White Kitchen Cabinets Makeover

This is a project we finished in December last year and I didn’t have a a chance to share it with you all.
Our kitchen cabinets are oak, good condition and good layout( I didn’t say perfect), but the finish had gone orange and ugly. Remember the 80’s? Yep, that’s exactly how they looked:

You know that oak is grainy, mine however wasn’t heavily grained, so I decided to try painting the kitchen cabinets myself.


Half of the project happened in our garage for the doors and drawers, and the other half( for the frame) in the kitchen itself, of course.


To get a professional finish I decided use Sherwin Williams Enamel Latex Primer and Sherwin Williams ProClassic Interior Acrylic Latex Enamel paint, semi-gloss.


For color, I went with Sherwin Williams Snowbound: a creamy white, not too yellow, but not a stark white either.


Step 1. Remove doors, drawers( and any hardware attached to them)
You ( and especially your family) want to have a functioning kitchen, so leave the contents of the drawers in the cubby holes created. They are loose, in plain view, but hey, they’re still usable for the month to come 🙂 !
Remember; you want to survive this reno!!

Step 2. Clean them( drawers & doors) thoroughly. I used old trusted TSP spray cleaner. Let them dry.


Step 3. Sand drawers and doors. My Sherwin Enamel Latex Primer specified that glossy surfaces should be sanded dull, to get an “exceptional adhesion”. So I did sand them along the grain of the wood. Then all of them got cleaned: back and front.It took some time, but it’s not the most time consuming part of the job.
Here there are my pantry doors being sanded:

Step 4. Paint drawers and doors: this is the worst part of the project( and I’m not lying: it involves painting on and on and on…).
Each drawer and door need to be painted with primer twice, for back and front. AND, after that , each drawer and door needs to be painted with paint twice back and twice front. I have 33 doors and 13 drawers( including the pantry), so the whole “assembly line” happened in the garage.


Step 5. Use tape to protect the walls and surfaces you don’t want painted and repeat steps 1, 2, 3 and 4 for the frame.
Now it’s a good time to get repaired nicks and fill any gaps you might have in the frame, using some wood filler.

After all the painting was done, I attached new hardware, as the drawers and doors didn’t have pulls and knobs.

This is the final result with everything back in place:

I will leave for another post how I gave some depth to the peninsula by adding molding, changed the old rolling doors below the sink with new ones to match the rest and replaced the wooden hood!

Few tips I learned along the way:
always start with the back of the door for both priming and painting; you want to end up with a perfect painted front door; if any marks would happen, they would happen on the back of the doors
follow manufacturers instruction for drying time. If it says it takes 5 days to cure, let it be 5 days. You cannot rush the process, or you would end up with nicks and marks in the paint.
use quality primer and paint. Sherwin Williams cost more but it was worth every penny. This paint levels so nice and it covers very well; and that was important as I used both brush and rollers. the finish is hard and resistant to every day use.
be prepared to have a mess in your kitchen for a month( give or take few days, depending on your daily schedule 🙂 – steps are easy, but the whole process is so time consuming!


Craigslist Dining Table: Before and After

Since we moved in our house we used the same dining table we had in the townhouse: a counter height square table with 4 stools.

We needed a bigger table: it had to be round and have that grey-brown color I like so much.


I found a round table on Craigslist. I bought it right away(for $20, yeah!!!). What I like most about it are the clawfoot shaped legs; they give the table personality and a little bit of a vintage style!
I was lucky with my purchase: the table is sturdy and it doesn’t need any repairs.
All I needed to do is to change the color from orangey to weathered grey-brown, and give the wood some texture.


This is table before:

Materials used:

TSP liquid to clean the table


cheap foam brushes

Gesso white

regular brush

Circa 1850 – Antique Paste Varnish

“Faux Effects Stain and Seal” in Walnut

Well, I wanted the look of chalk paint on my table, and the Gesso I use as primer for my paintings has chalk in it. I decided to go for a quick trip to Opus( the art store where I buy my art supplies) and ask some questions. It turned out they knew what I was inquiring about.


Final advise to me? Buy the Stevenson Gesso for my furniture re-finish project(it has more”tooth”). And that’s what I did:

But enough for now about gesso and chalk paint; promise I will get back with more in a future post!

For easier handling I disassembled the table: top and pedestal. I cleaned both parts with some liquid TSP and let them dry.

Then I painted them with grey gesso( white gesso mixed with few blobs of acrylic black from my art supplies), getting the texture I was looking for and the time-worn look:

And that’s the table top in the process of being gessoed( please disregard the round shadow in the photo, is my ceiling light( as I worked the whole project at nights and in the house):

You don’t need to strip or sand the furniture before gesso-ing. Gesso is a primer so it sticks really well to furniture and dries quickly.


Then I applied my “Faux Effects Stain and Seal” in Walnut, using foam brushes; I wiped off the excess with rags. The number of coats will determine how dark or light the table will look. Let the table dry after each coat!
If you want to read more about the stain I used, you can click here.


This is the photo of the pedestal after being stained. I couldn’t use the table top pic – the photo got blurry!

Last step was to varnish it. Knowing the kitchen table will be used few times a day and get lots of abuse I decided to try “Circa 1850 – Antique Paste Varnish” for the final coat. This antique paste has a hand-rubbed look and a soft sheen to it. I did 3 thin coats( just in case!).

It is recommended for varnishing kitchen cabinets and it protects against heat and spills. So far so good! I don’t know if it can be bought in States, as this is a Canadian brand.

And the finished table:

Another “BEFORE and AFTER: 


I love how it turned out, with the grey-brown worn-out color. And I know it will look so much better after our vinyl floor will get replaced!!
What do you think?

Chalk Paint and Gesso

I was telling you in the post “Craigslist Dining Table: Before & After” that I will come back with more about using Gesso as a substitute for chalk paint.


How did it start? I wanted the chalky appearance for some furniture pieces I wanted to refinish( one of them as you already know is the Craigslist dining table find).
I looked “chalk paint” on the Internet and I found Anne Sloane chalk paint. Because of the price, shipping etc, I didn’t want to try it.My next step: do more research about DIY chalk paint recipes and find out how can I get the same look but at a cheaper price? So here’s what I found out:Sherry @ No Minimalist Here uses a mix of latex paint with either Calcium Carbonate, plaster of Paris or whiting powder; you can see the post here.Liz Blog uses un-sanded grout and flat paint in her homemade chalk paint.
First thought was that chalk is a main ingredient in chalk paint( dah!), but also in the gesso I use as a primer on my acrylic paintings.Some definitions:
  • – original gesso( gesso in Italian means “chalk”)is a mix of animal glue, powdered chalk or plaster and a pigment( usually white).
  • – modern gesso( the one you can buy in art supply stores) it’s a water-based mix of calcium carbonate, an acrylic polymer medium and a pigment( usually white).

So I decided to use only gesso, a blob of black acrylic paint( to get the grey color) and a little bit of water. I chose Stevenson gesso( bought at Opus store) because it has a bit more “tooth” to it.What I liked:

  • – it dries quickly, with a nice, chalky finish.
  • – I didn’t need to sand or prime my table before painting it with gesso.
  • – the stain I used on top of the gesso ( to get the grey-brown look I wanted) sticked with no problems.
  • – in my case, I didn’t wax it, because I knew the table will be heavily used every day; I went for “Circa 1850 – Antique Paste Varnish” for the final coat. This paste has a hand-rubbed look and a soft sheen; it protects against heat and spills.

So far, I’m more than happy with my choice of using gesso as a chalk paint to refinish furniture!

My Fireplace Makeover

Our corner floor-to-ceiling fireplace in the living room was in desperate need for a makeover. This is what I’m talking about:

I did this picture right after we moved: in mid-70’s style, the bricks were dirty, red colored and made the room look even darker than it was.

The easiest way to give it a quick makeover was to paint it. I went to Home Depot and talked to the guys there, to see what are my options. Their advice was to use brick paint and avoid the latex paint for walls.

Why? Latex paint used for walls doesn’t let the bricks “breath” so to speak, and the paint might peel off if you plan to use the fireplace during wintertime.

So, I went ahead and bought white Masonry, Stucco & Brick flat acrylic latex paint from Behr. It is self-priming, so…yoo-hoo…one less step for me to do :)!

Other materials I used:

-an old paint brush( don’t use a good one; it will get ruined by the end of the project)

-a little bit of grey, cream and beige paint to color the brick paint. These are the colors I chose, but it’s totally up to you to get different ones if you want.

-plastic sheets( to cover the parts you don’t want to get painted)

-a paint roller and a paint tray

-painter’s tape

-old cloth


3 Easy Steps for a Quick Fireplace Makeover

Step 1: Thoroughly clean the fireplace with a damp cloth. That should take care of all the dust and dirt. With a bucket of warm water and an old brush, clean all the grout and remove any loose mortar. Let it dry.
This step took most of my time, but I’ve learned( the hard way) that a good prep will save you lots of time and headaches!

Step 2:I mixed the brick paint with some of my black acrylic paint I use for my artwork, to make it a light grey. With the old brush I painted all the grout lines grey, and with the paint roller, I painted the bricks the same grey.
You can see the grey grout here:

This will be the “background”, the undercoat for the next 2 colors.

Step 2:With the sponge dabbed in cream paint, I painted the bricks here and there, in no particular order or pattern. I let it dry.

Step 3:For the last coat, with the sponge dabbed in beige paint, I did the same thing as in previous step, but chose different spots.

Why 3 colors? I wanted to avoid a “flat”, painted look and give texture and dimension to the fireplace.

And…ta-daa!! This is the result:

We also changed the colors of the walls from green to light cream, and replaced the old, stained carpet with bamboo hardfloors :). I painted the mantel white, to match the molding my husband installed. Yes, I know, I still have to get rid of the brass fireplace screen. It will happen soon!

Again, the BEFORE picture:

And the AFTER one:

Total cost of the project: $20 CAN( the price of the brick paint), as I had everything else already at hand.
I’m really happy with the end result and the “new look” of my fireplace!



“Update your house look with these panel molding ideas; this is your low cost-solution to enhance your decor!”

One easy way to enhance your decor is to add panel molding in your house.

You can get a timeless elegant look by creating frames for walls.

Sometimes the area inside the panels is finished in a different way than the rest of the wall: either is painted with a different color than the rest of the wall, or it might be used eith coordinated wallpaper.


Useful Tips and Tricks

    1. When measuring for panel moldings, keep in mind that spacing between panels, doors and corners should be consistent and balanced.
    1. Find the balance between what looks good and what works best for you, as there are no specific ways on what’s the width or height of your panel moldings.

molding ideas 01

    1. You can adjust the width or height of your panels depending on the place of furniture, paintings, windows, doors or electrical plugs. On the picture above you can see how the width of the panel molding was adjusted to nicely frame the doors.
    1. To estimate how much panel moldings you should buy, calculate the lineal feet for the perimeter of each room and add around 10 percent waste for miter and joint waist; round up to the nearest whole piece of molding.
    1. Paint all primed molding before you attach it to the wall: it will save you lots of time in long run and the mess paint does.
    1. Clean all surfaces free of dirt and loose particles with a clean cloth or sponge. Make sure area is completely dry before installing.
    1. It is important to establish a plan for the layout of the panels. You can choose between vertical or horizontal layout. If you have a feature wall in mind, start planning that one first.
    1. For vertical layout you can choose full height or split panels. On the picture above, two panels are full height, and the middle one is a split panel. Notice the use of the frames corners: they give more detail and definition to the wall. Some people prefer to include a chair rail also, and have panels either upper or lower the chair rails or both.
    1. Horizontal layouts can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical, with panels of the same or different sizes. One of the most used panel molding ideas: picture below shows horizontal panel molding with panels of different heights, all below the chair rail, creating wainscoting.

Steps To Install Panel Molding


Materials and Tools:

level, measuring tape, sandpaper, finishing nails, putty knife, hammer or miter saw, adhesive caulk, caulking gun, safety glasses

    • – Pencil mark the walls with horizontal and vertical pencil lines the height and width you want for the panels. To get a consistent height around the room, use a level to mark all the walls.
    • – Use the miter saw to cut the pieces for each panel. Cut each piece so that the panel will fit together like a picture frame.
    • – Panel corners can be mitered or you can use decorative molding corners.
    • – Apply a line of adhesive caulk along the back and top of each piece of molding to glue them in position on the wall. Secure each piece to the wall using a nail gun. If you don’t have a nail gun, you can use a hammer and 1 3/4-inch finishing nails.
    • – Work in a circle around the room to install each piece of panel molding.
  • – Apply latex caulking to joints, edges and along the edge of each piece of molding to fill any gaps between the wall and the molding. With a damp rag clean away any excess caulk and create a smooth appearance.


Neutral colors have their own distinct personality, even though the word “neutral” means the absence of emotional response, and sometimes they are characterized as boring and bland.


Divided in different ways, the “family” of neutral colors includes the naturals – sand, ivory, stone, browns – and beige and cream. White and black, and also the whole array of greys produce a totally different effect.


Natural and Earthy Colors – Beige, cream, ivory, sand, brown are so popular because they have this property of bouncing back the light, making the room more airy.

neutral paint colors

Real Estate developer Jody Kriss ( http://thejodykriss.com/ ) says that Painted cream walls are a great choice for a dining room or living room, creating a warm and calm ambience.

The white panelling and molding creates a lot of architectural interest.

This color scheme is complete if cream is combined with the natural texture of wood or stone. In this case the softer color is punctuated by the dark wood.

neutral paint colorsNatural light literally bathes this bedroom, making it an ideal candidate for neutral colors.

The sophisticated look and the airy feel is given by pairing all the palest shades of whites with buttermilk color; bed and nightstand are a very light brown as well.


The textures – with the combination of complex carving of the wood frame on the wall and the textile on the pillows – make the room somptuous too. The blend of classic decor elements – chandelier and wall frame – and the modern ones completes this eclectic decor.

Neutrals Plus White and Black – If you want to create a contemporary interior, look no further than neutral paint colors or natural colors.

neutral paint colorsIn this modern living room, the white walls make a beautiful and understated backdrop for the table, couches and accesories.


Pillows offer an excellent opportunity to play with bold accents.


Do not be afraid of black: here it just bring forward the grouping of eight photographs on the wall and the shape of the table.


Jody Kriss suggests that You can change the look of the room easier and with less money, by changing the color of the pillows and window treatments.

neutral paint colorsThe white background gives a relaxing feeling to this living room.

A small amount of black can convey elegance.The soft curves of the black chairs, along with the mix of black and gold in the intricate design of the rug are brought forward, creating a sophisticated look.

Fireplace Design Ideas

“Wow…So many fireplace design ideas I could use!”

Why focus on fireplace designs? There is more than one answer, and all of them important:

  • From ancient times, fireplace was considered the “heart” of the house and it’s still considered that way these days.
    Spending lots of time in living rooms and family rooms entertaining and relaxing, fireplace mantel is the spot to display our favorite collections and pieces of art.
  • Being the focal point of the room, a well designed and well constructed fireplace can increase or decrease the price of a home when buying or selling the house.
  • Ultimately, it reflects the personal style of people living in the house.

Consider These when Planning your Next Fireplace

  • Talk to fireplace designers and retailers and exchange opinions on what you like or dislike. Look on the internet and magazines for photos.
  • To help you choose the right option: wood burning, gas or electric fireplace or even alternative-fuel ones; look at the area you live.
    Decide why do you want one: for heat, heat and decor, just decor.
    Most important: don’t forget your budget and how much money you’re willing to spend on your new fireplace.
  • If your house is decorated already, plan to either match or complement all the other decorative elements existing in the room: furniture, paint, and style.
  • Think beyond conventional: a fireplace can look beautiful in a bathroom, and a “two sided” or a “see through” fireplace can be enjoyed from a living room as well as from a dining room.
    To ensure privacy, avoid installing a double-sided fireplace between a home’s private and public spaces.

Fireplace Design Ideas – Home Energy Savings

Put in practice some or all these ideas to save energy:

  • To reduce as much as possible heat loss, plan to close the damper during summer, or when you don’t use the fireplace; checking the damper periodically to see if works properly will also help.
  • If you plan to use your fireplace for heating, not just as a decor element, look into putting a new insert. Nowadays they are better designed to give better heat with minimal losses.
  • Turn off the pilot light for the warmer months to help conserving energy.
  • Try and switch from a wood burning to a natural gas fireplace heater insert to get bigger bang for your buck.
  • If you inherited an older fireplace, brink a chimney specialist to inspect your chimney and help reducing heat loss.
  • Install a heat exchange system that will blow warm air back in the room, while fireplace is working.
  • Install airtight doors( such as the ones made of tempered glass) to the opening, to reduce air from leaking in or out of the house.



Check Some of Our Popular Pages

  • Decorate Your Fireplace Mantel
  • Update Your Old Brick Fireplace



Getting Fireplace Design Ideas


Fireplaces are the soul of the home and they represent a symbol of coziness and comfort:

  • There is a large availability of materials and forms, suitable to the smaller apartment, up to the rancher and the largest mansions.
  • Choose from different materials available: brick, marble or river rock for a more traditional/ country style, to mosaic and slate for a more modern look.
  • Depending on the style you want to build, choose the appropriate mantel for it.
    They vary from a simple mantel shelf to the ones with legs and freize boards, or built in bookshelves incorporated in it. They can extend to the ceiling, with sleek surfaces or intricate sculptured elements.
    As an added bonus, mantels offer a changeable decorating setting.




“Complementary colors, when used in a color scheme, will emanate energy and optimism.”

Colors are very powerful tools to influence the way we feel: relaxed or unpleasant, or to set up the mood we are in: full of energy, or dreamy!


Using complementary colors for color schemes can be challenging, but nevertheless rewarding in the end!

They are perfect way to create a fresh, contemporary decor!


Decor with Complementary Color Schemes

Complimentary colors are the ones that lay opposite the color chart wheel. The name “complementary” comes from the fact the go together well, they “complement” each other.


Some examples of complimentary colors are: yellow and violet, red and green, orange and blue.
You can notice that one color is warm – yellow, orange, red, while the other is a cold color – violet, green, blue.

We find beautiful examples of complimentary colors in nature, or in our life. The two famous colors at Christmas time are green and red, a classic example of colors that complement each other!

complementary color schemes

Complementaries, as colors use for home decor, are strong together; they draw maximum attention so they might be harsh to the eyes; It would be better to choose one of them as a dominant, and the complement to be more subtle, and be used as an accent.
As an example, if you decide to use the complementary color scheme for your decor, and have red as the dominant color, use the green for accents; either a sofa, an armchair or a rug. Avoid using the hue, rather choose a light green.

complimentary colors

Using these two colors: red and green at their maximum saturation, will make a strong statement.
Choose instead their tints and shades. You can see in the picture above, we didn’t use the exact hues. Balance the whole with golds or off white pieces.


Balancing the colors in complementary scheme decor is important: use one dominant color; for example, you can use on the walls a warm terracotta; complement it with a sofa or a lamp in a sage green. That will create a dramatic affect. Use light color accents of a warm cream, or butter for an artwork or a vase.


The same with related color scheme, the complementary one has to be carefully chosen and include some neutrals in it to soften the contrast between the complementary tones. Decide if you want to have an overall light or dark tone, then choose accent colors opposite in tone. For example, a light complementary scheme is created by using a warm peach and enhance it with dark cool blues.


TIP:If you think of this combination as a too strong of a statement, paint one wall in red, and the others using its complementary: green.
This kind of bold scheme works well especially in a foyer, or an entry.

Split Complementary Colors

Split complementary color schemes involve colors to the right and to the left of the complementary color.
We will use as an example blue. Its complementary is orange. To the right and left of the orange, there are yellow-orange and red-orange. So, the split complementary scheme involve three colors.


Even though there is a dramatic statement being made with this color scheme, split complimentary colors won’t have the “harsh” and the tension of the complementary ” sister” color scheme.

Bow Window Treatments


“These tips will help you find the right treatments for bow windows.”

Begin the search for the right bow window treatments by finding and matching the design you have in the room; decide if you want to draw attention to these large window treatments or make them “blend”.

…Whatever you decide or your style preference, don’t let your bow window treatments impede on their functionality.

Bow Window Treatment Ideas


There are 5 factors in selecting bow window treatments for your room:


  • Question 1: Want to Draw Attention to your Casing?If the casing is elegant and attractive enough, make the most of the decorating molding you have: mount the shades inside the windows casement and adorn only the window top with a loosely hung swag or valance.
    It will emphasize the beauty of your bow windows and the quality of your molding.
  • Question 2: Want to Save Energy and Reduce your Heating Costs?If you have floor to ceiling bow windows, use energy efficient window film and then add your “regular” bay window treatments. This, along with the use of blackout curtain for your large window treatments will help reducing heating costs for this winter!
  • Question 3: Do You Want to Add Importance to Your Bay Windows?Add importance to the group of windows that form the bay, by unifing them with a single treatment.For decorative purposes, completely cover the bay window with one pair of draperies instead a pair for each window.
    Roman valances soften the look of the window panes whem the panels are tied back.
  • Question 4: Want to Rather Blend the Bow Window Treatments with the rest of the Room Wall Covering?Blend a valance with the rest of the wallpaper to make the transition from the wall to the bow windows more subtle.
  • Question 5: Want to Emphasize the Gorgeous View?If you have a terrific view, draw attention to it and visually increase the size of the windows themselves and mount vertical striped side panels. What material? Nothing beats the fabric panels when it comes to add instant warmth and style to a room.
    Another solution when outside view is the focal point: Use simple ring mounted decorative stationary panels that extend only half way over the side windows of the window assembly. The fabric softens the whole look and rather enhance, not distract from the view.



See some of our popular pages:


  • Window Treatments for Patio and Sliding Doors
  • Energy Efficient Window Film
  • Stenciled Frosted Glass on Windows, a DIY Project




  • For decor that’s sleek and understated choose shutters, blinds(as in the picture above), shades – it will keep things “trimmed and tailored”.
  • For a formal look for your bow window treatments, install framing draperies across the front of the window alcove.
  • For a high curved bay window, use a flexible rod that can follow the curve in one sweep. If decor is contemporary, let the rod be seen.


Select the Right Bow Window Treatments:

  • Pleated styles valances add dimension and they’re elegant in rooms of any style; they offer a tailored sophisticated look, and let’s not forget the economy on fabric; the pleats are formed at the top edge of the treatment, and fabric lays flat between the pleat folds.
  • Consider woven wood shades for texture and light control. First you need to determine if the shades can be mounted inside or outside of the window; see if there is enough space within the frame to accommodate the head rail of the shade.
    For the outside mount they can mounted on the window molding or wall. If there is wall between the windows, you can highlight each individual window by having shades cut the same width as the outside molding measurement.
    To make windows appear wider and to create a more continuous look, mount shades cut wider than the window with their sides almost touching in the angled corners of the bay.
  • Soft cornice style as bay window treatments is perfect for prominent print fabrics, making the group of windows and the whole room larger. If the cornice is mounted inside the window frame, it will showcase not only the molding, but it will expand the bay window dividing it into individual windows.
  • Use shutters for bow window treatments if there is need for privacy and you’re concerned more with functionality of your treatments than looks.
  • Consider roman shades without the rods at the back, to create a more casual effect – the shade crumples up softly at the sides and swags down in the center; for a more formal look use rods at the back – will keep the shades straight and flat.
  • Swags and jabot – swags and cascades wrapped around a custom made pole for bow windows will enhance a traditional decor.