I’ve been digging the secondhand shopping here in Oz. A few tricks of the trade I’ve learned: The thift stores aren’t that cheap, Gumtree (Craigslist) is just as good as it is back home, and Ikea is still a good standby if you can’t find anything else.

Here are some chairs I found and fixed up from the local Salvos (Salvation Army):

They were 20 bucks each, which I didn’t think was too bad. I figured I could give ‘em a coat of paint and they’d be as good as new. Upon further  inspection (as always) I realized they were going to be more work than I thought.

I love natural wood, and at first I thought I would refinish them. But the veneer was chipped and generally in bad shape and it would have taken hours of patience to patch them with new veneer pieces. Since they’re not antiques or anything, I decided to introduce them to my friend, spray paint.

First, I squished some wood glue in between the peeling veneer and the chair and clamped it:

Then I went back and, using wood patch, filled in the nicks and dings as well as I could:

Sneak peak to this same angle all patched and painted:

Then I gave them an allover sand so my primer would stick better.

They each took a whole can of $16 Zinsser stain-blocking primer, at which point I realized this “cheap little makeover” might not be as cheap as I thought.

After a couple coats of paint, I realized my patch job still left something to be desired in some places, so I went ahead and patched over the paint. It turned out fine, but next time I’ll know that if I’m dealing with super old dried-out veneer that looks like it was painstakingly peeled off by a bored kid in time out, I need to patch it better. They ended up requiring three cans of Circus Yellow Dulux spray paint at $11 each. So the total for these chairs was over $100. This fact is a bit painful considering you can easily find chairs for $50 apiece, but these are unique and they’re mine so I love them.

Here they are again, my sunny little beauties!

For now, I kind of like the brown leather cushions, so they’ll stay. Now what is this scene missing… oh yeah, a table! It’s hard to find a teensy table that’s small enough for a 2-person breakfast nook, so the search continues, as do our meals at the coffee table.

There ya have it! My first project down under.

Sometimes I complain about our ‘hood, but the fact is that graffiti could be anywhere. It can be done by anyone from gangsters to rich kids. I think the difference between “good” and “bad” neighborhoods really comes down to how much people care. Do people care about their yards looking nice, or whether there are stray dogs and cats running around? Do they care about stuff that’s spray painted?

For months, I’ve “cared” about the mailbox on the corner and how crappy of a feeling I get when I turn onto our street. But passively cared, as in one time I think I googled graffiti removal services in my neighborhood and gave up after about 3 seconds. But this past weekend, by golly, I decided to actively care!

Of course now that I’ve already removed it, I find this link that looks super easy to use (if you live in my neighborhood, please use this!). I swear that was hiding from my previous google searches.

Anyhoo, I didn’t feel like waiting for anyone to come out anyway, so the link I found was this one from the Minneapolis Police Dept that had lots of good info on DIY graffiti removal. (Minneapolis- what a great city!)

There are a lot of options, so I headed down to the mailbox with a rag and an armful of supplies. These are the ones I trudged down with:

  • Orange degreaser (I think Zep brand)
  • Simple Green
  • Mineral spirits
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Paint thinner (which I’m pretty sure is just mineral spirits)
  • Goof-Off (says right on the label it can remove graffiti)

I’m just sad I didn’t get a picture, because I looked pretty ridiculous. Here’s a closer shot of the “artwork”:

Since the earth and I are friends, I started out with what I guessed was the least harsh of the chemicals: the orange degreaser and the Simple Green. Surprisingly, the orange degreaser took the paint marker (the yellow in the picture) right off. Simple Green would have done it too, but with much more scrubbing. Seriously, it wiped right off. Made me wonder why I waited so long!

But for the actual spray paint I had to pull out the big guns, and I finally determined that lacquer thinner is the only way to go. (Since that worked and I hadn’t opened the Goof-Off, I decided to save $4 and return it.) Surprisingly, it didn’t even remove the powder coating underneath. For some reason, some of the paint was more stubborn than others. The black stuff on the left wiped right off, but most of the stuff on the right had to be scrubbed with a Scotch Brite pad and lots of elbow grease, and copious amounts of lacquer thinner (wear gloves). There were a few parts that just would not come off, but in the end I decided that the result was satisfactory.

While I was at it, I even trimmed that bushy tree thing trying to grow. I debated digging up the grass and mulching it, but decided that the grass/weed mixture already looked 10x better than it had, so I saved my mulch.

While I’m glad to have found the SLC graffiti removal service, I think I’m going to make this particular mailbox my own special project. It’s been three days, and so far so good. They say the best thing to deter graffiti “artists” (sorry kid, but you’re not Banksy) is to remove it as soon as humanly possible, so that’s exactly what I intend to do. I will sit there like Walt Kowalski (minus the guns and racial slurs).

Oh and if you’re here to comment and tell me that I should have asked for permission before improving public property, you can go ahead and take your comments elsewhere. I had enough rude comments on my post about the dang fence, and if my act of public service offends you, you can find another blog to terrorize.

If you drive by ugly graffiti regularly and are hoping someone will come take care of it, I encourage you to channel Gandhi and “be the change you wish to see in the world”! Find a service in your area, or just head out there yourself! People will roll down their windows to thank you, and you will feel really superior/good about yourself.

Now, spill it: Does anyone else live in a ‘hood where this kind of thing is common? Or do bloggers usually only live in classier neighborhoods? Any more helpful/constructive tips on DIY graffiti removal?

First, the after:

Now the before:

I got this baby at a consignment store, but the floral fabric and lime green paint job wasn’t really my style.

So I popped the top off and painted it a hott red (California Poppy by Behr). I didn’t use primer and I gave it three coats, in case you’re curious.

I got this fabric at Joann’s (I’m sure I used a coupon so it was probably $5 or so) and cut it down to fit over the cushion. I didn’t even take off the old fabric, I just put it right over.

I stapled the sides first,  and then just kind of fudged the corners. Maybe this helps?

Then I kind of sloppily trimmed off the excess fabric, because that’s how I roll.

Then I reassembled!

It looks pretty different in different lights. I like it in all lights- that’s called unconditional love.

I like the red punch in the blue room, an idea that started with the red clock. Now that I’ve hopped on the red train, I don’t know if I can stop…

A few years ago, I bought  a piano from the DI (DI=Utah version of Goodwill). It was $100.

Jonny convinced me to buy it since it was cheap and the keys worked (kind of a rare thing in DI pianos).

He has a painting company (creatively named Moore Brothers Painting) and he thought he’d tackle a painting project outside his normal realm of interior/exterior paint jobs.

Faithful Moore Brothers Painting employee Tyler helped him out.

He sprayed on an oil-based gloss paint, which he said was a royal pain in the butt to work with. Then he put on gloss varnish. Are you ready for this?

GOR-GEOUS!! His blog is here. He’s better at documenting weird things he does with dune buggies and old cars and stuff than all the cool house projects he does, but it’s still totally worth your time to check it out, especially if you’d like a glimpse into one of the most creatively genius minds I’ve ever known in my life. Maybe that’s sister-bias… whatev.

It currently lives at his house, and unfortunately he’s probably going to get rid of it because, and I quote, ” It’s too big of an object to have just so people can play ‘Heart and Soul’ every time they come over.” (he doesn’t really play). Sadly, I don’t really have room for a full-size piano in my 816 square feet either. Oh well, someone else would probably get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Jonny, feel free to expound on the process and/or correct anything I said.

PS- Don’t forget to enter the giveaway- it ends at 5pm MST today!

K. Today I have the “after” photo. (Except around here you’ve come to know that “after” really just means “forever in progress”, but I’m still going to call this an “after” photo.)

Here’s the room a couple weeks ago after we de-storage-unit-ed it. I didn’t hate the color, but it was just kind of naked. Looked like naked skin. I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.

Here it is with Plumage:

BAM! I like it. I love it. I’m fond of it.

Although it’s  a dark color, I find that it makes the white things in the room POP so much, that it actually feels brighter in there, in a way. I have a few more things for the walls that I’m excited to see POP as well.

I think it’s the perfect color for doing creative things, which is perfect since this is the art/sewing/craft/music room.

I also think it’s perfect for deep concentration, which is great because this will be the office too, as soon as we get a desk for under the window.

The animals just loooooooooooove this color (they told me), which is perfect since some of their paraphernalia lives in here.

Aaaaand it’s a good color for studying maps (I forgot to take a picture of the giant map I got Stan! Dang!).

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand it will make our bikes look really cool when they’re hanging from ceiling hooks.

Maybe I’ll replace the curtains with a simple white roman shade one day. Thoughts?

I should probably buy another Billy, since this one is already overflowing and I still have more books. Or I could get rid of some stuff.

I also quite like the red clock. I may play up some more red in the room.

Thoughts on the color? Except I don’t want to hear your thoughts if you liked the naked skin color better- I’m not repainting. :)

This weekend was weird. It was the kind of weekend where I got to the gym for my second day back at running post-surgery, realized I didn’t have my Body-Glide (otherwise my fat sweaty thighs rub together and it HURTS), and I about had a Hulk moment right there in the locker room.

It was the kind of weekend where everything seemed to take me forever- I’ve been doing the same two loads of laundry since Friday night, I swear I spent 30 minutes unloading the dishwasher, and I didn’t remember to brush my teeth until like 2pm on Friday.

As I saw my weekend-end fast approaching, I just got more discouraged. (You know when you know you’re being a baby for no reason, and then that fact makes you even more sad and pathetic, so you’re even more of a baby?) It seemed like every item on my to-do list required two people, or one person + an electrician, or one person + a Stan + an electrician… and being the disorganized person I am, I hadn’t figured out a time when Stan the Man and his dad could come over to finish those projects, so I was at a stalemate.

But then I remembered that there was a project that needed doing, but was low on the list, but was the only one I could think of to start on all by myself! And was not weather dependent! Painting the second bedroom- aka the music/sewing/craft/bike/cat/dog room.

I knew that the color in the second bedroom was kind of a challenge, because it has only one tree-shaded north-facing window. That = dark. I knew that Maria Killam and other experts recommended not trying to fight a room’s natural lighting by going with too light a color, but I just hadn’t landed on which “dark” color to pick yet.

I’m nothing if not a shameless copycat, so I totally copycatted some of my favorite dark blue colors. Of all those linked, I chose Plumage by Martha Stewart, but only because I neglected to write down the formula for Reflecting Pool that Sara so awesomeley provided, and Home Depot doesn’t have Ralph Lauren colors. Yes, that really is how decisions are made around here.

On to the fun part. I moved all the crapola to the middle of the room…

And then I cut in around the edges instead of taping which took for-ev-er. However, by the end of it I was getting the hang of it and I think I may never tape again. Maybe.

Oh! And by the way I decided to give the Behr paint+primer a go, since it’s such a dark color and I’m lazy. It worked awesome! Really good coverage. I put on two full coats, but if I’d been more diligent with the first coat, I probably could have gotten away with just spot fill-ins the second time around. TWO COATS! For a color that dark! I’m sold.

Unfortunately, you guys don’t get to see an “after” yet, because I finished at 12:15am and the lighting just doesn’t do it justice at that hour, ya know?

In other news, I finally put the last coat of poly on that TV table I built forever ago.

I guess I should explain the title of the post- after so much laying around, and a vacation to Moab (which was awesome) I was feeling seriously behind and stagnant and grumpy. I needed a big project like this that I could tackle on my own while Stan was skiing. Since I managed to finish it in a day, I’d say I got a fair amount of self-esteem out of that can of paint!

PS- Does anyone have any suggestions for a cheap but cool light fixture? The boob has got to go.

When I was filling nail holes on the recently-installed quarter-round, I decided to also patch a few dents and cracks in the walls. I was just going to do a couple.

Juuuuust a couple. Oops.

PS- I woke up at 12:34 today due to getting home at 4am due to seeing the 12:40 showing of Harry Potter. Anyone else see it yet? It was good, but there were some awkward parts. That’s all I’m going to say.

Now that the weather is cooling off a bit, it seems like a good time to relax and let the home projects rest. NOT! Just kidding, it really does. In fact, I really can’t wait for the nights this winter of curling up with Netflix or Hulu, or (here’s a novel idea) a good book. (Oh wow, that was an awesome unintentional pun.) I’ve gotten behind on my reading, but honestly it’s mostly because I’m afraid I’ll get sucked in to a good one and lose sleep for about a week- cause that’s how I roll.

Anyway, the direction I meant to go when I started writing this, is that now that it’s cold, I’m putting more focus back on the inside of my house. I have a new secret project that I can’t wait to tell you about (oh the suspense!) but I’m thinking that my bedroom needs a little lift as well. You guys have all met my bedroom.

My friends have bugged me about the purple walls since the moment they laid eyes on them. I truly believe that it could be pulled off, but not by me. Lately I’ve really been loving dark, dramatic bedrooms. Since this room gets a lot of sunlight, I think it could work. And since this is my sleepy place, it might be good to have a nice cozy cave-like shade in here. I obviously don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

But these people do:

Martha, found here

Nicole, found here

I know I’ve seen a bunch more beautiful spaces with deep tones on the walls, but I’m kinda feeling too lazy to find them right now. What do you guys think” Is it something I could pull off? Would I get sick of it? Would it be depressing?

Last time we left off, the shed was looking clean and spider-less but still pretty fug.

Then I primed it and the door fell off for good.

Then I painted it at reattached the door.

See that paver under the left corner? Yeah, my nifty little base isn’t level. I wouldn’t even give two craps, but it turns out that doors need a square frame in order to shut. Who knew? So yeah, that means some more digging and raising the base for me. Joy.

I am liking the paint job though.

K guys. I’ll admit it. Many of you have done refinishing projects- many of you. And I have a shameful confession to make.

When you post about your adventures in refinishing, I don’t read them. I scroll quickly, watching the pictures fly by up my screen, then compare “before” to “after”. I promise that I really do actually read most of your other posts- refinishing just seemed like such a boring topic.

I have learned the error of my ways.

J & S, why didn’t I read your step-by-step tips for refinishing?

Kasey, why didn’t it sink in that it was a total pain in the b-u-t-t?

Of course I didn’t think of that until I was standing there frustrated, dripping in sweat, cursing the sander and anything else that came in my path. (It might not have helped that my dear grandpa’s belt sander hadn’t been used in 15 years and wasn’t working so well.)

Okay, on to the freakin post.

A while back I was given this old (old!) patio set by my Aunt Soozie and my Grandpa Workman. It’s a little wobbly and not in the best shape, but it holds a special place in my heart. I remember it being on my grandpa’s back patio when I was a kid.

I actually really liked the turquoise paint job that Soozie had done on it about 15 years earlier

Unfortunately it had been left out in the weather for quite some time, and presented a few challenges in the aesthetic department.

I invested in a scraper to get the big flakes off. At this point I should have just sanded it smooth and painted the whole thing. But I thought “Wouldn’t it look cool to be partly painted and partly stained?” I may as well have asked myself “Wouldn’t it be cool to spend all day on this project, versus a couple of hours?” Luckily I had my awesome mom here, and some more awesome friends to help me along the way.

They seem to have commandeered my camera.

Working hard, girls??

Both of these girls actually recently bought properties too, and they also have blogs! You can find them in my “Friends in real life” blogroll- Kristin and Schmandice (Candice). It’s too bad that neither of them is as addicted to blogging as I am, because they are hilarious!

Anyway, I decided it would look cool if the top of the table was stained wood, along with the backs of the chairs/bench and armrests, and everything else was painted. So we sanded the crap out of these slats…

then it became obvious that I was going to have to take them off to get to the paint in the cracks. Boo.

Meanwhile we scraped and sanded the worst of the flaking paint off the chairs and bench:

and had to remove the backs too, so they could be sanded down to bare wood.

By the end of the evening, the set looked like this:

Yes, I am aware that my "lawn" is disgusting, as is the view into the neighbors' driveway.

If you’re interested in the color I can get back to you- my mom actually picked it out while she was at the store. I liked the existing color, and the one she picked was a brighter version of it, so pat on the back for mom! (She almost wouldn’t do it because she was nervous she’d pick a bad color.)

I was reeeeeeeally getting frustrated with the belt sander by now. You can probably see in the pic above what the problem was- the belt kept sliding off, resulting in not only uneven sanding, but ugly gouges in the wood that made me want to cry a little (no I didn’t take pics- what am I, some kind of masochist?). So by those around me who were probably starting to use my face as a barometer for their own level of safety, I was convinced to just paint the armrests instead of trying to fit the crazy-eye-inducing sander where it needed to go. Good choice, guys, for all of us. Although I think it would have looked really cool, it just was not worth it to me.

Are you ready for the finished* product?


*Fooled ya! The slats are actually just sitting on top- I bought the wrong kind of screws to screw them back on, but I was too impatient to not blog about it. The other *last thing* I need to do is sand and put a couple more coats of poly on top, so we can spill spinach dip and orange Crush to our hearts’ content, and wipe it right up.

As you can see, some of the wood is a little “rustic” looking. Where the paint had peeled, weather had been allowed to seep deep into the grain, and I would have had to sand half the slat off to make it look “right”. So I left it.

As if this post wasn’t long enough, let me explain the post title. You know that saying that has to do with shooting for the moon, and even if you don’t make it you’ll at least end up among the stars? (Which totally doesn’t make sense astronomically, but I think we can all get the symbolism.) Well since I pictured a beautifully smooth refinished table, my real efforts at least resulted in “rustic charm”. Now if my goal had been “rustic charm”, I probably would have ended up with “getthispieceofcrapoffmybackpatioimmediatelywhatthehellwereyoutryingtodo?”.

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