Fireplace Face-Lift

The surround of my fireplace is a faux pink brick that needs to go but there are lots of other projects ahead of it.  So, in the meantime, I elected to paint it.

The first go-round didn’t go so well. I tried for a natural stone look and it just washed it out. Then I went the route of painting it the same color as the walls around it and it disappeared into the wall – as one should expect.  Having little patience when it comes to painting I was about done with this ‘little’ project by now.  Then I came across some of the dark glaze left from the Rustoleum refinishing kit that was used on the dresser and armoire re-do so I applied that over the paint.

While it’s not the fireplace or the neatest project I’ve done, it makes the room more bearable till I can get to it. Who knows, once I find the right mantle it may end up looking ok just as it is.  In the meantime it’s an improvement and all it took was some extra wall paint and a glaze. Here’s before, in-between and the after shot.  It actually came out better than the after shot indicates.


Here’s an easy recipe you can put together at home to remove the odor and stains related to dog urine.  Unfortunately I’ve had to use this recently thanks to my senior girl – and it worked! She christened my new area rug that was only two days old.  Grrrrr. Still love my old girl of course but I was thankful to come across this concoction. All you need is white vinegar, baking soda, liquid dishwashing detergent and hydrogen peroxide: http://www.dogchatforum.com/dog_urine_odor.htm

Last spring I purchase an armoire and dresser at an estate sale for $50.  While I hated the color it had potential in the style, quality and capacity, not to mention the smokin’ price.  So the pieces have been patiently sitting in my bedroom, awaiting their face-lift for nearly a year now as the rest of the home was remodeled.  Not long after I purchased the pieces I also picked up a Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations kit which I finally cracked open about a week ago.

The product I used is designed for kitchen and bathroom cabinets but my experiment on wood furniture worked out well. After I bought the kit I noticed they sell one just for refinishing furniture but I have to believe they are quite similar, if not the same. It’s a four step process: First you “degloss” your cabinets.  Then you paint two coats of the primer/base color.  After that you can glaze it (basically brush it on and then wipe it off) to give it a more depth.  Finally, you paint on a sealer which is water based so there are no fumes and it’s easy to clean-up. The whole process took a few days because you have to let the different products properly cure but because there are no real fumes I actually did the work in my bedroom with some cardboard to protect the carpets.  It was pretty hassle-free.

Below are before and after pictures. I highly recommend the glaze and don’t wipe too much of it off.  I had to do a second coat because after the first one I wiped too much of it off and the look was definitely lacking in depth and shine.

Now it’s time to tackle the armoire and figure out accessories like lamps & wall hangings and wall color. I highly recommend this product, it’s super easy to use and the final product is better than expected.


This is the finished product.


The Before shot

CoreLogic has released its March Home Price Index (HPI) report which shows that nationally, home prices, including distressed sales, declined on a year-over-year basis by 0.6 percent in March 2012 compared to March 2011. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 0.6 percent in March 2012 compared to February 2012, the first month-over-month increase since July 2011.

Excluding distressed sales, month-over-month prices increased for the third month in a row. The CoreLogic HPI also shows that year-over-year prices, excluding distressed sales, rose by 0.9 percent in March 2012 compared to March 2011. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned (REO) transactions.

“This spring the housing market is responding to an improving balance between real estate supply and demand which is causing stabilization in house prices,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Although this has been the case in each of the last two years, the difference this year is that stabilization is occurring without the support of tax credits and in spite of a declining share of REO sales.”

Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: Wyoming (+5.9 percent), West Virginia (+5.3 percent), Arizona (+5.1 percent), North Dakota (+4.7 percent) and Florida (+4.5 percent). Including distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Delaware (-10.6 percent), Illinois (-8.3 percent), Alabama (-8.0 percent), Georgia (-7.3 percent) and Nevada (-5.8 percent).

“While housing prices remain flat nationally, in many markets tighter inventories are beginning to lift home prices,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive officer of CoreLogic. “This is true in Phoenix, New York and Washington, for example, which all reflect higher home price values than a year ago. A continuation of this trend will be good for our industry across U.S. markets.”

Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: Idaho (+5.4 percent), North Dakota (+5.1 percent), South Carolina (+4.7 percent), Montana (+3.5 percent) and Kansas (+3.4 percent). Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Delaware (-7.6 percent), Alabama (-4.1 percent), Nevada (-3.9 percent), Vermont (-3.9 percent) and Rhode Island (-2.9 percent).

Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to March 2012) was -33.7 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -24.5 percent.

The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines including distressed transactions are Nevada (-59.9 percent), Arizona (-48.6 percent), Florida (-48.1 percent), Michigan (-45.1 percent) and California (-42.7 percent). Of the top 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) measured by population, 57 are showing year-over-year declines in March, eight fewer than in February.

Powder rooms are so fun, you can get really creative in a small space and take risks you might otherwise skip.

Here’s one that was a full gut job and evolved over time. The cabinets, toilet, sink, lights, mirror – even the floors – were all demolished. It sat vacant for a while after the floors were complete and over time become a sexy space.

The counter is poured concrete thanks to my buddy Ray at BC Coatings.  Ray did the floors as well, in this home and my previous home. Once the sink was done I felt it was a bit too contemporary for my otherwise more European or Old World style in the home. So over time the stacked stone was added to the back wall along with a square mirror (we tiled around the mirror so it looks built-in while saving about four square feet in tile), vessel sink (one of my least favorite picks in the remodel) and a glitzy light on a dimmer and metallic paint.

Still working on the right accessories but the lion’s share of the work is done, now it’s down to the easy stuff.

It’s the little things that can make all the difference.  Case in point, a kitchen disposal air switch that costs all of about $60 at your local home improvement store.

No longer must you reach across the counter or open a cabinet for the traditional “light switch” to flip for your disposal (all the while dripping water across the counter or down your cabinets) but instead it’s mounted on your counter top, alongside your faucet.

Besides the cost of the air switch itself you’ll need a dedicated outlet under the sink (if your existing switch is on the wall an electrician can easily pull the power from there) and the labor of an electrician and/or plumber if you aren’t the handyman (or woman) type.  I’m not, so I used both, one to pull the power and the other to install the disposal itself.

Here are a few photos of what it looks like. This along with my counter depth fridge may be my two favorite choices in the kitchen.

Just a few hundred bucks and these front doors took on a whole new look.

While I would have preferred to replace the doors entirely, they were decent enough to save (and new ones weren’t in the budget) but I couldn’t stand the glass inserts or the color. The glass had an arts and crafts look to them and the color of the doors was far too red. The house itself was pink so when it finally came time to paint the house the doors were ready for their facelift.

But prior to the paint I had the glass changed out to a simple textured glass that lets in plenty of light yet you can’t see through it. When the inside of the house was being remodeled I had my glass guy who was doing the showers and liquor cabinet cut a couple of pieces for the front door. That was phase 1.

A year later the doors were primed and painted a brown/black color that made a nice contrast with the lighter color of the home. I had a glaze added but it didn’t look right so had them repainted again to a simple satin finish as seen in the after photos. Between the glass, paint and labor it cost about $400,  well worth the transformation it created.