Office Update: Gallery Wall and end of the January Cure

My goal was to finish the office during the month of January, as I participated in the January Cure. It is now mid-February and I am calling the office done…for now.

The reason the office did not get finished by February 1 is not me (I am perfect), it was the polar vortex. Besides causing major havoc and misery all over the United States, the freezing temps also delayed my spray painting, which delayed finishing the office. Again, this had nothing to do with me starting 100 projects at once and watching too much tv.

As I mentioned in this post, one of my goals for the finished office was to add a bulletin board. I found this bulletin board at Target for $10. The faux wood finish was gorgeous but I wanted a different look. I painted the frame with Rustoleum Metallics gold spray paint. Eventhough I sanded to frame to rough it up, the spray paint pooled in some spots and didn’t want to stick. After it dried, I used some antique gold rub ‘n buff to cover any wood that was peeking through where the spray paint did not stick. I then painted the cork with a sample pot of paint, Mariner by Martha Stewart. I like the navy and gold combo, and if I tire of it I can always paint it a new color or use some fabric to cover it.

navy and gold bulletin board

The other frames are Ikea Nyttja frames. I used the same spray paint, rub ‘n buff method with them. Again, I had issues with the spray paint adhering. Not sure if it was user error (likely), or if I need a primer over these plastic surfaces.

I made a calendar with one of the large nyttja frames. On the back of the plexi glass I drew a calendar grid with navy sharpie. I then attached a piece of scrap white fabric. I put the frame back together and added the month and day numbers with the same sharpie. When I need to change the month a little rubbing alcohol takes the sharpie off of the plexi glass. (You could also use a dry erase marker and skip the rubbing alcohol step). Immediately after I finished this grand feat of engineering I noticed I do not have enough spaces in the grid for a month with more than 28 days. Looks like I have some fixing to do, or I can just forget the last few days of the month exist.


I used white fabric scraps to back all the frames. The thin fabric worked really well in the smaller frame, but tends to pull oddly in the larger frames. I will probably try a thicker fabric in them. I added a black and white picture to the smaller nyttja frame and I’m still thinking about what pictures to add to the other large frame. The small square brown frame is from Target long ago and houses a watercolor painting of mine.

gallery wall

As for the rest of the office…things are looking good.

Office full

The rug is from Target and used to be in the bedroom. The desk chair is also from Target. It’s from their Room Essentials line and I haven’t seen it listed online. The desk was a thrift store find.

The aqua cart is the raskog cart from Ikea. I had absolutely no use for it, but bought it anyway. That is how it came to live in the office. The jury is still out if it actually works in here, but functionally it is great. It holds all the internet stuff in the bottom, and stationary in the other shelves.

On the other side of the room I made a seating area. I bought these chairs at a thrift store last year with plans to reupholster them…that didn’t happen. I hope to reupholster them this summer, but in the meantime they make a nice place to sit in the office.


The large shelving unit behind the chairs is West Elm from a while ago. I actually found mine on Craigslist about 2 years ago.

That’s the new and improved office. Did the cure work? I think so, being that the ultimate goal was a cleaner more organized space. The office started as a big disorganized closet and now we actually enjoy the space. It not only looks better; it is 100x more functional and has become a room we actually use.

Well done January Cure. See you in 2015.


Office Cure Update

I’m halfway through the cure and it’s going well. Some of the cure tasks have not applied to a home office (#7 clean up the kitchen, #8 get ready to host a get together, #9 make a landing strip) but the tasks that can be office-related are getting DONE.

Task #5 was to pick a project off the list I made on day 1. I hope to complete my whole list in the month, but since I had to pick one, I chose painting the trim and installing quarter round along the baseboard. I know that’s technically two but they go hand in hand.

Painting trim always seems easy. It is such a small surface area yet takes forever and leads to very sore wrists. The trim had been painted with a white oil based gloss. It was almost like nail polish: shiny, hard and slick  (i.e. latex paints worst nightmare). I chose to lightly sand it to rough it up, clean it up with some vinegar, then prime with Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3, finishing with 2 coats of Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Super White satin. The paint is the same as I used on my kitchen cabinets. It’s amazing paint. It dries rock hard like oil based paint, but cleans up with soap and water. I love this stuff.

We also installed quarter round. It was a relatively quick and cheap process. It took about 1.5 hours and cost around $15 for the quarter round. It’s a simple detail but really makes the room look finished. We wish we would have done it sooner.


baseboard before

and AFTER:office baseboard after


Onto the next task. #6 Prep artwork for framing and display. I was ahead of the game on this one. I have multiple framed pictures and artworks that just need to be hung up.

Today is task #11: work on your chosen project. My trim painting is done, but the whole office is technically my January project so hopefully I’ll get some more stuff done in there. If not, writing about the office and sharing with the interwebs counts as working on it, right?

Laundry Room: The 500 pound sink

This post could also be titled, “Working with what ya got”, or “Lipstick on a pig”, but I chose to go with something more literal. Like many houses built in 1920s, ours has a massive 2 basin laundry sink. It’s made of concrete, with a pipe base support that is poured into the concrete foundation. So it’s not going anywhere unless we wanted to pull out the sledgehammer, commit to a lot of manual labor, and shell out a thousand bucks on a pretty new sink, or fifty on an ugly plastic one.


The sink was a bit of an eyesore, but it is a really useful utility sink and serves as the drain for the washing machine. It has two huge basins (the entire sink is 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep), and has been great for washing out paint brushes and all the other DIY related washing activities I throw at it. Thus, he got a little makeover to match the new and improved laundry room.

First, I painted the outside of the sink. It had been painted about 14 times, so I thought why not add another coat? The laundry room is very white and gray. I wanted to add a little bit of color with the sink. I chose a deep blue gray, Mariner by Martha Stewart. I then tackled the legs/supports. Their most recent paint job was burgundy and was not doing them any favors. They got a coat of matte black acrylic craft paint and they look a million times better.

sink painted

And now for the true eyesore…the inside of the sink and the faucet. I used a stiff brush and all 120 pounds of elbow grease I had to scrub the heck out the basins. I revealed the light gray concrete as well as a metal lip that covers the top edge of the sink. I also revealed some hairline cracks. I used concrete caulk and a putty knife to fill them in and prevent them from getting worse. I then sealed the entire inside with some Sealer’s Choice Gold I had lying around.

The faucet proved to be the most difficult part of the sink project. The faucet was mounted to the wall, or in this case, rotten wood boards that leaned against the wall. I say “leaned” because the nails that had originally been used to attach the boards to the concrete walls had rusted out.

We detached the faucet from the boards and the pipes, and pulled the boards out. I replaced the boards with a fir 2×8 that I sanded within an inch of its life, stained with Minwax Early American, and sealed with 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic on all sides. (I was attempting to match the color of the oak countertops, Early American seemed to fit the bill in the store, but is a little too dark in real life).

While the new board was being glued in place, I tackled the faucet. Some poor soul decided that painting everything white would make the faucet and pipes look much better, and while I believe that almost everything can be remedied with a coat of white paint, a faucet is not one of them. I simmered the faucet in water for 30 minutes and scraped off paint and a lot of grime. This process was repeated 4 times. (Apparently lots of people thought painting a metal faucet was a good idea). Once I had scraped most the paint off, I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed with steel wool to reveal the nice silver metal.

faucet before and after

We then attached the faucet back to the pipes and screwed it into the backer board. And with that, the sink project was complete.

laundry sink after

laundry sink after

We also replaced the waterlines to the washer with steel braided lines. They are apparently better than the black rubber lines (less likely to burst), and they have the added benefit of looking much nicer.

The laundry room is now 90% done. We still need to add a ceiling and finishing touches (shelves, trim, accessories). We are aiming to be done by Christmas. Whereas, most people have an advent calendar, we have a “days till laundry room completion” calendar. 21 to go…

A Dresser Grows Up

This is a tale of how a dresser matured from rough and tumble pine beginnings to a sleek mahogany end. The blocky little dresser started life in glamorous 1980s Texas. After decades of abuse he found his final place in our beautiful home. Alas, he was not appreciated the way a solid pine dresser with so much life experience should be. He needed a makeover and I was the one to do it, being that I could not stare at the blocky orange dresser any longer.


The makeover started with a light sanding to prepare for some stain. I first tried Minwax in Dark Walnut on an inconspicuous area. Parts of the pine sucked it right up while others didn’t take at all giving a nice orange and black tiger effect. Needless to say… dark walnut was out. I then tried General Finishes gel stain in Brown Mahogany. I had heard great things about GF gel stain and I’m so glad I tried it. It’s thick, like pudding, and doesn’t suck into the soft wood immediately. It kind of floats on the surface giving everything nice even color. I applied it lightly with a rag, and did 2 coats letting each coat dry for a day. Brown mahogany is nice warm medium brown, but the underlying orange oiled pine made it come out a little more red than I would have liked, but still pretty.

Onto the drawers: after removing the old wood block handles the wood underneath had never been oiled so it was raw and much lighter color. I figured I would have to paint the drawers because of this, but wanted to see if they could be stained. I filled the holes with wood putty and gave them all a good sanding. I tried two light coats of stain but there was still an obvious mark where the handle once lived.

So I pulled out the primer and white paint. Three coats later and some new knobs and the makeover was complete and the dresser lived happily ever after.

The end.



Dresser: CARGO furniture circa 1980

Stain: General Finishes Gel Stain in Brown Mahogany

Paint: Benjamin Moore Advance in Super White

Blue glass pulls (on large drawers): Anthropologie (discontinued)

Porcelain pulls (on small drawers): Hobby Lobby