A tale of two tables…

One of the best ways to add interest to your decor is to think outside the box when it comes to furniture function. Need a side table? How about a tree stump? Looking for a new coffee table? What about an oversized drum?

For our new master bedroom, I really wanted to be creative with nightstands. I didn’t want them to match, and I loved the idea of using something unexpected. So, I hit the bricks…er, the antique store…in search of something interesting that would be a good height next to a platform bed. For those of you who live in Nashville, one of my favorite spots is 8th Avenue Antiques.

On my hunt, I found two things that fit the bill! First, this bar cart.
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It looks nicer in this picture than it actually was. The shelves are thing particle board with a layer of wood grain paper on top, and the “wooden” arms were actually stick on…yikes. Just recently I visited Graceland…the home of 1970s decor (and Elvis Presley), and this bar cart would have fit right into that tacky 70s shrine. But I saw sparkle in its future.
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Did you know you can buy mirror pieces at Lowes or Home Depot and they will cut them for you in store? I found a mirror for $12 that was the exact length and exactly twice the width that I needed to replace the “wood” particle board, so I had them cut it in half in store, took it home, and stuck the pieces on the cart. Then I scraped off the “wood” sticker arms, and voila. Done. Easiest transformation ever! No tools and no paint, and I ended up with a fantastic nightstand alternative for less than $50.

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The box that says “Antiques” is what I use to store what I would normally put in a nightstand drawer, and on top a couple of picture frames, books, and a lamp from home Goods finish out the simple styling.
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For Jeremy’s nightstand, I found a mid-century side table that was a little scratched and dated, but I knew some paint would spruce it up, and the size and scale were perfect. It sits across from a mid-century dresser, so I like the combination.
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I just painted three coats of Glidden Gripper Primer (for more on painting laminate furniture, see this post) and two coats of plain white semi-gloss paint. It doesn’t look perfect, but as The Nester would say, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
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So think outside the box when it comes to accent furniture. You never know what you might find!

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Garage to Master Bedroom REVEAL!

Over six months ago, we started deconstruction on our garage in preparation for a new Master suite. Today I am sharing the AFTER! Keep scrolling for some long awaited photos and the biggest reveal this blog has ever seen. This is the first time I have waited until the decorating was complete to share “after” photos, so the last you saw, the room was still a construction mess. Let’s go on a little journey….

First of all, I will show you the walk out basement floorplan that I made when we first moved in to give you a feel for where the garage was situated in the house.
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We have never once parked a car in the garage. We park in the carport, so the garage was just extra storage space. It looked like this for about a year and a half…
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The construction was so poorly done to begin with that it was best to start from scratch, so we stripped it to studs and installed a window…
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Then we installed drywall, installed recessed lighting, raised the height of the air duct, divided the room to build a closet, and spent months on construction. All the little things take time (especially when it was pretty much just my husband by himself and me when I could be useful). For more construction details, see here.
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And when I last left you, it looked a little bit like this.
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After lots of paint, accessories, DIY projects, and furniture shopping, it is now officially DONE. Drum roll please…
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Tada!! I’m sure I will tweak things over time like adding throw pillows to the bed and such, but for now, I am calling it done. I wanted sophisticated neutral, I wanted it to feel like things had been collected over time, and I wanted the contrasts of light and dark and vintage and modern. I think it was accomplished!

This room was especially fun because we pretty much started from scratch on everything. We didn’t reuse a single piece of furniture. Every other room in our house started with hand me down furniture. This one started with a blank slate. After two years of living in our home, I feel like I know better than ever what my personal style is…and this room embodies that well. We were still working with a definite budget and did a lot of DIY and bargain hunting, but I enjoy being creative with the confines of a budget.

You ready for the grand tour?

When you first walk in from the basement, you will see this.
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I painted the walls a very pale gray, and I wanted to highlight the contrast of dark and light neutrals everywhere. The white bedding against the charcoal headboard (which we made ourselves!!! Full tutorial to come…), the contrasting colors in the map on the wall, the dark floors with light walls, the gold against the gray on the card catalog, etc. I used creams and whites and tans and grays. I love coordination without being matchy matchy.

Now here is the view from the master closet (which I will show in a future post. It isn’t quite ready for a closeup)
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Once again, contrast. Vintage style rug against modern platform bed. Cool metals against warm woods and grays. Traditional plates hanging above mid century modern dresser. Also, notice that I worked hard to balance colors and shapes around the room. The round plates play off the round mirror opposite and the round lamp shade. They all stand in contrast with the sharp lines of more modern furniture. White lamp shade and mirror balance with the white bedding.

Now here is the view looking from the window.
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To give you your bearings, the door on the left goes into the extra large walk in closet (seriously…it’s like a room in there. It even has its own window. I will show more soon). The door on the right goes back into the basement den. There is a bathroom off of the den by the outside door. It would have been nice to connect it to the bedroom, but it would have required a lot more work and money, so we just walk around which doesn’t bother us.

The column in the middle of the room used to be a metal pole, so we encased it in MDF and added trim to make it look like an architectural feature. And the dip in the ceiling used to be twice as low. The air ducts are housed up there, and Jeremy cut them and rerouted the pipes to raise the ceiling. Yes, my husband is a stud.
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See that built in bookshelf next to the dresser? That is actually a door! Behind it is more storage space which is a complete disaster right now. Jeremy custom built the bookshelf to function as a door. Did I mention he is a stud?
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On the right above is the vintage bar cart that I converted to a nightstand. I picked it up at an antique store for $30 and had mirrors custom cut at the hardware store for the shelves for $12. I will do another post about that one soon.
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Now the bed…
 photo bedroom10_zpsisp6i8i7.jpgWe just upgraded to a king sized bed for the first time, and we love it. We got our mattress on Overstock of all places, and it was shipped to us vacuum packed. The bedding is simple. I can’t even decide if I want to add throw pillows. I wanted it to feel like a hotel. Crisp and clean. There is gray scalloped piping around the shams and duvet if you look closely.

The headboard was a major labor of love, and I will share more soon.

Jeremy’s nightstand was another antique store find for $25. I painted the top white and left the legs brown. The nightstand lamps were reused from when our master bedroom was upstairs.
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Thanks for touring the room with me! I have never been so excited for a blog post before. We saved our pennies for about a year before we started, and we have been working on this room for 6 months, so it feels like such a thrill to finally call it done.

All told, we did all the construction and renovation on this room for around $3000 (not including furniture and decor). We are pretty stoked about that cost. When we first had a contractor come look at the space, we were quoted around $2000 JUST to remove the garage door and put up the outside wall and window (not including materials). That didn’t include any of the other construction we did! We finished the window and wall the first weekend and still had months left of work on our hands…imagine how quickly labor costs would have added up! So Jeremy rolled up his sleeves and did the work himself. It took longer, but it saved us so much money which allows us to continue saving for future renovations.

Because we saved a little bit each month over nearly a year, we had enough to do everything we wanted to do and get the furniture we needed without breaking a sweat. We are both budgeting people, and it is a great feeling to be able to make a vision a reality with money already set aside. No stress! Then we bargain hunted and found some amazing, one of a kind pieces that I know we will treasure for years to come.

For those of you who like all the details, here is a complete source list. If that’s not you, then thanks for reading and talk to you later :-) xoxo.
Wall paint color: Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore (lightened by 50%)
Floor paint color: Gray 2121-10 by Benjamin Moore
Platform Bed: Ebay. Painted Graphite by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint with one coat of clear wax.
Headboard: DIY. Fabric from Brentwood Interiors. More details to come.
Mattress: Overstock. Slumber Solutions 10-in gel memory foam mattress.
Sheets: Home Goods
Blanket: Macy’s – Martha Stewart
Duvet Insert: Home Goods
Duvet Cover/Shams: Home Goods
Mirrored Nightstand: DIY from an Antique Store find
Round rope mirror: Kirklands
Rug: Home Goods
Nightstand Oil Rubbed Bronze Lamps: Home Goods
“Antiques” Box on nightstand: Home Goods
Card Catalog: Antique Store…painted Graphite by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (more info)
Large Map Art: World Market
Curtains: IKEA
Left side nightstand: Antique Store
Round clock on nightstand: Home Goods
Mid-century dresser: moving sale
Large rectangular mirror: came with dresser
Plates: From my grandmother. Hung with this method
Lamp: Target
Various picture frames and accessories: from my mom, antique stores, thrift stores, and shopped from my home

I’m noticing a pattern…I like to shop at Home Goods. :-)

Thanks for reading this far! I have received some positive feedback on the blog recently, and I can’t tell you how much every single compliment means to me. Thanks for blessing my heart!

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Springtime Living Room & Coffee Table Update with Annie Sloan

Our living room was the first room that I “finished” when we moved in. But when is any room ever really finished?I have continued to make updates a bit at a time in the last two years. New pillows, updated accessories, etc.

This past week on social media, I posted this picture of our living room and took a poll on what I should do with the coffee table. It was a hand-me-down from a family member that was originally in Jeremy’s college apartment, and while it looked okay from a distance, it was pretty sad up close. Scratched, warped, dented, etc. I knew I either needed to paint it or strip and refinish it, so I polled the great people of the internet.
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The safe choice would have been to keep it wood. Everything blended together nicely and the wood played off the other wood in the room, but it was too matchy matchy for me. I wanted a pop of contrast. So while I took those opinions into consideration, in the end I went with my gut…
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Charcoal gray! I had some leftover Annie Sloan Chalk paint in Graphite from the card catalog  and bed frame I painted recently. It took two coats of paint and 2 coats of wax, and it is all done (side note: I can’t believe I was able to do 3 substantial pieces of furniture with one quart of chalk paint. A little goes a long way!)
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I’m really pleased with the way it turned out, and despite the fact that we are having yet another snow day here in Nashville, I spruced up the room for Spring with some fresh flowers. Let me show you around!

I’m dying to paint those cabinets in the kitchen. I’m hoping to get that done by the end of April. White kitchen here I come!
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We love our record player! There’s nothing like the sound of a record spinning while I’m cooking dinner.
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I love our cozy corner banquette! One of my favorite projects to date. The light is from World Market, the roman shades are from JC Penney and the plates are from various thrift stores.
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With the sunlight streaming in, you wouldn’t know that it’s about 15 degrees outside and snowy! But I’m pretending it’s Spring…

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3 Steps to an Updated Dresser

Have you ever been shopping at a thrift store or yard sale and passed by a piece of furniture that you loved because you assumed that it would take too much work to make it look shiny and new? Sometimes, it is too much work. If it has whole pieces of wood missing or is just plywood covered in cheap veneer, it might be time to say farewell. Other times, a piece of furniture just needs a few simple steps to make it something special.

Jeremy and I stumbled across a moving sale one day, and an arsenal of items we didn’t care about was sitting on top of a beautiful mid-century dresser without a price tag. The woman said she would love to sell it and that it belonged to her parents in the 1950s. I offered her $50. She took it! Compared to the $300-$500 price tags I have seen on mid-century dressers on Craigslist, I was pleased as punch to shell over 50 bucks.
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I wish these photos could better show how dirty and gross it was. It had been stored in a garage and definitely had some water damage going on. In fact, we don’t use two of the drawers because they are hard to open since the water damage. But for $50, it was worth it.

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Mittens loves this dresser…
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If you pick up a dirty, old piece of wooden furniture, here are 3 quick steps to making it shiny and new. Assuming it is real wood and that you’re just dealing with dirt, grime and minor scratches, I guarantee a “wow” result.

1. Wipe everything down with soap and water

Give it a good, old fashioned cleaning. It’s amazing what dirt and grime can hide on wooden surfaces.

2. Use Mr. Clean’s Magic.
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A Magic Eraser really is that. There were water rings on the top that I thought would never come off. Marks and stains magically lifted. It’s gross what is hiding!

 photo dresser7_zpsace1aa93.jpgBefore on the left. After on the right.
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3. Use Restor-a-finish

 photo dresser6_zpsca4024be.jpgRestor-a-finish is like watered down stain. Not as difficult to use or messy as stain. It can be found at Home Depot (I haven’t found it at Lowes).

This is just a wipe-on product that helps to mask little imperfections in wood. I was shocked by what a difference it made!
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Voila! 3 steps and done!

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Styling is still underway, and I can’t wait to show you what this baby looks like in light of the whole room! Room reveal coming soon!

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Snow days and a clean house…

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It has been a strange week in Nashville. This is my seventh winter in the great state of Tennessee, and in all that time I have never gotten more than one day off per winter for weather. Usually, we get a few dustings of snow every year–the kind that looks beautiful in the morning and melts by noon. This week, however, we got an inch and a half of ice on Monday followed by snow on Wednesday morning, and we haven’t left the subfreezing temps all week, so nothing is melting, and everyone has been stuck in their houses! I didn’t leave from Sunday night until Wednesday afternoon. Now I am back to work, but it’s still been a strange week. Wednesday night it got down to something like -2 degrees. We just don’t handle that well in the south, y’all.
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All you northerners are rolling your eyes at me. Go ahead and roll those eyeballs all you want. But, Nashville doesn’t have the right equipment and ice is downright dangerous,  y’all.

So while the world has been stuck in a FROZEN state, I said to my husband, “Do you want to build a snowman?” and Jeremy replied “let it go, honey.” So, instead we decided to take care of our own little fixer upper and did a complete organizational overhaul for the first time in forever… or at least since we started this renovation. Now we are waking up to a clean house, and these few snow days turned out to be even better than vacation days in summer because when you stay at home with your honey, all you can say is that “love is an open door.” 

Wow. I just wrote that paragraph. And it’s actually true. Fist bump, Disney fans. (If you have no idea what I just referenced above, go watch Frozen).
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So, now I ask…is there anything better than a clean house? I am not naturally tidy. I wish that were not true. When I get busy, I get messy. But, I am starting fresh with our new bedroom.

Starting fresh with a clean house on these snow days got me thinking about how we need to start fresh in many areas of our lives. I was feeling so overwhelmed before this storm hit. My brain was foggy. We have had a lot of change in our lives lately, and I have just felt the weight of stress on my shoulders. God knew what I needed because he trapped me and my husband together in our house.

While I opened up closet doors and reorganized what I was hiding back there and swept up dust bunnies and vacuumed furniture, my introverted little self was being revitalized. I found time to spend alone with God and a cup of coffee. I held my husband’s hand on the couch. I was refreshed both physically and emotionally.

What do you do to keep yourself tidy emotionally and spiritually? How do you unwind and keep your focus straight in the midst of life’s little tasks?

And, on a practical note, do you guys have any tips for keeping the house clean? Do you do a daily cleanup routine?

The cold never bothered me anyway.
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Annie Sloan Chalk Paint & A Vintage File Cabinet

Today, I get to show you what may now be my favorite piece of furniture in our house. period. Say hello to my vintage card catalog. 
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Jeremy & I went on an antique hunt last August when Jeremy surprised me with a weekend trip to St. Louis. One of our favorite things to do in new cities is to find an antique store and look for a unique piece to remind us of that trip. Armed with some birthday money, I came home with an old, beat up metal filing cabinet/card catalog that I absolutely fell in love with for only $75. When I went next door and found another metal filing cabinet for over $400, I felt good about the purchase. I saw the potential, but I knew that painting it would be quite a project, so in the midst of so many things, I have put it off for nearly 6 months.
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My mom has been raving lately about Annie Sloan chalk paint and the way that it adheres to everything. I’ve heard about it for years, and I thought maybe this metal cabinet was my chance to give it a shot…

I’m not usually an early adopter. It is just not my style. I am still boasting an iPhone 4. I didn’t start Harry Potter until long after all the books had been released. I wore flare jeans for way too long and rolled my eyes at the silly new “skinny jean” trend until I finally caved and threw out the flare. That being said, it took me a long time to get on the Annie Sloan chalk paint train. I kept hearing about this magic paint that didn’t require sanding or priming, but I was determined that I didn’t need any of that voodoo paint.

The idea of not sanding and priming every nook and cranny of this metal cabinet, however, made the new paint just too tempting. So, I took the plunge, and I’m so glad I did.

The piece looked fine from a distance, but when you looked up close, it told a different story. I feel like this thing was in an old high school and kids scratched into it with their keys while waiting for the principals office. There were strange marks and some graffiti.
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I removed all the drawers so I could paint more easily and went to town.
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I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite with a coat of clear wax on top. After two coats and a few touch ups, I decided to add some gold paint to the handles for a pop of contrast. I just used small little paint brushes and painstakingly painted the gold on 28 drawers. Phew.
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Finally, I added a coat of Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax for added protection and a little bit of sheen.

I love the vintage look with the modern touch of the dark color and the contrast of the gold.
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So here are my final thoughts after using ASCP for the first time on both metal and wood (I also painted our new king sized platform bed…more pictures to come)

Con:
– It is pricey! $36/quart plus and $26 for the wax. Keep in mind, however, that you a little goes a long way!
– It has a very distinctive look with a lot of texture. This paint is made for texture and a vintage feel. Although the Graphite color has a hint of modern in it, if you’re looking for sleek, smooth, modern furniture, it isn’t the right paint.
– Waxing. I didn’t think waxing was terrible, but it’s also an extra step that takes some time to get used to it.

Pro:
– A little goes a long way! I painted a king sized bed frame and this entire piece, and I still have at least 1/3 of a quart of paint left.
– The textured look makes the paint look custom.
– It adheres SO WELL to anything. From wood to metal, it really stays put.
– Easy, easy, easy. I just love how easy it is and how difficult it is to mess it up. I just used a regular old brush and went to town. No prep. Any mistakes were easy to fix.

I can’t wait to use it some more!

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360 degrees of paint + a few paint buying tricks.

When I last left you, every single surface of our room needed to be painted. We saw the progress, but to you it probably looked like a jumbled mess. It needed a 360 degree paint job.
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We are singing “Hallelujah!” as this major project is winding down. It has been quite the undertaking. We started from studs (for more on that, click here) and we have not hired a single contractor for this job. It has been done 100% on our own and with the consulting help of my engineer father-in-law.

Now everything is painted! And I mean EVERYTHING!! The ceiling, trim, walls, and floor all got a few coats of paint. The trim still needs some touch up, but it is coming along.
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It’s amazing what a few coats of paint can do, isn’t it?

To paint the floor, we followed this tutorial from Vintage Revivals.
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For those who like specifics, the floor and wall colors are both by Benjamin Moore and were color matched to other brands of paint (more on that below). The walls are Stonington Gray lightened by 50% in Olympic One paint and the floors are just called Gray 2121-10 in Sherwin Williams Porch & Floor Paint.
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Here is the closet! This was before we finished installing the quarter round on the baseboards.
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I bought pretty specific formulas for this job. And we used a lot of paint. So…I thought I would share a few of my tips for buying and using paints.

1. For high end colors at lower prices, learn how to color match. 

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For months, I saw bloggers reference the term “color match,” and I had no idea what that meant. It all seemed so black and white to me. If you buy Valspar paint, you use Valspar colors from the little kiosk in Lowe’s, right? If you want Benjamin Moore colors, you have to shell out the $50+ per can of paint at a specialty store?

Not true.

I love the selection that Benjamin Moore has in their paint colors. And often times when I look on Pinterest or in a magazine, the colors I fall in love with are Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams. I know those high end brands have high end paint quality, but in our current home, I care about coverage and color, but I’m not worried about paint colors lasting 20 years or being the most expensive on the market, so enter the beloved color match. 

So far, my favorite paint to handle is Olympic One from Lowe’s which runs around $25 a gallon. It’s got great coverage and consistency, and of all the brands I have tried, it has been my favorite. The great thing is that Lowe’s has the formulas for all the brands in their system (the same is true of most retailers), so I simply tell them “I would like a gallon of Olympic One in Eggshell color matched to Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore”…or “Sunny Yellow by Valspar” or “Light French Gray by Sherwin Williams” or whatever color I’ve chosen at the moment.

And they mix it up and send me on my way.

The colors may not be 100% as accurate as Benjamin Moore paint, but I haven’t been disappointed yet! Half the price. Done.

2. Lighten up. 

It is hard to find the right shade. So when I find it, I am thrilled. In the case of our basement, I knew Stonington Gray was the right shade.  On the cool side of gray, but it doesn’t lean too purple or too blue. We have LED lights in this room, so the undertones of colors tend to be more vibrant. But, I wanted it to be really light and airy in a room with low ceilings and dark floors.

Enter, the lightening factor.
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I simply had Lowe’s “lighten the color by 50%.” I have done this before, and it works wonders. It is a mixture of 50% white and 50% stonington gray, and it is EXACTLY what I wanted. Don’t feel stuck at one saturation…just tell em to lighten up! Want 75/25? No problem!

3. Use a good angled brush. 

 With a steady hand and a good angled brush, you can avoid using painter’s tape. My favorite brush is this one. 2″ with a short handle. It’s easy to maneuver and makes those edges and corners a synch. 

4. If you must use tape, use the frog. 

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Frog tape is awesome for three reasons.
1. It’s green.
2. It’s called frog tape.
3. If you use a wet washcloth and wipe down the tape, you will get the most crisp line you’ve ever seen. That’s a trick I recently learned, and it changed my paint taping life. It’s like a frog sticking it’s little webbed feet on your wall and creating a barrier for the paint.

5. Paint without fear. 

The best part about paint? You can paint over it. If you paint all your walls and realize you don’t like the color, it is fairly easy and inexpensive to try again. Painting is one of the most effective ways to make a big change for a small amount of money.

And in my case, with raw drywall and concrete floors, paint was kinda a necessity.

Up next…more details on our closet.

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