Painting Low-Traffic Furniture: The Easy Way

Every piece of furniture is different so this isn’t a fail-safe formula, but it’s great for most low traffic items like end tables, armoires, beds, accent chairs, sofa tables etc.

Sanding the pieces even a little helps the paint stick, but isn’t necessary for low traffic items. Again, every piece is different so use your own judgement about whether to sand or it. High traffic item like kitchen tables turn out better with more prep work and more durable paint.

Steps:

1. Clean the piece with water or mineral spirits and let it dry.

2. Paint Zinnser Shellac base primer with a disposable brush. It’s super runny so make sure you have a heavy drop cloth or plastic on the floor.

3. Paint with a flat or Satin sheen paint. I love sample sizes of paint from Sherwin Williams because they are cheap and come in a pint size.

5. Paint one or two coats for desired coverage.

7. Glaze and or distress as desired.

9. Top coat with Polycrylic. It gives the piece a smooth finish. I like Minwax or Stays Clear from Benjamin Moore

10. I recommend letting the piece “cure” for about a week before you set items on it.

Dentist Chair Secrets

One of my favorite designer friends asked me to recover 7 chairs for her dentist office makeover!

You might think that office furniture couldn’t tell a story, but hidden under one of these chairs was a sneaky little stowaway that gave me a good laugh.

First, the before:

And the stripped bare picture:

When I removed the seat on this particular chair I couldn’t stop giggling! Can you see that sneaky little piece of green gum?

I can just imagine the patient who left it there while he was prepping for his dentist appointment. Maybe he was late, and he didn’t have time to brush his teeth before his visit. Maybe he didn’t want to be the patient with the horrible breath… so in his mind, gum seemed like a perfectly reasonable choice! Heck, he thinks, I’ll rid myself of this afternoon’s salad particles and my onion breath in one shot!

He checks in for the appointment, fills out the paperwork, and settles in for the inevitable waiting room game, when suddenly he remembers his gum.

He looks around for the trash can, but can’t see one anywhere!

What kind-of waiting room doesn’t have a trash can?

In agony he wonders how to rid himself of the gum! Any second now, the attractive hygienist will call his name, and his every oral action will be scrutinized mercilessly! Even worse, he could face an awkward moment of spitting out the soggy mass in front of the bicuspid beauty!

He makes a quick decision and places the gum underneath the chair. After all, no one will ever know, right?

Wrong!

So, I just have to say thanks to the soul who gave me that giggle… but in all seriousness… please don’t put gum underneath chairs!

Tip: Coconut oil will safely remove gum from chairs, clothing and even hair!!

What funny places have you found gum lurking and hiding?

Faith and Furniture

This mirror has been left in a packing box, tucked way back in a closet for 4 years. It has nagged at me, but I’ve never known what to do with it. Lately, I’ve been trying to use it as a free-standing mirror, but it’s just not working out. I think it’s time for some paint, and maybe a new location on a wall.

But this mirror got me thinking…

Furniture is a lot like faith.

We first get it and it’s exciting and shiny and new… but if we don’t care for it, problems sneak in. A nick here or a scratch there, and eventually that piece becomes less needed in our minds.

How many times have we stuck a piece in the corner, garage or attic and forgotten about it? Having it is good, but it’s easy to forget the importance of it.

When we do find that piece again it almost becomes a burden, and something that was so wonderful at one point, now requires tedious, time consuming repairs and fixing.

I’ve had this happen many times, with furniture and with my faith… and I gotta say, taking the time is worth it.

Whenever I refinish a piece, I’m amazed at how wonderful it looks in the end. Yes, the work is messy and frustrating, and always takes longer than I think it should… but it’s worth it because when the work is done, I’m left with a piece that is better than it was to begin with. A piece that is stronger, updated and ready to serve it’s ultimate purpose of supporting me!

My faith is like an old piece of furniture because it gets better and better as I work on it and care for it. It looks completely different now than it did when I was a child, but the scratches and dings of sin and doubt are beautiful reminders to me of how I’ve grown.

I’m reminded that the One who heals all our wounds was a carpenter himself. And as we turn to Him, all of our scratches and dings can be strengthened and repaired. And our ever evolving pieces of furniture can be better than they were to begin with, full of hope and strength as we put our trust in Him.

Another Before and After Piece

While we were in Utah for Thanksgiving my mom and I refinished her hutch. She liked the green, but felt like it was too much color for her room.

We mixed Annie Sloan’s Old Ochre with Sherwin William’s Pure White to create a custom white color.

We weren’t concerned about the consistency of flat paint and chalk paint, and we didn’t prime this time. The paint went on smoothly and covered very well.

We finished it with General Finishes topcoat in satin. It was my first time to try it and I really liked how smooth it went on.

The white is now a fresh happy updated piece that matches the rest of her neutral simple decor!

It was a fun little project to do while we celebrated time with family!

The “Not Me” Console

We’ve established that furniture speaks to me… right? Ok, good. (We’ve also established that I’m a little crazy too… right?)

This little Pottery Barn console was a great FB Marketplace find. It was in pristine condition and the owner had taken perfect care of it! I was going to use it in my hubby’s office with lots of dark woods, but then we chose some different furniture, and I had this extra piece. I decided to paint it white and place it behind my sofa.

But when I began sanding it, and realized it was 100% mahogany, I suddenly heard it scream at me. Most pieces are happy to get new life, but not this one.

“NOT ME!” It screamed.

“I’m not one of your cast-off’s needing to be refinished! I’m one of Pottery Barn’s best! I’ve been kept in perfect condition! Look at me! Not one scratch! And I would work in thousands of homes! I’m just fine the way I am, thanks!”

I stopped my sanding for a minute. Was I ruining this piece?

Most furniture these days have some MDF or cardboard hiding in the back or underneath. And if not, they’ll have a gorgeous hardwood top, with cheap poplar undersides.

But not this piece. It was mahogany everywhere.

It was beautiful.

Whether or not painted wood is better than stained wood is a matter of opinion. And yes, this piece was just fine the way it was… but if it wanted a place in my house, it needed to go through the change.

I sanded on.

And it pouted.

I began painting it white, but didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. So I started painting it blue.

“Really?” It complained. “I hope you know what you’re doing!”

I painted on.

The drawers were fun to figure out. I sanded off the original stain, painted a layer of white, then sanded off the white after it was dry. I left just enough paint on, then stained it with a weathered gray stain, and got this fun distressed look.

I absolutely love how it looks now!

The console was very happy when it was all finished. In fact, it’s quickly becoming my favorite piece in the house! But the whole experience got me thinking…

I’m so often just like this reluctant console.

I go along in life, thinking things are just fine. I’m happy! I can handle my own craziness. But then life happens and I get hit with a curve ball. I’m suddenly forced to change, to deal with something new and unexpected and I don’t like it.

Not me! I complain.

I’m a good person! I try to do everything right, I try to help others, and take care of my kids… I don’t intentionally try to hurt anyone, and I’m happy just the way I am! Why do I need this trial? Why do I need to change anything?! When things are going well, why do we so often get hit with trials?

It’s easy to ask an old broken piece of furniture to change. It needs to be fixed anyway. But it is hard to change a piece that is in excellent condition the way it is. In fact, many of you may be thinking that I ruined the piece, and that it was fine the way it was! And I would agree with you!

But this piece didn’t fit with my décor unless it went through the change.

I think God’s plan for us is like that too. Yes, we are fine the way we are. But maybe He knows we could be better. Maybe He needs to refine us because we can’t see the other side of the trial and the joy we could be feeling. When I look back on my trials, I realize I wouldn’t know the joy I feel now, had I not experienced those challenges. And to be honest, who knows where I’d be had I not submitted to change.

Change does make us better.

Trials do help refine us.

The console would never have known the beauty it is now, had it not undergone the sanding and distressing.

There will come a time that we’ll all scream, “Not me! I’m fine the way I am, why do I have to experience this change?”

But if we can have just a little faith that there is a plan for us, and can endure some painful sanding and distressing, we too can come out more beautiful than before.

I hope that wherever you are, and whatever trial you’re experiencing, that you’ll feel a little relief today and know that you are loved

Repurpose an Old TV Armoire 

It’s so easy to look at a piece of furniture that was designed for one thing and not be able to see another purpose for it. Take the TV armoire for example. Back when we all had big box TV’s, this piece of furniture was incredibly popular because you could load your TV and VCR combo player, and stack all the boxy movies on the shelves or drawers, and close the doors to hide it all! So now that technology has given us the ever expanding flat screen TV, entertainment centers have become buffet-type cabinets meant to go under the flat screen. 

And now there’s a surprising surplus of old TV armoires! I’m not kidding! Run to your local thrift store and see for yourself!

There’s actually quite a lot you can do with an old TV armoire! At their core, they are pieces of furniture designed to be a storage solution. And with a little creativity, they still can be! 

I have two old TV armoires! We purchased one for the TV in our bedroom years ago, and I use it now for blankets, sheets and table linens! It sits here as a decorative piece in my living room! 


My 2nd armoire was given to me by a dear friend who needed it gone! I was thrilled! I’m using it for my office station to store all of the binders, books, bills and school paperwork that tends to clutter my counters. I also keep our laptop and charging dock there. In fact the holes in the back of the armoire create an excellent place to hide the charging cables! 

Before:


The piece was originally black, and it has a fun story:

When my friend’s home flooded a few years ago, this piece sat in 4” of water. It’s MDF legs swelled up and the paint cracked off. The insurance appraiser said it couldn’t be fixed, and he’s right. There is no good way to repair MDF. Since the legs are still structurally sound, I painted and distressed the area. It’s unoticeable with it’s coat of new white paint. 


To create more organized storage, I found crates at IKEA and used them to create some shelving. 

The paper organizer is from Target and there is one for each child’s school papers. When I have more time I may build legitimate shelves for this spot, but this is working great for now. I cut a board to go on top of the crates to create another shelf! All of this new shelving hides the cardboard backing piece that has a large hole in it. Eventually, I’ll attach a new piece of thin plywood there and cover it with wallpaper. 

Here’s another brilliant idea: my friend installed a rod at the top of this armoire so she could use this piece to hang all of her table cloths. Just think, with a curtain rod in an old TV armoire, the piece could be used as a true closet for clothes! 


My favorite part about armoires is that they provide a beautiful way to hide the mass quantities of stuff we have! We have a lot of people in our home, and there’s just a lot of stuff that goes along with it ! I absolutely love being able to close these doors and hide the clutter. 

Your turn to share! What ideas have you seen for old armoires? 

The “All Things” Nightstands 

I love that my friends keep watch for furniture for me! It makes me feel so loved!
A few months ago, my friend and her hubby were out on a run and came across this pair of nightstands that someone left on the curb for the trash! My friends were the cutest thing ever to stop their run and carry these back to their home to ask if I wanted them!

And boy did I ever want them!!
The paint was flaking off really bad, so I chose to sand it completely down. This revealed that the nightstands were solid oak, which was exciting but it also revealed a few problems.

One nightstand must have been dropped at some point because it had a crack running down the sides and middle. The feet were also cracked. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to salvage them.

I let fear set in a little as I realized I didn’t know how fix the problems, and I even considered putting it back on the curb.
In my scripture study one morning I read:
Mosiah 4:8. It says, “Believe in God; believe that He is; and that He created all things , both in heaven and earth; believe that He has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend.”

I love this because it says that I don’t have to know everything. It says I don’t have to have anxiety about not having all the answers, and I don’t have to pretend that I have it all figured out!
And then I started thinking about that scripture in relation to the nightstands, and I realized that “all” is a really encompassing word! And if He knows all things, then He would know the story behind these nightstands. And He would know how I could fix them!

So I asked Him.

Now some might think that praying over a nightstand is pretty ridiculous; but if you believe that God is a loving father who cares about “all” aspects of our lives, then surely he would be interested in “all” that we’re doing, right? Furthermore, if I believe that this loving Father has “all” wisdom (both in heaven and earth), then who better to ask?
So I asked. And I researched, and I listened for promptings.
And I got answers! Since it was solid wood, and the breaks were clean, I felt prompted to remove the broken pieces, glue them, clamp them and reattach the parts!
And it worked!


You can still see where the crack was on the top, but the piece is rock solid. It’s not going anywhere! And the distressed look adds to the character and story of the piece.


I’m calling these the “All Things” nightstands because of the lesson I learned that I don’t have to have all the answers myself. Furthermore, receiving answers to prayer about something so inconsequential as a nightstand helped me see just a little more that God really does care about “all things both in heaven and earth!”


These are quickly becoming my most favorite pieces! And I love that when they are pushed together they look like a buffet!

The Old Things

I’m constantly amazed and inspired at how incredible women are these days. We raise children, hold jobs, run businesses, give service, volunteer, exercise and everything else in between, all while the main bulk of running a household, raising and growing children is still a vital part of our role. 
I’m proud of my gender’s progress, but sometimes, the lover of old things in me longs for a simpler lifestyle. I’m talking about the pioneer woman of the 1800’s. She knew her roles, worked hard and slept soundly at night knowing exactly what needed to happen the next day. She didn’t have a thousand errands to run, and soccer games to attend, or waste late night hours on Instragram! (I’m so guilty of this… I’m currently writing this at 1:00 in the morning!)  

No, her roles were vital. Skipping a chore could lead to serious consequences, even death! For example, failing to dust or wash my windows simply means things are just a little dustier that day… or month! I get my milk from the store, and clean my toilets once a week! And procrastination at those things doesn’t affect anyone too badly. But if the frontier’s woman didn’t pick the veggies before the storm she risked starvation for her family! If she didn’t milk the cow, it would stop giving milk… And not collecting water from the well just wasn’t an option. 

Do you ever wonder what their lives really were like? 

Maybe that’s why I love old things. Furniture and items that survived that time period connect us to the people that worked hard for their families. For their children, and their children’s children. 

For us! 

And I like to think that they watch over us. That they are our silent cheerleaders carrying us through the tough days, thrilling over the triumphs and hoping for our future! 

I love the Chinese proverb that says, “To forget one’s ancestors is to be a book without a source. A tree without a root.”

Russell M. Nelson said, “When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves.”
I kind of love the idea of being a part of something greater than myself! 

So I’m going to keep on hunting for old things! Because the antiques and treasures help me feel just a little closer to the amazing people that came before me. 

What old things make you feel connected to your ancestors? 


Finally, can you believe the amazing chippy goodness on this old table? I spotted it during a reunion at my aunt’s farm and begged to take a pic! It’s over 100 years old and has handmade nails! It belonged to my Uncle’s Grandmother! A truly strong, single mother who raised 4 amazing children on her own! Just Amazing!

Mo’s Kitchen – Part 2 – Alcoves

Part 2 of Mo’s kitchen transformation involves alcoves and architecture shelving. 
MO’s kitchen has an architectural shelf that runs a square around the room. Painting those areas were a little tricky, so it’s a good thing I’m little. 

Mo has been stressing about how to decorate those shelves for years, and asked me what I thought she should put up there. 

My advice was to take it all down and allow the alcoves to be architectural features! 

Design Tip: Having a lot of decor on top of cupboards or high alcoves can make the ceilings appear lower, causing the room to feel smaller. Furthermore, small items placed above the eye level can create a cluttered feeling. If you do decide to put something up high, choose one or two large statement pieces to create interest and avoid clutter. 

Mo was understandably surprised at this suggestion, and I totally get it! We are so trained to believe that every shelf needs something on it. Many homes designed in the 90’s incorporated architectural shelving for decorative items, training us to believe that we were required to place items there.
But it’s not true! Leaving a few blank shelves or placing just a few favorite items can create a clean, uncluttered, peaceful feeling. 

Try it for yourself:

1. Remove every item off just one shelf. Leave it alone and let it breath a bit. 

2. Now place just one or two of your very most favorite items on the shelf. 

The shelf is now highlighting something you love! As if it’s whole purpose is to showcase your favorite piece! 

How does that feel? 

It was a relief for Mo! I watched her whole body language just relax as she realized she didn’t have to decorate up on her shelf! 

We took all of her decor items down, and the room instantly felt larger. 

We placed a suitcase and plant on one shelf to trick the eye into thinking that the sheetrock continues past the beam, but that is all that we put on the shelving. 

Now the eye is drawn upward toward the gorgeous ceiling and MO’s kitchen feels clean and uncluttered! 

Mo’s Kitchen – Part 1

Every year the kids and I take a few weeks and drive to Utah to play with family. We send the boys to baseball camp at BYU, play at my parents’ cabin, shop, camp and enjoy the cool nights! 
This year I had the special treat of getting to paint and decorate my sister’s kitchen! (We call her “Mo” after Mohanna in the old Johnnie Lingo movie. She seriously is a 10-cow woman!! If you haven’t seen Johnnie Lingo, check it out!)
Anyway, Mo’s kitchen hadn’t been painted since 1999! It was a creamy yellow and she wanted a farmhouse update! 
Before:

She wanted gray walls, and had painted her basement in Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, but was worried that with all of her dark woods, Revere Pewter would look too beige. I agreed. 

So we tried some samples of Sherwin Williams’ Repose Gray, and Agreeable Gray. 

Design Tip: ALWAYS paint a few test samples to try in the room before you paint. Don’t just look at pics online to decide your color, and don’t try to evaluate how your entire room will look using the teeny tiny chip at the paint store. Lighting, woodworking, and built-ins all factor into how the color will look on your walls! 

I buy the sample sizes and either paint a board to move around the room, or paint sample colors directly on the wall so I can evaluate what the color looks like in corners and next to permanent features. 

Our test samples in Mo’s kitchen were a lot darker than she wanted. She has a beautiful dark wood ceiling so dark paint would make the room feel smaller. We needed a warm light gray to keep a bright fresh feeling in the room.  
So we chose Agreeable Gray, and had the folks at Sherwin Williams lighten it by 75%. (Meaning, they only add 25% of the color to the can.)

That test proved to be too white, so we took the paint back and had them change it to 50%. 


This pic is Agreeable Gray, and the paint around it shows it lightened by 50%. (Meaning, they added 50% of the color to the can, making it 50% lighter.)

Armed with our Sure Line edging tools and paint brushes, we cranked up the music and began! 

The color was a perfect soft, calming and very subtle gray that brightened the room and made it feel fresh! We were thrilled! 

While we painted, we danced, giggled and even cried a little! We solved the world’s problems while we worked, and I just loved spending so much time with that incredible girl! 

I’m so excited to share the results!!