picture perfect

Considering how hot it has been, it’s been hard to bring myself to cook. But we’ve been making simple meals that don’t require standing over the stove too much.  Regardless of what we’ve been making, though, we’ve certainly been enjoying eating in our newly redone dining room.

My family and friends have been bugging me for an update on how it all went, and the stubborn blogger in me was waiting to get the “perfect pictures” of the room when the light is just right and you can truly appreciate how gorgeous it turned out. Well, I’m not waiting for that perfect shot anymore. I want to show you all how it looks!

When we first looked at the house, we knew we had a challenge on our hands but I was thrilled that the dining room was so big.

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realtors picture

The only problem was the floor. And the wallpaper. And the light fixture. And the radiator cover. So okay everything other than the size was a problem. But particularly the wallpaper.

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UGH. WHY?!

A few days after we moved in, a couple friends were helping us unpack and somehow we ended up stripping the wallpaper and scrubbing the walls with TSP.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe light fixture didn’t bother us too much until we realized what it did when you turned it on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATextured ceiling + beveled glass fixture = AWESOME light patterns cast on the room. OR HIDEOUS.

I would have been content to leave the room as is except for one small problem. On one of the walls, the previous owners had let their kids scrawl their names, phone numbers, and some well wishes (“have a nice f*($#n day”), and we could not get it to scrub off. So, with a house warming bbq a few days away, we hastily picked a paint color and got to work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATADA! We used Behr’s Happy Camper Green (which comes out really true to their website pics) and absolutely LOVED the paint color. Then we were able to find a new light fixture at Home Depot for $179 and it really changed the look of the room. The only problem was that once we redid the living room, we realized the green did NOT go with the rest of the first floor which were mostly gray undertone colors. But for almost two years we lived with it.

Gradually we added furniture in the room. And by new furniture I mean a child size chifferobe and chest with shelving that I rehabbed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the chifferobe and the dresser were made of pressed wood, but some heavy cleaning, light sanding, and half a dozen spray paint cans later, we had two very nice pieces.

P7030609This summer, with a week and change worth of vacation, I decided I was redoing and finally finishing off the dining room. First, I had a LOT of spackling to do, which we had neglected the first time around.

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The painting was easy. This time around we used Behr’s color Mountain Sage. I have to admit, though, that I had a gift card to Lowe’s so I decided to get the paint from there. With my color sample in hand, I got Valspar’s Ultra Interior Flat Enamel which is paint and primer in one, PLUS low VOC.  I was able to do two coats in the same day, a few hours apart, even though it was at least 80 degrees out and humid. I was ridiculously pleased with how thick the paint was, and as quickly and sloppily as I was working, it did not spatter at all. At $25 a gallon it was a bit more than some of the paint I’ve used, but WELL worth it in the long run.

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The only part of the room that was a pain was the wood work.  We have gorgeous dentil moulding around the ceiling and as our chair rail. The only problem? Dentil moulding was created as PUNISHMENT for people who have to paint it.  Now you all know that I’m psychotic and paint my woodwork in oil. What I learned the first time around doing the room was that you cannot paint the chair rail with a normal brush because it splatters and drips like crazy and you can’t get into the crevices. So this time?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, that is a paint brush that you would usually use for oil paint on canvas.  The chair rail took me at least two hours. See the X and hashes on the tape above? That’s how I kept my sanity and made sure I didn’t lose track of what dentil I was on. I COUNTED THEM. We have 382.

When all the tape was removed, it was time to dress the room. This definitely happened in stages.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst I put everything back in and desperately wished there was a way to hide the hideous tile floor. So I turned to CraigsList. $70 later….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I found a rug JUST large enough to cover the center of the room. It fits almost perfectly inside the white border tiles. I cannot tell you  how happy this makes me. Even though it darkens the room a little bit, it has also worked to dampen the horrible echo we always had. And now some glamour shots for your viewing pleasure!

The metal radiator cover was scored about 6 months ago for $40. Add two cans of spray paint and you have a gorgeous piece.

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It is dressed with a Limoges Bird of Paradise condiment dish, a bird and container from Michaels, a Lenox vase we received for our wedding, and a silver candy dish (devoid of its usual supply of M&Ms).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Limoges dish (also known as the Eden pattern) was scored for $15 at an estate sale and matches china that I have.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd yes, the flowers are fake which I have people ask me all the time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur “hutch” is dressed with a handmade bowl we received for our wedding that is personalized, some R mugs, a bird I bought during a trip we took for our first anniversary, a whiskey set from friends, our cake topper, and a few other sentimental items. While the display is nice, the drawers were a huge plus in the room as they house most of our linens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe refinished chifferobe houses more linens and entertaining pieces like wine glasses and serving trays. The paint crackled when it was drying (as I refinished it last fall which was a mistake because of the cool, humid nights) so some time this summer it will go out piece by piece to get a finish coat.  The red bird is also from Michaels. Can you sense a theme here?

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The wall that was so horribly uneven is now smoothed out and has photos I took in Ireland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think one of the things that excited me the most about finishing the room was the harmony when you look from the dining room into the living room and see how the colors go together. (Please ignore the drop cloth on the floor in the living room!)  The fact that the rug goes with the valances my mom had treated me to when I had found the living room ones. They were purchased from Swags Galore and I would never buy valances without looking there first. Their prices are AMAZING.

Overall I’m just thrilled. The first few days, as I stumbled into the kitchen to get my coffee, I was overwhelmed by the difference that paint color can make. Before, when you walked into our dining room it said HI! I’M GREEN! and now it says Please come sit down and enjoy a savory meal.

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I hope you enjoyed seeing the dining room as much as I enjoy it. Every night as the gloaming approaches, I walk into my dining room and think this is why I do this. This was worth the wait. This is something good and safe and beautiful.

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feline friday watches tv

It’s rare that The Man sits and watches TV during the day, but when he took a break from mowing the lawn a few days ago, someone decided she was going to watch the Navy Seals program with her daddy.

IMG_20130716_143323_538Luna was NEVER a lap cat, so this is a rare moment indeed.

Stay cool this weekend, my friends!

it’s all about nails…

I figured since I’ve tortured most of you with my failure to post pictures of the finished dining room, I’d make you wait just a liiiiiiiiiitle longer. Instead, I wanted to share some painting advice for anyone who is about to tackle a project of their own.

Personally, I think the worst part of painting is the set up and the clean up.  Both can take hours, if not days depending on how much taping, draping, and spackling you have to get done. In my case, I was somewhat lucky with this room because the tile floor meant I didn’t have to set up drop cloths all over. Instead, I used one drop cloth and moved it with me around the room.

When it comes to tips and tricks, I don’t have many, but one of them is to keep in mind nails.

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pre-painting nail glamor shot while sitting on the radiator

Yes, I’m talking about fingernails!

After doing work in the house and sharing photos, I’ve actually had people ask me how I kept my nails at the same time, joking that I must not have actually done the work. Now I’m the first person to tell you that my nails are not strong at all – they break if you look at them wrong. But, along the way, I’ve learned some tips and tricks. First, there are a bunch of benefits to having nails when you’re doing painting.

  1. nails make it much easier to rip painters tape, smooth it down, and get it wedged in those teeny tiny corners
  2. nails are perfect for picking off those tiny little fuzzes and hairs that invariably land on your freshly painted wall
  3. nails are great for scraping those tiny little paint splatters off the floor without using a tool that may otherwise scratch delicate surfaces

Now all that is fine and good, but prepping your nails is just as important. If your nails are anything like mine (thin, abused, used as tools) then they’ll be prone to getting paint IN their cracks and crevices, especially at the tips. If you’ve ever gotten latex paint on your nails, you’ve probably experienced the same thing I have: you can’t get it off. Sure, it’ll come off the surface near the cuticle. But if your nails have splits or are dry, chances are you’ll end up having to cut them off to get the dye the paint leaves behind to go away which, as a somewhat girlie girl, I hate having to do.

So, that being said, I do something very counter intuitive the night before painting. I push back and cut my cuticles, trim and file my nails, and then put on a strengthening topcoat, making sure to coat the tips. The day I paint, I also do something very unusual. I SLATHER any part of my skin that will be exposed while painting in moisturizer. Why? It will come off even easier when you shower.

If you are stubborn (like me) and paint with oil, you’ll want to pay attention here. In addition to moisturizing yourself before painting, you’ll also want to invest in Goo Gone. While there are products like Goof Off that will remove oil paint pretty decently, I hate using it on wood, and DEFINITELY hate using it on my skin.  I try limiting my use of all harsh products like paint thinner and turpentine. What I’ve learned is that Goo Gone and a good cotton towel with a nub is FABULOUS for removing oil paint from wood, my glasses, and especially skin without any of the normal harsh side effects most chemicals have. I’ve also soak my brushes in a mixture of really hot water with some Goo Gone to get most of paint out before resorting to paint thinner. (As a side note, I could dedicate a whole blog on all the things I use Goo Gone for from removing label adhesive to cleaning my stove, but we’ll discuss those later…)

Hope you find some or all of these tips helpful! What do you hate most about painting prep?

feline friday goes canine

The Man and I escaped for a long weekend to visit his parents in upstate New York.  We also got a bonus surprise of his sister, which means her dogs as well!! Foster, a black and tan dog of “unknown heritage” who is about 7, is the most lovable dog you could ever meet. And for added cuteness factor, he FLIPS OUT every time he sees my husband.

For once, I was ready and captured the adorableness on film.  So while our kitties get a vacation from us (and being on the blog) enjoy Foster (and guest star Stryker who is a German Shepherd/Huskie)! Happy Friday and have a beautiful weekend!

feline friday patriotic style

No pictures of kitties today, but instead, a pic of a treat I made for them in honor of July 4th.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatriotic catnip balls! I think what I love most about making these (and I rarely make them for my own cats, mostly just my Etsy customers) is that you can use all those tiny amounts of leftover yarn because these really don’t take much at all.

For a limited time, I’ll be selling these as a custom order for just $5.00 and free shipping! Check out my Etsy shop to order yours today.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe July 4th!!!