Simple "before and afters"...

Some of the simplest "befores" turn out to be my favorite "afters."

Which explains why I often don't have decent "before" pictures...I think "oh, that's no biggy" and dive right in to giving them a simple little makeover. Then they turn out so stinking cute I wonder why I didn't take time to take "before" pictures.

They are a reminder of why do this blog...to show you how easy it is to take a simple, boring, out-dated, dark piece of furniture and turn it into something you will want in your home rather than in your yard at the next garage sale!

We DIYers live for those hidden treasures...pieces of furniture that people want to get rid of... they drop them at their local thrift store or sell them for pennies in garage sales or just set them out on the curb...we take them home, clean them up and work a little DIY magic. 

The worst...you live with the ugly, dark furniture because you can't afford to replace it!

I get it...you paid a small fortune for your "matchy-matchy" bedroom furniture so you can't bring yourself to get rid of it.

I've shared "makeovers" hundreds of time...too many times to link ALL the pieces I have "upcycled" over the years. But I would bet money you still have a few pieces lurking around your house that serve a purpose or are "family heirlooms" or you paid too much to get rid of it...so you just live with it.

Don't fret...take the plunge...buy some primer and some paint AND CHANGE IT!

LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LIVE WITH UGLY FURNITURE!

This shelf was your typical Target cheapo...dark finish...no I did not take a picture of it "before." Honestly, I think it was a piece someone left at the apartments so I loaded it up and brought it home.

I removed the back panels...primed and painted the frame and shelves with one of my "sample" pots of white (KSTP). I painted the back panels with a sample pot of teal and then reattached them.

Super simple and too stinking cute!

This little bedside table came with a set I bought at an auction. Someone bought the dresser, chest and bed but didn't want this little table.

Meh....

Simple makeover! I removed the drawer and simply brightened it up with some Restorafinish. I primed the cabinet, sand, tack and white gloss paint. It was missing a knob so I ordered two new ones...

....again, SUPER SIMPLE and so stinking cute!

This old oak dresser...the finish and the little applique' really dated the piece.

I popped off the appliques using a chisel...lift carefully...chances are they are applied with a little bit of glue and a few tiny nails.

... sanded the old glue, stained the top with gel stain (no need to strip the old finish) and chalked painted the rest of it....distressed and sealed the whole thing with poly...

Too stinking cute!

Simple...simple...simple! 

Nothing earth shattering on any of the pieces...just super simple little makeovers that updated the pieces and gave them new life! 

Walk around your house...what simple little piece can you haul out to the garage and work a little "DIY magic." Trust me...if you don't like it when you are done, you won't get any less for it at a garage sale! 

Another campaign dresser makeover!

If I find one, I'm gonna buy it! A campaign dresser!

This one isn't a "vintage" campaign dresser...probably an imitation but sweet all the same! Well...it wasn't when I bought it....

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Structurally it was in great shape but the finish was definitely lacking. A little KSTP (Kilz, sand, tack and paint...high gloss white lacquer), scrubbed up the brass hardware, and presto....

Again, this one wasn't a REAL vintage campaign dresser...but that didn't stop someone from buying it 1 hour after taking it to 410 Vintage.

This, my friends, is a REAL campaign dresser!!

I have already scrubbed up the brass hardware (no tricks there...Brasso, Brillo and A LOT of elbow grease.) I had to order a few replacement hardware pieces...holy cow those little brass doo-dads are expensive (found them on Etsy.) I sprayed on Kilz and sanded it down. Now I just need to apply a few coats of white lacquer...I can't wait! I will make sure I share it when it is done because I know it will be beautiful!

PORCH MINI-MAKEOVER....

Now that Matt has settled into his new house, we have started on a few little projects that make his home a little bit more...well..."him." (If you search "Matt's house" on this site you can will see several of the projects we have worked on!)

The back yard was a total disaster...lots of trees and years of neglect. I wish we had been smart enough to take before and after pictures of the side yard we have been working on. We added a few flower beds, raked up a truck load of rocks and brought in four truck loads of dirt and mulch. We seeded with fescue. I know it will probably burn up this summer but he was so excited to see the little guys sprouting! We dug up some of my neighbor's lirope and transplanted it in his new flower bed....repurposed the stones that were originally used as a "pad" to make a stepping stone path....a new little Japanese maple. I think it will all be wonderful when he is finished. My yard is an oasis...I have remind him it took 19 years of hard work to get it that way!

The back patio was a tad on the blah side. I did remember to snap a few pictures with my Iphone before we added just a few little touches.

We changed out the flush mount "boob" light for a pendant light...seriously, who puts a dinky flush mount light on a vaulted ceiling?

Threw down a pretty striped rug and added a potted palm and hanging basket. Nothing earth shatter but just a few simple touches to dress the space a bit!

He still needs to change out the seat cushions and eventually I would like to add a baker's rack or build a potting bench...maybe add some kind of wall decor on the wall! We could paint the wood railing but he is determined to eventually add a large deck off the patio so no sense in putting out the effort for the time being!

A few little touches here and there can add personality and style to a space.

It takes time to make a house your home... 

Finally...painted walls!

I finally did it...I painted the walls in the main living areas! 

Over a year ago I seriously contemplated painting the downstairs living areas. I called my painter friend and set up a time for him to paint while we were on vacation! I painted samples all over the walls...and promptly cancelled the painter and painted over the sample spots with the same ole' "Cream" paint color that has been on the walls for 19 years.

I just couldn't pull the trigger! I know one of the issues was my inability to commit to a paint color. The other issue is my inability to admit I am just getting too old to tackle these big projects.

But last year I painted my master bedroom SW Nuance (a much smaller project, but a butt-kicker all the same!) I then used the same color in the guest room makeover.

I really love it. It contrasts nicely with the Swiss Coffee trim but it's not so dark that it over powers the room. It seems to be the perfect back drop for any decor accent I want to add in a room.

After living with this new paint color in my bedroom for a bit, I kinda sorta thought I might like it in the living areas. I called my painter friend and rescheduled.

It is no secret that major changes are tough for me...so the fact that I picked a paint that wasn't TOO different from what I had before isn't surprising.

While it isn't a HUGE difference, it is indeed different. The original color was "SW Cream" and it was definitely on the "yellow" spectrum. The Nuance is more of a very light "griege" ...one shade lighter than Useful Grey on the color chart! 

You can really see the difference on the walls side by side....

When it was all said and done, I really love it...it looks clean and fresh. While I had everything off the cabinets and walls I took the opportunity to deep clean (OMGosh there was some nasty gunk lurking behind and beneath!) and rethink all the stuff I had adorning the walls and cabinet tops! 

I removed the "heirloom china" from the dining room walls and pass throughs and a few knick-knacks and china plates from the cabinet tops...not huge changes but enough to open it up a bit.

One of my favorite changes was the dining room art...

Several years ago I painted the frames and changed the mats...but I was never a huge fan of the actual prints. 

A few weeks ago I bought some botanical prints at an auction. They are numbered prints by Kate Nesslar (Google her!) and they really are beautiful! I removed the not-so-pretty black and gold matting and they fit perfectly in the red mat! And they look awesome!

I don't know why picking a paint color is so hard for me...paint is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to make a big change...and the best thing is if you don't like the color, no biggy...just repaint it. 

Hiring something to do what I could have easily done myself ten years ago is another toughy.

But in the end, I can't believe I waited this long to make this change and I certainly don't regret hiring someone else to do it for me!

The next big chore on my list of home improvements is the tub/shower in the master bath! I want to take out the whirlpool tub (that I have literally used MAYBE 3 times in 19 years) and add a large walk in shower. And that my friends will get hired out as well!

Getting older has a few advantages...

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Eastlake chair makeover!

Years ago, the "wood purist" in me would never have painted an antique anything!

But slowly I have evolved and my snobbishness has taken a back seat to reality...some "antique" pieces have little use in today's world of decor trends. The rich color and grain of walnut, the depth and beauty of rosewood, the vibrate color and delicate grain of mahogany...zip, zilch, nada.

The day will come when those who followed the decor trends of today will glare at their painted furniture and shiplap walls and growl...it happens. NOTHING is timeless. Honey oak cabinets were timeless...8x8 tile floors were timeless...white appliances were timeless. 

The fact is decor trends come and go and we realize that which we thought was timeless, really isn't.

(There are still some who cherish antique pieces...and of course, as always, do a lot of research and make sure the piece you want to paint is not a valuable antique "as is!")

I have no doubt that this piece I slathered in chalk paint and covered in buffalo check fabric will catch the eye of someone looking for a great side chair...but it will someday be stripped down and refinished...exposing the amazing walnut grain and delicate incised carvings. Someday...but not today.

That was my original plan. Strip the old finish to expose the beautiful walnut grain and intricate carvings, reconstruct, seal with oil and reupholster in a fabric worthy of an antique walnut Eastlake piece.

Knowing all that hard work would garner little favor with my "target market," this chair sat in my garage for YEARS. Seriously, I'm not sure when I bought it but I can't remember a time when it wasn't lurking in the back of my garage.

(If you are a "purist" or antique lover, turn away NOW!)

Some would look at this and think EEEWWWWW!

Yes, it was pretty "eeewwwy." And yes, this is pretty much the shape it was in when I bought it. I think I remember removing the original rotted fabric and a few thousand upholstery nails and I did start stripping it using this process. But I eventually shoved it into a corner of the garage where it languished until I got over my snobbiness. 

I constructed a new seat out of plywood...not even close to the original but then again furniture no longer sits in the parlor only to be used by tea sipping adults. 

The richness and beauty of oiled walnut has fallen out of favor for the "farmhouse" chalk paint and distressed everything!

New foam padding and batting...the old horse hair of yesteryear just doesn't cut it these days. (Thank God...that stuff is nasty!)

The crushed velvet or needlepoint fabric that would have originally ordained this piece was a no-go. I went with the trendy buffalo check that I suspect will be as popular as chevron was a few short years ago!

A bazillion metal upholstery nails...no way Jose! Hot glued gimp is the way to go!

Don't get me wrong, I think it is as cute as a bug's ear! I have no doubt someone will LOVE it! It would be a precious side chair or even a dining chair paired with a farmhouse table that are all the rage!

And as always, it is Litty and Mr. Jinx approved....

As much as I would like to think of myself as a "purist" I can certainly appreciate the desire to fill our homes with pieces we love or suit our desire for "going with the flow" without breaking the bank! 

C'est la vie.

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Cherry tv cabinet makeover....

I've said it before...I am a bad blogger and mediocre photographer at best.

Bad because I often get in such a hurry to start a project I completely forget to take a "before" picture. Mediocre photographer because...well, my photos speak for themselves.

As is the case of this Queen Anne Cherry tv cabinet. Hello 1998! 

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No, I did not take a "before" picture. So I did a little google search and found a cabinet that was SIMILAR to the one I acquired from my neighbor. Color and style are the same, but mine does not have a drawer. 

We have all seen this furniture style...many of us still have it in our homes! I had similar bedroom furniture...not the Queen Anne style, but heavy and dark. I painted my bedroom furniture a few years ago and honestly I don't give it a second thought these days!! In other words, update the outdated and you may stop feeling the need to spend thousands on new!

There are several problems with this tv cabinet. First, who still uses these cabinets for housing tvs? Most of us have transitioned to flat screens...I finally pitched my last hold out a few years ago. 

Second...it is dark and "heavy" looking. Not really the in thing right now.

But they are still good solid pieces that have use and purpose. Maybe not for their original intent, but who couldn't use more storage! 

It is super simple to give these pieces a little update. I know most will not want this piece for a tv cabinet but everyone is looking for storage pieces for crafts, linens or even clothing. Honestly, it could be used in a kitchen for pantry space or a bathroom for towels and such!

Again, it just needs a little facelift.

I removed the back...super simple since they are usually just stapled on.

I added a new shelf then primed the inside of the cabinet with Kilz, sanded, tacked and spray painted it with white paint (KTSP!)

I used bead board to make a new back to add a little "interest." I used THIS process to "stain" it. Normally I would use an accent color but this time I used the same latex paint I mixed up as chalk paint for the exterior.

Making your own chalk paint is super simple...thoroughly mix 3 tablespoons of water and 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris and then add 2 cups of FLAT latex paint. You can use satin or eggshell paint but I have found that the flat tends to "chalk" better when you sand.

Sand and seal! Again I never use wax on chalk paint...usually polyurethane or polycrylic. If you want the added character that you get with dark wax, try applying a dark "glaze" before you seal. Personally, I think you get the same affect without having to use wax. I have even used stain as a "glaze"...this mirror being a good example.

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Finally, I added simple knobs.

Sealing the piece with poly makes it super simple to repaint when the "distressed" craze ends...and trust me it will eventually! 

Some of us remember when this dark "cherry" look was all the rage...

Essentials for a cozy guest room...

I did not realize how unprepared we were for guests until I began my quest for the perfect "guest room."

Sarah and her family are our most frequent "guests." She doesn't have her own room in this house since she had moved away for college the year I bought it...19 years ago! (Wow...where does the time go!) When her family visits they have no problem digging through my bathroom or closet when they need a Q-tip or soap or an extra blanket! I don't mind that they do, but you probably don't want most "guests" scrounging around your bath or closet!

The three youngest babies who grew up in this house have moved on with their lives and I am left with three bedrooms upstairs.

Now, this is where I tell you that when your children first go off to college, do NOT think you can immediately turn their room into "a naked room." (Again, you have to see the movie!) Because truth be told, they do eventually come home...at least for frequent and sometimes extended visits. And the worst is all the "stuff" they leave behind...clothes, books, trophies, high school momentos. Stuff they obviously can't take with them but don't want to get rid of (okay, so MOM doesn't want to get rid of their t-ball jerseys and "Where The Wild Things Are" books...but that's a whole nuther issue!)

But eventually the time comes and you know they will not be moving back.

For me that time has come.

I decided it was time to pull together a real "guest room." It all started here

I finally got Matt's room painted and all three rooms purged. For the most part...there are still a few framed momentos and childhood books scattered about!

Katie's room will be our official "gym"...there is a twin bed and room for the portable cot for the grandsons and it has the large tv so it is perfect for their "game room." 

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Mitchell's room has been the unofficial "guest room" but right now it still has a lot of "stuff" in it that I just don't have the energy to deal with. And truthfully, the bed in his room isn't real comfy.

When Matt moved into his new home, he left only a bed and dresser...

...that room has the least to deal with so that will be the "official guest room." After the new paint and purge, it was time to start working on "this list"....

In the bedroom I made sure there where the essentials...comfortable bedding, a bedside table with a lamp, an alarm clock with USB ports (love that little thing!), a scented candle, a flashlight, reading materials, a notepad, a trash can, etc. (I moved the bedside table from Mitchell's room and the lamp from Katie's...it "pays" to shop at home!)

I gathered all the extra blankets and pillows and bought new hangers and put them in the closet....

I put white inexpensive pillow cases on all the spare pillows! Just a reminder that I am a huge fan of white bedding and towels!

In the bathroom I purged all the outdated products (used toothbrushes, old deodorant, expired meds) and stocked it with everything on the list...toiletries, ample towels and washcloths, a blow dryer, personal and oral hygiene products, a first aid kit and basic meds. 

I made sure I checked everything off the list!

I wanted a new bed frame and found the PERFECT one through a friend. 

Okay, so it wasn't really perfect. I added some height to the side rails because I don't like the box springs showing. I used my Kreg jig and wood glue to attach a 1x6 board to the side rails....

...then nailed a piece of trim across the joint...caulk and putty...

Then I painted it! First the KST...kilz, sand, tack...

Then paint. I went with my go-to off white...SW Swiss Coffee. I thought about doing the whole chalk paint and distress thing, but I know that will eventually fade out of favor and I want clean and classic...in other words, something I don't have to repaint in a few years.

I found an inexpensive "indoor/outdoor" rug that works perfect with a neutral color pallet. 

I'm not big on piles of decorative pillows on the bed, but since I don't have to make this bed every day I picked up some pretty decorative pillows!

I replaced the blue and brown curtains with fresh white panels. 

I found this message board in the craft section at Hobby Lobby.

Chalk painted it and then hand painted the wording on it, distressed a tad and sealed. Super simple and just a touch of "farmhouse." 

This little "message board" is the perfect spot for the wifi password info and our home address info. Keep in mind, if you don't have a land line and someone uses their cell phone in an emergency, emergency responders may not know your exact location. Guests should have your physical address! It is also the perfect spot for hanging spare charging cords for I-pads and phones! 

Fresh flowers are on the list, but it is a bit unrealistic to keep fresh flowers in a room I rarely enter...these were from Sarah for my birthday! 

If you do not have an extra bedroom specifically for guests, put together a guest basket...a little basket with all the "essentials" that can be stored in a closet until it is needed! I stocked this one with little "sample size" products. I also pulled items from my hotel stockpile...yes, I am one of those people who takes all the little shampoos, lotions and soaps from my hotel room!

Having a room ready (or even a little guest basket on hand) sure makes it easy to prepare for overnight guests...last minute or scheduled.

I have a large matted frame I intend to hang above the bed if I can find a print I like. The frame was a "silverish" color...not the least bit pretty. I have it primed and ready to paint (and share) when I finally put it all together. Wall decor is something that can take time...like Matt, I don't want "stuff" just to have "stuff." 

I put my dad's walnut chair in the corner and eventually I want to add a mid century dresser...Katie is using this one and I may get it back when she moves so I may hold out for it! I also want to find a luggage stand. When I get that all in place I will share that side of the room!

The "froo-froo" takes time but the absolute must-haves are in place! 

Que "sigh of relief!"

Little Miss Muffet sat on a....

Tuffet?

At least that is what came to mind when I saw these little chairs at an auction. When I googled "tuffet" I found pictures of little ottoman kinda things...but the definition is "a footstool or low seat." So I am going with tuffet. 

As cute as they are (or probably were in 1978) I knew they would require my least favorite chore...upholstery...and sewing! 

So of course they sat in the garage for months.

But I could see them all dolled up in my mind's eye so this week I decided to tackle the project.

First I had to strip off all the old upholstery and remove all the nails and staples!

I found an upholstery material I really love but there wasn't enough to do the whole chair...so I found a solid that coordinates with the fabric...sometimes you have to improvise! 

Chalk painted and distressed the frame...

Rather than use upholstery nails I used gimp...

The cushion is attached to the seat with buttons so I covered buttons with the teal fabric.

Just too stinking cute!

Not sure if these are "technically" tuffets but they are child size and ready for another lifetime of curds and whey!

On a side note, I "googled" what exactly is "curds and whey"...turns out it is nothing more than "curdled milk." I raised two girls...neither included curds and whey in their tea party menu! 

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on her tuffet

Eating her sausage and egg biscuit

Along came a spider and sat down beside her

And Little Miss Muffet squished it. 

We should be empowering our girls...

The breakfast nook table and chairs makeover

When Matt decided to buy his first home (details here), I knew my love for "making old new again" would come in handy!

I love the dresser and chest I found and refinished!

He was able to use the farmhouse trestle table I featured here

And of course this "cute as a bug's ear" vintage chair makeover!

But he didn't have a table that would fit in his breakfast nook...a relatively small space in his kitchen.

I knew it needed to be a round table since the space is only about 9x9.

I found this round oak table at a flea market...a tad dated in it's original condition but I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

Normally these oak tables are around 48" in diameter but this one was only 32" so it is the perfect size...just not the perfect finish.

I honestly didn't want to strip and restain the top so I decided to go with gel stain...again, I ONLY use the General Finishes brand. It really is the best!

Rather than go with my usual Java color, I decided to go with the Brown Mahogany.

As I have said in other tutorials, the first coat is a bit stressful....

...you really question whether this stuff is going to work. 

Patience...wipe on a coat with an old athletic sock...let it dry overnight...then wipe on a second coat, then a third....

I promise, by the third coat you will see the results you want. Then just seal it with the General Finishes wipe on top coat. 

Sunlight streaming through the windows is awesome in the morning...not so much for photographing furniture...but hopefully you get the idea....

After staining the top, I chalk painted and distressed the table base. I picked up a couple of oak chairs at an auction and chalked painted and distressed them as well...then recovered the seats with some leftover fabric from my club chair makeover!

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Perfect fit for this small space.

One tip...this little table came with a leaf...while this space really isn't big enough to expand the table, it is always smart to refinish table inserts just in case want to use them in the future! 

Also, just a reminder that I do not seal my chalk paint with wax...I use polyacrylic. Someday this whole "distress" thing will go out of style and he will want to paint this furniture...wax would have to be stripped before he could repaint the piece!

Next week I hope to share Matt's first big project...painting the brick fireplace. If you are debating whether to tackle yours, you really want to see what a little bit of paint can do...impressive!

So tune in for the big reveal.

A vintage chair makeover for the new house....

As I have mentioned before, it is important to do research on "vintage" or "antique" pieces before you take a can of spray paint to them...God forbid you find LATER that you have spray painted a potentially valuable piece.

Such was the case with this pathetic little chair....

Someone had painted a true "vintage" piece...a McGuire ratan chair. (At least I THINK someone painted it...I couldn't find any information indicating this chair would have originally been painted)

With a little bit of research I found a listing for this pair on 1stdibs selling for a small fortune!

The prices on 1stdibs and Chairish always seem a bit high for my tastes but I have found both sites to be excellent sources for researching vintage pieces. 

When I first researched this coffee table (Drexel Declaration) I found it on one of these sites for around $1600. And this little cabinet for thousands.

This little chair sat out front of 410 Vintage for several weeks before I decided to tackle it. I wasn't drawn to it because of "what it is" but rather Matt needs a few little accent chairs. Since they sold it to me for $10 I didn't feel too guilty about painting it...the "true value" was pretty much toast in its current condition! 

The strapping on the joints (strictly decorative) is actually leather, but it was all pretty dried out and one was broken...a little hot glue fixed it right up. 

I repaired the broken seat strapping, primed the frame with Kilz, sanded a bit, sprayed it with black satin paint and made new cushions and pillows. I had some foam cushions stored away in my attic from an old couch and a few small pillow forms lying around so the only thing I had to buy was the paint and fabric.

Since Matt is a pilot and we are leaning towards an "aviation" theme in his living room, I thought this fabric choice for the pillows was down right clever...lol! 

Not bad for a small investment.

So now Matt has a defaced "McGuire ratan" accent chair...of little value but perfect for his needs! 

And cute as a bugs ear!

Closing is next week and I can't wait to get started...not sure if I am more excited about Matt buying his first home or getting all this "stuff" I have accumulated out of my house! I have most of the pieces ready to load and go! I am ready to roll out the rugs, set the furniture and hang the pictures. 

In a few weeks I will post a few "project pieces" I have worked on for Matt's house. I can't wait to share what a few bucks and a little time and effort can do.

What's my "style"....

As I have said time and again (and evident by my Home Tour) my "style" is very eclectic. What exactly does that mean?

It means I like what I like and because my home is not all "farmhouse" or "traditional" or "mid century" I can pretty much find a place for any piece I fall in love with. 

As I mentioned in my last post my son Matt is buying his first home so I have been on the hunt for pieces that can be transformed and used in his house. Taylor, my daughter-in-law, asked me what Matt's decor style is...hum...not sure I ever asked him. Fortunately, like me, he likes what he likes and doesn't restrict himself to a specific style. He loves the mid century Lane Acclaim tables, but he also loves the farmhouse table I refinished several months ago! I promised him that if it didn't sell, he could have it for his dining area. I have picked up a few chairs and a round oak pedestal table for his breakfast nook. I'll share them when I get their "facelift" done! 

In the meantime I want to share this nifty dresser. Seriously horrid in it's original condition, but I could see the potential. 

Solid wood and very well built...and unique!

I think it could be an awesome piece in his bedroom, along with this little dresser, but I'm not sure I have convinced him it is worthy....but then again, he hasn't seen it finished! 

I absolutely LOVE this piece, especially the old rusty hardware. Matt asked if I could put cup pulls on it like the little dresser, but honestly, this hardware too cool... so unique and amazing. I cleaned them up and reattached them...rust and all! I just think they are awesome!

I chalk painted and distressed the cabinet and gel stained the top. The drawer fronts are latex paint. 

As I said before, if he still doesn't love it, someone else will! 

That is the great thing about being "eclectic"...to each his own!