sanding blocks or sandpaper (100-150 grit)
  • Latex Paint (I use 8oz sample paints available at your local home improvement store, I talk about them here). *Note: when possible purchase a flat latex paint (it will adhere to the furniture best and resist chipping), that is what I used on the black dressers. If you are purchasing sample size paints they are only available in satin finish which I’ve found to work just fine.
  • Wood Filler (if you need to patch any holes or cracks)
  • Clear Top Coat (gel or polyacrylic)
  • Black foam brushes
  • Drop Cloth
  • Rags

 

HOW I DID IT:

  1. First, I removed all hardware, to include the pulls and any metal pieces that you will either discard or replace after the fact.
  2. Remove the drawers. If your piece of furniture is super dirty, wipe it down with a little soapy water using a rag. This is not a super important step, I only did it to one piece that had some kind of sticky residue on it. You’ll find that sanding will remove most dirt anyway.
  3. Next, begin sanding (I always do steps 3 & 4 outdoors to keep my indoor workspace clean). I don’t go nuts with sanding, my goal is simply to remove a good amount of whatever varnish or clear coat is original to the piece, I don’t try very hard to get it down to the wood grain, I find this is only really necessary when re-staining a piece. I sand for about a minute on each surface, paying attention to the edges and grooves. My repurposed entertainment center had some very ornate designs on the front, I didn’t bother sanding inside every groove since they wouldn’t be exposed to getting hit or bumped into once the project was complete.
  4. Once you have finished sanding, take a damp rag and wipe down the whole exterior of the dresser and drawers to remove any sanding dust. I also take the time to vacuum or dust out the insides of the drawers since you don’t want any dust sticking to the paint once you being the painting process. After the wet wipe-down is complete dry the piece off with a dry cloth and you’re ready to begin – YAY!
  5. I set up my painting area so I have plenty of room to move around and be sure that all of my work space is covered by a drop cloth of some kind. Begin your first coat by using a foam brush to apply an even coat of paint, when painting furniture always paint in the direction of the original wood grain, not against. Since you will be allowing 12-24 hours dry time in between coats, feel free to wash and reuse your foam brush.
  6. After you have finished putting the first coat on all of the pieces you are finished for the day. At this stage it’s not going to look good at all, don’t worry, it will get there!!! If you are using a flat paint it is going to look very streaky and uneven, this is fine, any places where the light hits the paint weird will be covered by the top coat. I allow 12-24 hours between coats, so I will generally return to the piece the same time the next day to apply the second coat, this makes it a great after work project or naptime project for all you fellow mamas out there!
  7. The amount of coats you will require for each piece will depend on the color of your paint choice. For instance, the black dressers required only two coats, where as the long dresser required three coats. I must note that I do not sand in between coats when painting or when applying my top coat, many tutorials (and the outside of the top coat can lol) will tell you to do this, I just found that it was an extra step I did not need but feel free to add it if you want, it won’t hurt! After your final coat is applied and dry you are ready to start your top coat. Take a black foam brush and begin applying the clear coat in an even layer using even brush strokes, be mindful not to leave behind any bubbles (sometimes the polyacrylic will do this, just go over the area with your brush) and not to allow the clear coat to pool at the edges of the piece. I generally apply three top coats, allowing 12-24 hours dry time in between coats. *Note: For wooden furniture I am partial to the gel top coat, I have found it to be super durable and easily cleaned, but if you are not comfortable using oil based products then a polyacrylic is a good substitute.
  8. The final step is replacing the hardware. For the two chests, I purchased new pulls (here is a link to the exact ones I used, available at Lowes), I got a little obsessed with the farmhouse pulls lol. If the original pulls are in good shape, which was the case for my repurposed entertainment center, simply clean and reuse them or update them with some spray paint (I use a black Rustoleum satin finish spray paint when repainting my pulls).
  9. You’re finished! Do a touchdown dance and get ready to blow peoples minds when they ask you if you got your piece at Pottery Barn (which has happened to me!) and you tell them “no, bish, I MADE THIS!!!” 🙂

BEFORE & AFTERS:

chest2

This is one of the chests that I redid for our bedroom (sorry the before picture is so crappy, I had already removed the hardware and sanded the piece before I remembered to take one). I found this one on Craigslist for $15.00 which was amazing because it was in great shape! I half thought it was a ploy that would lure me to my death, but for a $15.00 dresser I was going to take my chances haha jk. I used flat black paint (any brand will do, black is usually sold pre-mixed in the paint aisle but you can also have a sample sized tinted to black if you don’t want to purchase a pint) and the General Finishes Gel Top Coat. Follow the link I mentioned in the tutorial for the pulls I used, I purchased them on sale but according to Lowes website they will run you about $3.30 each, still not bad price-wise but not necessarily a bargain so try for something cheaper or repaint the existing hardware if you’re working with a tight budget. The baskets I purchased at Michael’s on sale for about $4.00 each. This piece has held up extremely well, I have moved it, bumped it and put drinks without coasters on it and it has proved super durable and easy to clean. COST: ~$35.00

chest

After redoing the $15.00 chest mentioned above, I decided I needed one more small dresser to contain the rest of my shirt overflow (yes, this dresser contains only shirts and not even all of them lol). I was excited to find this dresser for $35.00 at a local thrift store, albeit a little bummed that I wasn’t going to be getting too creative with it since I wanted it to match the other chest in our bedroom. Since my husband said I was getting a little “basket crazy” lol I decided to leave all the drawers in tact on this project. As you can see I just removed the weird metal emblem (if you encounter one of these on your projects just wedge a flathead screw driver underneath and it should pop off fairly easily, then just patch the holes with wood filler) and replaced the pulls. Unfortunately I spend about $25.00 on pulls for this dresser but it was all made worth it when the realtor that was touring our home pointed to the dresser and dead serious said “Pottery Barn right? I think I saw that there.” I was super flattered and he couldn’t believe that I had made it! Like the piece above, I used a flat black paint and General Finishes Clear Gel Stain. This piece has held up great as well. COST: ~$60.00

living2 livingroom

 

This piece is my favorite redo so far! It is also my Everest lol This beast is over 70 inches long, weighs as much as a car (at least that’s what it feels like lol) and has nine drawers (the same amount of months pregnant I was when I took on this project lol), needless to say this one was quite the project but my hubby helped me a ton so he deserves a lot of the credit :). After we decided to move our TV stand into the nursery I was on the hunt for a new “entertainment center” and by that I mean a dresser whose drawers could house the Xbox, cable modem, DVD player and all the wires. The issue I was faced with was the fact that for the length I was looking for (something that could eventually accommodate a 55″ TV, not the dinky one pictured above), I was only finding dressers that cost upwards of $200.00. After about a month of trolling the local thrift stores and Craigslist postings I came across this gem for $85.00, I was super happy that J trusted my vision on this one because it looked rough lol. As I mentioned before it weighs about as much as a house, it took three guys to load it into my car (which it was too long for, we had to drive with it hanging out the back, haha), and since I couldn’t participate in any of the lifting when we got home my hubby had to just shove it out the back of the car and hope that it didn’t shatter into a million pieces (it didn’t lol). On this particular piece I used “Borough” by Valspar and General Finishes Gel Top Coat (which was a total bitch because in fear of my child coming out with five arms, every time I put on a coat I would have to leave the house for hours because of the fumes lol). If you notice from the pictures, we repainted the original hardware using a Rustoleum black satin spray paint, they are still in good shape and haven’t faded or chipped at all. Lastly, my hubby drilled holes in the back so that all the wires could connect to the electronics inside the drawers while remaining out of sight. This piece has held up great, since P’s arrival I am constantly bumping it with toys and rockers and what have you and it is yet to chip! We feel bad for the movers that will have to transport this beast to our next home, but we love it!!! I almost forgot to mention, this piece came with two hideous mirrors that the thrift store basically forced us to take even though we told them we didn’t want them, check out my easy chalkboard tutorial to see how I turned them into a neat DIY project! COST: ~$95.00

 

 

 

Budget Friendly Tips For Painting Furniture

tips

1. CRAIGSLIST -Check out your local Craigslist ads for furniture! I always hit Craigslist before thrifting because you have more negotiating power with a private party than with a thrift store, especially if the item is on consignment. The dresser I re-did for P’s nursery was a Craigslist find, the guy was asking $85 but I got it for $45! Also, if you’re lucky enough to live in a big city people are always getting rid of furniture for FREE whether it be on the sidewalk or in the “free” section on Craigslist, take advantage of this, I have lots of friends who have furnished full apartments using furniture that was being thrown out!

2. LOOK FOR QUALITY – … Or at least what was quality in the 70s or 80s lol. Go for solid wood pieces, while a laminate dresser at a thrift shop may seem like a great buy at $20 when a solid wood one might be $60, opt for the wood piece – it’s still a great buy and you will end up with a finished product that will last a lot longer and that you’ll love for a lot longer!

3. DO IT WITH A FRIEND –  Try to get some friends together that want to redo some things too! You can save money by sharing supplies and the job is much less tedious with some company and cocktails (limit the cocktails for better results, just sayin lol).

4. PREP WELL & TAKE YOUR TIME – You are most likely to get a good finished product if you take the time to prep your furniture well (sanding or priming) and don’t rush. I find that the key to a good finished product is LOTS of dry time, I allow about 12-24 hours between paint coats.

5. GET CREATIVE – There are so many options for repurposing a single piece of furniture, it’s crazy! Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into an idea, if you find something at a good price and it isn’t quite what you were expecting, try to think of how you could design it to better fit your style, if the drawers are strange looking or damaged maybe add baskets instead or if the pulls are ugly add new ones. Also, do not dismiss things that are dirty or defaced, some of my pieces have had toddler scribble all over them – dirt can be cleaned and writing/scratches will be covered by paint anyway. My favorite piece in my house (and cheapest for the size) I was so unsure about because it was super unique looking (not necessarily in a good way lol) and pretty dirty but I ended up getting three awesome projects out of it!

GOOD LUCK! CHECK OUT MY FURNITURE PAITING TUTORIALS!

 

Grilled Portabella Sandwich

gpsan

So my dear ‘ol hubs is in NYC for a conference for a few days, leaving me and master P to rot here in Jacksonville lol kidding. Anyway, I always joke that when he is out of town I save so much money because I could literally eat one thing the entire time and be fine with it (usually it’s some kind of pasta dish that I love but he wouldn’t consider a “meal” .. like what? it’s carbs therefore it’s all you need lol). I used this opportunity to make something using one of my most loved (but one of my hubby’s most hated) ingredients – mushrooms! While my hubby and I agree on pretty much everything, mushrooms are not one of those things, but I guess if that is the only point of contention in a relationship, you’re doing okay! lol. Since I had along day (poor little P had to get his shots) and didn’t want to spend a ton of time preparing a meal for myself, I decided to recreate a sandwich from the Brickhouse Brewery back on LI. A little background info about this sandwich, it basically sustained myself and bff Tiffany during the summer of 2010 when our diets consisted of more alcohol than food haha. While I would be lying if I were to say I remember with absolute certainty what was on it besides portabella mushrooms and mozzarella (since it was usually preceded and followed by many Jack & Diets lol) I do know that there are a lot of fun memories surrounding this sandwich lol. From what I can recall it was super delicious and me and T would always split it, I miss her (and that summer) so much and wish I had her here tonight to split this one with me and sing “You Can Call me Al” 🙂

The recipe is super simple but who wants difficulty when cooking for one? 🙂

 

GRILLED PORTABELLA SANDWICH

*Serving size is 1 sandwich, you can easily make as many as needed 🙂

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 portabella cap
  • olive oil
  • balsamic glaze
  • salt & pepper
  • roasted red peppers (jarred or homemade)
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 Kaiser roll

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan. Clean mushroom and remove stem.
  2. Brush mushroom with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Place mushroom bottom side down on grill, wait about 5-8 mins and flip.
  4. mush

    Ignore how filthy my grill is, it’ s just starting to see some action with all of this nice weather we’ve been having. Cleaning it will be tomorrow’s naptime project!

  5. Once mushroom has been grilling top side down for about 5 mins layer your sliced cheese on top and place your bun on warming area of grill to toast it. Allow cheese to melt.mush2
  6. Once cheese has melted assemble your sandwich by placing the portabella and cheese on the bun, followed by the roasted red peppers and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Enjoy!

mush3 mush4

*Feel free to use a more budget friendly cheese or add extra grilled veggies! There are endless options with this delicious sammie 🙂

 

Redoing furniture on the cheap – my favorite products!

 

 

 

funr3

Some of my favorite projects have been my furniture re-dos. I love being able to see the finished product sitting there in my house each day as if to say “oh, hey lady, good morning, remember when you made me for $30? Yea, you’re awesome!” lol. My interest in refurbishing furniture was sparked by our move to our house here in Jacksonville. Up until  then we had been living in a one bedroom condo with little need for much more furniture than the few IKEA pieces we’d purchased when we moved in. Suddenly we found ourselves living in about triple the square footage with our tiny condo’s worth of furniture at hand. Having seen a few things on Pinterest, I figured I’d give these re-dos a try. So I hopped on Lejeune Yard Sales (our local version of Craigslist) and found a few pieces for  a few bucks and an obsession was born, haha.

Now I consider myself a novice furniture re-doer (is that a word? oh, well lol), I won’t say expert because I’m sure there are actually experts out there that will read this and cringe at my use of sub-par products and corner-cutting techniques, which brings me to my next point. My goal from the beginning has been to re-do my pieces on a budget, so I try to use products that are readily available at local home improvement stores at a low price point. Should I ever decide to re-do furniture for resale I would consider more expensive products, however, until that day my ways have worked for me and I’m sticking to ’em! Here are some of my favorite products (in no particular order) that I’ve used on many of my projects and while some are rather obvious, it will be easier to refer to this list when posting individual tutorials.

 

1. SANDING BLOCKS – I don’t to a ton of sanding on my pieces, just rough them up a bit and try to get any existing varnish dulled down. If you’re just looking to re-do an old piece you purchased for a few bucks or looking to upgrade and existing piece of old furniture, you probably don’t want to invest in an electric sander that you’ll probably use once. I happen to own an electric sander but I HATE that it generates so much dust and I find that sanding by hand has been fine in terms of how well my pieces have held up. These sanding blocks are easy to grip and great for giving a quick sand with even pressure as opposed to regular sheets of sand paper. I usually buy a 6-pack of 100-150 grit at Walmart or Lowes for about $6 (I found a 3-Pack here on Amazon for $7.30), tthese are great because they are reusable so a few will last you a few projects.

2. WOOD FILLER – This won’t be necessary for every piece, but for instance if your dresser comes with some weird metal piece that you’d like to pop off before you paint, this will fill the holes left behind. Additionally if your piece has any damage to it, such as deep cracks, dents in the wood or imperfections that can’t be fixed with sanding, this will do the trick. If you want to get supper crafty and change a two-pull dresser to a single knob just fill in the old holes with wood filler and drill new holes. Once you paint over it you will never know there was a hole or ding! Also, this tube is cheap and will last for many projects (I think I’ve been using the same tube for a year – impressive!!! lol). I usually go with the “natural” color, but it doesn’t matter what you choose as long as it’s paintable.

Carpenter's® Interior Wood Filler Natural -3.25oz

3. GENERAL FINISHES GEL STAIN – This stuff is awesome! It is technically a stain but goes on like paint. I originally used General Finishes which I purchased here on Amazon after seeing a tutorial recommending this particular brand (pictured below is my before and after of the dresser I re-did for P’s nursery and here is the tutorial). That being said I’d like to point out that recently Minwax has started making gel stain available in a variety of colors and is available at local home improvement stores, if you’d prefer to just buy it in-store as opposed to online. I prefer gel stain to regular stain because of the simple fact that it is so easy to work with. Regular stain is messy and requires a LOT of prep work and sanding which I am just too lazy for lol. That aside, I think that the gel stain gives it a more modern look. I also love the gel clear satin top coat (also available here on Amazon), it’s a little pricey but well worth it, when stored correctly a pint will last you MANY projects. NOTE: These GF products are not low VOC meaning that you will require lots of ventilation while doing your projects, no shutting yourself inside your garage for hours on end in the dead of winter, you need mask on, fans going and windows open! That being said breathing the stuff for a bit won’t kill you or but if zero or low VOC or eco-friendly paint is important to you please disregard this product recommendation.

4. FOAM BRUSHES  – Okay this is kind of an obvious one lol but painting furniture with regular paint brushes will leave brush strokes. These foam brushes will put on a nice even coat of paint are easy to work with. Best of all they are SUPER cheap so you can buy a bunch and don’t have to worry about cleaning them in between coats, just chuck it and use a new one when you return to the project later. I have also used 4″ foam rollers designed for painting cabinets but only because I already had them from my cabinet re-do, it wouldn’t really be cost effective to buy a small roller set just for a dresser or what-have-you since you will still end up needing foam brushes for the corners, edges and grooves. Like I was saying, I always keep a ton of these foam brushes on hand since I end up using them on so many crafting projects, I purchase the 2″ ones at either Lowes ($0.79 ea) or Walmart ($0.47 ea).

5. BONDING PRIMER – This product comes in SUPER handy when refinishing laminate or fiberboard furniture. That being said, when possible try to stick to refinishing solid wood furniture, the finished product is much more durable and looks a lot nicer, BUT if you already have something lying around that you want to spruce up or happen to come across something for super cheap like I have, go nuts! Since you can’t sand fake wood, this bonding primer helps whatever paint you use adhere to the piece with minimal chipping (we hope, lol). The brands I use are Zinsser and Kilz but there are tons out there, as long as it is labeled “bonding primer” you’re good to go. Good thing is, you’ll only require one coat of this so a quart will last you a few projects. Check out my tutorial for re-doing laminate pieces here. NOTE: This is also some powerful stuff, it is oil-based so it can be messy and SUPER strong in the fumes department so be sure to keep those windows open! For a few more bucks, I think Lowes now offers an “odorless” version.

KILZ Gallon Interior Oil PrimerZinsser Gallon Interior Oil Primer

6. SAMPLE SIZE LATEX PAINT – If I was listing these in order of favorites, this would be number one. I know that there are tons of tutorials out there using chalk paint and furniture wax and while the finished products are beautiful, I am yet to try it. Latex paint has worked great for me, it’s cheap and I’ve found that as long as you have a solid piece of furniture and/or a good top coat it will be just as durable. I started becoming obsessed with these sample-size paints after I redid the dresser for P’s room using the java gel stain. I ended up using not even an eight of a quart and didn’t plan on using it for any other furniture in the foreseeable future (I’m pretty sure it’s still sitting in my garage and is most likely a solid block by now lol). In the interest of not wasting money like that on my next piece, I went to Lowes and instead of purchasing a quart of paint in my desired color, I had them tint an 8oz sample size (see below). Get ready to have your money-saving mind blow – it cost $2.98 (say whaaaaaaaat?!!?), I thought to myself “why you no think of this soon stooooopid???” haha. The truth is, for a lot of pieces, you’ll find that even with this tiny sample size you’ll have a ton left over. Be sure to keep it, they’re great for other craft projects! NOTE: Unfortunately, these little samples are only available in satin finish which is not ideal for furniture (a flat paint would adhere better), however, my pieces look great and I haven’t experienced any chipping so I guess it’s not that big of a deal.

Valspar 8-oz Cathedral Stone Interior Satin Paint SampleOlympic 8-oz Aqua Smoke Interior Satin Paint SampleValspar 10-oz Radiant Orchid Interior Satin Paint Sample

7. POLYACRYLIC TOP COAT – This is a great top coat, it holds up well but is water-based so it’s a good alternative to a heavy oil-based top coat. I have used this on many of my pieces. If the piece is more for looks and isn’t going to experience a lot of bumps and day-to-day wear and tear (I used this on my chalk board frame and the little make-shift bathroom pedestal), I always opt for this product because it is easier to work with and requires less dry time than the oil based gel top coat. I usually purchase the satin finish because I prefer my pieces not to look super shiny, but if you’re piece is going to be touched and need to be wiped down a lot a gloss finish may be better suited to your project.

8. PLASTIC DROP CLOTHS – Here in NC our weather is not too conducive to painting outside, as most of the seasons have one factor or another that will make it pretty difficult (spring – rain, winter -cold, summer -humid etc.). Since multiple coats and a lot of drying time is required for furniture, the chance of you getting a solid 12-24 hours where there is no rain, the temperature is favorable and there is no wind to blow debris or bugs onto your project is pretty much none, haha. Additionally the fluctuating temperature makes it hard for me to paint in my garage since the temp in the garage is pretty much always the same as it is outdoors. Taking this into consideration I do all of my furniture painting projects in my living room or office on a big plastic drop cloth and even though my house will look like a project-zone for a few days it is well worth the finished product! I prefer plastic to canvas drop clothes because I am always paranoid that spilled paint or stain will seep through the cloth and onto the floor, which would not be the case with plastic. When I am finished I simply take it outside shake it out and fold it up to reuse for my next project!

 12-ft x 9-ft Plastic Drop Cloth

 

Painting Laminate Furniture Using Latex Paint

securedownload (1)2

Ah good ‘ol laminate furniture. If you don’t own a piece yourself, surely you’ve heard of IKEA (hello particle board wonderland lol), the stuff is everywhere. It’s primarily loved because it is cheap. To put it into perspective, when we were stationed in Pensacola for a hot second before I discovered the wonder of re-doing furniture, we purchased a new wood bedroom set that cost us over $1,200.00 (I kick myself for this now, but whatever ya live, ya learn), meanwhile we were able to furnish an entire condo for less than that when we did so using particle board/laminate furniture. Problems is, the stuff tends not to last and when it does it starts to look even cheaper than it did when it was originally purchased (if that’s even possible lol). If you’re lucky enough to come across a piece that’s in relatively good shape, you MAY be able to save it with a quick re-do (unfortunately I cannot guarantee it will survive your next move, haha). Lucky for us thrifters out there, since particle board or laminate furniture retails cheap, it’s resale value is next to nothing, and for under $100.00 you can probably snatch up quite a few pieces in one shot. Another benefit to redoing super cheap pieces is that it’s a great opportunity to try out funky colors or unique designs, chances are if you mess up or totally hate the item, you’ll only be out a few bucks and a little time 🙂 Check out the before and after pictures of my laminate redos below to get some ideas. Again, I am sorry to say that I do not have step-by-step pictures for this tutorial but I will try my best to explain in detail.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Latex Paint (I use 8oz sample paints available at the paint counter of your local home improvement stores, I talk about them here)
  • Bonding Primer (read my post on favorite products for brand recommendations)
  • Black Foam Brushes
  • Drop Cloth
  • Clear Top Coat (polyacrylic or gel work great)

 

HOW I DO IT:

  1. First wipe your piece down with a damp cloth and a little dish soap (it is important that your piece is extremely clean, any residue with make it harder for paint to adhere to the piece), then wipe down again with just a damp cloth. Then remove any hardware, to include pulls or other metal pieces. Once piece is clean you are ready to prime.
  2. Bonding primer is some heavy stuff, make sure you open the windows because any oil based paint is going to be rough on the senses lol. Make sure you’re wearing a mask, just those little disposable doctor looking ones will do. Start by painting an even coat onto your piece, it is going to go on super thick and it will look awful, full of brush strokes and uneven, this is fine, this primer is just to help the paint adhere to the piece as well as cover any existing imperfections, you will not see it once the paint goes on. After the piece has been covered in a coat of bonding primer allow it to dry for several hours (generally my rule is to wait 12-24 but for the primer you need not wait so long).
  3. Now you are ready to begin painting. Use a foam brush to carefully apply a coat of paint to your piece. After the first coat is complete allow 12-24 hours before applying the next coat. Aside from a good top coat the key to keeping your piece from chipping is lots of dry time! The amount of coats you will need depends on the color paint you are using, for instance when using black you may only need two, but when using a light color you may need up to four. Since the paint you are using is not oil based, feel free to wash the brush in between coats and reuse it!
  4. After the last coat has dried, using a foam brush apply your first layer of top coat, making sure not to leave too many streaks or bubbles behind. To ensure a good protective coating on your piece, I would do three top coats, allowing 12-24 hours dry time in between. If you are using a water based top coat you can wash the brush in between coats and reuse it,, but the brushes are cheap enough that if you feel like using a different one for each coat the whole project will probably only cost you $3.00 in brushes anyway.
  5. Once your piece is finished replace all hardware, either with new pulls or use spray paint to update the old ones. I like to use Rustoleum brand spray paint in a satin finish.
  6. Bask in your cheap-furniture glory! You are finished and are a money-saving, crafty S.O.B :)!!!

 

BEFORE & AFTERS:

lrba

I sought out this piece because I was looking for a small table to act as a sort of entryway table for some dead space in my living room. The piece cost $40.00 and was pretty sturdy, but as you can see was missing some pulls so I purchased new ones from http://www.pullsdirect.com (a great resource for new pulls, just make sure they are the correct size). I used Valspar “Borough” and General Finishes Urethane top coat (also available on Amazon). The piece has held up well, we are constantly bumping into it and placing our keys and other items on it as we walk in the door and it has only gotten maybe a tiny scratch here or there that are not visible. TOTAL COST: ~$55.00

deskba

I had wanted a small desk to go in our “shabby chic” style guest room and this seemed like it would be perfect. I purchased it off of Craigslist for $25.00 (while I was there the guy also tried to sell me his house – weird lol). This piece was pretty strange as it is half real wood and half fiber board, so I did end up doing some sanding on this one. Since it was so cheap and wasn’t going in my main living space I decided to try my hand at distressing this one and it came out pretty good, after painting I simply sanded along the various edges and corners. Good thing I distressed this because this piece did not hold up so well, it has a few chips here and there mostly on the top but you would never notice that it wasn’t part of the distressed look. If you notice, I reused the pulls I removed from the project pictured above so that was a big money saver. The color is Valspar “Hazy Dawn” and the top coat is Minwax Polyacrylic.  COST: ~$28.00

brba

Our guest bathroom is a double dose of suck since it has no nearby linen closet and no storage lol. When I came across this weird Aladdin-looking thing for $15.00 at a local thrift store I knew it would be perfect for the bathroom. I simply removed the front piece and added baskets (purchased on sale at Michaels for $6.99 each). Since our bathroom is beach themed I went with “Sea Air” by Valspar for the color and gave it a Minwax Polyacrylic top coat. This piece has held up great, although being that it is in the guest bathroom it does not see too much action so this is not a very good measure of my painting methods, haha. COST: ~$29.00

bookcaseba

After my girls threw me the best baby shower in the history of ever, I wound up with TONS of books for my tiny unborn P. I had actually bought this bookcase for $5.00 with the intentions of using it for a different project which didn’t work out, so it had been sitting in the garage for months despite my husbands weekly attempts to let him take it to the dump lol. This thing is flimsy as hell and was pretty gross, but I didn’t care because it was $5.00 lol. For the record, I don’t necessarily expect this to survive our next move, but for now it looks super cute in the nursery and you would never know it was such a piece of junk to begin with. I kind of rushed through this one since I was 8 months pregnant and SUPER excited to get it into the nursery lol, however, it has actually held up pretty well, maybe a scratch here or there but nothing on the exterior that can be seen. I matched the blue in P’s bedding using “Angel Eyes” by Olympic (available at Lowes) for the exterior and to switch it up I used my left over “Borough” by Valspar for the interior. COST: ~$8.00

 

Painting Wooden Furniture Using Gel Stain

 gelstaintut

This is one of my favorite projects, mostly because it was my first one! For a while we used it as a TV stand and once we found out we had a tiny babe on the way we decided to use it for the nursery. I love the way the baskets give it a great look and are still super functional. I located the dresser on Craigslist and purchased it for $45, it was solid wood and dovetailed (a sign that it was handmade), the guy was about 20 and he said that he had been in possession of it since he was like 5, pretty cool huh? This thing will probably make it through a few more generations. I replaced the center drawer with two baskets from Michael’s (originally $12.99 ea. but on sale for 60% off) and added four new drawer pulls for $2.37 ea. The grand total of this project was right around $60.00!!! I decided to use the java gel stain by General Finishes (I talk about it here in my favorite products post), since I knew I wanted the piece to be brown and was to intimidated by regular stain but didn’t necessarily want it to be just flat brown as it would be with a simple paint job. This was my first project so it definitely speaks to how easy this product was to use!

Here are the steps and products I used for this particular re-do (unfortunately I do not have step by step pics, I will do my best to explain in detail):

YOU WILL NEED:

  • General Finishes Java Gel Stain (or other gel stain of your choice)
  • A Man’s Sock
  • Wood Filler (if hole-patching is needed)
  • Black Foam Brushes
  • Drop Cloth
  • Rag
  • Sanding Blocks or Sandpaper 100-150 grit
  • Top Coat (gel or polyacrylic)

 

HERE’S HOW I DID IT:

  1. First, I removed all hardware, to include the pulls and an ugly metal emblem that was on the font.
  2. Remove the drawers. If your piece of furniture is super dirty, wipe it down with a little soapy water using a rag. This is not a super important step, I only did it to one piece that had some kind of sticky residue on it. You’ll find that sanding will remove most dirt anyway.
  3. Next, begin sanding (I always do steps 3 & 4 outdoors to keep my indoor workspace clean). I don’t go nuts with sanding, my goal is simply to remove a good amount of whatever varnish or clear coat is original to the piece, I don’t try very hard to get it down to the wood grain, I find this is only really necessary when re-staining a piece. I sand for about a minute on each surface, paying attention to the edges and grooves. This particular piece had a weird design along the top of the first drawer, I didn’t bother sanding inside every groove since they wouldn’t be exposed to getting hit or bumped into once the project was complete.
  4. Once you have finished sanding, take a damp rag and wipe down the whole exterior of the dresser and drawers to remove any sanding dust. I also take the time to vacuum or dust out the insides of the drawers since you don’t want any dust sticking to the paint once you being the painting process. After the wet wipe-down is complete dry the piece off with a dry cloth and you’re ready to begin – YAY!
  5. I set up my painting area so I have plenty of room to move around and be sure that all of my work space is covered by a drop cloth of some kind. I dip my man’s sock into the stain dabbing off any excess and begin wiping it onto the furniture in long even strokes (you could also use a foam brush for this step), when painting furniture always paint in the direction of the original wood grain, not against.
  6. After you have finished putting the first coat on all of the pieces you are finished for the day. At this stage it’s not going to look good at all, don’t worry, it will get there!!! I allow 12-24 hours between coats, so I will generally return to the piece the same time the next day to apply the second coat, this makes it a great after work project or naptime project for all you fellow mamas out there!
  7. On this particular piece I applied four coats (I think lol it may have been three, if it looks good after three than you’re good). I must note that I do not sand in between coats when painting or when applying my top coat, many tutorials (and the outside of the top coat can lol) will tell you to do this, I just found that it was an extra step I did not need but feel free to add it if you want, it won’t hurt! After your final coat is applied and dry you are ready to start your top coat. Take a black foam brush and begin applying the clear coat in an even layer using even brush strokes, be mindful not to leave behind any bubbles (sometimes the polyacrylic will do this, just go over the area with your brush) and not to allow the clear coat to pool at the edges of the piece. I generally apply three top coats, allowing 12-24 hours dry time in between coats.
  8. The final step is replacing the hardware. For this particular piece, I purchased new pulls (here is a link to the exact ones I used, available at Lowes), but if the original pulls are in good shape simply clean and reuse them or update them with some spray paint (I use a Rustoleum satin finish spray paint when repainting my pulls).
  9. DO YOUR HAPPY DANCE, YOU’RE DONE!!! Revel in the glory of your awesomeness and be sure to tell everyone I MADE THIS!!!

befafgel

 

Quick Greek Marinade

SimplySchulze

I love Mediterranean food, Greek food in particular. Just about every other week I grill up some chicken breasts to use on salads or to throw together a quick lunch for J or myself. This is a quick Greek style marinade I came up with that can be used on just about any protein and uses ingredients that are generally always in the house, it’s nothing fancy, but that’s what I love about it!

*Money/Time Saving Tip: Combine meat and marinade ahead of time and freeze, when you are ready to grill simply refrigerator-thaw the night before! I like to do this when I find a family pack of chicken on sale.


Ingredients 

  • 1 lb. chicken (or other protein)
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or 2 cloves fresh garlic, in the interest of it being  a “quick” marinade I usually opt for the powder)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

 

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl or freezer bag

2. add chicken or other protein and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to overnight (for fish or shrimp marinate only 30 mins).

3. When protein is finished marinating I throw it on the grill and voila, done! I usually cut up my favorite veggies and make a quick Greek salad, yum! This recipe is delicious and is FAST so it keeps my squishy baby happy, we even had time for him to take a selfie! 🙂

Squishy Baby P says hi!!!