Thursday, April 28, 2011

$3 Sample Paint

While redecorating and remodeling this house, I have learned a lot of lessons the hard way. One of those lessons is how important it is to buy the $3 sample can of paint before committing to a paint color.


The picture on the left is the color that we were originally going for. A nice gray with a hint of blue. The one on the right is what we actually ended up with the first time around. A baby blue that looks almost lavender. Blech!

Since we didn't do the test patches - by the time we figured out it looked baby blue, we had already purchased a bunch of non-returnable paint so we decided to put it up on the walls anyway. After a year-and-half, we hate the color even more than we did when we first painted so we have decided to go through and re-paint the entire house. The walls are pretty beat up anyway from rearranging furniture a hundred times trying to figure out the best layout.


This time we picked up samples of different colors and I painted them onto sheets of white posterboard and hung them up on the wall to see what the color really looked like instead of going by the tiny paint chip.

We have also been checking the paint swatches throughout the day and in each room to see how it looks in different light. The Flint Smoke color that we decided upon for the kitchen goes from looking gray with just a hint of blue - to blue with just a hint of gray - to dark gray with no blue: all depending on which area of the kitchen you are looking at and at different times of day. We love all of these varying shades so it ended up being perfect in the kitchen but when we put it in the living room it almost looks green.

I am hoping to have the entire main level repainted by the end of May and this time I am going to do things right! Not only am I testing the paint swatches in each room, I am also going to repaint all of the trim to fix previous mistakes and really take my time to make sure that everything is perfect instead of just "good enough". We have also chosen a flat paint finish to hide the imperfections in the walls (except for the kitchen and bathroom which are a satin paint finish because it is easier to clean).

Since we have decided that we will be putting the house on the market in the Spring of 2013 it has really motivated me to finish all of these house projects. I want to be able to enjoy a finished home for awhile instead of finishing it up just in time for someone else to enjoy it!

Speaking of finishing up projects: the kitchen makeover is almost complete! Just a few little details to complete and I should be able to show you our new kitchen in the next day or two!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How To Paint Edges Freehand

I few months ago I learned how to paint edges freehand instead of taping them off and it has made a HUGE difference! I think it is also called "cutting in" the paint? I don't really know what the technical term is - I just know that I will never use painter's tape again!



What you do is put a tiny bit of paint on your brush and touch just the edge of the bristles along your trim. I like to run my brush along the wall about an inch below the trim first just to get any excess paint off. Then my brush is just barely wet and I carefully run the brush just a hair below the trim and go over it a couple of times, slowly working my way up to the trim until it is just right.

When I need more paint, instead of dipping the brush in the bucket, I run it through the paint that I had already put a little bit lower on the wall. Does that make any sense? It would also work to get a little painter's palette and put a little bit of paint on it to dip your brush in. However you do it, the main point is to make sure that your brush has just the tiniest bit of paint on it.

It also helps to get the bristles going in one direction and keep them that way. That is another reason that I run the brush lower on the wall before going to the trim. It gets all of the bristles going the same direction so that they don't pop out of place when I am trying to get a perfect line.



Another thing that is important when doing this is to get a high-quality angled brush. I really like the Shortcut by Wooster. It is about $5 but it is soooo worth it. The handle is made of rubber so it fits comfortably and bends with your hand which is nice for detail work like this.

Freehand painting takes a little practice but the results are so much nicer. Here is some trim that I painted using painter's tape:



Not only were there blotches from paint bleeding underneath the tape (yes, I know there are tricks to keep this from happening) but it was also impossible to get the tape lined up exactly to the line that had previously been painted. You can see in the left side of this picture where there is a tiny stripe of the old tan paint.

Now, using this painting trick, I have a nice clean paint line:


It takes a little bit more time to paint this way but when you consider how much time it takes to put up the painter's tape, this actually ends up being faster. Especially once you get the hang of it, it hardly takes any time at all.

The other thing I LOVE about this technique is that you get to see the finished results right away instead of waiting for the paint to dry so that you can take down the tape!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How To: Use a Caulk Gun

The crown moulding in the kitchen is finally complete! It was the only room on the main floor that didn't come with crown moulding so I like how it ties in to the rest of the house. It also just makes the room feel more finished and put together. I love it!



It didn't start out that way though....



When my husband first put it up, I hated it! The gaps at the top and bottom from where the walls weren't exactly square looked absolutely horrible. Not to mention the corners where the cuts were just a bit off. I started to wonder whether or not the crown moulding was such a good idea after all.

As it turns out it just needed some caulk to finish it off. So I learned what I think is one of the most important skills to have when doing home improvements: how to use a caulk gun.

Besides being handy when the caulk in the shower starts to crack, you can also use caulk on all kinds of moulding (baseboards, door frames, and of course crown moulding), around the kitchen sink, windows, etc.

Before starting this project I had no idea how to use a caulk gun but luckily I had my handy husband around to show me how. Of course I tried to get HIM to caulk the moulding since he already knew how to do it (I also tried to convince him that it was a "boy job") but he just wouldn't go for it. He learned to use a caulk gun when he was a roofer and on those jobs the caulk just has to seal, it doesn't have to be pretty. He claimed that I would be better at making it look good even though I really think he was pulling a Ray Barone by pretending to be bad at it just to get out of doing the work. ;)

Anyway, if you have one teeny tiny job, you can find caulk in a squeeze tube, but if you have a large or multiple projects, it is cheaper and easier to use a caulk gun. The one I use was only $2.

If you are like I was and haven't the faintest idea what to do with a caulk gun, here is a little tutorial for ya:



To open the tube, place the tip in the hole labeled "spout cutter" at an angle and squeeze the handle to cut.



Just place the tube in the gun and you are ready to go!



Squeeze the handle until caulk starts coming out. I usually apply the caulk in 1 or 2 foot lengths so that it doesn't start drying before I get a chance to smooth it all out.



When you have applied your small patch of caulk, press the little silver lever to release the pressure. Otherwise caulk will continue to spill out even after you stop pulling the trigger.



Now just smooth it out and make it look pretty! You can use your finger if you want or use this handy dandy tool that I found at Home Depot. It also came with a tool for scraping out old caulk and I think it was about $5 for the pair. It makes things SO much easier!

While I'm on this picture I have to note that it is extremely difficult to take a picture with your left hand. Trying to get this shot took several tries and was pretty comical.

Anywho...once I get the caulk looking all pretty and let it dry for a couple of hours, I like to paint over it to make the lines look nice and clean. It's crazy what a difference a $2 gun and a couple of tubes of $2 caulk can make! Check out the before and after again:


Now THIS is what I was hoping for!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Link Party Monday 16

As usual there were lots of amazing and inspiring links in last week's party! My top picks of the week are:



This Coffee Sack Art from Housing A Forest is awesome. I love coffee and the vintage style of these sacks is perfect!



A Pumpkin and a Princess shared a great tutorial for making Cookie Bouquets. Perfect for a Mother's Day gift!



I love the use of buttons in decor - they are perfect for adding a touch of color and whimsy. I instantly fell in love with this adorable Button Initial by The Crafty Scientist.



Martenssmily is saving up for decorating her new house and made this great Savings Box to stash the money in. I LOVE the floor plan drawing!


These Cookies and Cream Cupcakes from Inside BruCrew Life not only look delicious but they are decorated beautifully as well!

If your project was featured, feel free to grab a 'featured' button from my Buttons Page. Now on to this week's link party!

RULES:
  • Link up anything related to the domestic arts: crafts, recipes, photography, cleaning tips, money saving tips, decorating, etc.
  • No advertising or Etsy shops.
  • Link directly to your post - not your home page.
  • Please add my button to your post or sidebar to spread the word. :)
  • By linking up you give me permission to use content from your post for the purposes of featuring your project.

This party will be open until Friday at Midnight. My favorite projects will be featured at next week's party!

Polish The Stars




Friday, April 22, 2011

Kitchen Flooring

I was going to take a break from the kitchen makeover and show you all of the changes that we have made in the living room but today is the first time all week that it has been clean enough to take a picture of and of course it is completely overcast. So you are stuck with yet another update on the kitchen. :p

As promised, here is the new flooring that we chose!



Do you love it? Because I do! Our original plan included black countertops and flooring but since we have decided to put the house on the market in a couple of years we decided that something a little more neutral would be better. We couldn't find a decent black floor anyway and it turned out to be a good thing because I am in love with this floor! Is it weird to be this excited about flooring? Oh well. I never claim to be normal.



I have hated the original flooring ever since we moved in. I think it's because it reminded me of the flooring at my grandma's old farm house. Over the last two years, the flooring has just gotten worse. The areas with high-traffic had huge bubbles where the glue was no longer holding it down. The flooring was also really soft so there were several gouges in it from things getting dropped. Also, the room is 14.5' x 14.5' and vinyl sheets are only available in 12' wide which meant there was a large seam that was also starting to pull up.

Okay, enough about my hatred of the old floor. On to my favorite part of the kitchen remodel: tearing up the loathsome flooring!



Shelby used a box knife to cut the flooring into pieces about 2' x 3' to make the removal easier. Then he got out the snow shovel, turned it upside down and used it to scrape off some of the loose glue. Once that was done, he and Jer used the shovel as a dustpan to scoop up all of the glue pieces.

It is actually recommended that you just clean the floors and lay the tile directly over the existing flooring. Not only does it make the tile adhere better but it makes the job so much easier. However, since ours was bubbled up all over the place we had no choice but to remove the old flooring first.


Once the sub-floor was all cleaned up, Shelby laid down the tile that we had chosen:

Traffic Master premium self-stick vinyl tile in Morocco Slate (the picture on their website makes it look really orange but it is actually brown as shown in the photos above). We went with the Premium version for $1.08/sq ft. It's a little thicker and not as soft as the $.99/sq ft version. It also has a lifetime warranty for residential use.

Now, for our list of reasons for choosing this flooring:

PROS:
  • No glue - just pull the paper backing off and stick them down!
  • No grout - unless you want to. Vinyl tiles are grout-able but it isn't a requirement.
  • No special tile cutter necessary. You can cut down edge pieces with just a box cutter and a metal square.
  • More durable than regular sheet vinyl
  • Cheaper than ceramic tile
  • Easy to repair - if a tile starts to come loose you can heat it up with a blow dryer to reactivate the adhesive then just stick it back down again. Also, if a tile gets damaged, you don't have worry about replacing the entire floor - just pull up that square and replace it with a new one.
  • Clean lines - since each tile is one square foot, you don't have one big, unattractive seam like we did with the vinyl sheet that was too small for the room.
CONS:
  • Haven't found any yet!
SUPPLIES YOU WILL NEED:
  • Enough tile for your floors plus extras. This way you have tiles from the same lot # in case you need to make repairs.
  • Metal square. this will help you start the flooring in a straight line as well as help you cut the edge pieces down.
  • Utility knife/box cutter/whatchamakalit. For cutting down edge pieces.

***This is in no way a paid advertisement. Neither Traffic Master nor Home Depot have any idea who I am. I just really like this flooring and wanted to share our kitchen makeover each step of the way.***

Monday, April 18, 2011

Link Party Monday 15

Happy Monday! I have been working on the kitchen and my husband, Shelby, helped me out with it all weekend. We have made a lot of progress and I can't wait to show you guys! All of the little details probably won't be finished until next week but I will show you progress pics tomorrow. It is turning out even better than I pictured! :)

Alright, on to the link party. First things first, my top picks of the week! Check out all of last week's links here.



My son would flip out if he saw this Darth Vader Lamp by I'm a Mom Not a Professional.



I don't usually feature the same blog twice in one post but these Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls from I'm a Mom Not A Professional had me drooling so much I needed a bib. YUM!



Ms. Not So Perfect whipped up this adorable Easter Egg Bouquet using items she hand on hand. Too cute!



How fun are these Jell-O Easter Egg Cookies from Red Couch Recipes?! If I can get my kitchen cleaned up and functioning again, I will definitely make these with Jer this week!


Okay, everyone was just full of awesome ideas for kids this week! I LOVE this Felt Squirt Gun Holster by Jillyann Jiggs!

If your project was featured, feel free to grab a 'featured' button from my Buttons Page. Now on to this week's link party!

RULES:
  • Link up anything related to the domestic arts: crafts, recipes, photography, cleaning tips, money saving tips, decorating, etc.
  • No advertising or Etsy shops.
  • Link directly to your post - not your home page.
  • Please add my button to your post or sidebar to spread the word. :)
  • By linking up you give me permission to use content from your post for the purposes of featuring your project.

This party will be open until Friday at Midnight. My favorite projects will be featured at next week's party!

Polish The Stars




Friday, April 15, 2011

Chicken Stuffing Bake

The timing of this recipe may be a little late now that grilling season has begun but I just couldn't wait until fall to share it. It has instantly become a family favorite and we have it at least once a week. It's so yummy that it is hard to believe that it is low fat!


Chicken Stuffing Bake
adapted from Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:
1 can (10 3/4oz) Condensed Reduced-Fat Cream of Mushroom Soup, undiluted
1 cup Fat-Free Milk
3 cups (6oz) Stove Top Stuffing Mix, unprepared
2 cups Chicken Breast, boiled and cubed
2 cups Fresh Broccoli Florets, steamed
2 Celery Ribs, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups (6oz) Reduced-Fat Swiss Cheese, shredded and divided

In a large bowl, combine soup and milk until blended. Add the stuffing mix, chicken, broccoli, celery, and 1 cup cheese. Stir until combined. Transfer mixture to a greased 13-in x 9in baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, at 375F for 20 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Makes 8 Servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 cup equals 247 calories, 7g fat (4g sat fat)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cheapo Curtain Rod Finials

When we decided to brighten things up in the living room, one of the first things to go were the dark burgundy curtains. I love them but they made the room a bit dark and depressing.


So I picked up some basic white curtains at Target and when I put them up I realized that the scroll curtain rod ends needed to go. They don't really fit with the new style and I never really liked them anyway. They were way too small for such large windows.


I was too cheap to pay $10 a pair for new ones so I decided to make my own! I picked up these 1-1/4" Head Beads in the wood section at the craft store and spray painted them black.


They fit perfectly on one end and for the smaller end I used a small piece of the caulking cord that we had laying around in the basement. It's the same stuff I used to secure the curtain rods. I just wrapped a piece around the end of the rod and slid the curtain rod end on over it.


I really like the simplicity of them. Even more than that, I love the price! For three pairs, I paid a total of $2 instead of $30!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Link Party Monday 14

Hello! Now that the weather is nice enough to open the windows, I finally tackled the bottom kitchen cabinets! They have been driving me crazy all winter but the paint fumes are just too much for me if the windows are closed. This is what my kitchen looks like right now.



I am seriously beginning to question why I ever started this project in the first place. Blah. :( I am hoping to get all of the cabinet painting done this week so we can paint the walls and install the new flooring over the weekend! I can't wait to see it all finished. In the meantime, be sure to check in this week to see some of the projects that I have been working on in the living room!

Alright, back to business. Once again you all amazed me with your projects! You can check out last week's links here. My top picks of the week were:



This Strawberry Freezer Jam from Ms. Not So Perfect is making my mouth water!



Love this adorable Easter Planter from Housing a Forest.



I am so excited that spring is here and this Simple Spring Tablescape from Increasingly Domestic is just perfect!



I love the retro style of this Skirt Makeover by Posy The Porcelain Pig. You won't believe the before pictures!


Eye Spy DIY made this fun, colorful Pillow Cover and shows you how to do two things that I cannot do: piping and a hidden zipper. I am definitely going to have to try out her tutorials!


If your project was featured, feel free to grab a 'featured' button from my Buttons Page. Now on to this week's link party!

RULES:
  • Link up anything related to the domestic arts: crafts, recipes, photography, cleaning tips, money saving tips, decorating, etc.
  • No advertising or Etsy shops.
  • Link directly to your post - not your home page.
  • Please add my button to your post or sidebar to spread the word. :)
  • By linking up you give me permission to use content from your post for the purposes of featuring your project.

This party will be open until Friday at Midnight. My favorite projects will be featured at next week's party!

Polish The Stars




Monday, April 4, 2011

Link Party Monday - Take 13

Happy Monday!!! Thank you all for your supportive comments on my post last week about my recent blogging funk. I guess I'm not the only to go through these phases. In fact, it seems to be happening to a lot of people *right now*. I blame the weather. :( Spring is finally here though and spending the weekend grilling out and spending time in the sun has definitely lifted my spirits!

When I logged into blogger today I noticed there has been a lot of traffic here the last few days as well as several new followers (hello! :)) so I checked my stats to see where all of the traffic is coming from and discovered that Dollar Store Crafts featured my blog! They put together a post called 65 Craft Blogs We Love and Polish The Stars was one of them! How exciting is that?! I think getting featured by one of my all-time favorite blogs has officially snapped me out of the blogging funk. :)

Alright...back to the link party. You can check out last week's links here. My top picks of the week are:



Cherry Blossom Artwork from I'm a Mom Not a Professional



Ribbon Headband from The Crafty Scientist



Window Frame Memo Board from My World Made By Hand



Easter Peeps Topiary from A Pumpkin and a Princess


Hostess Inspired Cake Balls from A Little Bit of Everything


If your project was featured, feel free to grab a 'featured' button from my Buttons Page. Now on to this week's link party!

RULES:
  • Link up anything related to the domestic arts: crafts, recipes, photography, cleaning tips, money saving tips, decorating, etc.
  • No advertising or Etsy shops.
  • Link directly to your post - not your home page.
  • Please add my button to your post or sidebar to spread the word. :)
  • By linking up you give me permission to use content from your post for the purposes of featuring your project.

This party will be open until Friday at Midnight. My favorite projects will be featured at next week's party!

Polish The Stars