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Archive for November, 2013

My great-grandmother Florence was an amazing hostess.  We would go to her home and she would put out these beautifully organized lunches, everything set out just so.  In my memory, the table that we ate at was huge.  It had a glass top.  When Florence passed away, her dining room table became mine.  It went with me to my first adult apartment and spent several years at my parents house until it came to live with Justin and I at our home.

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Tell me what you really think of the table, dear.

The finish was perfectly fine, but it felt like it just kind of blended into the rest of the floor around it.  The legs were pretty beat up, too.

I saw this pin on how to create a driftwood finish on wood.  They used a product from Driftwood DIY from here.  I bought the kit with the intention of trying it out on the dining room table and if it worked beautifully, as I knew it would, I had other projects in mind too.  I suffer greatly from “it will work out -itis” and have a concurrent diagnosis of “buy it now because you might need it someday syndrome” as well.  If I didn’t love to throw stuff out, we would certainly be living in a hoarding situation.

The first thing I had to do was drag the table out to the garage as it would need to be stripped.  The woman in the tutorial stripped her table inside her house.  I’m going to assume she does not have dogs or a toddler.

I used a citrus based stripper.  It was as non-toxic as such a thing could be, but did come with warnings about avoiding getting it on your skin because it would burn.  Don’t do what I did, but I applied the stuff while wearing flip-flops and was just fine.  You do want to wear gloves though.  Even I didn’t skip that step.

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After letting the citrus stuff work its magic and spending what felt like several hours scrapping off something, I ended up with…tada!   A table that was exactly the same color as when I started except for some of the gunk on the legs came off.  Boo says I! Boo!  In retrospect, I’m not sure exactly what I thought was going to happen.  Perhaps that it would be restored to its virgin wood status?  Oh well.  Moving on, I wiped everything down with mineral spirits (to which Justin said “ohhh spooky”) and sanded off any leftover citrus gunk in preparation for applying the driftwood finish.

Again, had I put any real critical thinking skills into this project, I would have quickly surmised that since the stripping process did not yield the same light-colored wood as the woman in the tutorial, how would I end up with the same results.

I prepared the packet of driftwood stain as instructed and lightly brushed it on.  The website said that I should see a graying occur fairly quickly, as in twenty minutes or so with the color deepening over a twenty-four hour period.

So 20 minutes in, it looked like this:

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I like how the garage looks like a sad kid holding cell.

The next fifteen times I opened the garage door to look at it, it still looked just like that.  The legs that I spent hours scrapping gunk out of were back to looking dark.  The top went from very orange to a brown orange.  This is where I decided it was a good time to go out for drinks.  Drinks make everything better.

I had officially taken what was a perfectly reasonable family heirloom and done this.  For about a half an hour on Sunday, I thought about how to create a worthwhile story of how the table, that I swore on the family bible to keep forever, managed to be the only thing stolen from our house in an odd robbery.

This is probably a good time to mention that I’ve been over the shabby chic chalkboard painted furniture with the edges sanded down thing for a while now.  It is just so overdone and those pieces really seem to dictate the style of a space in a very, very specific way.  I see a shabby chic piece of furniture and I expect to see your stack of Domino magazines and a bunch of clutter that you call decor, too.

Since I couldn’t in good conscience arrange to off the table and it is Thanksgiving week and we needed it anyway, I pulled out some gray paint from when I thought I might repaint our entire house, added some water and slopped it on.  It was my only choice.

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Immediately after I applied the paint, I went back with a clean rag and wiped off the excess, making sure that the wood grain was visible underneath.  I went back over everything with sandpaper, pulling up some of the paint to give the top a more weathered look.  Honestly, I felt like a failure at this point.  You know how when you are doing a project and you have such great expectations of how it will turn out and at the end of hours and hours of work, it just is nowhere near where you wanted it to be?  I can’t be the only one who has ever felt that way.  I let the table dry and because I just wanted it all to be over, I had Justin help me carry it back into the house.

It will do for now.  I will in all likelihood add a layer of white paint just to give it a little more depth.  At night, the color almost looks blue and Justin swears that it looks purple to him.

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So, I’m sorry ghost of Great Grandma Florence.  They can’t all be winners.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Kate

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A Fall Tradition

In our house, we tackle our biggest projects in the Fall.  Last year it was parenting and Hurricane Sandy damage.  The year before, the kitchen project that nearly killed me (hyperbole, it was only 20+ stitches to the face).  Wood floors, appliances, hot water heaters and furnaces, it all seems like the short, dark days bring out the project manager side of us.

Labor Day weekend we took a quick trip to Florida to visit my gorgeous sister-in-law, Kate and her family.  We returned to find water coming through the ceiling into our kitchen.  Not ideal.  The  upstairs bathroom that was ugly but functional had gone rogue.

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Justin and I had always envisioned eventually re-doing the master bathroom, but not so much the year after we had a kid and were committed to some seriously crazy daycare costs.  After weighing the pros and cons of dealing with the immediate issue only or a full-scale demo and remodel, we chose the latter.  Our thought process was that if not now, when.  As parents, probably never.  There will always be something else more important to save for.

My husband is on to me.  I bet he wishes that I were more of a candy crush fan versus ardent Pinterest groupie.  He knows that gleam in my eye when I’m quietly scrolling through all the home decor pins means nothing good for him.  He isn’t wrong.

My original plan for the bathroom was white subway tile as far as the eye could see, or in this case, floor to ceiling in a new tub-free standing shower area, paired with a tileable shower pan with a gray hex tile and some beautiful frameless glass doors.  Finish that off with a new white vanity and eco-toilet and call it a day.  I even started a Pinterest board just for the project.

With the contractor hired (About the House LLC of Milford, CT – cannot say enough about how great they are), we were ready to pull the trigger on a massive purchase of white subway tile when Justin said, “Are you sure you want to do white subway tile?”  Well, I thought I was sure.  Those were all the pictures I had pinned, I whined in my head.  It seemed pretty timeless.  Everyone else was jumping off that bridge.

“Are you sure…”

With my designing ego a little bruised, I went back to the Pinterest boards searching.  I didn’t know for what exactly, except that it had to pass the “are you sure” test.  When I am in project mode, I have laser, unrelenting (read: annnnnnooooying) focus.  Ideas fly a mile a minute, emails with links to this and that and how about combining this look with these floor tiles are drafted and sent.  Back before we had the flood that started all of this mess, Justin had once expressed interest in having wood-walled bathroom, like all of those great beach house outside showers.  Real wood wouldn’t work inside, but ceramic tile with wood grain look to it might.  I was off.  We live across the street from the Long Island sound, and because we are in a condo, we can’t have our own outdoor shower oasis, why not recreate that same look and feeling inside.

With those parameters in place, we tried to create a room that captured that “on vacation, just coming back from the beach on a beautiful summer day and standing in that refreshing outdoor shower washing off all the sand” feeling.

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We picked Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue for the walls, which shifts from green to light blue, depending on the lighting, a classic white vanity with a light gray granite counter top (an homage to the kitchen), wood plank ceramic tile from floor to ceiling and instead of a tileable shower pan, a solid white one that had a pebble-like detail etched into the base of it.  The shower door, Allen + Roth, 3/4 inch glass, was an absolute steal from Lowe’s, so much so that I won’t tell you the price so that you can think it was much more expensive than it is.

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Now all that is left is adding some useful accessories.  While it would not have been our top choice for a fall project, I am glad that fate forced our hands to get it done.

-Kate

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