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The Chalk Paint Challenge–painting an entertainment center

Some of you Pinterest fans may know that pictures of chalk paint furniture redos are hardly new to the blogosphere.  I’m late on the scene in the chalk paint (not to be confused with chalkboard paint) craze.  I read the reviews on the internet, saw other people’s shocking before and after pictures, but painting glossy wood furniture, laminate, metal, glass, and any other number of stubborn surfaces without sanding or priming first?  I was a skeptic, but intrigued, and had to see it for myself.  I decided I was going to try the stuff out, all I needed was a good piece of furniture to try it on.


Then, I stumbled upon this large oak entertainment center  at a local second-hand store.  It was exactly what I had in mind for hiding my wireless printer and unsightly office supplies in the computer area of our house.  The only problem?  The cabinet itself was a bit unsightly.  I’m not typically one to resist a good furniture redo challenge, and this was no exception, especially at the bargain price of $50.  This piece of solid wood furniture had the form and function I was looking for; all it needed was a couple coats of paint to bring it into the 21st century.  With a little help from A.T. and the boys (okay, a lot of help, this was a seriously heavy piece of furniture), I brought it home to face the Chalk Paint Challenge.

Before and after cabinet painted with chalk paint

I was not disappointed with the results.  The sweat equity I put into this project was minimal compared to the traditional process of painting furniture.  I could write a lengthy review and description of chalk painting how-to, but there are so many of them out there, I think it would be redundant.  With a good google, or Pinterest, search, you’ll find plenty of tutorials.  I’ll hit a couple of the highlights for you:

  1. I bought my Annie Sloan chalk paint online from Perfectly Imperfect.   I purchased one quart in the “Old White” and 4 oz of “Louis Blue,” then mixed them together 10 parts of white to 1 part of blue to get this very subtle light blue. 
  2. Did I mention no sanding or priming?  I just painted this stuff right onto that luscious glossy wood.  Brush strokes are minimal, so it’s very, very hard to mess this up.
  3. I didn’t remove doors or hardware.  Really, I just kind of attacked this thing with a brush and the paint, it didn’t know what hit it.
  4. I did scuff up the paint with a sanding sponge after I was done, to give it a worn look.  But, you don’t have to.
  5. I did this whole project completely indoors, with doors and windows closed because it was raining outside when I painted it.  There were no paint fumes, not even a hint of the smell of paint was in the room.  I was the most skeptical of the claim that chalk paint was low odor, but really, it’s true.  Of course, it can’t hurt to open a few doors and windows if you can.  But, if you start feeling a little light-headed while you’re painting with this stuff, blame the wine.
  6. The paint isn’t cheap.  Since I got the piece at such a good price, the paint wasn’t cost-prohibitive in this scenario, but may be for some.  After the cost of the paint, and including the cost of the cabinet, the total cost of the finished cabinet to me was $125, a very reasonable sum of money for such a large, and functional, piece of furniture.
  7. I did do one layer of Annie Sloan clear wax at the very end (after the sanding sponge step) to give it the durability I knew it would need with the kids going in and out of this cabinet a lot too.  I gave it my traditional fingernail test when I was finished by scraping it with my fingernail to see if if left any scratches.  I’m happy to say, with one coat of wax, it passed the fingernail test!

In addition, I hit up a local antique market I knew of that had bins of antique cabinet pulls.  With a little help from boy #2, and a few frustrating minutes digging through a lot of dusty hardware, we found these antique brass pulls to finish the look:

Here are some pictures of the inside of our reinvented printer cabinet, now storing our printer as well as office and  art supplies.  On the inside of the cabinet doors, we painted one side with black chalk board paint and on the other side, we attached cork squares for organizing loose pieces of paper.  Ultimately, I’d like to add another shelf above the printer, but for now, this works fine.

 There is something very gratifying about closing a door on a bunch of clutter.

If you have any specific questions about chalk paint, I’m happy to tell you what I know, which is very little.  I assure you I’m not getting any kick backs from Annie Sloan on this, I’m just sharing my humble opinion.  Shopping thrift stores for furniture opens up a world of possibilities when you consider what a little paint will do.  I have a lot of chalk paint challenges in tap for the future, I’ll be sure to share more before and after pictures when I do.  In the meantime, the picture below offers a sneak peek.  See the corner of that desk on the left?  I have big plans in store for that, so stay tuned…


Mother’s Day Gift – Photo Coasters

Side view of the coaster

Felt pads on bottom

Set of five coasters

I gave my sister and mother these fabulous photo coasters for their birthdays last month and my sister jokingly said “you should write a guest post on Tidy Tangle about how to make them”.   So here I am “guest” posting. I might add that I have been studying my little heart out and working hard with my web development business and spending one more minute at the computer to blog is less than appealing so I apologize for my silence, but it’s been a necessary evil to keep my sanity. Part of the battle of learning to juggle it all is dropping a ball from time to time so you don’t drop all of them and run for shelter!  But thanks to my sister for keeping the dream alive and providing some wonderful posts! (more…)


Fabric Hoops Decor

I found this great post and couldn’t resist sharing. Such a simple idea, yet so beautiful. I did something similar in my daughters room with scraps left over from a quilt a friend made, but used square frames instead. I like the round hoops better.



For a great way to incorporate it into a nursery, check out this blog


Color and Texture

This is a random post.  I just have an obsession lately with color and texture.  So much so that I started a Pinterest board based on that theme, certain colors and certain textures just pull me in. So, as I whisked hurriedly through Ross Department Store recently, I stopped dead in my tracks when these spatulas caught my eye. Something about these colors, combined with the bamboo texture–it was candy to my eye.  There was something nostalgic about them too, sort of old-fashioned.  Like, it makes me want to put on an apron and bake, and that doesn’t happen very often.  Good thing they were a steal–it’s not like I needed four spatulas. (more…)


Sew Your Own Throw Pillows

As a follow-up to my throw pillow challenge, I have finally recovered my chocolate brown velvet Ikea throw pillows.  I bought these down throw pillows for a mere $15 each five years ago.  In a house with five boys, there is no denying that chocolate brown upholstery is practical, but it’s not necessarily ideal.  I’ve been on the hunt for years for something lighter and brighter to recover them with, but it’s been a challenge to find something I love that’s affordable too.

I really liked all the samples I received from Premier Prints and was in the process of deciding on one of their prints when I stumbled upon something else that caught my eye, and my heart, on clearance at Hancock’s; light blue raw silk, normally $47 a yard on sale for $5 a yard! I wasted no time in having two yards of this stuff cut and for a mere $10, I now have four new throw pillows on my couch!

I’m doing a brief tutorial here on how to make your own throw pillows because I want to show people just how simple they are to make.  Honestly, I got my start in sewing making a couple throw pillows on my mother-in-law’s sewing machine. There is nothing more simple to sew than basic squares and rectangles and to this day, I don’t sew anything that doesn’t consist of only 90 degree angles!  A basic throw pillow can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.  Ideally, I would have added zippered closures to these pillows so that I could take off the covers and have them cleaned occasionally; but at a mere $2.5o per pillow, I figured it’s not worth the extra effort.  So, I kept it simple.



Affordable Fabric and the Throw Pillow Challenge

I’ve long been a fan of Premier Print’s fabrics, but only recently did I find out that they had their own website. Thanks to my talented designer friend, Rachel Halvorson, and her blog post tip on Nest Egg, I can now shop to my heart’s content from Premier’s full selection, which may be a good or a bad thing.  The good thing is that a majority of their prints are under $10 a yard, the bad thing is that makes them all the more tempting to stock up on!

To me, Premier’s fabrics are the perfect balance between modern and traditional, which serves me well as my taste falls somewhere in between those two places.  Nearly all their patterns are subtle, tasteful and understated, without being bland or boring.  So, I recently ordered a shocking amount of samples from their website and am determined to choose from one of Premier’s fabrics to recover my bland, chocolate brown velvet down Ikea throw pillows (that was a lot of adjectives in one sentence).  Stay tuned to see how I do!

If you’re looking for Premier’s Prints at an even better deal, try Fabric.com and just search “Premier.”  And here’s another tip: their samples are cheaper than Premier’s. (:

Now, here are some highlights from their selection:

A little Southwest, handwoven influence, without the hefty pricetag…



DIY Pergola

Bringing home the wood

Laying out the slats

The poles

We have this rather exterior wall that faces the street and we thought it would be nice to have a Pergola adorned with Wisteria framing the window.  There were a few problems with that idea.  We couldn’t find a Pergola tall enough to go over the top of the window and we couldn’t find one we could afford.  (more…)


How to install grommets

In my last tutorial, I showed you how to turn a sheet into a shower curtain, and one of the supplies we used for that project was grommets.  In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to install grommets on your shower curtain, or in any other project you have in mind.

Why Grommets?

Grommets, also known as eyelets, are primarily used to add reinforcement to holes in fabric.  Those holes usually offer a function, such as lacing or strapping something (i.e. shoe laces or belts), or hanging something (i.e. curtains, bags or banners).  However, grommets don’t always have to serve a function.   (more…)


How to make a shower curtain from a sheet

Okay, you’ve waited patiently and I’m finally back to show you how I made my flat sheet into a shower curtain!  As promised, I will offer two versions of this project: a no-sew version and a sewn version.  Whenever possible, I will offer no-sew alternatives to my “sewing” projects because I really want to show you that make-it-yourself home decor projects don’t always require a sewing machine or sewing skills.  There are many products available at your average craft store today that make no-sew projects more possible than ever before.



Fence Decor

No, you are not seeing things–that is in fact a picket fence hanging on my wall.  And, believe it or not, I have some surprisingly useful ideas for it in my house, and maybe even yours!  Allow me to explain.