Staining a Bathroom Cabinet

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Phase one of my bathroom makeover is complete!  I finally finished staining the vanity cabinet, which has gone from this dated honey oak….


…to this much more tolerable espresso finish.


I’m still having a hard time believing that I actually did this and that it turned out so nice.  It was so easy…just a little bit time consuming since I had to put on so many coats and then wait for them to dry.  So, how did I do it?  I’m glad you asked.

First, I gathered the following items:

  •  Java Gel Stain by General Finishes I bought the 1/2 pint and that would work even for a much bigger cabinet.  A little goes a long way!
  • A few tube socks
  • Rubber or latex gloves
  • Some painter’s pyramids
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver
  • 1/2 pint of polyurethane
  • A foam brush

You will want to start by prepping the cabinet.  I put painter’s tape on the walls to protect them from stain and I didn’t worry about protecting the carpet because I am going to rip it out anyway.  I removed the hardware from the door and drawers and removed them from the rest of the cabinet.  Then, I lightly sanded every surface.  You don’t have to go crazy here, you just want to scuff up the surface a bit so that the stain can adhere to the wood.  Once everything is sanded, wipe it down with a damp rag to remove any dust, dirt, or grime on the surface.

Now, you’re ready for the stain.  I got the idea to do this from another blog called Monica Wants It and you can find it by clicking here.  I found her tutorial on Pinterest and she recommends using tube socks instead of a brush to apply the stain.  We always have a few stray socks around here that are missing a mate, so I didn’t have to look far to find some.  I put a glove on my right hand (to protect it from the stain) and then covered it with a sock.  Then I just dipped the sock into the stain and started applying it to the cabinet.  Once you start applying, you will begin to see how much you need.  Start out with a very small dab and then smear it around to see how much coverage you will get.  That will help you gauge how much to use.  Be careful to smooth out any globs.  I used the painter’s pyramids here to prop up the door and drawers after I applied the first coat.  The first coat looked a bit streaky and weird, but in my opinion, it was already a huge improvement from where I started.

First coat

So, I let the first coat dry for about 24 hours and applied the second coat the next evening.

Second coat
Second coat

I think you could probably apply the third coat in another 24 hours, but I didn’t have the opportunity to work on it again until the weekend, so it dried for about 4 days before I applied the final coat.

Once I had the third coat on, I probably could have added another coat to make it really nice and dark like many of the other photos I have seen online, but I kind of liked the subtle variations in color and being able to still see the wood grain a bit.

Once you have achieved the color you want, let the stain dry for several days before you seal it with the polyurethane.  Life got a little busy around here, so I didn’t have an opportunity to work on it for a few weeks.  I finally was able to apply a few coats of polyurethane.  The tutorial I followed suggested that you can continue to use a sock to apply the polyurethane, but I decided to use a foam brush.  This seemed to work fine and I didn’t have any trouble.  Again, just be careful to smooth out any drippy spots.

Finally, once the polyurethane dried (about 24 hours), I was able to add some new hardware and reattach the door and drawers.  So, here’s the official before and after.  What do you think?

Cabinet Makeover  I love the update!  Michael likes it so much that he wants me to do the same in our downstairs bathroom.  I’m not sure I’m that ambitious.  One project at a time please.

planning a bathroom makeover

Ever since we moved into our house almost 3 years ago, I have wanted to redo the upstairs bathroom.  But, I was pregnant at the time, and then came the newborn phase and well, I’ve just never moved forward with my plans.

Lately, I’ve had the itch to make the changes.  Or maybe I just can’t stand the sight of it anymore.  Yeah, that’s probably closer to the truth.  Regardless, I went out to Lowe’s today to pick up the stuff I would need to complete 3 projects.  I figure if the stuff is here waiting for me, I will be more likely to actually do it!

So here’s a lovely comparison photo.  The top is my bathroom as it was when we first moved in.  I’d venture to say that it looks even worse now.  Little by little, I have picked off the wallpaper around the tub and the rest of the border.  You probably can’t tell, but there is carpet on the floor…yuck…and the accents are a hodge podge of colors and textures.  It’s subtle in this picture, but the wallpaper and carpet have hideous flecks of pink and aqua green.

Inspiration photo by Peter Chen

The bottom picture is my inspiration.  We don’t have a lot of money for this makeover so I won’t be changing out the vanity or anything like that.  My work will be mainly cosmetic and, as I mentioned, I have 3 projects in mind.  I’ve been gathering up some inspiration around the net and here are some other things I have in mind:

bathroom inspiration board

  1. I am planning to stain the existing cabinet a dark expresso color, following this tutorial from Monica Wants It.
  2. I like the idea of using mason jars for storage, sort of like this design from The DIY Playbook.
  3. I really can’t wait to rip out all the carpet and replace it with vinyl tiles, following this tutorial from Courtney over at Project Courtney.
  4. This is the color scheme I have in mind.  I am planning to paint the walls and I’m thinking a calming shade of blue.  Our walls are “tile” on the bottom half and I put that in quotations because I don’t think they are real tile (unless it is just hiding under layers of paint).  I think it’s some kind of a laminate or paneling that looks like tile.  Anyway, I am going to keep that white and the wall above the “tile” will be blue.
  5. I’m not 100% sure what I want to do with the small window yet, but I like the light, airy feel of this simple clothespin curtain by Julie Carlson of Remodelista.

I’m thinking that I can do all of this for around $200, and I’ve already purchased most of the supplies I will need, so now it’s just a matter of getting started!

Stay tuned…

makeup simplified

I used to have quite an addiction to cosmetics and beauty products.  I’ve collected tons of it, but I’ve realized that I only use about 5-6 items consistently.  So, today it was time to purge.  I thought it would be harder than it was, but I basically just picked out the things I use on a daily basis (and a few lip colors that I actually like) and I just dumped the rest in the trash.  Most of the items were eye and lip colors that I didn’t like once I had brought them home and tried them on.  Ugh…it’s kind of sad to think about how much money I have wasted on colors that didn’t look right on me.  But, since I’ve experimented with so many, I know what works now so I just have to stick with those and avoid the temptation of new products.  Here is what my makeup drawer looked like before the purge.  I could barely open and close the drawer.

makeup before

And here it what it looked like when I finished.  It feels good to get rid of things that are weighing me down.  I’ve narrowed it down to 3 eye color palettes, a mascara, mineral powder foundation, one eyeliner, and a small variety of lip colors.

makeup after


Hmm…now that I’ve downsized my makeup drawer, what can I purge next?

yard sales, banana muffins and other weekend miscellany


Look at this face…isn’t she fab?  I love this kid.  We had such a gorgeous weekend here.  The weather couldn’t have been more perfect.  I have been so lazy with my camera lately, resorting to using my iPhone about 99.9% of the time.  So, I pulled out the DSLR for some practice.  Funny, she actually looked at the camera with intrigue and when I told her to smile and say “cheese” she actually did.  She’s so used to seeing my phone that I think she secretly protests when I try to catch her on film and I can’t even get her to look at it.  But this strange piece of equipment…what is it??  She stared at me and tried to grab it a few times.

This weekend kicked of yard sale season and our neighborhood has its community yard sales.  Oh, how I would have loved to open up shop and get rid of the many bins of baby items that are taking over our lives, but we’re hanging onto things until we have another little one.  I’m not normally a huge fan of yard sales.  I hate fighting the crowds and dealing with the heat, but this weekend was perfect.  The weather was gorgeous and since all the yard sales were taking place in our neighborhood, we just put Evelyn in the backpack carrier and set out on foot.

Michael actually got a jump start on Friday while I was at work and he found several great items.  You’ve gotta start out early or all the good stuff will be gone.  He was really looking for some outdoor toys for Evelyn, like a Little Tykes slide or other similar pieces, but we didn’t really come across any of those.  Oh well, maybe next time.

Shopping yard sales for baby and kid’s stuff is particularly fruitful, since babies and little kids tend to grow out of things very quickly and they don’t have much time to really wear things out.  A lot of people also receive items as gifts that they are never able to use, so it’s easy to find things that are barely or never used.  It amazes me that people spend the kind of money that they do on new clothes, shoes and toys for kids.  Yard sale and thrift store shopping is kind of a no-brainer for me.  It’s greener and way less expensive than shopping the malls.

So, here’s the loot…

Mini Recliner for Evelyn
Mini Recliner for Evelyn
Crayola Art Easel
Crayola Art Easel
Michael picked this out.
Michael picked this out.
Evelyn had a blast playing in it....just before promptly pulling it from the ceiling.
Evelyn had a blast playing in it….just before promptly pulling it from the ceiling.
In addition to these, I also picked up 3 hats, 3 pair of pajamas, a pair of jeans, another pair of shorts, and a July 4th outfit from Old Navy.
In addition to these, I also picked up 3 hats, 3 pair of pajamas, a pair of jeans, another pair of shorts, and a July 4th outfit from Old Navy.
Little Tikes toy chest for outdoor toys
Little Tikes toy chest for outdoor toys

I got all of this for about $35!!!!  It makes me sad to think that I recently cashed in a $50 Target gift card and only got 2 pairs of shoes, a bathing suit, and 2 pairs of pajamas for Evelyn.

I spent most of Sunday in the kitchen, making all kinds of grain-free, sugar-free goodies.  Michael and I have been really trying to stick with our diet and cut way back on the cheating.  I made yet another batch of these awesome grain-free banana muffins.

I feel pretty confident sharing this recipe.  I started making these from a recipe I found online, but I tweaked it and changed it so many times that it really feels like my own.  Evelyn loves these.  She calls them “cake”.  If this is her idea of cake, that’s just fine by me…no sugar, no gluten…just a yummy snack.

Grain-Free Banana Muffins

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Mash the bananas and mix all the wet ingredients together.  I like to use a hand mixer.  I usually put the coconut oil in the microwave for about 30 seconds to bring it to liquid form before adding it to the eggs and bananas.

Sift the dry ingredients into the batter and stir to combine.  Scoop the batter into a muffin pan lined with paper liners.  The batter doesn’t rise much, so you can fill them a bit more than you would with regular muffins.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Well, it seems that spring is finally here.  Evelyn even enjoyed her first popsicle of the season.


Have a great week!!

Nursery Sneak Peek

I started painting the nursery today and I can’t wait to finish it!  However, my body just isn’t letting me work as long as I’d like to, so I quit for the day.  I managed to get a coat of primer on the entire room, and about half of the first coat of paint…and I am totally exhausted.  Here’s a little sneak peek of some things that I have so far for the room.  The color:

The color is a very pale yellow called Belgian Waffle.  I don’t know if I should eat it or put is on the walls!   For all you preggo police, it’s Olympic Premium, which is safe for the environment and no-VOC, which means it doesn’t have toxic fumes that are harmful for me or the baby.  Even still, I painted with both windows open and a fan on, despite this chilly day.

Here are a few things that will be on the walls.  A print of Starry Night that we bought awhile ago, a mirror that my friend, Emma from Fresh Look Furniture, refinished and distressed, and a beautiful, hand-embroidered alphabet sampler that my friend Bee made for me.  You can see that there is really no pink or purple here.  I’m sticking to shades of yellow and blue.  Emma is also working on a dresser/changing table for me and I have several other pieces that I am going to repaint.  With only 10 weeks to go, I am starting to get really excited!

A space for the wee one…

Since I have been feeling more like a normal human being, I have been thinking a lot about and doing a lot of online searches for nursery ideas. We should be moved into the new house by the end of July and I’m starting to get pretty excited about setting up the nursery. I have a pretty good idea what I want to do, even though we don’t know the gender of the baby yet. I’m hoping to stay pretty neutral and then adding some girly or boyish touches, depending on what we’re expecting. I don’t really like to be theme-y or overly coordinated in my decorating, and that applies to the baby’s room too. I like an eclectic mix of items, or choosing one focus item and then sort of decorating the rest of the room around that. In my searches (fun!) I came across some baby room nightmares:

I looks like Winnie the Pooh threw up in here. Don’t get me wrong, I love this honey-loving bear as much as the next person, but this offers no creativity whatsoever, and it’s over-stimulating.

Who could fall asleep in this room?! The color is so overwhelming!

Meh. This is just so matchy-matchy. Blah.

Well, here are a few things I’ve come across that I DO like and a little sneak-preview of what I’ve been thinking about. I’m starting with a piece of artwork we already have in the house, that just hasn’t found a good home yet:

and a few other touches I’ve come across…

Wordle: Twinkle Little Star

These are just a few things I’ve found, but I’m sure the room will evolve on it’s own as I start working on it and I know that family and friends are probably going to buy me a mix and match of different things and I love that. I would rather have sentimental items that come from someone special than a rolled-out-of-the-factory look. Though I have to admit that a part of me wants to keep the gender a secret because I’m afraid once we announce the sex, we are going to get an overabundance of blue or pink things. I’m not very good at keeping secrets though, so we’ll see. In the meantime, the planning is so much fun!

Another Man’s Trash…

Lately, Mike and I have been stumbling upon little treasures for our house. (Glee! Only one more month until it’s officially “our” house!) We are regulars at the local thrift shops and we usually come home with something, but lately we’ve been finding free stuff, courtesy of our neighbor. Several weeks ago, as we were driving home after a shopping trip, we spotted this in the neighbor’s front yard with a “FREE” sign on it.

It’s perfect on our patio. It’s old and it has layers and layers of cracking paint and I love it. The beauty is that it’s also functional. Fold up the sides, throw on a tablecloth, and it becomes a dinner table.

A few weeks later, Michael stumbled across this old cabinet. I’m pretty sure it housed a phonograph at one time. We had been looking for something to put in this little corner of our dining room and this is perfect. It’s not in the best shape. There are a few scratches on it, but I suppose if I get ambitious someday I could sand it down and refinish it.

In case you were wondering, this one is functional too. It has become a little mini-bar with the liquors stored in the top (Mike has been collecting those fancy bottles too)…

…and glasses stored in the bottom.

I’m sure our neighbor probably thinks we’re crazy for running across the street and taking all her crap…I wonder what she’ll put out next?