Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Teal Is the Deal

This desk is one my of my favorites that I have done. I got lucky and bought a shutter cabinet from this nice guy on a local Facebook group and told him I like to refinish furniture. He messaged me about two weeks later with this desk and let me make an offer on it as he was helping a friend clean out a house. I fell in love with the cute little legs it is on and had to have it. 

When I picked it up, I was very happy to see that it was all solid wood and the drawers still work well. The first thing I did was sand down the wood with my Ryobi orbital sander. First with 80 grit sand paper and then with 150 grit to smooth it out. I loved all the natural wood grain!

Then I applied one coat of General Finishes Java Gel stain  with a foam brush and gloves. I leave it on for about 5 minutes and then wipe it off with paper towel or an old t-shirt. This is what it looked like when I was finished.

Then when I was done, I applied two coats of Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane in semi-gloss. For the base of the desk and the drawers, I went with Behr paint, in aquatic green. I made it into chalk paint with Plaster of Paris using the 3-1-1 ratio with water and it required two coats. I repainted the wood knobs of this dresser with gold spray paint and then lined the drawers with some fun paper I found at the Dollar Tree. I was very impressed with how fast this desk sold on a local Facebook group, it was picked up within two hours of me listing it. 

Thanks for reading,

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Story Behind My Staging Location

When I first started refinishing furniture and selling it, I noticed that the furniture that is staged in my bedroom with my laminate wood planked floor and very light grey wall seemed to sell best. In my opinion, the staging is extremely important if you are trying to sell your items. So I thought I would go into a little more detail about the location where I like to stage my furniture in hopes that this might help some of you fellow DIYer's that might be inspiring to make changes to your home.

When I first bought my condo, it was all carpeted with this nice plush beige carpet. It was very nice carpet, but just not the look I am trying to achieve for my condo and decor. So before I moved in, I wanted to install some sort of wood floor throughout my condo. Well, after doing some research about having it professionally done (laminate or hardwood), it was way out of my price range. Then I started Googling how to install laminate wood flooring and watching YouTube videos. It actually didn't look all that bad and I somehow convinced my dad to help me with this as long as we started with my bedroom. I figured if we royally messed it up, it wouldn't cost too much to have someone professionally do it if we kept it just to my bedroom. So I originally envisioned nice grey walls and a really dark wood floor. I bought a box of dark laminate planks home from Home Depot and laid them out to get an idea. I liked it, but couldn't convince the rest of my family (my parents and little brother who won't even be living here). They all said I need to go lighter with the whole "dark floors make the room smaller" mentality. So next I found Distressed Brown Hickory laminate flooring at Home Depot. Unfortunately I did not take a picture with this laid out, but I did like how it looked. So the next steps were to paint the walls and rip out the carpet. For the paint, I made a decision way too quick and wish I would have went with a darker grey. But I was not about to ask my dad to repaint (this was my housewarming gift) my bedroom. I still might do that soon.

So here is what my bedroom looked like after it was painted. I was expecting the grey to pop a little more than it had assuming all my woodwork was white. I should have paid more attention, it's all a very light almond color. Lesson learned. I ripped up the carpet and foam all by myself one night in my effort to help. It was fairly easy to do, you just want to be very careful of the tack strips. Those can do some damage. I would highly recommend wearing gloves and a long sleeved shirt or coat when ripping up carpet with tack strips underneath. The other item I did to help get everything ready for the big weekend of installation was buying quarter round molding and painting it to match my other wood work. It was nice because the previous condo owners left me all the touch up painted needed. Only issue, there was about three can of very similar looking white/almond paint.

I set these up with horses and painted them with two coats of paint. Finally got it right on the second can of paint. I left them all full size until we were done with the floor and then we cut them down to size to fit my bedroom.

Once I ripped all the carpet up, it turned out it was all concrete underneath my carpet for the sub-floor, which made it pretty easy. I made sure to vacuum and use the Shop-Vac continuously to get all the dust and debris gone before we started. I read a ton of reviews and other blogs about installing this floor to gain more confidence for doing this ourselves. I had to buy a few other items to make sure we were all set for installation on the weekend. We already had an older miter saw for this. I bought this underlayment from Home Depot, which was recommended. I also bought this kit that includes spacers for the pieces of laminate that get closed to the wall and a rubber block which helps you snap some pieces together. You essentially want your floor to float, I would recommend leaving about a 1/4 of an inch between the laminate and the wall. This will leave room for some contraction and expansion due to temperature and humidity. I also needed a hammer and a door jam cutter as well. Home Depot rents out electric door jam saws. I actually purchased this hand door jam saw from Amazon since it was way cheaper and we wouldn't have to feel rushed with it. It worked extremely well. I practically lived at Home Depot all of last summer with this project and painting.

So then came the weekend of the installation. We started very early Saturday morning on a hot summer day here in Wisconsin. We cut and laid down the layer of underlayment first and then started with the laminate planks. The first row was a bit intimidating. We started at the corner of the wall near my window and went through to my walk-in closet. So we had to cut the door jam on the first row, which was nice to get it out of the way and learn how to do it. It worked well, but you need to be careful when you get down to the studs of the wall after the jam and then carefully cut the laminate floor plank to fit. We used a little old jig saw my dad had for a lot of these little cuts and the miter saw for cutting the large planks. My dad read that you should stagger the planks at least 16 inches for durability and strength. Looking back, I wish I would have pushed harder for more staggering, we were very uniform with the 16 inches. We got the first few rows set for the closet. The planks didn't just "snap together" as I was hoping. They need to be clicked in to place and some tend to start to curl up. As soon as you lay down the next row, they do start to go straighten out, thank goodness!

In the above picture, you can see how we have those spacers up against the wall. This helped, but was also a bit stressful wanted to ensure that we were leaving enough space while also maintaining straightness as well. Once we got going, it actually went pretty quick. I would have to say the toughest parts that take the longest are the door jams. 

Since I was leaving the vinyl flooring in my bathroom and the carpet throughout the rest of the condo for now, we had to do transitions for these door jams. They take some time as you need to glue down or nail in the metal strip to the floor. We used liquid nails for this since my subflooring is concrete and then had to wait for it to dry over night. It is also very tight where the transitions are with the door jams. So just be patient and take your time. The last piece of laminate is also very hard to lay since you are right up against the door jams with not much space and room to move/angle the plank all while trying to get the plank to click into place. Here is the transition strip we used for the bathroom with a picture below.

Two little tips I would have for anyone doing this:

1. If you are cutting the pieces inside, it gets very dusty. So make sure to have a good vacuum and broom for clean up. 

2. Make sure to buy at least two more boxes compared to what you calculated for square footage to cover your room. With the 16 inch staggering, you loose a lot of square footage and get sizes that you can't use.

The last part of this project was taking out the spacers and installing the quarter round molding. We used the miter saw to cut the pieces and corners. We then used an air compressor and brad nailer, which made this very quick and easy to do. Once they were installed, I used wood putty to fill the holes, sanded it smooth and touched up the paint after.


I would love to do this floor throughout the rest of my condo. It does take a lot of time with the meticulous cutting of the planks and the door jams. It is very durable and very easy to clean, which I love. I saved a lot of money with having my dad help me install this vs. hiring someone. Hoping to get the rest of my condo finished soon, but it entails a lot of doorways, a fireplace transition, and a lot of stairs. Not quite ready to take that on yet, but hopefully soon!

And now you know the story behind the flooring in all my furniture pictures.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Grey Desk

I have an extremely soft spot for desks. Especially all solid wood desks. I feel they are so versatile. You could put them in a living room, bedroom, entry way, etc. I also love to find a unique, fun chair to upholster to match my vision for the desk as well. They are also fairly easy for me to carry and transport by myself compared to a huge, heavy dresser.

I came across this cute desk at the local Goodwill. It was a great price and from what I could tell it was solid wood underneath the paint. I completely sanded down the top of the desk and it was solid wood! I wish I would have taken more pictures of the beautiful grain it had. I used my favorite General Finishes Java gel stain (one coat) and sealed it with Varathane Polyurethane 3X in gloss. For polyurethane, I apply the first coat with a foam brush and let it completely dry. I sand it lightly with 220 grit sand paper and then continually apply more coats until I am happy with how it looks.

Since this was already painted, I lightly sanded with my Ryobi orbital sander with 150 grit to lightly rough the surface so my new paint would stick. For my paint choice, I went with Behr's Orion Gray in flat and mixed up my own chalk paint with Plaster of Paris. I loved how the color contrasted with the wood top. I then sealed the entire desk with furniture wax. I apply it with no-lint clothes.

Next was the chair. I painted the frame and selected this fabric from Jo-Ann's for the seat and sealed that in wax as well. The colors in the fabric appealed to me the most and I love the fun shapes.

I couldn't believe how fast this desk sold on a local Facebook group. It was picked up in about 12 hours from when I listed it. Most of my staging items have come from local antique stores and auctions. One of my goals with staging is to try to have a piece that matches the hardware. The cast iron piece in the center of the desk is my absolute favorite staging item that I got from an auction. I always feel that I could improve my staging and maybe add more around my piece. What are your thoughts on it?

Thanks for reading,
Shayla Martin

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Table & Chairs

This was my first attempt at a dining room set. I originally found the table at a local Goodwill store. It was in pretty good shape, but it needed some new stain and some scratches sanded out. I learned a lot from this project, hoping some of these tips might help you!

This was the table when I got it home. It was all solid wood and in great shape. I started by using my Ryobi Orbital Sander. I usually always start with a rough grit, 60 or 80 grit to do all the dirty work first. I always make sure to wear a mask when doing this and safety glasses. Once all the old stain and finish is sanded off, I got to a higher grit sandpaper, usually 150 grit, to smooth out the project before I paint or stain it.

Once it was all sanded, I loved all the natural wood grain. I couldn't wait to stain it with my favorite General Finishes Java Gel stain. It was one of the first nice March days here in Wisconsin this year, so I thought it was be a great idea to stain this all outside. So I put the stain on like I normally do with a foam brush and then I went to wipe off the excess, but it was almost all dried up. What the heck!?!?Well. this little table heated quite a bit being in the sun for 30 minutes, which is hard to even imagine in Wisconsin during March. It heated up so much that the stain dried instantly. Bummer. I was so frustrated, I just threw it in my garage and decided to try it the next day. Lesson learned, stain inside in shade.

So the next day, I sanded off most of the stain and reapplied the gel stain.  Here you get a little view of my work room/garage full of furniture/projects. 

After the stain was dried (about 24 hours), I applied Varathane Triple Thick Polyurethane in semi-gloss. I applied the first coat and let it dry over a day. Then lightly sanded with 320 grit sand paper and applied a second coat. I love using this polyurethane for tables or desks that will see a lot of traffic. It is so thick and goes on great in just two coats. Next, I was on the hunt for a set of four chairs. My hair dresser and also furniture friend Lori, had four of these chairs for me. Funny story with these chairs is I had seen them at Goodwill along with my friend Kim, but two of them were kind of loose. And then Lori had texted me a picture of them in the next few days, saying look what I found! And then somehow they ended back with me.

I decided to paint the base of the table charcoal grey and all the chairs a lighter grey. I love grey! I mixed my own chalk paint using Behr interior matte paint and Plaster of Paris. Often I paint inside my condo as the natural lighting is a lot better than my garage. It makes it a lot easier for me to see and get full coverage with paint.

I have a love/hate relationship with chairs. I hate painting them, but always love how they turn out afterwards. They just take so long to paint and have to much detail. I really need to work on that sprayer. Someday! I then sealed all the chairs in General Finishes high performance top coat in flat. I absolutely love how this table/chairs turned out and it sold very quickly. It was almost a keeper until I found another table/chairs. Those are soon to come in a future post.


Thanks for reading, XO