In the Corner

Wow-eee.  Life is busy, no?  Places to be, things to do, people to see, thoughts, more thoughts, kids, more kids, throw in a cold or four…add yours to the list because I’m sure you can relate!  That’s why posting around here has been minimal the past few weeks and why the project I’m about to tell you about has been in-progress for a month now and still isn’t finished.  You see, we’re on a mission to re-organize our laundry room.  I’m not sure why this whole process started…it might’ve been the annoyance of looking at this to long:photo (7)
The corner in question.  It’s organized ‘per-say’ – drawers full of painting supplies, spray paint, tools, paint chips - but overall it’s just a big heap of random stuff that’s really not the most aesthetically pleasing sight we ever did see.

Enter this big lug:
I found him at Goodwill a month ago.  At $19.99 his tall, dark, and not-so-handsome physique was just what we needed to take that corner of the laundry room to the next level of organization.  We removed the built-in lighting and also ripped out the top shelf, as it didn’t extend all the way to the back of the cabinet, in order to replace it with a few more shelves and left the bottom opening as it was because it’s the perfect size to accomodate our shop vac.

The plan was to paint him white before we put him in his place.  So first things first, I wanted to make him a little less country and a lot more modern by filling in the scroll work and decorative holes.

To do that, I used a plastic putty knife with this Elmer’s wood filler that we picked up from Lowe’s:
IMG_5073 I’ve used it before (to fill in holes in this desk and this dresser and cracks in this loveseat) and have been really happy with it.  It dries nice and hard without cracking.  However, it doesn’t sand down to a very smooth finish so I usually use it in conjunction with spackle.  More on that later.
Side note:  For the loveseat, I used a tube of the wood filler and when I went to use it for the desk, I found it had hardened near the opening, even though I had the lid screwed on nice and tight.  So, since the stuff towards the other end was nice and soft, I cut off the top of the tube and pulled from there, taping the opening off and storing it inside a plastic bag for extra protection against drying.
photo 2 (8)
Hoewever, when I pulled it out again for this project, the whole tube was hard and unusable so we that’s when we purchased the tub of filler, hoping its fate will be the opposite.  I’ll keep you updated but so far, so good (This just in!  Kelly told me she puts saran wrap over hers before she lids it and it keeps hers nice and nothardened!  Thanks for the tip Kelly!)

To fill in the scrolls and holes, I scooped up a large chunk of wood filler and spread it over the holes like I was buttering bread, making sure I pressed it in enough that it filled the entire area.  Then I drug my knife across the surface, scraping off excess.  When you do this you don’t want to scrape off all the excess.  There should be more filler than you need over your filled areas, sort of like a miniature hill.  You’ll make everything smooth and level by sanding the dried excess off later.  Make sense?  Here’s what the top of the cabinet looked like after I was done filling:
photo 1 (8)

So, after everything was filled and dry (since the holes were pretty deep, I waited a whole 24 hours to ensure the filler was completely dry), I went over it all with a fine-grit sanding block to remove the excess and level the surface as well as I could.
photo 4 (5)

I mentioned above that I like to use spackle in conjuction with wood filler.  Wood filler has fibers in it that make it unable to be sanded down to super smooth surface.  So, using this spackle and a metal putty knife (our plastic putty knife has some tiny divots on the edge so metal was better to get a smoother finish)…
photo 2 (7)
…I went over all the areas I had filled with the wood filler using the same technique, only with spackle.
photo 3 (5)photo 1 (7)       
After that was dry (I spackled in the morning and it was good and dry by late afternoon), I got out the fine-grit sanding block again and sanded everything until it was smooth and level.  After wiping it all down with a damp rag to get rid of any sanding dust, I was ready for paint.
photo 5 (2)

The cabinet front, bottom, and shelf are solid wood; the sides are particle board.  The wood parts had a few large knots which tend to bleed through latex paint (so I’ve read).  photo 5 (1)

To keep them from bleeding through my handiwork, I brushed a thin layer of oil-based primer over them first.
photo 4 (4) 

Once those areas were dry, I primed the rest of the piece with some Kilz primer.  I reminded myself over and over to take pictures of the cabinet primed before I painted but still forgot.  Not a huge deal but just know that when I prime, I just make sure everything is covered.  Primer will probably always be splotchy and that’s ok.  Next up was paint.  It took me three hours on four different nights and naptimes to prime the cabinet so I opted to spray paint the cabinet with its final layer of latex paint.  Not canned spray paint though.  Some good friends of ours offered to let me use their paint sprayer so I used some basic white latex we had on hand (by Olympic).  This
Graco paint sprayer is what I used to spray on the paint.
graco sprayerIt was really cool to be able to borrow it so I could get a feel for how paint sprayers work and whether we should invest in one.  It definitely took me more time to set up and learn how to use it than it did to paint.   However, I apparently have a lot more learning to do because one side of the cabinet turned out really drippy…
photo 1 (6)
I either added too much water to my second round of paint or painted too close so next time I’ll have to pay attention to those two things to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I painted the cabinet outside and while it was drying, there were some things to take care of in its corner:
photo 2 (5)I wanted to paint the doorbell white (like I did our other doorbell), spray paint the electrical box white so that it’d blend in in with the back of the cabinet, and touch up the wall paint where we removed an old key box.

To spray paint the electrical box, I simply protected the area around it by taping pages of a magazine (thank you Franciscan Way) to the surrounding wall.
photo 3 (3)

Then I primed it with Rustoleum’s Clean Metal primer and spray painted it white.
photo 4 (3)

Then in went the cabinet!  We have yet to cut out a hole in the back so that we can access the electrical box without having to pull the entire cabinet out from the wall but so far so good!

Like I said above, we’re not done yet.  There are still a couple more things we want to do before everything gets put back and organinzed and those things started with a bang last night in the form of a DIY fail.  Stay tuned.

Also, a sneak peek!  The french door leading from the kitchen to the laundry room is becoming a reality…slowly!  We used an old wood door we found at ReStore, cut out the middle (which is now on top of the washer and dryer working as a countertop), and hung it!  I managed to prime it while I primed the cabinet but that’s all the farther we’ve gotten.
We would’ve had it finished a few weeks ago but the glass insert turned out to be more expensive than we thought so we had to postpone in order to save up.  A typical step in the life of budget-ridden folk, I guess.  :)  All the details on how that all went down up to come hopefully soon.

And that’s all she wrote…so far!  We’re moving the kids rooms around today which means that Sebastian is going to his own room and the girls are moving to another.  I’ll be crying out of sadness that they’re getting older and smiling out of happiness that I won’t have to tip-toe around my own room anymore to avoid waking a sleeping boy, all while I move furniture this afternoon.  What are you up to?  Any projects that have been in-progress for quite some time now or are you pretty good at starting and finishing without too much time in between?  Any paint sprayer users out there?  Any secrets or tricks I should know?  Spill ‘em!  I need to make this relationship work!  :)

Have a great Tuesday!

Sebastian: 9 Months

Having sick kids is the worst, am I right or am I right?  Monday, Seraphia’s nose turned into a faucet and she alone went through a whole roll of toilet paper (in lieu of tissues because we’re cool like that) and try as we might to not let whatever she had bite the the rest of us – clorox wipes, no sharing of anything, solitary confinement (just kidding, relax) – ‘twas to no avail because Sebastian turned his faucet on full speed yesterday.  And then today, well, you can just about imagine.  Cecilia.  The days are great and the nights even better.  If it weren’t for The NoseFrida Snotsucker we know and love so much (and you should too!), they’d be even better.  Snot stands no chance with that thing.  (Link is an affiliate link but we purchased the NF and really do love it!)
  So, in light of their broken plumbing, I let the girls indulge in TV yesterday.  What do you care, right?  I know.  Well, allow me to elaborate further and just tell you that it got me thinking back to those days when I had my parenting plans all laid out…and then this morning I made this e-card:

Let’s just say my mouth is harboring my foot for many things besides that.  (And just in case of misunderstanding, I really don’t have anything against TV nor did I ever really think my kids would never watch it.  I just want a healthy balance and yesterday was not it.)  But, c’est la vie.  Let’s move on.

Big Seb turned nine months last week:
9 mo (4)blog

He’s pulling himself up on whatever he can, da-daing his way through life, and eating almost whatever a spoon brings to his wide-open mouth.  He’s 100% more attached to me, me, meandnooneelse than the girls were (they were happy with either daddy or me) and it’s thrown me for quite the loop and has changed many a plan, many a day.  I can’t say it bothers me though because secretly I love being the sole love of his life and I pray that that affection never wavers.  :)

The girls.  They turn 27 months tomorrow.   IMG_5740
They’re cool as cucumbers most days and talking up a storm.  They can both count to twenty which I know is not really that impressive at their age but I just can’t get enough of it.  “Wun, two, chee, fo, ive, six, seben, eight, nine, ten, eweben, twelbe, serteen…”  So cute.  And thanks to Dora, Cecilia is a spanish speaker, counting up to eight in the foreign language.  She just blurted the numbers out one day.  See?  TV ain’t all that bad, huh?  ;)
photo 4 (2)
We’ve labeled them 100% potty-trained and accidents are pretty rare during the day and naptimes and if they do happen, it’s usually my fault because I didn’t get them to the toilet fast enough.  (And this is where I put my foot in my mouth because last night they both wet the bed.)  And, ehem, prior to last night, we hadn’t changed a wet sheet of C’s for almost a month and S’ in a week.  It’s really one of the best feelings ever.  Changing one kid’s diapers ain’t no big thing y’all.
  photo 3 (2)

Lately, we’ve taken up walks around the neighborhood with all the kids in tow.
 photo 1 (4)

All of them…
 photo 2 (3)

And we’ve also managed to get out of the house at least twice a week which is a leap and bound from where we were a few weeks ago – it was church on Sunday and thazzzit.  Cabin fever has died down to a dull roar and I’ve started collecting my marbles.  And THAT, is good news for everyone.

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!


.           .           .

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!