Monthly Archives: July 2011

Staining the Fireplace


Remember our beige-pink fireplace? Quite bland, especially with the maple colored mantle against the white wall. After debating whether to paint it white, faux-paint it like rock, or stain it, I decided to try Minwax mahogany stain. First I applied it with a rag, but it took a long time, didn’t get into the cracks, and applied very thinly. I ended up using an old paintbrush which worked like a charm. The stain has a naturally oily finish, giving it a slight sheen.


The mantle went white with Olympic Premium’s zero VOC primer and 3 coats of Olympic Premium paint, and the fireplace cover went to the dump. I also scrubbed the inside of the fireplace with Trader Joe’s Peppermint Castile Soap mixed with water.


The rag-painted left side will get another coat of stain, since it wiped away and is considerably less sheen-y. And yes, the right side of the fireplace is still a good nine inches wider than the left side. Maybe someday we’ll remedy that. But for now, we love how the brick ties in with our dining room table and leather sofa. Another view:

My sister and I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore’s Fantasy Blue color matched in Olympic Premium by the good people at Lowe’s. (Actually the guy who worked with me to color match asked me 5 minutes later if he could help me when I came back to collect my paint. Apparently a pregnant Asian woman is hard to remember.) We also removed the old drapes and sagging rods complete with their greasy looped pulls. New window coverings pending!

Total cost of the fireplace project:
$5  for the mini can of stain I bought to finish the left side of the fireplace (yet to be done)
$3 for the dropcloth
Total: $8. I had the paint and larger can of stain on hand from other projects. The paintbrush had to be thrown away, so maybe the cost of the project in damages comes to a bit more.


Madelyn’s Dresser – French Provincial Dresser, Take II


I’m afraid I have had (or made) no time for blogging lately, but I wanted to give some quick updates of my projects I’ve made time for while being pregnant, the first one being our baby’s dresser. Baby Madelyn is due to be born in a mere 6 weeks (!) so I’ve been busy getting her room put together and hanging up sweet little newborn clothes.

I found this French Provincial dresser on Craigslist for $40, which I’m finding out is a STEAL! I’d checked Craigslist for months trying to find a similar piece to the one in Hailey’s room, only to discover that they typically run from $200 to $400.


The dresser came painted in a flat pink color with gold trim. I had found a mistinted grey semi-gloss Olympic no VOC paint at Lowe’s for $5. I have been sticking with the no-VOC paints while pregnant, and probably will continue to due to small children being in the house. I love that there are no smelly gases coming off the walls into our home.

I primed the gold paint on the dresser with Olympic no-VOC primer, then painted the whole thing with a mini foam roller, giving it 2-3 thin coats to keep the paint smooth. I painted the hardware with Rustoleum’s oil-rubbed-bronze spray paint, which I had also done on Hailey’s dresser. I coated the whole dresser with two coats of water-based polyurethane for protection and added gloss.

You may remember my Ung Drill of yore, I’ve now updated it for Madelyn’s room and I think it looks great against her turquoise wall (Olympic’s Serendipity). I grabbed some fabric at Jo-Ann’s along with a wooden letter and some grey paint for a total of $8. I then spray-mounted the fabric to the backing board (formerly the chalkboard), painted the letter grey, and hot-glued the letter to the fabric. The fabric wasn’t quite firmly mounted enough to hold the wooden letter, so I used my electric stapler to staple it from behind in a few places. Since the dresser will double as a changing table, I wanted to minimize the chance of a heavy letter falling onto our little baby.


French Provincial Dresser and Ikea Ung Drill