Spring Home Improvement and Decor Projects

This is part two of my recently completed home improvement and decor projects overview. I decided to compile my more recent spring projects here. Several were actually completed during quarantine. At the beginning of the stay-at-home order I was quite productive (I just which I could be consistently productive). This will get the blog up to date on our recent projects. I am excited to share them with you. Let me know what you think!

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1. Fireplace refacing

Before and after the fireplace refacing
Before and after the fireplace refacing

We can’t take too much of the credit for this transformation, but we did do some of the prep work. Our 100-year-old home has three great fireplaces, but unfortunately the one in the living room was an unappealing shade of pinkish-purple. We didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars replacing the marble when it would just be an aesthetic change, so our designer recommended that we have a professional muralist repaint the fireplace.

The artist we worked with had actually worked for a light fixture company doing marble fabrication painting for a few years and had painted several other fireplaces for our designer. Prior to her arrival, we had to sand down the existing marble with a high grit sandpaper to ensure the paint would adhere. Then, at the recommendation of the Sherwin Williams representative, used an extreme bond primer. I did two coats of primer because the original marble was such a dark color. We then used the recommended industrial paint for high heat surfaces as a base because it is a working fireplace.

Once all of that was completed, the artist was able to add the marble effect. After she was finished, we covered the newly painted surround with a water-based poly (again, at the recommendation of the paint store representative). We are pleased with the final result which we think fits in with the overall aesthetic of the room (and decade) much better.

2. Custom window treatments

Before and after photo of the morning room windows
Before and after photo of the morning room windows

I had been meaning for months to make Roman Shades for both the morning room and the upstairs landing. These windows are located in the back of the house and get a lot of hot afternoon sun as the house is east-facing. In the summer, this results in both of these areas being significantly warmer than the rest of the house and generally unpleasant. Because the house is very old, none of the windows are standard sizes. It isn’t possible to find prefabricated window treatments that are the correct size, so I decided to make them myself.

Before and after photo of the landing windows
Before and after photo of the landing windows

With the help of my designer, I picked out some fabrics. In the morning room, we chose Duralee pattern 15638 in color 206-navy and on the landing we used the Fabricut Capri fabric in color 102. I purchased black-out lining from Joann Fabrics and the grosgrain ribbon trim from amazon. After doing some research online, I decided to follow the online tutorial by Sailrite. They also offer an online fabric calculator which was very helpful. I purchased most of my supplies from them other (the video tutorial clearly lists all required items) but I actually purchased wooden and metal dowel rods from Home depot for significantly less than the cost of the plastic and metal rods offered by Sailrite. The Heat’n Bond that I used to secure the ribbon was purchased from Amazon.

I have to say, as a casual sewer, this project was tricky- primarily because of the size. It was difficult to cut the fabric and ensure everything was square. It was also quite an expensive project- but still less than half of what it would have cost to have them custom made by a professional. Overall, I am very happy with the results. With the blackout lining, they keep out a lot of the sunlight and I am hopeful they will help reduce our energy consumption this summer.

3. Vintage piano bench restoration

Vintage piano bench before and after
Vintage piano bench before and after

We have been looking for a small bench for our guestroom for quite a while. Just before quarantine began, we found a well-worn vintage piano bench at a local antique store that we thought would fit perfectly. The bench had been painted black at some point and the paint was badly scratched, so we decided to strip it down to its original color.

This was my first time stripping a piece of furniture. After doing some research, we decided to use Citristrip to remove the paint. It is easy to use and didn’t create terrible fumes. After applying the product and letting it sit for about an hour, I used a putty knife to scrape away the finish. It was a bit messy but very effective. Once the paint was removed, I decided that I liked the original color of the piece despite some uneven tones left behind by inconsistencies in the paint saturation. I did my best to iron out the worst dents (like I describe in my vanity restoration post) and covered the piece in a wax finish to help protect it. I am really happy with the finished piece and look forward to guests using it (when it is finally safe to travel and have visitors).

4. Craft room pegboard

The finished pegboard in the craft room
The finished pegboard in the craft room

When we refinished the basement last fall, we were able to use part of the unfinished portion to create a craft room. I love it and use it regularly. I wanted to have some storage near my workspace from which I could easily access my tools, so Brian and I decided to install a pegboard. In an effort to reduce waste, we re-used some pegboard that we had taken out of the garage (you can purchase pegboard at your local hardware store). It wasn’t in the best shape and wasn’t framed so it needed a bit of work.

Some of the steps in constructing the pegboard
Some of the steps in constructing the pegboard

First, Brian cut the pegboard to the desired size. Next, we cut furring strips (1” x 2” boards) to create a ‘frame’ for the back of the pegboard. This is important because the board must be about an inch off of the wall in order for the hooks to be inserted. You can find numerous tutorials on how to do this online. Once the furring strips were added to the back of the pegboard, we added a veneer edging to make the side of the board look more finished. Brian then cut some molding to make a decorative frame on the front of the pegboard to make it look more polished. I painted everything white using leftover furniture paint from my morning room table project and then we installed it and added the frame.

I haven’t yet worked out how to best organize my tools, but you can find lots of pegboard accessory kits online. For now, I have more storage than I need- but I’m sure that my collection of crafting supplies will continue to grow over time.

Although I am already back to work a few days a week, we hope to continue working on more home improvement and decor projects for the house now that the warmer temperatures allow us to complete projects that require paint and stain. What projects are you planning for your home this summer?

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