staining 101

A couple of months ago already, the husband and I bought a new patio door. We got a remarkable deal on an Atrium door from a Seconds and Surplus; it’s white on the exterior and wood on the interior. The wood came unfinished, so that was added to our project list this weekend, after I talked to my dad (who talked me out of hiring a professional… I thank him for the advice and thinking his daughter can do it). I started the staining process actually last week because of the time between stain and the polyurethane. The professional claimed to have done everything in a day for $150.00. I don’t know if he would of done as good of job but I wish I would’ve paid the professional. It wasn’t hard, just time consuming work.

We first set out to Sherwin Williams (I know, scarreligious for a Benjamin Moore queen) but it was close and they had a great selection of stain. We opted for a “fruitwood” color. Basically, we loved the grain and look of the door already, just wanted it a tint darker.

(picture of cans)

I started by:

  1. Block sanding with 400 grit sand paper. Always sanding with the grain of the wood. Making sure to sand evenly as the stain will pick up on any of your imperfections.
  2. Make sure to remove any excess caulking agent around the edges of the exposed glass area.
  3. Clean Surface with clean rag. And you’re ready to begin!
  4. Test a non-conspicuous area for compatibility with the finish. (I didn’t do this)
  5. I started with a primer “wood conditioner” to prep the wood for the stain. This helps to evenly set the stain on the surface. I applied two coats with a white rag to the surface of the door.
  6. Within 4 hours of primer application, you need to add your stain. I applied one coat of fruitwood stain, and let sit overnight (the can says at least 6 hours), then applied another coat. Both were applied with a rag. I would advise wearing gloves! Or else your hands will look like a bad spray tan! **I used vegetable oil to remove it and it worked great. Followed by Dawn soap.
  7. After the second coat of stain has set for 8 hours or more apply the polyurethane. I applied three coats of polyurethane to the door with a sponge brush. Sanding between each coat with 220 grit sand paper, allowed ample drying time (at least 2 hours) between each application.
That’s it! It wasn’t actually too bad, its always more painful during the process than after. Ha. The waiting in between and opening the door to get the edged in the Texas summer heat, that was the hard part, so I guess I’m glad I saved us $150.00! Hence, the splurge on the Anthropologie “S”. That’s my gorilla math, as the husband calls it.

dry bar & wallpaper

I’ve been rather excited for this project and reveal! But oh so nervous to make a decision on what to do with the space and to-do-it-myself! I’ve been conjuring up ideas for this space for a while and procrastinated on actually putting it together even longer. There were so many times I wanted to call up an expert to put up the wallpaper, but I didn’t … and I’m happy I didn’t!

One of the reasons we bought our house was the love for the built-ins. In our living room, we are reinventing one of the built-ins as a dry bar.
Here’s the original, before we moved in:
We first wanted to add a backsplash to the space. We played with a couple ideas of putting the backsplash throughout the space or just at the base. We found a great backsplash with a lot of different grays and stainless steel and decided we would do the base only.  This seemed like the best option for the space and for what we were trying to accomplish. Then I was on a mission to find a fun pattern or paint color for the shelves. I first tried Benjamin Moore Dragonfly AF-510 but it was hideous.  So hideous I didn’t even take a picture.
For the backsplash, we bought the tile from Floor & Decor and the grout in Snow White from Home Depot. We decided to give the task to the pros and paid the door installers $75.00 to install the backsplash. Worth. Every. Penny.
Once that was done, it was my turn. I ordered the wallpaper and had to wait about a month for it to come in! Crazy! But it gave me more time to stress out (a little bit more) about what the heck I was thinking when I decided to DIY the wallpaper.
This was the weekend though: Wallpaper 101!
Tools I used:
  • Scissors
  • Soft wall brush
  • Flat tool (to smooth out the wallpaper)
  • Tape measure and ruler
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Premixed, undiluted, clear vinyl adhesive paper
  • Utility knife
I referenced the Schumacher Screenprinted Wall Paper Instructions.
Start by preparing the surface for wallpaper. There was paneling within the shelves so I filled it with wood filler, sanded the area, and painted the surface with primer. I washed off the surface with soap and water before applying the wallpaper.
Once the surface is prepped, cut the wallpaper to size. Leave about 2″ on each end to adjust for trimming. I left a little less just because I wanted the pattern to continue from each shelf, seamlessly. I put a “T” for top on the back of each piece and indicated which shelf I wanted each piece to be placed. (i.e. TA, for Top Shelf Piece) I recommend marking the wallpaper; it was such a time and sanity saver! Take the time, I’m telling you!
Apply wallpaper paste, being careful to cover all the edges. Fold each end of the strip toward the middle, paste sides together, aligning edges carefully so they do not dry out. Roll the folded strip as you would a loose newspaper, again being careful to keep edges aligned. Allow the folded and rolled strips to “relax” for 2-3 minutes. (this may vary with the type of wallpaper you are working with.) Do not skip this step.  Also, make sure to immediately wipe off any paste you get on the front side of your wallpaper. This will eliminate any chances of the pattern getting ruined.
After letting the paper relax, bring to the wall and hang. Carefully smooth air pockets, wrinkles, or excess paste from center of the strip towards the edges using your flat tool.
Trim excess at floor and ceiling with a utility knife: use a new blade for each cut. Be sure to wipe off any excess paste from the surface of the strip with a damp sponge immediately. Any residual paste may cause damage to the printed surface.
Repeat the procedure with the next strip, sliding it into position with the edge butted up against the preceding strip. Do not overlap seams.
And Repeat. Repeat and Repeat. Full coverage pattern “book” (adhere) in about 10 minutes. (Again this will vary depending on your wallpaper.) Yes, I did the cabinets, too!! It’s so fun to see the pattern continue to each area. Success!
I used this picture for inspiration to organize my glassware: found on Pinterest.
Here’s the before and after together!
And close-ups.
This was a great project, and if you are looking into wallpapering something yourself… Do It! I takes a little time but the wallpaper is forgiving and you’ll do great!
I think I’ll have a little vino to celebrate my accomplishment.

family room progress

We’ve been really enjoying our Texas spring; we have to, because the Texas summer is next. In between the beautiful weather, we have been working on the family room. I wanted to share some of our progress.

Here’s the original.

Then, I painted the paneling Benjamin Moore AF-130 Truffle here.

Then I painted the fireplace here.

You would think it was all done, right?

No… we decided to do some renovations, like taking down that paneling I painted!?! Just look at what we found!

Scary! Then, we opened the door from the entry way. It looks like it should have been that way! So much more open and inviting!

We found a kitchen “butler window” in the process of taking down the paneling and drywall! Crazy!?!

We also took down the pillars in the kitchen… then the drywall was put into place!

It looked so open and airy! We decided with all that destruction, why replace the old, leaky sliding glass door, too!

It all came together nicely! I painted the walls Benjamin Moore Early Morning Mist 1528 and have plans to paint/stain/tint the wood beams and some day get reclaimed barn wood to put over them. The lighting needs to be addressed, too!! It’s progress. I also have my eye on a big map for the wall as well! I’ll keep you posted!

In the kitchen, I still want to get long drapes, art on the walls, and a new light fixture.

Progress comes in all shapes and sizes! It’s been really fun revealing our! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

wood floors & baseboards

Wow! With the holidays over we are excited to reveal some major goodness in the Snitker household! We’ve been working through the holidays and beyond to have our whole house transformed!

First we had to pick the wood – hickory or birch?

Then we had to prepare the whole house for the installers, which meant taking out all of the carpet and baseboard! Paul actually did most of this while I was in Chicago! Smart planning on my part!

Then we left it to the professionals! First, they set down plywood!

The plywood made everything feel real! We were excited to see the wood, too… but first we got a sneak peek of the wood. Hickory.

After the installers left, we were still in need of some baseboards before the big reveal… We still haven’t picked out “the one” but here are some options.

Otherwise, Here’s a mini-reveal or a “progress reveal” of the wood, because I know there have been people REALLY wanting to see these results! Okay, just my dad. It’s been a big transformation!

Entry – Before

Entry – After

Living Room – Before

Living – After

Kitchen – Before

Kitchen – After

Office – Before

Office – After  (Please disregard the mess! I wanted to get this post up and it shows I’m human.)

Hall – Before

Hall ~ After

We have both been so pleased with the results.  It really brings cohesiveness to the entire house and adds some luxury in our standard ranch style home. I’m in love with the floors and cannot wait for the baseboards to get here!

paint gods

The paint gods have cast what seems to be their shadow of disdain over our house for a couple of weeks now, and this weekend, just as I thought we were breaking through, was no exception.

I had intensions of completing the office this weekend. Painting the shelves, organizing the books/stuff, putting up frames, etc, but it didn’t happen and I’m actually really bummed about it.

This is what I’m talking about… it needed work.  I get hives just looking at the mess.

First we picked a color. Brick Red or Olive Green?

Then on Friday, I took down all the bookshelves’ items and started the painting process… again.  I think I might start a countdown of how many rooms I have left. I got two coats of paint rolled on of Olympic No VOC paint (color matched to Benjamin Moore georgian brick HC-50).  I used Olympic because I was so impressed with the fireplace, though it didn’t coat as well. I knew I would have to put a solid three coats on to make it look good, but the price was right.  Next time I’ll stick with what I like.

This is what it looked like after two coats…

Saturday, I started the edging.  But the moment I started the edging, the rolled paint started coming up!Seriously, this is not making me happy.  All that time, all that work, and it’s peeling away.  So, I started peeling it too… which left me back at square one, defeated, and saddened that I had wasted much of my weekend.

For obvious reasons, there is no photos taken during frustrations.  

I then googled what had went wrong. I believe I found the reason. I have oil based paint on the shelves, which need to be sanded or primed with adhesive primer before I start again… it won’t be this weekend. But at least I have a reason things didn’t work out. To make the best of a no-paint weekend. (tear.) I loaded the shelves like they had the dramatic backdrop and did a little photo shoot.  It made me feel a little better to have a semi-clean office. Don’t worry a new fan’s on the list!!

Bookshelf photo shoot

In other news, Paul and I picked one of our colors for the kitchen and put bigger samples on the wall. Dun, Dun, Dun!!

And the winner is…. not this one. It’s still not the right color. I want a solid color in the kitchen… just need to find it.

Lastly, Saturday, Paul and I went to the home and garden show in Dallas to get ideas on windows, flooring, etc.  and we decided to do the unthinkable!  Unthinkable in my book.  Since getting married, we have never had cable, we never really needed it nor wanted the “idiot box” part of our daily routine. But I honestly couldn’t stand looking at those rabbit ears anymore, especially on my new fireplace, and Paul hated not being able to watch the football games.  So we bit the bullet and got cable. I’m still kind of sad in my decision as I have this vision my children or Paul or myself watching TV 24-7 instead of talking, reading, playing outside. We’ll see… we can always cancel it.

Bunny ears in the middle of my poor beautiful fireplace.

Now, NO bunny ears!! Yay!

Here’s a fun angle from our family room.  I think it’s getting there.  Just a couple photos left to mount on the wall but all-in-all we’re happy with the space.

it’s a marathon

My generation and the ones following get looked down upon for our demands to have instant gratification. We want the goods delivered. Fast and now. I, too, want it now. I’m willing to put in some effort to get things done, but I want it done well, and I want it now. I want my house to be painted, cleaned, window treatments hung, wood floors installed, beautiful hand-picked pieces for every room, all my magazines read and finished, and all my books and movies read or watched on my “I should read/watch list”. But I have to remember this is not how it works. It takes time!! It all takes time. Unless, as Paul pointed out, I would just do crack; then, maybe I would have more time…

This comes to me in a time of despair.

I’ve been having trouble lately with colors. Making my want-it-now attitude turn sour because now I have to re-do it, again.  Here’s my problem: I have this wonderful idea in my head of the exact color I want, but I’m unable to translate that idea into reality when I get to the store to color-match the paint.  Or it looks great in a blog post or article and horrible in my house. It’s like reading a great book with all your wonderfully vivid characters in your head and then watching the movie and wondering how the director could butcher all the characters that badly. Except in this case, I am both the book reader and director. So, as I promised from the beginning, I’ll tell you about the good and the bad.

Here’s a list of my distasteful color choices, and their appropriate names, in case you would like to bring them to your home … maybe you could make them loved? In no particular order.

Laundry closet – Benjamin Moore marblehead gold HC-11 – Does anything look good with open-faced/cobbled cabinets and a fire extinguisher?? Really?

Bookshelves – Benjamin Moore providence olive HC-98

Kitchen – Benjamin Moore yarmouth blue HC-150 – It’s not bad, but it’s all wrong.  I cannot explain it.

The kitchen was so bad that I woke the next morning after it was finished with hoping it was all just a bad dream. Maybe I dreamt the hideous blue on the walls? Maybe it looks better today, in the morning sun? But it wasn’t. It was still as bright and as awful as it was before. So, I walked into the kitchen, took out all the color samples I owned and painted. Not even the morning coffee could take me away. Until, Paul with his infinite wisdom (or being of the male species) said not to waste my time. “We have to figure out our water damage situation before we paint the whole kitchen anyway, Sarah.”

So, I walked away… I’ll figure it out… later.  Here’s the samples… I want a color?  Not white or beige, a real color. Any ideas?

My favorite is the top left but we’ll see…

This idea of getting things done was emphasized when I revisited an article I read a month ago in Real Simple. It’s about this girl who always had a to-do list or numbers in her head, from her caloric intake to the day her infant would be a toddler.  This sounded familiar to my own life.  I too have deadlines: when I’m able to do something or eat something or even when I’m able to go to the bathroom.

“Fold the rest of the laundry and then you can go to the bathroom, Sarah.” Seriously?

I have countless to-do lists from books to read, movies to watch, flea markets to check out, the lists for the house, to detailed hourly schedule for a weekend, a work week.  It’s kind of crazy.

So, I vowed on this “labor day” that I would still have a to-do list BUT I won’t have them haunt me if/when I’m unable to finish everything. Maybe even scratch the list completely for a dinner out with friends, or a movie in the afternoon. Life is life and I will reference this article frequently until it becomes second nature!  As Paul says, “it’s not a crisis”.

Real Simple article Count Me Out

Otherwise, this weekend was comprised of little tasks: painting missed spots, covering holes, organizing paperwork, and one BIG monster project that was both exciting and scary.  I’ll just get to the big guy, he was sitting in our family room sucking the energy out of the space but I felt he was ready for rehab and a new look on life. ;)

He looked like this (below) before I decided the unthinkable!

Sarah, it looks like you have some good ideas but I just wanted to tell you, you know if you paint the fireplace, well, you can never paint it back. ~ A.S.


First, I started by taking down the bronze door and washing off all the brick with a little soap and water.  I vacuumed around the door frame because that was McNasty. Oh, the layers of dust. Which lead me to this… already an improvement! I also sanded the mantle surface so the primer would have something to stick to. The little LED tripod work light in the fireplace is a little wonder! Paul got it for Christmas a few years back, and we use it all the time!

I then started the priming process!  It was fun to see the transformation and the brick have new life.  It looked so sad and dated before! I was going to use a roller for some of it but opted for two paint brushes instead. One small, one bigger. With all the nooks and crannies, this was the best route.

Primed. Check!!  Yes, I put my estate sale find on the mantle.  Even with just the primer it looks so much cleaner and happier. My estate sale find worked out perfectly, too!  I was getting really excited for the final product!

Then I painted the whole thing (two coats and a third to the mantle and hearth) with Benjamin Moore white linen (color matched to Lowe’s Olympic no-voc semi-gloss paint).  Because my Benjamin Moore store wasn’t open on Labor Day… and that whole, I want it now attitude.  You get the idea.

I’m so happy with the results!  I loaded it up with goods so you can get a visual of what it may look like all dressed up!! With all my strike outs, I’m so happy something worked out! Now, we can load the room. It will be ready for grilling and football season! Yay! Especially with the beautiful weather we had this weekend, everyone was ready for the fall… and sometimes you need to stop the projects and play a little football.

star wars

Did you ever have those little glow-in-the-dark stars that you promised your parents you would only put up on your ceiling, and then of course ended up on fan blades, walls, and anywhere else they would stick? Well I did, and I loved them. I think mine even incorporated designs, including the number of the soccer player I liked in junior high. Fast forward 15 years – hello, Karma. I took (what felt like millions) of those little stars off all the ceilings, walls, doors, and fan blades of our various bedrooms. I took down “Yo” from a door, several different hearts, designer brand emblems and much more.  And, of course, the only way to see all of them is to have the room pitch black. Needless to say, star wars, episode: dallas was well underway. While this took a lot of patience (and balance, it turns out), I couldn’t help but smile about my teenage years and the stars that are still on the ceiling of my childhood room at my parent’s house. Two nights later, it turns out the “force” was strong with me, and I was able to withstand the dark side and remove most of the stars, but there are still a couple lingering throughout the house that were picked up by some innocent and maybe unfortunate bystanders…

Bystander 1: If you look closely, you can see stars on his chest. He was not pleased!

So what did I learn from this exercise?  I will never allow my children to put stickers in their rooms nor put anything up that would need anchors or poster/sticky adhesive… those too, had to be dismantled from the walls. We’ll be simply hanging things the old-fashioned way, with nails. I spent Friday taking down stars, and putty/adhesive from the walls, while Paul removed metal anchors from our walls. Firing a 77 with the blisters and cuts on his hands from removing those anchors apparently gained him street cred from the white-collared country club goers. Adda boy.

My first weekend goal was to get a fresh coat of paint in the office.

Office - The family photos with all that adhesive.

Office - door view

I used goo gone on the adhesive wall, and it worked like a charm. I applied a little amount to a rag and rubbed; then, I let it sit for a couple minutes before removal. The smell was horrible!! You know it’s bad when you’re looking forward to the application of oil-based primer to mask the smell of orange scented goo gone.

Goo Gone in action!

Prime Time

I let the primer sit overnight, so I could have a fresh start the next morning… I started with the roller first. You can see my coffee cup on the desk! I start my day out right!

I must say I really like the mustard-y/tan outcome of this room.  I had Paul pick the colors for this room, and he did a great job! (Benjamin Moore Natura Wilmington Tan HC-34 in eggshell)

Oh sweet progress!  On my list of to do’s for this room:

  • new fan
  • sew a cushion for the window bench
  • paint bookshelves
  • organize the shelves
  • put up diplomas and artwork
We also had a very excited Friday with the insulation people!  They blew in more insulation, put in two additional wind turbines and weather stripped the house.  Well worth it!  I can hear our air conditioner (and the electric company) thanking us now!

Attic Insulation

Two Wind Turbines

But wait, there’s more! I still cranked out a family room reveal as well!  I was crazy-ambitious this weekend.  I guess I’m really excited to start decorating, but I really need/want to paint all the walls first before I start buying and rearranging furnishings!

Sorry, I didn’t orientate the photos the same in the family room.  I’ll have to remember to look at the originals before I get started… this blog thing is a little new.

And then I started the process again! Roller, check!

We were really looking for a warm and inviting color for our family room, and I think we nailed it. We went with Truffle AF-130 Benjamin Moore Natura in eggshell. It was a great choice for this space. I can picture us cozying up next to the fireplace watching a football game.

Family Room To Do List:

  • Paint fireplace
  • Art on walls
  • Interesting/Unique lamp light
  • Mount TV
  • New face on fireplace door
  • New window treatments
  • New light fixtures – can lights??

We ended our weekend with a couple glasses of wine (milk too!) and a household favorite:  Venison Spaghetti.  It was a wonderful, productive weekend at home. Here’s to another work week! I need to get some shut-eye because I’m going to start heading out before work to walk/run.  I love to run and it’s starting to cool down in Dallas to start back up!