My Favorite Room on Savvy Southern Style

Today I am so excited to be over at Savvy Southern Style sharing my favorite room.  Yes, THAT Savvy Southern Style, the blog of Kim Nichols whose beautiful dining room is on the cover of French Country Style this month!!!

I love Kim's gorgeous home, and her talent with painting furniture is amazing!  

Here's a sneak peek of my favorite room - yes, it's also the one that is furthest away from being "done"!  

I'm honored for Kim to feature my home in her My Favorite Room Series!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend my lovelies!! 


Mark's Deck Cart

First there was the Art's Market table

and now there is the Mark The Shark

I mentioned recently that I had to sell my beloved changing table-bar cart for lack of space.  I was so looking forward to using it on our deck this summer, but after the bookcases were installed there was just not enough space for the cart when I needed to store it inside.

A few weeks ago I came upon this cute little cart at a yard sale.  It's perfect for our deck in the summer, and small enough to store in the garage in the winter.

It was unfinished, so in order to use it outside it needed to be sealed.  And also - hello blank canvas!  It was just begging to be made over into something fun.  I couldn't wait for the opportunity to tackle this one.

I taped off the casters and the top, and primed every nook and cranny.  Whenever you are painting a bare piece of furniture it's really important to prime it first, and if it's going outside I highly recommend starting with an oil based primer to stand up to the elements. 

After priming, the cart got a few coats of latex paint that I applied with my new little Critter.  More on how I like this paint sprayer in the near future.

Then the fun part - adding a graphic.

My intention with the cart was to have a place for beverages so guests could help themselves, but Mark envisioned using the cart next to the grille as a place to set platters of burgers and dogs and such as he cooked them.  Thus, the idea for some kind of graphic containing the words BAR & GRILLE was born inside my crazy head.  Some of our friends and their kids refer to Mark as Mark the Shark, and I thought it would be kinda humorous to incorporate that in some way too.  I found some shark images online, then played around with different fonts and placements in Powerpoint until I came up with this graphic below, which I uploaded to Block Posters to enlarge and then printed out (you can also blow it up in Word).

My usual chalk-on-the-back-of-the-graphic trick -
- and the graphic traced onto the top of the cart.

Next up, going over the chalk with a black Sharpie.  A Sharpie is a magical tool for transferring images, but keep in mind it's super helfpul to have a FINE Sharpie on hand for the details.  I couldn't find mine, and I was too eager beaver to wait, so the fine details are lacking a bit, but that's okay.

Whenever I blow up an image or text to transfer, I find it helpful to refer back to the image as a whole.  Sometimes parts of the graphic are cut off when you print over several pages, so you have wing it a bit.

All was going well with my transfer until I traced "Mark the Shark" and then filled it in with the Sharpie.  I don't have pictures of this, but the first font I used is irregular and when traced, came out looking like I had 3 glasses of sangria before writing it. Actually maybe I SHOULD have had 3 glasses of sangria first, it might have come out better!

So….a little improvising was necessary, as is often the case in such projects.

My second attempt at "Mark The Shark" went a little better, although not perfect.  This is where the fine Sharpie would have come in handy.  The smaller the font, the more definition.  Also, when using a Sharpie on bare wood there is a bit of bleeding so the fine tip helps to control how much ink is making contact with the wood.

After the Sharpie ink dried for an hour or two, I gave the top of the cart a coat of stain (Minwax Provincial).  I also distressed the body a bit, and then coated the whole piece, every nook and cranny, top and bottom, up and down, with oil based Spar Urethane (the same stuff I sealed my outdoor teak furniture with), coating twice and sanding lightly between coats.
The Clear Satin Spar Urethane (also by Minwax) goes on super shiny, but the sheen fades over time.

The urethane also fills in and evens out imperfections and indentations on the surface - for example, where I colored over the original Mark The Shark is not even visible after being sealed.

It was really fun to turn something functional, but plain,

 into a piece with a little personality!

If you're a font junkie like I am, these are the fonts I used with links to where you can download them.


"Mark" and "Shark's" - FoglihtenNo07 
 "the"  - Bergamot Ornaments lowercase z
(Check out this handy printable Bergamot Ornaments guide by Rachel Myers!)

"Bar & Grille" - Buffet Script 

(The first Mark the Shark is in what used to be called Cracked but is now called the very classy Crackhouse.  I like this font but don't recommend it for transferring images.)

If Mark gets the cart for grilling purposes, 

I think the rest of us need matching t shirts, don't you?

Happy Wednesday lovelies!



I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that when my car key remote stopped working, my way of troubleshooting was to 1//  not do anything about it for a year and then 2//  call the car dealership to see what they could do.  Their answer?  Replace the remote for $200.  Yes, $200!!!!!

Well guess what?  The very smart man I married suggested there was probably a dead battery inside the remote, so I pulled it apart and lo and behold, that's all that was the problem, fixed with a $6 battery.  (I couldn't find this particular battery at my local grocery store or Walgreens, but Radio Shack had them.)

I think I'm resourceful but I never once considered how the little remote operated.

It's kind of a no-brainer - just open up the remote and replace the battery as you would the TV remote or anything else that takes a battery.  Jeesh!  Why didn't I think of this before?

And now, because I know you've been missing my pretty countertops, a visual tutorial.
TOP L-R:  dead remote…..remove tiny screw…..use small screwdriver to open up remote shell
MIDDLE L-R:  separate sides of remote shell…..pull out mechanical unit…..separate
BOTTON L-R:  remove dead battery, noting battery #…..purchase new battery…..replace battery!

Garage door keypads also take this type of battery so don't call the garage door repairman just yet!

YEP, I really just blogged about how to change the battery in your car remote.  
Is your world officially rocked?


Cleaning & Sealing Outdoor Teak Furniture

Can you believe that our table and chairs…..

….looked like this a short time ago?

With teak outdoor furniture, there are two directions you can go - the grey and weathered "Restoration Hardware" look:
{Restoration Hardware}

….or the wood tone look like this set from Ballard Designs.

Whether you are a fan of the grey and weathered or the wood tone, teak furniture will last for years upon years with a little care.  We have had our set for almost 10 years, so I thought I'd share my methods for cleaning and sealing teak furniture.  

First up……
weathered teak.
Weathered teak has a warm grey color acquired from unfinished pieces living outside exposed to the elements and sun.
To me it represents a very CAPE COD coastal look that I love.  

There is a difference between weathered and dirty, though.

The two chairs below are a good representation of weathered and just plain scummy.

Unsealed teak wood will develop mildew over time if exposed to water on a regular basis.  The mildew can be washed away with regular liquid dishsoap, warm water, a hand-held scrub brush and some elbow grease.  I have invested in "teak cleaners" in the past but they yield the exact same results as regular old dish soap.

After scrubbing off the mildew, giving the thirsty wood some Teak oil will keep it from cracking over time.  This is the one I use.  You can apply it with a cloth but a cheap nylon paintbrush works great for getting into all the nooks and crannies.

When the teak oil is first applied to the clean, bare table and chairs, the warm wood tone returns for a short while.  In the photo below you can see how the wood color started fading within a day of applying two coats of the oil.

With just the teak oil, over the summer the finish would fade to this pretty warm grey.  The wood is not impervious to stains from grease, etc. when treated with just teak oil.

I've done this for years - scrubbed the mildew off, applied the teak oil, and then let nature take it's course and turn it all to a weathered grey, and I'm not going to lie - the process is tedious.  I clocked 6 hours just scrubbing the table and chairs this year, and then a few more hours to apply the teak oil.  If you love the look of weathered teak, keep in mind that outdoor furniture will require a good scrubbing and application of teak oil on an annual basis to protect and keep the furniture looking great.

That's it for the weathered look:
 1//  SCRUB

The other option…..
warm wood-toned teak.
By sealing the teak, the wood tone of the teak is really captured:

The other major bonuses to sealing outdoor teak furniture:
*the finish will be impervious to grease and stains
*mildew will not form on the wood
*the finish will last for 2-3 years before needing to be redone*

To achieve this look, the process is the same as the weathered look - 

1//  SCRUB
with this additional step:

Some people would argue that the teak oil is not necessary if you intend to seal the wood with urethane; you can determine if your furniture needs it based on whether it is new, or has been exposed to the elements for a while.  My table and chairs were so dry that a couple pieces had developed cracks, so I "fed" the wood first with a couple coats of teak oil.  

If you are applying teak oil followed by urethane, allow the teak oil to be absorbed by the wood for a few days before applying the urethane.

Why SPAR urethane?
Spar urethane is not a brand, but a kind of sealant that is used on boats to withstand water and sun.  It is sold by Minwax, Rustoleum and other name brands.  I used the spar urethane below which is oil based, and applied it with an inexpensive nylon paint brush that I could toss after.  Even though I despise working with oil-based paints, I chose the oil version for added durability, but it does also come in a water-based formula.  
From the Minwax site:
Helmsman® Spar Urethane is a specially formulated protective clear finish for exterior or interior wood that is exposed to sunlight, water, or temperature changes. It contains UV blockers to reduce the sun's graying and fading effects. Helmsman® Spar Urethane forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture and its special oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change.

*Our furniture lives outside all year long since we lack storage space for it.  Being exposed to the harsh winter climate will undoubtedly shorten the life of the urethane finish, but covering the furniture with tarps over the winter will reduce exposure.

In a nutshell, here are the stages of outdoor teak furniture as it gets refinished, counterclockwise: 
1// unsealed teak, exposed to the elements for over a year, covered in mildew
2// scrubbed clean, bare teak wood
3//  coated with teak oil and fading fast
4//  scrubbed clean, coated with teak oil, coated with spar urethane

After years with the weathered look, we are enjoying the change.  It's like we have a new set of furniture!  AND…..I am VERY much looking forward to skipping the annual scrubbing of the table & chairs next year!

A little work, but worth the effort!

Wishing you a weekend of sunshine, fun and relaxation!  
Thank you as always for stopping by!


Artful Stairs

Do you remember our garage steps that I painted a few years back?

Painting them made a world of difference and are 1000% nicer to come home to than the dirty, beat up stairs that we started with.  However, after daily traffic from a family of five plus an animal the size of a small horse, the stairs are needing a bit of refreshing and I'm ready to do something different with them.

The kids and I have been mulling over some creative possibilities for the next incarnation of the painted stairs, and we are truly amazed at the creativity that is out in the world.  There are so many fun things you can do to jazz up a set of stairs.

Artist Michelle Allen created this piece of functional art that is probably one of the most pinned painted staircases ever.  Isn't it amazing? {Check out Michelle's blog, Close2MyArt, she is so talented.}

This painted staircase would be so fun leading to a playroom or a children's quarters.  How could anyone be in a bad mood in a house that contained these?

The waterfall on this staircase is actually an etching created by an online company, engineeredetchings.com.

The next two staircases have wallpaper on the risers; a fairly easy way to bring some drama to your stairs.

If you like the birch tree wallpaper above, check out this peel-and-stick paper that would be perfect for stairs installation.

A Silhouette machine to print out quotes or song lyrics on vinyl would make this project a snap.
{source unknown}

If you are a collector, keep your eye out for old wooden rulers.  You'd need a lot of them, but the installation of them wouldn't be too difficult with a little Liquid Nails, and I love the vintage feel!  Also, in a house with kids and a dog, the wood would be hardwearing and hide dirt and scuff marks.

This one is for collectors also:  line risers with vintage license plates.  Perfect for steps in a garage, or stairs that lead to a "man cave".
{source unknown}

An art group is transforming grey and dismal concrete stairs found all over the city of Beirut, Lebanon.  Check out this cheerful waterfall of color!

This staircase is lovely, but at second glance it is truly a work of art.

The artist created a separate mosaic on plexiglass for every single stair riser to create this forest with a stream running through it, complete with fairies, butterflies, dragonflies, snails, birds and fish.  Each piece of plexi is installed to the riser with a few screws and therefore can be removed if the homeowner moves.  The mosaics are made up of stained glass, broken plates, and even bits of jewelry from the artist's mother, grandmother and friend.

I am amazed by an artist who can turn something ordinary, a regular part of a home, into a thing of beauty, a functional object of craftsmanship and creativity.  Check out the article about these stairs by Silva Hayes here.

These painted floor designs would be incredible on stairs too:

{source unknown - 
and I am dying to see more of this home - so if you know the source could you help a girl out????}

Rebecca at the blog You Are Talking Too Much stenciled this incredible Persian-style floor:

Artist and blogger Alisa Burke created this beautiful painted runner.

And one more - this stunner is by artist Jennifer Matthews.
{Jennifer Matthews Art & Design}

Wow, is there some serious talent in the world or what???????

I'll keep you posted on this summer project of ours!

Have a wonderful day friends.