diy · home · landscaping

Quick Fix: Fast Garden Refresh

Wednesdays are hard.  They’re right in between the beginning and the end of the week.

I was feeling the Wednesday blues when I got in my car at the end of the workday.  I pictured myself driving home for quiet R&R over Pinterest while indulging in some treat I didn’t need.

Instead, two things happened:

I stopped at the store on my way home and bought some inexpensive topsoil.  I wanted to pour my feelings about Wednesdays into refreshing the garden instead of my screen.

To be fair, there wasn’t a lot wrong with the garden.  It just had a few weeds and some dry soil that wasn’t helping the plants or the eyes.


When I got home and began to weed the garden, I noticed my neighbour out with a cup of tea.

She invited me into her garden to see her flowers, and we chatted about everything for nearly an hour.  It was one of the nicest conversations I’d had in a while.  In fact, most of my negative feelings about Wednesdays drifted away.

I didn’t need Pinterest after all.

I went back to weeding my garden and felt calm.  The motion of turning the edger to till the soil felt therapeutic.

As an owner of a non-green thumb, I thought, “Aha!  This must be why people garden.”

Here’s how it looked after tilling.

Next, I put new soil on top.


Now, it feels like a cleaner slate.


How do you deal with the Wednesday blues?

backyard · diy · home

The Reveal

I’m so happy that the weather let up this afternoon, just in time for me to finish the last two chairs of the patio set.  I’m ready to share the full patio set reveal!

I’m in the process of updating the backyard, which you can read all about here.

Remember this?  Here’s part I and part II to my DIY adventure.

Three different sets of chairs and a rusty patio table.

Here’s how it looks now:



I love the way the outdoor cushions brighten up the neutral grey.



Some final notes that I need to share:

  • The cost of the paint and primer was around $60.00 CAD.
  • I needed one can of primer and one can of paint for every two chairs.  The table took nearly one of each.
  • Satin is much easier to apply than gloss.  If you do make mistakes, they won’t show as obviously.
  • I chose to do a neutral so I could accent the chairs and tables with brighter colours.
  • Most patio sets sold in stores have coordinating chairs and tables.  I chose to do the same colour on both tables and chairs to bring some sameness to the otherwise mismatched set.  You could also do coordinating colours or shades for a different effect.
  • Some of the chairs needed more paint and primer than others.  It might have been due to wear.
  • It took me a weekend plus a few hours to finish, though I could have been done sooner if I hadn’t changed my mind on the colour.
  • I still have two chairs left.  I’m planning on using them for another project instead.

Here are the products used:

  • I used Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2x Ultra Cover in Satin Granite.
  • The outdoor cushions are the Bernadette Trellis Square Outdoor Throw Pillow by Hampton Bay.
  • The plates are by Denby from their Denby Everyday collection.
  • The water hyacinth placemats are SOARÉ from IKEA.

I’m so excited to be able to enjoy dining outside in style!  What do you think?

Please note:  This is not an affiliated post.  

fixer upper · home · renovations

What No One Tells You About Getting A New Roof

Today, we got our roof redone.

It was a big step for us. We’d never tackled anything that large in home ownership before.

Some of the shingles had recently flown into the pool after a windstorm.  That’s when we knew it was time for it to go.

The right side of the roof where the shingles blew off.
The left side of the roof that’s near completion!

I am overwhelmingly happy with it.  I like the way it emphasizes the grey in the bricks.  I like the variation in grey.  I love the fact that we (nearly) have all the shingles back on our house.


Now the blue fascia and eaves stick out.  I wish I could wave a finger and Photoshop it away.  But I’m sure…

  • If I update the colour of the fascia and eaves, then I might as well update the colour of the siding.
  • Once the siding, eaves, and fascia are a new colour, the door could probably use some love.
  • While I’m at it, I could go for some new outdoor lights.
  • Once the door colour and lights are updated, then the white posts will have to be refreshed.

I seem to have forgotten a simple rule:  Once you update one thing, you’ll want to update everything.  


backyard · diy · home

A Beginner’s Guide to Spray Painting – Part II

In case you’ve missed it, here’s part one of my adventure.  This is part of a series about updating my backyard.

I was just as excited to paint today as I was yesterday.  Since there were also more tornado warnings in my area, I knew I had to get things done before they turned into my other forgotten projects.

I learned today how to paint with less paint, how to avoid drips, and how to remove drips without sanding.

The Table

I started with the glass table top.  Here’s what it looked like before the transformation:

This is what the patio set looked like before the transformation.
Lesson #1: Tape and cover before painting.

I was convinced that a wet washcloth and some elbow grease would take off the overspray that landed on the glass.  I thought, “Besides, it’s glass.  Paint isn’t supposed to adhere to glass very well.”

That last part is true.  It came off without a lot of effort, but it’s effort I could have saved by taping.

The table top was heavy and bulky to move around.  It didn’t help that midway through painting, several drops of rain fell and nearly ruined the edges.  I let them dry before going for another coat.

The table has been completed!

The Chairs

Lesson #2:  Always prime first.

On chair number two, I used no primer.  I ran out yesterday and forgot to get more on my last trip.  I went ahead and painted anyway, but…

The chair needed six coats to look like the other chair.  Even after five coats, I found myself touching up several spots that didn’t look covered.  It was a lot of paint to go through.

On chairs three and four, I used grey primer.

The chair on the left has two coats of primer and one coat of paint.  The chair on the right is ready to be painted.

I got two bonuses for using paint and primer together.  For one, the chairs would probably last longer outside.  For another, if I missed a spot, the grey undercoat would make it look less obvious.

Lesson #3:  Use thin coats.

I’m an impatient person.  I don’t like waiting around for things to happen.  It took some persuasion to not make super thick coats the first time around.

Here’s what a thin coat looks like.  The incompleteness hurts a little.

I soon learned some benefits from thin coats, like…

Avoiding Drips

Lesson #4: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right…

By the end of the second chair, I’d gotten into a rhythm for applying paint.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Press down on the trigger.
  2. Sweep from up to down or left to right while saying ONETWOTHREE quickly.
  3. At three, release the trigger.
  4. Repeat in another area, away from the previous line you made.

I wasn’t so concerned about the direction I was going in, so long as it was one way to the other.  If I went one direction and back again on one sweep, I usually ended up with drips.

For example, if I was doing the chair legs, I would start at the top and press the trigger.  I would say, ONETWOTHREE and release the trigger as I got to the bottom.  I repeated this process to the left or right of the line I’d made.

I took me a little while to find a good balance.  If I moved too quickly, the paint would miss the surface.

If I moved too slowly, the paint would gather and drip.  Speaking of which…

Lesson #5:  Don’t Go Over Drips With More Paint

Guilty, guilty, guilty.

Here’s what happened a few times:  I would see a drip and attack it with more paint.  “Maybe if I apply more paint, the drip will magically be absorbed,” I thought.

I had better luck turning a blind eye and moving on to another spot.  I found out that some minor drips didn’t puddle if they were left alone.

Lesson #6:  How To Remove Drips Without Sanding

Supposedly, the only way to remove spray paint drips is to sand it down.

If you’re good with sandpaper and blending, go for it!  It’s a surefire way to get rid of drips for the patient-minded.

I used two other ways to get rid of them:

  1. Use a Magic Eraser on Dry Paint – This one gave me some success.  I let the paint dry and rubbed hard with a magic eraser.  It took off some of the paint in the area, however, I was ready to paint back over it anyway.
    Here’s what it looked like before I used the magic eraser
    Here’s how it looked after pouring my heart and soul into it.

    The drip on the third bar from the right was much less visible after two thin coats of paint.
  2. Gently wipe the paint while it’s wet. – This one might be controversial.  I had more success with it than with the magic eraser technique.It also worked best for me when combined with lesson #4 – Up, Up, Down, Down… and lesson #5 – Don’t go over drips with more paint.

As much as I want to finish the last chair, I can see a storm looming outside.  I’ll have to leave it for now.


Full reveal to come!

Please note:  Rust-oleum is not an affiliate of this blog.

backyard · diy · home

A Beginner’s Guide to Spray Painting – Part I

This is the first in my series on spray painting patio furniture.  Here’s part two.

After I fixed the washstand last night (see here), I woke up this morning and was ready to start painting the patio set.


It was super hot and muggy by 10 am.  Some of the regions around us got tornado warnings by the early afternoon.

To be honest, most of the spray painting projects I’ve attempted have failed.

I once tried to spray paint a black curtain rod gold.  It turned into a ridiculously drippy mess that I hid in some closet downstairs, too ashamed to get rid of it.

Spray painting an entire patio set seemed like an ambitious goal for a failed spray painter.  I went ahead anyway.

Here’s how I prepped:

  1. Once I’d figured out how to remove the glass from the top, I sanded the rust off the table base.  I was surprised to see so much of it.
  2. I hosed everything down on the lower deck.  Everything dried in record time, which was a bonus to my need to do it now mentality.
  3. Being a big fan of primer (see here too), I started off with a base coat of primer.The paint, like the chairs, dried really quickly.

    The first chair after one quick coat of primer.
  4. Next, I applied one coat of the dark bronze paint let it dry.  Then, I tried another coat, and another coat while letting the chair dry in between. I went through both cans on half of a table (not pictured) and one chair.It wasn’t what I had in mind.It reminded me of some silvery-beige plastic lawn chairs we owned in the 90s.

    When I asked the Mr. what he thought of the colour.  He shrugged.  Womp womp.

At this point, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with this project.  I thought…

  1. When does one decide that it’s time to stop spending money on a DIY project?
  2. Would matte or satin make a difference?  Maybe it was just the sheen.
  3. I could get $60 for the set on a classifieds site.  I could sell it and… then I would only be saving $60 off of another set.
  4. I used three cans to cover one chair and most of the table base.  I have five more pieces to go.  If I do the math, that’s… enough to make me want to buy a new set.  

One last thought made me forget about cost and labour for a moment. That is, I have a tendency to start projects and not finish them.

Sidenote:  I once taped around the baseboards in the dining room and left it for a month because I blew through my home improvement budget and decided it was something I could live with.

At the store, I got some new cans of paint.  I chose to use Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch in granite with a satin finish.

The old bronze coat gave me an advantage in that it was similar to the new colour.


It was exactly what I had in mind.  It complemented the siding and new door mat perfectly.  I was able to do a full chair and the table base with one can.

Full patio set to be revealed soon.

Part two can be found here!

Note:  Rust-Oleum is not an affiliate of this blog.  

decor · diy · furniture

DIY: Refinishing Stained Wood


My antique washstand is one of my favourite pieces of furniture.

Despite my love, I haven’t been kind to it.

At one point, I decided that the washstand was a great spot to display my black cast iron teapot.  After the contents of said teapot spilled onto the wood one day (and I neglected to clean it up in time), I moved the teapot to a safer spot.

I pretended the stains didn’t exist.


Most of us, myself included, have more important things to do.  A little bit of junk mail and some nice ceramic plates covered the spill with ease for several years.


After I admired bynoelle‘s refresh of her antique glass cabinet (she made it look so easy!), I decided it was time for me to fix the stains on my cabinet.  I decided that sanding was my best bet.

But after it was sanded, how was I going to get the antique patina back?

I researched my options for finishing products before going to the store.

Finishing Products

Full polyurethane:  I’ve worked with this before.  It’s listed as being top notch for protecting surfaces like floors and cabinets, and it’s the most durable one in my list.  My washstand isn’t a high use item, so I didn’t think it needed the full gambit.  I also learned that polyurethane can yellow over time.

Polyurethane and Mineral Spirits (1:1):  I didn’t go for this one because I couldn’t find the mineral spirits in the store.  I’m intrigued to try this on my oak cabinets at some point.  This one is the second most durable in the list.

Danish Oil:  I really wanted to try this one because, like linseed oil, it’s a “dip and wipe excess away” type of finisher.  This one came in many different colours.  I ultimately left it because I felt more comfortable with linseed oil.  I think it’s the second-least durable on this list.

Linseed Oil:  This is the one I chose.  I once used this in woodworking class and admired the way it brought the grain out.  It’s ridiculously easy to apply and most coats can be done 12-24 hours apart (once the previous coat has dried).  You have to be careful with the rags, they say, because they may be dangerous if not properly disposed of.  It’s best used indoors because it might attract mildew.  This one is probably the least durable of the finishes I’ve listed.

With this in mind, here was my list:
  1. A bottle of finishing product (see above)
  2. Sandpaper in 80, 100, 150, and 220 grit
  3. A few tack cloths for removing dust
  4. A sanding block and/or a small electric sander
  5. A pack of wood stain application towels.

The Iron Trick:

Before I began, I tried a trick I’d heard about from my sister.


She told me that some liquid stains can be removed using an iron on high heat.  I tried leaving the iron in its spot, moving it around, and pressing hard.

The iron trick didn’t work for me, but perhaps it will work for you.

Here’s how I refinished the surface:

  1. I wrapped the 80 grit sandpaper around a sanding block and moved in a circular motion around the surface.
  2. I removed the sanding block and went over some of the more difficult areas with a small piece of sandpaper.
  3. I re-sanded the entire surface when I was done.


  4. I moved onto the 100, 150, and 220 grit sandpaper.  I wiped it down with a tack cloth in between each grit change.  The picture above shows it after using 220 grit sandpaper.
  5. I poured a small amount onto the staining cloth.  Then, I went in a circular motion from one end to another.  I did small, 2″ circles as I moved along.  If I had too much on the surface, I wiped it off.




One coat is all I can do tonight.  The instructions say to wait twelve hours between coats if a second one is needed.

backyard · diy · home

The Deck and I Decked It Out

When I was little (or so I like to think), I used to wonder why anyone would wash their driveway.  What was the point?  It was going to get dirty again anyway.  I told myself I’d never be one of those people.

So when I decided to wash the upper level of the deck boards, I felt a pang of shame.  Here I was, about to do the thing I thought people were weird for doing.  Who was the weirdo now?


I learned that the green was mostly algae and mildew.  It makes sense since the deck gets mostly shade during the day.

But before I began, I had to do one important thing.  I had to say goodbye to the bathmat.


I stopped feeling silly for washing my deck when I saw the brown sludge on the scrub brush.  I felt as if I was getting somewhere!  I told myself that the deck was going to look brand new with just a little more effort.

I went inside and waited for the deck to dry.  When I came back out, the feeling of accomplishment faded.  The deck was nowhere near new.  It wasn’t even that much better than before.  I could see that only some of the green was gone.

I poured all my frustration into scrubbing the siding.

Here’s how the final result looked:


Well, backyard.  I think we are tied for now.

Update:  When I came back out the next day, the deck was noticeably better.  Perhaps it needed some time to settle.