Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to paint mason jars

You've seen them everywhere on Pinterest and probably on blogs, but today I wanted to show you how I painted my mason jars!  I found an old crate of Ball and Kerr mason jars in my attic and I thought this would be a quick little project that would help me add color to my living room.

1.  I started the project by cleaning the inside and outside of the jars with warm soapy water.
2.  After drying the jars with a paper towel, I wiped the outside of the jars down with some alcohol to clean the glass so that the paint will "stick".
3.  I used Martha Stewart Acryclic Multi-Surface craft paint to apply 3 coats of paint on the outsides of the jars, allowing each coat to dry for 2 hours.  I didn't paint the bottoms of the jars because I didn't want them to stick to the surface I was painting them on and I'm afraid that the paint color will one day rub off onto my cabinets or coffee table.  The opacity the paint and required number of coats might vary due to the consistency of the paint and the color.  

4.  To get the distressed and used look of the jars, I used an 80 grit sanding block and lightly sanded the surface of the jars, making sure to apply more pressure on areas that would normally show signs of wear and tear.  Please, please, please make sure the paint is completely dry before sanding the jars.  I let my jars sit for a whole day before sanding them because I wanted to make sure all layers of paint were dry.

At this point, your jars are ready to be used as vases or just as decor around the house.  My jars are currently sitting empty on my coffee table, but I can see them being used as flower vases as well!

I hope you try this at home for yourself.  Mason jars can most commonly be found at Walmart or Target in the canning sections, but they can also be found at the flea market or antique faire for fairly inexpensive prices.  Also, remember that the size and shape of your jars don't have to match if you wanted to paint a cluster of jars.  Using mason jars from different manufacturers can add some variety of shapes and sizes to your project!

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Park Bench Makeover: Before & After

I finally finished making over the park bench that was gifted to me by my friend, Melissa.  If you missed my post about prepping a bench for a makeover, go ahead and read about it here.

 Behr Honey Bird (Semi-Gloss) & Rustoleum Soft Iron (Flat)
I painted the park bench a bright yellow and I love how bright and happy the bench looks sitting on my porch.  I was torn between a bright yellow or a watermelon red, but bright yellow won.  I picked yellow because I often see red outdoor furniture on my neighbors' porches and I wanted something that equally stood out, but was slightly different.

The only recommendation I have for painting a park bench (in addition to prepping the piece) is remember to prime the wood before painting it.  This is the one and only time that I've skipped primer and I ended up painting seven (yes, as in 7!!!!) coats to entirely cover the natural wood color underneath.  Otherwise, painting the wood slats was very straightforward and re-assembling my bench alone was a breeze.  I also used used Minwax polycrylic over all the wood slats.

Here's a before and after shot:

Can you believe the difference?

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tidy Tip Tuesday: How to keep your home tidy

Happy Tuesday!  Today's tip has been adopted from my sister.   A few months ago while my sister was visiting, she cleared and cleaned the restroom counter and the toilet within a matter of minutes.  (Yes, my sisters and I have that kind of relationship and I love them for it) When I came in surprised, she said "it only takes a couple of minutes".  BOOM!  My mind was blown and my little sister had just taught me a lesson!  Clean as you go!

What I mean by cleaning as you go is that if you've brought a cup into the living room, take the cup with you on your way out.  If you've spilled water all over the restroom or kitchen counter, go ahead and wipe the counter dry right away.  If you've taken out a bajillion arts and crafts supplies, put them away as you finish using each thing.  The key about keeping your home tidy is staying on top of any kind of mess.  Think of how clean your home would be if you put something away that didn't belong in the room every time you left the room.  Or how clean everything would be if you wiped something down immediately after cooking or using the restroom.

Believe me, I'm the queen of "I'll get to it later" or "I'll majorly clean later tonight", but sometimes later never comes or turns into tomorrow and next week.  Don't avoid the mess.  Tackle it and you'll be so much more relieved about the state of your home afterwards.

So go ahead and try it this week!
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

How to Make the Most of your Next Home Improvement Shopping Trip!

Today, I installed the toilet and wall-mounted sink in my half bath and I went to the hardware store 3 times!  3 times in 1 day...  Just imagine how thrilled I was to find that I had bought the wrong sized toilet flange..twice...only to find that the existing flange would have been good enough for the project.  

I came up with this list of tips while I was driving home from Home Depot.  Hopefully it will help you on your next DIY shopping trip.  You, know?  So you don't have to go to the same store 3 times in the span of a couple of hours for the same project?  Your welcome!

1.  Thoroughly research your project before leaving for the store.  This way, you can take all the necessary measurements of the items you need and of the space you have. 

2.  Measure twice, buy once.  Similar to the saying "measure twice, cut once", this saying applies to everyone as well.  I mean, unless you like the practice of returning and exchanging items multiple times in one day or you've mastered the art of "eyeballing it"...

3.  Save your receipt.  Of course, you can return most items at most bigger company stores without a receipt, but it's so much more of a hassle.  Also, I believe some stores have a limit as to how many times you can actually make a return or exchange without a receipt.

4.  Most companies have features on their websites that allow you to locate the item in the store.  I would do this while you are at home to be sure that the store has your item in stock and to decrease the amount of time you have to aimlessly wander around the store looking for what you need.

5.  Bring your tape measure with you (if your project requires any kind of measuring).  This includes making sure the items will fit in your car.  

6.  Take your time.  Examine the items you are buying.  Are there any missing parts?  Are you getting the most bang for your buck?

7.  Ask questions.  The truth is, sometimes when I'm in a home improvement store I feel really self-conscious and shy about being in there.  I'm usually apprehensive about asking questions because I don't want to look like the woman who doesn't know what she's doing.  But you know what?  I'd rather ask a question and have it (hopefully) answered correctly than return to the store 2 more times to exchange items for 1 project, which is way more embarrassing. Trust me.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

License to go WILD!

When I first started looking at homes, I imagined my living room to be decorated in a very neutral color palette with comfy furniture and soft fabrics.  I imagined a relaxing, spa-like cottage style home I could call my retreat.  In reality, I decorated my living room with darker colored furniture and nothing matched. much as I aspired to have a living room that looked like those of Liz Marie Blog or Thistlewood Farms, I ended up with a color palette that is darker and brighter than I had imagined.

But guess what?  I LOVE it!  Why?  Because I realized that I'm staying as true to myself as possible by picking colors and furniture that inspires me and makes me happy.  At first, I felt awkward about having every furniture be a different color with different finishes, but I realized that with the right accessories, I can make all the furniture in my living room look more cohesive.

 For my living room, I chose colorful accent pillows that matched the color of my furniture.  The pillows tie in all the colors and make the mismatched furniture seem less random.  I love that I'm able to have a living room with furniture that "goes" together while still having a colorful palette.  The biggest lesson I've learned with decorating my living room is staying true to myself by going wild with color.  As much as I wanted the chic cottage-style living room, I couldn't naturally decorate my room that way.  I ended up with a living room that matched my personality--a little quirky and a little loud.

So take it from me, when it comes to decorating stay true to your style.  If you find yourself with a bunch of colors that just don't seem to "go" together, find accessories that can tie everything in.  Trust your instincts when choosing colors and furniture that make you happy.  After all, aren't we decorating for ourselves anyway?
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tidy Tip Tuesdays!

Welcome! Welcome!  I have come to find that being an adult means having a presentable and tidy home.  To me, this means not being embarrassed about the state of my home if someone wants to stop by unannounced.  Have you ever felt like you've had to clean and organize your house like crazy right before your friends or family come by?  If not, you are my idol.  If so, then please join me here on Tuesdays!

My first tidy tip is to use baskets and trays.

Trays are great to use on table tops or shelves to corral similar items so that random things are not scattered everywhere.  I use a tray on my coffee table to store my remote controls, coffee table books, and random mason jars that I've been using as decor.  

I also have plenty of woven baskets throughout my home to hold random items that would normally be scattered all over the floor.  Behind the coffee table in the picture above, I have a woven basket that holds all the dog toys and blankets my dogs use on a regular basis.

With 4 dogs, dog toys just end up in every nook and cranny of the house.  I find that having baskets throughout the house makes it easy for me to quickly pick up their toys and toss them into the baskets if I want them out of the way and off the floor.  These baskets would also be great for kids' toys! 

Another tip is to pick storage items that fit in with the rest of your home decor so you can leave them out all day, e'ryday. Know what I'm sayin'?  Yeah...  But if woven baskets aren't your thing, I've also made affordable fabric-lined baskets out of cardboard boxes!

I hope today's quick tip helps!  How do you keep knick knacks off the floor?

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Friday, May 9, 2014

How to Prep an Old Bench for a Makeover

My thoughtful friend Melissa gave me 1 of the 2 Berkley Forge and Foundry benches she had sitting in her backyard.  The bench needed a makeover and I knew I was going to have to sand and paint, but my search through the world wide web didn't exactly show me how to dismantle my I'm here to show you what I did!  You know, in case you come across an old bench too?

As you can see in the pictures above and below, the bench still has a good shape to it and it felt sturdy when I sat on it.  The wood stain or varnish (if there was any) has long been worn away and there is a lot of water damage on EVERY wood slat.
Notice the discoloration on the seat area of the bench!

I started by removing any cobwebs or obvious dirt from the bench the best I could with a clean napkin.

The nuts on the back of the bench were covered by a cap so I popped those off with a flat-head screw driver.

I made sure to keep all the screws, nuts, and bolts in a zip lock baggy.  I'll be taking the bag to my local hardware store to find replacements for the ones that are rusty.

Once all the nuts were exposed I loosened each one and removed the slats one at a time.  I made sure to the label the slats in numerical order from top to bottom on the same side of each slat so that I would know where they would go once I put my bench back together.

I labeled my wooden slats on the sides so that I can paint the front an back without having to worry about covering up any numbers!
After the slats were wiped down one more time, I sanded both sides with 60 grit and then 120 grit sand paper.

These babies are now ready for paint!

As for the sides of the benches, I hosed them down with water and made sure to wipe them with a napkin to remove any dirt or dust.  I will be showing you guys my "after", but not quite yet.  'Tis but a tease my friend...'Tis but a tease...MAUAHAHA!  Actually, it's been very breezy and windy these past few days and I don't want to spray paint or paint until this weather settles down.

I hope this helps you if you ever come across an old bench like mine!  Can you guess what color I picked for the bench?
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