Saturday, March 16, 2013

DIY Fireplace Mantel Resurfacing

Well, I finally finished a project that I've been working on for about a month or so.
See below, the finished product:

         I'd longed to buy an antique mantel for quite a while, and moving to a new house provided the perfect opportunity! My husband and I spent a day in historic Ellicott City in Maryland, which is FULL of awesome antique stores. I found a handful of mantels throughout the day, almost all of which were either falling apart or incredibly over priced (or both).

         I came across my mantel (see pic below for original condition) at one of the last shops we visited. It was heavy, sturdy, and had an obscene amount of paint on it. The price tag was listed at $175, but the shop owner came down to $125. Considering what great shape it was in (other than the 10-20 decades or more of paint), I decided that was a good price, and I bought it.

        I asked the shop keeper the history on it. She said the co-owner of the store had pulled it from an old home in Pennsylvania that was being renovated, and the owners believed it to be from some time in the 1800s. I have no proof of this (other than that it appears to be hand carved, and it has ancient, square nails embedded in the back), but it's fun to believe the story!
        While the mantel looked white at first glance, I realized after getting it home that it was actually a light pink color. After days and days of scraping, I discovered paint in white, navy blue, tan, mint green, coral, gray, more white, more tan, and finally a dark brown stain from its younger days.

        For this project, I used the following products: Klean-Strip Paint Stipper (15-minute, paste version from Walmart), Acetone (Walmart), a puddy knife (Walmart), a metal bowl (to collect stripped paint), a variety of stiff-bristled brushes (Walmart), paint brushes (already on hand), Elmer's wood glue (Lowe's), Elmer's wood filler (Lowe's), Minwax Paste Finishing Wax (Lowe's), a cotton cloth, clamps (Lowe's), mounted hangers (Lowe's), and DIY Chalk Paint  recipe using Valspar trim/doors in satin bright white and Plaster of Paris.

        To begin, I used an old brush to put on very thick layers of stripper on the paint. After waiting 10-15 minutes, it began to look like this:

After 15 minutes, I used my putty knife to scrape away. 

I scraped as much as I could into this extra stainless steel water bowl.

In the picture below, the coat of paint with the stripper on it is actually what remained after already doing two coats of stripper, yet there was still more paint underneath! Madness!

The picture below gives you an idea of how terribly thick the paint was. Those grooves were so deep and pronounced once they were cleaned out! 
I had to use wire-bristled brushes and a nail filer to get in the crevices.

Once I removed as much gunk as possible, I sanded to get a smoother finish, and cleaned up the dust with acetone. I decided to add an extra piece of wood to the top for extra bulk (pine, 2x10x10, cut to the length I wanted from Lowe's).

After a thin layer of DIY Chalk Paint, I used Elmer's Wood Glue and clamps to attach the extra shelf. I left the clamps on for a few hours or more.

While the Elmer's glue dried, I used Elmer's Wood Filler to fill in gauges, cracks, and the space between the new shelf and the original shelf.

I used a hand-sander to go over the top of the shelf and make the edges nice and smooth. Afterwards, I did two more coats of chalk paint to get a nice, solid color. I sealed it with finishing wax, then polished it well.

Hanging this sucker was tricky. I contacted a few bloggers whom I'd seen post about their own re-finished mantels, some said their mantel was simply leaning against the wall with no anchors, and others used L-shaped brackets to hold it in place. I really didn't like the idea of having exposed hardware on the mantel. After much discussing with my DIY-Diva mother, and stalking the hardware aisle at Lowe's I finally settled on using a Flush Mount Hanger.

Now that it is actually mounted using these, I love that I chose them. However, as my husband would be happy to tell you, it was a real pain in the rear trying to line them up perfectly with their counterparts. However, we finally succeeded. Yay!

When I originally started the project, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the inner-frame of the mantel. I'd seen some do chalk board, others add book shelves, and other various projects, but I wasn't sure what was right for me. That's when I happened to glance over at a spare mirror I've had laying around that I didn't know what yet to do with. Will it fit? I wondered. YES!
The best part was that I didn't have to mount the mirror. It is held easily in place by the mantel.

        So there you have it! Eventually I would like to turn this into a little seating area (old-school parlor room, anyone?). I can picture it now... gorgeous rug, a couple of wingback chairs, a refinished coffee table, with other odds and ends here and there. Hopefully I'll see that vision realized sooner than later!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Making House a Home

We've been in our house for nearly six weeks now, and I'm only just getting some decorations put up...

I'm so glad I have my little gallery wall back up! It's mostly made of vacation photos from Ireland, and one of an orca off of the San Juan Islands. I'm pretty proud of that clock; I found it today at the Post Thrift Shop for only $3.00! And it works! All of the picture frames were dollar-store buys. In the end, this project cost me about $25-$30. The big mirror and the monogram were both wedding gifts (aka free to me). To arrange the frames, I used the wax-paper method. Can't go wrong with that!

I feel like a new house doesn't really become home until all of my decorations are up. How long does it normally take you guys to put yours up after a move?

I've been stripping decades upon decades of thick paint off on an antique fireplace mantle (post to come later!). Our dog Jackson has decided I'm his "person" now (poor hubby has no idea why he made the switch). Unfortunately for Jackson, I'm not very fun. He gets incredibly bored sitting and watching me scrape all day.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fort Meade

Well, we made it to Fort Meade, after a long stint of leave-in-route. Well, it seemed long, simply because we were living out of our suitcases for almost three weeks. But, here we are!

Goodness gracious, I'm not used to living in a big city. It takes a good 20-30 minutes (or much longer) just to go on a 10-mile trip! I've never lived in a big city (Joplin, MO totally doesn't count). So far I like it, but I haven't really gotten to experience it yet. We haven't visited Baltimore, Annapolis, or D.C. yet, but hopefully we will do that soon. We snagged a great town home just off post, and we're lucky to live in a great neighborhood.

I got signed up ASAP with the Ft. Meade OSC and am hoping to make some good friends quickly. The OSC here is so much more active than what I'm used to! And cheaper, ironically. Maybe since it's such a big base? who knows. Either way, I'm thrilled to be here.

I'm hoping to get pictures of the new house up soon, and to get some blog posts up on some projects I've been and will be soon working on. We've been in our house for almost two weeks, yet there are still some boxes I haven't even opened. I bought an antique fireplace mantle last week. My goal is to get it stripped and re-painted this week, and then I will finish decorating and unpacking stuff.

At this point, I'm not sure if/when I'll get a job. The company I wanted to work for is about 25 miles away... which could easily translate to a 45 minute to over an hour commute each day. Not sure about that. However, it would greatly help us financially if we had that second income. I'll have to do lots of research and work hard to find the job that's best.

With that, I'm going to get off of here and come up with a good to-do list to help me get through the massive amount of boxes and projects that need to be taken care of.

God bless!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's that Time of Military Life again..

Well, PCS season will soon be upon us! This is our second PCS and I'm pretty excited! We're headed to Fort George G. Meade in Maryland! Pretty crazy, considering it wasn't even on our "list." But, then again, we got #8 on our list last duty station, so I'm not even surprised.

I'm very excited to head to the east coast! As much as I've grown to love Mountain Home AFB in Idaho, I'm ready for green and tall trees and thunderstorms! This Oklahoma girl looooves a good, window-shaking thunderstorm.

Is there anybody out there who has lived in or currently lives in the Fort Meade area? I'd love any feedback/tips/advice/info you have to give! We're not sure yet whether we'll live on or off base. I'm very interested to learn about where the best off-base communities to live in are, etc.

We'll be headed that way some time in January/February. In the mean time, we're crunching hard to finish up the work on our house! Since hubby got home from his deployment, we've replaced almost the entire flooring in our house. We've also painted a couple of rooms, I learned how to grout tile, I re-did the cabinets in our bathroom, fixed the deck, and I've been doing lots of DIY Pinterest projects. I keep telling myself I should start doing tutorials, but I never remember to take pictures during the process!

We'll be getting our house on the rental list sometime this week... ugggh, that in itself is stressful! The way the housing market tanked makes it impossible to sell our house right now. Also, time seems to be speeding by faster than ever before. Is that what's to be expected as I grow older? that each year will go by more quickly than the last? It feels that way.

Anybody else PCSing this year? Good luck!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Nasty as Heck.

There's nothing like pulling up carpet in a house (where we've lived two years) only to find six years worth of dust and other fun things hidden beneath.
I could not BELIEVE the layers of dirt and dust. I felt so dirty pulling up the carpet and sub-flooring.
It. Was. Nas.Ty.

Hopefully in a few days we'll be done (meaning Mr. Air Force will be done) pulling up tack boards and staples, and then we can start laying down sub-flooring for our new laminate floors! yay!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Welcome Home!

Welcome home, Mr. Air Force!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ideas Needed for a Welcome-Home Basket!

Since we're getting pretty close to the end of this gosh darned deployment, I've started trying to think of fun things to put in a "Welcome Home!" basket for Mr. Air Force. But I need ideas! Stuff ranging from candy to sexy stuff.

Anyone have any suggestions? I do have a few tricks up my sleeve, but I need more! Thanks in advance!