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Planning For The End (Table)

We moved to a new state/town/home eight weeks ago, which means we have been using a big, blue plastic storage tote as a end table for eight weeks now. Honestly, it was already there as we unpacked and approximately the right height to sit a lamp on so there you have it. It is time to get it together and get real with our tables.

Last week I popped into a local second-hand store here in Ithaca, the Finger Lakes ReUse, with only about 10 minutes to spare. I knew I was after side or end tables (someone tell me the difference?) and this one stood out in the crowd pretty quickly. Not because she’s beautiful (she isn’t) or flashy (definitely not) but because she was the somewhat-hard-to-find-size we need, very very sturdy, has rounded-corners (we have little foreheads running in circles nearby) and has a shelf below for storage.  At $35 she was a bit more than I would usually want to spend for a second-hand table, but she fit the bill so I took the leap.

Here she is in all her… well, not exactly glory yet…

Planning For The End (Table) | Painting Sunny

But she will get there. Oh yes, she will.

Planning For The End (Table) | Painting Sunny

The classic Paloma Pose. This is her version of blue steel. Yes, our children propped all those pullows up against the walls for some reason. I assume they were probably launching something across the room at them… sigh.

Planning For The End (Table) | Painting Sunny

There is a label on the bottom, but looking up the company online yielded zero results. You can kindajustbarely see in this photo the underside of the top of the table which I think shows the original color of the wood and which was actually quite nice.

It isn’t good wood, just veneer, and is a bit dry and the finish is not in great condition. So it is slated to be refinished for sure. I’m brainstorming ideas, so please let me know if you think I’m on the right track or totally bananas. Anyone else just get that Gwen Stefani song stuck in their heads? No? Just me?

I’ve found some good Pinspiration (not all of the pics linked are of tables, so you have to use your imagination a bit).

Perhaps a glossy black with gold dipped legs like this?

Or an ultramarine blue like this?

You all know I’ve been in a Mid-Century mood, so maybe a nice avocado like this? I’m afraid that might be hard to coordinate, but would be a little unique. The green table linked here is gorgeous too… the color is so bold!

In the meantime, I’ll see what the Mister thinks, get it all gussied painted up, and show it off!

Anyone else doing 10-minute-or-less thrift store shopping? Have a cat with a photo-op problem? Want to dip some stuff in gold?

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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On The Right Track: DIY Train Board (Video Tutorial)

Beyond excited = me sharing this, finally! Our son Lo’s birthday was this past December, and I spent the week beforehand in a mad rush to finish this DIY train board in time for his party. Well, it was sort of finished… all but the sealer that would make it possible for him to play with it without destroying the paint in 2.1 seconds. Living in Indiana, naturally the weather didn’t warm up enough to seal the table with any sort of ventilation until… 4 months later. This was not instant gratification.

Lo really liked his little round-a-bout Thomas train set (seen below in top-right corner of the pic) so we knew we wanted to expand it at some point. We hit up Amazon for a Melissa & Doug track set that came complete with another train, and is compatible with both Thomas and Brio train sets. M&D always saves the day…

Check out this beauty!

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

The kids have so much stuff, we like to brainstorm gift ideas that capitalize on something they already have. Instead of more toys, they end up with better versions of what they had. Well, last Fall Young House Love posted their own DIY train board and the little idea particles in my brain sudden came together. The idea of making the table flat, so it can more easily slide out of the way? Genius.

YHL was the most spot-on tutorial and inspiration for me, but some other Pinterest-worthy ones are at Bits and Pieces of the Better Life and little house blog.

Want to see it in action? It is holding up great, and the kids play with it almost every day… and I put that fine art degree I’m still paying off to good use. Gotta get my money’s worth.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

Here is the “before” picture. I assume it was part of a kitchen counter, maybe the top to a kitchen island? I discovered it in the old-kitchen-construction area at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for something like $12 as I recall. I love that place so much! I gave it a quick rough-up with very grainy sand-paper.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

This blog has helped me to test my comfort-level a bit, but I am still camera-shy. Irony being ever-present in my life, my husband really enjoys photography and actually does videography work occasionally. It comes in very handy sometimes, but means I’m frequently ducking behind a potted plant.

Well, he must have psychically realized I would soon have a blog, and as I worked on this project he filmed it for me. Let’s all ignore the fact that I am basically in PJs and might not be wearing any makeup. Yikes.

You can briefly see where I sketched it out on paper beforehand, and how I filled in the areas.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

As you can see from the video, I sketched an outline on the board of what landscaping I wanted. I used acrylic paints, brushes, etc. I already had on hand. If you’re doing this, you can find really affordable options at most craft stores, and for this project could get away with only a few colors. I was going for a slight hint at realism, so did a bit more blending of colors.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

To finish off the edges of the table, I used painters table pressed down very tightly over the edges of my painted area, using plastic trash bags to cover the main surface (as seen above). I then used the color Seaweed by Krylon Indoor/Outdoor paint in gloss finish. It is a very natural looking color, so fit the bill.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

See the damaged area in the middle of the table, pictured above? Well, that’s what I get for letting him play with it before it was sealed. There were quite a few scratches in the paint, so I busted out my blue and green paints and did a quick touch-up and let it dry for about 20 minutes.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

I used Old Masters Interior Water-Based Poly-Urethane in Semi-Gloss for the sealer, which was highly recommended by my paint guy (at our local Bloomington Paint & Wallpaper store). He said it was safe for something a child would frequently touch, and pretty much fume-free when applying. I was really impressed with how true that last part was. Painted it right in the kitchen (not while cooking) and it was fine! It only took maybe 1/10 of the quart so I have a lot left for future projects. I applied it with a foam mini-roller.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

The directions recommend letting it dry two hours after each coat, applying three coats, and lightly sanding it with low-grit sand-paper between coats. I was nervous when sanding, but it turned out just fine.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

Here she is without the train parts, all finished!

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

My favorite part is the ocean, for sure. The little white flecks along the break-line just bring the whole thing together. I would totally take a train ride along this coast!

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny … and the classic helicopter view. The track just barely fits on the board, but stays put pretty well considering we chose not to permanently attach it to the board. It can be put in several configurations, so we wanted to keep our options open.

Any other must-see train tables and boards out there? Preferences on track brands? This seems to be a BIG deal on the internet, with Brio and Thomas having die-hard fans. The Melissa and Doug version being reversible and the much more reasonable price bought my loyalty! I’m thinking a play-kitchen will be next on the kids big-gift list…


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Before the Blog – Pinterest Inspired Projects, Part I

Before having a blog, I actually did do stuff sometimes. Or, “in the beginning, there was chaos”. Same thing.

I have loved Pinterest since near the beginning of Pinterest. Not quite the beginning, but near. And the other day I was looking around and realized just how many pre-blog and pre-nice-camera projects I had done, many of which were Pinterest-Inspired. I may not be able to contribute these to a YHL or Bower Power Pinterest Challenge, but they do still exist and I wanted to give them a little recognition. So, here are five of them.

Oh yeah – and this is not at all sponsored by Pinterest. They may not know I exist…

… and, of course, please come over and visit me on Pinterest!

Project #1: Ceramic Tile Coasters

Ceramic Tile Coasters | Painting Sunny

Originally inspired by the tile coaster tutorial over at The Cottage Home.

I bought about 20 tiles at once and pretty much mass-manufactured these. The tiles were about 47 cents each at Lowe’s, if I’m not mistaken. This was over a year ago… so I may be mistaken, but I know they were not more than a buck each.

These were so so simple, cutting squares of scrap paper I had on hand already, and using Mod Podge both under and over the paper. I even added a few little scrap-booking letters to some of them, to make them more personalized. Then, I cut and stuck felt squares to the bottom to keep them from scratching surfaces. Quick, easy, and used in gift baskets for a bunch of people! I did keep a few for us, which are still hanging around the house.

Project #2: DIY “Mercury Glass” Lamps using Looking Glass Spray Paint

DIY "Mercury Glass" Lamps using Looking Glass Spray Paint | Painting Sunny

DIY "Mercury Glass" Lamps using Looking Glass Spray Paint | Painting Sunny

Originally inspired by the mercury glass lamp tutorial over at Designing Details.

Using Krylon’s Looking Glass spray paint, this was a snap. I made these almost 3 years ago, and they are holding up strong, even to occasional cleaning with Pledge Multi-Surface. It was easy as pie. I just needed to do it outdoors, as that spray paint really does require some serious ventilation and a mask. The lamps both came from Goodwill and originally one was powder blue and one was off-white. I think I paid $2 each for them, or so.

They are painted using a spray bottle of water in between the layers of paint to get the “mercury glass” affect. I bought both shades from Target, and seriously the shades cost more than the thrift shop lamp bases, re-wiring kits, and paint combined. Okay, maybe not… but close.

Project #3: Vintage Wrapping Paper Art

Vintage Wrapping Paper Art | Painting Sunny

Here is the close-up, if you wanted to see more detail on the symbols:

Vintage Wrapping Paper Art | Painting Sunny

Originally inspired by the Pretty Papers post over at 7th House On The Left.

When my mother sent me a gift wrapped in this paper I completely freaked out and became a Mama Bear with it. Seriously over-protective. It is just so unique, and such an amazing color in person. Almost a Cerulean blue. I loved it, and immediately wanted to save it for a project. After some Googling, I found the blog post linked above… and the stars aligned.

Since then, Mom said it is vintage paper from her mother-in-law. I may go raid her stash of it sometime, and just cover a wall with it. Maybe.

FYI: I used a frame I had sitting around the house, that the glass had broken on. So, there is no glass in this frame. 

Project #4: Sensory Bottles for the Children

Sensory Bottles for the Children | Painting Sunny

Originally inspired by the Discovery Bottles at Modern Parents Messy Kids.

These were so affordable to make… I think I spent $7 total for 6 of them, and used up some bottles we were about to recycle. That said, it wasn’t the best-smelling project… it required ammonia. Kind of stinky. I found the instructions for dying the rice and noodles somewhere else on the web, and can’t seem to find it now.

Also, the kids like them alright, but it did not fascinate them to the extent I had hoped it would. Oh well, they are still pretty cool! However, the “glitter and glue” bottle turned out really milky-white for me. Maybe the wrong glue? Yes, the lids are super-glued on.

Project #5: DIY Thrift Shop Painted Candlesticks

DIY Thrift Shop Painted Candlesticks | Painting Sunny

Originally inspired by the candlestick project post at A Sort of Fairy Tale Girl.

Does anyone else get the Macklemore & Lewis song stuck in their head every time they say the words “thrift shop”? They are about to show at the town I live in, so are getting some serious radio play here.

Okay, these candlesticks are actually wooden and were purchased for 99 cents each from Goodwill. The post I was inspired by uses metal candlesticks, but I figured it would all work out. I used Krylon’s Rich Plum spraypaint (which I have used on other projects too) and I love the deep color. They have held up great, too, for 2 years now. The green candles are from Hobby Lobby… as is the giant gold P in the background.  I wish we had more stores in town… this is getting redundant.

Well, that’s it! I wish I had tutorial-style pictures or details, but again… this was all back in the day when I didn’t think to document everything… but they are all still around the house and being used, so their very existence is an accomplishment. Once again, please come hang out with me on Pinterest!

Anyone else have an amazing project that they just plain failed to document the process of, or show off to everyone? I seriously wish grown-ups got a show-and-tell time. I would rock that.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.


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A brighter, lighter, whiter vintage children’s desk

I’ve been meaning to share this for a little while, so I’m excited to finally have everything together and pictures taken! This is the story of a little beat-up desk which was rescued and refinished and now belongs to a little girl who loves anything pink, princessy, and made just for her.

Here is the finished desk…

Vintage Children's Desk Refinished | by Painting Sunny

… and here is the requisite before-picture:

Vintage Children's Desk Refinished | by Painting Sunny

She wasn’t all that pretty, when I found her. She was a little beat up, and had an odd huge round knob on the drawer. It was really strangely oversized. I found her at our local Habitat ReStore, here in Bloomington, for $25. Not too bad! They had a few of them on sale, but this one was in the best shape and the drawer glided pretty smoothly.

Vintage Children's Desk Refinished | by Painting Sunny

You  may remember my adventures in milk paint from this table and this bed. Well, this desk was finished to match the bed. Once again, this was Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint (MMSMP) and on this desk I used Ironestone mixed with the bonding agent, and then finished with the furniture wax. My process this time was a little bit more haphazard…

Now for a close-up of the distressing:

Vintage Children's Desk Refinished | by Painting Sunny
In the beginning, I wanted to be all daring so did not add the bonding agent. The paint peeled at least 60% off, I swear. It just did. So, I took a deep breath and just repainted the whole thing with the bonding agent added, two coats. I didn’t bother to sand off what was left from the first painting attempt.

Then, I used a piece of sandpaper to very gently distress some select spots, so the dark brown wood showed through. The original wood was not very nice, so I was glad to cover it up – and in the glimpses left, it actually appeared a prettier color.

Some of the sorts where it had peeled off now look almost gray under the new paint, but it creates a sort of interesting and naturally aged affect. Like it has had several chapters to it’s life.

The pink knob from Hobby Lobby, and was 50% off… I forget how much it cost but I doubt it was more than 70 cents.

Vintage Children's Desk Refinished | by Painting Sunny

And above is what it looks like with a cat on it. Just to help you visualize, you know. Seriously, Paloma will not miss out on a photo op.

It’s not my husband’s cup of tea (he likes shiny, new, modern) but I think it fits great in the girls room, has a vintage charm, and will all add up to a cozy, pretty, feminine little girl’s room when paired with the other projects we have planned for the future.

Anyone else totally repainting the same furniture twice in a week? Have a cat that is always ready for her close-up? I’m excited to be one step closer to having the furniture in Haven’s room all finished! Next up, though, is a bed refinishing for our boy’s room.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.

PSS: This post was linked to Miss Mustard Seed.


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Coffee Table Stenciling

When we moved into our current home, we brought with us a nice, pretty, dark-wood square coffee table from Ikea. It had lived with us in our last two homes and had been a good friend. Oddly, although our new living room is actually larger and more square, this coffee table no longer fit with the layout. Sometimes the best table in the world isn’t the right fit for a particular room, you know? Happily, we were able to sell it on Craigslist for $60.

We began to peek around for a new table that would better fit us. Our criteria was that it be rounded (sharp edges and little kids don’t mix), narrow enough to walk around easily, and wide enough to spread out a board game down the middle. For $30 (again on Craigslist) we stumbled across one that looked decent and sturdy, and checked all the boxes on our list.

Within a year the kids had destroyed the finish… And then, in a movement of epic clumsiness, I knocked over a bottle of nail polish remover and officially sent it over the edge. It looked horrible.

We debated about what to do and I spent a few weeks living with it and considering the options. A) Buy a nicer, brand new coffee table we would love, B) Buy another second-hand coffee table and potentially refinish it, or C) fix up the one we have.

With two little kids and me still being clumsy,we put off buying a new dream coffee table. Nothing popped out at me at the local thrift shops… So we used what we already had. Here is the end result:

Finished Coffee Table 2

Below is the “Before Picture”. Actually, it is the after picture of the damage we were able to do to a perfectly fine coffee table, but before it reached this new chapter in it’s life. It is embarrassing.

Coffee Table Photo 6

Okay, want to see that nail polish remover issue up close? BAM. There it is below. Complete with a Paloma the Cat photo bomb, our adorable 3-year-old snuggling on the sofa, and my purple flip flops. That’s real, ya’ll.

Why is our cat-bed upside-down in the picture above? Could not tell you. I’m assuming the cat didn’t do it herself, but who knows.

See below, that little wooden upside-down shell decoration? I tore that sucker off with a hammer.

Coffee Table Photo 7

When I began brainstorming how to refinish the table, my first thought was to paint it the same color as our TV stand. I don’t like everything matching in a room but frankly nothing else really “matches” so I thought it might be nice. I went to our nicer local paint store, but without actually dragging the TV stand in with me, matching was tricky.

Now that I think about it, I totally could have taken a little drawer divider in. Oh well.

I chose Benjamin Moore’s Bittersweet Chocolate. In the store it looked dark enough, and I thought maybe it being a little more brown than black would help tie our blackish-colored TV stand in with our brown sofa/chair.

The paint we ended up with was a nice enough color but didn’t at all match the TV stand. I went ahead and painted it anyway… mostly just so I didn’t have to stare at that nail polish remover spot anymore. Seriously.

Coffee Table Photo 5

The Paint Shop Guy suggested I try an oil paint, given the surface I was working with. I have used a lot of latex paint and some milk paint, but never oil paint on a piece of furniture. I took two years of oil painting for my BFA in college… not the same thing.

The picture above shows the table after two coats of paint, and not yet dried. In the end, the oil paint worked out alright, but I don’t know that I’ll be doing it again any time soon. It took forever to dry, stained everything it touched much faster than latex paint, and the smell wasn’t quite pleasant. A low-VOC latex would have been more my taste, I think. Still, gotta try something new every once in awhile.

Ultimately, once painted I just wasn’t satisfied with how it fit into the room. I really wanted it to tie in better, and wanted to cover up a few of those little paint mistakes on the top.

Coffee Table Photo 4

So, turning to my Pinterest boards I decided it was time to jump in on the stenciling craze. That bandwagon was passing me and I threw myself right up on it!

Literally, within an hour of getting my husband on board with the idea of my stenciling over the top of the brand-new-paint job, I was back home from Hobby Lobby. Here is the materials breakdown:

  • Wall & Floor Stencil: $16.99 using a 40% off coupon from my iPhone Hobby Lobby app.
  • Stencil Paint in black: $3.47
  • Stencil brush: $2.47
  • Brush Cleaner and Restorer by Winsor & Newton: $7.99 (more info on that, below)
  • Spray adhesive: I already had on hand.

A lot of the above items were full-price, so if you waited for a good sale or went in several times with those 40% off coupons, you could do it for much cheaper, I’m sure.

Note: I only used about 1/5 or so of the stencil paint on this project. I still have the brush and stencil itself as well, of course, so I’m making plans for how to use it on future projects. Given that, the stenciling of this table was very affordable.

Coffee Table Photo 3

Following the instructions on the back of the stencil, I sprayed the back lightly with adhesive (I held it in the kitchen sink while I sprayed it quickly) and centered it on the middle of the table. I used a ruler to check that the edges of the pattern were actually centered and straight. It explains how to use these tiny triangles on the corners of the pattern to mark your place in pencil, which worked really well.

Coffee Table Photo 2

Okay, honestly – stenciling was the easiest thing I have done in a long time. Maybe a little tedious, but easy. I had the entire top of the table stenciled in 35 minutes. It was basically effortless – this stencil was just designed really well.

As a side-note, I was really excited to find a brush cleaner that could remove oil paints but was not the mineral spirits or turpentine I recalled from my art-school days. I just don’t want to have that ultra-flammable and toxic stuff in the house with the kids. And knowing myself, I would probably… you know, spill it on the coffee table.

This brush cleaner I picked up claims to be biodegradable, non-toxic, water soluble, low vapor, and non-abrasive. Both my husband I and were skeptical, but I thought it was worth a shot. I had to clean both the stencil brush, and the brush from painting the actual table. It was a tiny bottle, but I only used about 1/4 of it total cleaning all the brushes and it worked like magic. I was so impressed.

Coffee Table Photo 1

Following the instructions on the back of the stencil paint, I used my little brush and paint and worked my way across the pattern. Then, I carefully lifted the stencil and moved it to line up the arrows again, on one side of the pattern. I stenciled that part, then lifted it again and stenciled the other side. I didn’t even wait for it to dry first – it wasn’t smudging at all.

The hardest part was getting it to the very edges of the table, but even then I just held the stencil up with one hand (where it hung over the edge) and painted with the other, and easy-peesy-lemon-squeezy. It was done.

It suggested waiting 24-48 hours for it the stencil to fully dry, which I did. It is holding up really well, now.

Finished Coffee Table

I really like how it turned out. It might not be our forever-coffee-table, but the dark pattern works much better with the dark tone of our TV stand and the ironwork on the shelves behind the sofa. The pattern also plays nicely off the lavender-patterned pillows you may recall. I like that the coffee table pattern isn’t too feminine or too masculine.

And you know, anything is better than that nail polish remover blotch. Let’s never talk about that again, okay?

Anyone else jumping on the wall-stencil or Moroccan-pattern bandwagon a little late in the game? Experimenting with a new type of paint, to the detriment of your fingernails? I about have mine looking pretty again!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.

PSS: This post was linked to Miss Mustard Seed.


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A Strange Little Table Redo

There are some benefits for working at a big state university and living in a quaint little college town, and one of them is the amount of used furniture lying around the place. Sure, 80% of it is old tweed sofas from fraternity houses… but the other 20% is amazing. We are lucky that Indiana University has a surplus store that sells mostly leftover industrial furniture, but occasionally antiques and other odd items. I walked past a dark, dusty little antique table one week and thought “That would be a cute little plant stand for by the window” until I saw the $40 price tag. Never mind  Luckily, their “daily special” the next week was antique furniture, and it was discounted to half the price. I took that as a sign from the mythological gods of second-hand furniture. $20 is still a little steep, considering it had a broken leg and was missing some trim-work  but there was something so… odd about the little table, it was charming.

PS table 2

Unfortunately, at the time I bought the table I had neither a blog nor a decent camera… so all I have is this old photo from my iPhone… pardon the message garage, please. It is still just as messy. Here is the before picture:

PS Old Table

Didn’t she clean up nice? She didn’t make it easy, though. I repaired the broken leg (it was cracked right in half) with a clamp and some wood glue, and let it sit overnight. It still isn’t quite as sturdy as I would like, but it does the job.

The bottom shelf also had a split down part of it, so I rubbed wood glue into the split and then tied it tight together.

The trim was missing in places, so I removed it along the short ends completely so I had at least enough spare pieces of it to fill in the gaps along the long-sides. You can see the little nail holes a bit in the picture below. Gives it character…

PS 12

I sanded the short sides smooth, and used Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Tricycle Red. I didn’t add any bonding agent, and I didn’t sand the rest of the table. The wood was a little dry, and it was my first time ever using milk paint (scary!) but I had a feeling it would soak in okay.

PS 14

Two coats of milk paint later, I rubbed two nice coats of Miss Mustard Seed’s furniture wax into it and buffed it to a nice shine. It distressed a little bit on it’s own (as it is supposed to) but I buffed a couple spots with some fine sandpaper (before waxing it) and I like how it turned out. It makes the wood underneath look like it was actually in decent shape!

PS 13

Paloma the Cat photo-bombs.

PS table cat photobombFor my first time using milk paint, I can say it wasn’t stressful at all, and I love that it is low VOC and safe around the kids and kitty. I’ve used it again since then (will talk more about those projects later!) and am sure I will again… I’m pretty much out of paint, though, so I’ll have to wait until the change jar gets a little more full.

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own, and I have not received compensation for anything written. Keepin’ it real.

PSS: This post was linked to Furniture Feature Friday At A Time on Miss Mustard Seed‘s Blog. Thank you! Gotta love a link party.