Accent Table

Awhile back, I found an accent table I liked at Target. It was a bit dark for my taste, but I needed something that would spruce up a corner in our living room. So I sprung on this dark wood, modern table and added accessories over time:

Accent Table

Looks decent, but it was just sucking up tons of natural light that we couldn’t afford to lose. I decided to play around a little bit.


I took of the front drawers and unscrewed the hardware. Oh, I should mention that my FIRST attempt to lighten this piece was to spray the hardware gold, to match some various accents on the table already (like the picture frame, the vase and the mirror). And it was a good attempt, but it wasn’t enough!


I brought the two drawers to the garage and used 60 grit sandpaper on a palm sander to get the darkness off. Then I went over that with 150 grit. I would have used 3 different grits and ended with a higher (like 180 grit) finish, but I felt that it was sufficiently smooth with what I had available. Once it was sanded I used odorless mineral spirits and rag to wipe off the dust and debris leftover on the drawer front. 



Once the drawer fronts had “dried” (the wet look that the mineral spirits left) it was time for primer and paint. I usually use Kilz Primer. We pick up a big bucket at Home Depot whenever we’re low. Then I went over it with Behr Ultra Pure White in a semi-gloss finish (which was left over from another project). I trial-ed a foam roller this time around while painting, and I must say: I will never go back! They are perfect for a smooth surface. Probably would have looked even more amazing with self-leveling paint. Next time…




I popped the hardware back on after everything had dried nicely. And I’m VERY happy with the results.



It’s like a brand new piece of furniture! Very awesome DIY for cheap. What is everyone else working on? Anyone updating with paint?


Something for Nothing: Sympathy Card

In light of recent events, I was compelled to design a card for those suffering a loss or are recovering. Check out the bottom of this post for your free printable!


It’s a card to give to friends, relatives or someone close to you. Ideal uses would be for those in grief, pain, sickness, or are suffering a loss. The outside says “Believing, Trusting, Hoping, Praying” and the inside is blank. I always find that a personal, handwritten message means much more to someone in pain. Even if you feel like you’re not good at writing something personal. Something short and sweet is always good to hear, like  “I can’t wait to see you back on your feet” or “I miss our conversations!”. Maybe even jot down what you are hoping for or a quick prayer.


This card is to be printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and has the crop marks to trim it down to the correct size of 10″ x 7″. Once you have your 10″ x 7″ card cut out, use a scoring pad to create a fold mark down the middle, right at 5″, like pictured. You could also fold this by hand.


And now you should have yourself a nice, folded sympathy card! As for the color inspiration of this card, I found an image at the website “design-seeds” called milk tones (pictured below). I always tweak the colors a bit to work for me, and that’s how I ended up with gray, wavy oval and fun dotted “confetti” border.


Here’s the free sympathy card printable link:

Sympathy Card

Hope you enjoy it! Feel free to tell me how you’re using it!

Vase Painting

I stopped into Goodwill the other day and picked up a few of these beauties from the glass department.


I think it was about $3 or $4 for all four jars. This chic, feather-patterned guy is my favorite.


The intention was to follow this tutorial on how to make some fancy/modern decorations at home for cheap. I’m thrifty like that. I used paint we had in the basement and also picked up a $3 sample pot of Behr’s paint at Home Depot.


Basically, you pour the paint down the INSIDE wall of the jars and rotate them (mouth of the vase up!) until the inside is completely covered. Then you can flip them mouth-side-down onto old newspaper. They take a while to dry, but I’m loving the result!


They are not quite as “pastel” in person, that’s probably a camera flaw. I’ve already set them on display on my little accent table of the living room. I’m constantly futzing over what should sit on that thing. It changes weekly. And I’m actually thinking of sanding the drawers down and painting them white for a little pop of brightness in that little corner.


Oh yeah, I finished one of my designs! It’s a personalized family print. Here’s a closer shot:


It makes me happy… Any paint-related projects going on out there in the world? Tell me about them! Or link to them! I’d love to see your DIY projects.

Outdoor Updates

Unfortunately, they deemed our little hub here in Wisconsin “Tree City, USA”. Which means every homeowner gets a fantastic tree rooted in the terrace in front of their house. I don’t have a problem with trees. I actually am a huge fan. But it’s just that the city doesn’t take care of them. The wait-list is a few years long if you want someone to come out and trim them back (and I don’t have a cherry picker to do it myself). The root system breaks up the sidewalks, and messes up underground pipes and such. The shade of mature trees doesn’t allow our roof to dry properly after it rains. And, oh yeah.


The branches break off and hit our house. It’s not a ridiculous amount of damage, but enough that we wanted to contact the insurance company to see if there were any unseen casualties. The adjuster who came out declared that our roof needed replacing… on one side. And one side only. The front side. They are giving us half of a roof. I don’t want to seem ungrateful here… but I have never heard of this. The shingles are pretty old… it’s not like they are going to match them up to anything you can buy in the store. Half a roof is sort of an embarrassing idea to me. And I REALLY don’t want to shell out two deductibles if in 6 months the backside gets demolished by another branch. Am I out of line?




Okay. Whine-fest over. We chopped up the branch and set it on the curb. Here’s a shot of the offending tree that got all aggressive and tossed a branch at our house:


Do you like how I personify everything?


Here’s the back of the house. We had to do some re-grading and while we were at it, we took the opportunity to throw in some boxwoods. I love that plant. After we raked the dirt smooth and sloped away from the foundation, it was time to add the eye candy.


We actually picked these up about a month ago and have been keeping them watered and taken care of. I have been meticulously perusing the boxwood sections of landscaping stores all summer, and have been really disappointed with pricing. BUT THEN we happened to walk through the gardening section of Home Depot and they had a 50% off sign near the boxwoods. They were only one gallon bushes, but I was psyched. Psyched enough to grab 8, and then later come back for 2 more. We managed to snag them for $3.50 apiece. Which means a grand total of $35 for one long row of boxwoods in my backyard.



We spaced them out according to the instructions on the card attached to them (these required 36″ of what you might call “breathing room”). When we had them how we wanted them, I took my shovel and dug some holes.


And then de-potted them…


And then packed soil around them.


Afterwards, we got about 8 bags of a dark mulch to cover up the dirt and some decorative looking bricks. I still have to level them out, and am considering mortaring them together, but that might be next year. Sorry for the night shot, I just grabbed the camera and snapped a pic about 10 minutes ago. Teehee!


I’m hoping they hedge together and we can try to shape them at some point. I realize we will have to be patient…. like a few years patient. But I’m really happy with the improvement. Another reason for the upgrade is that we plan on removing that exterior back door pictured above and replace it with a window (probably the size of the far right one). We will have to have a mason come out and match up the stone as close as possible, but I’m pretty confident that it will look kind of patchy. SO, I’m thinking that mature boxwood will cover up any weird seamless-ness that the change will cause. Hopefully. What updates are you guys doing? Any end-of-season deals that you’ve seen? Tell me about it!

Something for Nothing

I know that I briefly brushed on the fact that I’m really into graphic design. It got me thinking that I’d love to incorporate that here more. That means good things for you awesome people that are reading. Hold on for some FREE stuff!


This is one of my favorite verses from the sermon on the mount (Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7). Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God. Here’s a closer snapshot of it.


I didn’t realize how much went into a little bit of text and font. So much tweaking! Good practice though, because I’d like to keep these freebies coming. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find three different files for download. I made this image in yellow, red and black.



When you print the PDF file onto 8.5″ x 11″ paper, it will have crop marks that you can use to chop this print down to a final size of 5″ x 7″. Perfect for frames! I use a cutting “machine” that I found in the scrapbook department of Hobby Lobby for about $7 a few years ago. If you have steady hands, I’m sure a scissors would work just fine too.




Click on a color file that you think would work best in your home and COMMENT to tell me where you’re going to use it!

Tile and Countertops

For today’s post, I’m going to shut my mouth and let the pictures do the talking. Mostly. Just so you know, this isn’t the end of things, even though I included a “before” and “after” photo. We still have LOTS to accomplish…





















I’m taking the remainder of the day to start filling up the cabinets… since the kitchen is finally, finally in a LIVABLE state!!!



Wish me luck!

The Science of Cabinetry

Cabinetry installation. Some might say it’s tough. I’d have to say it’s on par with a Special Ops assignment.


We started by deciding exactly where to place the cabinets. We actually had a pretty good idea of this when drawing up plans with a cabinetry design person at Lowes. There had to be at least 30″ between the first cabinet and the wall to fit the standard size of an oven.


So, we placed the 3-drawer cabinet 30″ from the wall. Easy breezy. Next we pushed the sink base cabinet flush with 3-drawer one. We had to drill them together at 2-3 points. Using a few vice grips we picked up at a local hardware store for $3 each, Kevin made sure the two cabinets had a nice, even seam and used 2.5″ screw to attach them at 3 points.



They say “Start installing at the highest point of the room”. Picture Kevin crawling around the floor with a 6′ level muttering under his breath. We eventually concluded that this was the small 3-drawer cabinet in our situation. We marked the studs in the wall behind the cabinets and started jacking the cabinets off the floor with wood shims. I should mention that we started with the assumption that it’s important for the backside of the cabinets to be flush with the wall. So our job started looking like this:


If the cabinets are jacked off the floor a few inches at the HIGHEST point of the room, how high will they be off the floor at the lowest point? We didn’t think about this at the time, and it was about at this point that the project took a nose-dive. We collectively spent about 12 hours working on getting the cabinets level by adding and taking away shims constantly. Every little change shifted the way something else looked. Finally, Kevin insisted we had to unscrew all the cabinets and take away all the shims. It wasn’t a good moment, but it ended up being the right choice.


Making sure those cabinets are level is of utmost importance. It decides how level your countertops will be installed, and it IS very noticeable. Even 1/8 of an inch is significant.


In the end, we only put 1-2 shims under each cabinet, and ended up shimming between the backside of the cabinet and the wall more. Also, we switched to a plastic shim, just so that if there were ever to be unseen water, the shims wouldn’t rot and fail at supporting the cabinets.


We used a 3.5″ cabinet screw to attach the cabinet to the stud. It might not look like it, but we stuffed enough shims between the cabinet and wall so there wasn’t any free space in there. You don’t want to have any free space or when you drill, it will end up “sucking” the cabinet to the wall, giving you a warped cabinet. Not a good look.


Once everything was all screwed in nice and tight, Kevin used an oscillating tool with a cutting attachment to shave off the exposed part of the shim. Some people snap them off, but that technique wasn’t working that well for us.


Pile o’ shims and some fabulous-looking base cabinets. Happy day! But wait… that’s only half the job!


We didn’t get out cabinet duty that quickly… We had to install some uppers too! We needed some heavy lifters for this job, so we called my dad and brothers over for some help lifting those awkward cabinets up onto the wall. Here, my dad is getting ready to install a scrap piece of lumber to the wall.


Basically, that piece of scrap has to be drilled into the studs super level, and with enough space for the cabinet to fit snugly between it and the ceiling. That way, back of your cabinet can rest on it, and you can avoid bearing the weight of bulky cabinets while trying to level and shim the cabinet into place. Here’s Kevin, clearly posing for a drill-that-into-the-wall shot.


The eyes give it away. Nice, honey. Somehow, I missed capturing the installation of the first cabinet and jumped back into it after they had installed and removed the scrap wood. Here’s the jump:


That piece of scrap wood collected quite a few names while it was here. Shoe. Cleft. Shelf. Foot. Hunk’a Junk. I don’t know which is technical. Anyways, next step was to lift the shelf up onto the wall.


Once we knew that it fit nice and snug, we took it down and drilled some pilot holes.


Then we drilled it up there with those 3.5″ cabinet screws. And so on and so forth for the other wall cabinets. And now the kitchen looks like a kitchen. Sort of.



Pretend you don’t see the tile. That’s a post for another day, and it’s definitely not finished yet. But we have a deadline… because the countertops are going to be installed in T-minus 12 days! The major kitchen remodel portions will be completed ON the anniversary of the first day we got the keys to our home sweet home. Ahh! I simply cannot wait to get our stove back in there and make a box of Macaroni and Cheese. I know, I’m ridiculous.