Thursday, June 27, 2013

Red, white and blue and a new chalkboard

I've seen the cute chalkboards that are made from old picture frames. Every time I go into a thrift store, I am on the lookout for one with an ornate frame. I finally found one when I went into a Goodwill near my parents. I imagine that this little ballet slipper picture had a good run in an aspiring ballerina's room.

I took the picture part from the frame and spray painted the picture frame Rustoleum's American Accents in Heritage White. The creamy color of the picture frame was some kind of nubby texture and took extra coats of spray paint. The corners were chipped and cracked, but that's okay for me. It's not meant to be a fine art piece.

I used Rustoleum chalkboard spray paint for the picture part. (Be sure to read the directions about priming the paint to accept chalk - I had to rub chalk over the paint once it had dried).


I love it! I also treated myself to chalk pens from Michael's using my 40% off coupon.

I also ran across these 4th of July printables from Whipperberry. This is the first time that I have ever used printables, and I think they are adorable! And of course I am contemplating how I could make one, what I would put on it, what designs I could use...

I used some twine, blue satin ribbon, and blue sparkly ribbon left over from some gift wrap. You simply lay all of the stringer material out and glue the paper over the strings. Here is a closer look.

How do you decorate for the 4th?

Happy 4th of July!

I linked up at French Country Cottage, Elizabeth & Co, The Inspired Room

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A backyard landscaping tour

I love the gently flowing, casual lines of a cottage garden, and that's what I've attempted to create in my back yard. I keep adding a little more to it every year, so it is slowly evolving. Our house is a cute, 1929 bungalow. I think this informal garden style fits the house pretty well.

Since Shabby Creek's Summer Tour of Homes spurred me into blogging again, I thought I'd take the lovely suggestion of a commenter and provide a more comprehensive tour of my backyard.

Starting in the far part of the back yard, I have a gigantic black walnut tree.

These trees are toxic to some plants. I've found, however, that hosta grow extraordinarily well under the trees. I've also had luck with a bleeding heart. I'm including a helpful link that for plants that grow under a walnut tree in case you have one that you want to work around. I found several lists on University Garden Extension pages, too.

A closer look at the 3 red buds located at the far right of the backyard:
My original plan for this corner was this BHG plan for a "Corner of shrubs". I used the recommended substitution of red bud trees (rather than crab apple) because these appear on the "walnut friendly" lists. They've grown by leaps and bounds. I started with just one to make sure that it would survive. When it came back the following spring, I found the other two and planted them. I also tried out most of the smaller shrubs. They didn't fair so well. We sometimes get deer, but I think the main reason is that they were sensitive to the walnut tree.
My backyard has two levels that are separated by a limestone wall and stairs. I'm not quite sure what to do with this area of the lower level yet. There is an old, old lilac tree, lots of day lilies, some hosta and some Asiatic lilies. I think the lilac is on her last leg, but I am having a hard time letting her go.
On the upper level, we added brick that was underneath our back porch stairs. We pulled that out nearly 20 years ago and actually kept the brick. I love how it looks.

Here are some photos of the upper level:

Front side of perennial bed with names of some plants
Empty area that is slated for a longer, raised
vegetable bed (it'll have to be next year)
New additions this year - Russian sage, cat mint,
miniature golden cypress (I think)

An overview of the upper level
The prominent flowers are the yellow and white striped "wave"-type
of petunias and purple petunias with white edges.

A few more purple perennials that head up limestone
steps leading to our back door

Limestone wall with spirea (so kids wouldn't fall)
I love my backyard. There are weeds in some of the beds and a couple of areas that need worked on. I'd also love to put in a back patio of some kind, but I keep changing my mind - stone, pea gravel, just grass with some DIY benches...

The rest of the backyard has transformed slowly as I've pulled things out, moved things around, accidentally killed a plant :(.  I've tried to get mostly perennial plants in the backyard to save a little money.

In the sunny parts of the yard, I've tried roses and hydrangea that haven't thrived (although the hydrangea in front has done very well).

Some of the hosta came from the backyard of my grandmother, one of the hosta has the same name as my middle son, but most I bought from the big box stores for $2.50 - $5.00 a piece. They were little, but grew to a substantial size in 3 years.

Have you found plants that do (and don't) thrive at your house?

Happy planting!


Friday, June 14, 2013

My thoughts on hardwood floor refinishing

This post could also be known as "what I did on my spring break" or "I 'wood' do it again". First of all, here is a little preview of the final refinished hardwood floor:
The dining room view
A little background - we refinished the hardwood floors in both our living room and dining room because the two rooms are connected. We have hardwood in every room except the bathrooms. Our original plan included refinishing the kitchen. By the time we got everything out of our living and dining rooms, we ran out of places to go with the kitchen appliances and stuff. Because I didn't anticipate that particular problem, I didn't have a chance to get a storage unit. We needed to finish over our spring break.
I found this Russet Street Reno blog post to be incredibly useful so I won't repeat all of their great instructions.


We rented a drum sander from our local Ace hardware. It was a barrel sander, but didn't seem to be as large and heavy as some we checked into. The guy at Ace was very helpful with his instructions. This particular sander had a bag on it. While it did get kind of dusty, it was not nearly as bad as I thought or had read about.
Drum sander and floor after first pass
To get the edges, we rented a smaller sander for edging, but I don't remember what it was called. We rented this for 4 hours, but went at the end of the day and had it until the next morning. This way, we got the 4 hour rental rate but got the sander for nearly 12 hours. The only problem was that the edges seemed to go through so much more sandpaper than the center. We got about 2 feet before the paper gummed up. We think this is because a lot of the finish at the center had been rubbed away through the years of walking on it. I reverted to the little palm sander. It also went through a lot of sandpaper, but the store was open until 9. We bought lots with the thought that we could take it back if necessary. It wasn't. My husband sanded the center. I got the edges. I sanded at least 6 hours.
For finish in the corners, I used a spray can of CitriStrip that I had. This worked really well. Our older house used to have an oil furnace. I think that the gunk in the corner was a combination of oil residue and dirt. CitriStrip was quick. I rinsed it according to the package directions.
CitriStrip is a good thing on hard to reach areas
 While my hubby was sanding, I cleaned up the grate with some sandpaper and then spray painted it a dark copper color. It looks so nice!

Cleaning Up

I vacuumed with the boards and then perpendicular to the boards. I also used a Swiffer and ran across the floor parallel and then perpendicular to the boards. In the Russet Street tutorial, they noted that they placed a tack cloth on a Swiffer mop and used that. I apparently skipped the tack cloth part. I recommend that because I can see a few tiny pieces of dust in the finish. Most people wouldn't notice this, though.


We decided not to stain after consulting friends who had refinished. I think if we had stained, we would have needed to paint our woodwork because the floor would have been so much darker than the woodwork. Don't get me wrong: I love the look of painted woodwork, but in our city, people seem to love the natural woodwork. Until we decide if this is our forever house (and it probably is), I'll leave the trim it in its natural state.
The red oak color would not necessarily be my first choice in a new home, but it is beautiful in this home and just seems to fit with the age and style of the house.

Polyurethane Finish

Finally, we used three coats of a semi-gloss, oil based polyurethane. I was leaning toward satin, but the store only had 2 gallons. They had 5 gallons of semi-gloss. I love the patina, so it was the right choice.
I used the Russet Street information regarding applicators. I did not use a brush to cut in since I was able to get right into the corners with the wool pad. One thing that I am glad I did was to cover the wool pad in tape and pull it off. The first time, I simply dabbed tape all of the surface of the wool pad, but got a few wool fibers in the finish. I covered the next pad with tape and that worked much better.

First coat is partially complete

Last thoughts

  • We moved the sander forward while putting it down. My husband described the sanding motion as moving forward while pulling back slightly so the sander doesn't get away from you.
  • The main floor sanding was much easier than we anticipated.
  • The side of the floor sanding took much longer than we anticipated.
  • We used way more sandpaper than we anticipated (even after buying double what we thought we would need.)
  • We really went by feel on the floor regarding grit. We went through 3 different grits. I believe we used 35, 60 and 120. The floor felt incredibly smooth to us. The number of grits/sandings will probably depend on the condition of your own floor.
  • The floor has a bit more of an amber feel to it, but I think part of this coloring was the original floor coating that got ground in while we were sanding. It still looks beautiful.
  • Try to have two sets of eyes while putting on the poly. The first coat is easy. After that, it's really hard to tell where you have and haven't been. And you can't touch up the wet finish like you could paint on a wall.
  • Our total cost was just over $300 for nearly 350 square feet of floor.
  • We would do this again!
  • This was our first big DIY project like this. We've only done painting, tiling, change out electrical sockets, etc. We're also pretty good at ripping things out, but not as great as getting them back together.
  • We still need to buy, poly and reattach quarter round.
  • I love the floors!
One last picture:
Floors in living room

So, are you up for a DIY like this? Or what DIY projects are you dreaming of? Happy DIY!

I'm linking up at Thrifty Decor Chick's Before & After Party.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer House Tour

Welcome! I'm Nicole and am so glad that you stopped by.

I've really enjoyed the Shabby Creek Cottage's Summer Tour of Homes! There is something I like in every single one. This also gave me motivation to post on my blog again (yeah, the usual excuses - 2 kids in high school, 1 in middle school, working full time, a husband and dog, a bunch of home improvement projects to get ready for a high school graduation party and all of the lovely chaos that ensues...)

Welcome to the tour of most of my house...
My Front Porch

My Front Door
Welcome and come on in!
First up is the living room. Even though I've taken a break from blogging, my family and I have been busy with DIY home improvement projects! My hubby and I refinished our wood floors and my daughter and I painted the living room. We tossed our couch because it looked especially horrid when compared to the newly refinished floors. (Our dog mangled the upholstery and we tried a slipcover...) Now we just have to decide/agree on a new couch.
The piano is in the living room. This pic gives a glimpse of the hardwood floors.
Walnut thrift shop buffet that needs refinished.
Let's move on into the dining room. This room is connected to the living room, so we have newly refinished floors in here as well. I also painted all of the chairs and recovered one of the dining room chairs. We use the dining room for family meals and family games. A few weeks ago our modem broke and we were without Internet for a few days. It was kind of nice because it brought us all together out of "boredom".
Dining room table with a glimpse of the newly painted chairs

A glimpse of the curtains and floor
Now we'll move into the kitchen. Last spring I repainted the cabinets. As we were ripping up our old vinyl, we found wood flooring underneath. A year of debating (and realizing we had no where to go with our appliances if we were to redo the hardwoods), we determined that the floors in the kitchen were much too damaged to refinish. We put in a different type of floor. Take a look at our 1929 kitchen that has been revamped and refreshed.

Shelving with corbels that are the same style as the outside.

A view of the kitchen from another angle.

A preview of our new 9" X 12" flooring tiles.

One more shot of the kitchen...
This is an old picture of our master bedroom. She is next on my redo list and I'd like to add in board and batten treatment.
Master bedroom with DIY upholstered headboard.
And finally, come on outside to my backyard. I tried to go with purple and yellow colors because that will be the colors where my son will be a college freshman this fall. (For his party, we decorated the inside with his high school colors while the outside was the college colors).
Upper level perennials and annuals

Lower level hosta and trees

Thanks for stopping by! I'm so glad you were here. Good luck on your weekend projects.



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