A Quick Upcycle

As we begin Project Lighten Up the Living Room, I was on the hunt for a clear or white lamp base to change up this green one we had on the sofa table. 

  
I love the style of this lamp but it just doesn’t fit the new decor.  As we hunted for new lamps, hubs and I couldn’t agree on anything.  Rule number one in our projects is that no piece is bought or redone unless we BOTH agree on it, so no lamp…

But then while we walked around The craft store the other night, I fell in love with this:

  
Hubs proceeds to say, “Hey, why don’t I just turn this into a light?”  I followed that with a, “Yeah right!”   I mean I know my hubby is good…but that good???

We bought the lantern, took a pit stop by the hardware store, hubs spent a few minutes in the garage…

  
Well well well….I was wrong to ever second guess the mad scientist!

   

    
 
I mean, what!?  You can’t even see the wires!!  Yeah, I am one lucky girl to be married to such a talented guy!  One project down and we are well on our way to lightening up the living room!!

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A Quick Rainy Day Upgrade

Yesterday we decided to do a quick upgrade to our basement.  Yes, our basement is pretty much done with any updates we can do, but we still have the stairs…ugh…the carpeted stairs.

IMG_5092Our ultimate goal is to get the carpet off the stairs and change them over to wooden, but right now we just don’t want to make the mess. One little thing we CAN go ahead and do is take down the ugly railing…and give it a facelift!

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“What!?  What are y’all doing now?  No – you can’t do anything without the three of us in tow.” 🙂  My crazy photo bombers!

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So the hardware got a coat of spray paint and a little time with my dear friend the DeWalt Sander, a coat of our favorite stain, and the final coat of varnish on the wooden rail…

And you have a beautiful little upgrade.  It just adds one more little piece of character…a little piece of us!  We love it!  Now to dream for what’s next!

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Trying Something New (for us)

If you know us…or have even read part of our blog…you know we LOVE antiques!  I am especially in love with antiques that have a family history.  Take a peek at this beauty…

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Hey – be nice!  Yeah, so she is a little worn and torn, but that is what makes her so beautiful!  She has a long history and many stories in those scratches.  This dining hutch belonged to my paternal grandparents, and was then passed down to my parents.  This hutch is part of the dining set that I remember growing up with!  She held all our precious things like grandmother’s china, my first tooth, my brothers first haircut clipping, our piece of the original UGA hedges, etc.  She has been moved from state to state, house to house. Hubs and I think she is PERFECT – she just needs a little CPR to be brought back to life!

The poor gal was covered in scratches (from kids and cats and dogs and who knows what else) and the handles were falling off from her move up here from Florida.  She was definitely looking a little rough, but Hubs and I could see the beauty underneath it all.

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We started by taking out all the drawers, taking off the cabinet doors, and taking off the hardware.  When I pulled a drawer out, I saw this beautiful company stamp and stopped to do a little research (don’t you love smart phones?! – get answers to your questions right away where ever you are).  The Temple Stuart Furniture Company began in 1910 and ramped up production of furniture after WWII.  This particular factory closed down in 1960. We are not sure the exact age of this piece, but we don’t really care.  We are more in love with the memories that she holds in that beautiful wood grain….now to bring her back to life!

We started with the belt sander to get all the varnish off the top.  We then used the hand sander to bring back the beauty of the original wood grain.

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We chose to go with a Dark Mahogany stain on the top of the hutch to bring out the beauty of the natural wood grain.  Then we covered the top with three coats of a spar varnish.  I plan to protect that pretty wood…I also want to use this piece as a serving hutch in our basement and need a durable top to protect it when we put food and drinks on it.

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Once we stained it, there were a few nicks and scratches that didn’t come out, but I am IN LOVE with them!  It leaves a little character to the old lady.

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Now for the bottom – um, we were nervous about this one!  This is the first time we have tried to refinish an antique and actually give it an antique look.  We usually give our pieces a nice clean finish that makes them look new, but with this one we wanted something a little different.  We were worried about getting started because the top looked so beautiful.  We didn’t want to mess up the bottom…but there is nothing you can do but just dive in…so that’s exactly what we did!

We started by lightly sanding down the doors, drawers, and sides.  The goal was just to get the “gook” off and scuff up the surface, not to take it all the way back down to the original wood since we would be painting it instead of staining it.  (Above:  2 pictures on the left are before sanding, top right is after sanding)

Next came the paint…Ugh…this was a difficult decision.  You can see that we bought paint + primer to hopefully take less coats (we did two coats), and you can also see that I changed my mind after we already had the paint mixed!  Thank goodness the paint guy was in a  great mood today.  He remixed my “Touch of Grey” to “Saddlehorn Grey” because I thought the first mix was way too light.

The paint went on great!  Truth:  At this point in the process I still think the paint is too light.  You can see the nice contrast between the dark stained top and the lighter bottom, but I was hoping for more gray.

Now for the super scary part!  We bought two types of antiquing glaze and tried them both on a scrap painted piece of wood first.  We have never used this type of product before, so Hubs had spent hours researching how to use it.

Both products went on easily and achieved the type of look we were going for, but the Rust-oleum was a brown tint, and the Valspar was a black tint.  We went with the Valspar for this project.  Sorry there are no pictures of the process to apply the glaze…we were nervous…and it is a FAST multi-step process.

  1.  Apply the glaze all over your product with a foam brush, making sure to follow the wood grain and get in the nooks and crannies.
  2. Use a shop towel (no lint) and wipe off the glaze.  Leave the glaze where you want it…like in the edges and creases.
  3. Use a damp sponge to clear the large surface areas of excess glaze.
  4. You have 15 minutes to work with the glaze.  If you wipe away too much, just re-apply and re-wipe.  The hardest part was trying to keep each piece somewhat consistent on the “look” and amount of glaze left on the piece.

Here is a before and after of one of the drawers with the antiquing glaze:

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I was so worried, but in the end I really love the overall look!  We continued on glazing and wiping to finish the drawers, doors, and cabinet.

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After the coat of antiquing glaze went on, I am actually kind of glad we went with the lighter grey.  It darkened it up a little and added so much character that I don’t think we would have seen on the darker grey.  Plus I have a happy husband that didn’t have to go back and have the paint remixed a third time.

Hubs wanted to give the top of the hutch an over-the-top finish.  He wet sanded the dry varnish and gave it one last coat, then buffed it to the perfect shine…the result was a glass-like finish on the top!

 

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We sprayed a protective satin finish clear coat over the entire piece.

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The hardware was our final dilemma.  At first we liked the natural patina look of the handles and we were just going to clean off the hardware and reattach it.  But once the drawers were finished and we held the hardware up to it, we decided the color was way off.  So off we went to 3 stores hunting new hardware…no luck.  Nothing would fit the pre-drilled holes (of course).  So we ended up with a can of Rust-Oleum spray paint, and back to the original hardware.

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We are so pleased with this refurbished piece!  I just love that with a little bit of elbow grease, you can take something old and tired and turn it into a beautiful piece that will last another 70+ years in the family! (sorry for the bad lighting in the basement…these pictures really don’t do the finished piece any justice!)

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If you are looking to have a special piece of your own refinished, check out our For Sale Page to see how you can get a quote for us to do the elbow grease work for you!

And just because….Don’t you just love my little blogging partner?!  He has made his own little spot on my grandmother’s chest in my office.  It took me a long time to heal the heartbreak of loosing my Enzo, but I have finally let Gauge into my heart…man oh man I love this wild child!

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Bathroom Overhaul

As most of you know, this winter we had a water pipe bust and flood our basement.  The entire basement had to be gutted and redone.  The room with the least damage was the bathroom, but we figured if everything else was getting an overhaul we might as well fix up the bathroom too! 

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This is mostly a guest bathroom so I wanted it to have a spa feel…a lot less “college dorm room” than it was before.  My absolute favorite part of the new bathroom is the wine crate shelving Hubs made out of a couple of crates we picked up at the local antique store.

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8 Things we Learned About Stained Concrete Flooring

We are so happy that we FINALLY have finished the remodel of our basement, after a busted water pipe!  The best upgrade we made was the concrete flooring!  I will say that this was a LONG and stressful learning process, but we are definitely glad we did it.  We wanted to share a few things we learned along the way.

1.  It gets darker…I promise!

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When our floors were first sprayed, we were extremely skeptical.  As we watched the stain go on it looked great, but when I got home later it looked HORRIBLE!  It was light in color and just looked like a dirty concrete floor.  I was horrified!  The flooring guy assured us that it would get dark again once we put the sealer on…and he was right.  We ended up loving the final color and so glad we didn’t go darker.

2.  It NEEDS the finishing details.

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We learned that even though the color was acceptable, there was just something that looked “messy” about it.  We couldn’t figure it out…it was those finishing details.  We added a 7 inch, chocolate colored border, the base molding, and the top coat.  Yep those finishing details made me go from “Eh, I can live with it” to “Wow, I actually love this.”

3.  Prep is EVERYTHING!

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* Ignore the carpet on the stairs…it is coming off soon! *  So it took our floor guy twice as long to prep the floor as it did to stain and seal the floor.  There is a LOT of sanding, sweeping, mopping, sanding, over and over again to be done.  It makes a big ole mess!  But the prep is was really makes the look of your floor…see the next tip.

4.  You have NO control!  You can’t control the look, the color, the vibe…

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So, some people (hubs) love it…I hate it!  That big ole paint stain in the middle of the floor.  That was there…under the carpet….from before we moved in.  They sanded it, a little, but it never really came up and so there it is.  When I say you have no control, I mean it.  Your concrete is going to do what it does and you can’t change one thing about it.  We even have carpet glue lines that were just not sanded enough (don’t get me started on that) and they are still visible.

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5.  Go with the Epoxy!

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Our floor guy had originally put a layer of urethane sealer on the floor…nope, not acceptable…don’t do it!  It looked and felt like colored concrete.  Like the floor was an accident.  What we wanted was exactly what you see above…that beautiful shine!  I love how you can see the reflection of the lights in the floor!  Now it looks like we meant to do this floor!  It took two coats of the epoxy sealer and it was totally worth it!

6.  Your house will STINK and be DUSTY!

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When they do all that prep work and sanding, it will COVER your entire room!  We have had to dust multiple times and even change the air filter in the air conditioner.  And watch out when they put that epoxy sealer on there…whoa baby!  That is some really strong stuff.  The cat even acted a little crazy when I came home that first day and he had been sniffing it all day…wait…he always acts crazy….but really, it was even worse.  (*I think he was high*)  For the second coat, we were much wiser.  We spent the day outside and had every window and door open!  It airs out in about a day, so it will be ok in the long run.

7.  Watch out for self-leveling concrete!

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Yeah, so….this happened!  The wood floors in the entryway were ruined and we assumed that we could just stain the concrete underneath with the rest of the basement…wrong!  It all started when we realized the wood was liquid nailed to the floor and had to be jackhammered off!  That meant we had to lay self-leveling concrete to fix it…and guess what…it doesn’t take stain!  What!?  Even the floor guy didn’t know that.  So we ended up painting it and sealing it, and we are ok with that.

8. Do your research! 

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Most importantly, do your research!  Make sure you use a floor guy that is reliable with great references.  Unfortunately, we were not so lucky.  We went with the guy the contractor hired and it ended up not going so well.  Thank goodness Hubs is a major researcher.  He was researching the whole process along the way, and hovered over the sub-par flooring guy until it was done right.  Otherwise we wouldn’t have the border, the painted entryway, or the epoxy sealer.  Please, if you want stained concrete…do your research!

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Like I said, it was a big learning process, but wow…we couldn’t be more pleased!  Gauge thinks so too!

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So if you are ready to take a chance, you love character, you are looking for something different and unique…then do it!  Try those concrete floors!  Like Hubs said, “Hey, if we hate it, we can always put flooring over it.  Its just concrete!”

The “Baby’s Room”

I am NOT pregnant.  I promise I will tell you all when that blessed day comes, but right now we have a lot going on and expecting a baby is not one of them.  I have to say this because you are about to see a lot of things going on in the “baby’s room” and a lot of you will start asking questions…yes you will….I know you. Smile

Let’s give a little background knowledge on how this room got it’s name and why we are working in this room this summer.  When we moved in the house, we immediately chose which room would be our guest room and which room would be a future nursery.  We have left the back bedroom (the future nursery) empty because we know we want to expand our family sooner rather than later.  As we gave tours and showed people the house, we started calling it “the baby’s room” to explain why it sits empty.

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Now, why are we working in there?  We have a million projects to choose from, and no baby on the way, so why work in the baby’s room?  Well…because it is empty!  That makes it super easy to work in there.  Also, we have been collecting furniture (and been given a lot) for the future nursery and we HAVE to get it refinished and OUT of the garage (since that’s the next project on the list)!

OK – now that all of that is out of the way.  Let’s talk about what’s been going on in the “baby’s room”.  I posted our big project goals for 2013 back in January (read about it here).  And giving the back bedroom a coat of paint was on the list.  I knew I wanted to keep a future nursery gender neutral, and I was loving a grey/yellow theme. 

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So we did it….we painted the “baby’s room” grey!  I love it! Love it! Love it!   We have lots of other plans for this room (like adding crown molding, making curtains, refurnished furniture, etc.) and I promise you will be updated on every step.  But for now I like to just peek in there when I walk by and enjoy the beautiful rich grey on the walls!

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Big Reveal ~ Wine Closet

**It’s a long one…with lots of pictures…get ready :)**

I have a problem…a pretty big one…and I am ready to admit it to the world.  I am addicted to the blogosphere!  I see so many cool ideas and I have such a talented husband, that I have no problem trying to recreate them in my own home.  Some people say that it’s kind of cool that I actually follow through and complete projects (big and small), but my husband my think otherwise. 😉

So I shared my plans for a wine closet with you a while back.  I have seen so many cool wine cellars that were transformed from small closets and I just had to have one in my house!  I had the perfect place to do it too!

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At the top of the basement steps, in our main hallway, we had this mess of a linen closet.  Really you could call it a “catch-all” closet!  It was a waste of space and I could see the wine closet fitting perfectly there.  We started, of course, by cleaning out the space and starting with a fresh slate. (We won’t talk about where everything went…)

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While I was cleaning, Hubs started by building the bar-top table.

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After installing the bar-top, we lined the center of the closet with cedar tongue and groove planks.  This isn’t smell-a-blog, but I wish it was right now!  Every time I open the wine closet I get a whiff of cedar and I LOVE it!

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The main focal point of the wine closet was the large wine-rack.  Hubs did a lot of research to try to figure out the best plan for our little space.  I was pretty pleased with the design he finally came up with.

He started by building the basic box, then fitted the diagonal inserts.  Having the triangle shapes makes it easy to stack and organize my bottles.

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I worked on staining the wine rack to match the bar-top.

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Now it is time for the finishing touches.  Do you remember this wine bucket and pulley that we picked up at the antique market?  Well, it makes the perfect set-up for holding that special bottle of champagne.

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We also picked up this beautiful sterling silver bowl at the antique market, and we are starting our collection of corks.  On each cork I write the date and occasion for consuming that bottle.

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Hubs added a glass rack under the top shelf to hold our new and antique wine glasses.  We also finally found a special place for the sterling silver Wine Cooler that we used in our wedding.

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We are very proud of the final look!  Now we can’t wait to travel around the southeast, visiting and touring wineries, and growing our collection. 

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