Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ugly House: New Office Reveal

Good Afternoon,

To answer your burning questions, no baby isn't here yet. Also, I have not finished the nursery. However, I did finish my new office area (with much, much help from the husband), so we're getting closer to converting the old office into the nursery. Baby has a schedule induction in a week and a half, so we're going to finish that nursery this weekend!

To give some background, here's my old office after I completed painting, making a new desk, etc. I liked my office quite a lot. There was plenty of room for all my craft stuff and my work related items.

However, to be honest it became the dumping ground of the house. Oh, people are coming over? Grab a laundry basket, pile all the random stuff from around the house and put it in the office. When we started round two of renovations of our upstairs, the office became the storage garage for all the random stuff that we needed to move out of the living room/kitchen/hall closet. So, for a few weeks my office looked like this. It drove me insane.

We had thought about bunking the baby with the sibling of the same sex. After all, my husband roomed with his brother when he was a kid and both of them turned out somewhat okay. The more we thought about it though, the more we realized that especially in the infant stage, we really needed a separate room for all that baby gear. Plus, sleeping babies and crazy loud siblings aren't the greatest mix. I started to think about my different options and decided that creating an office space in a little used play area was the best use of space in our house. The kids never used the area to play. They would just grab toys and take them into their rooms or upstairs. So we downsized the toys, moved around some things and we had a empty(ish) area to build an office.

I have a lot of craft stuff. I use most of it, so I couldn't see myself downsizing my stash too much. (That being said I probably filled over 5 garbage bags when I was moving the stash, so did a fair bit of downsizing) So, having storage options was a must. We also didn't want to break the bank creating the office space since we are in the middle of renovating upstairs. We decided stock cabinets were the best option for my office. So, step 1 was painting the walls of the basement a man cave friendly color, and step two was painting the stock cabinets we picked up at Lowes.

Half of the basement is a family room/man room area for my husband's leather chair and hunting pictures, so I had to pick a color that I liked, meshed with the rest of the house, but still fit in with the wood and leather. My solution for that problem was "Perfect Greige" by Sherwin Williams. I paired with that "Bunglehouse Blue" also from Sherwin Williams for the cabinets. I feel like both colors blend well with his rustic manliness downstairs and my farmhouse feel upstairs.

Using stock cabinets wasn't overly difficult; however, you do quickly realize you get what you pay for. It's worth it to invest in some better screws to reassemble the doors (the ones that come with strip very easily). You will probably need to do quite a bit of sanding to smooth out the rough finish. I removed all the doors and drawers and used my paint sprayer to paint. Then I just painted with a roller on the boxes. During an evening with a two hour tornado warning (!), my husband and I hung all the cabinets.

We priced out getting a regular laminate countertop, but for a bit less, we could make our own. We used plywood as a base and then used poplar in a unique design on top. Once my husband cut all the pieces and wood glued them to the plywood, he sanded the ever living heck out of the top since the pieces didn't all quite sit flush.

Lots of clamps, heavy paint cans and weights to hold down the boards as the glue dried.

Before sanding. You can see the tiny lip that appeared between some pieces.
After sanding everything was nice and level.

I stained the top using "Dark Walnut" from Minwax. We did a very small bit of wood filler in between each board, but I would probably skip that step if I did the project again. The wood filler doesn't take stain well (even the kind that claims you can stain it) so I had to go back through and touch up everywhere that was lighter with some oil based brown paint or more stain.

See that light spot right at the top? That's the wood filler not taking stain.

The final step was a couple coats of Waterlox (just like our countertops, which you can read about here).

I'm quite happy with the final product and it has tons of storage. I organized everything with plastic bins and chalkboard vinyl labels, so I can easily see what I have. My husband rolled his eyes that my office for "work" was 90% cabinets filled with craft supplies. But hey...he's got all that hunting stuff, so I don't feel so bad about my wall of cabinets.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Small Business Saturday: June's Wildwood

Happy Weekend!

Two weeks ago I was able to attend the annual Brookings Art Festival. It's a huge festival here locally that brings in all types of crafters and vendors. It's one of the highlights of my summer. One booth I was particularly excited to find was today's featured Small Business Saturday shop, June's Wildwood.

As you have seen in my previous posts, I love handcrafted art and signs. I often try to recreate what I see online, but I'm just not that good at hand lettering. It's definitely a skill to look so effortless. Erika Cotton, the artist behind June's Wildwood, has perfected that effortless hand script I envy so much.

We plan on having Erika do a sign for our nursery when a) we actually figure out what the baby name will be, and b) when we actually have a nursery. I did pick up some arrows to put on the wall...whenever I can get to the wall to put them up. Until then, enjoy all the beautiful signs from June's Wildwood. Erika also does custom orders, and those are pretty fantastic as well.

To contact June's Wildwood, visit her Facebook page or email her at:

As an FYI, Erika is a member of the National Guard and is out of the office for annual training. She will be back in the office July 31st. Thank you for your service Erika! Erika made this fantastic sign for a fellow solider.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review of Valspar Chalk Paint


I get messages on a semi regular basis asking me how a paint furniture. I always have a two fold response. First of all, what kinda of finish are you going for? Glossy clean looking? Or a more rustic distressed matte look? Then I ask what kind of furniture is it. Is it something that is super shiny and finished already? Or is it something that you found on a curb and it's pretty beat up?

Although I ask these questions, my recommendation is generally the same. To paint furniture, especially for someone who hasn't done it before, I recommend a chalk paint. You are certainly able to use a latex or oil based paint. I've done it many times myself. However, those types of paints are definitely on the fineky side. So unless I have a paint sprayer, time to spend fixing brush or roller marks, and time to sand and prime the surface, I would use chalk paint.

So, why chalk paint? First of all, let's clear up something. This is NOT chalkboard paint. Chalk paint is a paint with calcium carbonate added, which you may guess, is chalk. That addition (plus I'm sure many others) make it so you can paint a surface without sanding or priming. The paint goes on thick (less coats and less paint) and does a fantastic job covering. Now, it's a matte finish and can show brush marks very easily, so you have to be into that look for it to work. You can finish the top of the paint with a wax coat or a poly (although wax is generally recommended). It's pretty durable once it's got a wax layer on, but it distresses easy before then. I painted my bathroom vanity with it and only topped with wax and a year and half later it still looks good.

The "gold" standard with chalk paint is Annie Sloan. I have often blogged about her paint (Check them out here, here and here). I love her paint but at around $50.00 for just a quart, it's spendy. Although, to be fair, that paint stretches super far. I have used just a sample pot (usually priced at $10.00) to paint an entire end table before. It's also only sold through exclusive retailers, so it can be hard to track down.

The chalk paint market has really expanded in the past couple of years as it becomes more and more popular to use the paint. Wal-Mart has two in house brands (usually located near the spray paint in the paint section and near the acrylic paint in the craft section). I have used those and actually don't mind them. They cover fairly well, and the antiquing wax does work well (almost too well). Check out my project with the Wal-Mart paint here.

I have made my own chalk paint using some unsanded grout. It works well for craft projects but is too lumpy (at least how I make it) for a larger display piece. Click here for the post about making your own chalk paint.

Anyways, I give you this background so you know what type of paint I'm talking about and that I've been around the block a couple of times when it comes to painting furniture. I think at last count, I have painted around 150 pieces of furniture in the past 5 years.

Lowe's/Valspar recently came out with their own version of chalk paint. At $30.00 a quart, it's middle of the road price wise. It has about 60 different colors. I needed to repaint an end table that was painted with latex paint a couple of years ago (and bad quality paint at that) and was starting to stain and flake. So I decided this was the perfect project to try out the new Valspar chalk paint.

Since this was an experiment and I didn't mind messing with the end table a bit, I took two different approaches. On the top, I left the old yellow latex paint. I sanded it so the shiny sheen was gone (so very light easy sanding) and then simply wiped it down.

The table looked okay right after I finished it. After a few years it looked nothing like this anymore. 

On the rest of the table, I actually scraped off all the old paint so I was down to the original brown/red finish. I then sanded more heavily and wiped everything down. This way, we can see how the paint performs on top of old light color paint and how it performs on a dark unfinished wood.

The very first "before" picture. The wood has a redish/brown hue.

Like other chalk paints, this one also claims that no sanding or priming is needed. Sanding is usually done to give your paint a rough surface to stick to. Primer is two fold. It gives a rougher finish to paint to stick to, but also prevents bleeding through. You'll see why that distinction is important as I start to paint.

When I opened the paint, I noticed it did have the typical thicker chalky appearance which is good. However, the paint doesn't go on thick. It ran in a couple of different places, which was surprising. Other brands are usually thick enough you don't have to worry about running.

The color is called "Beaded Reticule"

I did one coat on the entire piece and quickly realized that the paint was too thin to cover in just one coat. Annie Sloan has always covered in 1 coat for me apart from one dresser going from red to white which I had to do two coats.

Like other chalk paints, it also shows brush marks very easily. I noticed on my second coat that a regular bristle brush does much better than a foam brush when it comes to running. Good to know for future projects.

The top with the old yellow paint was covered in about 3 coats.

However, this is how my bottom shelf looks after SEVEN coats. Yes. SEVEN. That's terrible terrible coverage. The bottom could have certainly used a primer first to keep the redish wood from bleeding through. I finally gave up after seven and decided since there's a big basket that sits on this shelf, so I wasn't going to get worked up if it showed through. I decided to finish with poly rather than wax because I felt the paint didn't quite feel right to be covered with a top layer of wax. It was too much like latex paint.

Another fun fact, Annie Sloan dries super (super) fast. Sometimes that's almost a problem because I can't get a large surface done before it's started drying. The Valspar paint does not. It took about 2 hours to dry, much like latex paint.

So, over-all, the main reason you pick chalk paint is to: 1) paint without priming or sanding, 2) cover in less coats, 3) finish quickly. The Valspar paint failed at most of these. I do like the finished color and product, but since it worked much like latex paint, I could have used a semi-gloss or matte finish paint, had more color options and paid 1/3 the cost.