Antique mahogany dresser makeover....

AGAIN, no kitchen reveal. I know...disappointing! But I am still waiting on the trim I ordered to finish out the little details and when I get that done, I will share. Course now I mulling over the idea of putting in glass doors...maybe a little more paint...maybe a little more lighting. See, it never ends!

So while I impatiently wait I am going to share a pathetic little dresser that came to me by way of my neighbor. It had a few more repairs than he was willing to tackle...for me, no biggy!

Chipped drawer fronts, damaged veneer top, and a pretty sketch wiring job on the back legs that was evidently keeping the entire thing from exploding...because when I removed it, the cabinet pretty much fell apart!

The veneer really wasn't in that bad of shape when I got it. Naturally, I forgot to take a picture BEFORE I started ripping into it!

Like many old pieces, it had a beautiful mahogany veneer on the top, but time had taken it's toll on this one and the veneer had lifted and chipped. Course the edges came right off with little was the rest of it that took a lot of work! 

On these older pieces, the beautiful veneer is usually laid over a pretty decent piece of wood. Like this oak library table my daughter and I refinished, removing the veneer just entails a good steam iron, a scraper and a lot of elbow grease! Always be VERY careful when removing old veneer...scrape WITH the grain and make sure you don't gouge the substructure. And if you are using an iron for a heat source, make sure you put an old rag between the iron and the veneer!

When you remove the veneer,  you are going to reveal all the "warts." While the wood is solid and often beautiful, it will probably have a prominent grain and a few knots here and there...embrace it! If you ask me, that is what makes wood's "character." 

The back of the cabinet required glue and clamps. Again, ALWAYS make sure your pieces are properly repaired before you start "refinishing." Or honestly, you are wasting your time! In this case, I didn't have much choice since it really did fall apart when I removed the wire that was "clamping" the back two legs together, which was basically holding the entire back in place. 

The next chore was repairing the two damaged drawers. Not only was the mahogany veneer chipped and missing, but the "substructure" it was adhered to was missing. 

This may seem like a daunting task, and is probably what frightened my neighbor the most, but it is just a little "puzzle." Just recreate a new base by glueing a scrap piece in place and then use wood filler to "sculpt" a new corner...lots of patience and some careful sanding! This may take 2-3 shots to get it right, but it is doable! Since I planned on painting the drawer fronts, it worked perfectly!

After all the repairs were completed and the veneer top was completely removed, I chalk painted and distressed the cabinet and the drawers and applied a walnut stain to the top. I sealed the top with three coats of tung oil finish and the chalk paint with a few coats of spray on poly!

The inside of the top drawers were a bit worn and stained so I gave them a little KTSP treatment with a bright teal! 

New porcelain knobs...and OH MY! Beautiful again! 

Don't turn your noise up at old, damaged pieces. This piece had three strikes against it, but it was hardly down and out. Yes, it took a little work, but in the end it was well worth the time and effort!

This piece would be perfect for one of those precious French graphics from "The Graphics Fairy," but I think I will let the new owner add their own creative touches!

Another piece ready for another lifetime of use!

Rewiring an old fan and my home's 15 seconds of fame....

The trim pieces for the kitchen still have not come in so as much as I would love the share my kitchen "reset" I am going to hold off until it is ALL done. I did share the construction and addition of the floating shelves last week, and you can check that out here.

This week I want to share an easy little project that I incorporated into my kitchen.

I have always wanted a fan in my kitchen...especially now that I am at the age when sudden bursts of "heat" wash over me (some call them hot flashes...but those are for old women!) A paddle fan isn't really a good idea in the kitchen, especially if you have a gas range like I do.

Over the years I have bought several "vintage" and "antique" fans at auctions. My favorite was a teal fan I had in my room for months...but as with a lot of things, it eventually went to the flea market and was sold...darn it! NOW I have the perfect place for it! 

A month or so ago I picked up two antique fans at an a Westinghouse and the other an Emerson. I did a little research and found that both were from the 1930s. One had a decent, intact cord on it so I tested it and it worked beautifully after it was cleaned up and oiled. The other had a pretty ratty cord and there was NO WAY I was plugging that sucker in!

I took the working fan to my booth and kept the one that had the ratty cord. Since it had the "least value" and was a tad smaller and lighter, I decided to keep it and replace the cord!

The first thing I had to do was give it a good scrubbing. Most of the fans I have bought have been pretty nasty. Straight ammonia and steel wool! Not fun but necessary. Then I spritz all the insides with WD40.

Replacing the cord on any appliance, especially these old fans, is not difficult. If you can open it up and find the electrical connections, its pretty simple. These old fans have a few screws holding the baseplate onto the base of the fan...just remove the screws and remove the base plate.

Make sure you note where the old connections want to make sure you hook up the new wiring properly. Occasionally, I will use painter's tape to actually "label" the posts or wiring so I don't forget...or better yet take a picture of it. 

(Disclaimer...I actually used an old extension cord I had stripped to make sure the fan actually worked before I invested in a new cord! No sense in replacing the cord, only to discover that the fan motor wasn't working!) 

Once I opened it up and got a look at the connections (and cleaned it up a bit...ewww), I purchased a new cord and electrical connectors at Lowe's. 

The replacement cords have two bare wires on one end and a plug on the other. Just "crimp" the connectors on each wire and then attach the new wiring to the fan (or appliance) like the original wiring was connected. In my case, one wire went on one bolt and the other wire went on another bolt...then just tightened with a nut and washer...simple simon! 

Then reassemble the fan. On this fan, it was just a matter of putting the base back on!

This fan is a little "vintagey" for my decor tastes, but I like that it adds just a touch of "eclectic" to this space. And as with everything, it will serve a great purpose when those heat waves hit!


A few weeks ago, an old classmate of my son posted on Facebook that a producer he works for needed a fireplace to use in a photo shoot. Hey, I have TWO fireplaces...sweet!

I thought "photo shoot" meant they wanted to come take a few pictures. Um, no. Verge Videos is currently shooting a commercial for Dayspring Greeting Cards in my den. And since it is a Christmas commercial, we had to haul a bunch of Christmas decorations down out of the attic to "stage" the shots!

I know several bloggers who have had to decorate their house for Christmas in JUNE for magazine shoots! Pish-posh...not happening...and now it is! 

Truth is, it is fun to watch all the work (and mess) that goes into making a simple little commercial! Lighting, props, hair and makeup...the whole shabang! Super cool process! 

I have no idea if this is a local or national commercial. Doesn't house is officially a "pro" and will get it's 15 seconds of fame. 


THREE different Floating shelf tutorials...

I am going to wait to do a full reveal on my kitchen "reset." I call it a "reset" because I didn't paint the exterior of the cabinets or get new flooring or counters...just moved cabinets around, removed a few doors, painted the inside of a few cabinets, added some under-counter lighting and added shelving. So while it is a major change, and looks and functions MUCH better, it isn't a full-blown makeover.

Today I am going to share a tutorial on floating shelves. Actually THREE different tutorials!

The first thing I had to do was figure out which cabinets I wanted to "pop up" and where I wanted open shelving. That was what all the planning and measuring and drawing has been all about for the last few months. After I decided on the "configuration" of the cabinetry, I moved the cabinets that needed to be moved (see a tutorial on doing that hereand decided what "stuff" I wanted on each shelf...that is an important part of the plan because you don't want to plan on storing a 10" tall Anchor Hocking jar on a shelf that, in the end, only has 9" clearance!

The problem with adding floating shelves to any room is the need to plan for the weight of the items it will hold and whether or not there are studs to anchor the support.

In my kitchen, I had four areas I wanted to add floating shelves. I didn't want brackets, so the "support" for each shelf was a huge issue. In the end, I had to construct and anchor three different types of shelving to give me the clean look of floating shelves!

The first area was the hardest only because it was the longest span and will hold all my dishes. When I weighed my dishes they came to SIXTY FOUR POUNDS!!!! Just for plates, bowls and salad plates....that didn't account for cups, glasses or condiment bowls! Course then it dawned on me that I really didn't NEED to display ALL my dishes so I pulled out 8 place settings and stored the rest above the pantry! Not a great place to store something you use every day, but perfect for things you only need a few times a year! I actually have MORE of these dishes in my hall pantry...they are Pier One Bianca ironstone and they don't make it any I stock up every time I find them on Ebay or Etsy!

The two shelves were still going to hold a lot of weight and I knew I needed something sturdier than a pre-build floating shelf you buy at Lowe's. 

The wiring is from my under counter lighting that was attached to the cabinet! Notice the black piece of electrical tape on the switch so someone didn't accidentally flip that switch!!

I found a tutorial online for floating shelves using metal brackets attached to the studs by cutting out the sheetrock. God help me, I did not save the link! Since I knew what I needed to do, I didn't need to refer back to the tutorial! Hopefully my tutorial will give you the information you need!

My plan was to attach L brackets directly to the studs and then conceal them with sheetrock and the construction of the shelf! 

The first thing I did was locate the two studs with a stud-finder. I marked the location, used my L brackets to "trace" out the area I needed to cut out and then cut out the sheetrock. 

You can use a Dremel with a cutting blade but I didn't want to blow dust all over the place. I just cut it out with a utility knife and chisel.

After cutting out the opening, I set the L brackets directly on the studs, made sure it was level between the brackets by laying a 24" level across the two, predrilled the holes for the screws and then attached them to the studs using heavy duty wood screws...3/8" bolts will work as well!!! 

You may notice that the brackets are set 1/4" above the top of the tile...that is because the underside of the shelf will be 1/4" plywood and I want to be able to slip it on top of the tile. Someday I MIGHT change my backsplash and I want to be able to remove the tile without messing with the shelving!

After the brackets were attached, I used sheetrock mud to fill in the holes...right over the bracket attached to the studs. You could "patch" the area like I showed you here, or you can just fill them with mud. As the mud dries, it will crack, and you may have to sand and refill it 2-3 biggy....I had a lot of stuff going on over several days so I wasn't in a hurry!

After the mud dried, I sanded it well, sprayed it with texture (again, this tutorial shows you how to do that) and then painted it (AGAIN, this is where having leftover touchup paint is SO important...unless you are repainting the entire wall!)

Here is the downside to doing tutorials...I don't always take the pictures I should take! Sooooooo......try to follow me here. The shelf was pretty much constructed the same way the shelves adjacent to the refrigerator you can see pictures of the construction later in this post!

I cut, primed, sanded and put one coat of paint on all the shelving components before I put them together...that way, once it was all constructed all I had to do was caulk, putty the holes and give it one final coat of paint! (I used oil based paint on the shelves...maybe overkill but I know it will hold up!)

I used 3/8" plywood for the top of the shelf...I cut it (and the 1/4" ply for the underside) the size I wanted the shelf, LESS the 1/2" for the strips of wood used to face the front and both sides (Example, if you want your shelf to be 8" deep and 30" wide, you would cut your plywood 7 1/2" x 29"). I glued and nailed 1/2" plywood strips to the underside of the 3/8" top to create a "channel" for the electrical cord for the under counter lighting and for the bracket. I laid the 3/8" plywood across the two brackets and attached the top to the L bracket with #10-3/8" screws and then glued and nailed 1/4" plywood to the underside. So all in all, the thickness of each shelf was 1 1/8" thick (3/8" top + 1/2" inside strips + 1/4" underside = 1 1/8" thick.)

I wanted to reinstall my under counter lighting to the bottom shelf so I measured for it's placement and drilled holes for the electrical wiring in the underside (1/4" plywood) of the bottom shelf and ran the wiring between the "channels" and through the holes before I attached the bottom to the top of the shelf. KNOW WHERE YOUR ELECTRICAL WIRING IS so you don't put a nail through it when you are nailing the underside to the top!

I capped the edges off with 1/2" boards...1/2 x 2" (actually 1/2" x 1 1/2") for the top shelf with no light and 1/2 x 3" (actually 1/2" x 2 1/2") for the bottom shelf so the light fixture would not show when it was installed. Caulked, puttied and gave them one final coat of paint!

A huge advantage to constructing your own support or frame is you can make the shelves any depth you want...I actually made the bottom shelf a little deeper than the top shelf.

The spice corner was a tad easier. Since the items on those shelves were pretty light weight I used premade floating shelves. The only adjustment was the width of the shelves. The smallest premade floating shelf I could find was 18" but my space was only 15". The upside is the metal bracket the shelf slips on to was only 15" wide, so I was able to cut the actual shelf down...1 1/2" off each side, and still use the metal bracket! I painted those to match the dish shelf and installed them per the directions. (Yes, you can easily paint pre-made floating aren't limited to white or black!)

The two 15" shelves on either side of the refrigerator were another "challenge" and constructed completely different because one side had NO studs in the 15" span and the other side only had ONE stud. Curses.

Not a biggy. Sometimes you just have to get creative!!! 

I built a "skeleton" for each shelf using 1x2 material (actually 3/4" x 1 1/2") I didn't want to make the skeleton too terribly heavy but since only one side of each shelf could be attached to the adjacent cabinet, I decided to beef up the "free floating" side with a 2x2" (actually 1 1/2" x 1 1/2") I used oak on the side that attaches to the wall since it is a "harder" wood! The rest is poplar since it is a little bit lighter! Make sure when you "design" your skeleton that you account for the 1/2" "facing" that will go on the front and sides. For example, my space was 15" wide x 14" deep...since I was "facing" the shelves with 1/2" material on the front and one side, I made my skeleton 14 1/2" x 13 1/2". Sometimes it helps to actually draw it out with the measurements!

I glued each joint, tacked them with a trim nailer and then counter sunk screws...just to make it all nice and sturdy!

If you don't have a special "counter sink" screw bit, you can always cheat like I do...first, predrill the hole using a small bit (1/16th ish bit!)...

...then use a bit that is a tad larger than your screw head and drill on top of the small bit hole, maybe 1/8" deep...then just put your screw in!

It is important to predrill holes because the wood WILL split if you do not!

After constructing the "skeleton" for the shelf, I placed it on the wall, leveled it, then predrilled 4 holes through the skeleton into the sheetrock. 

Notice I tacked a piece of 1/4" plywood to the bottom of the skeleton so I could maintain enough space to slip the 1/4" plywood underside on after the skeleton and top were installed!

After pre-drilling the holes through the skeleton and into the wall, I removed the shelf and inserted "self-screwing" sheetrock anchors into the wall... the package says they hold 80 pounds each...I'm hoping four will do the job since there is no stud in this area!!!

I used the screws that came with the self-drilling drywall anchors to secure the skeleton to the wall. I added washers on the left shelf since it didn't have a stud in the wall to attach to.... just for good measure!

Litty inspected my work every step of the way!!!!

 The right side had one stud to anchor to, so I used two self-drilling drywall anchors (no washers this time) and two sheetrock screws into the stud. For good measure I used my nail gun to nail from the inside of the skeleton into the adjoining cabinet (making sure it was level from back to front!)...again, probably overkill!

After the skeletons for the shelves were securely anchored, I used 1/2" plywood for the top and 1/4"  for the underside. Glue and a few trim nails. The thickness of the shelf is 1/2" top + 1 1/2" skeleton + 1/4" underside = 2 1/4"... so I used 1/2" x 3" boards (again, actually 2 1/2") for the front and sides (all pre-primed and 1 coat of paint). Caulk, putty, paint!

Three different construction methods...this is one of those times when one shoe WILL NOT fit all and you really have to get creative! 

This may all seem like a daunting task...and I may make it seem easy. But even for me, it is not. You really have to think, and draw, and measure and plan. And be willing to throw your hands up and start over when something doesn't work the way you thought it would! THAT is what DIY is all about.

You may have noticed that since I popped up the cabinets, you can actually see the underside now...that will not do! And that is one of the pieces of "trim" I am waiting on to finish things up...1/8" maple ply that will cover the underside of the cabinets. I had David at Sherwin Williams do a stain match and he did an AWESOME as soon as the trim and skins come in and I get them stained and installed, I will do a full reveal! 

In the end...I have exactly what I shelving in my kitchen and when I reveal the entire kitchen you will see how this all ties together. At least for now you know that you are not limited to the measly little 10 pound limit of a pre-built floating shelf! You CAN build a floating shelf that will hold more weight, anywhere you want! 

"Blah" to "BAM" cheap furniture makeovers...YOU CAN DO IT!!!

This past week I have been working on my kitchen (I told you the "small" projects wouldn't squash the urge!) I still have a few little trim details to hunt down and then I will try to do a feature next week. I had to construct three different types of open shelving and I rewired an 80 year old Westinghouse fan...AND IT WORKS!!! I'll share all that as well!

This week I want to share a few little projects that YOU can do! Do you have a piece of furniture (or two or ten) that is just "blah?" A cheap little shelving unit you picked up at the big box store and put together with the little allen wrench that came with the screws. Maybe a few ancient bedside tables you inherited from your mom. A particle board table that has seen it's better days.

I know I have harped on this before, but seriously it bares repeating! If you are just starting out, are on a tight budget, feel the need to keep furniture given to you by family, or just want to change things up a bit, you NEED to be able to do simple makeovers!

Before you toss a piece of furniture to the curb, think about "updating" it a tad. Even the cheapest, most basic piece can be saved with just a tiny bit of time and effort! As I have said time and again, the worst that can happen is you still hate it and it still only brings $1 at your next garage sale. 

I find pieces like this all the time at my apartments. I drag them home, clean them up with ammonia (stinky but gets the old gunk off!) and then give them a little facelift!

This was one haul out of one unit....

The little bedside tables are the old orange maple...ugly as sin but super sturdy and solid wood! The little coffee table is one of those inexpensive "fake" wood things that comes with the little allen wrench tool for the bolts! And the spindle shelf had particle board shelving. All in all, pretty dated stuff!

This little shelf came out of another unit...

It was missing a drawer and it had a few loose bolts, but whatever...still salvageable!

I find these things in my apartments, but you can find them at thrift stores and garage sales for next to nothing! 

All I did to the little shelf with reeded drawers was give it a little KSTP treatment (Kilz, sand, tack cloth and paint!

Perfect for added storage in a bathroom, kitchen or kid's room!

I decided to do something a little fancier on the coffee table and bedside tables. I striped the tops with the acetone/lacquer thinner mixture, added a little java gel stain, then sealed them with spray on poly (if stripping and staining is beyond your skill level, just paint the tops!)

The bases are simple KSTP treatment. New hardware on the bedside tables and these pieces are perfect for updating any space! 

The spindle corner shelf got a simple KSTP treatment! 

I don't have a "before" picture of the little chalkboard shelf. Basically it was a stained wood frame with an ugly picture of a teddy bear! Ewwwww. Gave the frame a chalkpaint and distress treatment (spray paint would work too!) and I painted the board backing with chalkboard paint. Super simple "upcycle!"

Years ago I scrapbooked all the boys athletic pictures. A chore considering they both played football and baseball their entire childhood! (I strongly suggest you do this every year rather than try to find time to do all 15 years at once!)

The square frames were a perfect fit for a 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper and would be perfect for someone who wanted an easy way to display their kid's sports pictures. I applied the scrapbook paper onto the foam backing with a spritz of spray adhesive, used a glue stick to attach pictures and KSTP the frames. This would be the perfect way to "scrapbook" photos...then you can take them out of the frame and just slip them into an album when it is time to change out the pictures next year!

Before you paint a piece, make sure all the "bolts and joints" are tight and the piece is sturdy. If tightening a screw or bolt doesn't solve the wobbles, take time to GLUE AND CLAMP whatever ails the piece. No sense in making it pretty if it is going to collapse the first time one of the kids leans on it! 

All these projects have one thing in common. Spray paint. Seriously...a little primer, a little sanding and a little spray paint...and you have changed the entire look! 

I have shared many of these simple little makeovers in the past! A few dressers here, here here and here. Several coffee tables here, here and here and Lord knows how many frame makeovers (herehere, and here!)

Challenge yourself. Pick out ONE piece of furniture or a frame in your house you really don't like. Go to Lowes and pick up a can of Kilz, a little sandpaper, a package of tack cloth and a can of your favorite color spray paint (total under $15) and give it a go! YOU CAN DO IT! 

I promise!

Another feature on Remodeloholic!

It is always a great honor to have my projects featured on Remodeloholic!

I was featured on Remodelaholic

This week they are featuring this tutorial for installing a glass insert in an interior hollow core door! You can check out their post here!

Several months ago they featured my tutorial for stripping and refinishing a dining room table!

I received a lot of positive feedback but most important for me was the opportunity to share a super easy way to refinish even the most ornate and difficult piece of furniture!

I was fortunate to have a dad who knew EVERYTHING about construction and "projecting." It always makes me kind of sad that I don't have his knowledge to lean on when I start any project. He didn't have the internet...just a lifetime of experience.

My dad wasn't around long enough to teach me everything I know about DIYing and projecting...he didn't teach me to to tile or build shelves or repair furniture. What he did teach me is that if I want "nice" and "pretty," I need to be able to roll up my sleeves and go to work...and use the resources I have available to teach myself how to "JUST DO IT!" 

So I am so grateful that there is a blogosphere filled with information, helpful tips, tutorials, inspiration and support for anything and everything DIY.....sites like AWESOME resource for just about any DIY project. And I am honored to be one of the few who share what we do so you can do it too!


It's the simple (and cheap!) things in life...

Yes, I get excited about towels. I'm weird like that.

Over the years I have transitioned to all white towels, wash cloths and dish towels.

First, if I need additional towels, I don't have to worry about finding the right "red" or "green" or "blue." I just buy white.

Second, I like the fact that I can bleach everything. Ever think your towels smell "musty?" Adding vinegar to the rinse cycle does making sure you don't let them sit in the washing machine too long! But if all your towels are white, it is easy to get rid of any musty smell by bleaching and you always know your bath towels and kitchen towels are sanitized! 

A few years ago I had a tenant who worked for a commercial laundry facility and she would bring me HUGE bags of dish towels and wash clothes. Some had stains or rips and those were perfect for my "shop rags" or cleaning rags at the apartments. But some were in pretty good shape and I used them as kitchen dish towels. When those got stained or worn, I just tossed them in my "rag box" in the garage!

She doesn't work there any more so when I decided I needed hand towels, I went on line and started shopping around for "bar towels." I like those pretty decorative dish towels (I have a few for the holidays), but let's be honest, who wants to pay $5-10 for a stupid dish towel! 

I found them...on Ebay sold by Georgia Towels. The exact same towels I have been using, but new....

For less than $31 (free shipping) for FIVE dozen (60 total) I got perfect little hand/dish towels for my kitchen. Even though they have a blue stripe they can still be bleached. The hand towels also come in yellow, red and green stripes and they have 12 x 12 white wash cloths, which I use quite a bit in my kitchen! 

MUCH cheaper than using roll after roll of paper towels! Big enough to dry pots and pans but small enough to wipe down counters and clean up spills.

If you are going "paperless" like Martyea suggests on her blog, this is the perfect, inexpensive solution!

I love the quality and price of these little towels so much I decided to give their bath towels a shot!

These are "ringspun" 100% cotton towels. According to, "Ringspun cotton bath towels are made by twisting long and short fibers together to make smoother, finer yarn. The created yarn feels more luxurious than combed cotton bath towels threads."

These towels are "17# per dozen" so they are considered a "medium/heavy weight" towel!

They are totally awesome towels!!! At less than $7 a towel, they are much less expensive than what you will pay for the same quality in retail stores. Much plusher than I thought they would be!!!

This brings me to my "lecture" for those of you who "impulse" buy. Thankfully, I am not a shopper...I honestly don't like shopping. At Christmas, I burn up the internet and wear out my UPS guys and pretty much make one visit to the mall.

I avoid "discount stores" even when buying groceries. I shop in a grocery store to avoid being temped to buy new towels, sheets, clothing, auto supplies, office supplies, etc on a whim. Yes, prices on groceries may be a smidge cheaper at the "discount stores," but your overall shopping experience can end up costing you more because of "impulse" purchases! 

For personal products (detergent, shampoo, tooth care, makeup, pet food, etc) I coupon shop. I use the sites and (there is a CVS site as well!) to help me identify great deals on products I can stock up on! To give you an idea of how much money I save, I rarely pay ANYTHING for toothpaste, toothbrushes, and soap, I never pay over $1 for shampoo and conditioner (high dollar brands too!), and just pennies for high end razors and shave cream, meds, and detergents! 

No, you do not have to be one of those crazy "extreme couponers" who sit and clip coupons and make excel spreadsheets all day. Just scroll through those two sites and identify the products you use...or will use! They tell you exactly how to "structure the deal" and what coupons you will need. Many coupons can be printed right off your computer or Iphone. When you combine manufacturer coupons, store coupons, online apps (like Target's cartwheel) and sales, you can save TONS!

Before you "impulse" buy necessities, look around and see what you REALLY need. Limit your grocery shopping to ONLY things you your "personal products" using coupon sites to help you identify great deals on items you can stock up on.

A tiny bit of homework and limiting your "impulse buying" can save you thousands a year!!!

This week I started working on my kitchen...OH MY! Now I remember why I don't tear into huge projects any more. Long days, major frustrations, several trips to the home improvement store a day....and the mess. I'm just moving cabinets and building shelves and we have eaten take out two nights in a row!!! Just too much clutter going on in there!

Hopefully I will be able to share a little bit of the progress next week!

How to install a window in an interior door!

I told you...when I am trying to avoid ripping into a MAJOR project, I start little ones.

I haven't had a lot of time to "project" around the house. Between the apartments and the furniture makeovers for the flea market, I've been a bit swamped. But I keep walking into my kitchen with a tape measure and graph paper and that is dangerous!!! 

So I decided to tackle a small project I have been mulling over for some time. I checked Pinterest and there weren't any tutorials for this project so I had to make it up as I went!

I wanted to add a window to my laundry door. It is a small room and while I am RARELY in there with the door shut, I thought it might open up this hallway a bit. And honestly, if I really like it, I may do all the doors. (I painted my interior doors black and shared that project here. It has been over two years and I STILL love them!)

As with many projects, I mull and plan and think and draw. I finally just took the door into the garage and cut a big ole' hole in it with my skill saw and jig saw. Solved the big problem...procrastination. Now I kinda had to do something with! 

I did make one critical error on this project. I neglected to get an estimate for the reeded glass I had fallen in love with. When I did call (AFTER I cut the hole!) I found out the glass was going to cost me THREE TIMES more than I "guestimated." To the tune of $160. Lesson learned...before you fall in love with an "idea," FIRST make a plan and get estimates! I could have gone with a cheaper decorative glass, but I wanted THIS glass.

Reeded glass!

My interior doors are typical "builder grade" six-panel, hollow core doors. When you cut into them you will find they are exactly what they say they are...hollow. Truth is, the only real wood bracing is around the edges and where the hardware attaches. 

So after cutting a big ole' hole in the door, I had to install wood bracing for my window frame. 

The bracing needed to be 1 1/8" thick to fit between the "skins." If you are familiar with wood cuts, you know that is not a standard cut. I could have stopped in the local door shop and asked for some wood strips to use for bracing around the cutout but I decided to use some wood I had on hand and rip it down to the width I needed.

Therein lies one of the problems I have when DIYing. I don't own a table saw...and never will. My father (who grew up in construction!) had 3 brothers and a brother-in-law...and he was the only one of the 5 who managed to get through his life with all his fingers intact. And someone once told me that if the wood got bound up in the saw, it would kick back and hit you in the face. Now I have never been on the cover of People Magazine's "most beautiful woman" issue, but I kind of like my face. One time I stupidly tried to use a utility knife to cut through vinyl siding...the knife slipped and the blade whacked me square in the nose. At the time my daughter was in diapers so I drove to the ER with a diaper on my face and demanded to see a plastic surgeon. After inspection in the bathroom mirror, I determined that it was a fairly superficial cut (dang, noses can bleed a lot!) and quietly left the ER without ever seeing a doctor (I do still have a scar!)

So I won't use a table saw. When I build cabinets or shelving, I have the awesome guys at Lowe's cut my plywood. But I have found a way to cut fairly straight lines for most projects.

I drilled little holes in a large metal yard stick. I measure for my cut and mark the line on the board, then I secure the yard stick with screws 1 1/2" from the cut line...this basically creates a "guide" to run my skill saw along and allows me to cut a straight line. 

Problem solved! Now if I could just figure out a way to get a flat tire changed since my father is no longer around and my favorite tire shop closed. Thank God I haven't had a flat in 20 years! Cuz I don't do that either!

Anywho, after cutting 1 1/8" bracing strips, I cut four pieces the length I needed for the four sides of the opening. I applied wood glue and slipped the strips between the door "skins." A little trick...set a screw on each end of the board before putting it in the door...that way if it slips to far into the door, you can use the screws to make adjustments. Then just back the screw out when you have finished clamping.

I measured from the inside edge of my strips to the outside edge of the door...all the way around....and adjusted the bracing strip so that I had the same distance from edge to edge.  My cutout was NOT the exact distance from the edges, but the strips need to be since I would be attaching my "frame" to it. I also measured the opening to make sure it was the same width and height all the way around.

After making adjustments to each strip and making sure each was in the proper position, I clamped them and let the glue dry.  

No need for nails...wood glue will do the trick if you let it dry well!

After the glue dried, it was time to add the "inside" framing. Fortunately the width of the strip and the skins combined was 1 1/2". That worked out perfectly for  1/4" x 2 (really 1 1/2") craft board (available at Lowe's) as my frame! 

I measured and cut them with my chop saw. I pre-primed my trim pieces with Kilz and sanded and then I installed them with glue and trim nails. 

Yes, I noticed the bottom frame piece was a tad bad. I ended up "lifting" it, removing the nails and repositioning it so it was flush with the side piece!!! One of the many stupid frustrations of DIYing...the dreaded "oops."

I wanted a very simple and small trim since the real focal point of the entire project is the window! I thought I could use the 1/4" x 2 craft boards but they only came in 3' lengths and the height of the window was over 36". I ended up buying what is called "door stop" material....the piece of trim on the inside jamb of a door that actually stops the door. It is 1 1/2" wide and 1/4" thick and it comes with or without a decorative profile on one edge. I ended buying the one with a little decorative edge, just for a tiny bit of detailing! I trimmed both sides of the opening. (Forgot to take a picture after the trim was placed, but you can see it in the next picture! I secured it with glue and trim nails). 

I found a teeny tiny little decorative trim to use as a "frame" for the window. It's really tiny...1/4 wide. Since my frame is 1 1/2 wide, I marked the center (3/4") and then 1/8" on each side since glass inserts are usually 3/8 to 1/4" thick.

I cut and CAREFULLY glued and tacked the tiny trim on one line. 

I went ahead and caulked everything, puttied the holes, gave it a light sanding and painted it all. I did this so I would only have to tape off and paint one side of the window trim after I got the window set in place! (Mistake alert! I didn't prepaint the backside of the tiny trim I put on you can see the white primer through the window now that it is installed! Paint the backside of your trim before you put it on!)

(Then I had to wait a week because I didn't think about the fact that they might just have to order the glass...which took "3-5 business days." Then I had to wait ANOTHER "3-5 business days" because they ordered the glass wrong...delays are inevitable!)

After the paint dried (and the glass FINALLY came in!) I applied a SMALL bead of silicone caulk all the way around the inside of the tiny trim and set the window in place. The silicone is important because it holds the glass in place and creates a "soft bed" for the glass so it won't rattle around in the frame.  Then I glued and tacked the tiny trim on the other side of the window. (Do this VERY carefully...if you hit the glass with a nail it WILL shatter!)

TA DA!!!! I absolutely LOVE it. The glass (reeded it!) is absolutely perfect. But it was NOT cheap. 

This is "rain" glass and it is about 1/3 the cost....

...a very pretty glass and a much cheaper option. But it wasn't the look I fell in love with so I paid the price for the glass I wanted. However, the odds of me doing the other doors is slim!

If you are installing glass in a door, I would strongly recommend getting a piece that is "tempered." It is about 4x stronger than "plain" glass and if shattered, it breaks into a bunch of tiny, relatively harmless pieces vs. the super sharp shards of regular glass!

Tempered glass really isn't that much more expensive...especially when you consider the safety factor! 

Also, the glass will be much heavier than the "hollow" this is the time to replace the short hinge screws with longer screws that actually go into the framing of the door. You can buy longer hinge screws, but I just used black sheetrock screws. I will probably change them out next time I make a run to Lowe's. This is important because the weight can cause the door to "drag" or stick on the knob side. For that matter, if you have a door that drags or sticks, try replacing a few of the short hinge screws with longer ones! This door was sticking even before the new glass and using the longer screws worked like a charm! (In the picture above you can actually see where the black paint rubbed off on the door jamb!)

There you have it. A tutorial for dressing up an otherwise boring interior door! There are so many other things you could do with this same process...maybe a chalkboard insert or fabric or even a MUCH less expensive glass! 

You are only limited by your imagination!

Little oak side table....

I am so bummed. I really wanted to share my little laundry room door project I mentioned last week. The only thing holding me up is the glass. I called and the glass came in, but it was wrong. DANG IT!!!

So today I am just going to share a simple little table. 

One of the reasons I needed a flea market space was because I was always finding cool little pieces at my apartments. I would haul home a table or dresser or chair and give it a cute little make over...and then give it away! 

I don't mind giving things away to friends and family...but after awhile I did have to come to terms with the fact that I was spending money (not to mention a lot of time) on these little the "rehab to resell" became a necessity. That, and I tend to haul home A LOT of little goodies from auctions and as I have said before, if I didn't have the flea market outlet (and wasn't a tad OCD) I could easily become a hoarder.

I love auctions...and I love restoring furniture. What can I say! 

Anywho, I found this little solid oak table in an apartment. It was super sturdy and had already been stripped so it really just needed a little TLC.

I did scrub the top with my acetone/lacquer thinner mixture just to clean it up a bit. Then I stained the top with a walnut stain and applied 3 coats of tung oil finish. After that cured well, I taped and papered off the top and gave the bottom a KSTP treatment. (For those who are new, that is Kilz/sand/tack cloth/paint. I used my current favorite Valspar teal color. 

New life for an old, abandoned table destined for the dumpster. Now it is a perfect little side table for the living room or even a bedside table.

Looking back at all the projects I have shared, it is easy to see that I still struggle with painting EVERYTHING....seems I almost always try to preserve a little "natural wood" if I can. Personally, I think the paint "updates" the piece and the stained wood gives it warmth.  I am working on a desk and a fireplace surround right now and both have stained tops and painted bases....guess that's just my thang! 

Hopefully the RIGHT glass will come in this week and I can share my door next week! I can't's going to be awesome!!!

In the meantime, pull your least favorite piece of furniture into the garage or yard and give it a little KSTP're gonna love it! 

Bedside table makeover....

I spent several days this week projecting on a few pieces I picked up at auctions, as well as a little project here at the house.

I can't wait to share the home project...but I will have to. Even veteran DIYers flub every blue moon! In this case, I neglected to get a quote and delivery time frame on a "simple" piece of glass. Let's just say one should not fall in love with something if they have no idea how much it REALLY cost. I should know better...but by the time I called and got an estimate, it was too late. The vision was set and the damage was done!

I will have to wait until next week to share this AWESOME project....and in the meantime I will have to live with a big hole in my utility room door...stay tuned! (no it is not a doggy door!)

So this week I will share one of the little projects I managed to get done. I usually wait until I have 3-4 pieces to work on before I drag out the stripper and paint! Normally it is easier but it is just soooo hot! Working all day in the garage can really be draining!

Last week I bought these two little bedside tables at an auction.

Dark, dated and the drawers were a little wonky. But overall they were in pretty sound shape. 

The drawers were an easy fix...the metal glides were a tad bent so I took a pair of pliers and straightened them out...perfect. 

Usually I paint the tops of these pieces, but this time I decided to try stripping them...what harm could be done? Sure enough, the old poly finish just melted off (using this process!) leaving a beautiful wood veneer top perfect for a little walnut stain and tung oil finish.

I painted the existing brass hardware with a gold metallic paint. I gave the drawers a little KSTP treatment with a pretty "teal" spray paint, chalk painted the cabinets and distressed them a bit before sealing with a spray poly.

Cute as a bug's ear!!!!

These little tables fit perfectly in my commitment to stay "small." They still take a little time and energy, but they are MUCH easier to move around than the bigger pieces! 

And this is just ANOTHER example of how you can take a dark, dated, wonky piece of furniture and give it new life!!!

It is time to scale down!!!!

I have made some hard decisions regarding the direction of my "rehab for resale" projecting. For years I have tackled anything and everything...large buffets and china hutches and major upholstery projects Pieces like this that I didn't even take decent pictures of and share!

I made little chalkboards out of the doors!!! 

These pieces are big and bulky and take a lot of time and muscle.

Upholstery pieces (like this precious barrel chair) take a lot of time and material. On major upholstery projects, I barely get my money back on the materials, let alone my time. (If the cost of having something reupholstered knocks your breath out, try it sometime!)

And while I love doing what I do, I can't keep GIVING things away when I have so much time and money invested! (Ask my neighbors...if they say they love something, I usually give it to them!)

So...the big decision. From now on I am only going to do "smaller" pieces...little tables, wooden chairs, a few stools here and there...maybe a few dressers and such. And of course my first love, mid century pieces...big or small! 

This table was a tad neighbor bought it at a garage sale and wanted to know if I wanted to tackle it!

I love the old mahogany furniture and I love pieces that allow me to preserve some of the natural wood and still update with a little paint. 

I removed the sides of the top that fold down and filled the screw holes with toothpicks and wood glue so the screws would reset tight. I STRONGLY suggest you do this EVERY time you remove old screws (it is also a great tip if you have a door hinge screw that is loose or stripped!) Takes very little time and will save you a thousand frustrations!

I stripped the top with 1/2 acetone and 1/2 lacquer thinner (see a full tutorial here!) and then applied 3 coats of tung oil finish. No stain...that is mahogany it all it's naked glory! Just breath-taking!!!

I cleaned the base with ammonia and water and then mixed up a batch of "plaster paint" with a "sample" paint from my den makeover. A little distressing and then sealed with spray poly.

This table is perfect for a small space but can easily be expanded if you need a bigger table!

Again, not really "my style" but the color is all the rage right now....evident by the fact that it didn't last a week. And while it was a "hot mess" when I got it, I loved bringing it back to life. It was a very enjoyable piece to work on! 

And THAT is why I do what I do. "Finding the treasures" lurking under years of neglect and abuse. 

It really is what I love to do! So I will continue to do what I love to do but I am going to FORCE myself to stick with the smaller pieces that allow me to enjoy my work without breaking my back! 

We'll see how long this lasts!!!

Since I have posted a recipe in a while, I thought I would share a new roast recipe that is. to. die. for! Check it out here!