Chalkboard Countertops

We recently had our master bathroom professionally remodeled, which was amazing.  Really amazing.  When someone says the demo in your bathroom was the worst they’ve seen in 15+ years of construction, you say, “Thanks for being here!” and count your lucky stars you weren’t doing the demo yourself.  Someday soon, when I master the use of a camera in tight spaces, I’ll share the pretty new bathroom with you.

The side-effect of that remodel is that I needed to repaint our main guest bathroom (lost a closet to make the master shower bigger, gained some new wallboard to replace the old closet door).  In the end, the need to repaint lit a fire under me.  I really wanted to do a few small, inexpensive things to finish the main guest bathroom.

If we live here for 20 more years, there’s a chance we’ll replace the green sink, toilet, and shower/bathtub.  But for the intervening years, we’ll be sticking with the existing fixtures (and matching tile around the sink area).  Lucky for me, I feel like I can work with avocado green.  It’s kind of nice once you take away the rust brown/purple/orange/green paisley that used to be all over the bathroom.

So a quick, almost free facelift for the bathroom was my goal.  In the end, I spent $27 and very little time.  Success!  I did a few small things you probably don’t care about (painted a few things, switched out the brass towel bar for four small silver hooks).  But the big switcheroo was the countertop.

The countertop used to look like this:


Honestly, I didn’t hate it.  I just thought that we could do better (for free).  I was looking for something that would look a little bit less 70’s next to the green tile/sink.  My dream project was thin layers of concrete on top of the linoleum.  It looks like a really cool project, and I’d like to try it sometime.  But I couldn’t do that without uninstalling and reinstalling the trim and sink.  I was pretty sure that would cause significant damage to something (since I’m not a pro by any means).  Which would cost money.  So that was out.

Enter the leftover primer from our other bathroom.  And some painter’s tape.  And sandpaper.  And last but not least, some spare chalkboard paint.  Maybe it’s bad that we had all of those things around the house.  I think it’s great though.  We can do projects any old time.  No money was actually spent on this project.

First the sanding happened.


It was such a small space that it only took 20-ish minutes.

Then there was taping.


It looks less “sanded” there because I washed it off.  It’s just slightly less shiny than the original surface.

The taping around the sink wasn’t perfect, because I’m not really a meticulous prepper.  Oops.  I had a plan for the aftermath of that.

So sanded, check.  Taped, check.  Then came priming.


And finally, the fun part–actual painting with chalkboard paint.  I picked a nice, normal paintbrush instead of a roller.  Mostly, I picked the paintbrush because I was cheap.  I knew I would have to paint the layers over a few days, I’m terrible at washing out rollers, and I didn’t want to pay for more than one roller for such a small project.  Paintbrush to the rescue.

It was so quick to paint each layer despite not using the fastest tool.  Maybe 15 minutes per coat.  I tried to stick to brushstrokes in one direction at a time (all horizontal one time, all vertical the next), and it ended up creating this nice linen-ish texture in the end.  On top of the already quite thick texture of the countertops.  Plenty of texture on this counter, believe me.

What I didn’t factor in was the final untaping.  It ripped up some of the paint, and I had to do touch-ups with the world’s tiniest paintbrush.  You can see that fun part here:


After the painting (three layers) and the touch-up, there was A) a happy sigh, and B) a chance to admire the smooth black finish of the counter.  There was also a chance to use a razor blade to scrape paint off of the metal trim where the taping wasn’t perfect.  It worked pretty well.  Around the edges, the trim was curved and such, so I used sandpaper to get rid of the paint.  The sandpaper/razor combo did the trick really well.  It turns out there are nice things about metal trim around your sink and tile.  You can scrape and sand and still have good trim in the end.


Yay!  Better.

Which just left treating it like a chalkboard–rubbing a layer of chalk all over the countertop, washing it off, and going on with my merry life.


Sometimes I leave it blank, and it looks at least 5% like soapstone.


Sometimes I use it like an actual chalkboard.


It might be unusual, and it might not be the exact color scheme I would pick on my own.  But I like it.  And it was free.  And I think I could happily live with it for 20 years.  Maybe 25 years.  What more could you ask?

P.S.  I’ve read on other blogs that people have done this same thing in bathrooms and on kitchen countertops.  It is reported to hold up well, so I wasn’t too worried about trying it out.  This particular countertop doesn’t see a lot of hard use, so how bad could it be?  So far so good (a few weeks in).



Back Room Blues (Good Blues)

A little while back (and for a while, really), I was debating room color choices for our second to last major space in need of paint.  Whew.  There has been a lot of painting in our house in the last year and a half.

Where did we start?

peachWe started with stained peach walls.  Very glamorous.  To be fair, I actually liked this peach color with our light yellow-ish curtains.  It was kind of a sweet combination.  Just the same, the stains and tons and tons of nail holes meant that paint was needed at some juncture.

peach and redThese are the curtains that used to be in the room.  Whew!  There’s nothing quite like peach walls with bright red curtains.  But we quickly changed the scenery with some new paint–Benjamin Moore’s Dark Pewter, to be exact (although I bought the paint at Lowe’s, who had the formula in their computer):

image from

image from

And I have to say, I love it.  Sometimes it looks like a clean navy blue, sometimes it looks very grey, and every once in a while it looks kind of teal.  It’s a keeper.

blueSure, there’s still a pile of stuff in the middle of the room that I need to deal with.  Since this room is currently in need of a purpose, I’m okay with the pile.  It holds blinds we’ve taken down from other rooms and journals that spare no embarrassing detail about my emotional life from ages 6 to 26 (when I got too lazy to share my deepest feelings with a piece of paper).  Should you keep a 1/4-full journal?  Or a dozen 1/4-full journals?  I’m not sure.

Anyway, the walls are lovely, and there isn’t a single stray nail hole in sight.

fabric and wallsEven though the paint doesn’t really look this bright in real life, it still looks nice next to the curtains that will someday be up on the windows.

Why no curtains now?  I tried to hang them, I really did.

I decided to use some extra curtain rods from our last house to avoid buying new curtain rods.  So far so good.  I even decided to hang them up despite the fact that the hardware for those curtain rods doesn’t quite match (one set of each, not different ends on the same curtain rod).

finialsI thought that since the walls are such a dark color, the black hardware would just melt right into the background of the room, and nobody would notice anyway.

Then I realized that we only had one set of finials.  Oops.  Looks like sometime in the last few moves, a set of finials landed on the roadside.  Or something.


And there the project halted.  I’ll get some spare finials someday, and the empty room will be 1% less empty.  In the meantime, I just open the door and enjoy the color while completely ignoring the pile of stuff in the center of the room.

P.S.  For anyone who was hoping grey walls would appear in this room, I’m defnitely planning a grey downstairs living area.  In about six months, when I can wrap my brain around painting a room that large that we don’t use terribly often.

Red Tile Love

I tend to gravitate towards calm colors when decorating (or dressing)–blues, greens, browns, neutrals.  But lately, I’ve been trying to add some red and yellow and orange back into the mix.  Those colors can be so warm and inviting!

I am still hopelessly devoted to blues and greens and browns, but I think that adding little bits of different colors can really liven up a space.

Yes, I did repaint our red dining room to an off-white color.  I’m still happy with that choice, and it doesn’t mean I’m anti-red.  I am anti-stained, gross paint that doesn’t go with the other things that will be living out in the open in the same room.

Anyway, pictures like this make it really easy to imagine more red in our house:

photo from

photo from

Good tile choice, people!  Long-distance high five.

Cabinet Details

If the entire premise of this blog is “Small But Valuable,” I think there’s an important milestone to note.  Namely, Scott put pulls onto our cabinets, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Our main cabinets (along the wall, were there forever and repainted)  have had hardware for a while, which is helpful with little tasks like opening drawers.  Our island, however, has been hardware-less since installation.

At first, I was so thrilled to have drawers that I didn’t care how carefully they needed to be opened.  The charm wore off sometime last week, however, and Scott kindly remedied the problem.  Pull-less before (just started drilling holes):

photo-1Pull-ful after:


Sometimes the small wins are pretty heartening.

Wall Color: Random Room Edition

We’ve painted almost every room in our house.  Almost.  At this exact moment, the number of rooms we have painted is 7, and the remaining number is 4.  One of the unpainted rooms shouldn’t really count, however, because the total paintable space is minimal–maybe ten square feet.

Anyway, we’re ignoring the largest of the remaining unpainted rooms.  It has a bit of a box problem right now, and that should take priority over wall color any day.

In the meantime, there are 2 remaining bedrooms to paint.  Woohoo!

Thank goodness, one is going to be the same color as the living/dining/kitchen areas, because there’s leftover paint in that bucket, and it’s free.  Off-white for all!  Leaving that one poor empty bedroom with old, dirty paint on the walls.

Oh, and these curtains are staying in the room:

buffalo check picture from

buffalo check picture from

Here are the ideas I’m considering:

1.  Navy blue-ish

teal or really dark navy picture from

teal or really dark navy picture from

2.  Really pale green

photo from

photo from

3.  Warm grey (top left paint lid)

grey photo from

grey photo from

What say you?

Party Time!

Yesterday was one of the most productive days at home I’ve had in… I don’t know, probably in years.  It was great, and it ended with me falling asleep on the couch next to Peanut.  Christmas tree lit, Miracle on 34th Street on in the background.  It was good stuff.

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photo from

I never believed in Santa, but that is one great Santa.

And now?  Well, now our house is more put together than it has been for months (think: no holes in the floor, no bare stairs, the tools in the living room have decreased from about two dozen to half a dozen), and all of the remaining party prep for Sunday is the most fun stuff–making deviled eggs and such.  Yay for picking foods we can make a few hours before people get to the house.  Yay for the fun part!