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The Kitchen – Lighten Up: Painting a tumbled stone backsplash – EEK!

So – I’ve got to start this by saying – I HATE dark traditional cabinetry – I hate it – I hate it – did I mention, I hate it.  When we bought this house in April of 2014, the only thing in the kitchen worse than the cabinetry was the black island and the orange backsplash – it was like…..a den of darkness.  A full remodel is coming in the Spring of 2016 – but for the time being, I just needed to relieve the eye sore.  There was no point in scrapping the island or redoing the backsplash, knowing that the kitchen will be gutted in less than a year’s time – so I needed to give what was there a face lift without spending a fortune that would go to waste.

Here’s how it started:

Kitchen, April 2014

This is a photo from the listing when we bought it.  You can also see the the stained wood beam ceiling in the keeping room – that also HAD to go.  If it’s reclaimed wood, parquet, burled wood, antique, etc…  great – beautiful.  Stained just does absolutely nothing for me – unless it’s the floors – then, the darker the better.  These will get a new coat of a darker, probably jacobean, stain when the kitchen is redone.

Now….

{How we went from this—>to this}

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Working with what was here – we started with painting the island(well, having painted – I was 38.5 weeks pregnant, with a fractured back, when we moved in – so, I wasn’t doing much of anything).  There is a set of built in bookcases in the next room that are a cream color with a medium brown glaze. The painters matched this to keep the painted cabinetry cohesive through the two rooms.  Painting the island brought us to this (you’ll have to excuse the mess and my small helper – a.k.a. my shadow, we were prepping to start the backsplash:

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The lighting seriously does not give due justice to the atrocity of this orange and ochre backsplash.  They had to have literally gone to the discount bin at the tile store and said – give me whatever you have – like anything – we don’t care – we’ll just stick little metal medallions in and pretend they make it look great!

No question about it – it had to go.  So, the first opportunity at hand – with hubby out of town for several days (because….my projects kind of make his skin crawl – maybe because most of them are unfinished….or get redone….or trashed- we (me and my shadow), got to work.

We painted that sucker!  That’s right – paint.  Paint on tumbled stone.  Who would have thought?  GASP!!  Yep.  I did it….and I love it.  Well – I’m not going to lie – I would have rather ripped the shit out.   I still cringe at the thought of it being on my wall, but for now  – I’m happy with it until someone gives me the go ahead with a crow bar and sledge hammer.

I’ll give you the step by step to how I did it – but first, here it is, the new and improved, $20 Backsplash Makeover (excuse the poor lighting, I only get to blog at 10pm when my shadow is “napping”-she’ll be up by midnight):

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imageTo start, I taped everything off.  ^^^ see above.

I used my favorite primer to block out the color the of stone – 2 coats of it.  It is shellac-base, so you want to make sure the area is well ventilated.  I’ve got to admit – I didn’t – and may have been a little high in the car pool line.  No – but seriously – open some windows.   image

imageYou could use a roller for quicker application.  I opted to use a brush because I had to freehand around all the ‘fabulous’ little metal inserts (I didn’t think they would look quite right painted).  After 2 coats of primer, I let it “rest” for a couple of days —  basically saying Ken is going to seriously kill me when he gets home – like, dead.  This is AWFUL, maybe worse.  It was white…I mean flat white.  No dimension, no texture, just WHITE …and then the dark cabinets.
When I regrouped and came back a few days later, with the motivation to kill the white before Ken rolled his eyes at another failed project, I chose a very light neutral shade that had almost an oatmeal tone.  For projects like this, I’m not too picky about the brand of paint.  Ultimately it was going to get a another finish on top of it, anyway.  I went with Behr Arid Landscape in Flat/Matte <–  That part is important.

Thanks to the primer – it only took two coats of the paint, and the paint stuck to the stone with no problem.

After two coats of primer and two coats of paint, the result I had was this:

This was definitely, for me, a major improvement, but it still wasn’t what we were looking for.

image It lacked dimension.  It was just too flat, too – painted.   So, here is where the trick came in….

I swear – this stuff is like the fix-all for everything in the DIY world – like, if I was this woman – I’d never paint another thing again – just have someone else do it with my paint-but seriously, thank God for it.  It’s amazing.  Here it is……..

 

Ready??

 

……………………………

ANNIE SLOAN WAX

……………………………

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Regardless of the paint you use – you can use this stuff on pretty much anything – as long as you are working with FLAT paint, or a flat finish as the base.  It ‘may’ work on other finishes – but I haven’t tried it, and can’t speak to it.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve recently started using the paints and do like them – but the color pallet isn’t quite broad enough for my taste, and the paints are too pricey for my experimental mixing – but the soft waxes are INCREDIBLE, and so easy to use.

For this application, I used the large round Annie Sloan wax brush.  I applied the clear wax in circular motions with the brush on small sections at a time, to prevent it from drying to quickly, before I could get the finish I wanted.  Immediately after applying the clear wax to a section, I went back over it with the dark wax with a cheap $2 paint brush (also in a circular motion – but also kind of randomly to make sure it was evenly distributed and in some of the grooves).  I followed the dark wax application with a cloth (paper towels), wiping it down to a smooth texture and the desired hint of color…..  And I sampled the method behind the coffee machine, so if I hated it, it could be immediately covered up – or hidden – until I could do something about it.  Fortunately, Annie came through for me.  This was exactly the result I was looking for out of a quick, cheap kitchen face lift.  The wax application took about 2 hours total for the entire kitchen – super easy.  The whole process, start to finish, took about two weeks, because —- well, I drag things out.   It could easily be accomplished in a weekend.

One more time – here is the finished product up close (sorry for the shadows – again – 10pm lighting isn’t great) – you can see the smooth finish the wax gave to the surface of the tiles, while still adding texture and dimension to the overall appearance :

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Pretty cool, huh?  If you don’t already have the wax (I did), then the project will cost about $70 more.  But total all in cost, since we had the wax – was less than $20.  We already had the primer and tape in the basement.  The quart of paint was about $10, a few cheap ($2 ) brushes for the dark wax application, and a roll of paper towels.

If you should choose to tackle a project like this – feel free to comment or email with any questions.

Best of luck.

-B

 

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Lost in Translation: 20 THINGS THAT JUST DON’T MEAN THE SAME THING ANYMORE

It occurred to me last night ( a glorious night – where we actually succeeded at getting the kids fed and in bed early, ate our dinner alone and watched a movie – what??!?!?),  as I was sipping on a glass of some really good red wine – and then a second – that was of course even better – just how much the meaning of things (words, signals, actions, etc), have changed in our life since having kids.

We’ve gone from a kiss at the door to a casual nod across the room, with my inability to move, as my poor husband walks in the door using his work backpack as a shield, captain America style.  There is no telling what lies ahead as he opens that portal to chaos… flying wood blocks, Thor’s hammer, a camelbak full of juice, a wet dog, a glue stick, a child, slipping on a magnatile, stepping in obliterated gold fish- or worst of all – me.  Something or someone will inevitably attack him.

tired-mother

This sets the scene for our communication in the evenings.  From the time he walks in until we hit the hay –  it’s an all out warrior dash style, dirty, ugly, fit pitching race.  Race to get the kids fed. Race to get the kids to bed.  Race to get the house back “straight” (let’s face it – it’s NEVER clean).  Race to get in bed – and Race to – wait, what race.  I’m awake – like wide awake – and Ken’s snoring.  He’ll start it all over again at about 5am, and I’ll be up most of the night, then get up with the kids around 7 to start the circus all over again.

So, the shift in our lifestyle and schedules has changed – not the so much the way we communicate – but the meaning of what we say. . . see if you can relate…

20 THINGS THAT JUST DON’T MEAN THE SAME THING ANYMORE

  1. ” Hi.”  6 years ago Hi was a sweet, coy, playful – I’m glad you are home! How are you? How was your day? I love you! – vs.- now, it’s usually said with a low grumble and means – batter up.  Your turn.  Good Luck-I’m checking out. I hate you for leaving me here alone all day to start with.
  2. “Having a glass of wine”  – Meant a bottle, or at least splitting a bottle. – vs.- now, it’s more like I pour a glass, maybe take two sips, sit it down and forget about it – until the nightly clean-up, dump it out, stare longingly at the bottle with two glasses worth left in it, turn it up for a swig or two and dump the rest, knowing it will spoil before I get around to having another glass.
  3. “Dieting” This week – we are eating healthy!  Salads for everyone!! – vs. – now, we’ve really got to stop eating Oreos at bedtime – how about a brownie instead? (did I mention we stress eat?)
  4. “I appreciate you” – thanks for picking up my dry-cleaning or making dinner! – vs. – now, thanks for keeping our children alive and safe and not turning into to a mumbling mess in a a straight jacket in the corner – or – thank you for killing yourself day after a day to provide for our family so we can sit and stress eat brownies together.
  5. “Sleeping In” – 10:00, maybe even eleven if I put the pillow over my head and shut the blinds. – vs.- 7:15.  That 15 extra minutes is pure gold…like better than chocolate or maybe even my Starbucks coffee.
  6. “Clean” as in a clean house or floor – as in the cleaners haven’t been here since Tuesday – trash that it hit the floor, and scrubbing ovens and baseboards – vs.- looks ok, Unknownsmells ok, rinse it off – it’s good – and throw the toys in the baskets and stack everything else on the dining room table – I’ll deal with it…umm… scratch that, just stack it on the table, then we’ll have some clean clothes downstairs for an emergency.
  7. “Chocolate” – godiva, as dark as possible, and sinfully rich. – vs.- stale mini mm’s I found in the center console, melted together, that I used two days ago to bribe the twins to stop fighting.
  8. “Left-Overs” – Chinese take-out, best eaten on the couch or in bed with a movie. – vs.- Ooh!  I found a skittle!!  Check that – wasn’t a skittle – possibly something plastic.  Ouch.  Mental note – when eating found candy – only go for jelly belly jelly beans (the ones that the color hasn’t faded on and that aren’t sticky – that just means they probably sucked on them or licked them – ugh.)  They hold over well and are quite distinguishable from other unknown items.
  9. “Sharing” – trading bites of some delectable dishes at a great restaurant or eating a bowl of ice cream with two spoons – vs. – never actually getting a bite of “my” cookie because the kids wanted a bite and I gave it to them first and they contaminated it beyond the point of safe consumption with dirty finger nails and snot – before forcibly shoving it in Ken’s mouth to “taste it – it’s good dad”.  Mmmm…..
  10. “Cussing” – the F word.  Like anything else was probably fine – except the F word.  That was swearing – but we still said it – like – all the time – vs.  Shoot, Sugar, and a few others have been found as suitable replacements in a pinch but otherwise, Shut-up, Stupid, any word for the male genetalia other that “peepee” or “penis” is pretty much off limits, any word for the female parts except “hootie (don’t ask)”  “hooha” or “vagina” is forbidden, and every 4 letter word that comes to mind when your threenager loses their “f’ing” mind in a kicking, slapping, biting, tantrum of a fit in the middle of the Target floor over a pack of princess puppy puffy stickers.   418715770_640
  11. “Exercise” – P90x, Baby!!  or Running – like, compulsive running – vs. – I’ve carried a 34lb, 3 years old on my right hip for 2 hours straight.  Tomorrow…tomorrow I’ll switch sides.
  12. “Knee problems” – an old sports injury to my left knee that caused pain in the rain or when running, easily fixed with ice – vs. – joints that crack loud enough when I stand from a squatting position that they wake a soundly sleeping baby it took an hour to get to sleep- therefore I crawl on all fours like a stalking dog out of her room to keep from straightening them.
  13. “Cuddling” spooning for hours until we fell asleep despite the arm that was numb and the inability to breathe – vs. – Ken squeezing the life out of a king size pillow he hugs and holds between his knees so he can cuddle something since we have a 17 month old deposited sideways in the middle of our bed and I can’t go to sleep with anything but the covers touching me after being pregnant.
  14. “Silence” that awkward thing when we didn’t know what to say but rarely ever happened because we felt compelled to fill the air with something just for the sake of talking to each other – vs.- that invaluable 5 seconds where no kid is screaming, crying, fighting, laughing, wallowing on the floor, or needing anything, no dog is barking, no phone is ringing, and if you speak, I’ll cut you – like bad, like probably dead.
  15.  “Travel” this thing we did a few times, kind of like a vacation, that was SOOO cool!! and fun!  It was FUN!  I wanted to try it again…and then we did… with kids…NOT Cool.  I need a valium just thinking about it.  Strollers and car seats and 80 suit cases and 500 pieces of clothes I’ll just have to put back up when we get home and snacks and drinks and I’ve gotta peepee and now I’ve gotta pee pee and we just freakin’ peed for Christ sake!  and I’m hungry, and my brother hit me, and she bit me and he touched me, and she has my dogdog, and dogdog has to peepee.  You know what – screw dogdog – he’s a $3 stuffed animal from IKEA, he does not have to peepee….and we need gas, who has to peepee?
  16. “Lingerie” – some lace something from VS that cost more and had less material than the average pre-baby “I’m still sexy” undies – vs. – the leggings I’ve had on going on three days that have some unidentified substance on the butt with an old stretchy maternity tank top because it pulls down long enough to cover said substance – and my bathrobe – annnd … don’t forget my Uggs – gotta take those dogs outside before bed.  HOT, right?
  17. “Fooling around” – Quite obviously we all know what that means in the context of “getting-lucky” before kids  – vs.- the now typical use is in the context of “would you quit fooling around and let’s go” – referring to me spinning in circles in the middle of the kitchen trying to recall what I have forgotten to bring with us while Ken waits for me with the car running with the twins in it screaming—-oh yes, the baby, and her shoes, and bottle and food and diapers and snacks….and my shoes, wait – my shoes, where the heck are my shoes?
  18. “Getting Lucky” – basically my husband was getting laid.  Period.  Or maybe that I scored $10 on a $5 scratch off. – vs.- it generally means we got the kids in bed before 8 and no one had a mortal melt down or puked – meaning we can be in bed before 9 – SWEET!  or better yet, we got a sitter for all three kids and we are eating big kid food instead of nuggets and fries – we never get that lucky.images-1
  19.  “Birth-Control” – well, with three under three, and married 4 years,  quite obviously whatever we did wasn’t effective, and I’m not qualified to give advice other than – don’t use that method – vs. – what I will call the 5 layers of defense – 1 & 2. 3 year old twins 3. a 17 month old that sleeps with you 4. Abstinence (see #3) 5. Just to seal the deal – The Big V (if you don’t know what that is – you clearly don’t have more than 1 child).  There will be NO and I mean NO more babies made in this house.
  20. “I Love You”.  I’m madly and crazy “in” Love and committed to you – basically – I worship you and all of our “compatibility” – vs.- a deepness to the meaning of love that can’t be defined in you for your spouse before having children, a need for them, for their support, for their love, patience, understanding and unconditional love in return – and a need for you that can’t be learned or grown over time without looking at a life (or three) that you created together and knowing that together you are stronger, better, whole – together.  You are an extension, part of one another – not just as parent’s – but as a couple – as a family.

This list could be infinitely longer, because life has inexplicably changed, as has the meaning of so much in it.  But, with someone to lean on – a partner – a best friend – a companion – the playful words, phrases, things we did before kids haven’t gone away – they’ve just taken on a deeper, more meaningful – truer – form.

And the baby is crying…  peace out.

~B