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:

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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.

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

Then there was taping.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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

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Sometimes I use it like an actual chalkboard.

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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).

 

 

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Fifteen Days of Remodeling Turns Into Thirty Plus

I did my fair share of blog reading before we started our kitchen cabinet project.  I wanted to see what paints and techniques had worked for other people, and I needed some photo inspiration to get the courage for our own project.

It worked.  I heard about other people’s problems and pitfalls and how they solved them.  And I finally got ready to take things apart.

My favorite step by step instructions are from Young House Love.  They’re pretty good at the whole kitchen remodel thing, and they’ve done it more than once with great results.  

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photo from Young House Love

 

See?  Pretty.  But if you look at the timeline for one of their kitchen redo projects, it says they took things apart, painted, and put things back in place in 15 days.  What?!  On top of having jobs and a baby.  At this point, I think we’re going on 36 days (sans baby).  Granted, we haven’t been entirely time-efficient with our project.  There have been days that included too many other things to add painting and sanding and such on top of normal life.  But still.  Doing the entire project in 15 days (including a few days for the paint to cure before remounting the cabinet doors) seems like super hero project time to me.

It turns out that some people work on projects at warp speed, and Scott and Peanut and I do not work at warp speed.  The good news is that I think we only have one more coat of paint for the cabinet door fronts.  The number went up because of some late in the game sanding and color bleeding that’s happened.  So maybe only 3 more days?  We’ll see.  I hear that remodeling projects usually take longer than expected with contractors, too, so at least we’re working within normal parameters.  

Doors and Chairs and Things–Being a Renaissance Painter

Today was a big day in the world of house projects.  I finished painting our front door and the two freebie dining room chairs that we scavenged from a neighbor’s trash a few weeks/months ago.  I also did not one or two, but four loads of laundry.  Woohoo!

I happen to think that the chairs look a lot better, although stained wood versus painted wood is something that people tend to disagree about.  Here was the before:

This is the after:

Our dining room already has stained wood in the form of floors, table, and side table, so the painted chairs seem like a good fit.  Personally, I think the blue also gives the chairs a bit of special flair.  They’re a relatively standard chair design, and they needed a bit of flair.

As for the front door, I’ll admit that I kind of liked it in chipped, lots of layers form.  There was some kind of green under the original red, and some spots allowed the green and the natural wood color to show through.  It was pretty.  See:

But as of today, the chips and raw edges are all covered with a nice, fresh coat of red paint–same color, new day.

And last but not least, I got to add a few new items to my Etsy shop.  There are otter notecards (that’s right) and a watercolor of a row-boat in Italy.  I like them.

So that was today.  Now all I have to do is clean the entire house before Scott’s mom gets into town tomorrow afternoon.  She’s never said a single word about our house needing a good vacuuming or anything like that.  She’s a great mother-in-law.  But I know my parents’ house is a good three or four degrees cleaner than ours is at any given moment.  I don’t want Scott’s mom to be concerned that her son is going to die by violent roach attack or dust bunny smothering or something.

There we are.  The thrilling life of Housewife Hannah in 339-ish words.