Friday, January 24, 2014


Post holiday clutter.  It hangs on until it drives me to the point of madness.  That point came this week. 

And then this happened.

I decluttered something we've lived with for 8 years. 

I did it without thinking.  Well, I thought about it because we bought the trundle.  I knew what I was doing.  But it just kind of happened.  And then I felt sad.

In Progress

It's so much better.  No regrets.  The smallest room in the house finally has some space.  So now, I'm dreaming up some storage.  Or a desk.  With a laundry basket.  Who knows.

No more baby.  A little sad.  But then this happens. 

Dead Asleep

And I feel better...and wonder how anyone can sleep on a metal bar while inclined.  ;)

Friday, January 17, 2014

What I Learned About Refinishing Furniture

I learned this is something I should have done sooner in my life.  I loved it.  It was more work that I thought it would be, but I loved the process.  

And reeeeeally love the reward. 


Since I posted about the how-I-did-it already: finding inspiration, stripping, sanding, staining & painting and the reveal...I've decided to share what I learned from beginning to end.  It's the next best thing I can do beside turning back time and telling my younger self to do this immediately. 

Oh the bad side tables and nightstands I've had...they could have been so much more!!!

1) Find your inspiration.

This Room

This Dresser

I'm a visual person, so I thrive on seeing things.  I found these pictures and kept coming back to them.  When the dresser started to go off course, I thought about changing direction.  But looking at them reinforced my focus and paid off in the end.

2.  Strip or sand?

Ha!  First figure out if it's solid wood or veneer. 

Dresser Side

This is a successfully stripped piece of wood veneer.

Dresser Top

This is not.  This is actually sanded veneer after being stripped poorly. 

Well, I don't know if it was done poorly.  It was my first time stripping anything, but I followed the directions to the T.  So I'm blaming the veneer. 


This, however, is a successfully sanded piece of wood veneer.  It turned out so much better than the best part of the dresser.  So if I was refinishing a veneer piece of furniture again, I'd sand.  Skip the strip. 

3.  Condition, condition, condition.

(Red Can On Top)

I didn't do a comparison stain between conditioned and non-conditioned veneer wood.  I wasn't taking any chances with the blotchy dresser top.  In the end, I think this really helped the stain absorb evenly.  It's not just for hair.

4.  The darker the stain, the more it really hides.

1st Coat: Light-er Stain
2nd Coat: Dark Stain
3rd Coat: Dark Stain

I almost didn't go here.  I was in give up mode after the first coat was a bust.  But the extra $9 for a little can of ebony saved the day dresser.  Don't give up.  Go dark.

5.  Millions of polyurethane bubbles are ok.

Now You See Them
Now You Don't

All I read anywhere about sealing was "get rid of the bubbles before it starts to dry."  I can't explain how heartbreaking it was to see a million bubbles that would not go away after I finally hid the blotches!  So I walked away.  And returned to find them gone.  Hallelujah.  The fine print should say: microbubbles are ok.

6.  Benjamin Moore Advance paint is worth it.


This stuff is expensive and it should always be used when painting furniture.  I got a tip from one of my favorite bloggers here and didn't look back. 

I resisted the temptation to "re-roll" because the paint looked almost clumpy and bumpy after a minute or so.  And good thing I did.  It self-levels and ends up looking flawless. 

7.  Splurge on the jewelry. 

The handles were not cheap.  But they make the dresser.  I truly believe that investing in them here makes this piece of furniture look and feel stunning. 

I've heard this rule of thumb over and over.  Never a regret.  Always a must. 

So that's all I'd say to a younger me.  I'd show her these before and after shots, too.

I'd say -I know- I can't believe I did that either.  But you totally can and you totally will.  And you totally should. 

Because this is what it cost:

$100 - Dresser (Kijiji)
$9     - Stripper
$9     - Pre-stain Conditioner
$16   - "Lighter" Stain
$9     - Ebony Stain
$30   - BM Advance Paint
$9     - Polyurethane
$68   - 6 Pulls
$250 TOTAL

(Ok, I bought a sander, too, which I was meaning to buy anyway for other projects...and used a store credit that I kept forgetting I that would add $67 for a grand total of $317)

Or...I could just buy this similar dresser.

$699 USD

Nah.  I'll keep the difference and find some more furniture to refinish.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Not A Happy New Year And A Challenge

We're struggling this New Year.  We've been rotating a man down since 2014 started and we're still not out of the woods.  Yet.

The Mitt

First one to go was George.  He touched a hot fireplace during our last holiday get together on New Year's Day.  The first couple hours were tough.  But after that, it was smooth sailing.  Just proudly telling everyone, "I touch a fireplace!" While showing off "my mitt." Must be the 3rd child thing. 

Shortly after, I got sick.  Head cold sick.  Down for the count, lying in bed, please-cut-off-my-head-so-i-can-feel-better sick. Ugh.

Then it spread.


Isn't that the worst?  Actually, it's not.  Having just gone through it, I can say that being sick yourself is worse than your child being sick.

So many times, when my little guys are feeling bad, I get to a moment where I just wish I was sick instead of them because it would be better that way.  Well, no.  It's not.  And I'm saying it here so I remember it.  Not. Better. 

So far, the middle child has somehow avoided it.  The youngest has a cough but full energy.  And my better half is totally down for the count.

He's the not-out-of-the-woods-yet part. 

But 2014 hasn't been all bad.

Big Boy Bed

(Excuse the world's worst picture) 

Confession: I sneak into the boys' bedroom at night to check on them before I go to bed and sometimes I take a picture.  They are always bad pictures.  The cuteness is never captured.  But this is the first one where all three are together. 

George has a big boy bed!

It's the trundle/pullout (sold separately) part that I talked about here.  It slides right under their IKEA bunk bed...even with the plush rug in place.  I love it.  

But we still have the crib in the room.  And if you're counting, yes, that's 4 beds in the smallest room of the house.  It's there because George gets silly at bedtime, so sometimes we have to put him back in his crib.  Ok, most times.  He's the third child.  We'll get there. 

And lastly...with every new year, I update our family budget.  With money planning top of mind, I found this:


It's my challenge.  And if I succeed, I'll have $1378 in an envelope at the end of the year.  If it's too hard to read the chart, let me explain.  For each week of the year, you put away that dollar amount.  So week 1, it's $1.  Week 2, it's $2.  And on.  So by week 52, the total amount saved will add up to $1378.  It seems totally doable.  

It's like that math problem in high school where Johnny starts saving a little money when he's 20 and Danny starts saving a lot when he's 40 but Johnny ends up with more.  I'm not Johnny.  But here's my chance to feel like him...and turn 2014 around.  I've got 50 more weeks to do it!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Out With The Old, In With The New...Dresser!!!

This project took too long.  Either I didn't realize how much time it would actually take or I'm a perfectionist.  The answer is both.   

Since I've never done any furniture refinishing or painting, I have lots of learning to share.  But this is just the reveal.  I have to sort through a million pictures of a dresser-in-progress, first. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen the sneak peek.


Which looks pretty darn close to the inspiration when I started this whole thing...

Inspiration Success

Want to see more?  I thought so.


No, the legs have not disappeared and, yes, I need to hang that picture.  Just finishing the dresser was achievement enough for me.  That and I need to swap out the picture because all three boys are sleeping in here now. 

Smallest room, most humans.  At least they're the smallest humans in the house.  So it works.  For now...


The dark stain worked out perfectly with the floor and the rug.  And although the drawers aren't exact, they don't scream crooked. 


The handles are my favorite.  Not just because they used to be so bad.  But because they just look. So. Good.  They were the biggest indulgence of this little makeover, but worth their weight in gold.

And here's the last little look.


Worst pictures.  (Ignore the unmade beds and crib crammed in the corner)  But best view.  I can't not look at it every time I walk by the door. 

I got this dresser done just under the New Year's wire.  The perfect ending to an amazing year in this house!