Stenciled Concrete: Part II

Well, I don’t wanna make anyone jealous but, I’m currently sitting outside behind the protective screens of our not-completely-decorated but completely functional patio and it. is. awesome.  This atmosphere is going to make writing posts even more fun.  But anyway, while I’m looking at it, let’s get back on the stenciled concrete train and talk about how I painted the stencil onto our floors.  (In case you missed it, here’s how I made the stencil.)

With the floor all clean and sealed, l ran to Lowe’s and grabbed this porch and floor paint by Valspar.  IMG_3124
They had a bunch of different colors to choose from plus a few base cans you could get tinted so, since they didn’t have a plain white, I grabbed a tintable can and had the paint dude make me white.  I was a little nervous when he just told me “sure, I can make it white” right after I asked him if he could because I hadn’t had time to figure out which white I wanted nor did I have any swatches in hand.  But, I convinced myself in those two seconds that it would probably just be a neutral white and there was nothing to fear and to just get over it.  And all turned out ok and I saved myself loads of hemming and hawwing over which of the 105853 whites to get.

Home I went and during the next naptime, I got to work.  The supplies:
IMG_3125-the stencil
-my new paint in a small paint tray
-a small foam roller
-a measuring tape
-something to kneel on
-sticky tack
(Note:  Freshly painted toe and fingernails NOT recommended!  They will look scuffed and chipped after an hour of brushing up against the concrete.  Whoopsie.)

By using a foam roller instead of a thick fiber roller, I was able to paint on a thinner coat to achieve an imperfect, semi-worn look.  I didn’t want the stencil to look solid white but I wanted scratches that developed over time to blend in and look like they had always been there.

So, starting in the far corner of the room, I started stenciling away.  I used the dots on either side of the design to line up the stencil. IMG_3126 (Note:  I realized a few stencils in that those dots weren’t evenly spaced, something I wish I would’ve noticed while making the stencil.  One was a little farther away from the design than the other.  Once I realized that, I continued by basically eye-balling the design, making sure it was centered, and using just one of the dots as a guide.  If you ever make this stencil, make sure you draw in your own large dots instead of tracing the ones already there like I did and make sure they’re spaced the same distance from the larger design.)

To secure the stencil to the floor so that it wouldn’t slide around as I painted, I grabbed some sticky tack and stuck it to the bottom two corners and the concrete.  I secured the stencil I used in the girls’ room to the wall the same way and it works like a charm; so much better than tape.
IMG_3127As I moved, I lifted the stencil with the sticky tack and restuck it to the concrete.  I wasn’t sure if it’d get stuck in the concrete or not but thankfully, it didn’t.

After I had stenciled the first row, I realized that the upper corners of the stencil were going to get in the way of the freshly painted stencil above.  So, I quickly grabbed the scissors and cut off the corners.
stenciling (2)(I went back in after I was finished and the stencil was dry to stencil along the edges of that upper wall above too.  More on that farther down.)

I got about eight rows done during naptime that day (about 1 hour of time) and I was able to finish that one small slab (there are two slabs that make up our patio) after the kids woke up.  It was risky, painting while they were awake, but they listened so well and didn’t step in the paint but gave me a good audience and loved being able to play outside on the part I hadn’t gotten to yet.  Crisis averted and no face palms necessary.

stenciling (3)
A little more progress:
stenciling (5)
I probaby could’ve gotten it done in half the time but I took a ton of breaks…haha!  My legs needed them!

As far as measuring goes, I tried to keep things as evenly spaced and straight as I could by eye-balling but occasionally, I broke out the measuring tape to measure the distance from the next stencil I painted to the wall.  Making sure each row was the same distance from the wall on both ends helped everything line up. 

This is what the first stage of stenciling looked like:
stenciling (4)
After I was done stenciling and everything was dry and able to be walked on, I went in with a paint brush around the edge of the room and free-hand painted the design so that it almost touched the wall.  I didn’t want a gap between the stencil and the wall.
stenciling (1)
Here you can see what a difference it made:
IMG_3215It wasn’t a huge deal to have the gap but it made it look better in my opinion and didn’t take long to do; maybe fifteen more minutes.

After extending the design all the way to the walls, I went back in with one of my favorite foam pouncers and added the small dots inbetween the design.
IMG_3135That part might sound tedious but it took me all of ten minutes.

I mentioned above that our patio was made up of two slabs; one must’ve been poured when the house was built and then the smaller added to expand later because they’re two different textures and one is a slightly lighter color.  The difference in the slabs was one reason I wanted to stencil the floor – I thought it would make them more cohesive.

Having two slabs though made it a little easier for me to stencil.  I did the smaller slab at the far end of the room first – first painting the stencil and then going back over it with two more coats of sealer.  After that small slab was done, we were able to move all the furniture from the other slab to it, making it so that we didn’t have to keep our furniture outside for a few days while I stenciled.

One problem I ran into was getting the stencil to line up in the end.  I had to stencil so that I ended at the french doors and didn’t back myself into a corner, unable to step on wet paint.  So, since I really wasn’t too strict with my measuring and had to skip over that entry area to stencil the opposite side of the room, things got a little wonky by the door.   IMG_7754It irked me a tad but I think we’ll put a rug down there anyway so hopefully it will go pretty unnoticed.

In case I lost you on my process, here’s a breakdown:
1.  Stencil the first slab.
2.  Go back in and extend the stencil to the wall once everything is dry.
3.  Add the small dots amongst the larger design.
4.  After all is dry, roll on two more coats of sealer, making sure the first is completely dry before adding the second.  (One coat would probably do too but we had sealer leftover so we figured we’d use it all up.)
5.  Repeat with the second slab.
(Obviously, if you’re just working with one slab, you’ll just stencil, extend, dot, and seal.)

And, a cost breakdown:
stencil:  83 cents (used a stencil blank I had leftover from stenciling this rug)
sealing/stenciling supplies:  $0 (already had the paint trays, rollers, and trim edge)
floor paint:  $15 (but there’s still 1/3 of the can left so…front porch?…Anthony says “I don’t think so.”)
sealer:  $20
grand total:  about $40 (add $10 if you had to buy everything I had on hand)

It’s kind of sad that we’re covering a big portion of all that tedious stenciling up with a rug but, we are.  I want the kids to be able to bring out their toys and play in comfort and overall, I think the rug just ups the cozy ante out here.  Here’s what the floor looks like right now:IMG_7752The rug was originally from Target (Threshold line), but I found it at Dirt Cheap.  It’s a natural fiber 8’ x 10’ and was a steal for $35 but a few of the edges are a little worn (like they had been drug along the floor for awhile somewhere) and they were a little dirty but I cleaned it right up after I brought it home and don’t mind the little wear.  I wanted something neutral on the floor in here so that I could play up the color wheel elsewhere, like on the chairs and sofa and with pillows and art and so this rug is perfect.
I cannot WAIT to finish up decorating this space but there’s much to be done before we call that finito – sanding down and either restaining or painting the furniture (all thrifted/handed-down!), recovering the furniture cushions, hanging string lights, hanging a big ‘ole piece of art on the wall (still just an idea…), setting down some big, potted plants, finding a shallow table for the wall near the french doors to hold party food (oh yes, there will be parties out here), whipping up some ottomans/stools, etc…, and then there’s lots of landscaping to be done on the other side of the screens too.
But, the main thing right now is that it’s functional.  Lady baby will get here before it’s functional and stylish, I’m sure, but at least she’ll be here to put in her two cents on decor when I do get around to finishing up.  “My swing can go here and I only want to be nursed in a striped chair”…things like that.  ;)

Now, who wants some lemonade?  The weather is fantastic and these Southern mosquitoes can’t get us so let’s toast to finally seeing something come to life that we’ve saved for for a couple of years.  I’ll detail exactly how much we had to squirrel away to make this entire room happen in a later post but for now, sit back, relax, put your feet up with me, and…zzz…  ;)

Stenciled Concrete: Part I

Every so often I do one of those projects that, once it’s done and finished, I swear that I won’t do that again for a long, long, longlonglong time.  Stenciling our screened-in patio floor was one of those projects.  Not pregnant it would’ve been tough and tedious.  Pregnant and carrying a little extra weight while moving up and down and squatting and standing up?  Let’s just say, who needs the gym?

But, all that work was so worth it…aaaaand some of you probably think I’m crazy but just look:
IMG_7753Patterened concrete is so much better than plain, right?  I have nesting and an inordinate amount of motivation to get this outdoor space finished to thank for getting it done.  Picture me with a newborn, chillaxing on the comfy outdoor couch on the screened-in porch with the three other tots playing outside in my view this summer…straight-up motivation, like I said.

Let’s talk details, shall we?  You know, just in case you want to stencil your concrete…you know you do.  :)

Prep.  Before any paint went down, we had a bunch of prep to do.  Because it’s concrete and concrete is somewhat porous, we were getting condensation spots inside which made laying a cozy rug on top of the concrete a no-go.  The rug we had was getting wet and then we’d have to pick it up and dry it and it was all just a big pain in the arse.  Besides that, when the concrete did get wet, it would take forever to dry and also, tiny pieces of rock in the concrete were everywhere because everytime we walked around or the kids rode something on top of it, it chipped a little.  So, I consulted smart Chelsea and her dad, the Today’s Homeowner pro, on what to do to fix all of that and they recommended sealing it.  When I mentioned I wanted to paint it too, they said to seal first, then paint.  And so I did.

First, Anthony and I went out during nap time one day and scrubbed the floor clean; getting rid of any loose particles and dirt.  When it was dry, it was time to seal.  Here’s what I used to seal it:IMG_3097-Quikrete concrete sealer (via my Amazon affiliate link but we actually purchased at Lowe’s where it was about $10 cheaper)
-paint roller on a stick
-paint brush
-paint tray to hold the sealer
-painters’ trim guard (affiliate link) – optional…you could just tape off your edges

To start, I went around the entire edge of the patio with the paint brush since the roller wouldn’t be able to get as close to the edges.
I used the trim guard against the aluminum walls to make sure I didn’t get any sealer on them.  IMG_3099To me, using the trim guard was easier and quicker than taping everything and usually, I don’t ever tape or guard against trim or walls but since the concrete wasn’t a smooth surface I could easily glide along, I thought it might be smart to this time.

When I was done sealing around the edge, I grabbed the roller and my paint tray filled with sealer…
…and started at the far end, working in sections and towards the french doors to the living room so I didn’t seal myself into a corner; I could just back right into the house and shut the door.IMG_3101
I did two coats just to make sure everything was nice and sealed (which Quikrete actually recommends per the instructions).

Paint.  Picking a stencil was a tough decision.  First though, I had to convince Anthony that the mere idea of stenciling our floor was a good one (he wasn’t keen on it) so to do that I hunted down pictures on Pinterest of stenciled concrete to show him and came across this one (originally via @songofstyle on Instagram):
10979518_1523984051198042_1944797533_nThe concrete in this picture looks a lot like ours texture-wise and the design was simple and imperfect – exactly what I was going for in my head.  He was sold.  Hoo-ray.  However, I wasn’t completely sold on the design.  I really kinda liked this geometric stencil and even toyed with doing a herringbone brick pattern.

But Anthony didn’t like either of those ideas.  He liked the Pinterest design so, since I had won him over on the stenciling idea, I laid aside my stencil wishes and went with his.  I know.  Sacrificial love, right?  ;)

So began the hunt to find out where that stencil was from so I could buy it.  I searched high and low with no luck.  Dang.  “Well, I guess that means I’ll just have to make my own.”  And that’s how my brain works…if you’ve been a reader long, you probably could’ve guessed.

Thankfully, I still had two big blank stencil sheets leftover from this stenciling project so I didn’t have to buy anything to make the stencil.  Onto making the stencil…  First, I needed to figure out where the center of the blank stencil was so that I could center the design on it.  To do that, I marked out the center of each edge and connected them with a straight line; making two intersecting lines that met at the center.IMG_3113
I had a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to get the stencil made in the scale I wanted it in (free-handing was out because I’m not great at that) but then it hit me one moment while we were all on our way to church (divine intervention?) - if I could get the design projected onto our TV, I could scale it on there and trace it at full-size!  We bought Chromecast with a gift card last year (so I could watch Downton Abbey on tv vs. laptop) and so I pulled up the image on Pinterest, set my laptop screen to a 200% zoom, and casted the whole thing to the tv.  Once I had the image lined up and centered along my intersecting lines on the stencil blank, I used painters’ tape to tape it to the tv and started tracing away.
IMG_3115(In process shot thanks to Anthony who offered to “take an action shot” while he was cooking dinner.  My right-hand-blogger man, he is.  Just wait, someday he’ll be writing his own posts…)

Once I had the stencil traced, I used my exacto knife on top of our biggest cutting board to cut out the design.IMG_3117
My tracing of the inner design was a little squiggly, so I went back over it free-hand to make those lines a little smoother before I cut them out.
Next up, painting the stencil.  But, lest this post traipses into encyclopedia territory, I’ll save that for Part II next week.

Hope to see you then!  :)

Two Frames, One Watercolor

Holy Week is here!  Lent is almost over and Easter is on it’s way!  I’m popping in quick with the what’s and how’s of the watercolor in the kids’ bathroom and then I’m out for the rest of the week to focus on JESUS!  Whoop!  I’ve been reading “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” for Lent and it’s been such a great read (especially for this mainly fiction reader) and I can’t wait to finish this week.  I love history and when you mix history and the faith like this and read the words of someone who knows what they’re talking about, well, it gets me.  Highly recommend it…

So, the watercolor painting I hung in the kids’ bathroom…I really, really like it.
I picked it up at a yard sale last summer and I’ll never let it go…I mean, I can’t even figure out who wanted to in the first place, right?  It’s not a print but an actual watercolor painting!  Maybe the giver wasn’t aware?  Originally, it looked like this:
I didn’t think the frame was that bad but Anthony said it reminded him of something you’d see hanging in a doc’s office.  I could see it too, I guess.  Regardless, it was a little too big for where I wanted it so I went a-hunting for a smaller frame at Goodwill last week and found this one:
I thought the frame itself was some sort of plastic since it was nice and shiny but once I started sanding it down and prepping it for paint, I realized it was wood.  Ha!  $5 for a 22” x 17” wood frame…not bad!

Anyway, it was papered over on the back, which used to scare me to the point that I’d avoid all paper-backed frames in thrift stores.  But, since then, I’ve cast aside that fear and now I don’t care what a frame looks like on the back.  All I know is that no matter what’s on the back, pretty much any frame can be hacked into and used to display whatever I want it to.  Maybe you’ve been intimidated after seeing that paper too?  Well, don’t be.  Here’s how to take a frame like this apart:
frame1 – See the paper.  Own the paper.  Forget the paper.
2 – Rip the paper off.  It doesn’t own you.
3 – Under the paper, something will be holding everything in place.  Sometimes it’s staples all around the inside edge and sometimes, like this time for me, it’s small nails.  Sometimes you might even get lucky and just find tape.  If that’s your luck, just rip it out or grab the nearest knife or razor blade and slice along the edges.  If it’s staples or nails, take them out, one by one.  I’ve found a needle-nose pliers works best for this type of thing.  Yes, it’s a little tedious but that’s ok.  Just remember that there’s glass under there so don’t go too crazy banging and pulling.
4 – Once you get all the things (nails, tape, staples, etc…) that are holding the contents of the frame in place out, take out everything down to the glass so that all you’re left with is the frame itself.

Then, wash that glass quick because chances are it’ll need a good cleaning on both sides and put everything back in the way you had it, replacing whatever it is you want with whatever was in the frame when you bought it.  So, glass, mat (if there is one), art (I usually tape it in so it doesn’t slide around when in), cardboard (or other backing, and then nails (staples or tape).  You can even tape or glue some more paper to the back to make it look more professional if you want but I never do because who looks at the backside of a frame once it’s on the wall?  Not me and hopefully not you either because that might be really weird…

But, let’s backtrack a tad to the point where you have everything out of the frame.  If you want to change up the look of the frame with paint or anything else without having to worry about it’s contents getting in the way, now would be the time.  I wanted to go white with this one so I did a quick sanding to get rid of that glossy sheen.  I liked the gold on the frame though so I taped over that so I’d end up with a white frame with gold trim on the inside.
I primed the frame with white spray paint and then brush-painted it with leftover paint I have on hand from painting this wood couch.  I would’ve gone the spray paint route but I’m currently out of white spray paint and haven’t had a chance to grab anymore recently so latex it was.

Before I could stick the watercolor into it’s new frame, I had to trim it down a little.  So, I measured and penciled two lines on the top and left sides; where I’d need to trim to get it to the size I wanted it.
I could’ve taken an equal amount off each of the four sides but I wanted to keep as much of the watercolor itself in view so I cut off the two sides with the least amount of color.

It was now a perfect fit.  What didn’t come out so perfect was my paint job.  Either I didn’t press down my painters’ tape enough or the painters’ tape I used just stinks, but the white paint leaked underneath and onto the gold edge I wanted to keep.  I tried sanding it off but then ended up sanding off some of the gold and now it just looks a little messy.  Maybe I can call it distressed?
I think I’ll just grab some gold paint and touch it up but until that happens, at least the watercolor draws the eye towards itself and not the frame’s paint job…or maybe that’s just me playing the justification/excuse card but either way, since the frame isn’t the star of this show, I really don’t care all that much to rush to fix it.

And that is that.

I hope you all have a wonderful and powerful Holy Week and an even better Easter!


Last post I went into what was in my head and on my Pinterest board for the kids’ bathroom.  Today, I’m here to show you a little bit of progress. 

A quick refresher first though.  Here’s what this bathroom looked like when we moved in (picture from the real estate listing prior to our purchase):
guest bath b4
And, after having a little bit ‘o fun in there last week, here’s what it looks like right now:
I know decor can make a huge difference but really, the huge difference in the before and after of this little room can really be attributed to paint and better/brighter/more neutral lightbulbs (my favorites are these from Lowe’s…we use them everywhere we can).  It’s pretty amazing, no?

Last week I transferred the yard sale watercolor find to a thrifted frame (post to follow) and hung the letter hooks on the biggest (but still little) wall.  At the last minute I grabbed the burnt orange pom-flower-things onto the light fixture (even though I kinda want to spray paint them yellow…)
While out hunting for a new frame for the watercolor, I found this white ceramic and and wood vase at Goodwill:IMG_7718Eventually I’ll probably just grab some fake flowers to toss in there but right now, the trees in our yard are in need of some pruning and so I thought I’d start.  ;)

But let’s talk about the ‘bathe’:
IMG_7719I got the letter hooks on clearance from Pottery Barn* a couple of weeks ago using a gift card I had had for four years and, after wanting to spell ‘love’ but realizing that the letter ‘v’ was sold out, I sat at my computer and played something like a game of anagrams with what was left to finally come up with ‘bathe’.  Bathroom appropriate, no?

So, along with the hooks, I’m going to dig into the trenches called “boring home improvement stuff” and write about…wait for it…how to use dry wall plugs to hang stuff.  Why Sheena?  Whyyyy?  Because five years ago, if there was ever anything that I needed hung that was just too heavy-duty to hang on the simple nail-in-the-wall, I had to wait for Anthony to do it because I had no clue how to use a dry wall plug.  I would’ve eaten a post on how to use them up like chocolate on Easter.  Maybe, just maybe, some of you feel the same way or maybe you’ll just file it away for later.  Here goes…

The letter hooks came with screws and dry wall plugs.  I thought the included plugs were overkill though.  They were huge and metal and I felt like they’d hold up an elephant plus just the kids’ towels I was only planning on hanging on them. 
So, I stowed away the hefty plugs and grabbed some plastic ones we had in our stash.  I made sure they would fit the screws that came with the hooks though (there are different sized plugs for different sized screws).

Before I even began hanging hooks, I needed to remove the towel ring over the countertop.  My plan was to have the ‘b’ replace it as hand-towel holder so it needed to go to make room.  (White I was at it, I removed the matching towel bar above the toilet too since we only used it for decoration purposes which is silly because who hangs decorative towels anymore, right…wasn’t that done in like the 70’s and 80’s?)  Once unscrewed and off, I filled in the holes with spackle*, waited for it to dry, did another coat, and sanded everything nice and smooth before I laid paint over it.
When all evidence of the towel ring’s presence was obliterated, I did a ‘dry-run’ placement – I hung everything on the wall where I thought I wanted it with some small nails.  I didn’t want to go straight to the plugs only to find out the placement I had in my head didn’t translate so well to reality and then have a ton of huge holes in the wall to repair and start again.  Here’s what my practice came out to look like:
IMG_3073I wanted a hook for each kid plus one additional to hold a hand-towel to serve those at the sink so centering the whole phrase on the wall seemed to be the best plan.

To hold the letters in place for the practice round, I just hung each one on a nail from the top screw hole and stuck some sticky tack on above to keep them from going topsy-turvy.
When I had each letter straight and exactly where I wanted it, I held each on the wall so that the small nail was centered in the top screw hole and then I traced the bottom screw hole with a pencil to show where the bottom plug and screw needed to be.

Once I was good on placement, all the screw holes were marked, and I was ready to begin plugging away (pun intended), I took everything down and was left with marks like this for each letter:
Next, I grabbed our drill and the appropriate drill bit for the dry wall plugs I was using (the plug package will tell you which size drill bit to use).  Using my marks as my guide, I drilled two holes; one for each plug and screw.
Then I plugged those holes up.
plugWith just a gentle hammering, all the plugs were in and ready to hold screws.

Last, I held each letter up onto the wall and drilled the screws into the plugs.
I was a little disappointed that the letters came with black screws, I have to admit.  These letters are the very first purchase I’ve ever made from Pottery Barn and the place just oozes glamour and quality but at the original asking price of $24.99 per hook (I paid around $7 each thanks to a clearance plus a coupon), I feel like maybe they could’ve made matching screws?  Maybe it’s just a look and maybe it’s just not my look and that’s cool too.  But, either way, I didn’t like the black so I grabbed a tiny paint brush and went over each with my favorite Martha Stewart gold paint (I bought this paint a couple of years ago in-store at Home Depot for $6 but it’s looking like it’s not in stores anymore and is only sold by the case online). 
paintedAnd the perfectionist inside her cheered.

And that, my friends, is how easy it is to hang something using a dry wall plug.

I’ll be back next week with details on the watercolor and how to hack a thrifted frame but until then, feast your eyes on what I started working on this week:
And then feast your eyes on this goofball:
I had to lock the doors of the bathroom to keep him out for quick blog pictures and when I finally let him in, turns out all he really wanted to do was feed his understandable and very justified vanity with a few mirror faces.  :p

*affiliate link to products I purchased

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budget bathroom makeover

how to use dry wall plugs