We are really making progress now! It’s about time, I think, to get back to something that resembles “normal,” but I’m not sure that is really going to happen anytime soon. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!), now that we’ve started this project of painting and updating our old house, the “new” parts really make the “old” parts seem so much worse. The family room, sun room, and entry are all painted with new floor covering, but I haven’t had a chance to get much up on the walls yet.
That is partly because I don’t have the time to figure it out, but also because all of the old junk will just look even more “junky” if I put it back in our freshly painted rooms. But it is also a matter of finances. I can’t just go out and buy a bunch of pretty new stuff to hang on the walls, so I’ve painted a few things to make them look “new” and I actually did pick up a couple of things from the Dollar Store, but we are hoping to put up some family photos over the couch, and I need a few pretty things to go over my desk, but for now it will just have to be OK that these two rooms are clean, fresh, and new-to-us.
We started by stripping all of the yucky old wallpaper border from these rooms, and then we painted. That was a HUGE project because the ceiling in the living room has beams (that were painted yellow) and we wanted the ceilings to be all off-white. The walls were painted a very light gray, and we painted the window frames and shutters the same ivory/off-white as the ceiling. That really brightened things up in here, but it was the fireplace that was really in need of updating. So we decided to try white washing it, not knowing really how to do it or if it would even turn out right. We had no idea if it would look good or if we would like it, but my husband’s philosophical reply was, “Well, if we don’t like it, I guess we can sand blast it off.” Thanks for that word of encouragement!
We started with a mixture of half ivory paint and half water (like the articles we found online suggested) but that seemed to leave drips and streaks where the paint/water mixture would run down the bricks. And it really wasn’t the look we wanted anyway. So I decided to experiment (sand blasting still being an option) with using a “dry brush” technique where I would put just a little, tiny bit of paint on the brush and then lightly brush it on the bricks without being diluted. It worked! The result was a beautiful, white-washed fireplace which wasn’t completely paint-covered and some of the texture and color of the original brick showing through, but white enough that it changed the whole look of the room. There are still some places where I might go back and even it out a bit, but for the most part, we are very happy with the results. Thankfully, the sand blaster was not needed.
Then, the shelves, shutter doors, and mantle were spray painted to match the ceiling and trim. We love the color! It is “Country White” and it is an inexpensive ready-mixed paint from Walmart. The color is such a soft, warm cream color that I think we will use it in a couple of other rooms for the ceiling and trim. I painted the shelves with a brush, but we painted the mantle and shutter doors with the trusty spray painter that was really our biggest investment, besides the new carpeting. Which was SO needed!
We painted the fireplace opening surround with charcoal chalk paint to match the canister lights on the ceiling, and I painted a big letter “N” that I’ve had hanging around here for years with the same paint, as well as a small shelf so that a few things match.
The area just inside our family room, where you come in from our deck through the entry way, really needed a floor covering that could be swept and washed, so we opted to go with a gray wood-look laminate that we were told is called a “floating floor” because the pieces are interlocking and do not need to be glued down. My husband said it was the easiest floor covering he has ever worked with! So that saved some money because he was able to do it himself, and he always does an AMAZING job at whatever he works on.
We ran the gray wood-look laminate from the deck door into the entryway, up one step and across the area in the family room that gets the most traffic. I am hopeful that will cut down on all of the dirt that gets tracked onto the carpeting. Leave you shoes at the door the next time you come to visit!
The last piece that we have worked on so far is painting the old cedar chest (you can read about it HERE). It took a lot of preparation, including removing all of the hardware, repairing some of the hinges on the inside, patching some of the scratches with wood filler, and sanding a LOT, it was painted with the same ivory / off-white paint as the ceiling and trim. After the painted hardware was replaced, I painted the top with a clear coat to help keep it from getting too banged up again, but I want my friends and family to feel like they can use our pretty new family room and feel comfortable here so I’m not too worried about it. I can always repaint it if necessary. Or sand blast it, whichever seems to be the best option.
I hung a few odds and ends on the wall above the pretty new cedar chest, including the little shelf that I painted with the charcoal chalk paint, and old set of decorative keys that were already painted black, a “Family” plaque that I had and a couple of really inexpensive wall hangings I picked up at the Dollar Store. I was trying to pull together several different colors so as not to be limited just to black, white, and gray (the furniture has a print fabric that also has touches of gold along with the gray and white, so that was some inspiration!), so when I found these wall hanging that combined the silver and gold, I decided to give it a try. With a simple little pillow from Walmart on my newly-painted cedar chest, I’m quite happy with the results so far.
The last thing that I worked on (its all in the details!) was trying to figure out what to put up on the mantle and the shelves on either side of the fireplace. I’m still not finished with that part of the project, partly because of time but mostly because of living on a budget), but I did pull out a few things that I already had in other rooms of the house. I had a mirror with a distressed silver frame that looks great with a collage I created a couple of years ago from a vintage doily that just happens to have gold threads running through it. It is mounted on a art canvas that I painted black, and added some vintage buttons with one vintage key that is painted ivory with some distressing around the edges.
A simple picture frame in ivory and silver that I embellished with black and silver buttons and a fabric flower is on one end of the mantle, and on the other end I have three candles that are black and white, along with a silver-tone mantle clock that I think someone gave to me a long time ago. I’m really not sure where it came from, but it is pretty and I like it, and so it stays! I put a few of our books on the shelves, but I’m kind of tired of dusting around all those books so I might only keep out the ones we really treasure and store the rest. Getting rid of books is really difficult for me, but knowing they are safely stored in another room has made it possible for me to minimize the amount of “stuff” that I have sitting around.
So that’s where we are this week. Hopefully I will have a few more pictures as things are completed, but for now I’m certainly feeling like we’ve made great progress and that we’ve come a long way in a relatively short time. But there are miles to go before I sleep, so I’ll just keep on keeping on! Hope you are having a good week. I would love to hear about your creative projects, whatever they might be. It is always fun to see what you all are doing, you inspire me to pursue my dreams.