May 31, 2012

Help Us Choose Our Gray

While on the topic of painting, we mentioned we've been swatching different colors all throughout the house. One of these areas includes our kitchen and we know we want to go with a gray, but we're having trouble deciding which gray to go with.

On our trip to Restoration Hardware, we picked up a shade of gray along with the Light Silver Sage we ended up going with in the front parlor (the shade was called Graphite from the Slate color collection if anyone is wondering). While in the store, we went with the lightest version of gray they had and thought it would be a shoe-in but once we got home and got it up on the wall, it was much much darker than either of us originally imagined. So when we picked up the primer and other painting materials from the hardware store to get started on the front room, Mary picked up another 3 sample size shades of gray to test.

Side note: That's a vintage advertising map of Richmond, Virginia from back in the 70's you may have noticed from time to time hanging all lonely-like up there on the wall. Once we paint the walls and shift things around a bit more, I'm looking forward telling you more about it.

Here's the breakdown of the samples, the darkest being the Restoration Hardware shade:

Knowing we'd be having people over that weekend, we set up a voting system where folks could simply tally which shade they thought was a go, not so much, or on the fence about.

Mary and I already had our personal favorites in mind but wanted to see what everyone else thought before making a final decision. So, we didn't tell anyone our own favorites and let them mark away...

The results mapped out to about what she and I had gut feelings about ourselves — options #1 & #2, the winner being #2 by a hare. Mary's favorite is #2 and mine is #1. I know it's always hard to translate exactly what different shades look like from in person over the computer screen, so the difference between #1 and #2 is in the tone — #1 had more bright blueish highlights in it while #2 is a little warmer.

We even had 2 people tell us they liked the idea of us painting the main walls with a lighter shade and then using the darker shade on a singular wall as an accent — this is definitely something to think about.

Now that we've tallied the votes from our friends and family that were able to make it to the weekend barbeque, we'd love to get your opinion too! So, we set up the following survey and hope you'll let us know what you think!

Thanks for taking the time to tell us which gray you like best — hopefully we'll be able to report with final results soon!

Ultimately, whichever final shade we go with, we plan to paint it in the kitchen, the little hallway behind the kitchen that leads to our back dining room and the walls of the half bath off that little hallway. We think painting each of these joined rooms the same color will help tie them together and give them the feeling of being one larger connected area.

I guess if worse comes to worse we can always just continue to live with gray patchwork walls...

**UPDATE: Guess What!? We finished the painting — find the full reveal with final photos of the painted room in this post.

P.S. For anyone terrified at the thought of black permanent marker on the walls, we plan to sand it down once we decide what color to go with and start fresh from there — so no worries!

May 30, 2012

Goodbye Red Parlor, Hello Blue Parlor!

As you know, we've been hoping to paint the rooms in our house since we moved in, namely the front room since it had the boldest color and is basically the first impression you get when entering our home. Well, that's exactly what we did over a portion of the long weekend, and today we're sharing the results!

The parlor had been painted a bright red color with a textured deeper red sponged finish overtop of it — we are not kidding. Here are some of the best "before" shots I could find from our time being here.

When we first moved in:


Over the holidays (maybe the only time this red was actually working for us, haha):

Most recent view with some spackling paste and paint swatches:

And the view we most often see from our various perches around the house:

We've been swatching different paint colors all over the house here and there, but they've mainly just stayed swatches for the time being. That is until we swatched up the front parlor with a single color that both Tim and I said "that's the one" without any hesitation — so we decided to just go for it.

We'd wanted to try something in the robin egg blue family that still provided a deep color, but was more calming and welcoming than the jarring feeling we were getting with the red.

To get things started, we removed all the small things from the room, pushed all the furniture we have in there into the center of the room and covered it with a cheap plastic drop cloth we'd picked up in packs of 3 at the hardware store. We then went around and dusted the entire room from ceiling to floor in order to make sure the walls were free from dust particles and any other bumpiness.

Tim went around with a tub of Spackling paste and finished coating 2 layers (letting each one dry fully) over any holes, visible cracks and other weird areas before sanding them down to a smooth finish. The shot below really shows the red texturing well — I felt bad for about one second about painting over somebody's hard work on that wall, then the feeling passed.

Now it was finally time to prime, so Tim fired up the record player and started rolling.


Side note: after loading and going through these photos, neither us know why he's wearing a sun-visor to complete this job, so we'll just call it the paint-visor from here on out.

We picked up a multipurpose primer from our local Lowe's. Not only is primer a great way to get a light prep base on the wall over a dark color, it's a great way to seal, stain-block and provide a mildew resistant barrier for the walls — it's basically a way to start fresh. 

We went with a tintable version since the paint experts at Lowe's recommended adding a slight grey tint to the bright white color of the primer as a way to offset the red even more in preparation for the final blue finish we were going for. It was great getting their opinion and advice since we'd never tackled painting over something so bold before and in the end it really did save us time, because we were able to coat the entire room with a single thick coating of primer instead of two.

Even Brandon jumped in to help out. His painting skills were so good they did not require a paint-visor.

After the priming was complete, the room already looked dramatically different — and even larger than before with the new lighter color.

I was so excited with the changes at that point that I had the energy to just go ahead and do an entire first coat of trimming around the room before we called it a night. Tim popped open the paint (still wearing the paint-visor and sunglasses within reach even though it was dark outside) and I took my turn cutting in the trim throughout the evening.

I'm more of a trim gal, which is a great thing since Tim prefers rolling — makes for a good match. Even though we bought painter's tape we didn't end up using any since I wanted to try to cut in without it. Being very particular and going by the motto of "slow and steady wins the race," it went well enough that I was able to trim the entire room without the tape — score!

For the actual color, we went with Light Silver Sage from the Restoration Hardware Silver Sage color line in the subtle velvet finish. We've been wanting to try out the Restoration Hardware paint line for years now since they claim to be a more eco-friendly option with easy glide and expert coverage.

We picked up 2 gallon cans from the store, not knowing how many coats it would actually take us to complete the job, but to our surprise we were able to give the room 2 full coats of paint and touch up areas with a single can of paint with some leftover (just like the line claims), so we'll be able to return the second can and still have what's left from the first to use for any touch-ups we need in the future.

After letting the 2 coats fully dry and leaving everything in the middle of the room once more overnight, we set everything back up and snapped some big reveal shots:


Here are some of of our favorite details:

And here's the new view from our perches within the house. We keep catching ourselves peering into the room from our usual spot in the kitchen/family room and surprising ourselves — "oh yeah, the room looks so different, and SO much better" we'll say.

Big difference from before, right?

We were able to prime 1 coat and paint 2 coats on the room within 24 hours from start to finish, aside from touch ups. The paint quality really was amazing and went on incredibly easy and smooth. We couldn't be happier with the end result and would definitely use paint from Restoration Hardware again if the colors match up to what we are going for. I think we surprised ourselves at how easily we were able to paint this room by ourselves and made a deal that moving forward my job will continue to be trimming while Tim's job is rolling — I think both of us left that handshake feeling like the other one got the short end of the stick :)

We'd eventually like to transform that front parlor into a functioning office, but as you can see for now we've arranged furniture and other odds and ends in there as best we can until we have time to tackle it further. We're having a lot of fun taking it one step at a time and always get a thrill out of accomplishing a project like this that provides such an immediate difference!

Thanks for following along while we painted the front parlor and bid farewell to the textured red! We'd love to know — have you recently tackled painting a room? Are you a trimmer or prefer to roll? Do you wear special painting accessories like a paint-visor to help you get the job done?

P.S. For anyone wondering, yes — that is an antique painter's ladder we use around the house. Tim actually brought it home one evening after it was headed for greener pastures in one of his warehouses. We absolutely love it and it even works better/feels sturdier than most modern ones we use.

May 29, 2012

Long Weekend Basics

We so enjoyed our long weekend which mostly consisted of projects and straightening around the house in preparation for a Memorial Day Weekend get together we had planned. It was the first true open house we've had since moving in and we had a blast having good friends & family over while knocking out a few things we'd been meaning to get to on that to-do list for a while now.

We'll share the details on the projects we tackled over the remainder of the week, but for now wanted to share a few highlights from the long weekend:

1. As not to leave anyone hanging from Friday's post, I'll spoil the secret and let you know we DID paint the parlor!

BUT... you'll have to wait until later this week to see the final results. For now, we'll leave you with a little "prepping the room" pic and let you take in all the textured redness of these walls that is no longer — I know, I know...

2. As usual, we headed off to the market and picked up a few more starter plants including Roma tomatoes and two more herb varieties to couple on either side of the mint we previously planted in the hanging planters under our deck landing.

We went with tarragon and parsley which have added nicely to our growing collection of clippable herbs for cooking. We found that the birds have actually come and ripped the heads off our other seedling plantings (tomatoes and peppers shown here), so we went with the larger tomato starters from the market to go ahead and get in the game! I'm hoping to give a more robust garden update soon since things have really taken off out there.

3. Among other home projects, we were able to move more furniture into the house, including this farm dining table to make the back room feel a little more homey (since it's still been collecting all of our overflow from moving — remember from this house tour post). This room still needs a lot of work, but at least getting the table in made a big difference.

4. While Brandon was in town this weekend, he helped out with all of our projects including getting the smoker ready for the party:

I smoked sausages during the party and later in the weekend I smoked these two whole chickens:

The flavor was amazing. I'll be posting more details on the smoking process and my recipe for the chickens later this week on E.A.T. — just think about the smoked chicken salad I've got up my sleeves for the leftovers of these babies!

5. We were able to replace the old hanging string lights in our backyard with new, uniform ones. We'd hoped to get this done before our party, but had so much going on we just decided to put it on the back burner. The funny part was, those that helped us close down the evening actually pulled out the ladder and helped get 'er done. We'll try to get some better before and after shots to show here on the blog.

6. Monday we decided to take a day to relax and prepare for the week ahead. After sleeping in, I whipped up this here little breakfast of champions using bread homemade from spent beer grains our friends from 2 Noble Dogs Brewing brought over to the party and a few baby spinach leaves I was able to clip straight from the garden.

I told you things back there are really taking off! Find the recipe and more details on the breakfast sandwich over on E.A.T. this morning.

7. Last but not least, we entertained the idea of a baby pool for Basil since the weather will be heating up over the summer. It's small and rigid enough we can just toss it in the garage to store and pull out when we want — but it was funny watching him trying to figure this thing out:

He wouldn't go in it, even if we stepped in it. We tried putting one of his favorite bones in the middle and he would simply fish it out and bring it up over the side of the pool. While we didn't get him to get inside this weekend, we have a feeling that Basil's bout with the pool isn't over yet...

We hope each of you also enjoyed the holiday weekend and are looking forward to the short week ahead!

May 25, 2012

Enjoy the Weekend!

We may or may not get around to painting our front room over the weekend. No promises — but as you can see, we're testing the swatch waters...

Do you have big plans for the long weekend ahead?

P.S. There's still time to enter my Slippin' Southern EAT sign giveaway — details here.

P.P.S. For those of you running your own creative endeavors, find a specialized merchandising report full of tips and key dates to remember that Mary put together for the month of June: here, on the Etsy blog.

May 24, 2012

How To: DIY Antiqued Mercury Mirror Glass

Today we're excited to to share this simple and affordable method for transforming any piece of glass into a beautiful decor update with an antiqued mercury glass style finish — it's amazing.

I've been eyeing lots of different decor accessories in the style of antique mercury glass as of late — this trend seems to be everywhere and I have to admit I've gotten a little sucked into the idea of a mirrored glass bedside lamp or even a bedside table. Given the fact I'm the only one in this household with this opinion, I've decided to get my feet wet slowly and figured out how to achieve the antiqued mercury glass look in a completely DIY method with smaller glass accessories I already had lying around the house.

Here's what I was working with —a glass mason jar, milk bottle, ridged flower vase and a smaller round votive type candle holder. They were all things I either had in hiding down in the cellar or headed for the recycle bin, so I figured I had little to nothing to lose in the event things went horribly wrong, haha.

What I really liked about experimenting with all these different shapes and textures was the ability to test the finish on a smaller scale so I'd be able to imagine different possibilities as I come across glass pieces in the future on a larger scale (like that clear glass lamp just waiting for me to find it).

Back in the day, real mercury glass was used a decor accents and was an affordable option to it's silver decor counterparts — today we'll be making the affordable version of this original hack (kinda funny, right?).

  • Various glass containers (must be glass, I used all clear versions).
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Krylon looking glass spray
  • Paper towels
  • Newspaper or other protective covering
The one catch to this tutorial is the fact that you'll really need to look for the specific Krylon looking glass spray. I was able to find it in more than one of our local craft stores, but if you are at a loss, you can find it online. While I haven't actually tried any other sprays, I did read in a few other Pinterest tutorials from people that did who wish in retrospect they had gone with the Krylon looking glass spray (just tyring to save you all a little time, money and frustration here).

Cover area outside (or in an extremely well ventilated area) where you plan to spray with newsprint or other protective covering — we used cut up grocery bags that we had on hand for projects like these.

Thoroughly clean and dry all glass pieces you'll be working with — you want to make sure the glass is clean in order for the spray to fully do it's thing. Fill a spray bottle with 1 part water to 1 part white vinegar and shake to combine. Set nozzle of spray bottle to it's finest mist setting. Put on any protective gloves or masks you wish to use and let's get started!

This is where I armed myself with my water/vinegar spray bottle in one hand and my looking glass spray in the other. First gently spray a fine mist of vinegar/water on the outside* of your glass container; you are looking for small droplets of water that bead up and do not run.

Follow up the water/vinegar spray almost immediately with a gentle and even layer of the metallic spray.

*Note about spray: if you are like me, you read all the directions and warnings on the looking glass spray before using, so you know it requires lots of shaking before and between use and recommends using on the inside of the glass — this is where you need to trust me — I (gasp) used it on the outside of the glass. I did this because I wanted to actually be able to put things like flowers and candles inside the containers and the end result was good for me, so I'm just putting it out there. 

Allow to dry for just a minute and apply another fine mist of water/vinegar solution — then let them sit. Here's what our glass containers looked like as they began to dry with both sprays applied — notice the fine beading from the water/vinegar solution creating variations in the mirror spray:

Allow to dry for about 2 minutes, then gently blot the beads of water/vinegar with your paper towel — they should lift off areas of the mirror spray in a varied pattern. Don't rub very hard as the metallic finish will streak, though you can apply gentle pressure in various places to achieve a more realistic and varied mercury glass look. Don't worry that the glass is still see-through at this point, since you'll be doing several thin layers to build up the look over time.

Just repeat the same process over and over, and rotating between resting your glass container on its base versus its top so you get full coverage. All in all I probably went with between 3-4 coats in total.

You want to go with several thin and even layers of the spray to avoid runniness and splotching — trust me, the end result is worth the patience. Keep building up your layers until you are happy with the overall look and feel of your containers — then allow to dry for at least 3 hours until bringing inside or off the protective covering; you want them to set and seal.

After your container is completely dry, now you are ready to either tweak or style. If you think an area needs a little more or less coverage you can simply spot treat with more spray or spray with more water/vinegar and continue to blot away the treatment — this is where you own creativity and taste come into play.

Once complete, the creative uses are endless. I played around with different flower arrangements around the house since I had some beautiful peonies on hand from Tim :)


I just love how the little distressed and antiqued details came out — they really do show as something that's been lightly worn away over time (something I was skeptical about going into this project).

On the milk bottle specifically, I was hoping the spray might just go right over the blue logo text to make it look like a single old milk bottle — while the spray didn't erase the text, it did completely seal it in a silvery look that almost pronounced it even more. I was surprisingly happy with the end result here.


You might also notice exactly how well the promise of "looking glass" or the mirror effect came into play as with each photo I tried really hard to avoid getting my own reflection — without luck, haha.

I've been really excited to try out this tutorial becuase I'm thinking a mix of several of these antiqued containers with other little vessels here and there might make really beautiful, not to mention affordable diy touches for our wedding decor next year — flowers and votives anyone? Tim and I are both really happy with the outcome of these test pieces, so we'll definitely be looking for more glass odds and ends over the next several months that could fit well together for the wedding reception.

Like I said in the beginning of the post, the possibilities for this antique mercury glass finish are endless so long as you start out with a clean piece of glass — I'm still dreaming up visions of lamps, groupings of mirrors and other accessories inspired by the images below:

Tim has been more on the fence with the whole antiqued mirror glass lamp idea, so this could be a great way to test it out on something bigger without breaking the bank.

Other ideas we thought of that might work well with this spray include:
  • Candy Jars 
  • Furniture knobs
  • Pillar candle holders
  • Table or pendant lamps
  • Glass holiday ornaments
  • Colored glass votives or bottles
  • Glass desk caddy or pen holder
  • A serving tray or tray that holds candles
  • An antique window with the panes sprayed as a mirror
For anyone wondering where in the house the arrangements we put together are currently living — find them in our downstairs half bath:

This little bud vase is on the edge of my bedside table:

And here's a little fuller view of our entryway with this little mix of glass vases updating the look with some color and shine since the last time we had flowers in this space:

They've added a colorful update to these little spaces and were fun to pair up with a few green glass water bottles we had laying around too. Find our full house tour here.

All in all, we both love how well this faux finish turned out and couldn't be more excited to share it with each of you since it was so simple! Keep us posted should you try it out — we'd love to see what you come up with.

So what do you think — would you try this? What piece of glass would you transform with fun diy this finishing technique? 

UPDATE: I tried the Krylon Looking Glass Spray for another project, updating the finials on our bathroom window hardware — check out the results here.

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