Planking A Wall and How I Screwed It Up

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I love beach decor.  I do not live near water; in fact I am a days drive to the Atlantic -but I love that coastal green and blue with weathered whitewash/been in the sun too long kind look.  So like many other bloggers and Pinterest addicts I find myself perusing the professional decorator pins that give me the feeling of being at the beach.

 

 

So it didn’t take long for me to start planning on creating a plank wall for my eat-in nook off the kitchen.  It’s a relatively small wall which meant cutting would be simple and CHEAP.  Ah yes – let’s see how cheap I can make this.

So I head to Home Depot where I can find 1/2 MDF.  Anyone who reads home improvement blogs knows that you can practically build yourself a house with MDF boards.  So I had the nice guys there cut me my MDF in 4″ strips and took em’ home.  So all three pieces cost me about 50 bucks.  My plan was coming together!  It was 50 bucks, easy to attach with my nail gun and all I would have to do is slap up some paint – the easiest project yet!  My wall is 104.5 inches high from baseboard to ceiling and 69.5 wide with only one return air vent to cut around!

Don't Judge! Yes.. I painted around a large piece of mosaic artwork!!

Don’t Judge! Yes.. I painted around a large piece of mosaic artwork!!

So I decided on a staggered plank my wall, it would look cool and the truth is MDF doesn’t come in long enough boards, so it is what it is.  Anyway, in 5 minutes I realized that over half my planks were cut crooked; I mean it was like the guy fell asleep while cutting, I am not kidding.  It wasn’t too long after that when I came to the horrifying realization that not only weren’t my planks cut straight….I didn’t have enough for the whole wall.  ARRGH!! I would have to go back and get more!!  That means spending more!!!

Well as I am ever the optimist I thought I could make it work so I began to plank.20140602-180944-65384051.jpg

So other DIYers use a nickel or whatever to get that space in between each plank..my planks were so crooked that I couldn’t even bother.  So not only was it frustratingly ugly and time consuming but I was depressed by the idea that I’d have to buy more!

Listen, sometimes in life we make a decision we regret and possibly spend some money that we later find ourselves tearing out and throwing into the back of our husband’s  truck… kicking ourselves as we go.  It is in those times that we have to breath and let it go …then go buy the damn tongue and groove stuff I shoulda bought in the first place!!

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So down comes the MDF.

I bought tongue and groove from my local Home Central store.  These guys are such a great resource in our little town and they so care about what they sell you, how they cut wood for you and ask all kinds of questions like ” Umm – what are you planning to do with that length of pipe?” and remind me of important things like when I need to pre-drill holes etc.

So they calculated how much I needed (10 pieces of the 12 ft. planks cut carefully in 1/2) and the whole darn thing cost me 75 bucks.  They were cut straight– to my specs for me – they were easy and I almost cried when I realized that the MDF was really no savings at all – (live and learn).

So Mr. Knight and I laid them out in the yard and I mixed some flat white paint and water together.

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Isn't he cute?

Isn’t he cute?

He painted each plank and I came through with a sponge brush and made sure the paint got in the grooves and the knots.  I mixed the paint with water because I really wanted to see the knots and the imperfections, plus I think it gives it a sun bleached look.

 

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After the bottom one was nailed in it was so easy.  As long as your first one is straight, the rest are smooth sailing – mostly.  You do have to occasionally check for level and sometime you need to coax them together.  I attached them with my 1 1/2 inch nails at an angle down in the seam area, that way they are hidden.

DONE!

I must note that the top piece had to by cut down by one inch.  I was thinking of getting someone to cut it down for me when Mr. Knight suggested we get a table saw on Craigslist!!! Yippee!! I will be ripping wood till the cows come home from now on! Yeah! We got a Craftsman Table Saw for 50 bucks!!…..yeah the cost of the original MDF debacle.  Anyway – I used my newly acquired table saw and voila!!!!

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Isn’t she sweet?!?  I had an old flag that I attached to this beautiful old window frame I bought for $8.00 at this wonderful place – http://www.significantelements.org/

What do you think?

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Salvaged Pedestal Coffee Table Post

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I love a good find. I’m cheap but I am willing to pay a bit more for a good find. I told Mr. Knight some years ago that we would never pay for new wood furniture again, that from then on I would buy old and make it new. It’s so smart and if you’re picky you can find beautifully made solid pieces that just need a little love.

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I found this extremely heavy blue pedestal table from a well known antique/vintage store in our area and fell in love with its shape. Obviously at one time it was someone’s kitchen table (probably in the 30’s or 40’s) and it was cut down to be a coffee table. It’s solid wood and thick so I knew it was worth the 95 dollar price tag. The only draw back for me was the color. I like blue but this was too electric for me. It sorta reminds me of Sesame Street; it has a daycare feel but I knew I could give it elegance again.

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So out came Handi-strip. I don’t work for them but they make one heck of a crazy fast paint stripper. It’s gel and you slather it on with a paint brush….immediately it makes the paint bubble. Literally 30 minutes later the paint is goop-ing off. I think I made up that word but nothing else describes this mess….

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Wow…. there was a few layers of paint and stain on this baby and it was a painstakingly long and arduous process.

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Let me say here that this is what you need to successfully strip paint off furniture:

1. Stripper
2. Gloves
3. A garage or other well ventilated area
4. Paper towels
5. Patience
6. Plastic scrapper
7. Paint brush
8. Plastic container to pour the stripper into

Do not use metal with stripper ever. I don’t know what would happen but the can say you shouldn’t.

No matter how good you think you are at this at some point or another you will grab paper towels and start scooping the goop off…..

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I am not wearing gloves in that pic…that was a staged photo- always wear your gloves with this stuff.

Ok so eventually I got all the gunk off and out came my palm sander. This was a lot more fun and the results were incredible.

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I knew I wanted to stain the top and paint the bottom but I debated on the look. I decided to go with a semi-transparent grey stain and an off-white distressed bottom. Although the picture appears bluish – in person it’s much more grey and you can see peekaboo tan through it giving it a barn wood feel. I finished it with one coat of polyurethane; sanded lightly (after it dried) and the next day gave it another thin coat. Polyurethane needs at least 2full days to cure enough to let your children near it. Please don’t clean it or mess with it for a full 7. After a week it’ll be completely kid proof 🙂

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So for the bottom part I made my diy chalk paint with an antique white and a dash of grey. My recipe is simple:

A half a cup of warm water mixed with 1/2 cup of plaster of Paris. I mix it till smooth and then add 1 cup of paint. It’s really not a science, I just mix it till it is the consistency of slightly watery pudding.

I find that I prefer two coats of the chalk paint. Each coat dries fast, really fast. Then I distressed the edges and wherever I thought the table might get banged up over time. After a wiped down I glazed the entire piece, concentrating on the banged up areas. I left the glaze on for about 5 minutes and wiped it off. It gave it a nice aged patina look I think, like it’s been around the block.

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Since the bottom piece was painted in latex I used polycrylic to kid proof the work. I only used one coat since it’s not an area they normally mess with.
I’m so happy for this table. It is elegant again 🙂

My Kitchen Island Oasis

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So my quest to help my builder grade/cookie cutter abode find its true potential got one step closer to the goal.  The kitchen island got a lifestyle lift.  Remember when I painted the fireplace surround?  That orangey maple surround that only got more orange as the years went on?  Well my kitchen cabinets are also orange.

Word to the wise:  If you choose maple cabinetry take note – it will turn from a blond wood to that fruit color rather quickly.  Which I could possibly live with if it were not for the fact that the veneer sides never darkened up.  Yes folks the solid maple doors are orange and the sides of the cabinets are still blond.  OY!

I love the kitchens with the unique islands. You know the ones that look like they put them in after the fact? Different pulls and knobs almost like a piece of furniture instead of just another cabinet in the kitchen, and usually a completely different color.

After much research I found real world inspiration from Kim at Sand & Sisal http://sandandsisal.com/2011/02/kitchen-island-makeover.html. I swear we have the same cabinetry and hardware so after reading what she did I was all set to add bead board and paint to my island.

As everyone in blog land knows chalk paint is all the rage and the very best part is the no prep part. So I went online to check out where I could get my hands on some Annie Sloan. It’s VERY expensive. I realize that a little bit goes a long way but holy moly. So thanks to dozens of other DIYers I sent Mr. Knight out for plaster of paris and I grabbed a sample size of Jungle Chameleon from Valspar. Do Not just mix the plaster of paris in to the paint. No no no. Put equal parts of the powder with warm to hot water and stir till there are no lumps. Now through a bit of trial and error I can say that you may want to thicken it up a bit more. If you research the chalk paint recipes out there you find that no two recipes are alike. Go with your gut on this and remember it’s easier to add more than to take it away.
After you have it smooth add the paint. You will find it to be thick and the color itself is lighter. But the real difference is the application and how fast it dries. It truly is called chalk paint for a reason. The coverage is remarkable and it really has that antique feel. But the best thing?…..I painted my kitchen island and did not sand or prime it!!!!!!!!!! It was scary.

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What I did wrong:

1. I didn’t take photos until 1/2 way through

2. I didn’t buy enough bead board so I was only able to bead board 3/4 of it. (I fixed it the next day)

3. I remembered late in the process that I am who I am and that I would probably want to add and/or change this project at least two or three times before I will be satisfied.

4. I didn’t think about buying wax to seal the chalk paint…..ummm wax?!?

……Yeah ….so I am not rubbing this for hours with wax (I know it’s supposedly seals it)  just so that the boys can come through and ruin it the next day.  I am sticking with my polycrylic….

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Yep the exact same container I have had for over a year and through 4 projects. Yeah!!!!!  Ok back to what I do wrong…

5. I thought adding white molding would make it look like furniture, unique, cool.  It may work for professionals or for your crown molding in your living room but on this it looked like I stuck molding on my cabinet.

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I thought I would do “feet” – specifically what they call Ogee Feet:

http://www.osbornewood.com/Ogee-Feet.cfm

and since I’m cheap I cut down some shelf brackets we had laying around and added them to the bottom (they are the bare wood things sorta sticking out from the soooo obvious corner moldings) BLAH I almost walked away and cried.

Then it hit me…why not just get rid of the kick plate altogether?!?  Get some molding cover the indented bottom area and paint it all one color……

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Yeah boy!  I like it- I love it 🙂 I did not fail!!!

Hobby Lobby hardware BTW!!!!

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another shot with poor lighting but shows my new light shades that I love….

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One more…

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Summertime Renovations Pt.1

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So the weather got warm and Mr.Knight and I rolled up our sleeves on a number of projects.  My primary job to start off the season was ripping up the carpet on our stairs.

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So as you can see our staircase needed some TLC.  Let me be clear- the spindles have been peeling since day 1!  First day we moved in!! We had an epidemic of peeling and I don’t want to go into the entire story but let’s just say it was a crazy fight with the builder.  So here we are almost 6 years later and I am finally taking the bull by the horns and giving it a facelift.

So I have read many other posts from other ladies who have tackled this exact project including Diane’s post here:

http://inmyownstyle.com/2011/01/my-foyer-staircase-reveal.html

– I am super happy that my carpet doesn’t wrap around the sides likes hers did!

Of course I had gaps I had to fill (I’m speaking of the stairs) but I am looking toward Rhoda over at: http://southernhospitalityblog.com/the-down-dirty-on-the-stair-project/

Thank you to both ladies for your expertise and giving me the gumption to do this.

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So the guy that put our carpet in did not glue it!  woo hoo but he did use staples and nails which I can live with .  One issue I did not count on was getting the carpet strip off the wood without damaging the soft pine wood.

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This was a serious pain.  All I can say for anyone doing this at home is it takes a long time and it will hurt if you don’t wear proper gloves!  You also must have needle nose pliers to remove each staple…….. because there are so many!!!!!!

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Oh dear Lord, I had illusions prior to this that I would rip up my carpet and find beautiful solid knotty pine.  That naïveté went flying out the window when I came across not only gaps the size of the Grand Canyon but particle board for landings!!!!!! Gah!!! I actually had some panic moments during carpet removal where I wondered how hard it would be to staple it back on.  The good news was I did have bull nose- actual wood for treads.  Everything else was a killjoy.

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Do you see that!!!?? What the!?!  That is MDF they didn’t cut straight sticking out.  They used the MDF as the stringer and didn’t even carry through it just suddenly ends!  I knew I would have to fix that problem which gave me the idea of adding some type of wainscoting to this process. Can’t you just feel Mr. Knight just rolling his eyes as i explain that i must add to this project?

So back to the particle board; I got two packages of 60 grit and slapped them on my hand sander.  Let me tell you it was necessary and it smoothed out the roughness to the touch.  This part took me an entire afternoon to sand two small landings, but if you have particle board you have to smooth it to the touch unless you like the chip-board look.  Then I used another package sanding every stair.  Then I hand sanded the peeling posts and spindles. Please, if you don’t have a palm or hand sander you must have one I can’t imagine doing this without one and of course never sand without a mask and proper ventilation.

After much clean up (whoa, I found this dust everywhere) I went shopping for molding, bead board, caulk, wood filler and a truck load of paint (including oil based primer).  Oil based primer is a necessity when having to paint particle board.  Particle board will suck up water based paint and I would’ve had a mess on my hands.  I normally avoid oil based paints but this is clearly an exception!  I immediately stated filling in the massive nail holes and staple holes with wood filler.  It’s important to remember that I have no plans to stain my stair, it’s just not possible OBVIOUSLY!  So I have no concerns with using wood filler.  Meaning that if you have no gaps or mealy looking particle board when you decide to rip up the carpet on your stairs just remember that no matter what the tube of wood filler says it won’t take stain the way the wood does.  Keep that in mind.  So getting back to my holes ….sand lightly to smooth it out and wipe clean.

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Due to massive gaps, all of varying widths I quickly decided that a simple way to hide at least half of them was to apply bead board to the risers:

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Yeah!  Bead board! Hiding stuff for over 150 years!  Then I added molding to cover the gaps; this was the most stressful part of this project!  How to use molding to cover some huge gaps without making it look like a hodge-podge.  There is no magic formula or trick to it.  Wandering around Lowes looking at molding till the people working there thought I had deep rooted issues.  Without exaggeration it took me two weeks of taking pics and mulling it through my head before committing to a look.  Then I literally spent an entire afternoon on this particular area trying to make it work:

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The 3/4 round I liquid nailed to the sides of the treads was pretty simple and it worked like a charm!

I then added to the stringer and I was very happy with the outcome!!!  Yes I used hard wood to blend the mdf stringer but it’s all getting primed and painted white anyway.

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Then I measured for what I finally decided to be board and batten on the half wall area.  It is simpler than wainscoting and is a cleaner design.  If you do this and use real pine 1×3’s just because your husband has a bunch on hand make sure you prime them prior to nailing/liquid nailing them to your wall.  I will never do this again!   What a pain, it would’ve made it much simpler to either: buy pre-primed cut by Lowes mdf (cheaper) or prime the knotty pine prior to install.  Anyway, measuring correctly is key and having access to a  compound miter saw is essential!

Caulk.  What can I say about how important caulk really is.  Mr. Knight says the entire staircase is being held together with it.  I am not a carpenter but I play one at home and I fake it well because of caulk.  I caulked the molding on the stairs and the bead board and the board and batten.  Then I primed like it was keeping me alive!  I also lightly sanded the treads after priming the first coat.  You should sand everything in between coats FYI.  I do not.  Do as I say not as I do :).  I then painted the handrails and the treads a chocolate brown porch paint from Glidden. The trick with two little boys and three dogs (and a husband) is to paint every other one.  Then let it dry at least 24 hours before tackling the ones you skipped.  Two coats means at least a week of painting cause some days after work you don’t feel like working on anything!!!  Then everything else got a semi-gloss white. Boys! Do not touch the railings!!!!!!! Please use Frog Tape it’s the cleanest lines and won’t ruin the paint you are taping over cause you didn’t pre-paint your molding.

If you have other humans living in your house I recommend using polycrylic from Minwax in the blue container….below is a pic I used in a previous post prior to my education of the Green Frog Tape – please excuse the blue painter tape in this photo:

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Anyway use it on your railings Do Not use it on the treads – that’s probably obvious but for safety sake I thought I would say it.  I love that you can easily wipe down anything you finish it with and it helps prevent chips and scratches.

Once again before:

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Yuck

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After!

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This project was time consuming yet way cheaper than having someone come in and do it the other way……I am seriously happy it’s over.  What do you think?

Trash To Treasure

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So I am super excited to show you this dresser that a very nice couple with a superb view of Seneca Lake in beautiful Watkins Glen practically gave me.  It is huge and has a giant lattice mirror that I have other plans for – you will see that later.  Anyway here is the before:

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Look at the lattice work in the center!! So cool!  Thank goodness Mr. Knight has a truck cause this gem is long and super heavy.  I took the drawers out and since we had such oddly warm weather I was able to do all the work in our garage.

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I removed the hardware and sanded this baby taking extra care to smooth out some damage on the top.  The finish was eaten up by something and I smoothed it all out.  Now honestly I do not have the time or the patience to sand the entire piece.  I mean look at it and all its intricacies!  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Anyway that is exactly why I bought this:

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So you should buy it too if you don’t want to sand that much detail either.  Put a coat or two on and wait overnight.

The hardest part of this project was the “jewelry” aka the knobs.  I love their shape but I have never seen brass knobs that color before.  They were so encased in grunge I had to soak them in Kaboom and then scrub them with a bristle brush till my hands killed me.  When I did get down to the brass they were not looking pretty so I sanded them slightly and wiped them clean.  Now, they are literally like drop earrings, so I was stumped concerning how to spray paint them.  I came up with this:

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I simply took a plastic container that mounting strips come in and popped a hole through the inside of the container with a nail and proceeded to insert the mounting screw through, screwed the knobs into their mounting screw and…..tah dah! Glossy black spray paint and walk away! No smudges or sticking to plastic while one side is drying!   I am sure there are even better solutions to this but this is what I came up with.

The second toughest part of this project was choosing the right blue.  I wanted a blue with a touch of grey and green.  I wanted it light but not too light and a cool blue (to compliment my cool red ) but not too cool.  So I did what I did when I decided to paint the living room purple in my first house (much to the dismay at the time of Mr. Knight) – I just mixed paints I had laying around at home.  I bought a Valspar greenish blue that I thought looked too green when I started to paint and it did not have enough grey, so I just added some blue and grey I already have.

So I carefully applied two coats (let each coat dry a few hours) and then one coat of ….

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Miniwax polycrylic -it is a must! Read the directions – you have to allow it to dry and then sand lightly.  You should apply one more coat and dry (at least 48 hours please)

Add your pretty knobs………. (Hee hee!!! I’m so pleased)

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It looks prettier in person actually….I love this blue and the pops of red.  Sigh – I will never buy new hard furniture again.  This has tons of storage and is so lovely I can’t stand it.  See what a Craigslist find and some paint can do?

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See the drop earrings?  Cool!  Oh and did you check out my owl…he set me back 7 bucks including the flowers at Michael’s last week…..isn’t he the cutest?

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Now when I watch television I stare at my dresser instead!

Painting the Fireplace

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I painted my orangey maple surround on my fireplace this weekend and it was simple and much faster than I thought.  Like all the cabinets in my builder grade home my surround has been turning more and more orange over the years and even Mr. Knight (aka husband) doesn’t like it.  You see Mr. Knight suffered through my obsessive compulsive disorder  he calls “working on things” back when we bought our first house which was 200 years old and in constant need of my love.  When we built this house I kept my need to re-do at a minimum until recently.  Anyway a few months ago he mentioned that it should probably be white ….. Wow my gut to paint it is spot on!!!

So this is my fireplace as built:

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Again nothing wrong with it but it needed a lift.  So out came the fine-grit sandpaper and primer that I found in the basement!  I know I didn’t prime my entry table but I decided to for this project and I think it really makes it easier and you use less paint. Orange is hard to cover.

I decided on Dove White from Lowe’s.  When their buy one get one free 8oz Valspar thingy was going on two weeks ago I picked up that color too -I recommend everyone buy paint on sale even when you don’t have an immediate plan for it.

So for $2.59 I painted this….yeah!!!

If you don’t normally do this lets run down:

1. Lightly sand

2. Clean

3. Tape off carefully

4. Prime and allow to dry:

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Priming is not pretty and it’s ok – every time I prime I have to remind myself that it looks cruddy.

5. Paint

6. Allow to dry

7. Paint again- if I can recommend anything make sure you apply your paint in thin coats when you are painting on a vertical so you don’t get drips.  I had some and had to re-sand it wipe it and re-paint…. 😦

Only a few hours later….drum roll please…..

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See how it pops now?  I know that there are purists around the globe that would be horrified by the idea of painting real wood.  I think wood was meant to be painted!  Look how it made the fireplace stand out as a feature whereas before it just blended in.  What needs a pick-me-up in your house?

The Being Creative Genome……

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My imagination is endless and I conjure up crazy creative ideas that put into practice don’t always come out like I planned or imagined 😦 –  So when I started reading The Nester http://www.thenester.com/ and her super wonderful fabulous blog I realized that I dont have to be perfect and it made me realize that I can still do and feel good about it.  So I continue to create and be creative regardless of the fact that it isn’t always great … example-

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But I am sure you can relate to that one person in your life who always seems to get it right,  for me that person is my mom.   My parents didn’t always have money but my mother was always styling our homes (we moved A LOT when I was a kid).  No matter if it was the little apartment in Allentown Pa., or the little ranch in TX. mom was always rearranging, painting and refinishing furniture.  Her wall of baskets that traveled with us from condo to apartment to house (on and on) still influences my choices today.  But the crazy thing with mom is that she ALWAYS gets it right.  Her green thumb, her ability to sew, the fact that she can sketch and draw, her cooking skills – sigh – they are all perfection  – deep sigh-.  Don’t get me wrong, I am super proud and love to tell you all about mom…I just don’t quite have that gene :(.

So now that I have boys mom is still going strong and they are the recipients of her creativity more and more.

This is one of the castles she made from PACKING FOAM from some mini-appliance she bought from QVC.  She collects the packing material and digs up moss in her woodsy backyard and spray paints the whole thing….seriously.  Complete with guards and horses from Micheal’s 🙂

Castle 1

Below is the draw-bridge – check out the real moss sprayed with a lacquer and paint.  The pics do not do them justice and they are huge.  The boys love to go to Grand mom’s and Grand pop’s house and play with the castles.

Castle 2

Mom, you never cease to amaze me……