dining room table reveal!

Yay for furniture refinishing projects! Those are my favorite kind of DIY- takes me back to my high school wood shop days. 
As part of mission "rid the main floor of all the dark furniture", I knew I would keep our table, but ditch the chairs for newer ones while also adding a bench for more seating. I'm absolutely positively in LOVE with the farmhouse table look, especially when given a gray wash finish. I spent sooo long researching products and other blog posts to see what process would yield the result I was after. There are TONS of methods to do this, (and a really great round up of different gray finishes HERE) so this is just one of them, but it's basically creating a faux weathered look by layering different paint and stains.

Step 1: SAND
I started by using a rough grit sand paper and orbital sander to sand off the existing finish to the bare wood. That was a lot of sanding...but WORTH it! While I was taking off the finish I sanded all of the sharp edges to give a more worn look. After that I sanded the whole thing again with a fine grit sand paper to smooth everything up. 

Step 2: PAINT
I painted ONE light coat (meaning I was super light-handed with the brush) of Natural Linen by Glidden in a satin sheen. Because it's so light and on bare wood, it dries SUPER fast, like 10 minutes.

Step 3: STAIN
Next I did a coat of Classic Gray stain by Minwax. I brushed it on with a foam brush, working in small sections at a time then wiped it off with a rag almost immediately, wiping in the direction of the wood grain. I let that dry the recommended 4-6 hours and added a second layer of gray stain.

Step 4: 2nd COLOR STAIN
I thought I would be done after the gray stain because I really wanted a gray look, but I felt like it needed more, so I just started experimenting at this point. Because I wanted to add more depth and color variation I did a layer of Dark Walnut stain by Minwax. Again I applied it in small areas at a time with a foam brush then wiped it off with a clean rag. I let it dry.

Then it was looking a little more brown then I wanted, so I used somea plain white interior paint and mixed 1 part paint to 1 part water to make it really watered down. I dipped the end of a rag into the paint and applied it (smeared it all along the direction of the grain) a small section of the table at a time. With this part, a little bit of paint goes a LONG way and you really have to almost buff it into the table to create a uniform white wash and not just streaks of white paint. It also dries really fast so you don't want to let this soak in at all- start wiping it all around as soon as you apply it!


I found this new brand of poly in the paint section that is a super thick poly where 1 coat equals 3 coats of normal polyurethane. SCORE! I hadn't heard much about it so I knew it would be a little risky to test it out, but it more than paid off! It does go on very thick and sludgy, but it dries in less than 2 hours! I did 2 coats, letting it dry in between each coat, with a bristle brush applying in the direction of the grain. 

With a lot of other polys I've used, the satin sheen really does appear to be semi-gloss, but this stuff really IS satin! Not overly shiny in the least. It also self-levels very nicely! 

I got the bench from Ikea for $89! It comes unfinished like this:
I wanted the bench to be lighter than the table, but still coordinate with the overall look. I painted it with two coats of pure white interior latex in satin- just some leftover paint I had from something else. Then I did one coat of gray stain, allowing everything to dry between coats. 
I wanted the bench to have similar distressing without repeating all of the layers as the table, so I used a Distressed Ink pad (sold at craft stores) and just lightly rubbed it wherever I wanted it to look "distressed".
A little unforeseen issue happened when I applied the triple thick poly after this- it smeared the ink! I guess because the ink isn't paint...or something? It basically re-wet the ink. All in all it ended up being fine because it softened up my distress marks and I actually liked it better. It did add pigment to my poly though, so with dipping the brush back and forth from the can there is now a very light brown color too it. It ended up working out in the end for the bench because I liked the way everything turned out, but now I have half a can of brown tinted poly that I can't use for something that isn't brown in the future! haha. Oh well. 

The best part? All of the materials for the table and bench (excluding the cost of the actual bench) only cost $35!!! And a little goes a LONG way, so if I was keeping my original chairs I would've had more than enough to refinish those as well! 

Speaking of chairs...*insert giant heart-eyed emoji* cause for REAL I'm in love. I found them on Amazon.

It's seriously like a breathe of fresh air!

I have one last project (okay technically two...) on this floor and then I'm done and movin' on! You can see a recessed light above the kitchen sink- I'm swapping it out for an industrial looking pendant light. And two, I still have to paint my TV stand (leftover from adding bookshelves to the living room!). And THEN it's onto the master bedroom! 
Unless I think of something else... ;-)


dining room plans!

The next victim project on my to-do list as part of the "lighten/brighten the main floor" overhaul is the dining area. We bought our tables and chairs set a few years ago, again- black (I'm too predictable). Technically it's really dark brown, but basically black.

It was a standard set from RC Willey, one of our first "real" furniture purchases- we were so proud. And with the exception of the upholstered seat cushions, it has held up remarkably well against the tiny humans (the seat cushions are like 90% my fault...I probably should not let Jillian use acrylic craft paint EVER, but especially when sitting atop microfiber). Oops. 
So here's how it stands now:

And here's my plan:

I've sanded down the table and will be doing a stain+watered down paint combo to give a weathered graywash finish to update the look. The chairs I'm getting rid of completely and swapping them for a bench (it may or may not be that one pictured, but it will be white), and four chairs. 

 (sorry, poor lighting- it was late)

Here's my dilemma...I LOVE these distressed blue metal chairs, but I can't decide if I'd like four of them (so the bench and 4 blue metal chairs) or just two of the blue chairs and two white wooden chairs (so the bench, two blue metal and two white wooden). I totally love the mismatched look, but I can't decide.




mother's day

I'm trying to feel all reflective and poetic as a I write about Mother's Day- what it means to me and how much I can truly now appreciate (and empathize) with my own mother- but I'm tired

Olivia got up a couple of times last night, I had to rock her back to sleep at 5am silently praying that Jillian would sleep in this morning a little later than her usual 7am wake-up call (she did- tender mercy). 

We had breakfast, I caught up on emails then got the girls dressed.

 I folded and put away two loads of laundry while Jillian bounced between her room and mine and Olivia "helped" fold. 

I organized my makeup drawer and threw on clean yoga pants and mascara (a sure sign of a bummy day with no real plans- sometimes those are my favorites). 

Jillian wanted a snack- apples with peanut butter and graham crackers.

We went to the post office and Jillian collected international mailing labels while we waited in line ("tickets for her party").

We came home, made lunch. Jillian would only eat it if I called it a "snack". Olivia threw most of it on the floor. 

Olivia took a nap and Jillian and I made a play-dough birthday cake complete with real candles. We sang happy birthday and blew out the candles.

I organized the junk drawer. 

Olivia woke up and we played outside with sidewalk chalk and blowing bubbles. The girls got filthy, so they got a bath. Jillian threw a tantrum in the tub. 

Clean kids, clean clothes. 

Snack time followed by a popsicle while Jillian watched a TV show and I made some calls for work. 

Olivia played on the floor with her toys.

Jillian wanted another snack- goldfish and milk.

I made dinner. The girls start to get on each others' nerves- Olivia shrieks at impressively high decibels while Jillian knows exactly what buttons to push to get her to do that. 

They took all of the pots and pans out of the cabinet.

Olivia pooped on her outfit. She stayed in a diaper until bedtime. 

The girls got in a tiff over some toys again.

Dinner in the oven and I look out the window for the 56th time to see if James' car was in the parking space yet.

I helped Olivia go down her play side 10-12 times. Jillian played with her Candyland board game pieces in the dining room. I put on Baby Einstein for Olivia.

I sat down.

James is home! We ate dinner. Jillian actually ate without complaining tonight. Impressive. We cleaned up dinner and had family time. 

We put the girls to bed. I swept and mopped the floor, straightened up the living area. 

I watched a TV show- series finale of Revenge.

I cleaned up the basement playroom- I think an actual bomb went off in there. 

I organized my craft supplies.

I took a glorious, hot bath.

I browsed some of my favorite blogs and Pinterest. 

I wrote a blog post. 

Like I said, I'm tired. But I'm happy- so unbelievably happy. I've never been pushed to the breaking point more times than I have since becoming a mother. Never been more exhausted, out of ideas or full of emotion.

I've come to realize that mothers do everything they do, and they do it over and over again on a daily basis, purely out of love. Because there is nothing else that makes you this crazy that keeps you coming back for more-
more hugs, more smiles, more kisses, more stories, trips to the park, tiny hands to hold, accomplishments to witness, giggles, seeing developing talents and hobbies, their awe at the wonders of the world- it is an amazing thing to be a part of. 

As an adult I still rely on my Mom more than regularly. She fields all kinds of phone calls, from "How do you cook that casserole I like?" to "Jillian is doing this weird thing...what do you think that means?" to "What kind of plants should I put in my backyard?" 

I'm still convinced she knows everything. I have a lot to learn before I hit Nana status. Good thing I have a pretty great resource! 

Happy Mother's Day!


mother's day gifts!

Mother's day is right around the corner!! I'm such a procrastinator with EVERY single stinkin' holday, but I got my crap together enough to put together a box to send to my mom this year. WOO! 

Instead of "breakfast in bed," I assembled a "breakfast in box!". Next best thing when you live far away, right? 

It was fun to personalize and think of things she would like! I included:
Mezzo Lemon Rosemary drinking chocolate (I'm just as curious about that as you are...)
Pink guava preserves
Cranberry orange walnut granola
Artisan dark chocolate with almond and sea salt bar
A church-y book

The adorable box flap labels are a free printable at the Dating Divas site

^I also had my girls make a painted hand print mason jar with this poem attached so she can use it as a little flower vase. Do you know how impossible it is to get a 1 year old to make a clean hand print? Aye aye aye...I think only two of her chubby little fingers are identifiable... :-p

Hope your Mother's Day prep is going well! 

Here are some other ideas for Moms/Grandmas that I'm loving...

^Grandkid photo display

^ Cute sign with a free printable!

^Loving these cute shirts!


DIY fabric baby gate

Olivia's new favorite thing is the stairs. She's getting pretty fast at going up, but will still just sit down half way through (and would then topple all the way down if I wasn't right behind her!) 
Trying to find a baby gate for the bottom of our stairs has been impossible. After trying 3 different kinds of gates that didn't work for various reasons, I temporarily gave up and used a giant piece of cardboard. That eventually lost its sturdiness so I needed to come up with something else! 

I remember seeing a few DIY gates made out of fabric and figured I'd give it a try! The best part is I had some old curtain panels sitting in storage, so I used one of them! Using a curtain panel means 2-3 sides of the rectangle you make will already be hemmed, and as far as I'm concerned, the less sewing a project requires the better!! 

I would not use this type of gate for the top of the stairs- it's more meant to block them from going up, not break their fall if they're on their way down.

All you do is measure the size rectangle you need, then cut your fabric (or curtain panel) to size. When you cut make sure you cut 1/2-1 inch larger than you need for seam allowance. Hem the raw edges by folding over and sewing down the edge.

On the banister side, I used sew-on velcro strips- one on the top, middle and bottom. That way it can wrap around the banister and connect back to itself.

For the wall side, I used about 8 inches of elastic, made a loop, and sewed one loop on the top and one on the bottom. You secure it to the wall by using two 3M Command Cord Bundlers. This is the side you will remove to go up and down the stairs.Removing just the top one gives you enough clearance to go up and down without needing to remove both the top and bottom every time.

I figure once Olivia is bright enough to figure out how to get around it, by intelligence or brute force, she's probably also bright enough to learn how to go down the stairs safely! Right now that's just not clicking so this has been a great solution!