Before and After: Coffee Table

I love Before and Afters so much, don’t you??

This is the coffee table on my porch in my last post. I bought it at an occasional store, and it was the right size and shape, just not the right colors for me.


Here’s the frame before I had spray painted it that charcoal color:

032So I used an electric sander on the top to get rid of most of the paint. I didn’t use a paint stripper because I wanted kind of a mottled, weathered look, so I wanted to encourage an uneven color. And because paint stripper scares me.

047Then I used a water-and-paint mixture to “blue-wash” it. And there we go!

048I’ve got another Before and After coming up soon!




Backyard Update and Planning

I’ve posted about spiffing up my backyard before, so I just thought I’d give a little update on my progress, and what I’d like to do with it in the future. I’ve been meaning to show a before and after of my back porch too, so here we go!

Here’s what the porch looked like when I bought the house:020 (2)Let me explain what you’re seeing here. A previous owner apparently wanted a three-season porch, and must have found a great deal on sliding glass doors, so instead of installing glass paneling, they just installed four sliding glass doors to wall in the porch. 3 problems with this:

1. It looked like a cheap approximation of something else. Because that’s what it was.

2. The doors were probably on sale for a reason: they were dirty ON THE INSIDE OF THE PANES. Glass doors (or at least these ones) have two panes with a little bit of space in between them. Like a glass and air sandwich. I don’t know how, but these doors appeared to have dirt, dust, or just a general fogginess between the panes, making them look forever dirty with no way to get them clean.

3. While it was nice for insulation in the winter, the glass turned the porch into an oven, which (combined with the dirty glass) is not what you want when you’d like to enjoy a nice summer day on the porch.

So my dad and I ripped those suckers out of there, and I added some reed curtains, an outdoor rug, and some furniture and plants:

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Attachment-1 (3)(The coffee table is a little re-fashion that I’ll show in an upcoming post.)

And here’s the yard before:

Backyard Before #2 (2)

Backyard Before #1And now, after adding some plants (hydrangeas, lilacs, a cherry tree, etc.), cleaning it up a bit, and moving things around a little:

Attachment-1 (5)

Attachment-1 - CopyI like it for now, but my long-term goal for my back (and front) yard is to replace almost all of the grass with plants and other landscaping. You guys, I hate mowing!!! And it’s just pointless. Why do we all have these useless grass plots that we have to constantly cut back (and if you’re not me, you also water and fertilize)? Why not fill our land with plants, flowers, gardens, etc. that we can use for something?

I’ve been envying this woman’s backyard for a while (I also love her blog):

rosielittlethingsbackyardBut she lives in the pacific northwest, so there are things about her yard that wouldn’t work well in mine (she gets no temperature extremes, less direct sun, more rain, etc.). I just really like how it looks casually coordinated, with different areas for different activities (eating, lounging, chatting, playing), it all blends in really well with nature (neutral colors, natural materials), and I especially like that it’s sheltered from neighbors and direct sun.

Anyway, for now, I’ll just be focusing on landscaping. If you have any suggestions for good, low maintenance plants and ground cover that would look nice and grow well in Minnesota, let me know!


Kitchen Redo!!!!

You guys!!! Here is the big reveal of that project I’ve been hinting at.

I redid my kitchen!!

I’ve been wanting to do this since I bought the house 5 years ago, and finally this spring I decided to just bite the bullet and DO it already.

I call it a kitchen “redo” because it’s not big enough for a renovation, but it’s bigger than just redecorating. My kitchen was old and dingy and dark, and I wanted it to look new, clean, and bright. I also wanted to make changes that would be a good investment for resale (basically, keep things neutral, nothing too wacky). I don’t have any current plans to sell my house ever in my life, but I know that it may happen someday, so I always consider resale whenever I make a change.

Here is what my kitchen looked like before:

Photo (25)Old, dingy, ugly, and brown brown brown!

Photo (32)Isn’t that floor gorgeous? The best part about it was that it was stick n’ peel tiles, and the edges of each tile were sticky from the glue, so they would just cling to every speck of dust/strand of hair/food crumb. Impossible to clean. It was greeeaaat.

Also, bonus! I was hoping there would be hardwood underneath the vinyl tiles, but noooope, just even UGLIER vinyl tiles:

Photo (31) - CopySo! My first step in the process was to decide what I wanted.

As inspiration, I pinned about a billion pins on Pinterest of kitchens that look like this:

inspiration#1So, basically, I was planning on doing white upper cabinets, bluish gray lower cabinets, gray counter top, subway tile back splash, and wood floors. It’s been done a billion times (as evidenced by the magnitude of inspiration photos I found), but I just wanted something fairly simple and classic.

First things first, I painted the cabinets. Here’s a picture I took because I was too terrified to actually start. This open paint can is the beginning of this whole odyssey. Can you feel the fear in my hands as I take the picture??

Photo (29)After about a hundred coats of paint (for reals, like ten coats on the outside of the cabinet doors, 5 coats on the inside, etc.), it was back splash time.

This is how pretty the back splash was before:

Photo (26) - CopyIt was like a pinky-tan-ish flesh color with a quaint little leaf pattern. Beautiful. (Oh, and it’s the same material as the counter top.)

And here’s the first back splash panel I put up (again, TERRIFIED!!!):

Photo (30)
(It looks like there’s no mortar on the wall because there isn’t! I used adhesive pads called SimpleMat made for back splashes, and they worked like a dream!)

And here’s another “I’m too terrified to get started” photo:Photo (31)Yep, I painted my counter top. Rustoleum counter top coating review below.

Last, I got hardwood installed for the floor. I looked into many options, and hardwood was just the wisest choice. Due to the layout of my house, there is hardwood on either side of the kitchen floor, so matching that wood makes my house look bigger and has a better flow.

Photo (37)So here’s the big reveal!!!!

Photo (30) - Copy

Photo (29) - Copy

Photo (38)I’m glad it’s done, and while it was a pain in the ass to do, I’m glad that I did it. I learned a lot, and used tools and materials I’ve never used before (tile cutter, electric sander, wall putty, grout, etc.).

Kitchen Before and After

Below are further details on what I did. Stop reading now unless you have some sort of weird obsession with me, or if you’re re-doing your kitchen or something.

1. I did an Ikea hack!

I had heard that you shouldn’t put your oven right up against your fridge because it makes your fridge work harder. So I moved them apart, but then I didn’t want to just have this little gap between them collecting foodstuffs and being difficult to clean. So I decided to use the space for storage. Pshyeah, easier said than done. The space between the appliances was 7 inches ideally, 9 inches at the most (moving the oven over further would have narrowed accessibility to the doorway). Ever tried finding a 7″ wide 37″ tall 24″ long shelf? Good luck! But I found one!!! Kinda. I was wandering around Ikea (after trying many other stores and google searches), coming to the conclusion that of course this doesn’t exist; why would it? And then I saw it and I heard angels singing.

Ikea’s “Molger” shelf.

It’s intended to be used over a toilet. It was the perfect size (7 inches wide!!!!), it was just too tall. But I’ve got a saw! And a dad who can help me! So we sawed off some parts and made this:

Can you imagine a skinnier shelf?
Can you imagine a skinnier shelf?

2. Another Ikea solution. So here’s the thing: I’m short. The cabinets above my oven are too high for me, and there’s really no other place to put pots and pans, so I just kept them on the top of the stove. Which works, but isn’t ideal of course. So I got myself a rack from Ikea, and my dad did a little problem solving (screwing things into my crazy plaster walls kind of doesn’t work, so we had to attach it to the cabinet), and voila!!

Photo (40)3. Rustoleum Counter Top Coating

Okay, here are my thoughts, in case you’re interested in possibly using this product.


It is a good, cheap, relatively easy, temporary solution for an ugly counter top. It is fairly easy to apply, and fairly good at smoothing itself out. I would recommend it, but I would give some advice and some disclaimers. Total project time: 1.5 hours (including prep and clean-up)

Photo (35)


a) It smells. If you look at any reviews for it, you’ll see this. Yes, it smells. Like nail polish (I actually think it might just BE nail polish). I had all the windows open, fans going, wore a mask, and breathed through my nose when I used it. It stung my eyes a little as I applied it.

b) It is not acrylic paint. It is HARD to clean up when (not if) you get it somewhere you don’t want it. You will have to throw away your tools after you use them because they will be impossible to clean (unless you use some special cleaner maybe..? Nail polish remover…?).

c) It is not perfect, and neither are you. You will have splotches and little areas that aren’t totally smooth. But it’ll be good enough.

d) It scratches easily when it’s new.

Photo (36)


a) The instructions on the can are okay, but just do this: apply painter’s tape first, then sand your surface (it doesn’t tell you to do this, but do it), wipe it clean, let it dry. This took about 30 minutes.

b) Like I said, open all windows, have fans running, and wear a mask. I’d also recommend wearing gloves (I didn’t. It comes off eventually, but not easily. I used nail polish remover.). Do this project when you can leave the house for a little while afterward. It will smell strongly (I didn’t get a headache or anything, but it’s unpleasant) for a few hours after, and the next couple of days it will just smell like you just painted a room (not too bad), and then by the third day, the smell was completely gone.

c) Have a wet rag/paper towel on hand. When (WHEN) you drip on something, you will want to clean it up immediately. If you wipe it right away, you’ll be fine, just don’t let it dry.

d) Like the instructions say, you’ll use a roller (and a small, soft brush for smaller areas). The actual painting part goes quickly because the stuff dries quickly. So once you’re ready to start, just roll roll roll!! Actual painting time for me (including getting into small, tough areas) was about 30 minutes.

e) The instructions say to let it cure for 3 days. Don’t believe their lies. Let it cure for a week (or longer if possible!). It’s dry to the touch basically the next day, but it’s very delicate. Don’t put anything on it for a week, and then start using it verrry carefully for a while after that, then slowly you can start treating it more normally. The woman at Home Depot said that eventually it should be treated with as much care as a marble counter top (she meant that you need to treat it like….kiiiind of carefully. But uh, lady, I’m painting my counter, you think I know anything about marble..?).



It’s been a while since I made a new post because I have been very busy being a painting maniac. I think I’ve finally finished all of the main paint projects I’ve had on my to-do list.

And here they are!

1. Painting a dress! I found this dress/top/tunic thing at Target and I fell in love. It’s the perfect fit, it’s super soft, super comfy. It was just a little plain. So …I bought three of them. Because I’m insane. And left one plain and patterned the other two. Love em!

2. I needed to put something on my wall, and I really like that old window frame look, so I found an old window in my basement, cleaned it, and sprayed the glass with a reflective spray paint (Krylon Looking-Glass Paint), and now it’s this nicely aged mirror thing.

3. I’ve had this dresser for almost 20 years, and it’s great, but unattractive. I wanted to paint it, but was nervous because it’s completely laminate. Very plastic-y. But I found this tutorial, and basically just bought the exact stuff she used, and followed her instructions (for the most part). I never have the patience to wait in between coats long enough, so my dresser has some imperfections, but it’s good enough for me.

4. Been wanting to paint this little bathroom cubby since I bought this house 4 years ago. Finally did it! And this is a plain ol’ Ikea table I got years ago.

5. Boring black tv trays. Must make everything Aqua-colored!!!

6. Boring Target tv stand. So much prettier now!

Whew! Okay, now I can get on with my life. And catch up on all of my tv shows.

Look What I Did!

Dresser 2I just painted this hutch thingy! Boy do I love Before and Afters. Here’s the before:

Dresser 4It belonged to my grandparents, and after both of them had passed away, I received a few of their wonderful pieces of furniture. This one had been in my garage for a while, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. But I had some left over paint from another project (I’ll show you that project someday soon), so I dragged this out, and got it started!

Dresser 5It had one of these fantastic drop-down lids, and became a desk. I really like it this way, but I would never use it as a desk, and I didn’t want to keep it closed at all times, so I decided to remove the lid and storage shelf (which was broken, see above pic). I kept them, in case I decide to add them back someday.

Dresser6I would have felt pretty bad about painting this if it were in really good condition, but the varnish/lacquer/whateverthiswouldbe needed to be updated anyway. And I don’t like large chunks of brown in my house, so I had to change the color.

Dresser 1Ahh chevron. I might have to change the pattern someday when chevron becomes just so “last season” that I can’t even stand to look at it anymore. But for the moment, I really like chevron (trends are trends for a reason, no?…usually). I ended up kind of marking out a grid onto the desk with a pencil and ruler, and then laying the tape down to fit into the grid (to ensure that my stripes weren’t off-kilter or poorly proportioned). Don’t know about you, but I can never get painter’s tape to work properly for me. So after pulling it up, I went back in with a tiny brush and fixed up a bunch of spots.

The white outlines on the drawers were a pain in the neck!! I couldn’t use tape or a ruler or anything since they’re not straight (I was outlining ridges that were already on the drawers), so I just had to freehand it. Which took forEVER. And if you look at them closely in person, you can definitely tell it’s hand-done. But it’s good enough for me.

Dresser 3Final Thoughts!!

This was my first time painting furniture (I know! What a newbie!!), so it was really fun to figure this stuff out. I haaaaate painting (like painting walls), so I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to this, but it was soo easy and quick!

Just how easy? Here are my steps:

1. Remove hardware, clean item (I just used a wet paper towel and then dried with a cloth).

2. Paint it! I used just some gray paint with primer in it from Home Depot (it was actually exterior paint, because it was from a previous project). I did about two coats. It probably took me about a half an hour (aside from the chevron and outlining on the drawers…that’s a whole other story).

No, I did no sanding. I know! The surface wasn’t super slick or anything, so I didn’t feel it was necessary (and I’m lazy), and it seems to have worked out just fine. Now I’m looking around my house at the million other things that I can paint. PAINT ALL THE THINGS!!!