Category Archives: Furniture Rehab

Cottage Charm – Bathroom Remodel

FullSizeRenderThe ongoing process of making our new house in Tennessee a place to call home, is exciting but the work involved can be exhausting.  One thing I’ve learned is that living in a place for a while gives a person a better idea of what is needed (or wanted) as opposed to moving in and making immediate changes.  Aside from the obvious tweaks in a newly purchased home, or updates in an older one, living within it’s walls for some time offers a whole new perspective on the real style and feeling of a home and offers you a better vision of what you’d like the outcome to be.

Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who can’t sit still. I always need to be doing something constructive – even when riding in the car or sitting in front of the television, I am usually multitasking.  I’ve always had this energy, this need to make my immediate space more organized and more gratifyingly efficient. Being organized gives me pleasure and the feeling of a life well lived. I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work, especially if that work means that my space, my home, will bring joy to my senses, pleasure to my eyes, peace to my soul, and warmth to my heart. To me, these feelings are accomplished with light filled rooms, lots of windows and a beautiful view. When I’m in my home, whether it’s real or perceived, I must have the feeling of quietude and seclusion with an abundance of fresh and natural light.

Now that we’ve lived here for the better part of 2 years, after settling in and enjoying the feel of the cottage, after laying a new sidewalk to the front door and creating garden beds which is still a work in the making, my latest project has been to redecorate one of our two bathrooms.  Because this cottage has only two small bathrooms, I have adopted one, and my husband, the other. The bathroom I have claimed is also the “guest room bath” so I make an effort to keep it looking especially nice and neat. This particular post is to show you how easy it is to make small changes for a big effect.

Here are some photos of the bathroom before. It’s small so these are the best shots I could get.IMG_1499

IMG_1500Above: This is the hole in the ceiling where the white (yellowed) plastic, very dated, light/fan combo fixture was.

Below: The stained trim didn’t match what my mind’s eye was seeing and made the small bathroom look even smaller. I wanted a light and bright French Country look.

IMG_1494Below: The flattest door I’ve ever seen and the most boring. But fortunately, easy to work with.

IMG_1466Starting from the top down, the first task was to scrape the popcorn ceiling. Big and messy job!  I had to mud, sand and caulk a bit once the popcorn was down.

The second task was to remove an ugly, contractor grade, exhaust fan/light combo with its yellowed plastic cover. It was likely installed some 30 years ago. We were presented with some problems, however, like an old exhaust fan with no attic access. The fan/light combo fixture was one the ugliest things I’ve seen. I visioned a small chandelier instead and although there are many very cute lighting fixtures on the market I found nothing that included an exhaust fan. Since it was impossible to remove the old fan without attic access, if we still wanted an exhaust fan that is, then we would have to figure some way to make it work. After much consideration, and being told that it couldn’t be done, (which made me even more determined) I decided to use the current fixture and to redesign it.

Next, I wanted to paint all the trim, baseboards and door off white. I also wanted larger baseboards (removing and replacing the baseboards would be easy in such a small space).

And finally the finishing touches would be a new shower curtain which I would make myself once I found the perfect fabric and a glass shelf which I had cut at a glass shop.

I still have a couple of finishing touches for the ceiling.  I want to add some molding and glaze to a last coat of paint but that will have to wait because it’s garden time!

Here are the photos. A wide-angle lens would have helped but they’re not too bad. And I’ll save the best for last!

IMG_1468I decided to add molding to the doorIMG_1491Lots of molding!

IMG_1653And then to paint it all! I absolutely loved this transformation. Note the trim has been painted white too.

IMG_1542IMG_1543I found the most beautiful Toile fabric at and paired it with an ivory colored linen

IMG_1546IMG_1548Above and Below: The glass shelve I had cut at a glass shop. We could not find the 4″ shelf brackets to fit the glass but my dear husband was able to shorten them using a grinder. Good job, Manuel!

IMG_1560And now for the big reveal of my favorite and most challenging part…

IMG_1505The ugly plastic light/fan cover

IMG_1511A work in progress…

IMG_1512My own design.


IMG_1550IMG_1705IMG_1549IMG_1708IMG_1556So, other than a couple of small things like having new mirrors cut for the medicine cabinet and glazing and molding the ceiling here is another room checked off the design list.

 Once I complete the details I’ll post updated photos.

I really appreciate you visiting and hope that you enjoyed the process half as much as I did.

Au revoir et merci!



20130919-122015The Story – It’s not (just) about the buffet!

This buffet was a real find at a local thrift store for $40! I had in mind that if I could not find a buffet, I would keep my eyes open for a dresser which would nicely double as one. Just think of all the storage space! What luck when I actually found the real deal! It’s exactly what I had been looking for to replace the one I had which was made of a composite material (and cost me a small fortune!). I had longed for a substantial buffet made of real wood – something with unique qualities and good bones. Boy, did I luck out! This piece was as well made on the inside as it was on the outside. It’s original finish was cherry though it was quite scratched up. After all, what did I expect for $40, I told myself as I struggled with the decision about whether or not I should buy it.

I wasn’t sure if I was up for the task of sprucing it up and I certainly had never challenged myself to restore a piece of furniture this large. The mere size of it was intimidating and no, I didn’t have the time! My better judgment influenced me and I actually talked myself out of this big, $40, plus 10% off for Senior Day, purchase and I left the store!

20130919-122115.jpgThe Dream

Well, that night I couldn’t get my mind off of the buffet. I stood in my dining room staring at the spot where it would sit. A nagging part of me wondered what my husband, Manuel, would say if I asked him, once again, to take his truck, to pick up this monstrous piece from the thrift store and to bring it home. There it would sit in our garage (the garage that we haven’t been able to park in for two years!) along with the other “projects” on my “to-do” list.

My mind’s eye could not erase the vision of how this buffet might look in that perfect spot! I imagined the order to my life having this big box would bring. A place to put all of my entertaining dishes and accessories. I saw visions of myself, perfectly coiffed and impeccably dressed sitting at the dining room table, an artful display of delectable food lain across the buffet like a Better Homes and Gardens magazine picture. Friends and loved ones would surround me admiring what they might perceive as a life of perfect order. All this for $40, how could I go wrong! With that buffet, I had convinced myself, there was a real possibility for world peace!

20130919-122139The Commitment

I suppose by now it’s fairly obvious which part of my mind won this battle! So here it is, the new project. I promised myself that it would precede all the other projects and well, it almost did. But finally, I can present it to you as proof that any of us can accomplish anything (within reason) that we set our minds to. So here goes – my tutorial about restoring this buffet, and the sense of accomplishment that grew within me during the process. After all is said and done, it’s not really (just) about the buffet!

20130919-121805The Process

Using a belt sander, once I began the process of sanding the cherry stain off the top to remove the scratches I decided to sand the entire buffet to remove all the finish. I wanted a more natural color and decided to leave a splotch of roughed up cherry finish here and there to create a distressed look. When sanding off old finish you will want to be careful not to sand the veneer layer off. Another way to do this without sanding is to use a paint or stain remover. There are several methods of stripping furniture.

 After completely sanding the old finish off I wiped the buffet with odorless mineral spirits. This alone brought out the beautiful grain of the veneer. Once dry, I used a 220 grit finishing sand paper, wiped with a soft cloth and finished with a tack cloth to remove all dust. I learned that this is a very important step.

Miniwax Wipe On Poly in a clear satin finish was the first step I used to finish the piece and although it was clear satin, it still enriched the grain of the wood. Multiple applications will deepen the color but it’s necessary to allow each coat to dry fully according to the directions and to sand between each coat and wipe thoroughly before applying the next making sure to remove the dust. I didn’t want the color to be as dark as the cherry and I really liked the natural color of the wood veneer.

The buffet looked beautiful with the warm natural grain showing through but it still had a rough, porous wood, feel. I wanted the final result to have the smooth luster of a cabinet finish.

Back to Google!

After researching several sites and learning methods to help me achieve the results I desired I was finally able to get that beautiful, lustrous finish by using Miniwax Polycrylic Protective Finish in clear satin. This is a latex finish and cleans easily with water. Use according to the directions on the label. I used three coats, sanding between each. (This was time-consuming. It took a couple of weekends.) The more coats I used the more durable and glass-like the finish became. It’s Important to let each coat dry completely (at least two hours) and to lightly sand between each coat with 220 grit or something comparable for finishing. Oh, and don’t forget to wipe thoroughly with a tack cloth to avoid dust and debris from being sealed into the finish. Follow the directions on the can to avoid air bubbles in the finish. I found that a synthetic brush and a sponge tip applicator worked best. At one point I could not get rid of the bubbles, but soon realized that I wasn’t sanding well enough between each coat. Once I corrected that, I was able to get a smooth finish without the bubbles. Sanding between each coat is important.

So that’s it! I hope you like the finished product and that my experience might inspire you to face your own similar challenge. The gratification is inexplicable!

Ahhh, so happy! Life is good.

Now, for that dinner party!

Thanks for visiting.

The Finished Product!



Thanks so much for visiting!