Chevron Sewing Table Update

After a year in our first home, the kitchen remains a bit of a challenge. The biggest update so far was getting rid of the huge pub table that was built in to the counter top, which I removed and replaced with a window seat with lots o’ storage. That got us part-way towards my goal of designing an eat-in area for our super-tiny very cozy 60’s ranch kitchen. I knew I would need a small-ish pedestal style table to accommodate the window seat setup. I had been contemplating building one from scratch until…

Finally, y’all! I just found this amazing table at my favorite-of-all-favorites antique store… woo! (Better yet, I sent a courtesy a pic to the husband, and he loves it too!) Woo-hoo! laminate top table before Cute, right?! This table has a lot going for it (including a fully-operational foot pedal that Adam wants to rig into some sort of possibly dangerous, high-performance lazy susan) but let’s be honest… the top is kind of weird. It’s laminate, but not your average furniture-grade “trying to look like wood” laminate. It’s more like kitchen counter-style laminate, which is a weird look for anyone who’s not a kitchen counter. (And truly, kind of weird for them as well.) It’s almost like the top was repurposed from a restaurant table or something. Kind of sterile and, well… not-so-pretty.  I asked the lady at the checkout if she would consider selling me just the base… but she was much too smart for that. (I can only assume she didn’t want that weird top laying around, either!) And it’s a good thing, because original my plan was to go straight home and build a new table top from scratch using various wood scraps from the garage. But when she politely suggested I “find a way to dress it up” when I told her I wasn’t crazy about the top, I was all, “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!” 

I decided it’s just the right kind of quirky with its sewing table base and modestly-sized top. My sweet husband helped me get it into place in the kitchen and it fits just right! Of course, Murph Cat had to come investigate immediately. He is violently shaking his head in this pic, which is why he looks a little poltergeisty. laminate top table before in kitchen So instead of making a new wood plank top, I decided to work with the one I had by painting it. I started by sketching out a pattern. Try not to be intimidated by my super advanced drawing skills. table pattern sketch Impressive, right? Now you see why I am a graphic designer by trade.

Then, I prepped the surface by sanding it with a 180 grit disc on my orbital sander. I had to remove the top and ROLL that sucker outside. No joke, it probably weighs at least 80 pounds. sanding laminate top with orbital sander I also took the important step of snapping a safety-selfie. I ALWAYS wear a mask when sanding! safety maskOnce I had sanded off the finish, I applied 2 coats of Zinsser primer (not shown.) Then, the real fun began. Who knew this would require advanced geometry?! finding the center of the table top Clearly, you can see I had some trouble with my measurements and markings. For the record, it is SO hard to find the center of a circle! It occurred to me only afterwards that the proper solution would have been to trace the entire top onto a piece of paper, cut it out, and fold it in half twice. Oh, so NOW my brain decides to start working! But that’s OK… the trial and error method works, too. Once I had the table top divided into quadrants, I grabbed a 1×4 board (about 3 feet long) from the garage and cut one end into a 45 degree angle to use as a guide for the pattern. (Sorry, not shown, but you’ll get the idea.) painting faux wood planks on the table top Note the very professional paper plate paint palette. Clearly I take my work very seriously.

At last, the fun part! I took some greige (Behr Sculptor’s Clay) wall paint I had left over from painting our master bathroom and mixed it with varying amounts of black-brown acrylic art paint. I grabbed different shades of paint to create a wide range of gradients. I applied the paint with a 1″ sponge brush in long strokes to create a wood-grain type effect. The intent was never to look realistically like wooden planks… but just to give it that sort of feel. faux wood planks painted on table top At first I left the outlines partially white so I could fill with the darker brown later (thinking, “shadows suggesting gaps between the planks”), but I ended up going back in and spongeing over them after I saw that the color striations created enough definition of their own.

HOWEVER… that all changed when I came back the next day and realized that my Sharpie lines had “eaten” through the paint and surfaced back to the top like some sort of paint-resistant zombie ink. I had to paint over all the lines the next day after all. Mental note: NEVER use a Sharpie to draw paint lines. That stuff is weird-strong! sharpie line bleeding through paint and poly Luckily, the end result is still pretty sweet looking. I’ll show you both possible results… before and after the Sharpie debacle. finished plank table top without sharpie showing through finished plank table top with border linesNot gonna lie… I tend to think it looked better “before” when the pattern was more subtle and before the zombie Sharpie came back to haunt me. But what are you gonna do? I suppose the brown lines are better than the weird purply-blue ones that the Sharpie left behind/beneath/on-top-of-everything-important.

So at the end of the day, I still think it looks pretty good. I had to make some compromises due to poor material selection on my part, but that’s just the way it goes! I think it’s much better than where we started, anyway. And when the paint and poly fully cure in about 2 weeks, I will finally have my first official casual, comfortable meal in the kitchen!


Two days later and I am still having to go back and paint over some of the Sharpie lines in certain areas and then add another coat of poly. Apparently, this was a really blonde thing to do, because so far no one has had any sympathy for my plight and seems to think it’s ridiculously common knowledge that paint and Sharpie don’t mix. (“Lindsay, you’re telling me YOU didn’t know that? EVERYONE knows that!”) Well somehow I managed to survive 20+ years of crafting and painting without this ever becoming apparent to me… but I will certainly never forget! Truly, I can just feel myself getting smarter with every dumb mistake. 😀

Thanks for reading!



Kitchen Update: It’s coming together!

We finally got the doors put back up this week. Now I can finish painting them and leave them open to dry for a few more days. Once they’re dry to the touch, I can’t wait to get the pulls installed. I chose oil rubbed bronze to break up all the white and help pull in the dark wood countertops.

Here’s my inspiration… kind of going for the farm kitchen look.


I love the wood counters and white cabinets. And the beadboard – yes please!

And here’s what we have so far…


Even with the lights off, the kitchen is so much brighter now!

Kitchen Cabinet Redo Part 3: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Hopefully, it’s not a train! Forgive me for being a little-snake bitten, but this cabinet  project just seems to keep presenting new and unforeseen challenges. But, I’ve certainly learned a lot of things… like how European hinges work and how they are specifically adjusted to a certain cabinet and how if you mix them up you’ll never get your cabinets doors rehung properly without looking wonky. Ever. You know, things like that.

But I digress. We definitely turned a corner in the process once I got the trial and error situational research out of the way with the paint + primer mishap, followed by the sanding and stripping required to get that stuff off so I could start all over. Thanks for sticking around long enough for me to start digging out of the mess and finally making progress. And for those of you who are more interested in the solution than the problem, this one’s for you!

So once I realized I was dealing with a wax-coated finish on the cabinets (really, previous homeowners?!), I had no clue how to paint over it, short of stripping the whole kitchen back to bare wood. Luckily, the folks at the hardware store turned us on to Zinsser Cover Stain oil-based primer. Amazing stuff! It honestly seems like it would stick to anything. Maybe even a greased pig. All I know is that it stuck to my crazy wax-covered cabinets, and that’s all I really care to know for now.

I used the magical Zinsser primer to prep all of the cabinet doors and the outside faces of the cabinets themselves. Basically, anywhere “PHOs” had applied the wax finish. For the raw wood shelves and walls inside the cabinets, I went ahead and used the dreaded Valspar paint + primer that had caused me days of extra sweat and frustration. Two reasons: A) I had already paid for it, and B) I figured any paint should, at the very minimum, stick to unfinished, clean, sanded wood. (Valspar can thank me later for this undeserved shot at redemption.)

In order to paint my cabinet doors more quickly, I rigged up a system on my back porch using some decking wood, a couple of chairs, and some screw hooks.


I used decking wood that the husband had already unscrewed from the porch so he could inspect the drainage underneath. Don’t mind if I do! 

I attached the hooks to the top or bottom edge of each door (whichever would not be seen once they were hung). Top edge for top cabinets, bottom edge for bottom cabinets. You get the idea.


Sweet… now we can paint both sides in one sitting!

And thusly, I was able to knock out both sides of about 4 doors at a time. When I hung them back up (after fiddling with the bloody Eurohinges for what seemed like forever), I filled the little holes with a little bit of paint. As our good friend Homestarrunner once said, “None will be the wiser!”  😀

After all this progress, I’m off to enjoy a celebratory spritzer, southern style. (Try putting Sprite in your vino and tell me it’s not delicious!)  🙂

Is it me or does everything taste better out of a mason jar? Anyone?

Is it me or does everything taste better out of a mason jar? Cheers!

Kitchen Cabinet Redo Part 1: A Lesson in Product Selection and Surface Prep

So if you’re just joining us here at the LEO homestead, all you need to know is that the kitchen cabinets in our new old house are brown, inside and out, and we’re working hard to change that. Because life is easier when you aren’t worried about creepy crawlies camouflaging themselves against the insides of your cabinets. And, well,because I am slightly obsessed with white-painted anything.

If you know me, you know I tend to jump in feet first and figure things out along the way. (Working on improving my contingency planning skills, but for now it’s a lot of “live and learn”!)

So, given that my cabinets had some weird, dark, patchy faux finish, I sought out what seemed to be a super-product: Valspar ULTRA Paint + Primer. Extra coverage sounded like just the ticket for my brown on brown situation. Well friends, let me tell you… I was so very, VERY wrong!


A mere two days after closing on the house, I got all the cabinet doors pulled off and started slapping paint on carefully applying the first coat of paint + primer. We’re talking inside the cabinets, outside the cabinets, on the doors… pretty much everywhere possible. As I sat on the back porch admiring my freshly first-coat-painted cabinet doors, I looked closely and noticed that the finish was drying with a sort of orange peel texture. NO. BUENO.


Looks OK from a distance, right?       Just wait til you look a little closer…

orange rough-y-to-the-touch
Lumpy and bumpy… definitely not what we’re looking for in our shiny new white cabinets!

So, from past painting epic fails experience, I had a pretty good idea what was happening. The paint + primer was, understandably, very thick and dried fairly quickly (especially on the doors, which I was painting outside). That made for a bad combination. (For all you people way smarter than me non-painters out there, as paint dries, its surface smooths out and brush and roller strokes fade away before the final finish sets up. The thicker the paint, the less it’s able to smooth out. Also, the quicker it dries, the less time it has to smooth out.) All told, knew I needed a thinner paint and a longer drying time.

But wait, it gets worse! Not only was the finish funky, but the paint itself was NOT sticking. Not. Even. Close. A little scratch with my finger nail and it came right off, bringing the surrounding areas with it. Pull the dangling paint and you get a never ending stretchy string of latex, along with a heaping helping of frustration and disappointment. Here’s the kicker: at this point, I realized I was painting on top of… wait for it… WAX. Yes, the faux finish included a wax treatment for that nice “old world” look. No wonder nothing was sticking to the mystery surface that I thought was simply paint.


Trying to resist the urge to keep scraping and scratching at this peeling mess!

Alas, I had no choice but to accept  this temporary setback and go back to the drawing board while I look for a solution. These cabinets want so badly to be shiny white… and white they shall be!