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.

Before + After: Garden Bench

This iron and wood garden bench had been living in our garage for who-knows-how-long. I asked our landlord if we could use it and he told me that his wife has forgotten about it and he didn't want her to remember so we could do whatever we wanted with it. Hooray for us!

See the results after the jump ...

The whole thing was loose but the screws were all in place. I began by taking it apart and quickly found the screws holding the iron back piece to the wood were corroded and all but one of them broke right off when I tried to take them apart.

I cleaned up the iron bits with a wire brush and sanded the boards down a bit to smooth them out. After months of deliberation I decided to paint the wood with a blue-grey garden furniture paint/stain and repaint the iron with a fresh coat of gloss black. During reassembly those broken screws came back to haunt me. I didn't have a grinder of my own so I borrowed a friend's cordless Dremmel in attempt to grind the nubs off. That didn't work so I was left with flipping the boards around so there was fresh wood to screw into. Luckily, I doubt the landlord will notice.

Here's the finished product, sadly I only have the one photo as I forgot to take a parting picture before me moved away and left it to welcome the next tenant. Maybe someday I'll snag an old garden bench of my own and try again.

Before + After: Flat File Cabinet

There is nothing quite as motivating as moving half-way around the world when it comes to finishing projects. As our move date approached I realized that I'd be unable to take any of the wet supplies I'd purchased (paint, thinner, etc.) with me and that I risked losing any hardware not already attached to the furniture. Enter the flat file project.

I got the bug for a flat file cabinet after seeing these two images on Pinterest and the Illusorio Cabinet from Anthropologie.

 Without any luck on the local Craigslist or Bookoo I went to eBay UK and found this gem for only £12! All I had to do was borrow a truck and a friend and pick it up myself. The photos may be deceiving but this thing is a monster! It's probably four feet tall, nearly four feet wide and about three feet deep. It barely fit through the door way and was too awkward and heavy to move up the stairs so it lived in the dining room. It was homemade for an elementary school classroom out of pine and came with a thin layer of varnish and various glittery splotches of paste and paint. 

I started by sanding all of the exterior surfaces. I decided to stain it a warm dark brown that I found at B&Q (English equivalent of the Home Depot). I *think* I used the Colron Wood Dye in Indian Rosewood. For the knobs I searched all of the local hardware stores as well as antique shops but didn't find anything that caught my attention and came in a quantity of 16. Again, turning to eBay was the answer. There I found a listing for "16 vintage architectural salvage porcelain and brass knobs." They were only $9.99 plus shipping so I was sold. They didn't come with backer screws but another trip to the B&Q and I was set. The final detail I needed to complete my cabinets were the antiqued brass label holders to go down the middle of the drawers. After searching all over the web I (yes, again) found exactly what I wanted on eBay! I ordered "10 antique label holders" from the seller Craft-Inc. for $3.50 plus shipping. They arrived very quickly and were just what I wanted! One final trip to B&Q and I had the brass tacks to attach them. I love how it looks aged with the dings and dents and uneven stain. It's exactly the look I was going for!

All finished!

This project only cost me $56 from start to finish. Not bad considering the cost of purchasing something similar! I am absolutely smitten with the final result and cannot wait to see it in my future office/studio styled with all kinds of arty goodies.

(PS: those awesome black and white prints in the open drawer are from the Etsy shop of UK artist baggelboy. I'm a big fan of his "the end of time" series.)

All eBay links are part of an affiliate program.

Rustoleum Quart Dark Walnut Va (Google Affiliate Ad)
Minwax 30414 12 Oz Manor Oak W (Google Affiliate Ad)