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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…


Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

The ingredients

Used stand mixer to shred the soap

After processing it

A few weeks ago, my sister shared how to make homemade laundry detergent.  Well, I made it and it turned out to be thicker than I wanted and I didn’t have a stock pot big enough for the experiment so I decided that perhaps, a powder was a better solution for us.  I don’t mind powder and my machine has a special place just for the powder so that plenty of water rushes through the detergent to dissolve it.  (more…)


Homemade Hand Soap

Homemade hand soap and canning jar soap dispenser

Grated bar of soap in a stock pot

Blending it to get the right consistency

As promised, I’m back to tell you how I successfully made my own hand soap recently. I found the recipe on Pinterest, but tweaked it a little to what should be a foolproof method for everyone.  Also, at the end of this post, I will show you where to go to learn how to turn a canning jar into a soap dispenser–a double dose of fun!

I am going to read your minds and answer three questions about making hand soap before you ask them: yes, it works great, yes it’s cost-saving and yes, it was easy!  Although I’ve listed four ingredients here, it really can be made with two simple ingredients–a bar of soap and water.



Homemade Laundry Detergent

I read the Duggar’s book, 20 and Counting, a couple years ago.  In that book, they offered a recipe for a powdered laundry detergent.  But, I’ve always been partial to liquid detergents, so I never tried making it.  That book planted a seed of desire to try making my own detergent, so when I saw a recipe for a liquid version on Pinterest, I was all ready to try try it.  It took me a little time to track down all the components that I needed, but last week I finally brewed a batch, and am very pleased.  As well, I tried a couple easy recipes for fabric softener, and have been very happy with them as well.



Thift Store Shopping Tips

Rachel came to visit us in Charlotte this past weekend with her youngest and we had a great time!  My daughter had so much fun with her cousin and we had a great time just showing Rachel our life in Charlotte.  On Sunday afternoon during nap time, we went to a local thrift store.  I found this store about 9 months ago and have been dying to go back.  However, it’s not in the nicest part of town so I was reticent to go by myself.  So I dragged my sister as my body guard and we embarked on the journey.  For those of you in Charlotte, the thrift store is Value Village on Central. (more…)


Starbucks Frappuccino

You might be wondering what Starbucks frappuccino is doing as a topic on a Thrifty Thursday.  Starbucks is anything but thrifty.  Even with coupons, these little jars can cost more than I’m willing to spend.  But they are oh, so good!  So here’s my thrifty solution – make it yourself! (more…)


Refill Swiffer Wet Jet Bottles

I love my Swiffer wet jet.  I don’t like the cost of replacement cleaning solution.  For the longest time, I thought they were impossible to open, refill and close again.  But one day, I was able to unscrew it without a problem.  So now I refill my wet jet bottles with Pine-sol and water.  If you need a little help opening the bottle, try this method on YouTube. (more…)


Cleaning a Wedding Dress in the Bathtub

Working the soap into the hem

Can you see the dirt along the hem - it's gone!

Hanging to dry in the shower

My husband and I have been married for 8.5 years.  Due to living far away, I’ve stored my wedding dress at my parents house.  We finally managed to get it to our house only to find that it was filthy.  We hadn’t bothered to have it cleaned after the last time I wore it (and I did wear it twice – we had a reception about 5 months after the wedding).  Not only was the bottom of it dirty and greasy, but there was some sort of food stain that looked like chocolate sauce right on the front of it.  (more…)



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Jun 21, 2011 | Saving Money, Tip Tuesday | Tags: ,

When we returned to the states, I wanted a good budgeting software without the hefty price and that’s when I stumbled on Mint.com.  Not only is it good, it’s free!  Intuit purchased it at some point so there’s also a good name behind it.  It’s easy to use, keeps us on budget, sends us alerts when we’re spending too much and downloads all of our account information into one place.  Best of all, it’s on the internet so I can access it from anywhere.  There’s also an Android and iPhone app.

So if you’re looking for a great way to manage your money, check out mint.com and see what you think.


DIY Message Center

I used plexiglass for the writing surface

I used scrapbooking supplies to embellish

Magnetic clips hold the center together

For a while, I looked for a message center that had all the things I wanted.  I had my eye on a Pottery Barn one, but found it WAY too expensive for my budget.  We had a piece of plexiglass sitting around and I thought, hmmm, that would make a nice message center.  So I assembled my supplies and got to work. (more…)

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