1950’s Tanker Desk Redesign

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Ahhhhh. The sweet, sweet smell of victory. That glorious feeling when you’re able to transform something from this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

From before.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To after.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

My biggest challenge on this piece was its massive size – this beast measures 29″ tall x 50″ wide x 26″ deep. I started with lots and lots of wood filler on spots like this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Then I opened my first ever can of General Finishes paint. Cue the singing angels because I’m a believer. I have drank the Kool-Aid. And I am here to testify. All the hype you hear about General Finishes paint is totally true. (This isn’t a sponsored post – I don’t really do that sort of thing – I was just really impressed with this product.)

I used General Finishes Persian Blue on the body of the desk and their Java Gel Stain on the drawers and legs. I am in love with the color combo.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I topped everything off with several coats of Varathane Crystal Clear Polyurethane in Satin for a protective finish.

The final jewel in the crown was some sparkly, metallic gold hardware. This is my new favorite product for the perfect color. I found it at Michael’s.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I added a few coats to the original drawer pulls and voila!

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

This project went so much smoother than the last couple I shared here and here – thank goodness. It’s nice to see I’m at least learning something from all those mistakes.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

SHARE THIS POST

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

(UPDATE: This coral beauty is FOR SALE in the Chicagoland area. Contact me if you’re interested.)

I’m not gonna lie friends. This one was a struggle.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen each painful step, starting with the wood stain.

The first attempt was streaky. I didn’t know why but thought it must be because I didn’t strip the old finish thoroughly.
So I started over.

The second attempt was spotty because after stripping the old finish I didn’t clean off the stripper residue completely. (Read more about that HERE.)
So I started over.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

The third attempt was streaky because I didn’t know I was dealing with a soft wood and needed to use a pre-stain wood conditioner. (Looking back I realized this was really the problem with my first attempt.)
So I started over.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Finally, on the fourth attempt, the planets aligned, the clouds parted and the wood-staining gods smiled down upon me. Success at long last.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Next was paint. I used this DIY chalk paint recipe with Valspar’s Amber Rose color. I’m happy to report that the paint went on with no problems! The color was perfect and the chalk paint was as amazing as everyone claims. I finished it off with a couple coats of SC Johnson Paste wax – stinky but effective. (If you’re trying to compare expensive Annie Sloan Chalk Paint with the more economical DIY versions I highly recommend you read this post from Diane at In My Own Style. So much valuable information!)

All that was left was to pick out some shiny gold hardware and she would be done! Easy squeezy, right?

Wrong.

You guys I couldn’t find anything to fit the holes. I tried everywhere I could think of. Internet, retail, antique shops, referrals from friends – nothing. There were a couple that were the right size but completely wrong for the age and style of the piece. And a couple of others that might have worked but they were around $30 each. Not for this thrifty chick.

I considered drilling new holes but even if I used a stainable wood filler the old holes would be obvious. And ugly. The only way to completely cover them would be to . . .

paint

the

drawers.

The same drawers that I just cried and agonized over for weeks. That I stripped, stained, and sealed four times.

I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t. There had to be a better way.

So I wiped the slate clean and started my search over again, hoping something new and different would pop up this time. First stop: Lowe’s.

I walked to the same jumbled wall of handles and knobs I had looked through before and THERE IT WAS! Not a perfect fit but a contender that, with a little spray paint and strategic placement, might finish off my coral queen.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

It was super, super close but they work! Here’s the trick: they don’t match the existing holes in the drawers but instead, cover them (with not a millimeter to spare). Yes, we did have to drill into my newly refinished wood to install them. And yes, it did totally stress me out. But the result is 100% worth it. You can’t see the original holes at all and I love the way the finished pulls look. Their simple style and rounded edges compliment the details of the piece perfectly.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.comI fought hard for this dresser and I could not be more pleased with how it turned out. It was my first adventure with chalk paint and my first time using the color coral. I will definitely use them both again.

I should mention that this beauty is for sale so if you’re in the Chicagoland area and are looking for a pop of feminine color in your space, we should chat.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons

Hello friends. Before I dive into this Mid-Century love fest I want to chat briefly about my posting schedule. I decided to tackle some new projects this year and they’re taking longer than I expected (you’ll see one example in this post). As a result the blogging side of things has slowed down. A lot. Hopefully it will pick up again as I learn more and can work faster. Until then, I’m still sharing, just less often.

Now that that’s out of the way, get a load of this.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

I. Can’t. Even.

The Mid-Century Modern lover in me wants to whisper inappropriate things to it over cocktails in a dark, smoky bar.

Sure, it’s got a broken leg – a new one has been ordered and will be here soon – but it’s still so damn sexy I just couldn’t wait any longer to share.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

So for now we’ll do some cropping to hide the “stump” and show off the gorgeous legs it does have.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

You might also notice there’s no fancy staging or styling – the paint job on the wall isn’t even done. That’s because this room is (eternally) under construction. This dresser and another one I plan to share soon are the only finished things in the space. Gotta start somewhere.

THE STORY

You can probably guess from the title of this post that the refinishing process did not go smoothly. I’ll start at the beginning with this not-so-exciting “before” shot.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Not in bad shape but there were some scratches and dings that needed attention. Worst of all, this ugly laminate top.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

So I started by stripping the drawers with Citristrip. Then I hit them with a few coats of General Finishes Java Gel Stain. Everything looked beautiful so I finished them off with General Finishes Gel Topcoat, patted myself on the back, and went to bed.

The next morning I found this on all nine drawers.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

What the what? What happened? And more importantly, how do I fix it?

THE INVESTIGATION

I asked everyone I knew. Instagram friends. Facebook family. General Finishes customer support. Everyone. In the end no one was exactly sure why it happened but most seemed to agree on the solution: re-strip, re-sand, and re-stain.

But I wasn’t convinced. Repeating the same steps and expecting different results seemed ridiculous. I wanted to find out what actually caused the spots so I decided to do more investigating.

My plan was simple: Follow the same exact steps but on a different dresser. If the spots appear again then I know it’s something I’m doing. If not, then it must be something on the wood. Maybe a spill or splatter from the previous owner?

Here are the discouraging results.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

It’s a different kind of wood so it doesn’t look the same but there are definitely spots.

So what the bleepity-bleep was I doing wrong? I had just finished another dresser last week using the same products and it turned out beautifully – no spots, no problems, no drama. Why was I having so much trouble now?

Then I remembered something! I had done one tiny thing differently on that spot-free dresser from last week: I used a liquid deglosser to remove the paint stripper residue. On the spotty dressers I used a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water that I had on hand. If that mix wasn’t strong enough to completely clean off the thick, waxy stripping goo it could prevent the stain from soaking into the wood evenly, which would result in spots. Mystery solved!

THE LESSON

The Citristrip label clearly states, “use a paint stripper wash or odorless mineral spirits to loosen remaining residue”.

I used something else and it was an epic fail.

So today’s furniture refinishing lesson is: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PRODUCTS YOU’RE USING.

It’s so simple that it’s embarrassing. Let’s move on.

THE HOME STRETCH

Now that I knew what to do – and what not to do – it was time to finish this thing up. I scrubbed everything down with a Scotch-Brite scour pad and deglosser, then sanded and stained. The top coat went on beautifully with no spots to be seen. Success!

With the drawers finally done it was time to tackle the dresser frame. I started with a light sanding, followed by a coat of Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer (my go-to product for laminate surfaces). Lastly, a few coats of Benjamin Moore Cloud White and it was done!

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

I’m not gonna lie. This one was slow and painful and aggravating. But I definitely learned from it and I absolutely LOVE the results. Now I’m just waiting on that leg to show up in the mail so I can officially call it finished.

Have you conquered any painful projects lately? Was the challenge due to a simple mistake like mine? Or something more complicated?

Basement Stairs Update: Phase 1

I kind of lost my mind last week and started ripping up the carpet on our basement stairs.

Basement Stairs Update: Phase 1 | laughingabi.com

Don’t get me wrong, it was dark and ugly and needed to go but the basement hasn’t been a priority for seven years. (We worked on it when we first moved in but ran out of steam and haven’t touched it since.)

Basement Stairs Update: Phase 1 | laughingabi.comAll that changed one day when I went to pick up Teen Queen from a friend’s house. Her family was having their basement finished and I couldn’t believe how excited my daughter was about it.

I mean we have a basement that’s already finished and she hardly ever goes down there.

Um, maybe because it’s dark and ugly? And dreary and uninviting? Ya think?

So while they were explaining, “the toilet will go here” and, “this is where we’ll watch TV” I was making my own plans. The next morning I started hacking away at our stairs before the school bus even pulled away from the corner.

Under that nasty carpet and padding was this. Not the greatest but it definitely could have been worse.

Basement Stairs Update: Phase 1 | laughingabi.com

Next I pulled out eleventy-million staples. Which left me with two-eleventy-million rusty staple holes.

Basement Stairs Update: Phase 1 | laughingabi.com

I filled them with wood filler, let them dry, and sanded them smooth.

Basement Stairs Update: Phase 1 | laughingabi.com

Then it was time to caulk all the seams. I’m always amazed how much difference caulking makes. It’s the difference between a bunch of painted wood planks and a seamless, finished piece. I’ve ranted about it HERE before so I’ll spare you the soapbox again.

Finally – time to prime and paint! I used this Zinsser Primer because I knew it would cover all the stains on the stair treads as well as the orange wood on the surrounding wall and pillar. (I actually used two coats on the orange wood.) As for paint, I chose Valspar Duramax Paint + Primer because I had it leftover from the back porch project and figured outdoor paint would be a good idea on the steps anyway.

A TIP for painting steps: paint every other step so you can still go up and down the stairs if you need to. It takes a little longer but you’ll thank me when you need clean underwear from the basement laundry room.

Here’s how it looked after the first set was done. Oh and the orange wood too. So glad to see that go!

Basement Stairs Update: Phase 1 | laughingabi.com

And the second set. Excuse the terrible lighting. It’s a basement.

Basement Stairs Update: Phase 1 | laughingabi.com

And with that Phase 1 is done! There’s still a lot to do though – trim to cover all those gaps on the right, the railing needs to be painted and reinstalled, and those yellow walls have to go. But before any of that happens I have more painting to do – something fun. Because a Pinterest addict like me couldn’t possibly stop with plain white stairs.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update

Teen Queen’s bed frame is old. The veneer was peeling and the finish was scratched up. It had some cool lines but it was far from cool. So I decided when she was gone for a few days to surprise her with a bed update.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

It’s nothing fancy, just paint and fabric but if you take a look at these “before” photos you’ll see how far it’s come. Please note I took these pics of her room in its “as is” condition. See how even the cat looks terrified to be in there? Yes, it’s embarrassing but it could be worse. And yes, that is a roll of toilet paper that I found under her bed.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

I started by taking everything outside and roughing it up with sandpaper. These pics only show the headboard but the footboard got the same treatment.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Then a coat of primer. I had grey tinted primer leftover from something (I have no idea what) so I used it. Of course you can use white or whatever you have on hand.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

And finally, clean, crisp, white paint.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Ahhhh – a mazillion times better already. But I wanted more. I wanted to add something fun and colorful to that middle inset panel. I went digging through my stash and found some IKEA fabric, scrap cardboard, and duct tape. Perfect.

Here’s the cardboard. It was leftover from a history presentation Teen Queen did last year for school.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

I used newspaper to make a template of the inset shape, traced it onto the cardboard, and cut it out. The only problem was the scores/folds in the cardboard. They made it kind of floppy and hard to work with. So I wrapped them a few times with duct tape to fix it up. (Oddly enough, all I could find in the garage was SpongeBob SquarePants duct tape. What does that say about my household?)

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Next I wanted to add some batting so it would feel more like an upholstered headboard. Luckily I found a piece of fleece in my fabric scraps that was big enough to do the trick. Any thick piece of fabric will work if you don’t want to go out and buy batting. I’ve even been known to cut up old blankets that we don’t use anymore.

I laid the fleece under the cardboard and cut it to the same shape. Don’t worry about being perfect. It will all be covered in the end.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Then I used spray adhesive to stick the fleece to the cardboard so it didn’t skooch around during the next step. (Sorry I forgot to shoot a pic.) You can use any adhesive you have, even SpongeBob duct tape would work.

Finally it was time to put on some pretty fabric. It really is a easy as wrapping a present.
1. Cut the fabric into a rectangle approximately three inches bigger on all four sides than the cardboard cut-out.
2. Lay your fabric rectangle, wrong-side-up, on your work surface.
3. Place your cardboard cut-out, batting-side-down, on top of the fabric rectangle.
4. Using duct tape (I found a roll of white in my daughter’s craft box) or whatever adhesive you have, wrap and stick the excess fabric onto the back of the cardboard.
5. When you come to a corner don’t over think it. Just fold and tuck until you get the fabric as smooth as possible and stick it down.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

As for those funky triangular ends, I just cut a slit in my fabric almost all the way to the cardboard then folded and taped.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

When you’re done flip it over and “voila”!

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

The last step was attaching it to the headboard. Surprisingly, I did not use duct tape. Instead I bought a couple packages of peel and stick velcro. It worked perfectly and makes it possible to take the panel out and update the fabric whenever Teen Queen changes her mind.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

Sorry I can’t pan out and share a glorious full room “after” photo but it’s really, really scary in there. This will have to do for now.

Inexpensive Teen Bed Update | laughingabi.com

 

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations

Last week I shared my finished fireplace and mantel and gave you a sneak peek at my spring mantel decorations. Today I’m showing you how I put them all together.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Before we talk birds and flowers we should revisit the aged wood background that everything is hanging on. I made it HERE for about $20 and I love the texture it adds to the room. It seems to be the perfect backdrop, no matter what season it is.

Now for some flowers. Bright yellow Forsythia leaves scream spring so I hit Michael’s during a 50% off sale and grabbed a handful of “fakeys” and a grapevine wreath. All-together I spent $17.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

This is the part where I admit I totally faked it. I have no idea how you’re supposed to make a wreath. All I did was cut off the sprigs with a pair of pliers, jabbed them into the grapevine, and wrapped some floral wire around it in random spots. Does that count as a tutorial? Maybe? No? Either way, I’m happy with how it turned out.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Oh, and as for those empty mason jars, I have a plan for those. How perfect will THIS be in them? I can’t wait to try it. I’ll be sure to post an update.

The gold cage and birds were the most challenging part of this project but they’re also my favorite things on the mantel. I started with a plain artist’s canvas from the craft store. (I had one on hand but you can pick them up at Michael’s or JoAnn’s.) A coat of primer and two coats of Clark + Kensington Blue Jolt paint and it was ready for a cage.

I wish I could offer a stencil or pattern or something but I found THIS clip art online and just sketched it out one night while my daughter was at swim practice. (Sorry for the fuzzy iphone pic.)

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Once my sketch was done I used a gold paint pen to trace the lines and my favorite gold leaf paint from THIS project to fill in the bigger areas. Voila!

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Up next – birds. Here’s how I made them:
1. I started with THIS clip art and enlarged it on my monitor to the size I wanted.
2. I taped a piece of paper to my screen and oh-so-delicately traced the outline.
3. I cut out the bird and then used it as a template to trace the same shape onto a piece of heavy cardstock. This would ensure it was stable enough to stand up to paint.
4. I cut out the cardstock bird and painted it with the same gold leaf paint I used on the cage.

Obviously I did this twice, making the second bird smaller.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Did you notice how the bigger bird is layered in front of the canvas? I tried to give him some depth by gluing a piece of folded cardstock to his back so it created a tab that sticks out perpendicular to the body. I slid that tab between two of the wooden slats and it created the “flying” bird effect. This might have been Josh’s idea but he can never prove it.

The last element was the easiest. A simple frame, a coat of cheery coral paint, and a scrap of fabric leftover from THIS project.

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

Add a gnome candle and an an awkwardly empty vase which I promise to fill it as soon as something blooms around here, and you’ve got a mantel all ready for spring. (You’ll see some votive candles standing in for the mason jars in some of these pics.)

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.com

DIY Spring Mantel Decorations | laughingabi.comI love the bright colors and the look of spring when I walk in the door even though my furnace has been running all day. Sigh.

What are you decorating for spring? Any birds or flowers made their way into your house? Any bright pops of spring color?

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

Last week we went on vacation and spent some time with our family in Kansas. While we were there my amazingly creative sister-in-law showed us how to make these adorable storage jars. They’re so cute and so easy to make. I use mine to hold a coconut oil & frankincense facial moisturizer but she has them all over her house storing all sorts of things. More on that in a minute, first let’s make some jars.

You only need a few materials, some you probably have around the house already.

1. A jar with a lid. Mason jars, baby food jars, whatever you have. (We had dinner at a friend’s house the night before and I spotted the jar on the far right in their trash can. It held the mushrooms that went in our risotto. Yummy and useful.)

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

2. Plastic animals. We found ours at a garden supply store but you can get them at craft stores too.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

3. Super glue. Any kind you like. We used this.
4. Gold paint. Again, use what you like. Here’s ours.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

The first thing we did was glue the ring and disc part of our mason jar lid together so it was one piece. If your lids are already one piece you can obviously skip this step.

Next we glued our animals onto the lids and let them dry overnight. In the morning we coated the lids and animals with gold paint and VOILA! They’re done.

Here’s my youngest daughter’s.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

And here’s Teen Queen’s.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

Aren’t they fun? We were all surprised how much detail the gold paint brought out, especially on this little guy.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

I mentioned that my sister-in-law uses them all over her house. My favorite example is this pork rub mixture that she layered into a tall skinny jar. (I think it used to hold olives.)

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

Wouldn’t that be a perfect hostess or house warming gift? Oh, and did you see the gold squirrel there next to it? She stores chopped nuts in that one. Love that girl.

And just because it’s my favorite, here’s one more photo of my foxy little jar.

How To Make Gold Animal Storage Jars | laughingabi.com

I love seeing these jars around the house. They’re so pretty and they remind me of my family that lives too far away.

What fun storage containers do you use? Anything handmade or adorable?

 

Back Porch Season Finale: Ceiling and Floor Wrap-Up

I’m not gonna lie. I’m over this porch project.

I’m dance-a-little-jig-happy with how it’s turning out but my brain is ready to focus on something else for a while. Plus it’s getting cold here in Chicagoland. So this post is a wrap-up of the details we’ve been working on for the last couple weeks, and then we’re calling it quits on outdoor projects for the season. I like to think of it as the “Back Porch Season Finale”. Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

THE CEILING: The last time we chatted about the ceiling we had installed beadboard, painted, and covered our seams with trim. Now it was time to fill all bajillion nail holes and caulk all the seams. I circled the holes that needed to be filled in this small section so you could see what I’m talking about.

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

After I filled them, using the same caulk we used on the walls, they looked like this. (I don’t know why I took a picture of just one hole. Sorry.)

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

Next we had to caulk all the seams, meaning any place two pieces of wood fit together. This step isn’t absolutely necessary but it serves as a seal against the weather and it’s one of those details that really makes the job look professional. All the white lines in this pic are where I caulked but still needed to paint.

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

This before and after photo shows what a big difference caulking can make. It creates such a clean, seamless look.

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

Finally, it was time for the last coat of paint. This is where I started racing against Mother Nature. Since it needs to be at least 50 degrees to paint and our highs have been around 54, I had a very small window of time to work each day. But I got it done, tiny step by tiny step. Apparently I was so excited that I forgot to take any photos of the finished ceiling. I’ll try to post one later today for you.

THE FLOOR: I haven’t talked much about the floor because I haven’t done much to it – until now. My hope was to at least get a coat of primer on before it got too cold so the wood would be protected over the winter. First though I had to fill all the holes and seams. (Anyone else hear a broken record playing?) We used wood filler for this step instead of caulk because it had to be sanded smooth for painting. Surprisingly, this turned into a family project.

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

It took several coats, 4-5 depending on the depth of the hole or seam, and so so so much sanding. This is the first coat.

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

Here it is after all the patching is done and the entire floor had been smoothed down with a palm sander. (That was a loooong day.)

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

And finally, primer!!!

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

I thought I was done for the season but then the temperature shot up to the low 60s and I couldn’t resist the chance to put some paint on the floor. We chose this grey/blue/green for the base color and have plans to add a stencil down the road.

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

Truth is, I’m worried about the paint holding up. We get a lot of snow and rain on that floor and because it’s a shady area it tends to stay there for a long time. Oh, and when it rained last week the floor was super-slippery. Has anyone else dealt with the slip problem on painted porches? I’ve seen non-skid paint but it seems like it would be impossible to clean.

So I guess you could say I’m skeptical about the painted porch floor. I know it needs a coat of poly for better protection but the cold weather here just wouldn’t allow it. Hopefully the paint will at least protect the wood until spring. I will let you know what it looks like next March – keep your fingers crossed for me.

The “finished” porch floor.

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

An attempt to show you the floor and ceiling in one picture.

Back Porch Season Finale | laughingabi.com

So that’s the end of the porch project until the thaw. I’m thankful for the break and ready to turn my attention to some holiday ideas. Are you racing to finish up any outdoor jobs before it’s too cold? Have you started working on any indoor DIY or decorating plans?

Painting A Screened Porch Exterior

The exterior porch walls are done!

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

The last time you visited our back porch I had finally finished scrubbing, scraping, caulking, and painting the interior walls. Thankfully Mother Nature delivered some 80 degree days to the Chicagoland area so I could finish painting the exterior.

I’m not gonna lie — this job was a beast. The biggest challenge was the height. I needed to scrub, scrape, caulk, and paint all the way up to the tippy top.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

And even after I borrowed a friend’s ladder (none of ours were tall enough) I found that the constant up and down was painfully slow and tedious. Never known for patience, I decided it would be smarter to climb up onto the roof and then hang over the edge to paint the soffit.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

Effective? Yes
Smart? Um, decidedly not but it got the job done and I reached the ground uninjured.

Before I go any further let me remind you where we started. Here’s a before pic.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

It looked like it would be simple enough to scrape clean and repaint but underneath we found this mess.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

The previous owners had used the same spackling paste on these walls that they did on the inside. Which meant we had to deal with big chips and chunks again. My first attempt was to just prime over it and hope it wouldn’t be noticeable.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com
Fail – with a capital F.

So on to Plan B which involved Josh, an extension ladder, and a palm sander. His goal wasn’t to remove all the spackling but to sand out the edges so it would be a smooth surface for painting.

With the scraping and sanding accomplished it was back to the same routine I followed for the interior walls.
1. scrub all surfaces with bleach water
2. prime any bare wood
3. paint first coat using the same paint I used on the interior
4. caulk all 4 million seams and angles
5. paint second coat

When you write it down in five neat little steps it sounds so simple. But oh the ladders and angles and caulk!

One last thing before I hit you with the after pics. Remember that interior door we had to “cover up” here? Well, we had to do the same thing on the exterior side. Here’s a glimpse of how it looked before. (I don’t know why I didn’t take a photo of the whole door but you get the idea.)

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

And after – with trimmed and painted (front and back to maximize protection from the weather) 5.25″ lattice.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

And with that last detail explained it’s time to roll out the AFTER photos. I’ll keep them in order as we walk around the porch because all the doors are confusing if you’re not familiar with my yard.

This is the side closest to the garage/driveway. NOTE: I didn’t paint the doors because we plan to replace them in the spring.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

Here’s a side by side (or top by bottom) so you can see the huge difference.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

And we’re walking . . .

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

Stop along the way to take a peek-a-boo at the new ceiling inside. (The skylights still need to be trimmed out.)

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

And around the last corner to the final wall.

Painting a screened porch exterior | laughingabi.com

It was a ton of work but worth it in the end because it turned out A. MAZE. ING. I find myself gazing at it all the time. So happy.

What project have you been trying to finish up? Are you happy with how it turned out?

Let the porch painting begin

Last time you visited my back porch I was scrubbing and scraping. It was absolutely dis. gust. ing, and I wanted more than anything for it to be DONE.

The good news is, I finished scrubbing and scraping the inside.

The bad news is, I still had to do the outside. And it was so much grosser. What’s that you said? Why yes, of course I’ll share some of the nastiness with you.

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

Enough already. Let’s put on some paint and start making things look better. First the inside.

The previous owners had unwisely decided to use drywall to finish this outdoor space. When we ripped it down we were left with this.

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

Rather than trying to cover it up, we decided to work with this “rustic” look. (By rustic I mean natural & simple, not country.) After all, this is a back porch, a place where we will spill many beers and track much mud. We had no intentions of trying to make it perfect — at least that’s what Josh kept telling me.

So we went straight to the paint, specifically Valspar Duramax Paint + Primer. This is how things were looking after the first coat. (The photo was taken along the opposite wall but it’s the same thing, different view. The other ones came out blurry.)

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

Definitely better but still a little too rustic for me. Enter the magical product called caulk. Have you ever used it? Do you know what an amazing thing it is? Basically, it fills in and seals all the little cracks and gaps. So what starts as two boards nailed together becomes a clean, seamless wall of beauty. (I may be overselling it a bit but I love this stuff.) There are a million different types and brands out there for every project you can imagine. Here’s what I used on the porch.

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

After I caulked all the lines I went back and hit it with a second coat of paint. VOILA! The perfect finish for a simple, natural, outdoor space.

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

The next challenge was the door frame under that newly finished wall. It looks pretty in the picture above this but here’s where we started.

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

Again, in their attempt to make this an indoor space, the previous owner had covered every rough or even slightly imperfect surface with this. (I found the leftover can in the basement.)

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

The problem came when I was scraping the paint. Chunks of this exterior spackle (the yellow parts in the photos) started flying through the air like shrapnel. But not all of it, just enough to leave huge uneven gaps and holes in the wall.

Since there is a difference between rustic and just plain ugly, we had to do something with this mess. Ironically enough, we decided to cover it.

Josh (formerly known as The Hubs) picked up some 5.25″ lattice from Home Depot then we simply trimmed it, painted it (front and back to maximize protection from the weather), and hung it around the door. After that I caulked the seams and painted it all again.

VOILA! A finished door appropriate for an outdoor space. (Spoiler: we had to do the same thing to the outside of the door. You’ll read about that next week.)

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

So all that was left for the interior was the overhead beams. They were by far the easiest thing we tackled in this whole project. I just scrubbed them down, scraped a bit of flaking paint, and covered them with two coats of white. Easy peasy. This is also a great “after” shot of the wall I showed you in the 4th photo.

Let the porch painting begin | laughingabi.com

I was planning to share the exterior today but it’s not done yet. Mother Nature didn’t seem to care about my DIY schedule over the weekend. Or else Josh ordered a day of rain so I would have to stay inside and do laundry for a change. Either way, I’m still working on it. Can’t wait to get it done so I can start on the floor. Not 100% sure what I’m doing yet but leaning toward this idea. Whatcha think?

Are you finishing up any outdoor projects? Or discovering any questionable decisions the previous owners of your home made? Sometimes you just have to shake your head, don’t you?