Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Fun Stairs Banister Makeover

A local friend reached out to me a few weeks ago wanting some direction with how to tackle refinishing his split-level stairs banister.

Here are some before shots of the stairs.

Clearly there was nothing wrong with the condition of the banister - in fact the spindles and railing appeared in great shape! But wanting to bring it up to date, as well as brighten and lighten up the space, a paint makeover was just what it needed.

Through a series of texts and photo exchanges, I walked him through the process. {Gotta love technology for efficiency sake.} He was kind enough to snap photos for me along the way so I could share this process with you all as well.

It's always good to start with an inspiration photo, to get those creative juices flowing - and just as luck would have it, I came across this image earlier that week from Layla at The Lettered Cottage, so I sent it his way. I wanted him to experience, even if only via an image, the POWER OF PAINT! Isn't this awesome?

I then walked him through the process to PREP the banister, which included a good stripping to remove the previous varnish or glossy finish that was applied years prior to protect the wood. Sorry folks, you really can't skip this step. It's gotta be done if you want to ensure a really good seal from the new paint.

There are a lot of good stripping options out there - but they all basically do the same. Read the manufacturer's instructions on the back for your specific project, but in a nut shell, you'll want to rub or brush on the stripping agent, let sit for a specified amount of time (usually 15-30 minutes), then scrape or rub off with a cloth, scratch pad, or steel brush. Then wipe clean. It's often stinky and laborious, but worth it in the end. I like Klean Strip or Citri-strip (if I'm working with kiddos nearby).

Next, PRIME your wood. I love Kilz products. You could certainly use a water-based primer by Kilz, but for some of those delicate, high traffic areas, I still recommend oil-based - it's durability is just hard to match. Even though he was doing a lot of intricate spindles, I still recommended using a roller as much as he could as it eliminates a large majority of drip marks along the way. Finish off those hard to reach areas with a paint brush or sponge brush.

Next, using a good interior paint in an egg shell or stain finish, ADD a paint conditioner like Floetrol, and mix well. The Floetrol aids in the leveling out process and helps to eliminate roller marks. (Tip: I always add Floetrol to my latex paint when painting furniture. ALWAYS!)

Then ROLL ON THE PAINT in really thin even coats. Finish off with a paint brush for the areas your roller can't reach.

Finish the project off with a good SEALER. In this case WAX was the product of choice. I have been using Minwax paste finishing wax or Johnson's wax as of late. I really like both - especially the price tag. Apply with a good wax brush, by dipping the tips of the bristles into the wax and rubbing on in a circular motion. Let sit 15 minutes, then buff off with cheesecloth or a lint free rag.

It was quite the transformation around the Condotta home - a job WELL DONE!

Friday, March 14, 2014

On Going Black :: Interior Doors

Ever since I can remember, I have loved the look of white trim and black interior doors. That high contrast look is right up my alley.

And I am beginning to see it more and more in the design world.

It's definitely more on the modern side, but would fit nicely within the color pallet of our farmhouse-inspired home.

We are currently renovating our gigantic utility room into a guest bath and mudroom space, and we have to update our first door in the house.

These are the actual 3-panel doors we have chosen for our house.

They are awesome! We wanted something a little off the beaten path, and four, five and six-panel doors just weren't doing it for me. Three-panel? Yes!

Here is where I am a little stuck. Do we go with traditional white doors, or take a risk and paint them black? I asked my interior design friend {who has helped me with all my big decisions around the house} and she said one thing to consider is if our doors are in a cluster, or are more spread out within the house. 

Our doors = MAJORLY clustered. Bummer.

Here is what I mean.

Our interior doors are all located in a cluster at the top of our stairs on our upper floor and then another cluster at the bottom of the stairs on the lower level. I'm not sure I like the look as much when they are all close together.

So I have two days to decide. White or black? White or black? White or black? 

What would you do? 

Maybe I'll start with our front door...

Dreamy, huh?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

DIY Rope Chandelier

If you follow me on Instagram you saw a sneak peak of this 
DIY Rope Chandelier I tackled last week. 

Inspired by this rope chandelier from Pottery Barn, incorporating rope and a black iron frame, I decided to make a much more affordable version for my own home.

There really wasn't anything wrong with the traditional chandelier we inherited with our house, it just really wasn't our style. The before...frosted shades and all...

 Replacing the chandelier was not in our remodel budget and I needed a quick fix to make it a bit more rustic and earthy. Enter in manila rope. I purchased this 1/4" manila rope from Home Depot. I was looking for a really rich, darker shade of rope and this was just the ticket. I purchased three packages for my five shades.

All I did was wrap my frosted glass shades in the rope, starting from the top and working my way to the bottom, adhering the rope to the shade with hot glue. Seriously, that's it.

It turned out wonderful!


A few closeups so you can see the richness of the rope color. 

I especially love the contrast of the earthy rope against the industrial black iron. It's a design-happy combo.

I'm searching for a burlap chain cover for the chain, 
since we won't be able to eliminate it until we relocate the electrical in our dining room. 

I've found lots of other uses for this rope in our house - my office nook organizational containers and kitchen storage items are all getting rope-ified (check Instagram for upcoming photos of those items)! 

Wrapping everyday items in rope is such an easy way to add a rustic feel to your home - it's really transforming our space!  

If you don't believe me, check out 25 DIY Ways of Using Rope for a Vintage Look. Lamp bases, candles, frames, stools, chairs, laundry baskets, ottomans - it's endless! You'll be running to your home improvement store to pick some up of your own! I AM HOOKED!

Happy rope-ing!

P.S. Check us out on IG and follow along for home remodel updates, design selections, furniture makeovers, farmhouse modern inspiration and MORE!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stonington Gray Midcentury Dresser Re-do

A local gal contacted me about making over a dresser for her daughter's bedroom.

I was lucky enough to find this midcentury dresser in the window of my favorite local thrift shop - in nearly mint condition! I'm always amazed at how well preserved pieces can be when I stumble upon them. They just don't make them like this anymore!

I knew this was going in a little girl's room, where it is likely to get lots of extra "loving" over the years, so I kept that in mind when refinishing it. I gave it a coat of primer, two coats of paint in a flat sheen, and hand rubbed in two coats of wax to seal it. It definitely has that hand painted, hand rubbed look.

Based on the color scheme of the room, we chose "Stonington Gray" by Benjamin Moore - one of my absolute favorite grays for furniture. {All of these images are not retouched or edited, so they are very true to color.}

Traditionally, most refinished midcentury pieces aren't distressed. HOWEVER, I almost always give them a light distressing when I know that it will likely get a lot of wear and tear. As long as it's not a heavy distress job, I think it compliments it nicely and ages it just the right amount. 

 This piece had wonderful dovetail joints.

I tracked down a set of period-piece hardware at ReStore so we could add pulls to make it easier to open the drawers. 

I was very pleased with how it turned out - and I hope it compliments her bedroom in just the right way!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Are you a resolution maker or a goal setter?

Truthfully, I've never been a resolution maker - a goal setter, yes, but resolutions stress me out. Goals seem less formal, with more room for error, a change in direction, or complete failure.

The other thing is, I NEVER put them in writing. They float around in my head (perhaps my journal during college) and I rarely make them public, not even to Kyle. Funny, now that I think about it.

But goals DRIVE me. In fact, it came up from both sides of my family over the holidays in random conversations that I am...

crazy driven
a go-getter
a reach for the stars
don't stop til I get there

...kind of gal. 

Their words, verbatim, not mine.

I had to laugh. It's truth. I never, ever want to bulldoze people with my goals, sacrificing relationships along the way, which is why I think I don't often vocalize them, but the truth is, being driven has been a guiding force for me for decades.

Here is a list I made in my head at age 17: 

Finish high school in top 5%
Go to college
Go to grad school
Get married in my 20's
Have at least two babies
Start my own business
Buy a house
Run my own business for at least 10 years

I know there were several more, but these eight goals were the most definitive, the ones I thought about constantly. And as you can see, they are ALL crossed off. Finished. Completed.

This last fall I crossed off the bottom one; it was a huuuuuge milestone for me. 10 years as a small business owner. Really? When 95% of businesses fail in the first year, I know my small, little business success has been God's grace. Big time. Hands down. I don't even attempt to take credit for completing that goal. Not a chance.

But completing that last big goal also rocked me. Like majorly shook my 32-year-old boat. NOW WHAT?

These lofty goals turned reality are fine achievements, sure. But honestly, what's my life about now? What's it's purpose?

Here's a bit of truth for you: I haven't blogged much this past fall because I kind of feel like I've gone through a bit of an identity crisis. Not in terms of faith - I know where I stand, I know who I am in Christ, I know the exact type of woman God made me to be. I'm blessed to know myself really well, and to not care about what others may think of me. So my peace flows from that acknowledgement.

But NOW...

What do I DO with my hands?
What do I do with my feet?
Where does the Lord want to take me?
As a mom, as a wife, as a friend, as a mentor, as a creative being?
What are my new goals?

It's not a place I've often been. Starting fresh with a clean slate.

The idea of a fresh piece of lined paper in front of me, waiting for a list of some kind to be made, has paralyzed me the last couple months.

I've started and stopped. Started again and just felt stuck.

And then a quiet whisper came one morning in December while sitting in front of our Christmas tree, watching snowflakes fall out our front window.

Start small. Snowflake small.

I told myself in that moment that I wouldn't get caught up in goal-setting for the next 15 years. A year at a time is a great place to begin.

As I looked around blog-land and Pinterest, I came across this goal setting one from JDC, just this morning:

I took a stab at it and it came easily.

A bad habit I'm going to break :: Staying up till 1am. FOR REAL? What on earth? When did this become the norm for me. I do have reasons for this night-owl pattern, which I can get into a bit later, but this is hands down my #1 itty-bitty goal for this year.

A new skill I'd like to learn :: I reeeeeeeally want a sliding compact miter saw and I really want to know how to use it. I think it'll unlock the ability to tackle pretty much any home improvement project I can imagine.

A person I hope to be more like :: My mother in law. {She'd laugh if she read this.} I admire her deeply. She has experienced great tragedy in her life (and even chronic physical pain) but you would never know it with her spirit. She is relentlessly kind, generous with her time, patient with those that annoy her, cautious with her words, the ultimate DIYer (even at 70 years of age), a faithful friend and wonderful listener. She is probably the person I most look up to in this season of life.

A good deed I'm going to do :: Visit my sweet grandmother, who has breast cancer, on a regular basis. My kids have a special place in their hearts for their great-grandma, and I need to make sure we get a lot of quality face-time with her before she goes home to be with Jesus.

A place I'd like to visit :: The east coast. I've been far and wide, and now I want to explore my own country. The east coast is a part of the U.S. that I haven't explored much and the images of the fall days in Maine and Rhode Island have captured my heart.

A book I'd like to read :: Wonder is at the top of my list, especially as Hayden heads off to kindergarten in the fall. I so desire to instill in my kids compassion, empathy and kindness in a world where bullying and intolerance is paramount.

A letter I'm going to write :: An encouraging note to Kyle once a month. Dare I say it, encouragement is not my spiritual gift. I'm a glass half-empty gal typically, with my practical, realistic side dominating my decision making. But my husband needs to SEE my encouragement for him in writing. So this will be a focus for me.

A new food I'd like to try :: Bubble tea. Tapioca balls terrify me.

I'm going to do better at :: Opening my Bible, instead of my mouth, in the heat of the moment or in the crux of a critical decision. It takes courage to walk away from a situation, find your Bible, open it up and choose to allow the TRUTH to seep in and flood your heart and mind. It takes courage because we may not always like what we find in the present, but we will love His direction in the end and find peace in that path.

So, are you a resolution maker? Better yet, are you a resolution keeper? Or do you prefer the goals route like me? Have you made your list for 2014?

I'm welcoming in 2014, eager for what awaits, and always anticipating His goodness.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

DIY Advent Candles

The first week of Advent Sunday is ONE WEEK away! 

Celebrating Advent is near and dear to our little family. 
It is by far our favorite family tradition at Christmas. 

Because Advent traditionally occurs on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, it really is a great month-long way to prepare our hearts and minds for what Christmas really is about.

In case your new to celebrating Advent, or have no idea where to start on how to incorporate it into your family traditions, here is an entire plan for you. Our kids are still fairly young, so our Advent traditions are short and simple.  I've incorporated scripture, a Christmas song, short description to share, and a fun activity for each week.


We have used a traditional advent candle wreath the last several years, but this year I wanted to change things up and create my own. 

This is such a no-brainer tutorial, that it seems silly to post one, but here it is nonetheless.

I recently reupholstered a bunch of dining room chairs and in the process removed the old upholstery webbing (left above). I almost tossed it all, but then had a moment of inspiration and thought I could somehow incorporate it into our Christmas decor. 

I went to Ikea and picked up some red and white candle pillars and this candle tray. I wrapped the candle pillars in the webbing and pinned it in place (hot glue and super glue don't adhere to candle wax - take my word for it.)

I stenciled on the numbers to indicate the four weeks of Advent...and voila! 

Cute Advent candle tray. Done. 

Traditionally, advent candles are white, pink and purple, but I wanted something a little less traditional this year, so we opted for a color change! Do what works for you. 

Need some Advent candle ideas? Check out this Pinterest board for inspiration. 
The ideas are endless!

I look forward to the first week of Advent all year. We dim the lights, light our candle(s) and have a sweet time each week as a family. 

I'd encourage you to try it our with your own family!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Home Remodel :: Part 2 (All the details...)

I'm taking a break from the reno today, to actually talk about the reno progress.

Everything seems to be in a semi-unfinished state around here which makes it difficult to photograph and blog about. So I thought in the mean time I would share several of the design decisions we've made along the way, so you can at least see the direction we are headed.

If you follow @loveathomedesigns on Instagram, you've probably been seeing sneak peaks of our new home's vision and design. We are moving full steam ahead with a Farmhouse Modern look, a term coined affectionately by this new book out on the market. 

Think light and bright, tons of color, rustic and earthy, clean lines, unique eclectic pieces, and lots of old world charm with modern flair. 

You still with me? I promise it works.    

Let's get to a few details...

We scoured the internet, Pinterest and home design mags for cabinet ideas. We knew we wanted white shaker style cabinets, so we headed to Lowe's and had them mock up a design for us and give us a quote. The quote ended up being extremely high for what we wanted and the turn-a-round timeline for custom cabinets was much longer than we could work with. So we scrapped the big box store idea and went back to square one. I was flipping through a Better Homes and Garden magazine and came across an ad for Cabinets to Go, one of BHG's preferred vendors. They happened to have a location fairly close to us, so I sent the store manager our dimensions and within two hours he had our kitchen mocked up - and the bid came back at half the cost! 

We chose the Findley and Meyers Malibu White cabinet series. I showed you a couple sneak peaks of the cabinets a few weeks back.
My two cents on Cabinets to Go. They are great on the front end - and we really liked working with Ted (the store manager) from the Kent, WA location. BUT...and there is a big but...the back end service was not great. Kyle showed up the day our cabinets came in and it was a nightmare tracking down all of our cabinets from the massive delivery that arrived on the truck that day. Also, a few of our cabinet pieces were back ordered and they didn't give us any forewarning that we would be waiting several weeks for those. Overall, we probably got what we paid for. These are much better quality than any big home improvement store stock cabinets or IKEA cabinets. We just had to work a little harder for them in the end to make sure we got everything we ordered.

I wanted black or oil rubbed bronze rustic hardware to provide high contrast against the white cabinets. We ended up going with these and these from Ikea and couldn't be happier. They are not as glossy in real life, but much more rustic looking.

Farmhouse Sink
Well, we went for it! After tons of debate with our sink selection, we chose this double bowl farm sink. I initially wanted an under mount stainless steel or copper sink - but when I saw this one, reviewed all the ratings, and talked with our friends that own a plumbing business who said this was a screaming deal, we went with this one. And we LOVE IT! Who knew doing dishes could be so fun? Okay - maybe I won't go that far, but it really is an awesome sink. And apparently Shelley from House of Smiths fell in love with it too. Here it is recently installed in her new kitchen.

Sink Faucet
We chose this Moen sink faucet. Clean, simple, convenient. It gets the job done well.

Farmhouse Table
What's a farmhouse great room space without a REALLY rustic-looking table? I've had my eye on this one since the spring. We snatched it up during WM's dining event at the end of summer. It really is what spear-headed our whole vision. (Turns out, unbeknownst to us, my sister in law and brother in law bought the same table a week before us. It's a good one, people!)

We chose Revere Pewter (by Benjamin Moore) for the great room (kitchen, living and dining), upstairs hallway and lower level hallway and family room. It's dreeeeeeeeeamy! Here is a very true-to-color image of the color.


Ikea came through for us again via these Ritva curtains which we used throughout our whole space - bay windows, slider off the dining area and above the kitchen sink. The texture is warm and reminds me of a little of a painter's drop cloth - uh, that's probably why I chose them. They appear solid off-white at night, and then as the light pours in through the day, all this fun detail comes through.

Okay - I think I'll leave you there for now. Our granite in the kitchen gets installed tomorrow - then our butcher block on the island, back splash, and all our trim and moldings.

We are in the HOME STRETCH!

Blessed wife. Mommy to two. Crafter and DIYer. Furniture refinisher. Food enthusiast.

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