All posts by Anna

Hidden Art Friday: The Door

When we bought our house, it was listed as having one less bedroom than it actually has. The reason is that the final bedroom is set up to be used as an office, which is how we will be using it (my husband finally gets his own office!), but because of that, they had removed the door. We had asked the previous owners if they had the door, and they said no.

Fortunately for us, they were wrong. It was in the basement, covered in 60s paint and a good layer of mold.


We tried chemical stripper first. What a smelly mess.


Then, our neighbor who renovates houses for a living and a hobby loaned us his heat gun. I’m in love. I’ll never use the chemical glop again.


(To be fair, this is after heat gun and power sander and hand sanding the corners. This is a job for somebody with lots of free time.) YouTube has tons of helpful and unhelpful videos about how to do this, if you’re truly curious. But if you run across a guy telling you to get chemical stripper out of detail work using kitty litter, DON’T DO IT.

After trying linseed oil on one of the edges, we decided to stain the door a little darker than the wood is naturally. We have no idea what kind of wood it is. We’ve heard that chestnut was used for a lot of these old doors in this area of the country, but ours is some kind of hardwood core with a veneer of something else. No clue.


We bought new hinges and new doorknobs, and my husband installed it.


Ta Da!!


I love it. So much. Which is good, because I think I put about 40 hours into it. The next one should go faster. Really.


I love it so much that I took the next door off the linen closet to try to get it done this fall while the kids play outside. Let’s see…if I do 2 doors a year and there are 20 doors (not including the beautiful front doors, which have been painted maroon)…

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Hidden Art Friday: Paint

We have spent the last six weeks painting every single inch of this house. I’m kicking myself, because I really didn’t take too many good before pictures. All the befores here are ones that I took during the final inspection, so still have all the old homeowner’s furniture in them. While we’ve painted every single room, I’m not including them all here–I’ll save some of the more extensive projects for a future post 🙂

The rooms in this house were either really warm, to the point that I felt like I was suffocating, or florescent. I’ve had many people tell me the yellow was really not too bad, but I just couldn’t stand it. It was upstairs and down, in hallways and the living room. Just too much. I’ve loved the new grays that have become popular lately, so I couldn’t wait to try some in all these yellow rooms.


If you look at the back of this picture, you can see my samples on the walls:


We settled on Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter for hallways and living room. (It’s also in the master, after we tried no less than 4 different colors in there and hated them, and then decided that since I had extra of the Revere Pewter, that was the winner. Pictures of that one later.)


The stairwell still needs some work, probably involving some unsafe painting practices and borrowing a friend’s extendo ladder:


My baby bedroom was neon green.


My daughter was so excited to get to help paint it. IMG_2376IMG_2578(Another good garage sale find: blackout lined curtains from Calico Corners.)

If you look in the top left corner of this picture, you can see the old color in the dining room. The change here was not dramatic, but since I was doing so much gray in the hallways, I wanted the dining room to be a beautiful saturated brown. This is BM’s Maryville Brown.



(Also, note my craig’s list score of the year: really cool hutch!)

You can’t see much of the den color here–but it was a faux sponge finish in a very warm orange. Ugh.


With all the beautiful white trim in this room, I opted for a deep blue. BM’s Phillipsburg Blue.



Most of our bathrooms are still a huge work in progress, but the kid’s main bath is pink. Pink tub, pint toilet, pink vanity, pink tile. Because the layout works for the kids, we won’t be redoing it anytime soon, and I knew that I had to cover up the pink paint (really? why?) with something to cut the color of the fixtures. Sorry for no before.

IMG_2580 IMG_2581

My son’s room was the color of the closet door behind the three boys. IMG_2379

When we were done, I let them put their handprints on the inside of the closet door. These are my son’s best friends, who flew out to help us move and paint and work. Having their imprint on the door is a fun way to start a new era in his new room.IMG_2382

There are many more rooms that I painted–guest room from florescent green to white (that took forever!), master, kitchen, big girls’ room, but I’ll save those projects for another day.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted in Hidden Art Fridays | 2 Comments

Hidden Art Friday: Trim

As part of our floor re-do, we are having to fix a lot of the baseboards. There are multiple layers of paint on the woodwork, several of them only after the carpet went on. So when the carpet came up, the bottom inch of every baseboard in the house got a lot uglier.

IMG_2571 IMG_2473 IMG_2471 .The stairs are the worst, since carpet was covering the risers.



Because the layers of paint above the carpet are so thick, it’s not just a matter of repainting the baseboards. First, they have to be scraped and sanded so that it’s an even surface to repaint. This makes a dusty mess.


After cleaning up the dust with wet rags and letting that dry, I can finally paint the trim. But it takes forever, since I have to be super careful to not get any on our brand new refinished floors!


On the left is before, and on the right, after. In some of the rooms, the gap between the baseboards and the floor is up to a half-inch. To fix this, we will need to add quarter round and paint that, but for right now, that project has been put on the multi-year list.

The most startling difference is on the stairs:

Stairs Stairs

Right after the floors were finished, I had started on some of the stairs and upstairs in the attic. Unfortunately, since then we’ve had multiple projects come up that needed our immediate attention, so this project has been shelved until probably the winter. My goal this winter will be just to spend a few minutes on it every day, slowly working my way down from the attic to the main floor. It is amazing how much the baseboards make a difference in how finished your house feels!

Coming up over the next months: paint colors, refinishing old doors, and a fireplace restoration!

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Hidden Art Friday: New Old House

Hello everybody, and happy Friday!

I know it’s been a while, and I wanted to show you a little bit of what we’ve been up to.

We bought a house! A cool, old house. Our last house was a cool, old house, but it was on a pretty busy road and had a very small lot. We knew our kids needed a little more space to roam, so we moved to a different town where the houses were cheaper due to a crummy school district and bought a big, old house on a big-for-NJ size lot. That’ll put teeth into your homeschooling decision: our kids will not ever be attending the schools here, so I’m now a dyed-in-the-wool homeschooler. We could probably have a discussion about whether or not I was before, but this has definitely clinched it for me.

The house is in good shape, and has been well taken care of by past owners. It was pretty firmly stuck in the 80s, though. We, who have watched way to many episodes of Property Brothers for our own good, knew that the things we didn’t like were cosmetic issues and we could fix them. Ha. Ask me in a year if I’m still sane. I’m not sure right now.

First up was the flooring. The house was covered in carpet from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Because of allergies in my family, we knew we’d (and by “we,” I mean the company we paid to redo all the floors before we moved in) be ripping it all up, and we had an inkling that what we’d find underneath would be pretty awesome. And it was.


This is our master, which had diagonal oak flooring with a darker border around the edges. The special green carpet is what covered all the halls and stairways.

Our entryway had been redone in marble which looked 90s-ish. We went back and forth about whether this was something we wanted to replace. After all, tile is a lot better at tolerating dirty shoes and snow gear. But when we got it quoted out, it wasn’t quite as expensive as we had thought to replace it, and we knew that getting wood in there would better fit the character of the house, as well as warm the space up, so we went for it.


It was cathartic watching them tear it all up.


We knew the stairs would need some repair work, and once they got the carpet off the bouncy ones, we were able to see exactly what was going on. Several of the risers were cracked, and on the bottom two steps, the treads were as well.


My flooring guy was not optimistic about how long a repair would last, but I told him I wanted to try to repair them, and if we needed to replace them in 10 years, I’d cross that bridge when we got there.


The crew ripped up carpet from the upstairs hallway, upstairs bedroom, stairs to the third floor, and all third floor bedrooms. We only had one bedroom whose flooring couldn’t be saved: my baby bedroom had been filled with approximately 200 screws, presumably to cut down on creaking. It was price prohibitive to remove all the screws, so they laid a new oak floor on top of the old one.


The master bedroom had the flooring that was in both the best and worst shape. It had had carpet over it for a long time, so the wood was not bleached out at all, and the border around the edge is the most pronounced in this room. But it had been spilled on many times, and had lots of different water stains, as well as this huge dark stain. When I asked the flooring guy what he thought it was, he jokingly replied, “Blood.” He then tried to tell me my master bedroom was now the stuff of ghost stories and hauntings. I’m choosing to believe that somebody gave birth here, instead of being brutally murdered, but, he, who is not married, looked decidedly queasy when I replied with my theory. Fortunately, all of the stains, organic or no, came out with the sanding.

They spend three days sanding, and then called us back to approve the finish color.


It’s not a traditional stain + poly finish. It is an oil finish, which is supposed to be just as durable, but easier to repair when scratches happen. Because it’s oil, it’s much more matte, which I enjoy.

Here are a few of the finished spots:





Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

Posted in Hidden Art Fridays | 2 Comments
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