Tackling the Wood Work

Oh lordy, this is only the beginning! As you saw in my last post, I started to tackle my ugly bathroom.  Now that all the walls are de-wall papered and cleaned, it was time to start patch work.  I decided to tackle the window sills first.

I started this process by using a small putty knife to chip away at the paint that was already flaking off

That left me with huge spots of bare wood, and the rest was still covered in grimy old paint:

Now I had to decide where to go from here.  I could just clean it up and cover in a couple coats of primer, but I was afraid that would look bumpy and rough, especially in the spots where it was down to the bare wood.  My next option was to sand everything down, but that would all have to be done manually since there were so many small and awkward areas…no thanks.  Or there are paint strippers.  But I was really hesitant about this one since the best strippers are heavily chemical based, and I would be working inside a tiny bathroom with only the one window for ventilation.

So off I went to my local home depot and discussed with the men who actually know what their doing!  Home I came with a couple ideas.  First step was a spray on TSP.  This not only helps clean off all the grime, but it de-glosses the paint, which helps new paint or agents stick better.

 Here I am, ready to go!  I couldn’t find my goggles…so stunner shades would have to do 🙂  This is odor less, but till chemical based, so wear the gloves and glasses! oh…and clean the mirror…duh.

The process is really easy…spray on, wait a few minutes (longer for bigger stains), and wipe off with a clean/dry cloth.  I cut up a couple of old t-shirts.  Here is how it looks with the TSP on…

And here is how it looks once it has been wiped off.  The pictures don’t show a huge difference, but the paint is no longer shiny, and all the dirt and stains wiped right off.  Nice!

The next thing the local home depot men suggested was MH Ready Patch.  This is like a spackle, that can cover large areas.

 So I grabbed my putty knife, and started spreading on a generous layer of the Ready Patch.  Smells a little bit, but not too much!  Just remember that things don’t need to be too even or smooth, because you will be sanding it down later.

For the smaller to reach areas, like where the wood connects to the wall, I just used my finger to spread the patch in place.  For areas where the bare wood was showing, or nail holes, I added a little extra patch to make things even.  Here’s what it looks like while it is drying:

The can said it took 30 minutes to dry, but I found that I had to wait much longer than that.  When you sand the dry Patch it will kick up a TON of dust, so I went off in search of the proper goggles and a mask.  No one said you would look good while working!

Here it is all sanded down!  I can’t believe how much smoother and better it looks!

 I will be going back and adding a second layer to a couple spots.  But overall it feels almost completely smooth to the touch!  It will take me a ton of time to get to all the inside pieces of wood, particularly around the glass.  And the next step will be all the baseboards and the door frame….but I’m really happy with how the window came out!

Yay for trying new things!  Off to go shower all the powder outta my hair!

Cheap 2 Shelf Bookcase Makeover!

These days, the last thing I want to do is spend a ton of money on new furniture, particularly when they are things that I don’t necessarily need.  But, some of the cheap furniture out there looks just that, cheap.  Which isn’t the look I’m going for either.  So I’ve been trying to find ways to get the cheap furniture, and make it look more appealing.  Check out the $8 Ikea table I spruced up here!

With all these recent snow days, thank you New England, I wanted a project to work on while being stuck at home.  I took a quick trip to Ocean State Job Lot (for anyone not from around here, they have great prices, but not always the worlds best quality) and found a pretty sturdy looking 2 shelf bookcase, singing to the tune of $10, I was sold.  Next stop was good old home depot where I picked up a paint sample of Martha Stewart Living in Anvil.  Less than $3 for the sample…and that was all the paint I would need!

Check out my process of turning this:


into this:


 while spending a grand total of….$13!

First thing I did was to assemble the bookcase, then I took out my sanding block and some medium (100 grit) sand paper.

Sand paper, and a sanding block, which I like better than just using sandpaper folded up in my hand

It was important to rough up the surfaces to make sure my paint would stick.  If you were working with unfinished wood that was smooth you wouldn’t have use this step, but because my wood was already finished, I needed to scrape off the smooth veneer.

One side, sanded down

Next I took out the screws and made sure to sand down all the inside surfaces I couldn’t reach while it was put together. (Since the bookcase came unassembled you can just sand all the surfaces without putting it together first.  I chose to assemble it first to see how it looked before spending all the time painting.)

Here are all of my pieces laid out, sanded, and ready to be primed!

Ready for priming!

I had a left over Grey primer from a kitchen table and chairs I painted years ago before moving into my first apartment.  That was the perfect base for my darker grey paint.

 I have a little key for popping off the top of paint cans, but a flat screw driver would work fine too

Before priming I used tiny pieces of painters tape to cover up all the screw holes, so that they wouldn’t get painted shut.


I decided to use a small paint roller instead of a paintbrush in the hopes it would cover up brush lines.  So into the tray my primer went, and I was good to go!

Here is what my shelves look like primed:

Read the back of the paint for dry time!  My primer was dry to the touch in 30 minutes, ready for a second coat in 1 hour.  So an hour later I did a second coat.  Waited a couple hours….flipped all the boards over and primed the other side, and edges!  Then I waited over night for everything to dry thoroughly.

Next it was time for paint.  As I said, I chose the Martha Stewart Living in Anvil.  This is a really nice rich grey, originally I thought that I was going to go with Graphite, but after looking at the paint chips Anvil stole my heart.

Each paint tester comes with 8oz. of paint, which I knew would be just enough for my small bookcase.  The guys at Home Depot mix it right up for you, and for less than $3 it’s perfect for a small project or testing paint on your walls at home before taking the plunge.

I followed the same steps as I did for priming my shelves, except this paint took 3 hours to dry!  So 2 coats on each side later…it took most of the day!

After the final coat was on I let things dry overnight just to be on the safe side.  Then I removed the painters tape covering the screw holes, and was happy to see them safe and unblocked.

Now I had to decide on what pattern to paint onto my shelves.  I had seen the fabulous painted wallpaper Emily did over at Jones Design Company and was sold.  I printed her template, but adjusted the size by quite a bit, since my tiny bookshelf was much smaller than her expansive wall space.

Cut out template, and chalk for tracing

Since I had such a dark surface I used chalk to trace my template, rather than pencil.  Here’s what it looks like traced and ready to be painted.

Then I grabbed my white acrylic paint, a brush, and my make shift paint palette.  (remember how I talked about saving all the plastic inserts from my Christmas ornaments here.  This is what I was saving them for!)

Now it was time to get to work.  I followed the chalked out lines, and tried to stay on the inside of the lines.

Again, avoid filling in the screw holes!  Here is what my first side looks like finished:

Now I lined up the top to try and make my patter flow evenly.

I followed the same steps for the top and other side.  Trace outline in chalk, fill in with paint.  After allowing the paint time to dry, I assembled my bookcase.

Here’s a closeup, which shows that there was quite a bit of touch up work to do!

The bookcase did come with these little circle stickers to cover up the head of the screw.  I decided to stick them on and see if I could paint over them.  That way I don’t have to live with unsightly screws on the side of my bookcase, and if I ever decide to take apart the bookcase again, I don’t have to worry about scraping paint off of my screw first.

I then pulled out an angled brush to do my touch up work:

Here it is after, you can hardly see the circle sticker any more!

You can hardly see the circle sticker!

And here she is all put together, with a few space fillers on the shelves.

I’ll be sure to update when I find a permanent home for her.  Most likely next to my bed, but we shall see!  I’m thrilled with the outcome, what do you think?  It was a time consuming process (mostly waiting for paint to dry) and as I stated here, I don’t have the worlds steadiest painting hand, but overall I think my $10 bookcase looks much improved!  I’d say it was $13 well spent.  Maybe I need to go back for a matching one…

Simply Living