DIY Kitchen Reno PHASE 2: Countertops

Good news!  This one is bound to be short.  Or shortish.  Unlike my last post on painting my base cabinets, this one is not even a tutorial really, it’s just me rambling on about countertop choices.  But if you are in the market for a new countertop or like reading stuff, it may be worth your time.

So for years I have tried to find a suitable countertop that I could just make myself.  Why?  Because I’m incredibly cheap frugal, and because of the pride I get from doing something on my own.  But mainly, it’s the cheap thing, and the irresistible challenge of trying to make it look like it’s not.  And in my years of DIY I have learned that with certain projects, that goal is sometimes hard to achieve.

Here were my top DIY countertop choices:

Concrete:  I’m talking the whole shebang.  Custom molds, edging, bracing, mixing, polishing, acid staining and sealing.  We actually made concrete counters in our old house.  They were heavy, they were messy, and they didn’t turn out “exactly” as I had hoped.  Mainly, they were a lot of work, and required a decent amount of materials and tools to do a top notch job.  They also can be a bugger to seal.

Check out some beautiful examples and tutorials by Cheng Concrete Exchange.

Our DIY concrete countertops in our old house.
Our DIY concrete countertops in our old house.


Concrete overlay: Either over the existing counters, or more likely, over a new plywood base (because I didn’t like built in backsplashes in our existing countertops) This also seemed like a lot of work.  It would require a ton of sanding and polishing inside the house, and then there’s the whole sealing issue again.  Check out a favorite blogger of mine and her tutorial for a concrete overlay.

Wood:  Why not?  It’s beautiful and I could do it myself.  But my kitchen gets such heavy traffic… painting, and projects involving solvents, and even some cooking, so even with 20 coats of poly, or epoxy I could picture it getting scratched, yellowed, chewed through and yucky, or having water issues.  Also, Ryan said no.  Here’s a great example of a wood countertop.

Paint and epoxy: Again over our existing countertops.  I have actually done this as well on my old kitchen island, and honestly, for a cheap, plywood island top, it came out pretty close to looking like granite and it cleaned very well.  But man, getting that epoxy perfect is tough, and I was distraught over how many bubbles and imperfections were on the surface.  Also, if I wanted to go with a light color mix, it would be especially noticeable when the epoxy started to yellow over time. And again, I really wanted to get rid of the built in backsplash.   So I nixed that idea pretty quick.  Here’s a great tutorial on the process of painting and using epoxy on your existing counters.

So this whole, I gotta find a cheap countertop that I can do by myself no matter how much work and time it takes went on for several years.  Until fairly recently.  This last year it has become much clearer to me that my time is valuable and why not focus my attention on things that are important to me, and also things I am good at.  I thought, “Jessie, not EVERYTHING needs to be DIY, not everything girl.” And I starting considering that perhaps I could splurge on a real countertop if I could find an incredible deal.

I took my idea to Ryan.  I presented it as an “opportunity”.  My key points were as follows:

  1. It would increase the value of our house. People LOVE nice counters.  And we needed to replace ours sooner or later, why not upgrade?
  2. It would be a countertop that is low/no-maintenance, and stain resistant   Then I pointed to the coffee maker sized brown stain next to our sink.  I threw in a disgusted look for good measure.
  3. New sink! Which is a must.  (More on that below)
  4. I would do…. like….. ALL the work and it would be the beginning of the whole kitchen makeover! And I would blog about it, and you know, some bloggers make a ton of money and they retire from their day jobs and just blog about their pretty houses and their pretty projects and the crazy hijinks they get themselves into. (maybe I should have left out the hijinks part, boy does Ryan hate my hijinks)
  5. It would be GREAT to have an updated kitchen.  It “might” even bring the whole family together, you know… all four of us cooking and laughing and dusting flour on each other’s noses for giggles?!

So, after that stunning presentation and hearty bow,  Ryan must have needed some time to take my words and ponder them in his heart, because he went right back to watching TV.  But I wasn’t worried.  He does that.  A week later, when we were knee deep in a lively discussion involving finances, he brought up the countertop like it was something we were going to do.


In all the years I researched DIY counters, I also read dreamily about other countertop choices.  I fell in love with soapstone, marble, granite, and some beautiful composites, but my most practical yet still fabulous pick would be quartz.  Why?  Because it is practically zero maintenance, bacteria resistant, stain resistant, heat resistant and oh so pretty!  In fact its one drawback, is its price.

And that’s not good for this cheapskate.

But I thought I’d look into it.  After researching several manufacturers and installers in town as well as big box companies like Lowes, and Home Depot, I found that prices ranged from $60-$98 per square foot installed.  With approximately 42 square feet (which didn’t even include my island) and a undermount sink, we were looking at $3,100-4,700.

Or were we?

So I did what I always do, I took it to a DIY level.  In all of my research, there is one place in town, (that I know of), that will let you install the countertops yourself.  And of course I should have known it was Menards, my home away from home.  So I went to their website and printed off their countertop measuring guide, I measured, re-measured, and had Ryan measure the existing countertops, and noted where we would want a finished edge.

And then I waited.  I waited because I knew, in my heart of hearts, that these countertops were bound to go on sale.  And you know what, they did.  I can remember the exact moment.

I was enjoying a Moscow Mule at my in-laws house over the 4th of July weekend.  And, I’m not sure if it was the mule talking, but I swear I heard a faint but distinct whisper, “Hey you… looky there.” And there it was, just inches away from me, resting patiently on the coffee table, awaiting my wandering eye.  A Menards Ad.

On that ad was a picture.

That picture was of a countertop.

That countertop was my countertop.

That countertop was on SALE.

And I’m not even kidding, the moment my eyes met the word “sale”, fireworks went off… literally, outside!

Probably because it was the 4th of July.

But I took it as a sign.  I might actually pull this off.

So after the 4th of July festivities, Ryan and I took our sheet into Menards where they put all of our measurements into a program.  We discussed edge choices, and where to put the finished edges, sink options and cut-outs.   We decided to go with a under-mount sink for an additional cost and ogee edges.  And we put it on our Menards card.  The whole thing INCLUDING the 31 inch sink came to $2200.  (not counting the 11% off rebate which was ALSO going on, ka-ching!)

Now a moment about the sink.  This was, in many ways, an even bigger deal than the countertop.  At the time, we owned a 24 inch sink.  24 inches split in two. (that’s… 12 inches you know)  A pan doesn’t even fit in this sink.  We use pans often.  We eat meals.  A small sink, is not a good thing for a family that cooks and has a lot of messy hobbies.  And don’t get me started on the color.  Cream.  While initially very nice looking, it had become a bit ombre over the years, cream on top, brown at the base.  I paint, I tile, I’m messy!  (Ryan and the kids are gross too)  This sink was BADLY stained.  In fact, It was so bad, I actually got a can of comet, with a bow on top, for Christmas.  (I can take the hint)

So the 31 inch STAINLESS steel under-mount sink was kinda a big deal!


Remember when it was cool for people to say “I’m kinda a big deal” all the time?  HATED that.


Sorry, I digress.  Wow, and I thought this wasn’t going to be long…

So we put in the order for the countertop and sink, and I started searching and reading.  Ok, I had been searching and reading long before that, but I read with more intensity.  More gusto!  I wanted to find other people who have installed this countertop, how they installed it, and what they thought.  Unfortunately the internet was limited on this exact product.  But here and here are a couple.

With Menards, after you put in all your measurements, they send them off to a magic place somewhere, and in a week or so, you get a life-sized template that you lay over your existing counters.  This will have your finished edges marked and your exact dimensions.  Once you approve this template, the countertops will be made to these exact specifications.  This part scared me because Ryan had already opened the templates, checked them, and packed them up before I got home, and said they were good to go.  And of course, he is more qualified to say this than I, he’s a contractor for goodness sake. Seeing him work a tape measure with such precision can make this girl swoon.  I just wish I would have been there.  So after 4-5 calls and texts to “make sure” that he was comfortable with me approving the template.  I went online and said, “GO AHEAD, those templates are spot on!”  Or something less British sounding.

Fast forward another week and a half, and I get an email that said they were in.


So I’m like… we need men, a lot of men! And a trailer!  And should we turn up the heat?  Turn it down?  And while I was planning in a frenzy of how we could  possibly get these countertops home,  Ryan went and picked them up by himself.  They were packed upright on a large wood frame that Menards forklifted into the back of our truck.  Ryan cautiously drove them home, and then forced my 15 year old daughter and two of her friends to help us unload each countertop piece by piece into the house.  They were unbelievably heavy. We put cardboard down on the ground inside and leaned the countertop upright, on edge.  It is VERY important that when you are unpacking and carrying the countertops sections that they always remain on edge.  Too much pressure could make them snap.  It is also important that the countertop becomes acclimated to your house temperature. (This is especially important if the countertops were allowed to get cold) Letting them sit overnight should do the trick.

We installed the countertops in pieces, starting with my 9 foot long section.  We were able to use a cart to wheel it over to the general area.  And then somehow, by superhuman strength, my husband, daughter and I lifted it into place.  Seriously, it is SO heavy.  Over the course of the week, we installed the remaining three pieces and the undermount.    Everything went according to plan with no issues.

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This is the backside of the sink portion. The sink clips have been set in place with epoxy. (Everything is provided by Menards) Big Head and Celia make great project supervisors because they aren’t afraid to tell you they hate your work.  (this is done in facial expressions)  Also, they can’t resist a new place to lounge.

While I did read up online about tips for the install, we mostly just followed the instructions that were given to use from Menards.  Here’s some important tips.

  1. As I said, leave them on edge until you are putting them in place, never lay them down flat.
  2. Make sure your cabinets are ready for them. I mean level, strong enough to support the weight, and securely fastened to the wall.  Any unlevel spots in the cabinet could cause stress on a section of the counter, which could cause it to crack.
  3. Have adequate help. I would suggest less 15 year old girls and more burly men, but that’s just my opinion.  But for real, they crazy heavy foo.
  4. Research, research, research!  Read reviews, tutorials, ask the professionals!  Installing this type of countertop is totally doable, but make sure you know what you are doing.


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Without giving too much away, ahem… the backsplash.  Here’s an up close photo.  The color is called “Cotton” and it is pure white with little grey, taupe, and clear chunkers embedded into it.
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Here’s the long section.  So smooth, so shiny, SO easy to clean!
Here is a photo of the seam, not bad!

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Coming next: the backsplash, although, I don’t think you can call it a backsplash when it covers the whole FLIPPING wall!  Oh, I wear myself out…

Stay tuned.


Thanks for reading!


Summer and a BIG project announcement!!

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I blogged.  In fact, it’s been a while since I Facebooked, Instagrammed  and social mediaed all together. I wish I could tell you I burned all my paintbrushes in one sweet semi-toxic bonfire.  With s’mores.  Or used my computer to tackle the ever-expanding list of books I’d like to read on a beach somewhere. But honestly, this summer was just plain CRAZY busy.  Of course I found the time to de-ugly things, it’s my mission after all, but I didn’t take the time to document a lot of it, and for that I’m a little sorry/not too sorry.


But I have missed you.


And I did have some genuine FUN this summer, here are the highlights:


-My family spent the most GORGEOUS weather week ever in Park Rapids on Lake Belle Taine.  It is the only week of the year where I truly don’t allow myself to work (much), and it is divine.  I always end the trip with a mini breakdown where we all stare at the lake to say our goodbyes, and I tearily remind the family over and over that this was my “one break, …. my one break for the YEAR!”  And they usually pat me on the shoulder and nod in solemn agreement that I need to chill more.


-My 15-year-old daughter Emmalee and I road-tripped to Brandon, SD where we saw her favorite band, Panic at the Disco, and one of my favorite bands WAY back in high school, Weezer.  It is a strange and wonderful feeling sharing the music I enjoyed when I was 15, with my 15-year-old.  (And she liked it) It was 95 degrees, with 90% humidity, and we got as close as we could to the stage in a shoulder to shoulder, VERY sweaty crowd.  But it was a blast! (and my daughter insisted I mention how much I enjoyed Panic at the Disco, which I actually really did)


-I got my hair chopped off!  Over 10 inches.  I did that!  And yeah, I don’t have a before and after, I can’t do selfies.  But it’s cute and retains less heat.


-My beloved sister-in-law Jamie got married!  The bride was beautiful, the wedding was perfect, and so much fun.  And I finally got to wear matching dresses with my daughter and see my son and husband in matching tuxes, what more could a mom want?

emmom ryankadin


-I turned two years older than 35.


-My mom, sister and I went on our yearly Duluth trip.  My mom found and immediately bought a life-sized doll at a thrift store that we named Bethlehem (Beth for short), and she teamed up with us for much of the trip. (and she got a much-needed makeover)  We also got to see the Temptations and the Beach Boys, which was so much fun, my face hurt from smiling so much.  My sister won our annual rummy game this year, which is weird because she usually sucks.


Take that Shawna!

Here’s Beth watching us eat on the deck.


-AND we have walls up in our garage addition (we are making a much-needed work shop), and hopefully a lot more will be done in the next month or two.


All in all, I can’t complain, it was a really hectic summer, but a happy one.  Now on to school, football, Junk Market, um… snow, deep winter depression, cabin fever….. AND a new BIG project to blog about.


What’s that you say?  A project?


Yes, that’s right!  This project has been a small baby bloom, sprouting in my brain for over 5 years now.  Design aspects have changed of course, but the mission remained the same.

And it will be a huge.

It will be time-consuming.

And many aspects of it will require an unnecessary amount of work (but will be so worth it, I hope)


And here it is…

I am doing some major kitchen remodeling, DIY style, on a budget!  And I want you to journey along with me.   Here’s my plan!

  1. Sand down, prime, prime, paint, and seal the cabinets, change or paint knobs
  2. Buy new countertops and sink, install ourselves
  3. Build the cabinets up toward the ceiling, add crown moulding
  4. Build an appliance garage, move middle cabinet out few inches
  5. Rip out old backsplash, apply new, all the way to the ceiling and on walls
  6. Re-vamp kitchen island with paint and reclaimed wood
  7. New trim on windows and doors
  8. Prime and paint doors
  9. New paint on walls
  10. New light fixture over sink

Just 10 SUPER easy steps!  (that is how I presented it to my husband)  I know, actually, it’s a little overwhelming isn’t it?  Don’t worry, I’m going to break it down for you, and don’t be surprised if one step starts before the other is finished.  (I say this speaking from the future, as this has already happened quite a bit!)

Stay tuned for my next post which will cover my process of painting the base kitchen cabinets.  And of course, here are some before pictures. (sorry the quality is so poor!)


DSC03685 DSC03686 DSC03688DSC03687 (2)

As always, thanks for reading!



Can you turn a armoire into a desk? Yes, you can, cause I just did.

Often times, when I buy a new piece to makeover, I like to give myself time to daydream about it until “THE idea” comes to me.  This is usually about the time I am bundled up in my bed with my blankie wrapped around my head and saying my nightly prayers.  I can tell you, when you have a creative bug, there is nothing more distracting then when an idea pops into your head and I often find myself in the midst of talking to God about all the things that matter in my life, when…. “OH MY GOSH, I could totally turn that armoire into a desk!” comes barreling through.  And once the idea is implanted in my head, it is hard to remove and I often have to end my prayers with something like, “oh, and I’m sorry I keep thinking about that dresser.”  But I have to remind myself that God gave me the creative bug in the first place, so I hope he understands.

So that is how it was with this fairly dated, hotel style, oversized tv cabinet that I had yet to own.  It was at an upcoming auction and I already knew it would be mine.  Fast forward a week or so, and it was (for a reasonable price I might add), and it was even bigger and more hotel style then I ever imagined.  But I knew what was going down with this piece, and I was excited!

So here’s my plan.  I was going to cut off the top, I know, some of you are cringing, but this vision came to me, mid-prayer, so it must have been important. So just go with it.  Ok, so remove the top entirely, keeping the hardware of course, because it’s fabulous.  Paint the dresser using Amy Howard’s High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Belgium Blue. We are talking a high gloss, super strong , durable, gorgeous finish.  Then I’m going to add a long metal top, maybe an aged zinc finish, and some cute metal legs from the pile of legs I have in my basement.  It is going to be so cool.

So cool.

Armoire Before

So, of course, this was in the middle of winter, and painting with that lacquer was not something I can do indoors without killing my family’s brain cells fume-style, so I held my ideas close to my heart, and waited and waited, as a good Minnesota girl often has to do.

But then there was a break, March 12 was the day, and it was mid 60’s, so I got out my wood filler, and sandpaper and my paint, and I went to work on the first drawer.  Here’s what I did.

  1. Fill any major scratches, holes and dents. This is especially important for a high gloss paint because it is way less forgiving.
  2. Once dry, sand the spots you filled using whatever grit you are comfortable with. I used 220 to make it go faster.
  3. Sand the whole piece with 400 grit sandpaper.
  4. Clean thoroughly using a degreaser and a lint free rag.
  5. Remove any trace of the degreaser with a damp lint free rag.
  6. Tape off any areas you don’t want painted.
  7. Spray with Amy Howard Primer using a sweeping motion, just as if you were using a paint brush. (more on this later)
  8. Let primer dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Sand with 400 grit sandpaper and remove dust.

Note: the primer is meant to go with the lacquer, and is especially important for filling wood grain, if your piece has a heavy wood grain texture, you may want to do several coats of the primer to get a smooth, glass like finish.

Here’s the drawer after the filling, sanding and priming.


  1. Now the paint. With my drawer face facing the sky, I first painted all of the vertical edges of the piece, using a fairly quick, clean sweep.  Then (and this is the most important part for this paint) I started at the corners closest to myself and started to sweep, back and forth very intentionally and carefully going slightly past the piece on both sides.  (the reason you start closest to you is to avoid overspray, which will make your finish blotchy and less glossy in some areas.

drawer dressersketch


11. Once dry, sand lightly with 400 grit sandpaper, and do a second coat using the same method.

12. For extra protection, top painted finish with Amy Howard Bright Idea using the same technique.

Here’s the completed drawer. What a gorgeous finish!

So over that next week or two, I finished all of the drawers and the body of the dresser/desk.  The main thing you need to think about with this product is to avoid overspray.  Always keep that in mind.


Next comes the top.  I wanted to do something different then a plain wood top, so I thought it would be neat to try a metal top with an aged zinc finish. Finding the sheet metal was more of an undertaking than I had thought, but thankfully, my husband used his contractor wiles to get me a sheet of 4X10 foot sheet metal, 26 gauge.  The goal was to wrap a piece of 3/4 inch thick plywood that I had cut to size with the sheet metal.


Now, I am leaving out the metal bending part for a reason.  For those of you who want to duplicate this look, you either need to own a break, (and if you own a break, you already know how to bend metal) or you need to have a metal worker bend it for you.  From what I have read, this can cost around $100 or more.  Thankfully, my wonderful husband used breaks for many years, and also had access to one.  So he bent up the corners for me so I could wrap the plywood.


Now for the top.  The metal was very shiny, scratched and etched in areas, but that’s no problem, it just adds to the look I wanted.  I used a strong de-greaser, followed by a rinse of tap water and let dry.  Then I got out my oxidizing product.  I used Amy Howard Zinc Antiquing Solution.

This process was so easy!  Wearing gloves, I poured out the zinc solution in a glass bowl and started blotting it on, very liberally at first.  You will notice the oxidizing starts immediately.  Once it is covered completely, you’ll see that the metal will resist it in some areas.  What Amy Howard recommends is rubbing the product in, in a circular motion using mild pressure.  Do this for 15 minutes.  Then blot again, making sure to make your blots random so you don’t have a detectable pattern.  Let dry about 60 minutes or more. Dry time is important.

Here I am applying the Zinc Solution in a circular motion.
Here is the top after it is almost dry.

Once the top had dried for at least an hour, I used my wax brush and brushed on clear wax in a circular pattern, waited 10 minutes, and buffed it.  I used Amy Howard’s Clear Wax.  Note that most waxes are not food safe, so be smart.  Use a plate.


With any waxed surface you will want to periodically re-wax using the same method.  And please keep in mind that this metal will scratch.  I think this just adds to the look.  However, if you get so many scratches and want to re-age the piece.  Remove the wax with mineral spirits, and re-apply the Zinc solution as I did above.  Then re-wax.  No, it will not remove the scratches, but it will blend them into the patina, by making them dark.


Once the top was finished and waxed, we made a skirt for the desk part, to make it look more desky, and also to cover the hardware for the legs.  Then we attached our top to our dresser, added the legs, and Voila…. something totally unique and trendy!

DSC03637 DSC03638 DSC03640 DSC03642


I can’t say enough about how much I love this finish.  The photos just don’t do it justice.   Amy Howard products are available at Ace Hardware, and this lacquer is worth checking out.  The end product is so smooth I have a strange desire to lick it.  (But don’t worry, I haven’t…. yet.)  This awesome desk will be at Eco Chic’s Design Conference on April 23rd at the Scheel’s Arena.  (yep, that’s this weekend) There are still tickets available and it is going to be a super fun show.  I hope to see you all there!


ps.  that extremely cool glo-dial advertising neon clock is available as well, that is, if you can pry it from my husband’s cold dead hands.


Thanks for reading!





Mercury Glass Finish

When I started this project, I had not meant it to be a tutorial or a review, so I apologize ahead of time for the lack of photos.  I just loved how it turned out and I was impressed with the products I used, and I thought I’d share a bit about both.

First, the piece.  I bought this cute little cabinet at an auction recently.  I knew instantly that I wanted to paint it black.  It was originally a record cabinet that had been gutted, there’s even a hole, which I opted not to fill, where the old Victrola handle used to be.  (I wish it still was)

So after a very thorough cleaning, very light sanding, and a major fix and filling of the veneer on the top, I painted it using Americana Decor Chalky finish in carbon.  I have used this paint many times, and have never been disappointed, and the nice thing, for a small project like this, the little sizes they come in are perfect!

So I got out my black, gave it two coats (lightly sanding in between coats) and a wet sanding.  For those of you who don’t know, this paint is great for wet sanding.  After it dries to the touch, about 30 minutes or so, take a damp sponge, and a clean bucket of water, and just start rubbing over the parts you’d like to sand.  No dust, which means if you are careful, you can easily do this inside.  You do have to clean off your sponge often to avoid mess and black fingertips.

The next day after another light sanding, I waxed and buffed my piece.

Now for the fun part!  The glass.  When I bought this cabinet, the glass was clear, and you could see the contents of the cabinet.  However, the shelves are narrow, and I didn’t see it as the best piece to put things on display, so I decided to try doing a mercury glass finish to the glass.

After reading several tutorials on this, all of them different, but similar, I came to the conclusion that you can’t really screw this up.  So this is exactly what I did.

  1. Remove the cabinet door and tape off the frame surrounding the glass. I also cleaned the glass. Important: You do this to the back side of your cabinet door, not the front.
  2. You take a spray bottle and spritz the glass (still on the back side) with straight vinegar.
  3. You shake up a can of Krylon Looking Glass spray for at least a minute. Then give the cabinet door a light spray in a sweeping motion over top of your vinegar droplets.  I did two light coats, one about 30 seconds after the other.
  4. Then I did another very light spritz of vinegar and another two light coats.
  5. After about 2 minutes I took a paper towel, balled it up and VERY lightly blotted the surface.
  6. I repeated this process until I got the look and opacity that I desired.

Speaking of opacity, this stuff is so cool.  When you looked at it from a distance, it looked like an old mirror, but when you looked at it close up, you could see right through it.  I LOVED how it turned out, and like I said, I don’t think you can screw this up.


As usual with my photography, it looks much better in person, I had a terrible time trying to get an accurate photo of the glass finish.

And there you have it, a super simple, SUPER neat finish. Try it on a project of your own and send me a pic, I’d love to see your own creations!


As always, thanks for reading.




Ho Ho Holiday lights display!!

As I was filling out the registration forms for my son and daughter for school this last year, there was a little blurb  you were supposed to fill in about special ways your family may be able to contribute “volunteer-wise” to the school.  (my words)  Now, we LOVE our kids’ school, but I wouldn’t say either my husband or I are terribly good at volunteering, mainly because volunteering often involves being with people, and any time I am with people, I am internally reminded of the fact that I am a strange introvert that doesn’t know or understand how to make small talk.  This grosses me out about myself, and you know… Ryan also kinda sucks in this way too.   So I tried to think of a way we could be helpful, but, ahem… not on a regular basis.  I wrote in something about having a little woodworking skills, and didn’t expect to get called in very often to prove it.    But then in September of this year we received… an email.

dum dum dum.

The school was wondering if my husband and I would like to help with a little project.  The project being new holiday lights display piece at Lindenwood Park.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a fundraiser for the FM Sertoma club.  For a small fee, local businesses get a chance to set up a display.  It’s always fun to grab a hot chocolate, and put on some Christmas music, and drive through the park at night and see all the pretty twinkly things.  And proceeds go to a great cause.

This email was received about 2-3 weeks before the Junk Market, and for those of you who have the unfortunate “treat” of being around me during that time, you know that I am in no position to take on new projects.  But the my creative wheels started speeding away from the logical part of my mind, and I sent a quick email asking if any ideas had been submitted.

Because I had some.

Next thing I know, I am volunteering myself and my husband to do the whole thing ourselves.  No, I don’t do this to be gracious.  Again.. I do this because I do not work well with other people.  Now besides being an awkward introvert, I suffer from a strange and conflicting combination of extreme humility, and extreme arrogance.  (I get this from my Dad)  In creative projects, my arrogance tells me that my idea is the best of the best, and that I know precisely how I want to go about doing it.  My humility tells me that I have no right to impose my idea on others because it is disgustingly terrible, even though it is so great…. it might not be….. but it is….. you get the idea.  So if I have a plan that I think will be cool, I just volunteer to do the whole thing, and force Ryan to help.

Here’s my main caveat, this kind of work is not in my area of expertise.   Yes, I had an idea I thought would be really neat, but I, in fact, I had very little clue how I was going to execute it.

So here’s the inspiration for my idea.  And I think it’s beautiful.  lightFor those of you who are not familiar with the verse from the Bible, it is from the book of John, chapter 8 verse 12.  The full verse says “When Jesus spoke again to the people he said “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Oh how I love that message.  And it’s not too “Christmas cliché” (I hate clichés!)    I knew that whatever I came up with would not look exactly like it, but I was confident it would be cool.  I knew I wanted to cut out the letters and maybe some of the light “holes” and somehow shine light through.

That is all I knew.

First things first, talking size.  Our space is 20 feet, and I wanted a reasonable amount of darkness surrounding both sides of our display, so we bought six 4×8 pieces of plywood,(three for the front, three for the back) making our display 12 feet long, by 8 feet high.

Next was transferring the image onto the plywood.  After a little photo editing and scaling, I was able to make the image more visible and compatible with the 8×12 size we were using. I ordered a transparency that works with laser printers off of Amazon.   This process required an old timey overhead projector which we were fortunate enough to borrow from our church.  The unfortunate part was, due to the size of the plywood, we had to do this outside, and we needed to do it in the dark to get a good clear image, and because we only had a couple nights before the projector needed to be back, we ended up having to do it in the rain.  I traced, while Ryan graciously held an umbrella over the projector.  But the process was much more rushed and unsteady then I would have liked.  But the good news, neither one of us got electrocuted.

Here’s the image projected onto the plywood in my driveway.

Next came cutting out the letters.  This was a bit challenging.  I brought my kitchen bar stools outside, and laid a 4×8 section flat on top of them.  I drilled a couple larger holes into each letter, (large enough to get my jig saw blade into) and then I began cutting.  This took me a few days because unfortunately, I lost daylight before I could get too much done, but eventually, I got all of the letters cut out.  Then I sanded lightly to get rid of any majorly frayed edges.

Next came the painting.  Now, I have very strong opinions about interior paints, but I’m completely clueless when it comes to exterior so after consulting with the good people at Home Depot, I went with Behr Ultra paint and primer in one.  Flat black.  I painted the front and sides of each panel with two coats of paint, and the back side with one.  It took two whole gallons to cover all six.  And yes… because of the cooler weather, I did the painting in my kitchen.  (if you think too many hutches look dumb in my kitchen, you should see how dumb 6 pieces of 4×8 plywood look)

All painted! It barely fits in my garage.
All painted! It barely fits in my garage.

About this time, I am both giddy, and anxious about how this is going to turn out.  Since I have no idea what I am doing, the lighting is key to making this project a win.  And, to make matters worse, I found out midway through the project that there is a strict limit on the amount of lighting we can use, so we are going to have to be strategic about it and perhaps let my dream of major dazzle fly away.

We decided it would be best to line the entire inside with some sort of reflective material.  We first checked at Menards, in the gardening area, hoping to find some rolls of Mylar, but we were out of luck.  Then we thought we could use tinfoil, but we were hoping to find an alternative.  Then it occurred to me that we could use those emergency Mylar blankets you keep in your car.  So I ordered a pack of 12 on Amazon.  Prime Baby!!

Two days later, we were ready to add the Mylar.  This is where the biggest expense came into play.  The spray adhesive, 4 cans at $12 something a pop.  This is also where I accidentally got high (in a completely non-fun way) and had to go lay down for a good 45 minutes.   Following the manufacturer’s instructions, we managed to line all the plywood backs with the Mylar.



Next came setting up the structure.  Using our backyard patio space, Ryan braced all the pieces that had the word cutouts, to give them a little more strength, then he made some simple braces, attached the back, and for the first time… we got to see what it would look like with some flood lights shining against the back.


And I was really disappointed.  Cause it was so… anti-climactic.  And boring.

So we started drilling holes.   Hundreds of holes.  Then we got tired, and went to bed.  But the night day… more holes. All sizes.  We went through one lithium battery after another. “HOLES!” I said, “We need more holes!” like a crazy tyrant.  I’m still not certain we did enough, but we had to stop….

We HAD to stop.

I also noticed that the words and even the big holes, needed a filter.  I used a florescent light cover to filter the word “LIGHT” and some white plastic Menards bags that I stapled on to filter the words “I am the” and “of the world”.

This, and the magic little holes of course, made all the difference.

Next we bought more plywood and cut out triangles to completely enclose the sides.  These I also painted and added Mylar to the inside, in my kitchen of course.

Arranging set up was tricky, but in good old Schultz fashion, we ended up setting it up the morning of the day it was supposed to debut.  In the light, so I had to guess how to situate the lights before we closed it up.  And even now, having never seen the complete project at night…


Here it is, right before we closed it up for display.
Here it is, right before we closed it up for display.



I have to hope that it turned out ok.

The end.







Haha… what I wrote was true, 12 days after they opened the display for public viewing, I had not seen it and it was tearing me up inside.  But finally, I did see it, and you know, it’s not half bad.

Pretty neat!  And much  better in person.

All in all, I like the finished project.  No, it is not as flashy as the graphic image, but, with light restriction, and the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, I’m kinda pleased.  Actually, I am drawn to all of the things that are terrible about it, but I’m choosing to be proud of it instead.  And I promised my husband I would never bring up (aloud) how much I hate the wonky “G”.

Overall the cost was around $300.  Approximately $10 for the transparencies, $75 for the plywood, $65 for the paint, $50 for the spray adhesive, $10 for the Mylar, $30 for the 2×4’s,  and $60 for the lights.

And you know, a much smaller version of something like this would be fantastic for your own personal outdoor display.  You should give it a try and send me your photos!

Hope this was helpful, and thanks for reading!


Cool new products, and beard scares.

Sanding in a state of trepidation is a good way to sand.  While a certain amount of unease is, uncomfortable, you tend to get a lot done when your mind is elsewhere.  So it all works out.

Recently, this is how I felt when I sanded a little cabinet, and the reason I sanded like this is because my husband Ryan was beginning the slow and terrifying process of trimming his beard.

While it varies, the routine goes something like this.  He grows his beard out for a few months, he doesn’t exactly grow it long, but just puffy, thick, copper colored.  You know, long enough to lose track of his chin.  Sort of, Leprechauny.  (we tend to live more like brother and sister when he does this).  Then one day, when he’s tired of his mustache getting in the way of his food, he starts to trim.  And it is a process that makes the whole family uneasy.

I will explain with this handy graph.

My nightmare
My nightmare

He starts with step 1, the bushy beard.  This in itself is not good, but we all know that it can get so much worse.  You see, what he enjoys doing is just trimming off a bit at a time, sometimes letting hours or EVEN days pass before moving on to the next beard monstrosity.  I am amazed at what the style of a beard can do transform a person’s looks.  He can go from a hillbilly to a redneck to some sort of pervert in a couple of hours.  (number 3 or 4 is exactly the kind of person you could imagine lurking around your property and raping your goats) And the more we protest, the more strength he gains to carry on. Ultimately, he gets to step 6, and becomes my handsome man again.  But the images in my head….

They remain.

What’s that got to do with sanding?  Well, nothing. But now you know my state of mind while performing my least favorite task. I had a fervor that one only feels when their husband is trimming his beard and showing off the midway results.  The good news, the sanding went fast.

So here’s the fun news, I actually got the products I’m about to review for freeeeeeeeeeeeeee and it was like Christmas in August  for me when I received them. (yeah, I started this post a long time ago… so what?) I decided to try these products on a little cabinet Ryan brought home the other day.  It had good bones, but was missing some larger pieces of veneer from the door front.

If a little veneer is missing, I’ll go for a simple, sandable/paintable wood filler.  If a lot is missing, I break out the big guns, BONDO, which is so stinkin’ stinky but so effective, it dries rock hard and sands like butta.  (I mean butter people, although, butter would be disgusting to sand, so let’s move on)

But today I’m trying a new product and I’m excited.  It is called SculpWood, by SYSTEM THREE products.  It’s a spreadable epoxy paste.  It is easy to sand and machines just like wood.  Following the manufacturers instructions, I added a dollop of part A, and an equal sized dollop of part B on a disposable plate.  Using a little putty knife, (which, in my case, was a piece of cardboard) I mixed part A and part B together and spread it on my missing veneer, making sure to slightly overfill.  It had a similar consistency to the BONDO I use but I thought it smelled quite a bit better, but still strong.  Now I just had to wait for it to dry.  Because of the ridiculous humidity, I knew it would take a while for it to cure, so I let it be.


DSC03336 (1)
Ew, just ew.
DSC03338 (1)

Now for the cabinet.

I removed the hardware and sanded down the entire thing lightly, both to even out any issues with the former finish and also to rough it up a bit.  Next I cleaned the entire thing to remove oils and excess dust.  The product I’m using says that no prep is needed, but since this is a piece I will hopefully sell someday, I prefer to prep, if only just to give it a nicer surface to apply the paint.  If you were to follow the “no prep” suggestion, make sure to thoroughly clean the piece beforehand, even if it doesn’t look dirty.  I also gave it a quick spray of primer, because I had it and it certainly can’t hurt.


After the primer dried, I gave it another quick sanding and cleaning and it was finally time to whip out my product, Krylon Chalky Finish in “Waterfall” They were kind enough to send me two cans, and a few more goodies.  I sprayed it in a sweeping motion and it went on very nicely and dried to a smooth even finish.  I went through the first can quickly, having left one moderately patchy coat, but covering the whole thing.  I left it to dry, and went in for a second coat with the new can.  Again, it went on very well, I was impressed.  Unfortunately, even with two cans, I ran out of product and didn’t have enough for the final few touch-ups, or the door I had patched.  So I went on a mad hunt to purchase a third can.  According to the website, it is sold at Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, and Walmart.  (to mention a few local stores)  However, over the course of the next couple weeks, I visited all of those stores and not one of them (at the time I am writing this post) stocked this product.  So I had to turn to another way of purchasing things.  It is called the internet.

My first stop was Amazon, as a Prime Member, I always look here first because you can’t beat free, two-day shipping.  Unfortunately, the color I needed was out of stock.  I then went to several different sites and searched for corresponding coupon codes.  But, ultimately, I ended up ordering through for a whopping $17 a can, (including shipping)  Yep.

So while I was waiting to receive my shipment, I went back to my door.  The filler worked like magic, it dried nicely, sanded smoothly, and had a hard, wood-like finish.  It was every bit as good as the BONDO, but less stinky.  A win.

So once I sanded down the door a bit, I put a quick coat of primer on both sides, and eventually, when I got my Krylon Chalky Finish in the mail, I went right to work.  Thankfully, I had enough to finish with touch-ups and the door.  I also took off the back of the cabinet, and added some fabric for fun.  This piece is bright and happy so I went with it with all of my heart.

Ain’t she happy!


Just like with any chalk paint, you’re going to want to lightly sand it to give it a smooth, even finish.  And then you’ll want to seal it.  Since I was trying new products, I decided to try one more.  This one is from a company called Goddards.  The product I used is called Cabinet Maker’s Wax Spray.  This is the lazy man’s chalk paint waxing dream, and I am that lazy man.  It is a lemon and beeswax wood cleaner, sealer and protector.  It is divine.  After I sanded and removed the dust from my piece, I gave it a quick spray, buffed in the wax, let it dry, and gave it another coat. It ended up leaving a nice even sheen.  I am in Heaven, seriously, this product may change my life.  Now, for heavier use, I would go with a traditional wood wax, or for really heavy use, I’d go with a polyurethane, lacquer, or water based polyurethane, but for something like this, this spray worked perfectly.  And it is only $5.99 per bottle!  (not including shipping)

So, for the review.  I absolutely loved the ease and finish of the Krylon Chalky Finish spray paint.  Great product!  The cons really have to do with availability and price. If I had bought three cans online, at $17 each, along with paying $15 for the piece itself, and the several hours of time put into it, let’s just say, there’s no profit in it for the person who de-uglied it.  (boo hoo, that be me) If you can find this product at a store it retails for $10.  That price is still a little high for me, considering I ended up using three cans, but many places, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby for example, have a 40-50% coupon and I would say, if they end up stocking this paint, go get yourself some.  I sure hope to eventually find this paint locally, because I really did like it.

I loved the Goddards products, I have tried several now for my wood AND painted pieces and the quality is fantastic.  I have never used a nicer furniture polish, and that wax spray will be my go-to for my jewelry boxes especially.

I also really liked the Sculpwood, and will definitely be purchasing this in the future, they even have a product that you can mold like clay, and then when it cures, you can sand and shape it.  There are so many times I could have used something like that.  Now to find the piece…..

All in all, with the exception of the availability issues with the Krylon paint, I’d have to say all of these products are a win, go give them a try for yourself.





And now, a warning. If you see a man in the FM area running around with a number 3 mustache/beard combo… just to be safe, you better keep your goats in the house.




Just a personal note, I know I haven’t been very active on any of my social media sites or blog lately.  If I can be honest, I’m experiencing a little amount of work/business/home burnout, and haven’t fully recovered.    I just want you all to know that I haven’t disappeared, and I am still very proud of my little side business.  Thanks for your support, patience and for accepting me and my business as I am.


Thanks for reading!



Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, mishaps and triumphs

A couple weeks ago after arriving home from a long day at work, I was greeted at the door by my smiling daughter who announced she had a surprise for me.  She had arranged a cardboard box upside down in the center of my kitchen island, and she told me to get ready for something BIG.  You see, a while back, my sweet Emmi had told me that she was going to email a couple of companies I liked and request a sample on my behalf, in exchange for an honest review.  I told her to go ahead, that it sounded like a great idea, but hadn’t expected much in return.  So when she lifted off the box I found myself in the midst of having a small, but positive heart attack.  Oh…my…gosh… is this really happening? Yes it is.  It really is.  I had received a very generous gift from Miss Mustard Seed that included three bags of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint, a mechanical stirrer, some help oil, a paint brush, and a look book.  Is it my birthday, anniversary, mother’s day all rolled into one?  Well, no, but if felt like it.  Needless to say, I told Emmi with a great deal of urgency, “We need to get something to paint… NOW!”  We both stormed the basement, taking stairs two at a time, snagged a couple of smallish wall hanging type of décor pieces, and started prepping.  (which included a light sanding and cleaning)

My bounty, I’m not even the slightest bit joking when I say it is probably going to be the highlight of 2015. So grateful!

Now, I have used milk paint in the past, but it was long ago and it was not Miss Mustard Seed’s brand, so I was anxious to give this a try, I have heard it is quite amazing, but can have quite a learning curve.  And oh boy, did it ever.  First off, our first mix was way too thin, but because we didn’t want to waste any more of our precious paint, we decided to just apply 400 layers of ultra-thin paint to our pieces (at least the dry time was quick).  In the end, after hours of painting at my dining room table and watching two or more episodes of “LOST”, (we’re a little behind the times people) we had two cute pieces of home décor with a nice, smooth matte finish.  Not bad.

While the mix was a little thin, they still have a very nice finish. We just had to do a lot more coats to achieve the look.

But for this generous bounty, I knew I needed to give it “real” try, on an actual piece of furniture.  And I knew just the one.

A few months back, a friend of mine had kindly given me a fabulous dresser.  It had great bones, minus the fact that it was missing a leg and had several unfortunate coats of paint that had seen better days. Often, this dresser would sneer at me from across my garage, and I would wave my angry fist back at it in response.  Not because it was a bad dresser, it was LOADED with potential, but because it was a dresser I was in no hurry to makeover. I knew it would require a complete and very time-consuming amount of stripping and sanding.  Then there was the matter of the leg.  The stinkin’ missing leg.

Original piece, notice the left front leg is missing so I propped it up with piles of wood.

It was, however a dresser that would be a perfect candidate for milk paint.  Classic lines and solid bones. A time-worn beauty she was indeed.  Ug.

So Friday, when I got home from work, I went straight to my garage, and started stripping. (the paint that is…) The layers of paint were cooperative, not super cooperative mind you, I’d give them about a 6 out of 10.  The rest of the job had to be done with my “favorite” technique.  The devil sanding.  So I masked up, and started out with a few drawers, stripping, scraping, and sanding.  Did I mention it was 95 degrees out?  Gross.

And on a side note, for some reason, instead of having a designated pair of painting shorts, I just roll my pink painting sweat pants up about 30 times, so it looks like I’m wearing one large donut around each thigh.  And I tend to wear nurse clogs without socks while I work.  And I was sweating, a lot.

I write this to give you a mental picture of how cool I looked in my driveway that day.

So I loved the old lines on this dresser, and since I was embracing milk paint, and hopefully a few of its quirks, I decided to NOT fill chips and other things I would normally fill in, and leave it looking a little worn.  This was a hard decision and left me quite shaken.  In general, I like to make things look new again, as in, completely smooth and pristine. But the dresser told me that I should be a little open-minded, and just “let it go”.  (like the song)

These are the drawers after the stripping, before the sanding. Notice the wood on the top drawer is completely different from the wood on the bottom drawers.  What up with dat?

So after all the stripping, scraping, sanding, and cleaning I had done.  I mixed the milk paint.  This time, I added the perfect amount of milk paint (it’s a powder) to water, and I mixed and mixed and mixed, and let it sit for 15 minutes, then mixed again.  And then I painted my freshly sanded and cleaned drawers.  Three of them, the last drawer was currently blocked so I just did the three, figuring I’d do the fourth later.

This would be my first mistake.

The color I used was a very subtle green called “Layla’s Mint”.   Now, I was open to the idea of chipping, in fact, I had hoped for a little, and thought that painting in the super heat (a no-no) would possibly aid in the chipping.  But it was not to be, most likely because I sanded too well. The piece was practically bare wood again, so the milk paint sunk right in. But that’s ok, the finish was really pretty, similar to chalk paint, but with some subtle color variation, which I was loving.

After some light sanding, I painted a second coat, let it dry, sanded again, and decided to glaze the drawers using General Finishes Glaze Effects in Van Dyke brown.

Second mistake.  For those of you who have glazed, you will know that glazing in almost 100 degree heat is… impossible frustrating.  Yes, I knew it would be problematic, I ain’t stupid.  (just impatient) Let’s just say my shoulders got a really good workout trying to rub out all that excess glaze.  But, the end results looked terrific. It was just the look I was going for.  Now for the rest of the dresser.


Let me digress for a moment to give a shout out to the Milk Paint.  I had literally painted the drawers only about an hour before applying the glaze.  And as I said, it was so hot, the glaze just cemented itself to the drawer.  I used all my strength to rub that glaze out, and the paint didn’t budge.  That stuff is tough!!


Instead of stressing over exactly how I was going to fix the leg of the dresser, I made an executive decision and cut them all off.  I know.  It was hard, but once I started, it was quite liberating and I may have laughed maniacally during the whole process, which I barely ever get to do these days.  And I actually like the results, a lot!   Next was more of the same, stripping, scraping and sanding.  I had been working on the dresser for about 7 hours now, and it was starting to get dark.  BUT, I still had some paint mixed up from those three drawers, so I thought I better paint that last drawer.  The paint had gotten fairly chunky (probably from the heat) so I added a little more water, and started mixing.  It didn’t go very well, so I mixed a new amount, just to do that last drawer.  Problem solved.

Or so I thought.  Now, like I said, it was getting dark.  So I painted the first and second coat and glazed the drawer like I had the others.  It looked great, just like the first three.  Until I brought it over to the other three and it was a completely different color.  The other three, were definitely a muted green.  The fourth.  A toupey-grey.

What the?

But I was glad.  I had met my first quirk.  I had read in Marian’s look book just the night before about color variations, and the importance of mixing up enough milk paint to do the first coat on the entire piece to avoid such variations.  She was right.  Girl knows her paint.

And I should have known better.

I decided to sleep on it.  (literally, I crawled into one of the drawers) Honestly, if it had been more than one drawer, I maybe would have kept it that way, because it was cool.  But just having the bottom drawer gray was odd, so the next day, I mixed up the rest of the mix all at once, and I painted the entire piece including all four drawers again.  This fixed the issue.  After sanding, there was a delightful color variation in the dresser, and it had such a pretty authentic finish to it, like it had been around for ages.

And it sort of felt like it had to me too.

Next, I glazed the entire thing, again, in the heat and refinished the top using General Finishes Java gel stain.  I decided I wanted to leave some of the old chippy finish to the lip around the top, and I also lightly sanded down the Java stained top to give it a worn look.  When dry, I sealed it with the hemp oil, applying three coats with several days of cure time in between.  I brought it inside for this process.

Next, I added the hardware, and drilled some new holes for the original castors, which is nice because this thing is HEAVY!

And here’s the finished look, it is exactly how I envisioned it, and I’m pleased as pie!  (French Silk)  The parts I didn’t fill, they just add to the look I was going for.  While I’ll admit, it’s a lot more shabby chic than what I usually go for, I have fallen in love with this dresser, and all of its sweet, timeless character.  I loved Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint, I loved that it gives a true authentic finish, that it is all natural, and mostly that is has a mind of its own.

Here she is!


I’d like to add a few notes on Miss Mustard Seed Milk paint.  First, there are several ways to mix it, check out Marian’s website for tips and tricks.  Also, you can mix colors to create your own unique look.  (and OMG… the colors are amazing)  For a chippier appearance, apply over an existing finish (but make sure to at least sand down the sheen for a more authentic look)  And something to keep in mind, a lot of people think “farmhouse chippy” when they think of milk paint, and while you can especially master that look using these products, with the addition of a bonding agent, you can make your finish more predictable, and your piece perfectly pristine, leaving out all of the shabby, but none of the chic.  (I bet you knew I was going to write that)  I would highly recommend this paint and can’t thank Marian of Miss Mustard Seed enough for the fantastic gift.  Stay tuned for a few more pieces I had the privilege of using this paint on.  And just an FYI, Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint is available locally at Eco Chic in Fargo.  Go get some, I most definitely will.


This little cutie pie will be available at the Junk Market, October 2-3 at the West Fargo Fairgrounds.  I am, ahem… scrambling to get my booth ready and as always, guarantee a fantastic show.  For reals.


Thank you so much for reading!


DIY Banquette seating, and a fun announcement!

I am not even the slightest bit exaggerating when I say that this post took over a year to complete.  Let me explain.  It all started several years ago with a couple of crazy kids (myself and my husband) who had just moved into a new house.  In our former house, we had no space for a dining room table, but now, with this new house, it was time to go shopping.  The person that I am now would have looked for something used that I could fix up, but the person I was then wanted a bar height table with 6 chairs within the hour, and pre-owned bar height dining sets were harder to come by several years ago,  so we went to a local furniture store, and purchased a floor model at a discount, because… it was literally on the showroom floor.  It came with four chairs, and we ordered and PAID for two more to be picked up at a later date.  Fast forward almost two years, and we still hadn’t picked up those two chairs and the more time that passed, the more concerned I became that even though we had paid for them, the chairs would no longer be waiting for us.  Because…you know, two years.  And I was correct.  When we finally went in to pick up the chairs,  the local furniture store (let’s just say it has the appropriate word “Con” in it’s name) strangely had no record of our purchase of not only the chairs, but the table as well.  They did however, have records of all of the other items we had purchased from the store including two couches several there years prior to buying the dining set.

While I do think the whole thing was incredibly shady, and was disappointed we were out $240. I had to accept part of the blame.  I no longer had the receipt and let’s face it, I had waited almost two years to pick up the chairs.   My procrastination and lack of proper documentation has bitten me in the butt.  And it left a scar, a big en.


Fast forward another year or so to the fall of 2013.  I had been cleaning up after a dinner we hosted in which I crammed 9 people into the corner of my dining/living room. We used four regular and five makeshift chairs and while everything went okay, it occurred to me that this area of my home needed an improvement.  Space was an issue, I couldn’t allot for more, but why not build a banquette seat here?  We wouldn’t have to buy more chairs (which I refuse to do anyway), and it wouldn’t take up any more space.  AND… AND…we could put crap underneath.  Genius.  Seriously Genius.  So I thought, meticulously about this, day and night for about 5 months.  That is when I decided to present the idea to my wonderfully talented husband Ryan as something he could build as a birthday gift for ME!

He actually seemed quite open to the idea which is so unlike him and my ideas.


living room 1
Here is my living room before the banquette. We used to have wallpaper there, but removed it when I added the herringbone wood wall.
living room 2
Here’s the area where we will be adding the banquette seating.


Shortly after I presented this genius idea to my husband, things got busy and my July birthday came and went.  Then, there was beginning of school for the kids, and the 2014 Junk Market to keep us occupied.  But once those things passed, Ryan got started on the banquette with almost no urgent prodding from me at all.

Here's the start, as you can see, it is easy construction, just start out with 2x4 rectangular boxes.
Here’s the start, as you can see, it is easy construction, using 2×4’s, frame out the skeleton of your desired seating area.


Because we had a cold air return, we chose to add extra ventilation to both ends by adding this metal grate.
Because we had a cold air return, we chose to add extra ventilation to both ends by adding this metal grate.


Next we added a top, (later we chose to go with a solid piece of wood instead of 1x4's)
Next we added a top, (later we chose to go with a solid piece of wood instead of 1×4’s)
And now the plywood sides.  Progress!
And now the plywood sides. Progress!

So we had a seat we could sit on, but unfortunately, that is where the progress stalled.  For a year.  I’m not sure why, seriously, we get really busy, and we try to pay attention to our lovely children so, yeah, it stayed as a plywood, ripped up wallpaper mess for over a year.


A year…year….year…. (this is an echo)


But I had a plan.  Late June of this year, I noticed the telltale signs around my forehead that I was once again, going to age soon, so I decided to go for a twofer. I asked for the banquette seating to be finished as a gift to me.  Again.  I really wanted it done.  So a few weeks ago when I was celebrating my 36th birthday at the lake with my beloved family, I received a nice little card with a sum of $$ for spending on whatever I wanted, AND… dum dum dum… the promise that while I was in Duluth for an upcoming annual trip with my mom and sis, that Ryan would finish the building of the banquette.  Yes!!! There was a time limit!  Why hadn’t I thought of that?

And so, I spent the next week, pre-thanking my husband for the banquette (which also served as a friendly reminder) and set off for Duluth.  I spent the weekend with two of my most favorite people in the world, and came back to a fully built banquette.  What a homecoming. Hooray!!!

living room 7
Here’s the photo he sent me while I was in Duluth. Loving it!

But now my work began.  Not only did I want the banquette built, but I also wanted to paint it, upholster the seats (which open up), add a painted plank wall to the back, trim it all out, remove the wallpaper fuzz and repaint the remaining wall, add an adorable shelf, some clever art work, you get the idea.  So right after work all week, I worked on the banquette.

Monday’s task:  fill nail holes and gaps.

Tuesday’s task:  sanding and painting the bench seat.

Wednesday’s task: installing the plank wall and filling holes. (I also did a great deal of staring that day)



This was Wednesday night, before the plank wall got  sanded and painted.
This was Wednesday night, before the plank wall got sanded and painted.  If you look closely you can see Ryan in the background.  He is drinking water, that crazy thirsty guy!

Thursday’s task: sanding and painting the plank wall.

Friday was the biggest day of all.  I got off work early, bought the cushioning and fabric, button kit and all the trim pieces I needed.  Then, for the next two days, I finished the seats, and installed, filled and painted all the trim.  I asked Ryan to dig through his “pick-ins” for a cool sign to hang over my shelf, and he nailed it.  (I mean literally, because he had to build a frame for this cool cardboard trolley sign he managed to find) But it does add a much needed pop of color.  Nice job Ry.


Saturday night, we had a gorgeous banquette.  Yes, the new, clean finished look of the banquette seat certainly brings out the fact that I already need to refinish my table top, but that’s for a later day.  A much later day.  Like never.



For now, I’ll just enjoy the banquette, it’s just one of those things where you get excited to go into your living room.  I LOVE that!



Now for the big announcement…. as some of you know, my husband Ryan is my picker.  The cool “junk” in my stand, that’s all him. He is the one that finds a majority of my pieces at sales, auctions, etc., but his specialty is what he calls “backroad pickin'” where he finds the best, one of a kind junk and collectibles.  He has a really good eye for what’s trending, what’s authentic, and what is just cool.  I am often disturbed by the random knowledge he stores in that brain of his when it comes to certain types of antiques.  (he especially loves vintage clocks and advertising pieces, you know… “man cave stuff”) On August 22, we will be setting up shop at the Fargo Flea Market to debut his finds.  Yes there will be some de-uglied stuff as well, so look for my sign, but what you can also expect is a mix of high end vintage and the usual junk that’s just for fun.  It’s going to be a great show. Hope to see you all there.

Here’s my husband’s “man cave” and pretty much everything here, plus a lot more, is going to be at our stand. yep… it’s time to clean house.
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