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Faux Marble Countertops

So I have this friend.  Her name is Jesse.  She’s really awesome.  I might’ve mentioned her before…like here and here.  Before we were “friends”, I used to see her at church and I thought “that girl is so pretty.”  Case in point (don’t kill me Jesse!):
[This is around about when we first met...and this pic was totally stolen from Facebook.]
  She has this amazing short hair that only a few people can pull off which automatically makes you really cool and a semi-shy person like me very in awe and slightly intimidated, not wanting to risk a “Hi, I’m Sheena!” for fear that I could creep her out.  Thankfully, we started talking one night whilst our husbands had a meeting together and a budding friendship began.  She’s an avid DIY-er like me and this is the story of her kitchen countertops, previously (and technically, still) laminate gone marble of the faux variety.
before & after - jjs kitchen 

You can see her whole kitchen transformation
here but today, we’re focusing on those gorgeous countertops.  As you can see from the ‘before’ photo, her tops used to be a not-so-wonderful shade of boring cream with a matching backsplash.  Before painting, Jesse ripped off the backsplash, saying hasta la vista for good.  Then she gave the countertops a light sanding and rolled on two coats of Zinsser primer with a foam roller.  When that was dry, she rolled on a dark charcoal latex paint as her base color.
2014-03-25 20.47.39

To achieve the faux marble look, she followed this tutorial by Danika Herrick at Gorgeous Shiny Things.  For the veining, Jesse used Folk Art acrylic paint (black, white, and a few shades of gray) she got at Walmart and added Floetrol to it to extend it’s drying time. 
photo (6)
This was a really important step.  Acrylic paint tends to dry really fast so by adding the Floetrol, she had more time to work with it, change parts she didn’t like, move it around more, etc…

Here are some in-process shots:  2014-03-26 20.09.59

2014-03-26 20.09.10 

2014-03-26 20.11.17

2014-03-26 20.12.12

After all the marbling was done and dry, Jesse poured EnviroTex Lite over all the counters to seal them and add that amazing shine.

Here’s Jesse to explain that part:

Let’s talk Envirotex Lite. This stuff is sticky & messy, kinda like tree sap, but oilier & more fluid. I recommend having a partner, a timer, lots of disposable stir sticks, foam brushes, latex gloves, disposable mixing containers, and lots of newspaper lying around to set sticky items on. The directions recommend using a small piece of stiff paper to facilitate the spreading of the epoxy once it is poured. I’d recommend a small piece of stiff plastic instead. Paper quickly soaks up the epoxy & becomes flimsy & useless.

First, I spread newspaper on the floor & taped it over the lower cabinets, under the countertop ledge to catch drips.  I still got a couple of drips on the cabinets - do your prep work.  It makes the process so much easier, especially once the stuff starts dripping everywhere!

What I did wrong:  I started with the largest counter space (2x6) & didn’t mix enough epoxy to cover the whole thing. So, instead of letting it self-level, I was trying to stretch it too thin (which left it uneven & drying too fast), spreading with a piece of floppy paper (did not work), then mixing another batch as fast as I could to cover all the bad spots. When I poured the new mixture next to the partly dry mixture, it created striations in the final effect, and slight ridges. Also, since I was dealing with a limited amount of epoxy, it wasn’t dripping over the edges in abundance, so it was harder to coat them. I think one 32 oz. size of epoxy is good for a 2x4 space.

Lesson:  Start with a small area (2x2) first, to get the feel of the stuff. Also—don’t panic! You have more working time than you think to push it where it needs to go - just make sure you’ve mixed enough!

To do it right, pour your epoxy on your space.  I poured in a spiral, so it was already over the whole space.  Hand off the empty container to your partner & get your spreader in one hand and a foam brush in the other.  Then, just move it around with your plastic spreader until there are no dry spots. You want it thick so don’t scrape it across the counter - more like skim over the top.  As it drips over the edges, try to catch the drips with the foam brush & spread it sideways to cover the counter edges.  The edges will not be as thick & pretty as the top surface, just make sure there are no dry spots.  As the epoxy dries, you can wipe/scrape off the drips from under the edge.

Ideally, I would have set up something over the counters to help keep dust from settling into the drying epoxy, but I didn’t want the hassle.  As it got tacky, I got a straight pin & picked out some noticeable dust particles.  I used a hair dryer on low to gently get trapped bubbles out.  This part was like magic!  And I blew my breath onto some particularly stubborn bubbles.

All in all, the epoxy is VERY Forgiving!  It does level itself out over the 3-day drying period.  And any striations/bubbles/dust particles that were left behind only added to the ‘real stone’ effect.  A more mottled design helps hide these thing also.

Daily use:  The epoxy scratches fairly easily - fine shallow scratches. So, don't slide heavy things around on it for fun (like full plastic pitchers of water).  Again, my design is mottled enough that I think these scratches add to the charm. The directions say if you want a satin finish, you can sand the whole surface with superfine sandpaper. I may do that one day if I feel my surface is looking shabby.  Or I could just pour a new coat on and voila, brand new shine!  The epoxy is very hard & durable, yet also remains slightly moveable.  Heavy or sharp items leave indentations in the surface, if left in one place too long.  I keep a pad under my coffee maker, so its little feet don't sink in.  If you get an indentation, don't fret, it will also settle out with time.  And I think it's needless to say, but don't put hot things on it, or chop on it - same as with regular laminate.

And that’s it!  Look how amazing her countertops look!IMG_5031 

I promise you in person they look even more amazing and unless you’d read this blog post or were some sort of marble connoisseur, you’d never know they weren’t real.IMG_5032


The countertops in our guest bathroom/kids’ bathroom are a lovely cream laminate and I’m dying to use this technique to paint them…and I will…one of these days! 
guest bathroom - fsbo

So, last but not least, Jesse’s cost breakdown -->
Primer:  $0 (had it)
Base color paint:  $0 (had it)
Acrylic paint:  $5 (Walmart)
Glaze:  $0 (had it)
Floetrol:  $0 (had it)
Brushes and rollers:  $0 (had them)
EnviroTex:  $45 (2 big and 1 small carton with a 40% coupon at Hobby Lobby)
Grand total Jesse spent:  $50
Grand total you’d spend if you had to buy everything:  about $105

If you have any questions about Jesse’s countertops or the process she used to paint them, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll get with her and back to you asap!  If you marble-ize your countertops or anything else, let us know!  We’d love to see!


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If you liked it then you shoulda put a (digital) pin in it!
Tutorial on faux marble painted countertops

Aye Aye Captain

Remember when I shared my friend Jesse’s amazing kitchen makeover? 
[before & after]

Well, I promised I’d be back with some tutorials involved and I’m making good on my promise by signing in today to tell you all about her captain’s mirror and how she made it.

Captain's Mirror pin 

    First, the supplies: 
An embroidery hoop
Two long belts
A round mirror
Spray Paint
A thread spool (with no thread)
A long screw
Beads (to be used as a spacer)

You’ll need a round mirror.  Most craft stores sell pre-cut round mirrors so you could just go snatch up one of those.  If you’re wanting to make a larger mirror than any pre-cut mirror available, you may have to get a mirror cut-to-size like Jesse did.  She purchased a large rectangular mirror at a thrift store and had it cut into a circle that would eventually fit inside her embroidery hoop.  (Note:  One thing she told me to mention was that she had her mirror cut before she bought her hoop which she shouldn’t have done.  Because she couldn’t find an embroidery hoop that was the same diameter as her mirror, she had to do a little custom fitting.  The point being, buy your hoop first and have your mirror cut to the size of your hoop.)

There are lots of size options when it comes to embroidery hoops:
Jesses Mirror (2)

As mentioned above, Jesse couldn’t find an embroidery hoop that was the same size as her cut mirror (20”) so she bought one slightly smaller.
Jesses Mirror (3)
To get her mirror to fit seamlessly inside, she set the adjustable ring of the hoop around the mirror, cut off the joint at the top, and cut a section from the fixed ring to fill in the gap.  (You can see a better explanation in the spray-painting picture a little ways down.)

To hang/add the strap to her mirror, Jesse used two belts she found at a thrift store: 
Jesses Mirror (4)

So that the belt buckles were both facing the same direction, she cut the buckle off of one of the belts and sewed it onto the end of the other belt.  After she did that, she had one long belt with buckles at both ends that would go around the bottom of the mirror/hoop and one long belt without any buckles that would ‘buckle’ into the buckles and serve as the hanging piece.
Jesses Mirror (6)

In case you’re a stranger to sewing, you could also just buckle the belts to each other, giving you one long belted strap.  Basically, you’d take the bottom belt in the picture below, buckle it to the other belt along the right side, and send it up and over, buckling it on the left side.  Hopefully all that makes sense.  :)Jesses Mirror (5) 

Once Jesse had her belts situated and sewn and all pieces of the hoops ready, she spray painted everything with gold spray paint.
Jesses Mirror (7)

Once the spray paint was dry, it was time to put everything together.  First, Jesse laid a string of beads down on the ground and laid the mirror on top of the beads. Jesses Mirror (8)
[The beads were laid underneath the mirror, touching the reflective side.]

Then she put the hoop around the mirror.  The beads underneath the mirror served as a spacer so that the mirror didn’t sit flush with the front edge of the hoop.  Does that makes sense?  If you don’t have beads you can use any few things that are the same size and, being set under the mirror, would lift it – a few of the same sized magnets, a few of your kids small toy rings, a couple of thin books, etc… 

Next she tied a piece of elastic tightly around the whole mirror/hoop to hold the hoop together and the mirror inside (you can skip this step if your mirror fits inside your hoop perfectly).  She also ran some caulk (clear drying) around the back edge of the mirror.
Jesses Mirror (9)

After the caulk around the back edge was fully dry, she stood the mirror upright and ran some caulk around the front inside edge.  When the caulk around the inside edge was dry, she removed the elastic and hot glued the belt around the hoop, making sure that the area of the hoop where she had to insert a piece of the fixed hoop was along the bottom of the mirror when it hung.  That way all the pressure would always be against that spot, making it stronger and less likely to come undone.


To hang the mirror, Jesse used an old spool of thread (with no thread on it) that she spray painted gold. 
Jesses Mirror (1)
She stuck a screw through it to attach it to the wall and placed a gold painted sticker over the top to hide the screw.


Cost Breakdown:
Embroidery hoop:  $4 (with a coupon at Hobby Lobby)
Mirror:  $10 (a rectangular mirror found at a thrift store)
Getting the mirror cut into a circle:  $10
Belts:  $4 (thrift finds)
Spray paint:  already had
Caulk:  already had
Thread spool & screw:  already had
Total spent:  $28
Note:  If you had to buy the spray paint and caulk, it’d be closer to $34 or so.  Also, if you bought a mirror to fit your embroidery hoop, you could easily cut out $10 or more. 

Not so bad considering…
captains mirrors

I’ll be back next week with a tutorial on her faux marble countertops!  I can’t wait to share that one…and use it!


Hello Gorgeous

I don’t even know where to start with this post…what to say.  Maybe that’s because all three of our kids have the kind of colds that turn your nose into a faucet.  Imagine following your sick toddler/baby around so you can wipe his/her nose before it gets wiped on anything but a tissue and then multiply that by three.  Yes.  Glory days over here.  Anyway, really that’s just an excuse for my lack of words because in reality, your jaw will drop like mine when you see how amazing this kitchen is and speech will evade you.  Backtrack, shall we?  I clued you in on Monday that I’d be sharing my friend Jesse’s gorgeous kitchen here on the blog.  She diy-ed herself from start to finish and only shelled out $425 at that.  I KNOW!  Crazy, right?  I’ll share the show-stopping before’s and after’s today along with a few details and then in the next few weeks, I’ll share details on individual projects in her kitchen while she walks me through.  Stay tuned for that.  But, until then, feast your eyes my friends…

This is her kitchen a few months ago:
Originally, the cabinets were white but gross, gross, gross complete with peeling paint, grease, cigarette fumes, and lots of other things you probably don’t want to know about.  Jesse washed, sanded, primed, and repainted them – the bottoms were colored-matched to Curry Green by Eddie Bauer Home (the matching yielded a paint a tad lighter than the swatch) and on the uppers is Crème Fraiche by Valspar.

Along with the cabinets, she also mixed a few colors of leftover paint she had on hand to get that amazing color on the walls…and then, like a good friend, she gave me a swatch because she’s awesome like that.  It’s always hard to view the true hue of a paint color via computer/phone/device but it’s light gray/greige-ish (I mean, how do you explain a color in words?)

Her diy-ed runner:
Her runner is actually two Nate Berkus for Target rugs sewn together.  You’d never know it wasn’t one rug.

Before (but after cabinet painting):


The sink area before:
2014-03-23 14.28.51


And those gorgeous marble countertops?  DIYed!!!!  IMG_5037
They look even more amazing in person, trust me.

She also put in the subway tile backsplash herself.  She became my new hero the day she told me she was going to do that on her own.
And the little things count too.  Like that concrete planter in the above picture – she made it.



A view from the other direction:IMG_5033

Here’s the other side of her galley kitchen a few months ago:IMG_5815

And here’s the same side now:
Her fridge/freezer used to be off-white but she took some chalkboard paint to it.  It looks superb, no?  Also, out of view, is the previously white range hood that she spray painted black to match the rest of the appliances.


Let’s move further on down the galley, shall we?  Take a gander at this way-before and after:
Jesse replaced the armoire with a small dresser found at a consignment store that she painted the same color as the lower cabinets and made that gorgeous round mirror that hangs above it.  Details on that coming soon. 

An in-process shot:
2014-05-25 21.11.20



And to the dining area we gaze:
I couldn’t pick a favorite shot so, another:IMG_5058

Here’s what it used to look like:
2014-03-21 09.21.43
Inhabited by the one and onlies, Levi, Abel, and Vera.

And now:
The roman shades hail from

Jesse gave the base of her round table a coat of white and sanded the top down to it’s natural wood grain.  (Note:  after sanding down the top, she added a wax finish to it that apparently looked awful.  But, while I was at her house taking pictures, she rubbed coconut oil over it and said it’s looked great ever since!)  She found the chairs ‘round it on Craigslist.  Aren’t they awesome?

The large frame on the wall was thrifted (for $1!) and she painted the nun symbol inside it with the help of her boys.IMG_5060


And last but not least, turn your eyes skyward to the light.  It too is painted – Faded Seafoam by Valspar.IMG_5066

And that’s it!  I don’t know about yours, but my kitchen’s lower cabinets are screaming for color now and my stainless fridge is longing to get friendly with some chalk.  Next house…

Thank you to Jesse for letting me plaster her kitchen onto this here blog post!  No kitchen this beautiful should be hidden from the virtual world, right?

before & after - jjs kitchen

Stay tuned for project details from Jesse and Jeremy’s kitchen in the coming weeks!  Oh, and ps, say a prayer (or 3955) for us because we’re going to potty train next week again.  Last time things went a little south, only just not where they were supposed to…  

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Bonus pic of what our kids were ransacking while we moms styled and shot:
Levi Spiderman entertaining the twins in the front row, Abel and Vera in the nose bleeds, and Sebastian in his own little world.  :)