Painted Pots and Feathery Fireworks

If you take a look at the basics of our backyard- the walls, the brick patio, the stone patio under the bench, even the seating- everything is pretty neutral in color.

Outside 114In general, I think this is a good thing because it allows us to add shots of color here in other ways. Take the seat cushions and umbrella for instance:

Patio UmbrellaBut if you look closely at that picture above, you may see another one of my recent color projects… here, let me get a close up for you:house 035Sure, you can get a pretty colored pot at any Home Goods, Target, or Lowes/Home Depot, but let me challenge you to do this first. Try and see if there is something in your backyard (or pile of junk in the garage or shed) to which you can give a little TLC to get the same results. I say this because here’s what this pot originally looked like:Painting a Pot

Plain ‘ole brown terracotta. Boring and dirty, but not beyond salvaging. All I did was grab a can of spray paint from HD that I thought would look nice with what we have going on in our backyard and gave the pot a little to

To start, make sure you clean all the dirt off first for a nice, smooth finish!Crafts 010Because I couldn’t take all of the dirt out to do the inside (I had already planted stuff inside), I had to come up with a makeshift shield of cereal boxes and newspaper to protect the plants and dirt from getting their own coat of blue. Painted PotI’d rate my system as functional, but not superb. Hopefully you have more freedom to paint the rim and inside more effectively than I did. All painting issues aside, the pot came out great and looks completely different than its original “outfit”. For $4 and an hour of time, I’m not complaining. 🙂house 044I also took it upon myself to grab a darker hue and try it out on a smaller pot of roses. Unfortunately the roses weren’t in the mood to cooperate with a photo shoot, but here’s a picture of the mini-pot process for you.

Painted Pots

But back to that big planter with the summery plants…house 039I was thrilled to bring back some more of those “feathery fireworks”  to the mix(I’m coining that name because that’s just what I think of when I look at them… but if you’re on the hunt, you may have more luck searching for “Celosia”). In addition to those, I perused Produce Junction, trying to find something else that caught my eye. And I stumbled on these cuties!house 036They’re called Portulaca and they instantly hooked me with their bright, almost neon colors. I think they’re a type of succulent and they do really well in a full-sun spot outside. These might be my favorite plants we have because of how bright and colorful they are. Makes me smile every time I see ’ 047

So there you have it- a quick way to add some color to something you may already have! And for the sake of a plant update, here are a couple more:

1. The Room Addition with the climbing Clematis: doing about the same, but not much growth. I’m wondering if it’s going to take to the shallow/rocky soil. Hopefully so because otherwise, we’ll have to turn to Plan B for a natural wall covering. Oh, and I still have to install that fourth wall. Gotta get on that.Adding a Room 0122. The Garden Bed: doing just fine, especially with the addition of some mulch (thanks to a suggestion from a reader)! Here it is in all it’s dark and handsome glory:photo 12b. The tomato plant has produced a few nice tomatoes, but we had no luck with the peppers. 2Ok, enough garden-y things. Hope this put a bit of color in your day! Come back tomorrow because I’ve got updates galore on the outdoor pillow hunt. Here’s a clue: I may or may not have scoured various Lowes stores for these pillows:

medallion pillowTo be continued…




Seal the Deal

Well, bench, that is. Remember this bench?BenchI found it a while back at a yard sale and we put it to work on our back patio. The only downside- it wasn’t really meant for outdoor living and we had to bring it inside every night to protect the wood from any moisture that might ruin it over time. Actually, I wasn’t sure what type of finish had been used on the bench before, but to be safe I figured we’d seal it so that it can permanently live outside on the patio.

The process was relatively straightforward, but I just had to wait for 1. some free time to do the project, and 2. a day that was cool enough outside to use a sealer without the heat affecting the finish. When that day came, though, the project was pretty simple! Crafts 003

First I dragged the bench outside and sanded it down to get most of the original finish off.Crafts 004

Next, I wiped it down a few times with a wet rag to get rid of any remaining saw dust and grime. Crafts 012

Time for coat #1 of the sealer! I used Helmsman Spar Urethane (the same thing I used for the bar cart makeover) because after chatting with a few Home Depot employees, this is the product that each of them recommended for the job. I wasn’t trying to stain the piece another color (this goes on and dries clear), I just wanted to seal it so that it will be moisture-safe in the future. Crafts 013

For application, I used a small foam craft brush. The can recommends a sturdy-bristled brush, but for such a small surface area the craft brush worked just fine. The key with this is thin coats- I’m terrible with this rule, but anything thick quickly resulted in a lot of drips. Applying the sealer was pretty self-explanatory, but here’s a quick video for you to show the consistency, how it went on, etc.

Just like that picture above, you can really see the difference between the “finished” and “not finished” parts of the bench… which was super helpful throughout the process.

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Helpful Hint: If you have a piece with legs, do the bottom first so that you can flip it over to do the top without ruining the newly painted side. And here she is with her full first coat:Crafts 016

After coat #1, I waited four hours before lightly sanding (with fine grit sandpaper) it, wiping it down again, and putting on coat #2. Let it dry for a solid 24 hours before use and you should be all set to go! Truthfully, the finished product does not look a whole lot different than how it looked to begin with because I was essentially trading in one finish for another identical (but this time, weatherproof!) finish. BUT, here’s a shot of the bench doin’ its thing anyway because it’s still fun to see it all glossy and gleaming. To see more photos of the complete dining set, check out this post.

Outside 114Any newly stained or refinished items in your backyard? Tell us all about it. 🙂


Trash to Treasure: Bar Car Edition

We all know that bar carts are all the rage right now and who’s surprised? Not I- even if you don’t want to use them to house alcoholic beverages, how can you not be a fan of a bit of extra storage that you can move around?! Consider me sold. I’ve been on the prowl for one for some time now, keeping my eyes open at Target, Home Goods, Ikea, etc. for something that was reasonably priced and decent on the eyes… to no avail. What’s the saying? When you stop looking is when you’ll find it…Bar Cart BeforeNot what you were expecting, huh? Me neither. Well, our church recently did a purge on old and broken things throughout the building that had seen better days and needed to be disposed of… and I happened to see this in that pile.Bar Cart BeforeYep, in all it’s contact paper, rust, and paint-y glory I begged them to let me take it home. I knew that, with a little bit of TLC, I could turn him into something shiny and new. I know I just got the Madonna song stuck in your head… sorry about that. So, without further ado, here is the step by step breakdown of how I took the trash and made a treasure- oh, and there are a few Helpful Hints (aka. things I learned along the way) that I threw in for good measure.

Step 1: Remove all contact paper and wipe clean. I had to get down to the bare bones of the cart, so I spent some time peeling (both) layers of contact paper to reveal three very promising white shelves.Bar Cart Step 1

And after all of the peeling, I was left with this:

Crafts 020A (still sticky from the contact paper) sturdy frame to work with. And this is how it sat for about a month in our kitchen until I worked up the energy found a spare second this summer to continue the makeover. Which brings us to…

Step 2: Disassemble the cart into individual pieces. When I flipped the entire thing over, I found this:Bar Cart Step 2Each tray is held in place to both handle/legs by four washer and screw combinations. All I did was unscrew each of the screws to break down the cart into its original pre-assembly condition. Here comes Helpful Hint #1: Grab a small dish or tray to hold the screws and washers until they are ready to be reused for reassembly. This helped ward off any lost parts.

Crafts 028After everything was taken apart, the cart looked like this:

Crafts 026Helpful Hint #2: Label the bottom of each tray in the order that you take it apart to make the reassembly easier. I used a T (top), M (middle), and B (bottom) so that there was no confusion when trying to put it all back together.

labelsStep 3: Sand each piece to get rid of any leftover residue and to prepare for paint. This was a lot easier than I thought it would be- all I did was spend a few minutes on each piece to remove some of the glue from the contact paper, any paint (it had previously been used in a classroom), and rust from the metal.

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I had good results using a sanding block (technical term?) with 150 or so grit. Probably the finer, the better, but I just used what I had. In the end, I didn’t get every single bit off, but I just sanded until I was okay with the smoothness of each shelf. I used a piece of sandpaper for the legs because it was easier to wrap around to get an even sand job. It’s hard to see, but in the picture below the left piece has not been sanded and the right has- in person, it made a pretty significant difference.

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Step 4: Wipe down each piece with a wet rag and let fully dry.

Crafts 036Step 5: Time to paint! I used white spray paint for the trays and gold (both from the Rustoleum line) for the handles. I started on the bottoms of the trays and let them fully dry before I painted the tops. As no one will ever really see the bottoms of the trays, I just gave them a quick 1-2 coats, whereas the tops got 3-4.BottomsWhat a change a few coats of white paint can do to a formerly rusted, painted, and papered piece of metal!

TopsNext to get the royal treatment were those cloudy silver handles.

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Get ready for Helpful Hint #3: Tape off the wheels using painters’ tape to ensure that they keep their black color, while the metal gets the gold.

Crafts 040(Optional) Step 6: Apply sealer if you plan on using the bar cart outdoors. I used some Indoor/Outdoor Helmsman Spar Urethane that I already had. Although it is meant for wood, I did some Googling and read that people had used it with success on metals. Their only warning is that it dries with a yellow-ish tint, so be careful about using it to seal art pieces that might be tainted with such a finish. I will say this: In using this on white shelves, I definitely saw what they meant! However, I did not apply thick coats (using more of the product would yield more of a tint) and the sunlight seemed to cut down on the visibility of the yellow-ish haze. When you look at the cart, it still looks bright white and because we are planning to use the cart outside for the most part, having it sealed was important. There are probably better products to use, so if you know of one, leave it in the comments for other readers!Crafts 012

Step: Let dry and reassemble. All we did was put things back together in the same order I took them apart. My Helpful Hint #4 would be: Stick all screws through a piece of cardboard (thanks for the cool trick, Nancy H.!) and spray paint them the color of the piece. Crafts 045Reassembly was probably the easiest and most rewarding step of them all- after all, who doesn’t love a finished product?!finished bar cart 001finished bar cart 002

The cart lives outside (and has been there for a few weeks now) and has held up great! We’ve had rain and wind that have created dirt and mud, but the surfaces are all pretty wipeable (thanks to the sealer).finished bar cart 004 For general function, this piece is great- it can be moved around, we can use it indoors if we want, and it has already successfully served as the drink station at a youth group cookout we hosted. To shoot it, I was pretending to host a brunch of some sort- complete with all the beverage options you could ever want… water, OJ, coffee, hot chocolate, you name it. 🙂 Yes, I now realize that I was playing… tea party.finished bar cart 007finished bar cart 005finished bar cart 006And how about one final shot of those gleaming white shelves? Yep, I’m in love.

finished bar cart 010Any trash to treasure adventures you’ve been taking lately?


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