Modifying a Dillingham MCM dresser....

So often I buy mid century pieces fully intending to clean them up and sell them. But then, well, I don’t. Inevitably I fall in love with them or one of my kids does (just search mid century on this site…you will see)

Such was the case with this mid century walnut Dillingham dresser….

It did have a few boo-boos…a broken corner piece I was able to fix with a little wood glue…

A tiny bit of chipped veneer I decided to ignore…

And of course the finish was a little worn and tired looking and needed some freshening. First I tried a little Restor-a-finish….

You can kind of see the difference…the right side has been wiped down with Restor-a-finish.

It helped a tad but in the end I scrubbed it down with mineral spirits and steel wool and applied 2 coats of tung oil finish…brightened it right up and blended all the scratches and wear…after all it is a 50+ year old piece…it’s gonna have a few nicks and dings. But again, nothing terribly glaring.

Even though the issues were relatively minor, I hesitated to sell it. I considered painting the sides to disguise the biggest issue…the broken corner.

Enter my kid! Matt absolutely LOVED it and wanted it for an entertainment cabinet!

The dark walnut matches his vintage Lane tables perfectly and like me he has a real affinity for MCM pieces.

So I went to work modifying it for his needs..specifically he needs a place for his turn table.

(Side note…I get tickled at the newest generation of vinyl lovers. People my age remember how thrilled we were to get away from bulky old record players and vinyl records that scratched and skipped. Cassette tapes and walkmans and boom boxes…life changing! Now the younger generation have circled back around to “vinyl” and think they have discovered the greatest thing since sliced bread…HA!!! See, if you live long enough, it all comes back in style!)

So…how to modify this dresser without changing it too much.

I decided to make the bottom two drawers one deep drawer. That entailed removing the face front of the middle drawer and attaching it to the black face frame and bottom drawer…creating what appeared to be two separate drawers…but is actually just one deep drawer.

Confusing I know…let me see if I can show you what I mean in pictures.

First I had to cut the face frame in half to detach it from the cabinet.

Since it is a laminate material, I knew I needed to tape it first to keep it from “splintering.” ALWAYS tape laminate before you cut it and draw your cut mark on the tape!

I could have used a skill saw with a trim blade to make the cut. But I knew a skill saw wouldn’t work to cut the little shelf inside that separated the two drawer spaces. So, darn, I had to buy a new tool…I hate that when that happens! (NOT!)

I have a small Dremel that has similar functions but this little guy is pretty heavy duty…and it worked like a charm!

Next I used my Kreg jig and glue to attach 1x2 pieces of oak to both edges of the face frame. The drawer fronts and face frame only over lapped by about 1/8”…attaching the oak allowed me to secure the face frame to the drawer fronts with glue and screws.

We used a hole saw to cut a hole in the back of the cabinet to feed electric wires through.

That was pretty much all the modification this dresser needed to turn it into the perfect entertainment cabinet!

In the photos you get a peak of a few of the changes Matt has made to his house since he bought it a year ago…the painted fireplace I shared here and the new tile I haven’t shared yet.

I have promised for A YEAR to share a few of the projects he has completed on his house…he opened up the entry, painted his kitchen cabinets and installed glass cabinet doors, built open shelving in his kitchen and laid new tile in the entry and around the fireplace. He has even built a little storage shed! I am so proud of his “projecting” so while I was there taking pictures of his new entertainment cabinet, I snapped a few of his entry and kitchen and I PROMISE to share those next week.



Traditional Christmas!

My Christmas decor changes so little from year to year I hesitate to even share. (search Christmas on this site…you’ll see what I mean!)

But every year I add one tiny element.

If you follow along you know that Brian and I travel to Colorado every year in the fall. We do our annual guided fishing trip and enjoy the fall Aspens. And every year we take a few hours to walk around Georgetown. A precious little mining town just off I-70.

Every year I try to find something a little Christmasy. It is a “tradition” I started years ago.

This year I picked up this little troll.

Too cute. I guess this year Santa trolls are the “in” thing. Again I rarely go all out with the latest “fad” but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to pick up one little piece to add to my “Colorado collection.”

This year as I set out my little collection it dawned on me that I have no idea what year I bought what. So this year I started writing on the underside of each piece the year I purchased them. Not important now but maybe 50 years from now it will mean something to someone.

Here are just a few pieces I have picked up over the years….

The snow birds….

I shared here the realization that I have an obsession with little birds.

The birch Santa…

I think Birch trees are the closest thing we “low landers” can get to an Aspen…I even bought a birch candle stick when I changed out the mantel decor this year…

This little guy….the older I get the less I want to hang and fluff so I love anything I can just tuck in a corner…

I didn’t actually buy this little guy…we stayed in a condo in Frisco and this was a little gift from the owners…just precious! How did they know?!

A “tradition” has to start sometime by someone! Don’t be afraid to start your own…time flies and before you know it your great-grandchildren will be reminiscing about years past at Grammy’s and how she always had Lord ? displayed in her kitchen…

The matching pajamas she gifted every Christmas eve and how she made everyone shower and primp Christmas morning for family pictures before they could open presents…

The 9’ tree adorned with priceless ornaments given to their grandparents by their great-great grandmother!

Sticking with “traditions” is the way to go for so many reasons…

1) It cuts down on the cost of the holiday. Decorating for any holiday can be expensive…especially if you change your decor every year trying to keep up with the latest “fads.”

Years ago I contemplated changing out the colors in these bannister wreaths to blue and silver…

IMG_4197.JPG

My daughter promptly reminded me that “gold and red” are traditional colors…she was right. I would have regretted spending a lot of money just to follow the “in” thing that year.
I ended up making a simple Christmas box with blue and silver and that pretty much fulfilled my desire to jump on the blue and silver decorwagon…

2) Your kids and grandkids won’t remember every gift you gave them but they will never forget the “traditions.” Whether it is the Christmas pajamas, a favorite dessert, the priceless ornaments. They don’t forget traditions…

3) While my “same-ole-same ole” holiday decor may seem a tad boring, decorating for the holiday is super simple since I pretty much know where everything goes and how everything is decorated, year to year. Little changes. It cuts down on the stress of holiday. I may pick up a few pillows or a knick-knack here and there if something strikes my fancy but most of it stays the same…i.e. easy and stress free.

This year I picked up a few “grey” holiday pillows for the couch…

But the guest bath is the “same-ole-same-ole.” I store a few trinkets under the vanity and pull it out…a festive candle, a little snowman, holiday hand towels, a holiday soap dispenser and a festive wreath I hang over the boxwood wreath. It takes me all of 2 minutes to “decorate” the guest bath.

4)Decorating for Christmas falls on the same day every year…without fail. The Friday after Thanksgiving. We fill the house with Christmas music, Brian heads to the storage building to pick up boxes while I take down all the fall decorations, and all day Friday and most of Saturday is spent decking the halls…and walls…and shelves. There is never a question of when we will find time to get ready for the holiday. Again, I may pick up a little something here and there throughout the season…but the bulk of it gets done that weekend.

Sticking with “traditional decor” (red, gold, green, silver) makes it easy to blend new with old if I see something that strikes my fancy!

5) I have no doubt that if the time comes when I can’t decorate my home myself, SOMEONE could step in and do it for me. Since little changes, all my kids know exactly how mom likes her mantle, the tree and her kitchen decorated. HOPEFULLY one of them will step up to the plate and take over the job if I am unable. Morbid? Maybe…but such is life…the day will come.

Keep the holiday decor simple and stick primarily with “traditional” vs. “the latest fad.”

These are my tips for enjoying this amazing season!

Be grateful....

Last year I shared the importance of “choosing to be happy” and how focusing on the positives and gratitude are an important element to being happy.

Still one of my favorite posts, and I actually reread it often just to remind myself of the importance of staying focused on the positives in my life and why I should always be grateful…for everything!

This past weekend Brian and I had a list of mundane chores we needed to do around the house. Clean the dryer vent (super important after THIS fiasco!), throw out some old tile in attic and put the new tile up there, rake and bag leaves and pine needles and clean out the flower pots, scrub the grout in the dining room and kitchen, repair some trim on the garden shed, and charge the battery on the riding lawn mower (still wouldn’t start…curses!)

We have our weekly chores…stripping beds, vacuuming, dusting, deep cleaning the kitchen and baths…stuff we do every week together…but this was “extra” stuff that we have kind of been putting off. Ugh!

So how do I stay positive and happy when I have a laundry list of “chores” to accomplish and actually ENJOY the mundane chores?

I focus on the positives!

For the first day in weeks the temps were in the upper 60s…beautiful day to be outside!

I am thankful I have a new walk in shower I love so I have a bunch of spare tile that needs to go in the attic.

I am thankful I have beautiful mature trees and a yard I love, and I live in a part of the country that has four seasons…so yes, I have to rake leaves and pine needles a few times a year.

I am thankful I have modern appliances that make my life easier IF I give them proper attention on occasion.

I am thankful I have a home I love that deserves my time and attention in return!

I am thankful I have a great partner to give me a helping hand when I need it!

Yes, I could focus on what I DON’T have…but in order to be happy in this life you have to stay focused on what you DO have. Find the positive in every little thing and be grateful!

I wish I had spent more time in my life focusing on the positives. Sometimes we get so mired down in the “don’ts” we fail to focus on the “dos” …the positives…the things we SHOULD be grateful for!

This is a great week to celebrate the things in our life (family, friends, home, food, shelter) we DO have…the things we should be grateful for…the things that, while they can easily be seen as a negative at times, we have to learn to “flip the switch” and focus on the positive….something to be grateful for!

In return you may just find a tiny bit of happiness creeping in.

Grab ahold of that…focus on it.

When you are tempted to see something as a pain in the rear, look for reasons why it is actually something wonderful and something you can be grateful for!

You might just find those “mundane chores” to be just a little bit more enjoyable!

I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving…a positive, grateful, HAPPY Thanksgiving!


The grey couch....

If you remember, I had a booger of a time with my living room couch purchase. I ended up purchasing the “Michael” by Younger Furniture.

A year later, I love it!

One of my biggest concerns was the fact that it is grey. I wasn’t sure at the time if I was really going to like having a “grey” couch. Not grey-grey, but grey enough that I was afraid it would be dull or too trendy…or just “too.”

I felt at the time I was breaking my cardinal rule of going “trendy” on a big ticket purchase.

Truth is, it is a chameleon…it pretty much changes with whatever I throw at it. When I first got it, I had my Christmas decor up…and it looked great.

After the holidays I threw my teal and floral pillows and a teal throw on it and it looked just as awesome. (No photo…wow I need to take more pictures!)

Fall…oranges, yellows, greens, browns…wasn’t sure it was going to cut it.

But it did!

I love that it can take any color I throw at it! After the holidays I am considering transitioning to another color pallet in the living room…maybe a navy blue or olivey green. Don’t know yet but I know that whatever I do, the couch will not be a factor!

(You can see the transformations of grandmother’s chair here, the Drexel coffee table here, the club chair and ottoman here, the round walnut table here, and the large mirror over the couch here. )

And it really did turn out to be quite comfy.

Which brings me to the point I have often made…on big ticket purchases, stay neutral. I love the deep green and vibrant blue velvet couches. Beautiful! And if you KNOW you will love that couch for years to come, I say go for it. But if you just aren’t certain or you know you will want to regularly change up the look of your decor, stay neutral on the “big ticket” items and let your pillows, accent chairs, rugs, wall decor, throws, etc dictate the decor. Those elements can be easily and relatively inexpensively changed to make a big impact on the feel and look of a room!


Just another little makeover....

You are probably asking yourself “WHY?”

Why would she even mess with something so hideous?

Because I knew I could make them pretty…that’s why!!!

Truthfully these pieces didn’t have a lot going for them…but what drew me to them was the really cool hardware and they are pretty sturdy. Ugly, but sturdy!

The hardware is obviously “reproduction”…made to look like the hardware of years gone by.

They aren’t REAL flush mount ring pulls, but they are real brass so I knew with a little scrubbing, they would shine right up!

The top…fake leather…ewww!

But it was in good shape!

The front of the cabinet and drawers were solid wood but the sides were particle board…and it had some minor “water issues.” Some of the particle board had started chipping and “bubbling.”

Rather than use wood filler I decided to add a little trim piece to the bottom. Glue and trim nails…simple!

The trim covered the chipped areas and beefed up the base a tad. The minor “bubbling” on the particle board sanded smooth.

The bottom of the drawers had that “fake print” thing going on but they were in great condition. Ugly, but solid and sturdy.

I decided to disguise the “cheaponess” with paint.

First I removed all the hardware and spend a few hours scrubbing it. Again, I have no deep dark secrets for easily removing years of tarnish on brass. SOS pad and brass cleaner…and a lot of elbow grease!

I Kilzed the entire dresser…even inside the drawers.

Sanded everything smooth.

Tack cloth…always!!!!

I painted the inside and sides of the drawers with a sample pot of latex navy blue paint. (I recommend priming and painting the inside of drawers if they are “cheapos” or if you can’t remove offensive smells with a good cleaning and vinegar!)

Again, I am kind of obsessed with the white lacquer finishes especially with bright brass hardware.

The repaired sides painted beautifully!

IMG_4077.JPG

Told you I could make them pretty!

Remember the MCM chest of drawers I featured here? I finally got the brass cone hardware from China…worth the wait!

Today I muse...about smoking...

I have several DIY projects lined up to share but I decided I want to “muse.”

Or rather lecture.

Let’s just say I want to share a “journey.”

I hesitate to say “I WAS a smoker.” Truth be told, I still am a smoker…I just CHOOSE not to smoke now.

Six years ago I stopped smoking. I smoked for most of my adult life. I can still remember my very first cigarette. I was 20…it was a Virginia Slim menthol…on a road trip…with a friend who smoked.

Notice I did not say “I quit smoking.” To me, that would imply I will not do it again. I can’t make that promise.

I have “quit” many times. Many times for years at a time. I tried gum, mints, hypnosis, drugs, cold turkey. I quit when I was pregnant. Every time I would quit I would go out and make a big ticket purchase…like new furniture or a new car. After all, smoking is an expensive habit and if you “quit” smoking you have all that extra money to spend on other things!

Inevitably I would end up with a car payment AND the cost of a carton of cigarettes every week!

I can honestly say this is the longest I have ever gone without smoking. But it is a daily CHOICE I make. The physical addiction is LONG gone, but the psychological craving for a cigarette still blindsides me on occasion.

A therapist once told me that smoking was one of the hardest things for a woman to give up because we use it as a “reward.” Kids down for a nap, smoke a cigarette…mopped the kitchen floor, smoke a cigarette… laundry all washed, folded and put away, smoke a cigarette.

And you know what…he was right. When I looked at my “pattern” of smoking it was pretty predictable.

I see the effects of smoking almost daily in my work. I own apartments and every time I have to clean and repair an apartment a smoker lived in I have to Kilz the walls and ceilings before I paint.

This is what “white” walls (seriously, they were WHITE!!!) look like after a smoker lived in this unit for about a year…you can see where I have rolled white Kilz….the “yellow” is pure nicotine on once white walls and ceilings. (This is AFTER we had wiped the walls and ceilings with ammonia water!)

I have found that oil based Kilz is the ONLY thing that will seal nicotine (and water stains!) so it does not bleed through the paint.

Don’t even get me started on the SMELL!!!! Kilz is some nasty smelling stuff but stale cigarette smoke is just fricking gross!

You don’t smoke inside you say? Good for you…and your spouse…and your kids…and your pets!

But what about YOUR insides…if one year of smoking inside can do this to a wall, what is it doing to your lungs?

For me, I developed a chronic cough and congestion and honestly I was pretty low energy.

Not to mention the other downsides to smoking. It stinks…sorry but all the perfume and breath mints in the world can’t cover the smell of cigarette smoke!

It RULES your life….seriously, you have to plan every activity around cigarettes…when you go out to eat, when you fly, when you go on a long drive, when you go to the movies, when you go to a play, when you go to a sporting event. When and where you can get your nicotine fix completely controls every activity.

When I was traveling, I only booked layovers in airports that had smoking lounges…seriously! And OMG if my flight was over 2 hours long!!!!

Same with long car rides…it is one thing to stop every 4 hours to stretch and pee…but to have to stop every 2-3 hours to smoke a cigarette was a fricking nightmare!!!!

So…how have I managed to not smoke for the last six years you ask?

I want to say I am NOT an “addiction specialist.” Like my weight loss journey I can only share my experience…what I did and what has, to date worked for me!

What I DID NOT do? I didn’t set “a day to stop,” I didn’t tell my friends and family I wasn’t going to smoke anymore, I didn’t have some big “ripping the pack up” ceremony, I didn’t toss all my lighters….

First, I “bad talked” the cigarettes. Before I ever “stopped,” I made myself really focus on all the negatives of the nasty habit…you make me stink, you make me feel bad physically, you made me leave the restaurant early, you made me freeze to death at half time or during the commercials, you made me miss my son’s touchdown pass/homerun/last minute game winning shot, you make it hard to afford groceries/a new couch/a vacation, you make me dry clean my sweaters every time I wear them!

Notice I said “you” rather than “it.” See what I did there?

Just like focusing on “the positives” in your life can change your attitude for the better, focusing on the negative can change your attitude about smoking.

It is no longer just something you do, it is a “baaaaad” thing that is literally controlling your life!!!

By the time I put down my last cigarette, I was a tad ticked!

Good…you want to be (and should be) ticked off that the nasty, expensive habit has such a negative impact on your life…stay focused on that!

Second, I had to change up some routines. Rather than going out for a smoke after I got all the laundry done or the floors mopped, I would go file my nails, or brush my teeth, or pick my nose….ANYTHING other than what I use to do. I no longer sit outside on the porch and drink my coffee in the mornings…because that was my “cigarette time.” (Be careful to NOT substitute food for cigarettes!)

I use an ecig (an Ecig…NOT a vape…this is the brand I use but I am NOT endorsing it….just saying). Okay, so I know there is conflicting data on whether these things are bad for you. But you know what…there is hard core proof and data that smoking cigarettes is super bad for you. So until there is some hardcore proof that these little ecigs are harming me, I will use them.

Why? Because as I said, the “craving” to smoke a cigarette will literally blindside you…you will desperately want a cigarette for whatever reason…you’ve had a bad day, you got a whiff of cigarette smoke and it smells sooooo good…for me, it is seeing it on television…when I can’t smell it, it looks sooo relaxing.

The ecig gives me the ability to “smoke” without going out and buying a pack of cigarettes and having to start all over!

I also stay hyper-focused on the positives of NOT smoking! My car/home/clothes/breath smell better, I feel “healthier,” I don’t have to wash or dry clean my clothes every time I wear them, I have a few extra bucks to spend on positive things (like manicures and facials!), I can sit and gossip with my girlfriends after dinner rather than run outside and smoke, I can sit through an entire game/movie/play/flight/car trip without a “smoke break.” So many great things when a nasty habit isn’t controlling your life!

Which brings me to my final point. You may have to start over…repeatedly. Whether you use mints, gum, Chantix, hypnosis, stop cold turkey, get pregnant…whatever…there is a pretty good chance you may have to start, or rather stop, again.

But that is okay…DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP! Seriously, DO NOT turn the negative onto yourself! If you want to think negative, again focus on how bad the cigarettes are…not what a failure you are.

Because you didn’t “fail.” You stopped…for a day, for a week, for a month….maybe even for years. And if you can stop once, you can do it again.

There are absolutely NO good reason for smoking….but there is a lifetime of great reasons to stop.

No excuses.

YOU CAN DO IT!

That, my friends, is my soap box for the day!

Master bathroom reveal....

Like so much in my home, my master bathroom has certainly “evolved” over time.

Before the first “makeover.” Booooo…..

This is after the first little makeover. I removed the hideous gold shower enclosure…new cabinets and lighting…a new tile backsplash…new paint…new vanity top and sink…new mirror…new operable window (my absolute favorite change!)…nothing earth shattering but enough to give it a little update and make it more functional.

While the few changes I made on this go round SEEMED relatively straight forward, the process was messy, back breaking, expensive and worth every bit of it!

Demo and new plumbing done!

Durrock and shower pan done…

I LOVE the curbless showers…and I really thought about biting the bullet and putting one in…but that would have required busting out the slab under the shower and pouring another below the finish level of the rest of the bathroom or building up the entire bathroom floor, which would have required removing the counter tops and cabinets. That wasn’t happening…so curb it is.

Waterproofing done and tile going up! (yes, I hired the tile install…worth every penny!)

(Notice the fan hanging in the window…it is facing out. That helped pull a lot of the dust outside…not all but A LOT)

As I mentioned when I posted the first makeover, I didn’t have (nor do I really want) a big sprawling space to work with…it is a relatively tiny bathroom….and I am okay with that. I would rather have the square footage in other areas of the house. That didn’t mean I couldn’t create a space that not only suited our needs but was pretty.

I loved “the first makeover” for many years!

The time will soon come when stepping into a whirlpool tub we never use will be an issue so it was time to make some major changes…while we can still climb the stairs to the spare bathroom! I joked with Brian for years that we needed to do this before we broke a hip and couldn’t use the tub or walk upstairs…joke, right? Then our friend, BR, broke his hip and had to have a partial hip replacement…HE’S OUR AGE!!! Suddenly it wasn’t so funny and it really is a “need” vs a “want.”

First, I had to again find my inspiration…that was a tough one! I loved the tile surround and floor tile I installed 19 years ago.

Since it is a small bathroom I knew I wanted to keep it light and bright!

I brought home and ordered many tile samples and searched the internet for inspiration….

I knew the look I was going for. Light and bright and something that would carry me through another 20 years…..I didn’t want to do anything too trendy.

I love the sliced pebble tile and after using it on the tile back splash I knew I had a winner for the shower floor and niche!

I like the look of subway tile but I didn’t want the “busyness” of a small tile on the shower walls…fortunately Dal Tile makes a large 6x18 subway tile. One of the things I hated though was the small bullnose trim…usually 2x6. Fortunately the tile I choose had a large 4x12 bullnose trim…PERFECT!

The flooring…that was a real booger! Truth be told, I loved the floor tile I had…it was light and bright and had awesome “texture.” Unfortunately it was 12x12 tile with 1/4” grout lines…very 1999! I knew I wanted a 12x24 with small grout lines.

I finally settled on kind of a “greyish” porcelain tile I found at Lowe’s. But in my heart I knew I didn’t want to go with grey…just too “trendy.” While I was at the tile shop ordering the wall tile I stumbled upon a special order tile I thought I might really like. All they had was the sample board so I brought it home, looked at it for all of 5 minutes and went back and ordered it. Eck!!!!

But you know what…I LOVE IT!!!!

Originally I planned to use the bullnose trim around the window and niche. But then my “blog friend,” Cristina, shared her bathroom makeover and I absolutely fell in love with the pencil trim pieces she used! (Her bathroom is absolutely stunning and beautifully staged! Check it out!)

I immediately ran to our Home Depot only to discover THEY DID NOT CARRY IT IN STOCK! I found it online and ordered it. It arrived two days later as promised.

Broken! Eleven out of 26 of the fragile trim pieces were broken. And while I am smart enough to always order more than I think I will need, I certainly didn’t order THAT much extra.

I promptly reordered more trim. Fortunately the delay didn’t hang up my tile guys…too much! I ordered 20 more knowing I only needed 11…good thing I did because the second order had 7 broken tiles! (They really should reconsider their packaging!)

I absolutely love this trim around the window and niche!

Speaking of window…I know the glass block probably screams 1999 as well. My original plan was to change it out. Now that the tile is done, I don’t find it as offensive. It may not be the “hip” thing to have right at the moment, but I can live with it!

I decided to reuse the existing base trim. I carefully removed it during demo, pulled all the nails and sanded it. I painted it with my “go-to” trim color, BM Swiss Coffee. Then I reinstalled it, puttied the holes, caulked and gave it another coat of paint!

I debated on a glass shower enclosure but honestly, I don’t like them. Just too high maintenance…no matter what you do, there will always be water spots. I found a longer curtain online so I ordered it…nice thing about curtains, you can always take them down and wash them.

The teak bench. I didn’t add a built in bench because the only place to put one was in the back of the shower…the side wall and the back wall are on the exterior of the house so expanding “out” wasn’t an option. A bench in the back of the shower kind of defeats the purpose if you want to sit in the shower. Seriously, who does that? Brian…when he is sick he likes to sit in the shower. And I need something to prop my legs on when I shave them. So I bought a little teak bench. It looked kind of dinky sitting in the back of the shower and Mr. Jinx needs a place to sit while we shower (he use to sit on the edge of the tub…weird cat!) So for now it will sit outside the shower unless we need it (lets be honest, who really shaves their legs EVERY day?)

My super awesome son-in-law installed new lighting during the first makeover…I still love it! For now I will keep the lighting and the cabinets, vanity top and sink. All were good! (I did repaint the ceiling since I had to do a little sheetrock repair)

As you can see from these pictures I don’t do a lot of froo-froo! I’ve worked hard to create space for everything behind closed doors. Fortunately I have a large pantry space in my master closet where I store “extras.” No need for lots of extra storage cubbies and because the vanity top is relatively small, I don’t like to clutter it with stuff. I love the beautifully staged “spa retreat” mega bathrooms, but I don’t have the space or the desire…I want clean, bright and clutter free…very “utilitaryish.”

IMG_4022.JPG

I do have bath rugs but they are plain ole’ white spa rugs so I took them up to show off the floors!

We don’t reuse towels so no need for cute hooks. We take our dirty clothes to the laundry room so no need for hampers. Everything is stored in drawers and cabinets so no need for pretty jars and baskets. And since I like to bleach all my towels and rugs I only use white rugs, towels, and wash cloths.

All in all, I’m pretty darn happy with these changes. Eventually I may change out the vanity doors and paint…I may paint the walls a different color…I may change out the block window…I may add a few more decorative elements…I may add some trim detail…I may change out the shower head to something more like a “shower” and less like “rain”…I may…I may not.

There will always be little “snafus” when remodeling…in my case there was the broken tiles and the difficulty of demo and the discovery that my “niche plan” wasn’t going to work. But in the end, it all worked out and I have a beautiful bathroom I HOPE will carry me through another 20 years!

Hopefully…maybe. Who knows! Check back with me in 20 years…lol!

A mid century chest of drawers makeover...the reveal!

When last we spoke, I shared a little “step by step” tutorial for repairing and prepping this “less-than-desirable” chest….

I can not stress enough the importance of “prep work” on any project. Again, if you don’t take the time to make repairs and properly prep (regardless of whether it is a dresser or a wall or a floor) all the “pretty” is going to be wasted.

(BTW, while cruising Pinterest I found this super awesome tutorial for repairing chipped corners with wood filler! Great suggestions!)

Make proper repairs, sand patches smooth, use the right tools and materials! Do the repairs and prep or you are wasting your time and resources making it pretty.

After all the patching and repairs, the next step is properly priming! (I had already stripped and oiled the drawers and set them aside!)

I primed the cabinet of the chest with Kilz. That is usually my go-to primer since it sands smooth and holds up well. Primer is a SUPER important step on most paint projects…unless you are chalk painting! Since this was a relatively small project I used the spray Kilz…one can.

TIP: I know a lot of paints SAY they are a “paint and primer” in one…I may eventually change my tune but I don’t believe them. I ALWAYS use a primer…always!

After the Kilz had dried well (usually overnight but several days is best), I sanded it smooth with 220 grit paper.

After sanding I checked all the areas I had repaired…there were a few little spots that needed additional putty and one I missed on the first go round…

…no biggy….I just filled them again, let it dry, sanded smooth, spritzed on a little more primer and then sanded it again after that had dried.

Tack cloth…it is an absolute necessity on any paint job. I see tutorials all the time that recommend wiping the piece with a damp cloth or even mineral spirits. Forget about it! USE TACK CLOTH! It will pick up the finest grains of whatever and will make a huge difference in the final look and feel of your paint job!

I’m kind of obsessed with white lacquer these days. i just love the high gloss finish. Spray paint is always a great option for smaller projects and you can find a multitude of colors and sheens! Just make sure you use a quality brand! You can also brush and/or roll alkyd (oil based) or latex (water based) paint. ALWAYS use an additive and use a high quality brush and 4” foam roller to apply the paint. Pay attention to the manufactures recommendation for temperature and application…it matters!

Regardless of whether you use a spray paint or lacquer, latex or oil, always apply 2-3 THIN coats, allowing dry time as recommended. Thinner is better. If you try to get a one coat finish, you will likely be disappointed and make a HUGE mess!

Spray, roll, and/or brush on the paint…a thin coat…let it properly dry, lightly sand the boogers AFTER it has properly dried with a fine grit paper (IF needed), tack and recoat. Regardless of whether you need to sand between coats, always use tack cloth before applying additional coats. I usually apply at least two coats and sometimes three.

Most paints do not need a top coat but if your piece will be getting a lot of use, I recommend a light coat of polycrylic. Polyurethane is some good stuff but it tends to “yellow” so polycrylic works great.

So…before….

…and the oh-so-better after….

You may have noticed one little missing element. The hardware! Why? Well because I didn’t pay attention when I ordered new brass cone knobs and they are coming from CHINA!!! So I should have them someday…maybe…who knows! The hard work is done…knobs are no biggy!

One of the patched areas after paint…

Dry time…IT MATTERS. I cringe when I watch DIY shows and they immediately stage all the pretty pieces they just painted. There is a huge difference between “dry to touch” and “dry to USE.” Truth is, paint and finishes need time to cure before you put all your pretties on it. You can move it in place, but give latex paint AT LEAST a week or two to cure and oil based paints a good 3-4 weeks. Otherwise you may find that your heavy lamp or knick-knacks will stick to the finish or leave a mark!

This is another dresser I finished up a few weeks ago. It didn’t have near the issues the first had, but the refinish process was the same…KSTP the cabinet and refinish the drawer fronts…presto-bingo…

Again, I know this sounds like a daunting and time consuming task…but if you take the time to do it right, you will have a piece that will last another lifetime and one you will be proud to use in your home!

Next week I hope to share my bathroom remodel. In the meantime, you can check out Cristina’s master bath…it will knock your socks off!

Until then….

A mid century chest of drawers makeover...Part one!

While my master bathroom remodel is still progressing (yea!) I finally found time to tackle an amazing mid century dresser I found!

This chest of drawers was pretty shady. Nasty finish, chipped veneers, busted veneers, mismatched hardware…just not something you really want in your home!

IMG_3874.JPG

It had many of the problems you may encounter with old pieces so it is the perfect project to share a little “step-by-step” tutorial on turning a trashed dresser into something you will want front and center in your home!

First, there was a busted drawer! (Which reminds me, ALWAYS number your drawers on the underside as you take them out!)

This is NOT a huge issue.

I can not stress enough the importance of making proper repairs to any piece before you start making it pretty. Glue and clamps people…NOT silicone, not screws, not nails…just plain ole’ wood clue and clamps.

This one really wasn’t too bad…there have been some I had to completely tear apart and rebuild!

One drawer was missing the wood slide like this one…

Kinda necessary if you want your drawer to not be all whomper jomped. Again, no biggy. You can buy slides online but I used some scrap 1/4” plywood and scrap trim to make one. Again, glue and clamps and good as new!

TIP: If you have a drawer with wood slides that seems to be difficult to pull out, try rubbing a wax candle on the wood slide. If you have a metal slide, make sure it isn’t bent…if it is, just take a pair of pliers and manipulate the metal.

Also, if you find the drawers to be a tad smelly, first wipe them down with ammonia and water, then spritz them with vinegar water and let them sit. Truthfully, I have found a few that smelled no matter how well I cleaned them….in that case I taped off the fronts and painted the interior and exterior of the drawer with Kilz and latex paint (here is an example!)…sometimes you have no choice!

Next up chipped and scratched veneer.

A lot of the older furniture is veneered. If it is chipped or scratched, take the time to remove any loose veneer and repair it with a little wood filler.

The first few coats don’t have to be pretty…you just want to make sure you fill all the boo-boos well. Don’t rush this process…it may take two or even three coats to get a smooth repair!

In this case it took two coats (sand between each coat) and a lot of sanding with a fine grit paper (220) to get a smooth repair, but in the end it will be worth all the effort!

I have found that after I prime and sand, I can often see how well the “patch” will look and can add more filler and do more sanding if needed. If it looks and feels rough after priming, it’s going to look bad with paint…so do a little more work on it after the primer if needed!

My plan originally was to strip and oil the top since it is a walnut veneer, but I did a number on it dragging it out of my truck…so repair and paint it is.

I would like to stress (again!) the importance of sanding and FEELING! You want it smooth to the touch. If you can feel it, you will see it when you paint it! So sand it smooth.

The veneer on the drawer fronts were in mint condition…the finish just looked old and “muddy.” I removed the mis-matched hardware and then stripped the old finish (using this process). It took me less than 30 minutes to strip all four drawers.

The two on the right have been stripped…the two on the left have not…as you can see, they weren’t THAT bad, but this quick step brightens the color and really allows the grain to shine.

On veneers it is important to use chemical stripping as opposed to sanding. Veneers can be very thin and if you sand through the veneer there is no salvaging it…you will have to putty and paint!

After stripping them I applied three coats of Formby’s tung oil finish. I love this stuff and it is my “go-to.” No stain, just a clear finish!

(It was pointed out to me by a kind reader that the original Lane Acclaim tables came with a “toned lacquer” finish….true of many mid century pieces. That may be the case but again, this is the process that works for me and the one I prefer…do your research and do what works for YOU! I prefer the “easy to wipe on and freshen in the future” tung oil finish over lacquer)

I also stripped and oiled the legs since they were in pretty good condition. Same process, same finish.

If your drawer fronts have MINOR chipping like this one did, I would suggest carefully removing or glueing any “loose” veneer (I use a toothpick to slide a bit of glue under any loose veneer and wipe the glue residue with mineral spirits) and then apply the finish. As my daddy use to say, you will never notice it on a passing train! Any time I can salvage and feature a beautiful walnut veneer, I do!

Again, my apologies…this will have to be one of those “to be continued” posts. We had rain and a cold front roll in (yea! it really is fall now!) and since I don’t have a nice cozy shop I am at the mercy of the elements.

Priming, paint and reveal will have to wait until next week!

This process may SEEM daunting and time consuming but in the end it is all worth the time and effort to bring these sturdy old pieces back to life!

Take your time and do it right and you will have a piece fit for another lifetime of use! Hopefully next week you will get to see the results of all this prep work!









Vacation and the bathroom renovation!

We returned from our vacation last week….AMAZING! One day of floating and fishing the Gunnison Gorge, one day of fishing the Colorado River and five days of beautiful Aspens in all their glory! Sadly, Brian nor I took our phones into the Gorge or I would have some breath taking pictures of some of the most beautiful landscapes this country has to offer. All I can tell you is to go see it yourself! It will not disappoint!

I knew I would have to hit the ground running when we came home. I have an apartment that needs tile repair, a cabinet rebuild and paint. And I found an amazing mid century dresser that has all the problems one might encounter with a dresser and I was excited to do a step-by-step tutorial on properly repairing busted drawers, fixing chipped veneers, stripping and painting.

But Monday the tile guys called and they are ready to start on my bathroom. Since I am too cheap to pay someone THOUSANDS to demo the old tile, I decided to tackle that chore myself with the help of my son, Matt.

And chore it was!!!! My plans to take out the wall tile in sections only worked about half the time…the other half we were beating out little chunks of tile and durrock. My plans to “pop up” the floor tiles went by the wayside when we discovered it came up in small slivers with a mere chisel and hammer.

One of the things I learned from my dad…build it to last a lifetime…and since I installed the tile 19 years ago, it was more than a booger to get up!

Thank goodness for tool rentals. This little “tile-buster-upper” thingy saved us about 2 days of work! Seriously, it was the best $60 I ever spend.

I still had to replace some insulation, add a few studs, do some floor scrapping by hand and I had to hire plumbers to move the drain and rebuild the shower valves. But all in all it is coming along nicely and HOPEFULLY it is ready for the tile guys.

As with all “best laid plans” there is one small snaffu in my plan. I had intended to do a shower niche on each side of the shower head…two shelves in each…like the one in my “inspiration picture.” Unfortunately the layout of the studs and plumbing messed up that whole plan….

…so now I can only put one on the right…que sera! Sometimes you just have to drop back and punt!

I can tile. Not a problem. Here I showed you the new backsplash I installed on the vanity! But I am glad I decided to pay someone else to tackle the bulk of this project. After two days of demo, I’m not sure I could lift a box of tile if I had to!

This is where I want to reiterate the importance of doing what YOU love! Not what is “in”, not what Pinterest says is all the rage, not even what your friends and family think you should do! I am all for “finding inspiration” for home decor and improvement projects, because let’s be honest, sometimes we just can’t find a vision for the changes we want to make. But doing what YOU love is important because otherwise you may find yourself hating an expensive change in the not so distant future!

I still love the wall tile and floor tile I picked out 19 years ago…but I know the day will come when stepping into a big ole’ whirlpool tub we NEVER use may be a major feat…a walk in shower will be, some day, a necessity!

So find your inspiration but do what you truly LOVE!

MAYBE next week I will have time to get started on that amazing dresser and I can share how easy it is to turn a trashed piece of furniture into something you will be thrilled to use in your own home!