Garage Conversion Part One; Not Just For Cars Anymore!

I have been refinishing furniture and doing home decor projects for over ten years. The last four of which I have been sharing with all of you on my blog “”. During this time, I have worked on my furniture in my office, in the dining room and if weather permitted, somewhere outside of my house. My office is not very big so it could only accommodate small projects. If I worked in the dining room, everything had to be put away each day to use it as a dining room. Repeating this each day until the project was finished. It was annoying, but it’s just how I got it done.

My husband and I have bounced around the idea of a separate workspace over the years. We talked about renting space but found the logistics didn’t work out with having a full-time job. The garage was another idea, but it was too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. Which is also not conducive for my paint supplies. So, we shelved the idea.

Well, the idea is has come off the shelf and has been put into action. We have just recently started a conversion project for the garage so it can be used to work out there year-round. The decision was not an easy one especially since we recently added an addition to our home for my mother-in-law. There are many factors contributing to the decision though. I have increased my work intake, I would actually like to have an office to do officey things, and we are both tired of my projects being in the dining room.

Here we go!

The first thing we had to do was rent a POD to store everything that was in the garage. I thought it was too big, but it was barely big enough for what we needed. We will definitely be reorganizing and purging before everything goes back in the garage.

I forgot to get a picture of the empty space, so I took a quick picture before the framers got started.

We were a little surprised when the electrician gave us two options; break through the drywall ceiling in the basement to run electricity through the house or dig around the front of the house to bury them in the ground. This is what it looked like after the trenches were dug. This option was much better than opening ceiling in our house.

We are electrified!

Then the inspector came and required insulation to be buried outside of the exterior walls to help keep the heating/cooling from leaking out the concrete slab floor. This meant cutting the driveway across the front of the garage and digging up our plants on the outside wall. This time the plants had to be removed. I left my Hydrangea bush but tucked it into a box for protection.

Insulation is done on walls and ceiling. After it is all inspected and approved, then comes the drywall!

Look for Part Two coming soon! I hope..

Sometimes Trying To Prove A Point Leads You Down a Rabbit Hole!

You may be wondering where I am going with the title of this post. Let me explain. My husband and I do things differently when it comes to preciseness. He measures. I guestimate or eyeball. As a person who measures, my husband feels that his way is correct and I can see his point, but my argument is that we both end up with a good result in the end, so my way isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just different. We both continue to use our own methods and maybe it’s because we think our way is better or we are just being stubborn. Either way, this attitude can lead you down a rabbit hole (definition: to enter into a situation or begin a process or journey that is particularly strange, problematic, difficult, complex, or chaotic) hence the title.

Before we get to the rabbit hole itself, I want to give some insight into our methods and how they differ.

In the past when I have hung a picture, I tried to measure but it took too long and ended up not being straight. When I do it my way there may be a few mores holes in the wall, but it took less time, and no frustration was involved. Another time our preciseness and lack thereof came into play was when I wanted to hang lanterns on our side of our neighbor’s six-foot high fence (with permission of course). My husband was leaving on a business trip but before he left, we talked about hanging the lanterns so they would be line up nicely. He talked about measuring the fence and breaking it into sections…I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of it but was willing to give it a try.

The next day I tried using a measuring tape and breaking it into sections, but it just wasn’t working for me. I was discouraged at this point and sat on the ground cursing the fence. But as I sat there staring at the fence, I got an idea. My thought was to count all the pickets on the fence and break it up that way. I jumped up, counted all the pickets, then divided by the number of lanterns and “viola” I had my spacing. Next, I measured (yes, I used a measuring tape) the height of the fence deciding where I wanted to place the lanterns. With all this information I was able to place all the lanterns in a symmetrical straight line. If my husband was there, would he have been able to do the same thing using his method, I have no doubt.

Our neighbor’s fence, no wonder I was overwhelmed.

Using my method of counting, I hung all the lanterns.

Perfectly symmetrical and straight.

Story of the Rabbit Hole

Last year I created a cottage garden in my backyard and love the way it turned out. This year I wanted to add a picket fence which is where the tale begins.

Because I wanted the bushes in front of the fence, I needed to move them. This was my first attempt eyeballing it as you can see it was not straight. After many more tries (in the extreme heat) I finally got them in line.

Next, I took out the fence to see how it would look next to the bushes. It was going to be perfect except they were too close to the fence. I knew if my husband was doing this, he would have had a measuring tape and string to make a straight line. Instead, I eyeballed it again, this time it took four tries.

Oh yes there was also a front part of the garden but this time I did use a stick to help guide me. Alas it took at least two maybe three tries. I can’t remember because I felt faint from the heat…

As I am writing this and reflecting on the situation, I really thought in the beginning that my method would work. But after that first attempt, I should have used a measuring tape and string. Why didn’t I do it? Plain and simple I did not want to admit that my husband’s method would have been better in this case. So, down the rabbit hole I went.

In the future I hope I will be able to concede and not be so stubborn!

How To Create An Accent Wall With Paint!

I was planning on writing about my cottage garden in my blog this week, but heavy rain kept me indoors last week. Not a bother though. I just chose one of the many projects that are bouncing around in my head. In this case, an accent wall in our family room.

I have done accent walls in the past only to have an uneven transition between the two colors. I was able to fix it, but it took many do overs until I got the sharpness I was looking for. To avoid having to redo the wall, I used a technique I saw on You Tube on how to create a the perfect edge.

Let’s see how the technique worked:

This is the wall in question. I like the color in the room, but I always felt like the couch and lamps disappeared against it.

I chose Ottertail from Behr. It is a complimentary color to Doeskin also by Behr which is on the other walls in the family room.

I taped off the baseboard and crown molding.

Then I abutted the tape between the two walls. This part is key to using the technique I spoke of.

Once the tape was on, I applied the paint color that is already on the wall (Doeskin) to the edge of the tape to create a seal.

I was skeptical but had nothing to lose at this point so I started painting.

As I was painting, I saw the couch and lamps started to pop against the color.

Done! All that’s left is to pull off the tape (fingers crossed).

I would say painting over the tape was a successful technique! No do overs needed!

I never would have thought an accent wall would make such a difference. It not only draws your eye in it also makes the room look bigger.

The couch and lamps definitely don’t disappear into the wall now. Love the change!

Ballard Design/Mora Clock Hack!

A couple years ago, I came across a picture of a Mora Clock and fell in love with it (The name comes from the Swedish town of Mora where in the late 1800’s the town was affected by several years of drought and people fled to Stockholm to learn new skills including clock making). I liked the shape, patina, and the fact that it was quirky and beautiful at the same time. I researched pricing for a tall Mora Clock, and they ran anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000. I even looked at a similar piece I found at Ballard (Katerina Floor Clock) which was priced at $2,999.00. It seemed I couldn’t afford a reproduction either. With these prices, I knew I was not going to be owning a real Mora Clock or even a reproduction, so I did what I always do, I tucked it in the back of my head to be retrieved when and if I found something that could be remade to look like the clock I wanted.

Below: The two on the left are examples of Mora clocks and the one on the right is the Katerina Clock from Ballard Designs.

As it happens, I was finally able to bring the vision out of my head on a visit to Good Will where I found the perfect item (pictured below). I know, I know, my husband had the same reaction. He kept asking me if I really wanted it and I said yes, yes, yes. I didn’t like the color or the painted flowers, and it was short, but I could see the possibility. Like when Linus picks the sad little tree in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and says that all it needs is a little love, I bought this clock with the potential spinning in my head. All it needed was a little love!

The clock had some really nice features like the round face, the moldings and the detailing, but none of it would matter if I couldn’t increase the height of the clock (which came in at 3 feet one inch).

We were able to make a pedestal to increase the height.

The pedestal raised the height of the clock to five feet and one inch.

Before I got started, I gave it a good cleaning.

I used Rust-Oleum Chalk Paint in aged-gray for the base coat.

At this point, I crossed my fingers hoping that painting it one color would make it look like one piece.

I was very pleased that after the first coat it looked like one piece. Yeah! Once it dried, I added a second coat to get full coverage.

I decided to paint the clock with Annie Sloan Aubusson Chalk Paint. It is one of my favorite colors.

I added water to thin it out.

I loved the blue, but the trim felt too stark next to it.

I decided to change the trim color to Waverly Chalk Paint in Moss.

Green wins. So much better!

To give it a more aged look I used Annie Sloan COCO Chalk Paint.

Using a chip brush to spread on the COCO paint.

Then blended with a lint free rag.

If I felt it was too dark, I used Aubusson Chalk Paint to tone it down.

To give it even more of an aged look I used Waverly Antique Wax.

I made a wash with the antiquing wax by adding water and spread it on the piece.

Then wiped it off with a rag.

I used my acrylic paints to cover the flowers on the face of the clock.

The original mechanism did not work so I purchased a new one.

I found the perfect place for my clock it is right between the transition from family room to kitchen and it is the first thing you see as you enter our house. It’s funny as I was looking at this picture, I noticed a full circle moment the drapes in the background are Isabella drapery from Ballard Designs. I may not have the Katerina Clock from Ballard Design, but I have their beautiful drapery that goes perfectly with my clock.

It may not be a real Mora Clock or Ballard Design Katerina Clock, but I love the results!

It is hard to believe this is the same clock!

Linwood Gardens

Last weekend I got to enjoy one of the gems of the Western N.Y. region. I went to Linwood Gardens for their annual Tree Peony Festival. I was blown away not only by the Peonies but also by the majestic scenery, architectural details and sheer mass of the plethora of horticultural beauty (that’s a mouth full). What are Linwood Gardens? It is an historic, private estate that was created by William H. Gratwick II and is still owned by the family.

This weekend is the last weekend for the Tree Peony Festival, but there are Open Garden Days and Summer Workshops available during the summer season. The information is on their website:

Here is a small taste of the history of Linwood Gardens from the same website:

“William Henry Gratwick II, from Buffalo, created Linwood Gardens as a country home in the years between 1901 and 1910.  Architect Thomas Fox designed portions of the Summer House and all the original garden areas.

In 1933, William H. Gratwick III moved to Linwood with his family and set up the Rare Plants Nursery. The Japanese tree peony became a feature of the nursery and the gardens.  As an artist, landscape architect, and horticulturalist, W.H.G. III contributed sculpture and new garden areas to the Linwood landscape.  His wife, Harriet, directed a community music school on the property from 1947-1963.  Linwood also hosted a wide variety of cultural activities during those years.”

William Gratwick III working with the Tree Peonies.

Lee Gratwick, W.H.G. III’s daughter, is now living at Linwood and is working to preserve the tree peony collection, the gardens and the summer house.

This is the view from the house.

This tree was one of the first things I saw on my tour. Even though it has died the family has not removed it. I can understand why it is like an amazing piece of art. Beautiful!

More spectacular scenery of the gardens

Looking at this I wonder if the architect knew that his design would eventually have trees large enough to perfectly frame the garden ahead or that the bushes to the left would become an archway leading to another garden. If that is the case, he must have been extremely talented!

The gardens were beautiful but the addition of architectual detail throughout takes it to the next level.

As you stroll through Linwood you come across other gardens. They may not be Peonies, but they are just as lovely in their own right.

Another natural archway leading to a gate. I think the gates are used as pauses to prepare your senses to be ready for the next treat in store for them.

I liked this unexpected site of flowers running rampant within the boxwood border. It adds a little whimsey to your experience.

I had never heard of “Snow In Summer” flowers but I love them now!

Linwood offers scavenger hunts for children. One of the things they need to find is the “old man in the tree”. Can you see him?

The chapel is yet another piece of history to be found.

I love the stonework and archways.

Even though the inside is stone it felt very warm and welcoming.

Here we are at the “Piece de Resistance”! The Peonies. Since I can’t really describe their beauty, I will let the pictures tell the story.

The Peony was in full bloom and as magnificent as expected!

I will definitely be returning next year. There was too much to take in for one visit.

Ideas For Spring Patio Cleanup!

It’s that time of year to get ready for summer! I have already been working in my gardens but now it is time to tackle the patio. It needs a good clean and a pop of color.

Let’s see what I did!

The first part of the cleanup was the windows that look over the patio. They had collected a lot of dirt over the fall and winter months. I used vinegar and water and microfiber cloths. A friend told me about the microfiber cloths. They do an amazing job!

Nothing like clean windows!

Our wrought iron table and chairs also took a beating over the winter and needed to be repainted.

Using a wire brush, my husband smoothed out any rough edges and loose paint before spraying.

Then he used RUST-OLEUM flat black to spray paint them. We always use RUST-Oleum on our outdoor projects. It goes on easy and wears well.

The patio set after painting. It looks brand new!

Ready to pressure wash the patio. I was smart this time and wore boots. The last time I used a pressure washer my feet got soaked.

Once you get everything set up it is fairly easy to use.

What a difference!

We went to Wayside Garden Center in Macedon NY to pick out flowers for the two large pots I am going to use on the patio. Originally, I was going to buy individual flowers and create my own design but quickly changed my mind when I saw the hanging baskets.

I am so glad I went with the hanging basket option. They add the pop of color I was looking for and the combinations of flowers are beautiful.

I also picked up two ferns to add to the mix.

All the little touches made it feel so welcoming.

Here is the finished patio. The best thing is I only had to purchase flowers and plants. The rest I just shined up!

Guest Room Refresh Reveal!

Everything seemed to fall into place with my guest room refresh. I was able to find comforters that went with the bedding I found at Good Will. I had previously shared that the color on the walls worked perfectly which it does, but one wall needed to be touched up. I really did not want to paint the whole room, so I scraped off a large chip of paint and took it to Home Depot for a color match. It ended up being very close and unless you know, you would not be able to see the difference (don’t tell anyone). As I went along, I kept finding everything I needed, and the end result is amazing!

This is the bedroom that needed a refresh. The room served my boys well when they were growing up and my younger son uses this version when he comes home to visit. But as a “guest” bedroom, it just doesn’t make the cut.

The idea for the refresh started when I found these Pottery Barn pillows with down inserts at Good Will. I loved the pattern so much it became the jumping off point for guest room.

I decided to try my luck again at Good Will taking one of the pillow covers to match. I ended up finding 2 gray striped pillowcases, a throw blanket, and another set of decorative pillow covers all in the same gray shades.

As much as I love the pattern on the Pottery Barn pillows, I really wanted to avoid making the room all about yellow. I found this picture at yet again Good Will for $17. It had gray and yellow in it but it was very subtle. Exactly what I wanted to achieve.

I already had these New Yorker prints downloaded from Etsy and found the frames at Home Goods in clearance for $22. They were a little dinged up but you couldn’t tell because of the matte finish.

To fill out the last wall I used a print I had in our basement rounding out the New Yorker prints with this famous New York photo.

Keeping my refresh on a budget, I decided to reuse the table that has been in the boys room. It definitely had seen better days.

I spray painted it using Rust-Oleum Aged Gray matte chalk paint.

I also reused the lamp spraying it with Rust-Oleum matte black paint and replaced the shade with a white one from Walmart.

I was going to use these drapes or the ones in my husband’s office, but I wanted something with a lighter feeling. I found these at Home Goods for $26.

I also purchased 2 gray box pleated bed skirts, 2 down alternative white twin comforters and a gray and yellow 3×5 rug.

Let’s see how it all turned out!

I could not find another gray throw like the one from Good Will, but I did find a yellow one that I really liked. What do you guys think of having two different color throw blankets?

The table and lamp came out great. I really like the matte finishes.

I really like that large piece of artwork and the way it goes with the bedding.

Already for some guests!

Good Will Finds For A Guest Room Refresh!

I have needed to refresh our guest room since my oldest son took up residency in our finished basement. It is fine when my younger son comes to visit but not for out-of-town guests that are coming to town.

It really isn’t that bad, but it needs a little pick me up. The paint color is fine, but it needs new bedding, window treatments, a lamp, and artwork.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so it was off to Good Will in search of bargains!

This is the room in question. It definitely screams boy. I am going to try and salvage the table with paint. Not sure of the color yet. The shape of the lamp is good but this will also be painted and needs a new shade.

First thing I found were three Pottery Barn pillows with down inserts. Love the paisley print and the colors are perfect!

Next up were two gray striped pillowcases that will go with the white sheets I already have.

If that wasn’t enough, I came across these geometric covers that pick up the gray in the Pottery Barn pillows!

I could not believe my luck!

As I was heading to the cash register, I saw this throw and picked that up also.

The Pottery Barn pillows were $4.00 each, the geometric covers were $2.99 each, the striped pillowcase were $1.00 each and the throw was $4.00. I already have white sheets so the only thing I will have to purchase new is a comforter or quilt. The savings at Good Will offset the cost nicely.


I still am going to paint the lamp and the table. The drapes in my husband’s office will work in here nicely (I haven’t shared that with him yet though).

Stay tuned for a reveal in the next few weeks!

Trash To Treasure Bar Cart Before And After!

I have been looking for a bar cart for our patio, but the cost really surprised me. The prices range anywhere from $200-$600 even on Facebook Marketplace. With this realization, the bar cart was moved way down on the list of priorities.

Having already put the idea of a bar cart out of my head, one day, I passed right by one in my neighbor’s trash. Needless to say, once I realized what I saw, I did a U-turn and snapped it right up. It was not the prettiest thing, but it had potential.

Let’s see how I made it pretty!

The paint was chipping and the inserts for the shelves were warped but it was intact and still worked. Bonus for me that someone threw it out!

After cleaning it, I took steel wool and knocked off all the loose paint.

I decided to spray paint it with Rust-Oleum flat black paint and primer.

The matte finish will hide any imperfections.

After spraying the top, I flipped it over and did the bottom. It took two coats for full coverage.

I replaced the shelves with 17.9″ diameter round wooded discs from Michaels.

I was really excited to use this Iron Orchid Design transfer Astoria in black and white on the tops of the wooden discs. The flowers seemed perfect for an outdoor cart!

Using the tool that comes with the transfer, you rub over until it releases to the surface.

When it turns dull like on the right you know it let go.

The transfer comes in sections. After one part is applied, you match up the next. The grid pattern makes it easy to line up.

I was rubbing for an hour and my hand started to hurt. Ouch!

My husband gave me his winter gloves and they worked like a charm!

Once the transfers were on, I decided I only wanted the flowers and no words, so I painted over them with white paint.

It took four thin layers of paint, but you can’t even tell they were there.

The finished piece!

Drinks anyone?

Before and After!

Looking forward to using it this summer!

Part Two: Decoupage Cabinet Before And After!

Decoupaging was the easy part of this makeover. The hard part started when I began to add chalk paint to the decoupage, and it started to bubble up. It was not happening to the decoupage on the wood just on the glass. The good news was after the paint dried the bubbling disappeared. But the added dry time made the process much longer than expected. But the results were worth it.

The next time I attempt to add decoupage to glass, I will spray shellac first to create a barrier between the glass and the decoupage.

First a recap before the reveal:

This is the cabinet I started with. In addition to a primer, next time I will also spray with shellac before decoupaging.

Applying decoupage.

Starting to extend the artwork to cover the entire front of cabinet.

The finished piece! I loved working on this piece. It enabled me to experiment with blending colors but most of all it gave me the freedom to let go.

I was working up to the last minute so there is a little bubbling near the top but once it fully dries it will disappear.

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