Before + After: Front Door

With all the changes going on in the inside of our new home, I wanted to do something small but with big impact to make the house feel more like ours from the outside. While we will probably repaint it in the next couple of years, it's not at the top of our list for now. I opted instead to change the front door color. Front door colors are kind of like lipstick, a color can change the whole look.

Our house started with a plain white front door on the outside. When I spotted this front door in my first HGTV magazine (July 2013) I knew that something bright and cheery was just what the house needed to feel like "ours."

That is seriously cheery, right? [source]

Initially, I had a tough time narrowing it down to one choice. The Pantone paint selection at Valspar has a ton of saturated brights so that's where I pulled my chip choices from. There were about 5 paint chips taped to the front door for two months while I debated. It came down to two so we decided to paint the lighter color first for ease of painting over it with something stronger if it didn't feel right.

The final choice? Pantone's Bay from Lowe's. It's a soft and minty sea green that looks pretty with the grey exterior and black and white trim.

As for tips and tricks, this was pretty straight forward. Just remember to remember how your door handle and dead bolt lock go back together. I left the door on the hinges because they were too hard remove and wiped down the door to get dirt and grime off before painting and didn't prime it. I bought a quart of paint and that was more than enough for two coats.

While I was feeling super productive I decided to sand part of the jamb surface of the door that had been sticking when closed. While it helped the door close easier the sander "grabbed" the painted surface of the interior of the door and peeled off a huge chunk of the interior coat of paint. Boo! Down the rabbit hole I went ...

With large swaths of latex paint peeled off and the primer exposed I had to tackle the new eyesore. Rather than try to re-paint over the primer that seemed suspect (given how easy it was to pull large sheets of paint off) I opted to strip it down to the original wood.

Enter Citristrip, my new favorite paint stripper. Not only can you use it inside, you don't have to wear a mask to protect you from the fumes. Score! I did wear eye protection though. Two trips to the doctor for stripper/sand in the eye was enough motivation to avoid another incident. 

The tools I used were: nitrile gloves, a new plastic putty knife, a plastic drop cloth over a canvas one (just in case, I'm clumsy), lots of wooden skewers for cranny strippy (not Granny stripping -- you creep), an old brush, a wide-mouthed jar and Citristrip. You'll also want some paint thinner to clean the wood surface of excess stripper and any last stubborn bits of paint. Beware of where the stripper and paint thinner are at all times, you don't want any stray drops contacting anything other than what you want stripped -- it will affect the surface it touches.

Stripping in progress. Coat the surface with an old paint brush and the stripper and then stick a cut open plastic bag against the surface and wait. The plastic bag helps the stripper to stay moist and really helps with peeling the paint off. You'll also want to use the points of the skewers to scrape all the paint bits out of the corners of the moulding details.

The paint on the door was hiding some patched areas and quite a few dings and dents. Luckily, I dig it. Eventually, I'll be tackling the stairs with a fresh coat of dark chocolate stain on the tread surfaces and the railing and painting the spindles to match the house trim. My plan is to use the same stain from the stairs on the door to tie it all together for a cohesive entryway.

**UPDATE** I have finally stained the inside of the front door. Mr wasn't into my idea of black stain so I went next darkest and bought a little can of Rustoleum in Kona. I did one liberal coat of stain with a cheapie 3 inch foam brush and then wiped up the excess with rags. I did let the stain sit on the surface for a little bit before wiping to really let that dry wood soak it up. There are a couple imperfections in the door surface where the stain didn't take so well but for now I'm leaving them and calling it "rustic." After about four days of drying I bought a can of poly sealer but I've not put it on yet. I like the feel of the raw wood but I think I'll do one coat of matte for good measure. I didn't take the door down (again) so we'll see if I can do it without getting too many drips and runs.

Pretty Awesome New Years Cards

The time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a whirlwind of activity. It's a wonder so many people manage to send out holiday cards that arrive before Christmas. I, however, am not one of those people. I'm no busier than a normal person, I just like how much easier it is to not add the holiday card dance to my plate. In order to avoid total Scroge-hood, I like to send Happy New Year cards. Maybe you're like me, maybe you missed the Christmas card train or maybe you want to spread cheer without being pigeon-holed into one of the religious holidays of December.

So my fellow procrastinating or non-denominational cheer sender, check out this crazy fun selection of New Year Cards.

The Classic in real foil(!) at

What's that? You already sent your holiday cards? Then take a gander at these festive and fun new year party invitations.

*This is an affiliate post -- help me to help you and shop via these links, I have an ugly Christmas sweater I'm looking to buy ;)

The Kitchen Refresh

The Mr. and I became first-time homeowners in June. Our very first project to tackle was the kitchen. We didn't want to go full-reno so we opted for a major "refresh" instead.

Let me start by saying I am NOT a professional. I am also not super into planning ahead. I am a free-spirited creative and I like to start things before fully understanding all the possible details. This post is more about sharing my real-world, total amateur, don't-really-know-what-I'm-doing experience and process. As a result, please view this as a show-and-tell project and not a strict how-to tutorial. Please feel free to learn from my mistakes and regrets. There are many fantastic tutorials out there so please reference those for your serious inquiries. Try both This Old House and One House Love to get started.

Now that we've cleared that up, here are a couple before shots. You can see how the ugly brown cabinets make the corner of the room feel like a black hole, trying to suck you in to its depths.

It's all so brown! (with previous owner's stuff)

The paint color debate in full-swing and cabinet doors coming down. 

We began by numbering all the doors and drawers before removing them. It turns out they were almost all unique to their location however not all kitchens are the same and this will save braincells when it's time for re-assembly. 

The next step was to remove all the shelf liner paper (super sticky and gross) and then clean the glue off the surface of the wood with Goof-Off. I have no idea what the pros do, but this worked for us. 

Next we hand-sanded all surfaces with sanding blocks. Not too rough a grit because you don't want to gouge the wood. I suppose a liquid de-glosser would have worked just as well to clean the surface of old stain and kitchen grease.

To say prepping and priming was tedious is an understatement. This alone was a two week process. 
Could it be done faster? Yes. Is it worth paying someone else to do? Let's just say I don't want to do it ever again.

We taped off everything we didn't want to get paint on and put plastic drop cloths over the granite counter and appliance tops. Then onto priming where we used a gallon and a quart worth of B-I-N Shellac Base Primer and Sealer Stain Killer based on our contractor's (popcorn ceiling removal) recommendation. I really wanted to make sure we covered that old dark stain as well as possible and to avoid any spots or stains leaking through the final paint layer later on.

After what felt like an eternity spent priming and then deciding what white to use, we moved onto final paint. We went with Valspar's "Pale Bloom" white in a high-gloss interior/exterior paint. I picked that particular color because it had a very slight warm yellow tone to it which worked best with the existing granite and back splash.

After the first coat of paint I realized that all the cracks and nail holes in the wood were showing up. Painting ceased and hole filling began. I used a 5.5 oz tube of DAP white latex, paintable window and door caulk. It worked like a charm with a damp finger to spread the bead and wet rag for clean-up. The rest of the painting went well. We paid special attention to the upper cabinet interiors that flank the sink since those were getting the glass door treatment.


With painting nearing the end it was time to settle on hardware. Our local hardware store is Lowe's and while I found a modern 3" handle shape that I liked, I couldn't find it there in the oil rubbed bronze finish. Thanks to a generous birthday gift from the best mother-in-law in the world, I ended up with exactly the handles and cup pulls that I wanted at 2/3 the price of the Lowe's hardware.

Testing some Lowe's handles out -- modern bar stainless versus "nautical" oil rubbed bronze.

With the base cabinets painted and hardware picked out we turned our focus to the doors and drawers. Arguable the most important part of the paint job since the fronts of these take up the most visible space of the kitchen. We painted the doors flat on the floor (with many a drop cloth to protect them) with a small foam roller. With a couple coats of primer and about 4 coats of paint they looked done. However, if I was to do it all over again I'd probably try to achieve a flatter surface texture, the foam roller gave the surface a little bit of an orange peel texture. It's not horrible by any means but it's not quite flat and "perfect, " if you know what I mean. I put glass panels into the the four upper doors that flank the sink to show off our white and blue dishes. You can read my how to here.

While looking at paint for the kitchen we settled on a lightly blue Valspar paint called Woodlawn Sterling Blue. The chip has a soft, antique blue cast to it and looked really good in the light of the space. BUT once the walls were painted the color looks waaayyyy more blue and less antique and silvery. Another takeaway lesson for you, get a small tester bottle of your chosen paint and paint a large piece of poster board and hang it on the walls of the space BEFORE you buy a full gallon. A little 2x4 inch swatch just wont give you the right impression of the color. I don't hate the result but it's not what I thought it'd be. Now I wonder what a warm and tasty mustard color would look like but the Mister isn't on board so I'm learning to love the blue for now.

So without further ado, I give you the final result with a less than professional camera phone photo at night!

One of these days I out to break out the good camera and style the crap out of this room and get a pin worthy photo of the kitchen. I'll be sure to update when that happens! Until then, here's your before and after. From dark and dingy to light and bright. (Just take my word for it.)

Affiliate notice: Some of the links in the post are affiliate links to products that I used for this project and would recommend to friends and family. If you make a purchase after using these links I will make a small profit which helps me to keep doing these fun projects and sharing my experiences. Thanks for reading and if you have questions, please feel free to ask!

Cyber Monday Deals at

If you haven't ordered your holiday cards yet, now is the time! Minted is offering 15% off AND free shipping on all holiday cards. If you're in the market for stationery gift items or art prints for those stylish friends and relatives of yours EVERYTHING else on the site is 25% off.

If you have a photo in mind for you cards, use the Minted’s Find It Fast function and see your photo in every holiday card design on the site. It makes picking your design much easier (or is it harder when everything looks good?). Use the code CYBER2013 for your holiday card discount.

Not into that "traditional" family holiday card thing? Try a card featuring your favorite furry friend. I hear pets are the new kids. ;)

If your pet wont pose in antlers in real life, they'll be happy to wear them on a card in this Reinpet design.

Don't forget mom, there is a ton of stylish, pretty and modern stationery available too! Use the code MON25 for maximum savings!

Try Chic Stripes or one of the other awesome designs available!

Now at Zazzle: Folded Holiday Photo Cards

For you early birds out there, use the discount code CARDSNPOST13 before midnight October 30th to get 50% off your holiday cards and 10% off custom postage stamps.

I've been in the Christmas spirit for at least a third of the year so far which, while awkward for my spouse, is great news for you! Not only do I have a holiday card collection available at Minted I also have a brand new collection available in the 2birdstone Zazzle shop.

The 2013 Holiday Card Collection at Minted has LAUNCHED!

While many of you were sitting poolside/seaside/barside with fruity drinks and cold beers many of us "computer artsy" folk huddled up to our screens, sweat dripping down our backs, perched under over-worked ceiling fans attempting to choke down hot cocoa while Burl Ives assailed our ear drums and tortured our spouses/roommates/partners/neighbors. Christmas always comes early for the stationer/illustrator/graphic designer and it's hard to "get in the spirit" but somehow we managed. 

Now that it is nearing the official first day of fall, there is a slight chill in the air, and pumpkin spice lattes are flowing in the 'Bucks -- it's officially time to show off all the hard work and design agony of the past two, four, err ... six months. Let me introduce you to  ::trumpets blasting, angels singing:: Minted's 2013 holiday card collection!!

Exclusively created by Minted's global community of independent designers, this year's batch is better than ever before. With a new assortment, Minted also launches real foil-pressed holiday cards! Your holiday card is sure to sparkle, shine, and standout from the rest with Minted's new, real foil-pressed cards! You can even see the shimmer using their "See It Move" feature.

Here are a few of my personal favorites but you're welcome to browse the many pages of top-notch design and find the "One" for you. 

(Plus, if you click my any of these affiliate links and then make a purchase you'll be well-ahead in the holiday spirit of giving by helping me earn a few bucks! Sounds like a win-win if you ask me.)

Now for the self-plug and for my moms, here are my new designs for the 2013 season.

If you're just not feeling the holidays yet, fine. Have a gander at the awesome Halloween cards and party invitations. You can even get 15% off if you use the code SPOOKY2013. 

There, feeling better now? Good.