My Friend’s Kitchen Cabinet Update

One of my very best friends wanted to give her kitchen a complete overhaul and it was nothing short of spectacular! The kitchen was in excellent shape, so there was no reason to get new cabinets. They just needed a fresh look! Also, why pay thousands of dollars on new cabinets when you can do a DIY and spend some time with your awesome friend (me, duh)!

Here’s the kitchen before the reno:

The cabinets are a gorgeous solid wood. This is their natural color and it had a clear coat glaze on top to seal the wood. This is a great sized kitchen with A LOT of cabinets! (You’re going to be slated by the transformation!)

If you’re going to paint your cabinets, the first step is removing the hardware. My friend did that before these pictures were taken. Next, removing all of the cabinet faces from the wall.

Don’t worry about emptying the cabinets! There’s no reason to do that unless you’re going to paint the inside. Which is up to you, but might be more trouble than it’s worth!

After removing all of the cabinets and drawers, we took them outside and sanded them down. I used a 120 grit paper on my sander. A lower grade (harsher sand paper) might work faster, but it will not give you a smooth finish. We laughed and cried a little at how long this took us. My friend thought it would be an hour, I said, “no way, it’ll be more like 3 hours.” Well, it ended up taking us just over 5 hours to sand everything. That’s 10 man hours total. If you’re going to paint your cabinets, you’ll need to dig deep. Pro Tip: Do this DIY with someone you enjoy spending time with! It’ll go by faster ūüôā

Here’s a before and after of a drawer face that I sanded. You can see the difference in the color of the wood once the glaze was removed. The surface was entirely smooth and almost ready to be painted!

Depending on what kind of hardware you choose, you might need to fill the holes. My friend decided to go with some new hardware and switched from a knob with one anchor, ¬†to a drawer pull with two. You’ll need a flexible joint knife and wood filler to do this.

Take a dab of the wood filler and push it into the hole. The take the joint knife and smooth it out, just like if you were spackling a wall. Do this on both sides of the cabinet or drawer.

For the absolute best results, wait until it’s 100% dried. Then take a sander and lightly go over the filler until it’s flush with the cabinet. Tip: Close your eyes and run your finger over the area. If you can’t feel any dips, cracks, bubbles, or crust, you’re ready to paint!

The Finish-All Paint is available on Amazon and I have only excellent things to say about it. This was my first time using it and I literally could not believe how far 32 oz of this paint goes. For the entire kitchen we only used 3 of them. The paint goes on thin and smooth but is heavy enough that you only need two coats.

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At this point in the day it was pretty dark out. So we brought painting inside and set up a painting and drying station. The paint dries so quickly and does not smell, so it was manageable to work inside. Make sure you used a tarp or sheets to protect your furniture. We used my old bed sheets to cover a pool table.

The best way to paint cabinets is to paint inside the grooves first, then the panel, and finally the trim. Doing it this way will create clean and crisp brush strokes. If you paint the grooves last, the corner strokes will look sloppy.

Here you can see the difference between coats one and two, but coat one is super impressive, especially for white paint. White paint usually takes 3 or 4 coats to cover a dark surface color.

When the cabinet faces are drying, you’ll need to go back and paint the cabinet frames. Once everything is dry, you’ll need to seal the cabinets with a protective finish. My friend used General Finishes. This will protect against general wear and chipping. It will also create an easy to clean surface.

When you’re all done, you can add your hardware and hang the doors back up! I recommend using a hardware guide to expedite the process and more importantly, please your OCDs.

This difference is unbelievable! Those are the same floors! The same space! The same cabinets! The white is so brilliant, it makes it feel like a completely different room. You can basically do cartwheels in this kitchen now. I can’t explain it. But it’s glorious. Just look at it!

Special thanks to Jackie for trusting me to take apart your home, love you, friend!

 

Remove Rust with Coke

COKE DOES WHAT?! Yeah, that was my thought exactly. I’ve seen a bunch of these DIY-short-videos that tell you to pour Coke or ketchup on metal, then remove it for a glorious new look. I’m skeptical when it comes to that kind of stuff because I feel like those people are in it for the views. As it turns out, it’s dead on accurate. Which is a little scary. But take a look at this!

My parents offered me their old counter stools when they upgraded. How could I turn down 4 free stools and the chance to do a DIY? No brainer. These stools won’t sit at our dining room table on the regular. They’ll stay in the basement until we have a party and need the extra seating. But, they still needed some serious cleaning.

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I removed the 4 support bars/foot rests from the bottom of each stool. They look in decent shape from far away, but take a look at this close up…

All the corners were rusted out. These stools lived at the beach for years and the salt air did a number on these frames. I’m not sure if these were originally brass and the rust ate away the color, or if it was originally silver and the rust made it turn this weird yellow brass color. Either way, the surface felt like sand paper. Basically, the rust had rust on it and it was gross to touch.

I put the frame in the sink and wrapped paper towels around the entire thing. Then I took a can of Coke and poured generously over the paper towel.

If you have a large storage container you don’t mind getting really dirty, you could probably just pour a 2L bottle over what you need to clean, but this works just as well. Let it sit for about 10 or so mins. The Coke will begin to break down the rust.

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When you’re ready, remove the paper towels. Here’s what the corner looked like after it soaked in the Coke, but before I scrubbed it with a billow pad. I scrubbed this corner with the same amount of pressure I use to scrub my dirty dishes.

and the after….

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I could not believe this is the same metal frame! The Coke removed all the rust. There’s permanent discoloration from years and rust, but the large rust spots are gone! The surface is so smooth.

Here’s another before and after rust spot!

I’ll probably never drink Coke again, but I’ll definitely use it as a cleaning solvent!

How to Fill Driveway Cracks

This was one of the most long overdue projects at our home. We’ve been talking about what a hot mess the driveway was for the last two and a half years. There were chunks of top coat missing from years neglect, 2 of which were admittedly our fault, and patches of grass.

I was almost half tempted to let it grow and see what the earth had in store for this asphalt disaster. But I figured it would be another 50 years of neglect and overgrowth before it actually looked balanced enough to photograph and I don’t have that kind of time. So we opted to fill in the cracks.

The first step to fill in the cracks is to remove the grass from them. I was actually surprised about the depth of the cracks once we removed the grass. I may or may not have role played God looking looking down at the Grand Canyon. “Thou shalt be a giant crack in the earth’s crust, illuminated by the light of surrounding casinos.”

After we revealed the canyons of cracks in our driveway, Brian edged the side. Why not clean it all up, right?

Then there was dirt everywhere, but no grass! So we rinsed it off.

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This will need time to dry before you start filling in the cracks. Next, you’ll need a bag of sand, which by the way will be ridiculously heavy. I don’t know if you knew this, but a 20 lb bag of sand weighs about the same as a small hippo. After 10 ft of holding the 20 lb bag and shuffling around the driveway, we took a ziplock back, filled it with sand, and cut out the corner. I highly recommend the ziplock bag strategy.

You don’t need to fill all the cracks with sand, but it’s recommended that you fill cracks larger than the size of your nail with sand before sealing with the crack sealing tar. The sand will keep the tar from settling deep in the cracks and cracking itself. It’s also more cost efficient to use sand than it is to fill everything with 100% tar.

Look at that stud hard at work. Ready to seal the cracks!

This blacktop crack filler is available at Home Depot. At first we started off with one small bottle, then we realized we were going to need stock in this stuff. For the second go-round, we went back to Home Depot and opted for the village sized bottle (which we used 100% of), which was only a couple dollars more than the hut sized bottle. When in doubt, always buy extra. Having to stop in the middle of your project is a major buzzkill and derails your momentum.

We poured the crack filler generously over the sand and used a flexible joint knife (the trowel-looking thing to smooth out drywall spackle) to flatten the crack filler, sealing it down. This part was the most fun. It also went the fastest. We moved quickly because this stuff cures in the blink of an eye.

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I’m not sure if it’s some chemical they intentionally put in there, like wet pink spackle, or if the sun changes it, but I almost had a heart attack when I saw the filler was brown. I though we would have been better off with the grass look, but thankfully it dried black.

It took a few hours to dry to the point of being tacky and about 24 hours to dry completely. But now our cracks are filled and we’re grass free!

Ready to seal coat your entire driveway? Check it out >

 

Black & White Photo Gallery

I celebrated my birthday this weekend with my spectacular husband and family. Brian gives the most thoughtful gifts, but he’s too excited to give them. I could only handle two days of, “You’re going to love your birthday gift,” before I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to know what it was. So he went upstairs, got the gift, made me close my eyes, and when I opened them I saw……

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This is my absolute favorite picture of Duke and Duchess. Brian had it hand drawn by an artist! It’s gorgeous and even more beautiful in person. Here’s the original photo.

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Original Photo

I was so inspired by the classic black and white shades of the picture I knew I needed to give it a prominent place in our home. I decided to do a black and white photo gallery, which I nick-named “The Dog Wall”.

My rules for the wall were simple. 1. All pictures must be black and white. 2. At least one dog must be present in each picture. That’s it!

I started by scrolling through my albums and editing photos using my iPhone to change the image to black and white. Once I chose the pictures I printed at a Rite-Aid. I ordered 11 photos in different sizes. The total cost was $18.

Aside from the idea of having 12 pictures of our 3 dogs (of course Lady was included!) on the wall, the most exciting part of the project was the assortment of frames! My mom had a few old frames that were in a box in the attic. For the remaining frames, I went to Goodwill and picked out some extremely tired frames that needed a sexy new look! 6 frames cost $10 at Goodwill.

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I removed the glass and the backs from all of the frames in order to spray paint them. I did this in our basement because it was raining outside and I was too impatient to wait until it stopped. Our house smelled like paint for a few hours. So I’m probably not going to do that again. Most likely.

I went over the frames with two healthy coats of black spray paint. I could not contain myself while I was waiting for these to dry. I waited a full 24 hours before touching the frames to avoid having finger prints on the wood. But it was tough keeping my hands to myself!

Once they were completely dry, I put the glass back in and added the pictures!

Here’s the wall the pictures went on before they were up. My little helper wanted to be in the picture. I’m not kidding. She posed as soon as I took my phone out.

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Gallery walls can be tricky, especially when you have 12 different frames. ¬†I recommend How to Hang Stuff, Like a Girl. I’m very visual and I need to plan out how the wall is going to look and make adjustments.

Here’s the finished look!

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It’s tough getting a picture of this wall because it’s in a hallway, but I crawled inside the coat closet across from the frames so you could see how it looks up close!

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We love our dogs!

Outdoor Couch Cushion

We try and do everything on a budget. We’re on a mission to redo this house with the tears of Abe Lincon. EVERY penny counts. Truth be told, our old neighbors in our apartment complex were throwing these couches away and Brian snagged them at the last second.

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Before

They are awesome. So awesome in fact, a brand new set retails for over $2,000. These cushions have seen better days. They started to smell like moldy fabric death and tear at the corners. I looked up the manufacturer to order replacement cushions and they were RIDICULOUS. Like $300 per cushion. We could have ordered a new love seat for what we would have paid for just the essence of the chair (any Friends fans out there?! “That’s right, I’m taking the essence!”) I tried finding replacement cushions from literally every single english speaking company that has a website. This couch is such a awkward length we had only one more option: DIY.

Here’s the alternative we came up with for about $80 (and an additional $80 for the top pillows I got from Target). Even at $160 all in, that was still a better option than the replacement cushions.

How all good DIY stories start out, once upon a Saturday we went to Home Depot. We got a large piece of plywood for $20. As always, because Home Depot is the best, they cut the wood to size for us (we measured before so we knew the dimensions).

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Then we went to Joanne Fabric and picked out some outdoor fabric for $11. If you subscribe to their text messages they’ll send you coupons. I had a 60% off fabric coupon. I go to Joanne Fabric maybe once a year, but their frequent text messages are totally worth it when you make an awesome score like this.

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Here’s the outdoor fabric we chose

ALWAYS do your research when getting materials for projects. We needed memory foam to complete this project and Joanne’s was selling 2 inch memory foam for $79. We found a larger 3 inch memory foam piece on Amazon for $50. So we opted to wait for the two day delivery to save $29 and get a better piece of padding. We’re so glad we did!

Here’s how it’s done:

Take the cushions and line them up on the plywood. With a pen or pencil, outline the cushions.

With a jigsaw, follow the outline you made cutting away the excess wood.

Don’t go crazy cutting. It’s better to go slow, see what fits and make adjustments. We shaped up the plywood multiple times to make sure that it fit exactly into the frame of the couch.

When you’re happy with the shape of the plywood, place it on top of the memory foam. Use a utility knife to cut along the shape of the plywood, using it as a template.

When you’re finished cutting out the memory foam, take the fabric and place it upside down on a flat surface. Then place the memory foam on the fabric and the plywood on top of the memory foam.

Using a stapler, pull the excess fabric up and staple it to the plywood. Work your way around the plywood stapling the fabric into place. Be sure to pull tightly in the corners and staple generously to keep the fabric in place.

Here’s the final product being enjoyed by The Royals! The blue pillows are from Target. I got all three of them for 15% off for a total of $80. Making the entire project total $180. I think it was pretty worth it!

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Duke is looking ROYALLY comfortable!
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Finished product!

Linen Closet Shelving

The days of forgetting a towel and running naked through the upstairs to the hall closet are officially OVER! We DIYed closet shelves!

When we redid our master bath, we removed a huge jacuzzi tub to make room for a custom shower and a linen closet, something our bathroom was lacking. After the bathroom was finished we never got around to actually putting shelves in the closet. For a while the vacuum and a step ladder lived in there.

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Thats me! I need a hair cut, so I’ve been told.¬†I’m 5’9″. So this is a really large closet. Can you see the excitement on my face about getting some shelves in here? WOO.

We opted not to use wire shelving because I kinda have OCD. It drives me BONKERS when things don’t stand up straight because they’re an awkward width. For example, a shampoo bottle might lean to the right a little bit because it’s between the wires. I can’t live my life like that.¬†I struggle with this shelving crisis¬†in our laundry room. Honestly, it makes me dizzy. So we went with wood!

This DIY involved some power tools. So make sure you’re prepared if you’re¬†opting for wood like we did!

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Obviously we’re Ryobi fans. The batteries are awesome. They last a really long time and they charge quickly. On the left is the cordless circular saw, on the right is some kind of super drill. It’s awesome.¬†Shortly after we bought our house we invested in¬†the Ultimate Ryobi Combo Kit. It was a little pricy, but it was completely worth it. We’ve used every tool in the kit and the bag is perfect to keep tools¬†securely stored. Now we have no excuse to lose any tools!

The Home Depot rocks. If you don’t have one near you, I apologize. Home Depot is usually our first stop for every DIY. Our “wood” shelving is actually MDF particle board. It’s really light weight and ridiculously easy to work with. The entire piece of particle board was $26 and they cut it to the size we specified right in the store so we were able to fit it in the car with ease.

 

We also picked up framing wood (actual wood) and made rails to hold the shelving in place.

When we got home I was so excited to start¬†hammering and cutting and screwing stuff in place that I completely forgot that I needed to paint the wood. This DIY was super cheap, but it took us two weeks to execute because we needed to wait 24 hours for the paint to dry and multiple coats to cover the wood… and I’m too lazy to DIY when I¬†get home from work, so we wait for the weekends. However,¬†it only took around 4¬†working hours to paint (minus dry time) and hang the rails.

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I used Behr Ultra White to paint the MDF board and the wood rails. Our basement is gross… don’t look at this picture too hard. You will start to feel the cobwebs.

 

That’s my hot design assistant. Full¬†disclosure: For this project though he was the boss and I was the assistant. He’s measuring the bottom shelf, cutting the wood rail to size and screwing it into the wall. If you can’t find studs in the wall, make sure you’re using anchors. The shelves will be too heavy once you put stuff¬†on them¬†to stay in place unsupported. Also, it’s easier to start from the bottom and work your way up. Maybe it’s not, but that’s what we did.

 

After we got in¬†the first rails we tested placing the shelf on top. It fit¬†really well, but we added a second piece just to make sure that the shelf wouldn’t accidentally drop. We repeated the process 4 more times. We opted to do a half shelf on top because we wouldn’t really be able to reach back on a shelf that’s 6 ft.

Here’s the final result! No more naked sprints and flinging water all over the upstairs! WOO!

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Industrial Shelving

I feel like we live at Home Depot. Our relationship with Home Depot is similar to most people’s relationship with Target. You come for one thing and you end up leaving with 100.¬†The guy at the paint counter and I are on a first name basis. He’s the man. So last weekend, during our 9th trip to Home Depot of the week, we were looking for some wood to build shelving in our Master Bath¬†and we saw these industrial pipe kits on sale. So immediately the wheels in my little DIY mind¬†start turning. Brian was intrigued and then all of a sudden it was like he knew. He knew we came to do one shelving project and were going to leave with two. So here’s what this corner of our bathroom looked like to start with:

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The tile on the wall is NY SoHo tile from a whole sale tile place a few miles from our home. The Master Bath is by far my favorite room in the house and the largest transformation so far. I’m actually really surprised that its taken me this long to decorate.

Here’s the packaging and how the mount was organized. Everything we needed to hang the flange¬†was included right inside this package. Stuff like this makes my heart dance. There’s no need to run around and figure out what kind of anchor you need or if you have the correct kind of screw.

I used the Ryobi Compact Laser Level to hang the mounts. This gadget is seriously worth every penny. I use it to hang stuff all the time!

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So once I got the level set, I took the wall flange and drew circles in the holes so I would know where to drill.

Buying wood at Home Depot is super easy! They even cut it for you, if you don’t have a table saw at home you don’t have to worry about fitting it in your car. Originally Home Depot cut the wood, but we needed to take a little more off when we saw how oversized it looked on the wall. I stained it using¬†Minwax Honey and let it dry overnight.

Here’s the styled final product! I made the sign with a scrap piece of wood I had!

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Dining Room Update

Hey friends! Our dining room is a huge part of our home. Growing up in my parents house we used the dining room on Christmas day and that was pretty much it. Brian and I host constantly so I want this to be a room that people enjoy spending a lot of time in. There are few things that bring more joy to our lives than seeing memories being made in our home.

That being said, our dining room needed a much needed face lift. If I haven’t said it before, I HATE the wall color that the bank painted our home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so thankful¬†I didn’t have to deal with another persons insane color choices or wall paper from the 80’s. The paint we have is a step above all that. However, if I had to describe it, I would say it’s a dingy¬†white paint and chalk mixture. If I’m wearing black I avoid grazing the walls because it will leave a chalky residue on my clothes. So annoying. Not to mention it looks kind of dirty. Here are some before pictures.

This space looked dull in comparison to my dreams of a warm space that people would have a hard time leaving.

So let me just brag for a second about the most outstanding husband in the world… Brian is a stud. We volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year and I got the brilliant¬†idea¬†we need to paint the dining room¬†in order for Thanksgiving to be perfect.¬†Brian didn’t say a word, he grabbed his paint brush started to help. We started on Monday night and did most of the trim. Tuesday we decided that I was insane and we needed a pro to help. So Brian went out to Home Depot and picked up a paint gun. Let me tell you… if you don’t have one, INVEST. It is the most amazing tool in the universe. I thought I was excited about my sander, I’m in love with this paint gun. We covered the walls in 20 mins and if we knew what we were doing or had a strategy, we would have been able to paint the whole room in one night.

Check it out.

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You need to give yourself about 16 inches of buffer space, but this saved us HOURS and it was fun to use!

Here’s the final result!

It looks so fresh and warm. The paint color is Wheat Bread by Behr.

Foyer Update

It’s amazing what some paint will do to a room. We have this sandy off-white paint on every wall in our house. I think the bank that owned the house paid a very sloppy contractor to come in and paint over everything. The off-white color isn’t even a pretty egg-shell color. It almost looks like they used an old can of white paint and didn’t mix it all the way. It looks yellow next to the white trim. Sometimes I swear I can see inconsistencies on the walls. Here’s what the foyer looked:

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I also could not stand the color of the wood on this door. So everything in the foyer got a nice facelift! I LOVE dark wood stains. So I used the same wood stain, Kona, from our Half Bath Reno.

Taping all of those windows was really annoying but it made cleaning the glass a lot easier! I’m thinking about doing a mercury glass effect on them. The contractor that installed them got glue ALL OVER the glass and I can’t get it off!

Here’s the new look!

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The stair rail got an update too! Check out the details here.

I found the most perfect little table to go under the mirror also. Check out the details on the mid century side table up cycle here.

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Mid-Century Side Table Up-Cycle

This sweet little side table came to us while we were cleaning out my great uncle’s house. When I first saw it, I knew it wanted a much needed new life with us at the Halle House.¬†Its charm was covered in an inch of dust and old magazines, but I saw right threw it and knew it was coming home. Brian was much less enthused, but as my Design Assistant¬†he carried it out to the car ūüôā

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My other design assistant

As you can tell, there was some stuff, I really don’t know what it was, that crusted on there over the years. It was a great little piece with a ton of character, but desperately needed some love. I was between painting and staining it. So I polled my followers on Instagram and my friends on Facebook and the response was completely split down the middle. Minus my brother (Hi, JD) who suggested that I use it for fire wood. *sigh*

Since the response was a tie, I thought. Why not both? ¬†So this was my very first paint and stain mash up and I’m so happy with the results!

Here’s how I did it!

What you’ll need:

  • Stain (color of your choice)
  • Chalk Paint (color of your choice)
  • Sander
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That’s me! I’m obviously excited about my brand new sander my parents got me for my birthday!

That sander made this project infinitely easier! No joke. I sanded the entire table in about 12 mins flat! img_3991

Here it is in action!

After I sanded it down with a 80 and 120 grade sand paper, it was ready to be stained! I took a piece of old dish towel to apply the stain color. I keep old dish towels on hand and cut them into useable pieces for all my projects!

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I actually really liked the way the two different stains looked. In the future I’m going to find a project to incorporate this idea! …One day.

I gave¬†the stain two hours dry time on our back patio since it was beautiful outside. I was so surprised with how quickly it dried. I didn’t think I would be able to get a primary coat of paint on before wrapping up for the day, but I did! I had to bring it inside to dry though. Here’s the first coat of white paint.

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I was able to put another light coat of paint on the day after and it looks spectacular! I didn’t want the paint to look perfectly even. I like the imperfection of uneven brush strokes. It makes the piece look older and gives it another layer of depth.

Here it is styled in our foyer. It looks so fresh and happy!