The Devil is in the Details

This week was working on catch up on many little projects…

We continue to replace all the upstairs door hardware with the new oil rubbed, brass doorknobs that I found at Restore (Habitat for Humanity) for such great prices. Upstairs alone that’s a total of 16 doors!

Each door has gotten an update of white enamel paint as well as the door frames. While time consuming, it’s so much easier to paint them when off the door frame.

BTW I’ve painted trim with latex and will never do so again. It looks okay until you try to clean it, then it starts to rub and peel off. Go with enamel for doors and trim. Also, go with one color (hated Trading Spaces and Clean House when they paint the trim some off color like dark purple!). One color makes the room and overall floor plan look bigger. It also cuts down on needing additional cans of paint in multi-colors (no half quarts left).

This time around all the doors and trim are getting Lowes, Valspar Ultra Premium High Gloss, White Enamel. This is not a tinted color so is $29 a gallon. I picked it because the bright white practically pokes your eyeballs out! I’m tired of these off-white colors which look dirty 20 minutes after you apply it.

I would personally plan on repainting trim about every three years in a house with children and pets; about every five with adults only. For hall walls, plan on the same if not more often. It’s why we put these corner wall protectors up -the corners get bashed up by kids and moving furniture.

I’m also touching up the trim around the doorways as some of the wall paint got onto them. It will make them look crisp and really sharp! Professional painters can do this with a sash brush and no tape. I’m not so good so mark out with painters tape and use a 1″ brush for where the moulding meets wall. For trim moulding around the door I use a 4″ foam cabinet door roller, and a foam brush to get the moulding’s edge.

I’ve also found a few spots where paint didn’t get onto the wall as well as it should. This always seems to be a problem because our walls are not smooth but textured with knockdown plaster. As the daylight changes throughout the day, I sometimes find a different spot so, as I find it, I have marked it with painters tape so I can go back and touch up.

This week the ceiling fixtures in closets and halls (7 in total) will be removed and the light rings spraypainted an oil rubbed bronze color to match the door hardware. It’s really amazing how much the home already looks newer with these few changes.

Another change we will be doing is replacing some of the light switches. The switches to the door that leads to the attic were really dirty – probably from carrying boxes in and out of the attic. I didn’t feel they could be scrubbed clean because they deal with electricity (water+electricity) so we just replaced them at 88 cents each.

Here you can see the new switches (left and right) next to the old (middle switch) – Quite a difference! This middle switch is going to become a dimmer so hence why it isn’t replaced yet.

TIP! Check all the electricity in your house (i.e. switches, outlets, fans,  phone, etc…) and make sure they work before putting the house on the market; a good inspection will find these problems and it may put doubt in your buyers’ mind about the quality of the home.

For example, we found the downstairs ceiling fan light wasn’t working- in taking it apart turns out the kids must have flung a marble up into the electrical box! Since we don’t use that light I had never noticed. Also, the phone outlet next to the bed needs to be replaced as it is not working either.

All these are small changes but it’s going to take a full week to get them wrapped up.

Selecting and installing cabinet hardware

To me, cabinet hardware really is the finishing touch. Cabinets without hardware look half undressed and unfinished. Dare I write, cheap?

However, I’ve had difficulty in finding hardware for the master bathroom. This is why: the industry standard width of a drawer pull is about 3 to 3 1/2″ (measured from hole to hole). I find this an uncomfortably, small size for a drawer pull. First, it’s hard to fit anything but two fingers in this width and I wanted two sizes – one for the drawers and a slightly larger size for the cabinet.

Secondly, this size looks small on the larger sized drawers that bathrooms and kitchen now have as opposed to say, 25 years ago. For example, the overjohn cabinet we did downstairs was increased in height and we put a larger door pull (7 and 1/4″ from hole to hole) in order to compensate for this:

I unexpectedly lucked out when I found them at Andrews Lighting at a very reasonable price, about $45. The drawer pulls are 5″ and the cabinet pulls are 6″ (measured from hole to hole). They also had some matching knobs. Love it!

For the master bath, the fluting of the knob and pull, mimic some of the wood medallions I put on the cabinet. Another thing I like about this hardware family is that they are not too feminine so can appeal to both women and men, an important selling point when marketing to couples.

I also like to pick hardware that matches a theme in the room. For the kids bathroom, the light fixtures had a bit of chrome and white. I repeated that in the door pulls and toilet roll hanger. These door pulls are industry standard; the cup pulls are from Overstock.com and the handles from Lowes.

A word about installing your hardware. We were at a recent open house where the homeowner (or their paid help) put in the knobs wrong. It looked wonky and just plain wrong and crooked. I would have expected a lot more considering the price of the home! Please take your time and put your hardware on correctly!

On cabinet knobs, I aim for placement in the top corner section of the door. I like the knob to sit where the circle does not overhang the corner of the cabinet.

I also like it not to be too low from the cabinet’s corner. All of these examples have the knob too low or off center on the cabinet door.

On the overjohn cabinet, I like the tail end of the pull to sit comfortably in the corner like shown in this photo:

Placing them in the middle for an overjohn cabinet would make them too high.

Here the tail is higher then the corner and looks slightly off.

If you are putting in multiple pieces in many drawers/doors, use a jig. This is a pattern that helps you get your alignment correct, door to door, drawer to drawer.

Remember, you don’t have to be matchey-matchey, just pick things in color or shape that repeat elements in the room. For example, if using brushed nickel faucets go with the same family, or ceramic for the cabinets. Oil rubbed faucets? Try the same for the hardware. If arched cabinetry, go with arched drawer pulls; straight angled cabinetry? repeat it in the look of your hardware.

Have fun with it – it’s like choosing earrings!

Replacing brass with oil rubbed, bronze on doors

I tried spraypainting my brass doorknobs and it just didn’t hold up at all just as I expected. Yep, I prepped, primed it, sprayed it and waited between coats, and sealed it. But after one day of use, the strikeplate started to scratch.

The only thing that really held up to being used were the door hinges. I did spray those as well as the screw heads. To do this I just used a screwdriver to punch holes in a pizza box and then slotted in the screws.

The spraypainted prototypes did convince hubby that dark, oil rubbed bronze door hardware was way more desirable then brass. The problem is the expense of replacing an entire house with new door knobs…

We had a lucky day when we took some stuff to the Habitat for Humanity Re-store shop to donate and hit paydirt! We found a huge amount of new door hardware that had obviously been bought as a quantity closeout or something.

For example, these were available in oil-rubbed bronze: Lever, non-locking handles at $10 (for closets such as our Master Bathroom, pantry, laundry room and downstairs closet); Oval shaped locking door handles $8 (bedroom and bathroom doors), and Oval shaped non locking door knobs at $5 (bedroom and hall closets). At this price we could replace the entire house for about $150.

Wow! It makes a huge difference!

It really updates the doors and hallway. If you haven’t done it already GET RID OF THE BRASS! The door hinges I’m just spray painting to match as this saves a bit of money.

If you are looking to replace, I’ve found lots on ebay and Craigslist that were at discounted prices. Personally, I would replace rather then paint – spraypainting simply isn’t going to last and is one of those jobs you’ll be doing again six months later.

Planning: Master Bathroom

Since I’ve changed so much on the planning of this bathroom, decided to re-post this and move it up as we’ll be working on this project for the next 6 weeks or so.

The trend with master bathrooms is the “spa feel.” I translate that to mean: calming, tranquil and soothing with the almost bland, rich neutrals you see at resort hotels. From viewing a lot of bathrooms on Pinterest (see my board for inspiration) and talking to local suppliers of cabinets and countertops, these are some common themes:

Look for medium to light wall tones. Venetian plaster seemed to be too heavy so I removed it from the plan;

Lots of cream/white especially in mouldings, tubs and sinks;

Granite or marble countertops (in lighter colors esp. marble), many with rectangular sinks (especially in white), either vessels (especially in glass or white), or undermounts (in white or cream). BTW vessel sinks can be hard to clean the outside of the bowl (try removing toothpaste) so I reserved ours for the powder room.

Granite or marble countertops. Lighter colored, neutral tone instead of strong patterns;

High end looking faucets (usually in dark colors such as oil rubbed bronze) with shower heads that offer more then just a handheld such as rain showers, jets etc…;

Dimmer and accent lighting with chandeliers and sconces;

Tubs are moving to stand alones; Showers are becoming bigger;

More open storage options are being added with built ins around the tub and vanity.

What you won’t see – wallpaper or dark colors and patterns (i.e. burgandy, browns, wallpaper on walls). Busy rooms with lots of color contrasts.

Current layout of the master bathroom won’t change:

The vanity has been upgraded with a new cream paint finished glazed with brown, and added wood detailing. Look here for the popular How-To post using Annie Sloan Chalk paint and Dark Walnut stain.

Walls – Lowes’ Waverly Tawny Green WV36007 a mid-tone green that errs on the khaki-tan side of the green family as opposed to the yellow or blue. It should go well with the cabinet and countertop colors.

Ceiling – Lowes’ Brushed Metal EE2069 Pale Glow – a metallic and reflective pale yellow.

Mouldingcornice moulding will be put over the four doors (two closets, toilet door, and entrance door). I had considered replacing the closet doors with vintage, but they were too expensive. Will reserve that idea for the kitchen’s pantry door.

The entire bathroom will have a crown and base moulding combination:

Lighting –  a chandelier over the vanity and new sconces.

$175 on closeout sale

Vanity – I decided to go with a much lighter counter color… from my original darker, busier pattern:

With a moulding curve over the vanity like this:

which will match the curve over the tub:

Shower – needs an updated showerhead combo in oil rubbed brass. The tile needs cleaning and re-caulking.

Toilet – will install the same one we did in the Powder Room. Really love the easy clean features on this toilet. I’ll replace the toilet roll hanger and put one double towel hanger in the tub alcove. Perhaps a shelf under the cabinet in the toilet room?

Linens – Spa white!

The master bathroom should wrap by the end of February.

Project: Secretary Desk ~ country to classic

A few years into our marriage, I had redone the secretary desk that was from my parents home. Originally, it had been stained a dark color by my dad in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, I redid it in colors of green and orange. Now, I’m ready for a new incarnation.

before

After doing a lot of looking online at various photos of different colored hutches, I decided to go wtih black. If you want a piece in a traditional color choose black, white/cream, or gray. These are the “neutrals” of painted furniture and will last a long time and work with a wide variety of decorating styles.

drawers repaired with Bondo (pink)

Since this piece doesn’t have a protective topcoat, I just cleaned any dust and grime off with a slighty damp cloth. I don’t want the pine knots to show this time so spray-primed knot areas with B-I-N (an oil based spray primer) to prevent bleed through.

spray primer to cover pine knots

I painted the entire unit with one coat of gray primer (Valspar Latex Enamel Undercoat) I had on hand. I mostly used a 4″  foam roller to apply the primer; a brush was used to work primer into the curves and recesses.

After it dried overnight, the first coat of color, Black Onyx (Glidden, Home Depot), was applied with a 4″ foam roller. The first coat should be thin. There were a total of 3 coats and between the 2nd and 3rd I did one light sanding by hand with a 220 sanding block. This was enough because the surface was very smooth already.

Valspar Waverly Classics – Gull W38006A was used to color the hutch interior and desk area of the Secretary. This was leftover from the bathroom project.

I removed the old backing to the hutch area and replaced it with fabric (Hancocks upholstery fabric, two yards on sale for $15). Replacing the backing is an easy fix, especially if it is warped, damage or obviously stained or peeling. I personally like a hutch or shelf unit backing that is a contrast to the main body of the furniture.

Nowadays, stencils or wallpaper are trendy for the back decoration.  Stencils do best on large flat areas such as drawer fronts, table tops, or the sides of a hutch or dresser. Stencils were in, then out, and now seem to be coming back in.  JMO but stencils went out due to overuse and people using multi-colors (i.e. think grapes with green leaves and purple fruit) so keep it simple.

A very dry 4″ foam roller was brushed over the stencil to achieve the effect. The damask stencil is from Michaels, though Hobby Lobby had a similar, but larger pattern.

The only tricky thing about stencils is lining them up and making sure they are truly centered. You’ll need to use a ruler and painters tape to mark out the alignment.

Use a tacky adhesive to get them to stay put during the process and make sure you press any curlicues or cut edges down carefully as they often pop back up when the paint is applied, making a smear. When using an adhesive be aware that it will pick up any dust and dirt, so put a piece of tape on the end and hang it to the side (not the floor!) with paint side out to keep it clean.

Distressing: I considered it, but decided not to with this piece. It’s not a high quality piece and the drawer fronts are thin boards of pine that would be easily damaged by a heavy hand.

After stenciling, I let it dry overnight before I gave the entire piece two coats of wipe-on, water based poly (fine for dark colors but not for white/light). This works fine as this piece is not a table (wipe on poly is not durable enough for table tops JMO). Later, I’ll put on some clear wax, which gives a nice soft glow

NOTE! An oil based poly cannot be used on top of latex paint; it will also yellow over time.

Hardware: The drawer knobs are from Hobby Lobby; the lower drawers were the original just spraypainted light gray (Ace Premium Enamel spraypaint).

Still thinking on what I’ll put in it – simple white pottery, some silver, and books or …. With the busier backing I don’t want to put in a lot of patterned pieces on the shelves. It also has door fronts that I’m still working on which will be with an open grillwork of some sort.

How-To: painting furniture 5 ~ paint combinations

There are as many ways to create your piece of painted furniture as there are minds out there to create it! Before proceeding on a painting project, it’s helpful to do a search for other images that can help you decide on color, pattern, style and technique.

Here’s a sampling of some excellent examples of basic painted furniture designs to get you started.

BTW, featured projects were used with permission. Photos remain the property of their author. Click on any photo to go directly to the furniture’s home blog post which gives details of the project.

Solid color~ one color on a furniture piece can be a statement – especially if you want to go loud and colorful! The key is size, color and finish. Here’s a fantastic trio of red tables (spraypaint) by Janette Drost.

Just be aware that one solid color, whether that color is black or firehouse red, can become overwhelming on a huge piece such as an armoire, hutch or bookshelf. Use distressing, a glaze, or another color to give really large pieces more interest.

Two colors – For really large pieces, such as hutches, Secretary desks and bookshelves, using two colors can give more vibrancy to a piece that would have been boring if all in one shade.

I’m especially loving pieces that combine painting with a stained counter/desktop. Too many painted pieces in a room becomes a bit boring. Here is a fantastically, subtle piece by Gloria Fox at Potentially Beautiful. Be sure to read the blog post for details on how she brought out it’s full potential (including an unexpected glazing color over the white).

Check out this bold look with contrasting drawers of this dresser by DeVore. This really gives a modern, geometric feel to a piece and I love her knob selection.

Contrasting backs – I really like having a contrasting back to a bookshelf or hutch. Backings can be stenciled, use fabric or wallpaper, or just be painted/stained a complimentary color.

Check out B.E. interiors secret surprise armoire ~ a lining of fabric makes it a delightful jewel box.

Here’s my secretary desk project, with fabric on the backing of the hutch area.

 

Want it more subtle? My black bookshelves have a stained back. Afraid of stain? Try a gel stain – it’s easier to apply and use.

Distressed by sanding with two colors – This method takes two colors: an undercoat and a topcoat which will contrast. JMO but I’d recommend hand sanding (not using the electric sander) to reveal the undercoat because an electric sander can sometimes take off too much until you get used to how it works.

Here is another winner by Miss Mustard Seed… see the post for comparisons of Chalk Paint vs. Milk Paint projects. How much you want to distress back will be determined by how primitive you want your piece to look and she has a large variety of distressed examples on this post.

JMO but those with simpler forms with a more country look look better with more distressing, while ornate, carved pieces such as French Provincal look better with minor distressing and glaze.

Distressed black with rubbed stain – one of my favorite combinations: paint black, distressed with sanding, and then the bare wood is stained for aging. For example, Walnut stain makes a beautiful contrast to black.

Proper and Prim has a lovely black cabinet with a classic style of distressed finish. This style could fit any sort of country – American, English or French. Note how she sanded the area where the cabinet knobs go to simulate natural wearing.

I have a DIY post about how this technique is done using the legs of the dining room table.

Chippy (paint flaking) – have you seen that old furniture where the paint has chipped off in bits? Similar to the two color sanding effect for distressing, this also uses two colors.  Where it differs, is the paint is not rubbed off in streaks or batches but chipped off with a tool.

Have a dark base and put on some white, and start chunking off the top paint. White over something dark seems to be a favorite combination and The Painted Hive uses a secret weapon to achieve it.

Color base with contrasting pattern – such as stripes, diamonds, etc…

Lori at Mud Pie Studio sports a diamond pattern on the side of a desk with a contrasting stained desktop. Her blog post gives complete details and a photo essay of how it was done.

What I especially like about this piece is the restraint she used – she could have put polka dots over here, added contrasting painted drawer fronts and put on neon knobs! Instead, it’s tasteful, classic but interesting – a piece that will last a long time, no matter how the room changes.

Want it brighter? Check out this bureau featuring an Argyle pattern on never a dull day.

Color base with contrasting image – vine, bird on branch, clock face, etc…

This reverse, custom stencil project is easier then it first appears. Step-by-step instructions by artist, Lena Corwin show how to make it happen for you (scroll down on the article).

Birds are very hot right now in decorating. Check out Christina’s classic white-gray-gray desk with bird stencil all done on a non-existent budget.

JMO but where stencils go wrong is where they try to appear as if the item is “real” – it’s not still life painting 101! Go with stencils that are contrasting between two colors to give the impression of a form or outline, rather then trying to imitate a photograph.

Decoupage – newspaper, letters, stamps, postcards, maps, posters, etc….

A sidetable sweet enough to sing by Miss Mustard Seed. Applying sheet music to the tabletop she goes the extra step with some distressing and an aging topcoat you can read about on her blog post.

Some things I really like about this piece is that the size of the table makes it versatile: as a side table to a couch or chair, as well as something that could be tucked in a corner on it’s own or settled next to a desk. The color makes it a piece that will last forever no matter how you change your future style!

Sarah and Nathan used an Italian calendar for a beautiful little desk that makes you dream of holidays when doing your homework!

This is just a sampling of the many ideas you can use to create your own treasure!

Planning: powder room

Our downstairs bathroom has a pedestal sink and toilet and has bugged me from day one of our move into this house 13 years ago. The wallpaper has only gotten more dingy, the molding more grimy and the whole thing a burr under the saddle!

These are the before photos of our downstairs, powder room which contains a sink and a toilet. This is the same hall that leads to the laundry room (done in our previous remodel). Due to the cramped nature of a small bathroom the photos are a bit cramped too 😉

Pedestal Sink, mirror and current lighting

Thoughts on this room:

  • Uninspiring and nothing special. This room doesn’t offer anything unique or tempting me to see the rest of the house.
  • Very tired. The wallpaper is dirty and so are the baseboards. This is a hard used room as everyone uses it when downstairs where the living rooms, kitchen and dining rooms are located.
  • Needs ART! The walls are borrrrrrinnnnggggg!
  • Pedestal sink just looks cheap as does the frameless mirror.
  • Hate the brass coverplates and towel ring.
  • Baseboards seem to suck onto dirt.

The plumbing arrangement won’t be changed, so toilet and sink remain where they are. Room size is almost a square: 56 1/2″ (wall with sink, toilet) x 55 1/2″ (door wall).

Planning for the NEW bathroom look:

1.) Remove the pedestal sink and replace with a vanity and sink combo. Instead of going with the Lowes’ stock vanity we found an antique table we will be using instead. $120

2.) Replace the faucet and sink ~ DeNova brushed nickel vessel faucet from Overstock. $170

from Overstock.com

Vessel sink bowl – China White sink whose shape mimics the medallion on the light. $113

3.) Replace the toilet. Jacuzzi  Prestige White High Efficiency WaterSense Elongated 2-Piece Toilet $200. This toilet is not an easy install- you need to know what you are doing as you must drill new anchors into the floor. Great flush, very quiet, love the smooth sides and trim at bottom, very small tank, plastic seat is rather cheap feeling.

4.) Walls and Ceiling ~ Remove Wallpaper and replace with Venetian Plaster from Lowes: wall color will be a soft blue (Aquamarina #67); the ceiling a dark silver grey, both of these colors will really pop with the crown molding.

5.) After viewing cabinets at Lowes, have remodeled the current over-john cabinet (31″ x 30″) to a taller height (30″ x 42″) by adding molding trim over the top.

6.) New lighting over mirror. Found on Craigslist $25

7.) New mirror. Current mirror is 20″ wide and 36″ tall. Loved this Jacqueline mirror  (42″H x 27″W x 1″D) but for $200 (plus shipping) my budget went with a  local find (28″ x 36″) at $69, at an antique shop.

9.) Replace base molding with 6″ tall base used in Laundry room.

10.) Install new crown molding.

11.) Art, decor, towels. Artwork x-ray plants in soft lavender, greens and blue with face towels and wash clothes that match.