Category Archives: Before & After

Teal of a Deal


When life gives you a free table, you pick a wild color to paint it because, well, why not?  But let me start at the beginning.

This guy was posted online for free so we quickly snatched him up even though we had no idea where to put him.  Yes, he had been through some tough love over the years but I saw past the battle scars and knew an exciting second life was in store for him.

Table_Before2   Table_Before1

The table had great lines and would be the perfect candidate to experiment with a new spray paint color.  So, what color did we decide to go with?  Drum roll please…


More, specifically, Krylon’s Catalina Mist found at Michael’s.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go teal or mint green and this color was a perfect combination of the two.


I breeze through the steps to spray painting furniture below but if you want a more detailed step-by-step, see our furniture painting guide here.

First, I sanded the table down a little.  The top had a few water stains and marks that I wanted to even out.  Then I put the staff to work… err… asked the hubby for his “painting expertise.”

Next, a little prime action.


It doesn’t need to be a solid coat- just enough to cover the wood to help the final paint color adhere better.


Then, on with the light teal!  Here you can see the table after the first coat.  We ultimately sprayed two coats.


Next, a little distressing to accentuate the lines and detailed legs and add some character.  Catalina Mist is my new favorite teal color!  It’s the perfect medium teal tone- not too light or dark.  I love the mint colored furniture trend but always worry it will make the piece look more fit for a nursery than for our baby-free house so this was a great compromise.


Here’s my question? Exactly how many shades of teal are there? Julie made me go to a craft store (it should be a felony to drag your husband to those black holes of boredom and useless, low-quality junk) to pick it out because apparently Home Depot’s selection just wasn’t fru-fru enough, and all I can say is at least she wasn’t trying to pick a fabric for a pillow or something.

DO or DIY | Teal Table Makeover DO or DIY | Teal Table Makeover DO or DIY | Teal Table Makeover



Filed under Before & After

Kicked in the Brass


If you would’ve told me a year ago, even a week ago, that I would be refinishing brass instead of antiquing it or painting it oil rubbed bronze, I would’ve called you crazy.  I’m a child of the 80s and have thus seen way too much brass in my day so I never thought I’d be embracing it so soon.

Until I acquired this desk.

And painted it blue (more on that here).

Once it was painted, the hardware looked really out of place.  The modern look of the blue was screaming for some shiny hardware.  And who was I to tell it no?

So, I set off on a mission to turn the naturally-antiqued brass hardware into their former gleaming selves.

Attempt 1

I researched a few proven brass cleaning methods using everyday household items to save a trip to the store.

I found a method that only required a mix of salt and lemon juice.

Materials Needed:

1/4 cup salt

1/2 lemon


Toothbrush or old rag.  I used these set of Oxo cleaning brushes I had on-hand.

After measuring out the ingredients, the paste looked like this:

I dipped each of the handles in the paste, covered them, then scrubbed away.

Here’s how they turned out:

Yup.  It did nothing.  Onto the next option.

Attempt 2

I needed a stronger solution so I turned to an option that used vinegar.

Materials Needed:

1/4 cup salt

1/4 cup vinegar (I used red wine vinegar because it’s what we had in the pantry, supposedly any type of vinegar would do)

1/4 cup flour


Toothbrush or old rag

Here’s how the paste turned out:

And it proceeded to stink up the whole house.  I’m still gagging from the memory of the aroma.  I got to work scrubbing again.

Aaand… here’s the after.  Some of the tarnish was coming off but it also seemed to be turning red in spots.  Hmm… not exactly the goal.

Chris was convinced that we just needed to let it sit in the vinegar longer, which brings me to our next try.

Attempt 3

Materials Needed:


2 ziploc bags

We poured in the remainder of the red wine vinegar.

Moved the hardware to a ziploc bag (double bagged).  And let the bag sit overnight.

The next day, we were greeted by hardware that had now turned a salmon color.  Oooh boy.

At this point, I was ready to give up and just spray paint them back to a shiny brass state.  Obviously, our attempts were only making it worse.  Before I gave up, I had one last card to play.

Attempt 4 (seriously)

I had heard Brasso worked pretty well.  Then again, I also read that the lemon juice/salt paste worked just as well so I didn’t have much hope in this alternative but what did I have to lose at this point?

I picked up a bottle of Brasso from Home Depot and set to work for a fourth time.

Unfortunately, my camera and I are feuding at the moment and it seems to have deleted all the pictures I took of the process.  It’s not too hard (and is also written on the back of the bottle).  Just squeeze some Brasso onto an old rag then wipe onto the brass object.  Give it a few good rubs then wipe clean with a clean, dry rag.  Be sure to wear gloves!  A step I completely overlooked… I can’t seem to find any serious damage on my hands but they definitely tingled afterwards.  Oops.

Presto.  It worked and quickly at that!  I was shocked.  Why oh why didn’t I try the Brasso first?  Live and learn I guess.

There were still a few stubborn salmon-colored spots so Chris took out his Dremel and polished it out.

Look at those things shine!

Remember, they looked like this just a few minutes prior (shudders):

They completed the look of the desk perfectly.  Third Fourth time’s the charm!

And it looks great on the desk!

To see our transformation of the desk, click here.

So, to recap the results:

Lemon/Salt Paste:

Vinegar/Salt/Flour Paste:

Vinegar Left Overnight:

Brasso and Dremmel Polishing:


I like to consider myself something of a metallurgy hobbyist- I’ve studied the properties of everything from your “everyday” metals such as steel and aluminum to the more exotic metals such as titanium. I can give materials-selection advice based on the requirements of strength properties, weight, and cost. I know all the best methods of adhesion (welding, brazing, soldering), corrosion protection, and care. The problem is that nobody uses brass anymore. At all. So no, I don’t know anything about brass.

When Julie came to me asking how to clean brass, I assumed I knew- vinegar is highly acidic and therefore an excellent cleaning solution. I don’t normally soak metals in anything, but the last time I soaked brass in vinegar, it came out with a really bright finish. What I failed to notice was the amount of tarnish on the brass- the first time, the brass was completely covered, and a good soak simply ate away at the buildup. This time, there was a limited amount of surface corrosion, and once the vinegar wore it away, it began eating into the metal itself. Oops.

Anyway, lesson learned- don’t waste your time with home remedies. I had to bust out my Dremel and polishing wheel to buff out a few pink spots, but ultimately we ended up with some nice, bright handles.

Also, I’m sticking to steel from now on.


Filed under Before & After, Easy DIY Projects, Office

Our Latest Campaign


While most Americans spent their Fourth of July swimming, grilling, watching fireworks, and relaxing, we took on our latest project.  We just wouldn’t feel like our normal, American selves otherwise!

Our office has been lacking storage for awhile.  I was a big fan of sawhorse tables a year ago and snatched one up on sale at IKEA.  I later realized it offered nothing in terms of storage and was not the best solution for housing our computer and its mess of cords.

Get ready to see the terrifying before shot of our office.  Ready?

What a mess.

Something had to be done and I knew it would all start with a new desk.

So, I’ve begun to feel a little political lately.  And, no, not because Washington’s gearing up for the next election, but because of my new furniture obsession: campaign desks.

There’s been a recent resurgence in these glories from the past.  I’ve seen a lot of these desks painted in bright colors, which is just the thing to juxtapose the shiny metal hardware, classic to this desk.

Sources from left to right: 1) Modernhaus, 2) Dayka Robinson Designs, 3) Centsational Girl

Yes, this would be the solution.  I descended upon CraigsList and soon found this beaut for $50.

I brought her home to Chris’ immediate disgust.  In his mind, I wasted $50 for someone else’s garbage.  He couldn’t see past the outdated wood, tarnished brass, and a bottom that wasn’t quite adhered all the way.

So, it wasn’t perfect but I knew it was just the diamond in the rough that our office needed.

Now the question was what color to paint it.  At first, I thought white.  Then black.  Then kelly green.

We ended up going with a gray-blue color, after Chris and I spent 30 minutes in the aisle of Home Depot debating green vs blue (he won that round).

We bought 2 cans of Rust-oleum’s Primer and 3 cans of Rust-oleum’s Satin Slate Blue spray paint and set to work.

We’ve walked through how to spray paint furniture before but thought we’d break it down into 8 easy steps for you all (note: steps 6-8 are simply to stress the necessity of several coats- we used three).

Materials Needed:

  • Sander
  • Sanding Block (to use in tight corners that the sander can’t reach)
  • Damp Rag
  • Vacuum or Shop Vac (optional but helpful to clean dust from tight spots after sanding)
  • Primer
  • Spray Paint
  • Mask (important to wear for spraying safety!)


Julie has come home with some pretty odd items in the past, but this was the first time she ever showed up with something that may have been better-off used as an anchor. After all, it weighed close to a full ton and had clearly already been submerged at least once. The worst part is that she was convinced $50 was a good deal, while I was convinced she had just wasted $50.

After arguing for awhile, I decided to just give up, which apparently included giving up my entire 4th of July, too. I was sentenced to a day of spray-painting, and I hate spray-painting.

The first order of business was to repair the wood. I very seriously think this desk may have been in a flood at some point, as the bottom trim has some pretty nasty water damage. The wood/particleboard was warped and half the trim was falling off, and it looked terrible.

First, I had to remove all the trim and sand/chisel the swollen wood off so that the trim could sit flush again.

Next, I had to reattach the trim. I used wood glue to ensure a nice, tight bond between the desk and the trim.

Finally, I drove a few finishing nails in and patched the holes.

After priming and painting one coat, I let the paint dry for a few hours. Before laying down another coat, I sanded out all the rough spots, drips, and bubbles:

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I eventually sprayed three coats, and now I can’t feel my right index finger. Since we don’t like to worry about furniture much, I brushed one coat of urethane on the top to waterproof it and to help keep wear and tear to a minimum.

This desk made me give up my day off, but it also allowed me to have a desk that I didn’t have to trip over to get to the patio. And Julie has another piece of furniture to put on Pinterest.

After (hers… if you couldn’t guess).

And every drawer deserves cute liner.  I’m not sure where all the awesome shelf paper has gone but there is definitely a slim market nowadays.  After being let down by Target and Container Store, I finally found the perfect option at Home Depot of all places.  It’s called Talisman Gray by Con-Tact Grip Prints.

I have to say, I’m pretty happy how the blue turned out, even though I was convinced I would only be happy with kelly green.  Just don’t tell Chris he was right.  I’ll never hear the end of it.

Stay tuned for our adventure into the world of polishing brass.  It was quite the disaster adventure.


Filed under Before & After, Office

Shut the Front Door


You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to use that title, although it’s, perhaps, a line that’s a little overused now (to the point that I heard a spin-off line in which a woman exclaimed, “close the front door!”).  Hm, not quite the same effect.

Moving on… our front door was in sad shape.  The stain had worn down to nearly the raw wood and the rough North Texas weather had started taking its toll on it.  In my excitement over starting the project, I failed to take before pictures but managed to scrounge up this picture from Halloween.

So, although the spider and it’s enormous web are probably the most exciting thing you’ve laid eyes on lately, the door is not.  I imagined if the door was alive, it would sigh a lot and look downtrodden like Eeyore, not exactly what we were going for in terms of curb appeal.

See the resemblance?  We needed to inject this baby with some happy pills-  that’s right, it was time to get our stain on.

So while Chris will walk through the steps of refacing a stained door in his post, I would like to take this chance to exclaim to the world how awesome my husband is!  If this outburst of affection seems random, it is.  This is me STILL groveling my way out of making him stain the door Dark Walnut then proceeding to hate the color and make him refinish it in a different stain.  Oops.

I continue to remind Chris that with a first house comes first-time projects comes trial and error.  Well, it’s not my fault that this house has been a full series of trial and errors… mostly when it comes down to selecting a color.  Chris jokes that the entire house has been repainted twice and I’m starting on the third round.  Which is NOT true.  The living room, guest bedrooms, kitchen, and dining room have all only been painted ONCE (although I may want to repaint 3 of those 5 rooms already).  Hey, live and learn, right?

Round One.  We used Minwax Dark Walnut stain from Home Depot which we used on a pair of shelves we built in our bathroom.  It looks amazing in the bathroom- a rich, dark walnut color that really compliments the rest of the bathroom.

On the front door, however, it was WAY too dark.  It lost all of its rich walnut color and instead looked like an uneven coat of black.  And while I am obsessed with black-painted doors right now, it wasn’t the look I was going for.  See?

Needless to say, a redo was in store.  I let Chris have some time to recover from the first round before we started on the second round.  What I originally thought was going to be 2 weeks became 2 months.  Finally, I couldn’t take the agony of an ugly front door any longer.  The time had come.

Round Two.  This time we used Minwax Early American stain from Home Depot.

Don’t be fooled by the picture of the stain on Home Depot’s website.  The stain has more red in it than the picture shows.  The results are fantastic!  Our sad, depressed door went from sad Eeyore to an even more sad black hole, to a beautiful, rich, welcoming entrance.  The color really compliments our oil-rubbed bronze door handle as well.

Isn’t she a beaut?  Now it’s time to do the inside!

Oh, but first I’ll let Chris have his turn to whine about detail each step of the process.


I absolutely love Texas, but I have to admit that the summers really are the worst.  I grew up in South Texas where it’s hot and humid, and now I live in North Texas where it’s hot and dry… and it’s affected the way I think. For example, I took a few courses in materials science in college and when we discussed the various properties, all I could think was “yeah, but how does it stand up to the Texas heat?” It’s a climate that influences every decision you make- what kind of car you buy, what color clothes you wear, even which direction your house faces- which also why you learn how to refinish a front door.

If you’re smart, enjoy the outdoors, and live in Texas, you’ll make sure your backyard is shaded in the afternoon, which means your front door gets the worst of the summer sun. I refinished my parents’ front door a few years ago, but the door was only a few years old and really just needed a fresh coat of urethane; maybe half a day later, I had it back on the hinges looking as good as new. My door, however, was another story: it had been neglected for decades, and it looked like 100 miles of bad road. Something needed to be done but this being Texas, I’d only have a small window in which to do it.

Ah, springtime in Texas: the most beautiful time in the most beautiful place (most of you probably consider this time of year to be late winter). Also, the time when you’d better get all of your outdoor projects out of the way, because in 2 months you’ll be stuck inside until Thanksgiving. I had an excellent Saturday planned: hit the trails on my mountain bike with a friend for a few hours, recover with a few beers, and then back home to begin my summer lawn prep (if you want a green lawn in the summer here, you better start no later than March). Well, I was half right: I was greeted by Julie who announced that I was “just in time to help with the front door,” which meant that she had the camera ready to take pictures of me redoing the door by myself.

I got to work removing all the hardware. I got the handle and deadbolts off and popped the pins out of the hinges. Once I had the door free, I set it down (outer side facing upward) on two sawhorses. I got a chemical stripper that I brushed on to pull the old varnish off. Using a paint scraper, I worked my way down through the varnish and lightly sanded the wood to get a smooth finish. Since Julie and I decided we liked a dark walnut stain, there was no need to go any further. I applied the new stain as evenly as possibly and it was dark. Like, black. At this point, I was running out of daylight and hesitantly applied one coat of urethane to prevent further deterioration of the wood, knowing I’d just have to strip it off later. What a waste of time!

Fast-forward a few weeks, and I was running out of nice weather. I decided it was time to re-refinish the front door, but this time I was going to do it right. I got up early (for a Saturday, anyway), set the door up, popped in my headphones, and fired up the sander. Again.


The first order of business was to strip off the varnish using Jasco Premium Paint and Epoxy Remover from Home Depot. Surprisingly, this is pretty easy. I applied a chemical stripper that brushes on as a gel (or non-Newtonian fluid, if you prefer). I let it sit for a few minutes before using a paint scraper to turn the old varnish into little piles of goop that I sucked up with a shop-vac before smoothing it over with a sander.

Some tight corners required a sanding block.

Now, let me show you where the two projects differ:

The first time I applied the stain, I didn’t want to go too dark. I tried brushing it on and wiping it off, but this turned out really uneven because it relies on a uniform amount of stain and soak time before wiping in order to be even, and it’s really difficult. So now it was uneven… and still too dark.

After the stain.

After the varnish.


After removing the varnish again, I had to strip off the old stain. I didn’t have to do this the first time around since we were going with a darker stain (and the wood was so faded, anyway), and I didn’t want to do it this time around… because it’s a LOT of work. I started sanding with 60-grit sandpaper, and when I wore that out I moved up to 80-grit, then 120, then 150… and finally 220. About three hours later, I had clean wood with no “dark walnut” junk on it. And my head was rattling from that stupid sander.

This time I decided to use wood conditioner (Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner from Home Depot), which supposedly makes the stain go on more evenly or something. Given how terrible the last round looked, I was willing to spend a few bucks and give it a whirl. It definitely came out more even, but I also used a slightly different method of applying the stain itself.

Finally, it was time for the new stain. I was a little nervous at this point because I really didn’t want to do this again, but I also didn’t want a door that looked like it was refinished by a rookie. I decided to stain one section of wood at a time, hoping that the joints would hide any unevenness. I also decided that this was a naturally lighter stain, so letting it soak longer would give it a really rich color. Not wiping it off at all would allow for a more even finish.

After the stain.

Applying the varnish.

The finished product.

After letting everything dry and doing a few touch-ups, I was finally satisfied with the finish. There are a few places where different types of wood were used and therefore absorbed the stain differently, but there’s really nothing I could do about that, so I’m not too worried.

Two coats of satin urethane later, I was hanging it back up and reinstalling the hardware. We had one brass deadbolt, but some faux oil rubbed bronze spray paint solved that dilemma. And the finished product:

The best part of this project is that Julie can’t saturate it with pictures of the cat. Right?


It seems our little Chloe the cat is becoming quite the celeb.  Did you spot her cameo in one of the above shots? If you missed her, never fear, you know I took a dozen close-ups of her supervising us from the window.


Filed under Before & After, Front Yard

Two Chairs in a Pod


You may recall our previous transformation of Chris’ great grandfather’s chair from its old, worn state to the fresh, bold face lift we gave it.  To be fair, the chair hadn’t been retouched since it was first purchased decades ago (we think it was the 60s) so it needed some serious  lovin’.  What a difference a little fabric can make!  Read about the metamorphosis here.

Well, we not only lucked out with this chair once, but twice.  It had a matching, slightly-smaller sibling that soon made the long journey from Chris’ relatives place in Tennessee to Texas.  We welcomed it with open arms… arms covered in fabric that is.  It was in better condition than the white chair, but needed some updating as well.  Take a look.

This chair was about to go from fabulously pink (Chris’ favorite) to my favorite blue/tan pattern from Calico Corners called Lisbon Linen in indigo (ah, such a beaut!).

I painted the legs black on this chair as well using Rust-oleum’s Semi-Gloss black paint from Home Depot.

Then off to the upholsterer it went.  A week later, our two chairs were reunited and our cat couldn’t be happier with another place for her daily nap.

Another day, another upholstered chair.  I would say my upholstery obsession has died down since but we all know that’s not true in the slightest.

The chairs seemed so empty by themselves and I knew throw pillows were just the solution.  In my pillow search, I fell in love with these pillows from Ethan Allen (his here and hers here).

But at $109 each, I was not about to sprint to the store to buy these.  Instead, I decided to create my own.  I wanted the burlap look but not the burlap feel so I found some soft cotton fabric that had the burlap look, similar to this one at Joann‘s that was only about $7 per yard (about $5.60 with my Joann’s coupon).

I then got to work sewing a pillow form to fit over a 12″ pillow insert.  And by “I got to work,” I mean, I enlisted my in-laws to help me since the minute my hand touches a sewing machine, all hell seems to break loose.

After the pillow form was done, I stenciled out block letters for the “His” and “Hers” copy on the pillows then used black fabric paint to fill it in.  It doesn’t have that “worn” copy look that the Ethan Allen pillows have but I’m hoping after a few washes, it may get there.  And hey, for the $10 investment in paint and fabric (I already had the pillow forms from old throw pillows), it still beats the $218 price tag for the alternative option.


My wife has become completely obsessed with chairs, and I have no idea why. She’s apparently convinced that there is some sort of urgent seating shortage in our house, and action must be taken immediately. The relationship between me and my great-grandfather’s chair has been discussed previously, but when Julie found out it was actually part of a “his and hers” set, she leapt at the opportunity to claim it without considering how we’d get it back from Tennessee, but fortunately my mom was willing to drag it to Texas for us (thanks, Mom!).  Julie even bought the fabric about six months before we even saw the chair.

Anyway, I’m not sure it was in our house for a full 24 hours before we had our upholsterer pick it up (who, by the way, also wondered we we have so many chairs). When we got it back and placed it next to the other one… oh, no… it was a totally different shade. We initially assumed that the first chair had been faded in the summer by our skylight, but we later realized it was just two different color batches, so we put a table between them and, well, whatever.

In addition to Julie’s chair obsession, she’s also obsessed with putting stuff on the chairs. This time, she decided she wanted pillows with price tags even the Pentagon would question. When she showed them to me, it was pretty obvious that there was really nothing special about them except the outrageous price, and my inner DIYer was convinced I could make something just as good myself. I may have been slightly mistaken.

I had previously borrowed my parents’ sewing machine for something I can’t remember, but I had never really tried it out. I had never set up a sewing machine before, and admittedly had no clue what I was doing. I looked at the instruction manual, which turned out to be the biggest waste of paper since the Carter Administration. I consider myself much more technically-inclined than most people, and I also feel that I have the ability to make sense of even the worst explanations, but these instructions were completely beyond me. What’s even worse is that this same machine is probably a breeze for every little-old-lady that’s ever tried to use one. Great.

As luck would have it, though, my parents came up for a visit only a few weeks later. I enlisted my dad’s help and showed him the pile of broken thread and bent needles, and he just popped open the machine, told me I had something set up wrong (duh), called me an amateur, rewired it or something, and within minutes had it whirring away making pillows. Thanks, Dad!

I really like both these chairs, even though no one really sits in them (I won’t mention the cat’s frequent use of them because unlike Julie, I’m not obsessed with that animal’s every move). If nothing else, they at least give some definition to this huge, awkwardly-spaced living room.

Now, see our results.


C’mon… how cute is she?  How could you not be obsessed with her?


Filed under Before & After, Living Room

Mirror Mirror


You may remember about a year ago, I publicly declared my love for sunburst mirrors (read more on that here).  After that post, I picked up this beauty at Garden Ridge for $49.99.

A few months later, I shockingly discovered that my mom had purchased the exact same mirror after reading that post and similarly thought her life was missing a sunburst mirror.  Good taste runs in the family, I suppose.

The mirror sat on our bedroom floor for a few weeks as I waited for us to buy the dresser it would hang above.  Well, I got tired of walking around a mirror and the constant paw tracks from our cat walking across it and gazing at herself (she’s the vainest cat I know), so I decided to just pick a spot, hang the mirror, and if I had to move it after the dresser was in, so be it.  P.S. we still have yet to find a dresser, nine months later, so we’re still good.

A new dilemma has arisen, however.

At first, I was convinced I wanted to introduce antique bronze into our room through the bay window’s chandelier and the mirror.  I was convinced that different finishes would help make the room feel cozier and have the “collected over time” look.  Yes, yes, I had been watching a lot of Dear Genevieve on HGTV when this idea popped in my head.  And while I adore Genevieve and want her to make over everything in my life, I just couldn’t buy in on the non-matching finishes.

Everything else in the room was either iron/oil rubbed bronze or brushed nickel.  I just couldn’t bring myself to accept a third finish.  The final verdict came in last week when I decided to spray paint the bay window chandelier from antique bronze to oil rubbed bronze (see that transformation here).

It looked great and further convinced me that the mirror had to change too.  I could either spray it oil rubbed bronze or go the silver route.  I decided to go with silver as that side of the room needed more of the color.  But not just any silver, I wanted something more antique-looking rather than contemporary.

Hm, now for the big question.  Could an antique silver look be achieved via spray paint?

The only guide I could find online was on eHow (read here) and it was for painting frames antique silver and it was a text-only guide, no pictures.  Frames were a close enough subject to my mirror but the no picture thing had me a little nervous.  How would this turn out??

Well, there was only one way to find out.  If I didn’t like it, I could always spray it back to a different solid color.  So, here are the steps I took to achieve the final look:

Supplies Needed:

  • Paintbrush (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Rag (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Cup of water filled halfway (that can be tossed afterwards)
  • Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in Silver
  • Flat black spray paint.  The eHow guide recommended gray spray paint for for a more natural aged look and black paint for a more intentional/stylized antique look but the flat black paint I used turned out pretty light once applied and took a few coats to really show so I recommend using black.  I just don’t see gray paint showing up at all.

  1. Dust mirror to ensure surface is clean.
  2. Tape up the mirror part to ensure no paint hits it.                       
  3. Spray paint the mirror with the metallic silver spray paint.                                                                     We sprayed ours two coats with an hour of drying time between coats.  After the second coat, wait for the mirror (or whatever you’re spraying) to completely dry before the next step.  We waited an hour.                                                                                Look at all that fabulous silver grass!  Chris- watch out, you may wake up with a backyard of silver-coated grass one day.  Maybe not the greenest move but, man, what a look that would be!
  4. Fill a cup halfway with water then spray flat black spray paint into the cup for 10 seconds (this could get a little messy so I recommend wearing gloves).  Stir paint/water to mix it.  The liquid shouldn’t be too thick.   
  5. Dip paintbrush in paint/water mixture and apply to surface.  Paint evenly on surface.  I recommend splitting the total area you’re painting into sections as you will need to move quickly with the next step.  For example, I painted two rays on the sunburst mirror at a time then completed the next step before painting again.  
  6. Wait for the paint to dry for one minute then blot dry with a rag.  
  7. If the painted section still looks a little light, go back with paint then re-blot.  The first few sections I painted I had to go over two or three times to get the look I was going for.                                                      
  8. When you’re done painting/blotting, let the mirror dry.  I let mine dry for 4 hours before hanging it up.  The eHow guide recommended finishing with a gloss coat but I think the matte look I achieved after blotting was more authentic looking so I didn’t apply a final gloss coat.  If you want a shinier finish, however, I recommend the gloss coat step.                                                      

And there you have it!  From manufactured-looking bronze to unique, antique silver.  The mirror looks great and fits nicely into the overall look of our room.  The technique didn’t take that long and looks pretty genuine.  Look out house, I could be going on an antique-silver rampage soon!


Something has really been bugging me lately. It’s kept me up at night and is all I can think about during the day. I can’t live this lie anymore: I must disclose something and I want it to be known so there is no confusion, so no intentions are misconstrued, so that truth may prevail: when Julie says she or we spray painted something, what she really means is I spray painted it. I admit, she helps a lot when brushes are involved, but she’s never painted anything via propellant.

With that said, I was growing tired of faux oil-rubbed bronze finishes- the $7 cans of spray paint are easy to use and ergonomic, but unless you’re going for a nice splattered look they’re strictly a one-time-use can. So when Julie told me she wanted to try antique silver using a brush, I was intrigued- I’ve become something of a rattle-can expert, but I’ve yet to experiment with alternative finishes.

The first order of business was to spray the frame a basic silver. I chose Rustoleum Bright Coat Metallic Finish in silver because it was cheap, and I had used it in the past with great results- I repainted a handrail at work with it and apart from the fumes, my coworkers were none-the-wiser. Anyway, it laid a nice, even first coat (short bursts were key) and I decided a second coat would be necessary, even if we weren’t “antiquing” it. I strongly recommend wearing gloves, though; my fingers looked like the Tin Man’s after only a few seconds.

We let the paint dry overnight and then went back to attempt the antique look. Julie had found some tutorial online, but we found we had to make a few modifications. For starters, don’t spray the black paint into the water at full blast (just a tip). Second, use cheap flat black paint; the sprayed finish quality and sheen are irrelevant when you’re diluting it in water, so we bought the 99 cent variety- waste not! Finally, the tutorial said to wipe the surface after applying the black paint/water solution, but we found dabbing it gave it a more authentic look, while wiping made it look… well, wiped.

Generally, I’m not big on these kind of projects (and couldn’t care less about decorative mirrors) but this one turned out to be pretty interesting. There’s a certain art to hand-made faux finishes that interests me, and the results for this one drastically exceeded my expectations, as I fully expected Julie to give up and ask me to paint it bronze.

So, what do you think of the transformation?  Have we inspired you to go on an antique silver crusade as well?


Filed under Before & After, Master Bedroom

The Dark Night (Stand)


I’ve been on a mission ever since we moved into the house.  And, no, it’s not driving Chris insane with the never-ending list of projects.  Two words (or is it one word? I can never figure it out): Night stands.

The before wasn’t pretty.  So much so that I completely forgot to take pictures of what we had been working with since we got married: an $8 IKEA table (literally, $8).  We seriously walked into IKEA, perused the 5 million square feet building, and found the cheapest, elevated, flat surface to bring home.  Thank you Mr. LACK.

This was a proud moment for Chris- convincing me to walk out with the cheapest table in the store.  While, for me, a very low point.  Mostly because we went with the black-brown option (is black-brown really fooling anyone into thinking it looks like wood??).

My side boasted of a rattan side table passed down from my parents’ attic.  I had used it since my apartment days of college.  It worked fine.  I had two baskets underneath to store all my junk.  Perfect-o.  Well, sum up my horror for the LACK table and it just about equals Chris’ feelings for my night stand.  I think it was mostly due to the fact that Chloe (our cat) used it as her scratching post (hey, better than any of the thousand upholstered chairs we’ve seemed to acquire).

Only one friend could solve our problem.  Craigs List.  But how Craigs List failed me!  After what took months (seriously… months!), I finally stumbled upon a set of low-priced, beat-up night stands that I could wave my magical wand of spray paint and sandpaper at and churn out a handsome set of furniture.  I’m still shocked that we answered the ad because this is the picture we were working from.

A little tone-on-tone wood never deterred me though!  $40 later and the back seat of my car featured these two fellas.

This picture does them a little more justice.  The tops were a little rough- worn varnish, scratches, blue paint splotches, oh my!

And look at those gold drawer pulls!  I couldn’t wait to tear those things off.

But the best part was the bonus prize we found stuffed behind one of the drawers.  From Valentine’s Day cards, to old checks, to trash, we found it all (quickly shredded and disposed of, you’re welcome, sellers).  All except one piece, that is.

Craigs List sellers beware: make sure all your personal items are out of the item you’re selling or your grocery list could end up on some random person’s blog… like this.

Yum, looks good!  I love whatever “salad stuff” is, but seriously, who puts a question mark after wine?  Wine is not a question, people!


There are a lot of outrageously-priced items out there: jeans, a decent cup of coffee, used Hondas, etc. And, apparently, beat up furniture. Julie and I hit Craigslist at least once a day looking for a good deal on used furniture and quite frankly, a fair price is not to be had very often. I blame HGTV for creating a false demand and running up the prices.

Anyway, we finally stumbled across a pair of night stands that we thought might have potential. We both had a certain look in mind that we couldn’t quite describe but we knew it when we saw it, and we finally saw it. A quick jaunt to the other end of town, a bit of shoe-horning into the trunk, and we were merrily on our way home with our latest project.

First things first- cleaning. These things were in sad shape- dog hair, paint stains, trash, you name it. It was hard to get a proper idea of what condition they were really in until we wiped them down a few times and even hit one with a shop vac, but we soon realized that we had some work to do.

Next, we had to strip the old finish for two reasons. One, the tops were incredibly rough and, obviously, we wanted them smooth. Second, there was a high-sheen varnish on them that would need to be stripped in order for the new paint to adhere. We started with a handheld sanding block to roughen the finish enough to paint:

The tops, on the other hand, required the power sander to get through years of abuse, resulting in scraped-off varnish in some places and build-up in others:

After sanding the hell out of them, we still had discoloration in the wood, but whatever- it was smooth, and we were painting over it anyway.

Now for my least favorite part: painting. I hate painting. Whether it’s a brush or a rattle-can, I can’t stand it. It was too cold to spray outside, so I had to spray in the garage and even with a mask on, the fumes were overwhelming.

Anyway, these took quite a bit more paint than I expected. The dark wood didn’t cover as easily as I’d hoped, and I ended up doing three coats, sanding lightly between each one to ensure a smooth finish in the end.

The difference between wood and paint can be seen here:

For tips on spray painting furniture, check out our previous post on that here.

After the first coat:

The drastic difference between one and two coats:

Want to know why I hate painting? Because it makes my hand swell up like a balloon! I told Julie I needed hazard pay from now on.

Finally, I was done painting and Julie could begin “distressing.” The one on the left is painted, the one on the right has been distressed:


As a finishing touch, I decided to apply a coat of urethane to the tops. After all, these were going to be functional and quite frankly, we don’t baby our furniture… and I don’t want to paint them again.

We realized after everything was done that we had forgotten about the handles. After spending what seemed like an eternity in the cabinet hardware aisle at Home Depot (I’d rather paint than be in that stupid aisle) and only to return home empty-handed, I got the idea to just spray the original handles with oil-rubbed-bronze-look spray paint and call it a day. Fortunately, Julie loved the look as it kept the original style of the night stands but also updated the finish. Problem solved!

These night stands turned out so well we were tempted to sell them (as we patted ourselves on the back for such a professional finish), but we assume at the rate we find furniture on Craigslist, a deal like these will come by around the same time we next see Halley’s Comet.



Ah, white distressed.  My favorite.  I’d like to point out right now, that I’ve gone this entire post without using the word “shabby chic.”  Ha!  It can be done.

The bottom space of the night stand was perfectly suited to putting a basket to hide all our books/magazines… I guess I should say “my” books/magazines as Chris’ aversion to reading outdoes his aversion to our cat 10:1.

Oh, and the color we used is Rust-oleum’s Satin Heirloom White spray paint, found at Home Depot.  My new favorite color by far.

Stay tuned for a sneak peek into more of our master bedroom soon (aka the left side of this picture).


Filed under Before & After, Master Bedroom