Painting to refresh used furniture is nothing new.
Over the years I’ve done lots of pieces using brand name chalk paint and now I find that making my own works just as well and it’s so easy to do.
Basically by adding Plaster of Paris to house paint it adds the grit needed to help it stick to the wood surface.
Homemade Chalk Paint Recipe:
1.5 cups Interior House Paint
1/3 cup Plaster of Paris
1/3 cup Water
*These are estimates. Once the supplies are mixed the paint will start to thicken slightly.
Mix the supplies together. First apply primer on the piece of furniture, then coat with the chalk paint. Seal with a clear coat intended for chalk paint. I tried a water based product that was applied with a brush, it didn’t have the toxic smell like other wax sealants do.
There are so many used pieces of furniture around and changing the colour can easily update them.
I keep a box of Plaster of Paris and there is plenty to mix up gallons of chalk paint with leftover house paint. It works well on cabinets, mirrors and end tables.
Once you have the basic supplies it’s so easy to whip up a batch for the latest thrift store/marketplace find.
Here’s another wreath to add to the tutorials on the blog – this time for a wheat type wreath. I used grasses from our yard. Last year I was considering making a wreath from these grasses that end up in the yard waste bin but thought it would be too tedious a project.
It’s not actually tedious but you do need quite a bit of material to make. Here is a look at how I made this wheat wreath following the same method at the other wreath tutorials using Eucalyptus, Boxwood, and Blue Spruce.
Lots of material
Collect your materials. The grasses are messy so give them a good shake before bringing them inside the house to work. Better yet, make it outside!
Here is the finished product – simple & made from materials in the yard. I like the colour combination against the grey door. Here it is against black too.
This wreath could be kept until next year or pull out the grasses, put them in the yard waste bin and make a new one next year when the grasses have grown back again.
I now sell wheat style wreaths through my website and Etsy shop . They are available for shipping within Canada. On my Instagram under highlights are more examples.
It’s September already and that means a new season and I have some Fall decorating ideas to share. The colours outside are shifting and there are so many simple and natural ways to bring this look inside.
1. Make a Flower Arrangement
While we don’t have flowers in bloom right now (I miss the Limelight Hydrangea hedge I planted at our last house!) we do have an amazing selection of foliage around the yard.
I clipped some ninebark, japanese maple, dogwood, poppy pods, aster and crabapple from our yard to make an arrangement.
I also added some grasses which was a trend I was not a fan of until we moved to Kelowna, where dried grass is a part of the landscape. For this arrangement I used chicken wire inside the lined box which made it so much easier to build the design.
Whenever we go to the beach I’m always looking for treasures, just like my kids. These are driftwood wreaths that I made by shaping branches I found. The grasses are from a row of Karl Forester grasses we have in the yard. This has been up all summer and I’ll probably keep it up during fall until inspiration strikes.
A couple of weeks ago this was another arrangement made with the same materials from the yard but on a larger scale.
In the background below is a new Eucalyptus wreath with a ribbon made with linen scraps from the mask making I’ve been doing.
2. Cut a few Branches to Fill a Vase
If you don’t feel like spending much time arranging flowers, cut branches from the yard are a quick and easy way to freshen up a room without spending any money.
This is some Ninebark that is in my studio. The dark, almost black foliage is a new favourite of mine and it lasts for at least 2 weeks in a vase.
In my studio I have been focused on making linen masks. I started using linen since that is what I use for screenprinting tea towels. Linen also makes a more breathable mask so now I am choosing more fabrics & creating colour collections to work with a fall wardrobe.
This is what I am making (more photos are on Etsy). Flower arranging is a creative outlet that is my break from sewing.
3. Make a Wreath to Welcome the Season
Wreath making is one of the most popular topics on the blog and I love making them so there will be more to come soon. If you have a metal wreath form and paddle wire it is so easy to grab it and start wrapping fresh material. I always save my wire when I remove old leaves and keep the wire in a bundle attached to the form.
A few months ago I was out after a big windstorm and there were willow branches that had fallen all over the beach. I collected the fallen branches – never cut from a tree unless it’s on your property or you ask for permission – and made a wreath from them. Even though I knew this would be temporary I enjoyed the process and saw it as extra practice and even therapeutic!
4. Gather Interesting Sticks & Pinecones to Display
Driftwood, pinecones & interesting branches find their way to our doorstep for display. These plants are Swedish Ivy that I chose since the fuzzy leaves would hopefully be unappealing for the deer and also to clip for arrangements indoors.
Bringing the season indoors is easy with a few natural elements that can be found all around.
As we learned in Design 101 in my Fine Arts Education, in nature all colours go together. I’m paraphrasing but the idea is that naturally colour coordinates and it is evident as you look around at the changing season.
More projects that I’m currently working on are often shared on my Instagram @shibangdesigns if you’re not already following. I share projects & ideas there more often than I blog!
Here’s a look at our living room in our open-concept main floor when we first moved in. I was excited to have a fireplace again but this colour wasn’t right for me.
Originally I thought I’d paint everything white, including a wash on the tiles but then changed my mind and I’m glad I went with black instead. At the time it felt like a huge risk but it’s just paint and I was happy with the dramatic results.
Here’s the progress…
Before: Beige trim and blue walls.
After: Now the fireplace is a feature and I the room has a more modern feel.
Before: The yellow/beige colour didn’t have the same impact with objects displayed.
After: The tiles now look natural and still go with the house.
Now with the black paint, the spotlight at night and natural light during the day create a great space to make seasonal displays.
This is a wider view of the room before I painted the kitchen cabinets. Once you start changing one area it can start to make everything else look incohesive.
This was not my first time painting a fireplace. 7 years ago we had just moved into our first home near Montreal and this was my first project. The photo will link to the blog post showing how I used chalk paint on the wooden mantel. This is the same couch that has travelled with us from Montreal – Toronto and now Kelowna.
Instead of dreaming of a renovation someday, is there a simple paint fix that could make a big change today?
After showing this before and after photo of our new kitchen that was done with very little resources, I’ve had a few questions from people wanting to know how to their paint kitchen cabinets.
This is the second kitchen I’ve painted and yes, it takes many hours to do but the results and low cost are worth it.
Here are some before & after photos of our former GTA home. I started by painting the cabinets in 2015, then trim & crown moulding and in 2016 we replaced the counter, sink & faucet and added a backsplash. When it came time to get rid of the old counter, sink and faucet I posted it for free on Kijiji and someone came to pick it up – everything got reused.
Primer -STIX by Benjamin Moore (It is expensive but doesn’t require any sanding!!)
Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in Pearl Finish
Velour or Foam Roller
TSP to clean and degrease the cabinets first – very necessary!
I considered renting a sprayer to do the cabinets but instead used a roller since I have limited moments of time to work so I could slowly paint a little bit each day. Also if you’re using a sprayer and working in a garage you have to make sure that the temperature isn’t too cold.
Choosing a Paint Colour
There are unlimited colours to choose from. For our last house, I considered a dark colour but since it was a galley kitchen with white appliances I decided on white so that the appliances would blend in and the white would make the small space feel larger.
For our current kitchen, I used the same shade of white as the last time because it worked and I love the name – Vanilla Milkshake. I like classic style and for the number of hours it takes to paint the cabinets, I don’t want to grow tired of the colour.
The shade of beige/grey for the island is Pashmina, which has brown tones rather than purple tones which work with the cooler white.
There are so many shades of white if you go that route and while the paint chip may appear like a dark white it will like a bright white once it’s on the cabinets. In my experience, white and beige/grey look lighter when painted on cabinets.
Cabinet Doors off or on?
For the last house, I kept the doors on to paint because I was apprehensive about taking the doors off and not having the hinges line up properly afterward. It worked fine and I had good light to work with but some areas were hard to reach. It took me one week of late nights and one day to complete this entire kitchen (while my husband was out of town!).
This time I took the doors off and did all painting in the garage. It felt like the process went on forever because I would only work for about 1-2 hours at a time and this kitchen has 24 doors and 12 drawers.
I painted the upper doors first, then the bottom doors, then the drawers.
Each cabinet door needs:
1 coat primer front
1 coat primer back
2 coats paint front side
1-2 coats paint back side
Then you should ideally wait 5 – 7 days until the paint has cured. This step is important. I was eager to restore order and put the doors back on before the paint had cured and I chipped the paint. Even once the paint has cured, small chips happen in frequently used areas like around the knobs and door openings.
Process Photos from Both Kitchens:
The first kitchen had a few more steps after painting. The white opened up this space but it was so basic still. The backsplash was what pulled it all together and the quartz counters elevated the kitchen.
Our Current Kitchen
This is how the kitchen looked when I was still painting the walls white.
More to come with how to add more details to the kitchen such as:
We have a transformed kitchen thanks to new stools courtesy of Wayfair Canada and several coats of paint on the cabinets.
There was no renovation involved and it feels like a new space.
We love our stools which were sponsored by Wayfair Canada. These kick-started the whole project and kept me motivated to finish all of the painting. They’re adjustable in height and kids can’t stain them. I’ve linked to this Williston Forge Halsted Bar Stool below.
This is a photo of the kitchen when we first moved in this summer. As you can see, paint and furniture choices make a huge difference.
The outer cabinets are white and the island is a taupe/greige colour. I had planned to change the drawer pulls but it turned out that the screws were glued into the knob and couldn’t be removed. This is a detail of how the brass knobs look on the island.
This was the before – some knobs are more tarnished than others.
Here’s one process photo with the island being primed. I was also in the midst of making lots of eucalyptus wreaths that weekend too!
On the island, I added some trim that was simple to install and added some character. Along the edge of the countertops I sanded the wood edge and stained it black.
Here’s another look at the before and after.
Now the kitchen feels more like our style and it’s ready in time for Christmas. My parents are arriving in a couple of days and I know that we’ll be spending most of our time gathered around the island cooking and eating. We like to say that a family that eats together, stays together.
I didn’t show any progress pictures from this project but I documented the process along the way to post later.
A little update on the progress for the One Room Challenge which is wrapping up next week.
The desk in the office is done and now there is 16 feet of desk to work at. This office by Lori Harrison that was featured in Style at Home was the inspiration for the desk configuration. We had an extra IKEA desk leg that I used to support the corner of the desk like in this photo.
I was a bit apprehensive to get started on the desk construction but once we got started it went together fine. My helper found the studs in the wall and we screwed the 1″ x 2″ ‘s to the wall to act as a support for the pine shelving.
After the desk top was in place I used a hand saw and mitre box to cut other 1″ x 2″ wood to face the front of the desk to not only make it look like the wood is thicker but to also add stability to the desk. Gorilla Glue and painters tape was enough to do this job.
A detail of the corner where the two desks meet. The desk wood was stained with my favourite and easiest stain to use. It’s Saman and is a waterbased Canadian brand.
Now one computer is set up with a hole cut out to put the cord through. There are still a few more things I want to do to complete this room. I have had some set-backs with the floating shelf but hopefully now I have the right drill bit to get going on it.
Here is the final reveal of our bathroom makeover – the mirror, vanity handles & light fixture were the only new pieces. Everything else was done with paint and materials I already had. Reimagining the space and making small, manageable changes made all the difference.
The ‘floating’ wooden shelves are finally as I imagined them, as a feature area rather than just a large wasted space that became a dumping area. More information about how this layer of plywood was added on top is in my last post.
These crates are the basic kind from the hardware store that I stained with vinegar & steel wool. We each have one to throw our toiletries in.
We have a lot of plants throughout our home and garden so we moved a few extras into this room to soften all of that white.
This is the view of our ensuite from the bedroom.
Here is the way it originally looked when we moved in. I hadn’t even painted the walls because I thought it wouldn’t make any difference.
The shower curtain is something that I made a few years ago with canvas and grosgrain ribbon. White and black are the main themes throughout the house.
This is what it looks like when the door is closed. The barn door idea didn’t end up happening because we ran out of time but I left the mirror up to reflect the natural light. We usually keep the door open because it makes the bathroom look bigger.
A reminder of the shelves before.
Another shelf detail because it is finally a space worth showing!
Is there a room in your house that could look entirely different by using some creativity and making a few small changes?
To see the other reveals – both small project and major renovations visit the One Room Challenge website.
Here we go with the last update on the bathroom project I’m working on during the One Room Challenge. I haven’t done many updates because we had some major things happen during the past few weeks — we actually decided put our house on the market and it sold a couple of weeks ago.
I had been planning to do the One Room Challenge for a few months and the project was supposed to be all about doing small manageable updates that could be done over a couple of hours each weekend. Well, good thing it was a simple plan since we had to cram the whole thing into one weekend.
I had planned to do all of the work myself but we were so lucky to have good friends come visit for the weekend – good friends who are very skilled with home improvement. This is Alfredo and he was the one who brought my vision to reality. He brought his circular saw and years of experience doing his own projects. I have so much to learn from him!
I had wanted to create the look of floating shelves in our bathroom closet while using materials I already had. My plan was the use plywood that was from a booth I had made for the One of a Kind Show.
This is the booth I made a few years ago to sell my art & accessories. It has been in storage in the garage and I’ve been saving the wood to repurpose. (You may recognize the shelf & storage unit from my studio).
Alfredo traced the shape of the shelves onto the plywood and then cut them with the circular saw.
He then created thin strips to go on the front of the shelves to give them depth.
Now the shelves are a feature waiting to be styled rather than a messy storage area — All with reused materials. I had planned to stain the wood but I ended up liking it as is. With the walls and tiles all being white, the wood here warms up the room.
Here’s a little step by step guide for how to update a vanity without doing a renovation — it’s easy and makes a world of difference. Next week will be the final reveal.
To see how everyone else is coming along with their rooms follow the link below:
It’s the One Room Challenge again, a chance for interior designers and bloggers to transform a room in 6 weeks. What I like about this event is how it motivating and inspiring to tackle a project along with everyone else – plus having the deadline helps get it done.
The last time I did a project in our house was Fall 2017 when I did a board & batten nursery/boys’ room.
This time I am doing a small project and something that is long overdue — our master bathroom. Since it’s been almost 5 years since we’ve lived here and we’re not planning a renovation I want to improve what we have by doing a few small projects so that we can enjoy this space.
Replace the Mirror
Replace the Vanity Light
Paint the Walls
Clean the bathroom
Create a focal area with the illusion of floating shelves in the closet
Add shiplap to the walls
Replace the closet door with a barn door
This is how our vanity originally looked and it stayed this way for 3 years until I painted and changed the hardware. There is a post about the process here.
For minimal effort and materials, this made a huge improvement and gave me the hope that I could improve this bathroom without a renovation.
To see what the other designers and bloggers are planning here is the link to Week 1: