October 2012 | Live Pretty on a Penny

Refinishing An Oak Table {A Dining Room Update}

Recently, while doing one of my daily Pinterest hunts, I came across several images of gorgeous pedestal tables. Since then, I have been on the search for a nice round table for my dining room, that was at least 48' in diameter. Since my dining room is small, I needed something that would look nice in the space, but not take up too much room. I checked a bunch of stores and online,  but was not feeling any pricing that these tables were going for. I was on the hunt for something like this:

So, I figured instead purchasing a brand new one for $700+, I would check local thrift stores and Craigslist for the perfect one. Well, a few weeks ago,  I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one from good old Craigslist for $60! Have a look...

It had the perfect curves, perfect height, but was a horrible orangey oak color that I hated. But, I figured since it was solid oak, and I mean SOLID, that I would stain it into a pretty rich espresso color. Here she is now!

I am so happy with how this project turned out, especially since this was my first time using stain. If I did this, then you can too! 

Using these products, I was able to get a flawless finish that I love so much! To stain my table, I used
Citristrip which is a paint and varnish stripper. Most wood furnishings have a finish over the top to protect the item scratches. This finish must be removed by a quality varnish and stain remover, and in my opinion this is best. I also used a good quality paint brush that works well with paint and stain application, latex protective gloves, Varathane Stain + Poly (in-one) in Kona Semi-Gloss (oil based),paint and varnish stripping tools, 320-grit Extra Fine Sandpaper, 180- grit Sandpaper, Odorless Mineral Spirits, Paper towels, Cheap Paint Brush to apply the Citristrip (cheapest 2 inch brush is fine), Drop Cloth, and Dusk Mask.

Putting on my dust mask (safety first), I applied the Citristrip on top of the table, and around the table base to remove the varnish. For those of you not familiar with varnish, it is a hard, glossy, protective finish used on wood. This protective coat needs to removed by the stripper in order to prepare the surface for the stain. This stripper should be applied by pouring a manageable amount of stripper into a small bowl, and using the cheap 2 inch paint brush to apply in long strokes, making sure to cover all spots.

Once the stripper was applied, I let mine set in overnight, however the instructions on the back of the container only call for an hour of set time. 

When checking the table the next morning, the stripper dried the varnish and it was ready to be stripped. 

Taking my stripping tool, I began scraping across the top of the table, and the base. I scraped...and scraped...oh...and scraped. 

After I finished scraping, I swept off the varnish remnants with a broom. To be sure that all of the varnish is removed, I recommend shining light on the table along with running your hands across to check for any "slick" or shiny parts. Once I ensured its smoothness, it was time to remove the remaining stripper residue. I did this using Odorless Mineral Spirits and pouring it onto a scrubber. I used the back of this scrubbing sponge.

Since Mineral Spirits is a non-toxic paint stripper, and cleaner, it helped to prepare my surface for staining by removing all of the remaining stripper residue. I also used a few damp paper towels to ensure all of the residue was off, and I kept wiping until the paper towel was clean. 

Next, it was time to sand. Using my palm sander, we sanded over the table and base, following along in the direction of the wood grain, making sure to sand all of the edges and grooves of the table.  

 *Sorry, I don't have any pictures of us sanding the base, but we followed the same steps*

After we sanded, we wiped the table and base with several damp paper towels to remove sanding residue. To prepare to stain, we swept the floor to remove the sanding dust and any other particles from the floor.

After wiping down the table one final time, I began to stain. I applied the stain using a good quality 2 inch paint brush that was compatible with the use of oil paints or stains. The stain was applied using even strokes from top to bottom, still in the direction of the wood stain.

Once I covered the table completely with stain on the top and base, I let it dry for an hour, per the instructions on the stain can. Then I sanded the table lightly using  320-grit sandpaper, to prepare it for the second coat of stain to stick. Again, this should be done very lightly. Just enough to rough up the surface so that the stain has something to adhere to. 

I then applied the second coat of stain. This photo gives a good side by side of the first and second coat, and the dimension that the second coat adds.

Left is with the second coat, right is the first coat

And here it is finished with the second coat. Since the stain already had polyurethane in it, there was not a need to add. So I was left with a beautiful, shiny "new" dining room table!

For some reason the base looks darker in the photo, but it has the same amount of coats as the top.

Here are a few more finished pics...

I am very happy with the finished product. All in all, staining is actually pretty easy, it just requires quite a bit of  prep work. Now I need some chairs, a rug (this one was a test from another room), a small buffet, and other accessories. Since we are fixing up this room and the kitchen at the same time, I vote to make my backsplash my next project, but knowing me, I might end up doing something else (scatter-brained). I hope to have some updates soon!

Have you ever stained any furniture? I plan to do more in the future. I would love to hear your experience. Thanks for stopping by!

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Juggling Act...Kitchen Update With Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations

Currently, I am tackling two rooms at one time at home , so I have been very busy to say the least. However, I do enjoy seeing my blood, sweat, and tears pay off. I have some fun updates to share. If you are looking for a way to give your kitchen a facelift, then this is for you.  Let's start with my kitchen...

This is a picture of my kitchen as it was shown on the property listing for our home. Yes, I agree...nothing short of a nightmare. New appliances (well except that ugly microwave)... yes, Corian countertops (not something I would have selected for myself), but, .... yes , pretty...no.  Yet, for what I was going to be doing in there, it served its main purpose...to cook. Of course we did not buy this home because of this kitchen, but mainly because we loved some other features about it. I always figured that once we got settled in, we could do some sprucing. After months of research and planning, we decided that we would start our DIY kitchen makeover. Here is where we are thus far:

We did some painting (Behr Castle Path), changed out the floors (to be shared later), and found that cool GE 2.0 Spacesaver Mounted Microwave on Craigslist for...$50!!! I love Craigslist. However, the  biggest change of course has been our cabinets. No, we did not purchase new ones, but we did purchase this cool kit from The Home Depot called Rust-oleum Cabinet Transformations . 

I really liked the kit. Rust-oleum offers two different kits (light & dark) which offers over 70 different color options. We opted for the dark kit in Espresso. For $75, it will suffice until we can one day pay $10,000+ to get a custom kitchen built. Oh, and since we don't consider this to be our "forever home," then that made it even better:) So for those of you out there living with dated cabinets, or ones that you just can't stand, well I recommend giving it a try. The kit comes with pretty much everything you will need to complete your transformation. It took us a few weekends to complete since we have to fit home projects in between work, but we survived. It even comes with a little how-to video. Here is how we did it. 

First, you will need to setup a work station somewhere, preferably either a garage or somewhere you will not need to use for the time being. Because the kit does not emit strong odors, we set ours up in an empty room downstairs.  Next, you want to remove all of your doors, doors, cabinet hardware, and hinges. Using painters table, number the inside of each drawer and cabinet, and assign a sandwich baggie for each corresponding cabinet hardware and hinge. For example when you remove the first door, then assign then write #1 on the on painters tape, stick it inside of the cabinet, remove the door hardware and hinges, and place in a sandwich bag with the #1 on it as well, using painters tape. This helps so that when you are putting the doors back on, you have all of the correct hinges and hardware to put back. 

While we were in the process, we decided to go ahead and add some unfinished molding to the top of the cabinets. So my husband and one of his friends added it. I believe it cost about $14 or so for the molding, and seemed pretty easy to put up. I didn't help so I don't have a tutorial, sorry.

Once that was done, we used the liquid sander that comes with the kit to remove the old finish from the cabinets. The good thing about this is that you don't have to remove all of the old finish (paint or varnish), but just enough to rough up the surface and remove any signs of slickness so that the system has something to stick to when applied.  The kit comes with a scrubber pad to be used with the liquid sander.

After you "sand" the cabinets, drawers, and cabinet frames, then wipe down and remove the residue of the liquid sander using a damp cloth. 

Next, it is time to apply the bond coat. We started with the cabinet frames, then moved to the doors and drawers. Although Rust-oleum did not specify, I strongly recommend that the bond coat be applied with a high quality paint brush. They do specify that the bond coat not be applied with a roller brush or sponge. 

There is an outlined dry time in between each coat, so make sure to follow along with the instructions. Two coats should be applied.

After the second coat has dried, it is time to apply the decorative glaze. This step is optional, but I recommend if you want to create more definition and "enhance" the appearance of wood grain. 

The kit comes with clean wipe cloths to remove excess glaze. 

Once the glaze dries, allow 24 hours before re-applying cabinets. To create even more of an update, we decided to change the cabinet hardware, which I also recommend. We ordered ours online from InterKnobs. They are the Liberty Hardware, 96/135mm Steel Bar Pull Stainless Look Finish (Satin Nickel), and cost $1.32 each. 

That's it! Cabinets and drawers can be re-applied. Once again here is a good side by side of our kitchen before and after progress, following our Rust-oleum Cabinet Transformation. 

While we still have a ways to go, we have had some progress, so that makes me happy:)

More kitchen updates coming soon, as we begin to tackle our kitchen to do list:

Change Cabinets
New Backsplash
Recessed lighting
Rug for bistro table
DIY kitchen window treatment

Have you made any good kitchen updates lately? I would love to hear from you! 

Easy Fall Wreath DIY Tutorial

Even though Summer and Spring are still my absolute most favorite time of the year, Fall colors and even smells (pumpkin spice, anyone?) really inspire me.  Knowing that I wanted to bring the spirit of Fall into my home, I decided to create a simple door wreath that not only inspires me, but anyone who enters my home.  This wreath took less than an hour to create, so it's the perfect quick, inexpensive weekend project. It's fully customizable as well, so whatever flair you choose to add will work:)

Here is what you will need:

Hot Glue Gun
Fall Floral (40% off at Hobby Lobby)- I used the rust and red colored Baby's Breath. I bought one of each stem, for a total of two ($10 for both)
Craft Wreath- I used a branch wreath from Hobby Lobby ($2.99 with 40% off coupon)
Monogrammed MDF Wood Letter- Of course, we used a letter "M"($3.49 SPLURGE)
Floral Stem Wire Clipper 
Wreath Hanger (used mine from Christmas $1.00)

First, lay out your wreath on a large plastic bag. Just ask Hobby Lobby to put your wreath in a large bag, and you can lay it out on that.

Next, lay out your flowers and clip each stem that you are ready to place. I bent my flower at the cut stem so that it would be easier to place in between the branches on the wreath. I placed them where I wanted them to lay. There is no specific order in which this must be done, but it just needs to look full and balanced. You can play around with the flowers as you place them, since they have the wire inside.

 Once the flowers are placed, I took my glue gun and attached them properly, placing the glue on the tip of the floral stem.

Once everything was glued down, including the "M," that's it! See! E.A.S.Y for about $16.00:) Lets take another look...

And that's it. A simple DIY Fall Wreath. I am super happy with how it turned out. 

How have you decided to bring Fall into your home?

Have a great weekend!

Pics from Disney..and Why I {Sometimes} HATE Being a Responsible

Well, my good folks....we are back from Orlando celebrating our one year anniversary, and back to reality. Let me first say, we had an ABSOLUTE great time at Disney World and Universal Studios. Being there took me back to some of the joyous moments from my childhood (thank you mom), but with the joy came some pain. Nothing that has to do with penny living, but yep, you guessed it; something that has to do with taking our pretty pennies:( Ok, nothing we couldn't handle and it definitely could have been worse, BUT still, why is it that even when you are in a blissful place or space, releasing your inner childlike spirit, adulthood always finds a way to playa hate. But let's start with the good...our  trip to ORLANDO!!!

I got Julius to wear Mickey Mouse ears...but they had to look tough, so Pirates of the Caribbean ears it was! See the hoop earring on the left? hehe:)

On the tram headed to Animal Kingdom. We look rough, yikes... this was our second park stop. First was Disney Hollywood Studios.

Animal Kingdom Animal Safari

Magic Kingdom

Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure

See! Fun times. And now...the UGLY...

While in Orlando, I received a call around 6:30am from my friend who was housesitting and watching my doggies. She let me know that the water pressure in the house was low, and there seemed to be a pool of water along the side and down the stairs of the outside, and she wants to know where the main shut off valve is located. HUH?!?!?!  Seriously, just because we are on vacation, the universe wants to hate. sigh. Neither me nor my husband knew the location of the shut off valve so we called our county water company emergency number. They were nice enough to send someone out (rather quickly) to shut off the water. The county rep said we were flowing somewhere in the amount of 21 gallons per minute of water. Say what?! Where in the heck was that water going, because it wasn't pumping through my house!

When we arrived back in Atlanta, we had a professional Plumber meet us at the house.

 Here was the problem. Apparently, the house "settled" which caused a "shift" in the foundation. That pretty much caused this:

The underground pipe that connects to the main water line to snap right at the foundation. Yikes! This particular pipe is a Polybutylene pipe. Some cheap old blue pipe that builders used to use. The good thing is that my friend caught the problem before it really became a problem. And, while it wasn't a joy to have to pay for something like this immediately after returning home from vacation, we are glad that it was not worse, like water flowing under my house for two days and flooding our basement, or that the pipe had broken in an awkward location, like under the driveway, which would have increased labor cost! We got it repaired the same day, and had the pipe repaired with a good ole' copper pipe. So, while I was pissed at the situation, still glad it turned out better than it could have:)

Enough venting. I will be back soon with more home DIY projects, and more!