Not Your Grandma’s Crackle

I said crackle, not cackle mind you.

Remember when crackle paint was all the rage? EVERYTHING was crackled.
Every piece of furniture, frame, household item… CRACKLE.


It was fun. It was cool. But now, its a little predictable. Now I like a little more variation in my aged-looking items. A little more unique age. As if they are actually old, not manufactured to be so.

Of course, I turn to google for a crackle type solution. Why don’t I go buy a can of crackle stuff? Because I AM LAZY. And cheap, I mean frugal. Yes, frugal. If I can do what I want to do without having to leave my house and by using items I already have around, I’m going to do it.

Remember that “W” I mentioned in the cement post? Well that “W” is going to be my test subject for homemade crackle. In my very serious search, I found instructions here to make crackle medium using Elmer’s Wood Glue. Perfect, I have wood glue and do not need to leave my house.

Here’s the “W”:

I mixed navy blue and black acrylic for a dark dark blue base color. Then added my coating of wood glue topped with bright yellow:
Then I had to let it dry for what seemed like FOREVER. Perhaps I used too much wood glue, though I’m liking the clumpy look of the top coat.

I let it dry, but really wasn’t sure this was actually “crackling” as I imagined it would. But, once it was dry I took a sanding block to it and now I think it’s pretty cool! It’s going to look great on my font wall (you’ll hear about this soon, I promise!).
The directions for the crackle medium can be found here:

Try it!


Seal it in cement

I know this will come as a shock to many, but I happened to be wandering the aisles of Target yesterday and came across this interesting product as I was searching for letters for my font wall (more on that later). Here’s what I found:
I could NOT just leave it there without trying it, so, of course, I bought it! And picked up a cute wooden “R” to go along with it. And a “W”. And some other unrelated items… per usual. Go in for 5 things, come out with a cart full and an empty wallet!

Once I got home, I got to work! I really wasn’t sure what this textured cement finish entailed (there’s no real description of what you might use it for and the directions are pretty basic) but I figured that if I didn’t like it on this “R”, I could just go BACK TO TARGET for another one. I know, pure torture.

I gave the “R” a quick black base coat using acrylic. I didn’t know if the color would show through, but just in case, I knew I wanted it to be dark and not just plain wood.
IMG_8518    IMG_8530
Once it was dry, I gave the container of cement a good shake and grabbed a stipple brush to apply the cement texture. I used the brush to give the texture a little stir as I was prepping to add it to the letter. I wanted to make sure I had a nice balance of grit and liquid as I was applying the texture.

I added more texture in some places and let the paint show through in
IMG_8520others. I really wanted it to look a bit aged but natural.

Once the whole letter was covered, I IMG_8519needed to let it dry for awhile – maybe an hour?

With a heavier coating in some areas of the R, it took longer to dry. But, it was super easy and very unique.



Finished product: IMG_8529

Love it! And, it’s going to look perfect on my font wall.

Supplies you’ll need for this project:
– Handmade Modern Textured Cement Finish
– Wooden Letter of your choosing
– Acrylic paint
– Paint brush
– Course brush for applying texture
– About an hour of time


Barn wood Built-Ins

In designing a space, I firmly believe that you need texture, a combination of textures actually, to achieve a balanced look. In my mind, texture, color, lines and shapes are what makes a space pleasing to view. For example, if you have a room with all smooth texture, cool colors and all straight lines, it can come off as cold or harsh. Add some natural texture into the room and it calms the hard lines immediately.

Wood can really add to the texture of a room. In its natural state, wood is a work of art! The grain, the texture… the life in a piece of wood makes it beautiful. Where am I going with this? Barn wood! Yes, barn wood. It is everywhere. And it is beautiful! Not only is it naturally aged to rough perfection, but it has a history. It has lived a whole different life for years and years. I love barn wood. And I wanted some in our house!

In our family room, we have a huge space for a TV.  It looks like this:
While we decided what we wanted to put there, we had an Ikea cube shelf for the TV. It just wanted right… but, we had just moved in and we did what we had to do! Once we measured the space, we realized that it would fit 3 standard cabinets (36″) across. Perfect. We purchased 3 unfinished cabinets and installed them into the space, but were unsure what we wanted to do for the countertop. We knew we didn’t want something solid like granite or marble, we wanted something with more feel to it. We knew the cabinets would be white since so much of the room is dark and as we started pondering, we thought would might look pretty cool. Then we thought – barn wood! We knew of a great place in the Chicago suburbs that sold reclaimed wood, but when I went there with our measurements, it would have been $200+ just for the countertop. If you know me, you know that I REALLY like a bargain and this was not it. And the hubby said no <– bigger problem. But now I was set on barn wood…. There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting something you can’t have, right? Here’s the wood I wanted:

I started searching for reclaimed wood, barn wood, anything like that online. I happened to be searching for barn wood on CraigsList when I came across a listing from a salvage company that was tearing down a barn and several out buildings on the property – the location was only about 20 minutes from my house! I called my brother in-law (who is always game for this kind of adventure) to step in for my hubby who was down for the count with the flu. We met at the location, signed our lives away on waivers (the buildings were not stable) and started hunting.

We found some really amazing stuff on this property – old tools, chicken feed bins, barn doors… and some beautiful worn shiplap that my brother in-law pried off the wall for me to take home! Yippee!!


To me, this was even better than buying that wood from the reclaimed store because even though I knew all of that reclaimed wood had a story, this wood was part of MY story. I knew where it came from and pulled it off the building myself. Plus, it was a pretty cool adventure!

I brought all the wood home and cleaned it up. My brother in-law had tried to keep as many of the nails in place when we were prying it off the wall so that we would have the nail heads when the wood became the countertop.

Here’s the wood before I starting working on it: IMG_8095

I gave each piece a good cleaning and then a light sand just to get off any sharp or rough edges. Then I treated each piece with Annie Sloan Clear Wax:
I love that the wax started to bring out the grain in the wood. Then, I attacked each piece with Annie Sloan Dark Wax and LOVED IT EVEN MORE!:

I worked the dark wax into the grooves, cracks and dents in the wood and then buffed it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the clear wax, but I was so happy that this was the outcome. I felt that the dark wax brought out the beautiful grain of each piece.

With the wood waxed and ready to go, it was time to install! We picked up some thick plywood from Home Depot to act as the base for the countertop – we did this so the wood was more supportive and so we had more flexibility in placing the planks. We used liquid nails and regular nails to secure the pieces to the plywood:
IMG_8131 IMG_8132
We edged the countertop with wood to hide the plywood base that we used for the countertop and to give the whole thing a more finished look. We even kept the latch that was once used for a door on the wood, we loved that bit of character:
IMG_8136 IMG_8135
Here’s the finished project:
IMG_8140 IMG_8259
We love the added storage, but most of all, we LOVE the story behind it!

{Try it Thursday} Chalk Paint Update

Awhile back I posted about a few projects I wanted to tackle utilizing chalk paint. The projects were a couple of items that I had pulled out of my grandparent’s basement – a desk and 2 nightstands – that were pretty old but not solid wood.  Here’s a quick brain refresher (so you don’t have to do all the work to revisit that post):
IMG_7708 IMG_7705
Tell me the form in these 2 pieces is not stunning! I loved the shape and knew that I could make something happen here.  BUT – they were NOT wood. There’s a little bit of wood in there, but a lot of plastic and melamine. I knew chalk paint would work here and dropped by my local Home Depot for a few supplies. While there, I stumbled on Rust-Oleum’s “Chalked” paint which was a whole heck of a lot cheaper than Annie Sloan. I couldn’t really go wrong with the price. And I liked the color – Linen White – for the desk. Snooping around this same area of the paint section, I stumbled upon Rust-Oleum’s Chalked SPRAY PAINT. Yes!! Do you know how much I LOVE spray paint? You can spray pretty much anything with it, it is a cheap and super quick option for transforming a piece of furniture or pretty much any other item. I picked up the Chalked spray paint in Charcoal. Again – cheap, quick, and limited risk.

For finishing, I did hit up my Annie Sloan stockist for clear and dark wax. I had seen so many people transform their pieces simply with wax that I knew I wanted to give that a shot on the desk and nightstands. (and the Annie Sloan wax works a lot easier than the cheaper wax I’ve tried to use in the past)

The desk:
I pulled off the hardware and spray painted that with Rust-Oleum’s black Hammered Metal spray paint. I’ve used this product for years (ALL the light fixtures in our old house were brass, so to save money we spray painted all of them with hammered metal) and love it. Then I attacked the desk with the Rust Oleum chalk paint and a brush. It took a few hours and 2 coats of paint to get the coverage I wanted. I then roughed some of the edges with steel wool to let the gold accents show through. After all this, I added clear wax for protection and a little bit of shine.
I love how it looks in my daughter’s room, but… it took some time and I get bored easily. Overall, thumbs up to the Rust-Oleum Chalked paint (quart size). And HUGE thumbs up to Annie Sloan for the clear wax!

The Night stands:
Holy moly was this a QUICK transformation! I took both the nightstands out to the garage, removed the hardware and cleaned them off. I picked up Rust-Oleum Hammered Metal spray paint for the hardware in white, though I wanted them to be slightly grayish, but not metallic, so sprayed them all with Hammered Metal black first, then topped them with the Hammered Metal white once the were dry. Hardware – check!

Now for the nightstands themselves. I lined up all the drawers, shook up my spray paint can and went to town. Not only did the Rust-Oleum Chalked spray paint cover in ONE COAT, it was a beautiful brush stroke free cover. I repeat – ONE COAT. I was done spraying both nightstands in less than 30 minutes. It took me longer to clear wax all of the pieces than it did to spray them! LOVE! After the spray was dry, I roughed up the edges to let a bit of the gold through and clear waxed and buffed each piece.
Result:IMG_8375 IMG_8376

The nightstands are, by far, my favorite!

The verdict:
I LOVE Annie Sloan’s wax, but as far as chalk paint is concerned, I am in love with Rust-Oleum’s Chalked spray paint. I like that’s it’s a smooth finish with no brush strokes, results are quick and easy, and it’s cheap compared to a can of Annie Sloan. Now if only they made more colors, I would be chalk painting everything!

SkillShare Journey

A few months back I had written about taking a few classes on SkillShare (  If you’re not familiar, SkillShare is an online learning community where professionals in various industries teach short courses in their “art”.  There are a variety of classes to choose from! Each of the classes is supposed to teach a specific lesson in a short amount of time.  Last year I gave SkillShare a try and I have loved it!

Let me step back just a bit to give a little frame of reference as to where I am in my professional life.  Having been a stay at home mom for the last few years, only having a part time job the last year and a half, I am now staring down the barrel at the last few months of preschool!  We just registered our youngest daughter for (gasp) KINDERGARTEN!  This has really thrown me for a loop – now I really have to think about a number of things.  1) will I go back to work? 2) what will that look like? 3) do I want to continue in marketing?  4) having had all this “freedom”, do I want to be back in an office?

I was recently laid off from my part time Marketing job.  The lay off coupled with the Kindergarten registration, has got me doing a lot of soul searching. I’ve spent some time with Instagram and some of the great people I follow on there and it has been so inspiring!  I came across a great quote:

“If you can’t figure out your purpose,
find your passion.
For your passion will lead you
right into your purpose.”
-T.D. Jakes

I know that my passion is, and always has been, design.  I love to paint, sketch, design my home, look at design, talk about design, read about design… if that’s not a life {de}sign I need to follow, I’m not sure what is.

In a nutshell, I’m back to SkillShare, I’m back to my SkillShare classes, and I’m going to finish every. last. one. of. them.  and document it here.

I want to create my own career, from within the walls of my own little nest, and I am going to (with the help of some SkillShare). 🙂

Canvas building, knife painting

I have yet to visit the Annie Sloan stockist in my area to pick up chalk paint for my furniture projects – with Valentine’s events filling the week last week, I ran out of time!  I’m surprised at how busy I am now that I’m not working my part-time job.  How did I accomplish these things when I was working that job?! Maybe I just didn’t do them?  Nonetheless, even though I have yet to begin my furniture project, I have been creatively busy!

My sister in-law is an amazing artist and I asked her to help me learn to build my own canvas – it can be quite a bit cheaper and you aren’t restricted to sizes available in store.  And, if you have wood and canvas, you don’t need to wait to start a project! She sent me a couple of iPhone videos on her process and it’s not as difficult as I imagined. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so busy… I’ve been building canvas and painting away!

The other thing I’ve been anxious to explore – painting with paint knives as opposed to brushes.  I follow an artist on Instagram – @deannart – who does beautiful paintings utilizing mainly paint knives.  I love the texture the knives provide to the canvas.  Once I built a few canvases, I hopped on Amazon and ordered a basic set of paint knives.  I have to admit, having no previous history of painting with anything but brushes, I was nervous.  But then again, I couldn’t wait to play.  The first canvas I did was abstract and just there for me to get the feel for the knives.  But my second canvas?  This one I am so happy with!


I love nests – they’re so intricate, wound so tightly together, very cozy – these are the things I want to feel in our home.  The cool thing about painting with the knives is the texture I was able to achieve in both the background of the painting and the nest details.  Knives allow you to scrape into the paint for added texture or to remove paint in places you want.  Check out these close-ups to see the details:

Nest Background Nest Detail

For the background, I used a combination of white, gray and brown for a neutral look – pause, throughout our house I play with those colors and I wanted this painting to be right at home.  For the nest, a mixture of black and brown for an earthy feel.  I’m really pleased with the way it turned out!

Stay tuned for more projects like this one!

Picking new projects!

I have a few projects I am planning that I am VERY excited about!  First up? Chalk painted furniture.

Since hearing about Annie Sloan’s chalk paint (which, it seems, everyone is talking about these days) I have wanted to try it, but I never had the right piece to work on.  Well, now I do!

This cute little set was my aunts, my sister had it for a bit, and now they’re mine.  I think they are the prefect shape for refinishing.  I had been eyeing these pieces for years, but their finish made them nearly impossible to refinish – it’s not a finish that can be sanded – but I LOVE the lines of this furniture.  I think they will be perfect for chalk paint!

The desk will be in my daughter’s room.  The nightstand and small dresser (there are 2 of these) will be in our guest room.  (The guest room is project number 2!) For each of these pieces I’m thinking of sticking to neutral colors:Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 10.48.46 AM copy

For the guest room pieces, I’m leaning toward Old White with black knobs and handles, finished off with dark wax.  (I’m working on my post about the guest room – it’s a blank slate and I can’t wait to get some color on the walls!)

The furniture finish should end up looking a little like this:

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.10.26 AM

For the desk that lives in my daughter’s room, I think a clear wax over Old White for a classic look that will blend well with the rest of her room.  I might even let some of the original gold accents come through:

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.13.49 AM copy

Stay tuned for updates as I tackle this project!


WIDN (what I’m doing now)

I’m pretty excited about this project I have been working on this past week!  A friend commissioned me to paint a personalized fingerprint tree for her friend’s birthday.  Not only did I paint this for her (pictures are below) but I’ll also be working the birthday party to gather all the guest’s fingerprints and hand letter each guest’s name near their print.  This is the first time I’ve done anything like this, but I know it will be such fun!

Here’s the step by step:

  1. I sketched out the tree in my sketch book.  I made it as intricate as I wanted because I knew I could edit out as needed.  After sketching, I used my light board to ink my sketch:
  2. Scan the inked drawing – I do hand paint directly on to canvas, but in this case I wanted to play with the layout and send my client a pdf of what the layout would be.  The easiest way to work with layout (for me) is to scan it and pull it up in photoshop. This gives you flexibility to play with how the overall piece will work.  It can seem like an extra step, but it made me feel more comfortable. Once I’ve settled on layout and the client has approved it, I print the whole thing out and piece it together!
  3. Spacing is very important here, so I use graphite paper to transfer some guides onto the canvas so I don’t end up with a completely skewed canvas.  I really don’t want to have to recreate the whole thing!
  4. Start painting!  I started with the wording at the bottom since I knew the tree would be a little more intensive.
  5. And onto the tree!  I started in black acrylic, and layered in various browns for definition:
  6. Finished product!
    FullSizeRender 5

I need to remember to snap a pic after all the guests have added their fingerprints (fingerprints will be in various shades of green).

Can’t wait!

New Print!

Finally getting back to adding color to my hand lettering project.  I’ve been working on this one for awhile, but got a little sidetracked by the painting projects that I’ve also been working on.  I have a couple of commissioned pieces that I am in the process of completing, but in the meantime, I started puttering around with “To the moon and back”.  Here’s the sketch:

ToTheMoonAndBack 1

and here’s the final:


I’m working to set this up on my Etsy shop as an immediate download.  Once it’s up and ready, the link will be available here!


Stay tuned!