Category Archives: Tutorial

Bistro Love – Before and After

I introduced you to a charming bistro set here. And it was pretty cute then.

Chippy but cute

 The problem beyond the chipping paint is that it had begun to rust.  Our favorite method of stripping paint from metal is a wire wheel on a drill and just a few days ago I purchased a whole set of wire wheels to help refinish this bell. 

Black and Decker Wire Wheels

 Get it? A whole set of wire wheels to refinish A BELL! Really I was getting someone (Hi, Charlie) prepared to strip the entire bistro set so I could repaint it.

Last night Charlie got started with his new wheel set. (He loves a new tool and a whole set is even better.)

Electric drill with wire brush attachment

 There are a lot of little curlicue places on the chairbacks so Charlie also used our Dremel tool with a little coarse wire brush to get into the tight spaces.  That worked well but is very time consuming as in “Don’t try to Dremel the entire chair or you’ll be here six months from now”.

Dremeling the curlicues

 Here’s one of the chairs after being wired.

Bistro Chair stripped of loose paint

 Once the metal is stripped fairly clean (it need not be totally devoid of paint, but everything chipping or flaking must be removed) I sprayed dark grey primer onto the chairs and table.  I started with the underside. (I stuck circles of painters’ tape on the bottom of the feet so the plastic slides would not have paint on them.)

Self-etching primer used on the undersides

 Then I flipped everything over and gave it a couple of good coats on the top. I could have stopped here because I really like the color of the primer, a medium dark grey with a slight greenish cast.

Primed Bistro Chair

  After letting the primer dry for 24 hours, I pulled out my new favorite color of spray paint:  Metallic Charcoal by Rustoleum.  It has just a hint of sparkle and more depth than traditional black. I coated everything with 3-5 light layers of the  finish color.

Metallic Charcoal Bistro Chair in the morning light

 Again I started on the underside.  Then flipped everything over making sure every nook and cranny was painted. (This took about a can and a half of paint.)


 In a couple places the paint started to drip a little bit so, while it was still wet, I touched is lightly with a rag which removed the excess paint.  Then I sprayed it lightly in those spots to restore the sheen. The photos show the lovely, restrained sheen of this paint: akin to gun-metal.

 Everything dried for at least 24 12 hours before we replaced the glass on the table and the pale green cushions. (Not sure we’re going to stick with the pale green but for now that’s what we have.) Of course, it also rained all night on the newly painted set!

Bistro Set - Before

 Ta -dah! Voila!

Bistro Set - After

 From another angle

Bistro Set - Finished

 Detail of chair .  .  .

Bistro Chair - Metallic Charcoal

 When the house renovation is complete, this set will move to the east side of the house onto a second-story porch where it will get the dappled morning sun. 

In place until the renovation

 Now it’s time to enjoy!

Morning Coffee at the Bistro

 Have you finished a satisfying project recently? Or has it been way too long?

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When we changed the cottage door Kathy noticed that we had taken down the bell.  All the trim at the cottage needed to be painted so I really forgot all about hanging the bell back up.

Black bell by old door

 Then I got to thinking that everything else had just been newly painted and the bell looked kind of shoddy.

Bell Before

 I asked for some help deciding on the color it should be.

Bell - After

Then I painted the bench and fell in love with Rustoleum’s Metallic Charcoal Grey.

Charcoal Metallic Spray Paint

 In order to renew the bell, Charlie hit it with the wire wheel on the drill.

Wire Wheel on a drill

 I bought a package of 4 different wire drill brushes because we have quite a few future projects for which they will be useful.

Black and Decker Wire Wheels

 After we smoothed out the surface with the wire wheel, I hung the bell on a branch and sprayed it with dark grey self-etching primer.

Primed Bell

 Another angle.

Bell with self-etching primer

 Finally I sprayed it with the Charcoal Metallic which gives it a heavier, more solid character. 

Metallic Charcoal Bell at Dusk

 And here’s the bell back in place at Glade Cottage just in case anyone comes calling.

Ring when you come by

 It’s these small projects that add to the personality of a place. 

In the morning light

 Have you put off a tiny project that would be great to get to now that the weather has turned nice?  Just asking.

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Benched: In with the New

I showed you this old bench and how I began its revival here.

Bench - Front View - Before

 The bench was primed.

Ready for the next step

 The remaining steps were:

  • buy supplies
  • paint topcoat

    Charcoal Metallic Spray Paint

  • attach wood slats
  • find a place for the bench.

I bought the paint (above) and stainless steel nuts and bolts (maybe these won’t rust) at Lowes for $18.13.

Stainless steel nuts and bolts

 Lowes didn’t have wood the same width (2.25 inches) as the original slats so I didn’t buy anything, but when I returned home I realized that a traditional 1 x 3 (which is actually only 2.5 inches wide) would fit in the allotted spaces. So I went to Home Depot to get seven 4′ long 1 x 3s. They didn’t have what I wanted either so I went back to Lowes and bought four 8′ furring strips ($5.30).

New lumber with one old slat on top

 I spray painted 3 to 5 light coats of Rustoleum’s Metallic Charcoal on all sides of the metal frame.

2 or 3 light coats of paint to start

 One can was barely enough but I wasn’t about to buy a second can for a couple of sprays since this is fairly expensive spray paint ($6.78 per can).

After final coat of Metallic Charcoal

 Then Charlie cut the slats to size.

Sawing bench slats using the wheelbarrow as a workbench

 On my way home from Lowes after buying the furring strips I had the brilliant notion that these furring strips should not just be left to weather naturally. Not wanting to spend anymore money on this project, I remembered I have 2 colors of blue wood stain left over from the kitchen cabinets. I took the Minwax stain I had on hand:

  1. Deep Ocean (a true blue)
  2. Island Water (a deep teal)
  3. English Chestnut (dark brown)

and tested each of them on a board.  I also tried layering #1 over #3 and vice versa. Here’s the tester board. While I was testing, Charlie gave each board a light sanding, then wiped them down with a dry rag.

From top to bottom 1, 2, 3.

 Shockingly, we both liked #1 Deep Ocean best.  (We hardly ever agree on color!)

I brushed on and wiped off with a rag 2 coats of stain on each side of each board

 After marking the hole sites using an old board as a template, 

Marking holes

 I drilled holes for the bolts to go through making sure each slat would line up with the bench frame.

Drilling the bolt holes

 The finish wasn’t quite right so I brushed on 2 coats of polyurethane which I had on hand.

Before Polyurethane

 Here’s our park bench painted, polyurethaned and assembled.

Park Bench in the morning light

 Here’s the before.

Bench - Front View - Before

And here is the final bench which I plan to put in the hydrangea garden when Charlie gets it cleared out on the east side of the house.


 Final Cost          $23.43 

I hope it lasts a good long time, another 20 years would be really nice.

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Lettered Headboard Tutorial

I love the look of lettering on walls and furniture (see my kitchen wallpaper below) but I just don’t have the moolah to spend on such things, so I try to come up with my own quaint techniques.

Sample of Kitchen Wallpaer

While I was changing the color of the little bedroom (formerly yellow, now pink) I was ready to update the headboard of this old bed. 

Bed Before

The twin to this one is out in the cottage. I have a matched set because my sister and I shared a room when we were very young and had matching beds.

Over the years the finish has worn off in places and the structural members have changed but I still have the matching headboards and footboards.  (Why, oh why, can’t I get rid of anything?)

Headboard and footboard

  Alas, I don’t have a room where both will fit together so I decided to do them over one at a time and each differently.  Here is my initial effort for the pink bedroom.

First I sanded the finish just to rough it up and wiped it down with mineral spirits to remove the dust and any grime I missed.

Sanding the finish

 Then I primed the bed with Kilz (because the can was open from priming the door to the cottage).

Headboard and footboard primed

 The next part was little tricky because I had recived a free pint of Benjamin Moore paint from the seminar I attended here. I wanted “Mourning Dove” by Martha Stewart but the Benjamin Moore dealer would only mix their own color so I picked “Meditation” which was close but not eaxactly what I wanted. I went to work adding some leftover-from-other-projects greens, some white and some dark blue to “Meditation” and came up with a near  match to “Mourning Dove”.

Paint tester on Mourning Dove swatch

 The real trick to mixing is to make sure you mix enough for the entire project. Then I gave the bed a couple coats of Jo’s “Mourning Dove” (which looks tan in the photo but is more grey with a very slight green cast) applied mostly with a foam roller.

Bed with primer and “Mourning Dove”

Finished with “Mourning Dove”.

Footboard in "Mourning Dove"

 Then I began to cut the stencil from an old office folder for the wording to be applied to the headboard.


 I knew I wanted the lettering in silver and I had two options: satin nickel or silver.

Silver on the left, Satin Nickel on the right

 I did a test swatch using each paint with the stencil onto a swatch of “Mourning Dove.” (Note: If you test the stencil before it is fully cut out, use it upside down [meaning wrong side taking the paint] so you don’t obliterate the markings for the rest of the cuts. Guess how I found this out?) Here are the results.

Silver on top, Satin Nickel on bottom

 It turned out that in certain light you couldn’t even see the satin nickel because the color tone was so close to the base color (Mourning Dove). I did use Satin Nickel to add a little zing to the knobs.

Satin Nickel with Mourning Dove

 Finally I had the entire stencil cut (which was a bear).

Fully cut stencil

 I taped it to the head of the bed and masked off everthing else with blue painters tape. The tiny pieces inside the letters d, a, o and f were held down with a tiny piece of double-stick tape.

Stencil ready for spray paint

  I sprayed silver on the stencil twice and a light dusting of satin nickel.

Stencil with spray paint

Here’s the result. 

Stenciled headboard

 A quick look at the bed in place in the pink bedroom. Remember the satin nickel on the knobs? Full reveal after a few more projects are complete.

Stenciled Bed

 and maybe one more shot .  .  .

Full effect . . . Subtle

 Sidebar:  I’ll show you the stencil preparation procedure in a future post.

This is a tiny room but very handy when the house is filled with guests. And don’t get attached to the picture on the wall because I forgot I have wall sconce lamps for this room. Decorating, for me, is never a “done deal”.  I think I inherited that from my mother.  What have you moved around and tweaked lately? Is change good or just constant?

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Hang On

We bought it here. We sanded and primed here. We salvaged and polished here and here.

The remaining steps to hanging a door are all that’s left.

First, you have to make the little bugger unwieldy beast fit.  This one was very close but about half an inch had to come off the bottom.

Trim bottom of door with circular saw

 There are three hinges and each needs a notched out space on both the edge of the door and the door frame so it will be flush with the surface.

Cut out for hinge

 This can be accomplished either by a router or a hammer and chisel.  Charlie chose hammer and chisel since most of the notches were already made and only needed to be doctored a bit because this door would open to the outside (most front doors open in).

Screw in the hinge

 Next we screwed in the hinges to the door and the frame after making pilot holes with a nail. One caution: if you’re using a screwdriver drill attachment, make pilot holes because the door wood is very hard and just letting the drill screw in the screws often messes up the top of the screw making it nearly impossible to remove that screw. Note above the part of the hinge that goes onto the door. The matching section gets screwed into the door frame.

 Then we matched up the male and female edges and dropped (hammered) the pins in. And the door was too big to fit into the opening side to side.

Door does not quite close

Almost closes but doesn't

We checked it with a level and discovered the hinges attached to the frame were slightly out of plumb.  So Charlie removed the door again and set the top hinge a little deeper into the frame. This is a very precise operation.

Almost but not quite closed

  Still the door wouldn’t close all the way so we had to make a few dozens of passes with the Surform both to the door and jamb on the latch side to detail the fit.

Charlie using the Surform to plane the door

  Finally the door closed all the way.

Closed at last

 Then we gave it a fresh coat of paint both inside and outside, screwed on the door handle and lock set, and replaced the weatherstrip along the bottom edge. Here’s the door we removed.


May I present Morgan* the Cottage Door.


 We learned how to hang an exterior door in an existing jamb and saved a ton of moolah over buying a new door. The cost breakdown is:

Door and lock set                             $35.00

Keys for the door                             $13.00

Brasso                                                    $ 6.00

Hinges and screws                                 -0-

Paint (from our stash)                         -0-

Total                                                      $54.00

*Morgan is stamped into the top of the door and the number 73.  A similar door retails for approximately $1000. Yikes!!

How did we do?

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