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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Switch Plate Debacle ~ and How to Fix it!

If you've ever visited our blog, you know that we're usually into painting furniture, like our Gray and Coral Chevron Desk. However, due to our house remodel, I've had the opportunity to reintroduce myself to the fun of painting other surfaces.

Paint or Replace?

Have you ever pushed and strained to get a project done? The final nail is driven. You lay down your hammer, take a breath and wipe the sweat from your forehead. Phew!

Then - HORROR! One of the little details you've wrestled with for months looks terrible to your eye. You decide that maybe you're just too close to the project. Maybe you're just being too critical. Maybe it's just you. Then, your DH, who usually seems a little too happy to leave all those details to you, says, "Hey, do you think those switch covers look a little bad?"


I had just invested time, money...oh, did I mention money (?) in choosing just the right covers. Our last house was built in 1930.  Electricity was a luxury, so the outlets were very sparse.  Replacing them was no big deal. But, in this house, there is at least one outlet on every wall. There are so many switches that we still haven't figured out what some of them are for! Needless to say, replacing the plastic covers for so many switches and outlets was no little feat. And THEN, to have DH notice??

I did replace the ones in the kitchen with antique pewter plates. But now, all of the plates in the adjoining dining area were antique brass. I wouldn't have minded, but the rooms are completely opened up to one another and there are four covers that are less than twelve inches from each other. Ugh! Details!!

I really like the look of the antique pewter with the new tile backsplash.

How to change antique brass to antique pewter?

Frugality wins!

If you've read any of my posts, I'm all about being frugal. And I don't think there's anything that I wouldn't try to paint. Soooooo...what about taking those now mismatched covers and changing their looks? Give 'em a fake tan. Plaster a little barn paint on 'em. Spiff 'em up!

Here goes!  Knowing what I do about paint, I decided that switch plate covers aren't going to get a lot of wear and tear. For that fact, I decided that I wouldn't even prime them.

The Process

The first thing to do was to change the base color.  I grabbed a can of silver spray paint from another project lined up all these little critters and sprayed! The first coat was the Brilliant Silver.

The second coat? I lightly sprayed over the silver with the Krylon. It's a satin indoor metallic called Nickle.

The last spray paint I used was the Rustoleum Hammered Bronze. I held the can so that the nozzle of the can was parallel to the switch cover. Spraying very lightly, the paint landed only on the high spots of the covers.

After the three colors were applied.

See all the little carved out areas? I knew that I wanted to bring attention to them. I mixed up a little black craft paint and water to an inky consistency.

I painted the entire surface of the cover with this paint and then, using paper towels, wiped back most of the black. This leaves the black in the cracks and crevices, and dulls the silver just a touch.

Here is a close up of the antiquing phase. Picture #1 is the cover with the basecoat of spraypaint
Picture #2 - inky black craft paint wash
Picture #3 - Wiped back 

Although the difference between #1 and #3 are subtle, it really does make a big difference! It brings out all the little details and really shows the textures in the cover! And I LOVE textures!

I know, I seems like a LOT of steps to get from the first cover to the last. I just couldn't justify spending more money on covers when I had a style a liked. The color just needed changed. I think the experiment was a success!

The last step was to give a couple of quick coats of satin polyurethane spray to each cover. Overall, this project took about 2 hours, not including drying time. So, for 2 hours, I save my family a whole lot of cash! That's NICE!

Here is a quick view of the covers from antique brass to antique pewter. 

The Result

They are a nice warm antiqued silver, which matches much better than the stark antique brass.

Hopefully, this will help you in some way. Whether it's the spray painting, the antiquing, or just realizing that if you need to change something -- try paint first. After all, it's just paint. It's not permanent. If you don't like it -- paint it again!

If you have any questions about the technique or paints I used in the transformation, please comment. I respond to every comment on my blog, cuz I love comments and I love paint!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Home With You" Knock-Off Wall Art

"Home With You" Canvas Knock Off with a Purpose

Wanna Knock Off?

Have you ever seen something and thought, "Hey, I know I can copycat that for a lot less?" Yeah, that's usually where my mind goes when I see the price-tag of something that I really like. And so it was with this little piece of art.

This was my beauty, found on a retailer's site, priced at $49.99. 

It drives me crazy to pay for something that I know I can do myself.  I always weigh the options, to see whether I think I can do it for less.  In this case, I thought I could.

The Great Cover-up

Here is the exact spot I needed to place it. Isn't this pretty? (Sarcasm intended) This is what looked you in the eye as you walked through our kitchen door. I know it's a must, but WHY must it be so visible?

I was hoping to just buy a cover-up picture, and PLOP! be done with it.  "The best laid plans..."  the panel is too long for a normal size picture to cover it up, yet to cover the length, a ready made picture would be too wide and go past the door opening. Don't you just love a challenge? (Yep, sarcasm once again intended)

The Challenge

I couldn't find the right size picture, but a canvas frame was very close. I would still need to add something, but I was going to worry about that later. After a bit a brainstorming, and a little looking, I decided I could replicate the retailer's look AND cover up my beautiful breaker box. 

I knew that I could do this using the image transfer tutorial I found on A Beautiful Mess

The first step was to find the background image. I found a clip art picture of an old map online and saved it to my computer.

I uploaded the picture into Pickmonkey -
If you haven't used Pickmonkey, it's a great online tool for any kind of pictures, collages, edits, etc. I use it for most of my editing. To use the basic package, it's free. There's also an upgraded version with more fonts, etc. It's actually very affordable; it's just that I haven't needed to use any of the upgrades.

Once the map was uploaded, I added a grunge frame that I found here -
When you add the frame, choose the overlay option in Pickmonkey.  Overlay > Your Own  Using the Overlay option makes the middle of the transparent, so that your image shows through the frame. Once the overlay is over your picture, you can resize, play with transparency, etc. I then added a Pickmonkey smudge texture. Save it! Then you can reload it in Pickmonkey without the risk of messing up your background image.

Upload again into Pickmonkey. The next challenge was the text. This was the most time consuming part of the project: getting the placement and size just right. I couldn't find the exact font used in the original artwork, but I came pretty close.  Be patient. It took some playing around, but it is really close.

The next challenge was printing the image into a 15" x 30" size. I ran across this website a while ago, but had never really used it.  I opened the website, and got started. It was very user-friendly. The only thing I had to play with were the size ratios to get as close as possible to my finished size. Once done, you can save the pages to your computer. This was very nice, because if you want to change your mind or play around, you can have various files to chose from. I think I ended up with 6 files.

I saved my file, printed off the pages, making my page margins as narrow as possible. IF YOU HAVE TEXT, MAKE SURE YOU PRINT A MIRROR IMAGE! If you don't, any text will be reversed. If I were going to do this again I would choose the "shrink image to page size" option on my printer. My straight lines were a little off on the edges of my pages, and I think that would have corrected it. Geez, this is getting a little dry, isn't it? READY FOR SOME FUN? Here it is! 

Saving money is always fun! Using a 50% off coupon, I bought a 30" x 15" canvas at a local craft store. The canvas cost me $7.00. So far, so good. I took my printed pages to the local UPS store and had them printed off on their color copier. Another $3.00 - GREAT!  

Following A Beautiful Mess' instructions, I trimmed the margins of my image and laid down my copies. Weighted down with books, I let them dry overnight. Now the magic begins! Working slowly and carefully, wet down the paper backing. The idea is to remove the paper from the copier toner, which has been "glued" to the canvas. Be patient. I work at mine until it looks done, let it dry overnight and then see if I need to remove any more paper.

I used some watered down black craft paint to further age the edges and some brown to age areas of the text.

My final canvas still wasn't quite large enough, so I created a "frame" using old palette boards, just gluing and stapling the corners. Then I screwed it onto the back of my piece.

After looking at it again, I used some black colored pencil to straighten out the letters, where my crooked pages met and add some reddish brown lines and a circle. I think I need to add some lime green to areas. And I may do some pattern stenciling to the frame. I'm still deciding on that.  Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. 

At Last

So, if you're like me and have more time than you do money, and you're all in for knock-offs and upcycles, this could be a project you'd like to replicate. So, for about $10 and some time, this is now what greets you as you come in my door. It may not be perfect, but it's definitely an improvement.

If you're like me and like to save some hard earned cash, here are a couple of other projects that I hope inspire you to dig deep, think hard and get crackin'. There is ALWAYS a way to make something your own with your own two hands!

Be inspired!

To be inspired by more people, visit  &

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Burlap Canvas Home Dec Knock Off! (Ha! Ha!)

If you know anything about me, you KNOW that it really bothers me to pay full retail for anything. No, I'm not an extreme couponer, and I don't dumpster dive (usually), but why pay full retail when so many retailers offer discounts, etc. They are practically BEGGING you to buy their good without spending all of your money.

This philosophy came in pretty handy lately. We've been in the throes - a love/hate relationship deal - of a relocation which included the purchase of a fixer upper home. Don't get me wrong; I LOVE decorating and updating and being creative. I love anything DIY. That's just it....I love the fun part, the "putting it all back together" part. The prep and grunt work - I could leave to someone else.

But the end results? Oh my! I love seeing something come to life, reloved!  99% of everything that has been done to our new home has been done by us. To see some of the updates click on this link - 

While creating a palette wall at the end of our stairway to the basement (which my kids did all by themselves!), my daughter and I ran across an industrial looking picture that we both agreed would be a nice addition to their wall. But, my frugality and my daughter's cheapness (yep, she's more frugal than I am) wouldn't allow us to spend $50.00 for a 16" x 20" picture. 

We both love the nail heads, the burlap and the reference to NYC. (Due to a girls only trip a few years ago) But for $50 we felt we could duplicate the look for a lot less.

Olivia chose a picture from our trip and had it printed out at an 11" x 14" size from Shutterfly. Cost? $4.00, including shipping. 

For the burlap background, we were going to purchase canvas stretcher bars and put them together to form the frame and stretch some burlap over it. The burlap was left over from another project. However, when we went to Michael's to buy the stretchers (with a 40% off coupon, of course!), we spied these in a center aisle. We almost missed them! So excited...and they were on sale!

We snagged an 16" x 20" and checked out! The burlap background cost us about $11. When we got home, it was time to put it all together. I glued the print of our picture in the center of the burlap frame with some regular wood glue, just because that's what I grabbed first. I weighted it down with some large paperback books until it dried.

Once the glue was dry, I trimmed the edges of the frame with some nailheads that we had left over from our updated couch project.

Ta da!! I am very pleased with the end result. Actually, I think it looks better than the original, and it's personalized, using one of our memory photos!!  So, for a whopping cost of less than $15, we reproduced, and bettered the original pic that we both fell in love with. 

For the next post, I'm going to be sharing another knock off I used to cover up this ugly thing that stares you down when you walk in the back door!

 Ta ta til next time! Love to you all.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Revisting a Favorite

Time sure does fly. I have been thinking of a new post for a couple of weeks. EEEKK! I didn't realize that I hadn't posted anything since July!! Geesh!

We have been really busy with a lot of reloving our new home. Honestly, I LOVE decorating. I think I should have gone into interior design instead of visual communication. It just melts my butter to see anything that's outdated, delapidated (like the word delapidated) or trashed, bring it back to life and give it another chance. I had been finding that creative outlet in furniture until we bought a fixer upper and relocated to another state. (Lots of posts on that later.)

I've been noticing that white is still very popular in furniture color. I think it's here to stay for a while. It's bright, clean-looking and a neutral. I saw this piece and fell in love with the carving on the front. It was missing a drawer and one handle, but other than that it was in great shape. Well, what we relovers consider great! A missing drawer only allows us to be more creative, right?

I got so excited about it I forgot the before picture. I hate it when I do that. I'm getting better at it.

The dresser was a medium, nondescript brown wood.We decided it needed to be white. So, we primed and painted a bright white. But the entire thing didn't want to be white. My daughter and I brainstormed. We had just finished using General Finishes Java Gel Stain on another piece and LOVED the end result. It's so different from any other stain. Wipe it on, let it dry.  No sanding!! It darkened the top without hiding all the beautiful grain and it was gorgeous against the white.

This IS an oil based product, so be sure to wear gloves and be careful about spills accidentally hitting anything with your wiping cloth. You can buy it here - 

Where the drawer was missing, we added a piece of 1/2" plywood, some trim around the sides of the wood and across the front edge of the plywood. It was primed and painted the same bright white.

But it still was lacking something. The top needed a little bit of zazzing up. My daughter had the idea of adding some silver to the top. With a damask stencil, she applied several patterns with silver paint. When that was dry, she used a small brush and added leaf sizing just in spots. She wanted the silver leaf to look aged and spotty, instead of solid. And the final result of the top?

If you look closely, you can see the brighter spots in the silver pattern. Those are the aged silver leaf areas. The entire top was given two coats of clear sating polyurethane.

To match the silver leaf design, we found some bright silver baskets at our local Home Goods. (I LOVE Home Goods. Maybe because it feeds my interior decorating addiction. 

It has just the right amount of feminine mixed with masculine, and just the right amount of zazz!

This gorgeous beauty found a new home within 3 hours! 

Neutrals will never go out of style!

Stay tuned! There's so much more furniture and maybe more home reloving updates like this one -

Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Patience and Persistence Pay Off - The Search for a "New" Sofa

Befores and Afters

I wish I had taken a "before," - no actually an after picture of our old couch.  AFTER years of use and abuse; AFTER dogs; AFTER naps; AFTER food .... you get the idea. It had a LOT of afters. Lucky for me and you I was just ready to get it out of the house. The finish on the "leather" had worn off in places, the cushions were a little flat (and smelly), and the fabric was snagged and worn. It was a sad-looking piece, but it served its purpose.

My Problem!

I know myself. I know how I am. I get a style in my head, it travels to my heart, and nothing else will suffice for the space and feel of the room.  I was in trouble because, I knew what I wanted as a replacement. No more heavy, dark, Tuscany-style furniture. Unlike the old farmhouse, this new house lends itself to a more modern, easy-living vibe.

What I had in mind was something more modern: low back, fabric, clean lines. I wanted nailhead trim, gray. I wanted something like this:

I had been shopping for a replacement in a few furniture stores. While the prices weren't too bad, I wasn't sure we wanted to lay out the money for a new couch. 

The search was on!

I pored over CL, furniture store sales, websites and came up empty. Finally after a month of searching a post came up on my Facebook feed. It was for an older couch, but the color and the shape were right. It was just a little frumpy looking. But for a final cost of $60, the price was right. 

We brought it home. It was in great shape, no tears, worn spots, or snags! There were two things that didn't fit my vision:  the skirt, which made the couch look a little frumpy and the lack of the bling of the nailhead trim. For $60 I felt I could take the leap and do some surgery on our new lackluster friend. (Why would you cover up that beautiful arm?)

The Challenge

When we lifted up the skirts we found beautiful tapered legs. Hmmm...if only the skirt could be shortened to show them off. The nailhead trim seemed to be an easy fix. I purchased some pewter nailheads off of Amazon, found here -   I probably could have found them cheaper, but I was excited to get started.

After a little trimming around the legs, we were able to staple the skirt up under the edge of the couch. It already looked more modern and streamlined. I trusted the nailhead trim to my daughter who did an amazing job of hammering all those little nails in just the right spots. She outlined the piping on the arms and along the bottom, where the skirt was attached. 

The Result

Here are some inspiration couches that I liked: 

This is what our little find ended up looking like

For less than $100 and with a little patience and persistence, we ended up with a sleek, updated, beauty. If we can do it, so can you!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to do so.

To see more updates to our new home follow this link:

To see more fab ideas for updates, etc, go to  Not Just a Housewife at

Monday, July 14, 2014

Does Absence Really Make for Fond Hearts?

First,  let me start by apologizing for the loooong delay in any new posts. I'm so sorry. I've felt like I've been neglecting the blog, and you for a long time. It's been a crazy fall, winter and spring. But, let me explain.

My husband and I have wanted to live in the South for at least the last 23 years. In 2011, we again began to seriously discuss the possibility of relocating. After a three year search for employment, we have moved! Yep, I now live where it's not only acceptable, but necessary for the word "y'all" to be in your everyday vocabulary. And, you don't say, "Hi," it's "Hey, how y'all doin'?"

It's been an anxious whirlwind for the last 3/4 of a year! Leaving family! Paperwork! Looking for that house that had our name on it! Paperwork! Packing! Selling a home! Paperwork! Buying a home! Paperwork!  You get the idea.

We bought a fixer-upper in a semi-rural area. We've started putting our fingerprints on it so it's starting to feel more like home. And, anyway, if you have a creative bone in your body, you KNOW you can't call a space home until you've changed some things, right?

We haven't been updating much furniture lately. It's been rooms, walls and floors. Here are some pics of what we've been up to:

 This is the dining room area. In the first pic, notice the paneling? Not my "thing." We painstakingly filled all those paneling cracks with joint compound - yep, EVERY SINGLE ONE! That required masks, shop vacs, fans, plastic. It looked like a HazMat scene!

Then came the mess of sanding them flush with the rest of the paneling. What a mess! But, it was cheaper and less expensive than putting up drywall. We updated the lighting, the wall color, the floor...I should also say that the wall on the left of the first picture is no longer there. It was a wall that encased the basement steps. We took it out and put in a wrought iron and wood railing. (my daughter's dog photobombed the raling pic.) We still have some minor tasks like dressing out the newel posts, restaining the steps and quarter round on the base, but what an improvement!

Here are a few more before and afters:

 Repainted the walls, updated fans and moved in our stuff!

 Shutters removed, a fresh coat of paint and LOTS of overgrown bushes removed! It's amazing what a little elbow grease and some time can do!

We thought the door was solid wood until we started sanding it to refinish it. It was terribly faded on the bottom half from the sun. When we started sanding, the door started turning white. It was vinyl. Bring out the latex paint and gel stains. Some stained hands later, it looks like real wood.

That's it for now. We probably won't be updating much furniture in the near future, but we'll be updating. If you have questions about techniques, experiences, pros or cons with what we've done here or in another post, please ask away. \

I promise to be back sooner this time!