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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…


Antique Canning Jar Wall Vases

Things have been quiet around Tidy Tangle lately.  Laura’s working hard on her master’s classes these days, I’m busy filling Etsy orders and counting down to my 1,000th Etsy sale–today I am at 992, only eight sales away!

In the meantime, I am working on putting some finishing touches on my house decor (yes, finishing touches five years later) as we start trying to sell our house.   For several years, the wall above my sofa in my family room has looked like this:




Makeshift Mudroom

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Oct 17, 2011 | Tips and Tricks, Topics | Tags: , ,

My makeshift mudroom

When it comes to maximizing living space, I could write the book. I’ve lived in spaces from 850 to 1500 square feet, all with kids. In our current house, which we share with five boys, we don’t have a laundry room, a mud room, or even a foyer. That can get tricky when the muddy soccer cleats and wet jackets pile up by the front door. So when we put new floors in our family room last year, I took advantage of an opportunity to reorganize the space by our front door to create a makeshift mudroom. (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.



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…)


Turn diaper boxes into storage

I absolutely LOVE this idea.  Diaper boxes are so sturdy and have great dimensions for holding all sorts of things.

Here’s the blog post on how to turn diaper boxes into storage: http://www.positivelysplendid.com/2011/02/lets-make-something-together-lined.html


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.



Sheet to Shower Curtain

The boys’ shower curtain tore recently and I’ve had my eye out for a new one.  But, I have the worst luck finding shower curtains that I like at a reasonable price.  So, when I saw this sheet set at Target for $13, I knew I’d found a solution.  The logic there may not be obvious, but a flat sheet can be turned into a shower curtain in no time flat (no pun intended).  It can even be done without a sewing machine!  When I get around to this exciting challenge, I’ll be sure to take some notes for you, in case you’re curious!