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.

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?

Bye Bye, Red!

I’m a fan of a red dining room sometimes.  It can be classy and dramatic and good.  But for some reason, I never felt that way about our red dining room.  It was inherited red, and it doesn’t really go with our stuff that well.  Plus, it was dirty.  The more time I spend up close and personal with the walls, the more I see the dirt.  Yuck.

This is what the room looked like this morning (after moving the furniture away from walls, so it didn’t always look like this):


Now it looks like this:


What?  It’s not done?  Hmm.  Yeah, I still have a lot of work to do. And I’ve heard nasty rumors that sometimes it takes more than 2 (or even 3) coats of light paint to cover red.  Fingers crossed on that one.

Now it’s time to learn how to pour paint out of a 5-gallon bucket without spilling half of it.

What Would You Do: Front Door Color

Okay, here’s the question of the day: what color should I paint our front door?  Right now, it’s a dark red that’s almost maroon, but not quite.  It’s a nice color, but there are large holes in the door where the previous owner had a brass pineapple door knocker.  And the door color just isn’t us (spoken on behalf of my husband, who couldn’t care less about the color of our front door).  Okay, it just isn’t me.

It’s not that it’s a bad color.  But the house is red brick that’s more brown-based than red.  See:


Right now, I feel like the door is just a darker version of the house, and it needs a dose of bright and fresh instead.  It needs something different to feel young and full of life.

I was originally thinking green.  True, there’s lots of green around the house, between the grass and trees and shrubbery.  But green looks great with brick.  See:


image from… really like her blog!

The colors aren’t right next to each other, but take my word for it that the green looks great with the brick.  We also have a dark grey/black roof and black shutters to work with, in addition to white trim and columns.  The white that’s around our door will stay, but I do intend to paint the storm door the same color as the main door.  I think that makes the door look like it has proper proportions.

So I’m (we’re) considering green.  Scott voted for that yesterday, until I proposed orange as another option.  He likes orange because it’s one half of his school colors, and Scott is nothing if not a loyal fan.  I like that.


image from


image from

The list now includes green and orange.  Then as soon as I narrow down the options, I want to branch out again.  I really like the way this looks:


image from

I love the light greenish grey, but I think it’s maybe not bright enough for the “fresh, young” house facelift.  But then there’s dark grey-ish blue:


image from


Really nice, right?  Classic, a tiny bit modern (although that might have more to do with the building and trim than the paint color combo).

I’m still leaning green.  The orange is too close to the brick color for me to be really enthusiastic about it.  It is so darn full of life though.  The other colors might not have enough punch.  But I really love them all.  What would you do?


Not Quite to the After


This is what our bedroom looked like this morning, and it’s what our bedroom still looked like until 3 PM, actually.  Now at 7:30, there’s a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I have to wait a few hours before I get down to the business of the second coat, but I’m still happy.

The room already feels so different.  It feels like ours.  It isn’t covered in someone else’s bright yellow paint with someone else’s wall scuffs and nail holes.  It will soon be covered with our scuffs and nail holes, and I love it.

“After” pictures coming soon.

Merry Mid-January

We’re very nearly into the double digits in January, and I’m working my way into the month with our Christmas tree proudly standing in the front window. I kind of like it. It is the prettiest Christmas tree of my adult life, and it’s definitely cheery. Why not leave it up for cool winter nights?

Peanut is hoping the tree will fall soon so that he can see out the window again, but I’m happy with things for now. I’ve got other things to do.

Before mid-January arrived, Scott, Peanut and I got to take quick trips to Blacksburg and North Carolina. This was our greeting at the family farm:


When we got home, I needed to apply for a new passport ASAP (more on that fun reason soon). I was afraid that when I submitted my old passport for renewal, they might just keep it a la the DMV and old licenses. Fortunately, that’s not how it works. I took a few pictures of my old passport before dropping it off, just in case. I really really didn’t want to lose those stamps.


While I ran back and forth between the post office and home to get paperwork sorted out, I got a few packs of seeds for our winter vegetable garden. As I was paying for the seeds, the store owner put them into a small paper bag that was decorated with a marker-drawn flower. I loved it right away, and I loved it even more when he shrugged and said, “My granddaughter was here earlier.” A granddaughter-decorated paper bag is the perfect way to start a winter garden, in my opinion.


What else am I doing? I’m editing things, painting things, and painting other types of things (the first being watercolors, the second being doors and trim and such around the house).

I’m hoping that my paintings become more than rough drafts of ideas soon. I feel good about that.