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.



Thursday, July 7, 2016

DIY Plank Farmhouse Ceilings


I'm excited to share this massive project we have completed in Ugly House. It was quite a bit of trial and error, so I'm hoping sharing our process will help anyone who is thinking of tackling this project. With all the going back and forth and refining the process, I finished painting and caulking the ceiling about 1 month after we started the project. So, this project isn't for the faint of heart if you're going to tackle a large surface area, but the impact is pretty incredible.


Plank Pine Boards (We used ultra thin pine plank boards that were about 8 feet long, available at Lowes. They were the EverTrue brand just like this one but pine.)
Ceiling Paint (We used Olympic One ceiling paint and primer in one.)
Nail gun & Compressor
Caulk & Caulk Gun
Wood Filler
Stud Finder
Saw (We used our compound miter saw and a jig saw for cuts around light fixtures.)
Ladder (We found a step stool with a wide platform was more comfortable than a ladder.)
Optional: Paint Sprayer

Cost of this project for approximately 600 square feet was around $500.00 dollars.


1. Prepaint Boards

The first step will be to decide how you want to finish the boards. You'll want to decide that before you start putting anything on the ceiling, because it's infinitely easier to deal with painting planks on a couple of saw horses than on the ceiling.

We did a couple of boards with a white wash effect (just a thin layer of primer on top).

I decided I didn't like the white wash look as much as a crisp white, so we went back to painting the boards. Since I knew I would be painting a LOT of boards, I bought a paint sprayer for the job. I went with this Wagner paint sprayer. For the most part it worked really well for the job. I didn't have to thin the paint to get it to go through the paint sprayer. So long as I kept working steadily, it didn't clog up. Cleaning up has been easy even if I let it set for too long because everything is plastic so the paint peels right off. Just like most paint sprayers, there will be a ton of over spray so I would definitely cover anything you don't want paint on. I gave each plank two coats of paint.

2. Mark Stud/Ceiling Joists

Before you start putting any boards up, you will want to use a stud finder to find the location of the ceiling joists so you can nail the plank into something more solid that drywall. I've seen a couple of ways people mark this out. You could find the joists and make a chalk line across the entire ceiling. We decided to just mark the joist locations for the first row and then keep nailing in a straight line from those first nail holes. It did mean that we would have to put some extra nails in if we got a bit off kilter, but for the most part it worked just fine.

This is where I should remark since we were going perpendicular to the ceiling joists, we got away with just nailing into the ceiling. If you wanted your planks to go parallel to the joists, you would need to take a moment to put in firing strips across the entire ceiling so you would have something solid to nail into. I also saw some paranoid people using liquid nails on top of the nailing into the joists. Since our ceilings were popcorn, we figured that step would be useless (it would just stick to the texture which already was falling apart). Since the boards snap into one another, we didn't have any issues with boards sagging even if an end wasn't at a joist.

FYI: Some of the popcorn ceilings are made with asbestos, so make sure you do your homework first. Thankfully our house was built after the time of asbestos so it wasn't something we had to be concerned with.

3. Start Hanging Planks

Our method to get a staggered look is much like the one you use when you're doing a floor. You start with a full piece of plank. You work your way down the row and cut the last piece to size. Using the remnant of the cut piece, you start the next row. That way your seams don't match up and you get a nice staggered look. I do not recommend my husband's handy platform as a good way to reach vaulted ceilings. It's a sure fire way to give your pregnant wife a case of terrible heartburn.

FYI: Put the planks on the wall in such a way that you're putting the male end into the female end. It's much easier to get the planks to snap into place.

FYI: Keep an eye out around light fixtures and do your research. You will need to remove the light (or at least loosen it in such a way to slip planks underneath). You may need to buy a box extender if you extend the ceiling downwards too far. We were okay without the extenders because the planks were so thin, but if you use anything much thicker, you would need to extend the box to be up to most code ordinances.

FYI: Make sure you have nails in your gun or you will get a bunch of extra holes to fill in. Case in point:

4. Fill Holes

As my husband was hanging planks, I would come behind him and use a bit of white wood filler in each hole. Now, I could have used caulk as part of the caulking step below, but I find that for small holes wood filler is much easier to sand out and look natural than caulk. After the filler had time to dry (look on the package to see approximate drying times), I would go back through and sand out any excess filler. It looks rather scary before you start sanding off the excess filler:

5. Caulk

So, I thought I would just do a final coat of paint and be done after the wood filler. Nope. I tried putting a final coat of paint on and it was clear that grooves were darker and looked unfinished. Plus, we decided not to be overly picky and not use knotted pine boards, so there were some big holes that were dark on the white crisp wall.

See what I mean? It was clear after painting a portion of the wood filled ceiling, I was going to have to go over every single groove with a line of caulk. I almost cried because I knew that part of the process was going to take forever. However, it completely changed the look of the ceiling. Caulk does that. It makes a DIY job look about a 100 times better, so it was worth the extra effort.

I decided that with the height of my step stool, my arm length (which is minuscule), and dry time, I could do about seven planks at a time. So I just started in one corner of the room, did the seven planks in front of me, and then moved my ladder down the line until I reached the next wall. Applying caulk is fairly easy. I would cut a small angled slit in the end of the caulk tube, put a bead of caulk in the groove (working towards me, not away from me), and then smooth the bead with a damp finger. I would wipe the entire board with a damp cloth to get the excess caulk and then go back over the groove one more time with a damp finger to make sure everything was smooth. I would fill in any other imperfections in the plank with caulk as I went along.

6. Final Coat of Paint

Since I had filled in holes and caulked the boards, one final clean coat of paint was necessary. Covering all the furniture with drop cloths, I did a quick final coat with a roller and extended handle. Don't be surprised if you're boards look dirty before the final paint coat. Chances are you're going to get sweaty and dirty putting them up and make them look terrible in the process. As you can see, my husband had no shortage of dirt when he put them up.

7. Trim

The final step to this entire process is to hang trim around the edges of the ceiling. We haven't completed this step because we're deciding between a simple 1x4 as a trim or a clean line crown molding. However, compared to the headache of the rest of the ceiling, that part of the process will be simple.

One step closer to wrapping the support beams so they look pretty!


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