It passed the test!

Whenever we do a project, it’s always a cross-your-fingers-and-hold-your-breath endeavor. We also fail pretty hard a whole bunch before we write a single word. for example, we should have some custom huge slabs of raw wood hanging up right now – but we don’t. We didn’t think about the fact that the wall might be curved on this 1930 cottage. Especially after Joey cut said wood perfectly straight to sit flush against that wall. Doh. Back to the drawing board. So it’s nice when we do something, and it works out, and then it continues to work. We love that stuff. making a house a home I olympic stain review I

So this stain. It’s good. It’s easy to use, looks good, and has shown zero wear. Even for us rough and sticky folks. We blogged the process a few months back – only staining two of six chairs, and staining them two different colors.

making a house a home I olympic stain review I

olympic stain example

The picture above is when we stained the two chairs. Then we sat and waited and didn’t stain anymore, because that’s what we do now. We live with things a long time to make sure we love them. Staining is no small process when it comes to chairs because to do a really good job, it’s best to take them apart.

how to stain chair

We are so happy to report that they both still look fantastic. We agreed two coats of Olympic Maximum in Royal Mahogany with a Semi-Transparent finish was the right selection, so it looks like we will be moving forward and staining the remaining chairs. Yay progress.

olympic stain review



Check out what the other bloggers from #behindtheseal are up to with their staining project with Olympic Stain and if their projects were #uptothetest. If you have no idea what I am blabbing’ about, check out this post and hop on our instagram account and catch up.

The Ugly Duckling House The DIY Villiage DIO Home Improvements

We are so excited about this partnership and can’t wait to show you what we honestly think! We have been sponsored by Good Housekeeping and Olympic Paint, and promise to continue to be honest about reviews in our posts. 

House of Stain

We scored. Big time. Nashville Craigslist is kind of magical at moments. We walked away with six new-to-us dining chairs. For $20.

craigslist chair diy

They were solid wood, but twice painted over with latex , and adorned with a country cushion. If you could see past that, you would see a super cute and pretty large chair that just needed a little stain and velvet.

We couldn’t pick a color, we were kind of stuck between two, so we did some testing, and more testing on scrap wood. The top piece is Olympic Maximum in Royal Mahogany with a Semi-Transparent finish. Below is Olympic Elite in Black Oak with a Semi-Transparent finish as well. We found both stains a Lowe’s after reviewing dozens of options online. They weren’t in the pre-made section, but they will mix them for you right there, just like paint. The right side of the samples is a single coat on both pieces. The center is two coats, and the left is three coats. We landed on two coats of Olympic Maximum in Royal Mahogany with a Semi-Transparent finish, but not so easy.

olympic stain example

And then we tested the actual chairs when we couldn’t visualize it from just the scraps.We took apart the chairs to make sure the brush marks of the stain were even and clean. It’s amazing how simple the engineering of these chairs are.

how to stain chair

Our finest sheets did the job of covering up an outdoor table while we used two chairs as real living examples of what could be.

olympic stain



The difference seems way less obvious on our screen, but there is a true difference in person. We also sprayed the screws with the same gold we used on our trunk risers, and it added a great touch. We have been using the new $20 chairs outside for gatherings and couldn’t be happier with how cheap and easy they came together.

olympic stain review

We plan on seeing if Olympic Maximum in Royal Mahogany is #UpToTheTest and will report back after some weeks of wear and inevitable rain, zippy cup spills, and natural elements.

Check out what the other bloggers from #behindtheseal are up to with their staining project with Olympic Stain. If you have no idea what I am blabbing’ about, check out this post and hop on our instagram account and catch up.

The Ugly Duckling House
The DIY Villiage
DIO Home Improvements

We are so excited about this partnership and can’t wait to show you what we honestly think! We have been sponsored by Good Housekeeping and Olympic Paint, and promise to continue to be honest about reviews in our posts. 

Playing Dress-Up!

Restoring or completely altering the look of a dusty old piece of furniture that you found at Father Time’s yard sale can sometimes seem like more work than it’s worth.

I’m here to tell you otherwise, my friend. Pretend I sound like Sam Elliott as I gently guide you through what it took to turn these…

dresser drawers, unfinished drawers

…into these.

white campaign dresser, refinished campaign dresser

Most of this project, and any other project as I have found them, comes down to prep work. And every time I try and take a shortcut, I get burned worse than Lana’s favorite, “Burnt Broccoli”. In this case, I tried to go straight to priming the body of the dresser before I sanded them. I thought a good wipe down would do the trick. I ended up with raised specks and lines of imperfections that would ultimately ruin the look of the finish. So, if you haven’t done this before, learn from me and just start with a good ol’ sanding.

sanding a dresser

Look at me. I’m doing it again. Jumping ahead with no regard to process. FIRST, you’ll want to remove the trademark brass fixtures from the campaign dresser drawers and the cabinet itself. The drawers are easy enough, just a couple screws and they pop right out. For the nailed in decorative pieces on the dresser I used a spackling knife to gently get in between them and the wood and pry them out. Keep everything in a little bag! You will lose these little nails if you don’t and I wouldn’t want to be the one trolling the internet trying to find replacements. Now back to the sanding.

sanded dressers

campaign dresser hardware

You don’t need to go crazy with it. These particular dressers were made with just a thin wood-like veneer pasted onto particle board. So you definitely don’t want to go on a sanding bonanza. Just a quick once over with a fine grain sandpaper (I used 220). The handheld Makita sander I have made it a snap and the 3M sheets helped me make sure it was perfect.

I’m lucky enough to have a workshop downstairs at our place. But good fortune also has a good sense of humor. Everytime I try and spray paint down there the smoke alarm goes off and I have to donate gas money to the fire department. This time, however, I had an equally poor idea. I’d spray paint in the garden room. Long story short, if you don’t want to spend the day after on your hands and knees cleaning up overspray like I did, go back to step one… Prep work! Eventually, after I had already made a mess, I covered the ENTIRE floor (not just the general area I was working in) with a tarp. This simple act should go without saying, but no one was watching me. And I like to play the long odds. I lost.

Let’s assume you’re not like me and you have protected your assets. Now you can get to MORE PREP WORK! Tape off the edges around the area where the drawer face meets the shelvy bit. Here’s a pic since I can’t seem to find the word that differentiates the two.

campaign dresser drawers

Lovely. Now start priming. I used this Rustoleum 2x coverage primer. Why? Because it said 2x. I don’t want to manually apply the second “X” if I don’t have to. It also says that it bonds to just about anything, which is the quality I look for in my primer just after seeing how many “X’s” it has. I gave them two coats. If you’re keeping score at home we are up to four “X’s”. Astonishing. What will modern science do for us next? Primer dries quickly, but it got dark, so I went to bed. Sidenote: I was painting barefoot. If you get primer on your toenails it will be there for a long time.

rust-o-lium primer

After a healthy rest you can continue. I happened to have a bunch of these X-O Rust gloss white spray paint cans from a previous project. They say, “Direct to Metal”. I say, “Don’t tell me what to do”. And guess what… beautiful. I’m not sure how X-O feels about having a Rustoleum space helmet on, but that thing really takes the pain outta your sprayin’ finger, so I say deal with it X-O. Two coats of this later and you’ll be on the home stretch. Sidenote 2: I didn’t tape anything off on the dresser itself. If I ever have anyone at my house removing drawers to see if there is overspray, I’ll need to rethink my choice in friends.

how to prime a dresser

If you plan on touching or using the dressers you’ll want to put some sort of clear coat on them. I went with Krylon clear gloss. Why? It was ? the price of Polycrylic and I knew, one day, I’d want an extra hot dog, and now that dream can come true. By now you’ll know how many coats I did. Three! I just went for it.

After the party I threw myself for doing a third coat wound down I got to replacing the hardware. My trusty bag had not disappeared any of the tiny nails so it was just a matter of lining everything back up. Here’s the face I make when I haven’t lost any critical pieces of a project. Pure joy.

joey make a house a home

Here’s the finished product again. And I gotta tell ya, I’m pretty happy with it. The drawers still pull out and everything!

white campaign dresser, refinished campaign dresser

refinished campaign dresser, white campaign dresser, sharron montrose, nursery dresser

No math, no measuring, no reason anyone couldn’t do the same. But wear shoes.

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Campaign Dresser Prep

I finally found a matching pair of campaign dressers on criagslist! They are the right shape, the right amount of drawers, and have all their hardware! I don’t know if it’s an East Coast thing, but it was super hard to find a pair at a reasonable price. I feel out West, they basically give them away. They are in far-from-perfect condition, but with a little DIY-TLC, I am pretty confident we can get them ready for the nursery and looking good enough for our little prince!

We have been inspired by so many great refinish jobs around the web! There are so many how-to’s out there (below is a tiny round up!), however we noticed most of them didn’t focus on the prep , so we wanted to dedicate a post to proper prepping before we got into distracting before and afters.

campaign dresser blue, campaign dresser

campaign dresser before and after

campaign dresser kids

campaign dresser how to

1. 2. 3. 4.

Before even deciding on a paint color(s) for the dressers, we decided to test the dressers for lead because we knew they were made and painted in the 70’s, and it being the 70’s you never know. Our hearts dropped when we did a lead test on the exterior of our home and found out it was positive for lead. Call us over cautious, but we didn’t want to store our baby’s clothes in a lead riddled dresser, or use it as a changing table until we knew. Check out Joey below take 30 seconds to give us peace of mind.

Whew. Looks good. I would hate for Joey (or you!) to dive into sanding and inhaling lead paint. After the most-important-part comes the fun DIY stuff. We recently learned the power of sanding in steps. We want a super smooth finish on these babies, so here is the trick we used to accomplish a smooth finish:

First, start off with multiple grit types of sandpaper. We used the 3M sheets below. Usually using grit 100-150 works best on flat surfaces (you can find a slew of tips  like this at

3m sandpaper

What this does is creates a more even surface for you to then prime and paint. We want the dressers to have a smooth and glossy look once painted, so creating this foundation is really important.

We are not showing anything just yet because we have some surprises up our sleeves! Did you conquer one of the beauties yourself? Can we drool over your refinished campaign?! Share!

This post is a collaboration with 3M DIY. To learn more about safety and preparation, visit

DIY Wooden Lamp Base with the Beatiful Emily of Merrypad!

Hi Friends! It’s been busy. You know the story! Our friend Emily from Merrypad did an awesome job on transforming some reclaimed wood into lamp bases and making DIY paper shades! You know how we love a good wood lamp base! Give her a nice warm welcome, and don’t forget to check out her site. The girl has mad DIY skills.

Hey friends of Joey & Lana! Happy to have been invited to play whilst miss Lana’s away (at NYIGF, lucky girl). Hope you enjoy this little tutorial (it’s one of my favorite pieces).


In my cozy real-life merry pad, I’m frequently scheming new ways to provide adequate lighting; the ceiling lights in every room are most often attached to fans and don’t produce much light, so I’ve slowly-slowly been building my own little lamps to illuminate the space from the ground up (I’m talkin’ desk lamps, floor lamps, anything that will make the place look brighter than the overhead lighting). I thought it might be fun to share one of my favorite how-to’s, making a wooden lamp base and DIY paper shade from scratch:

The inspiration started when I found a large piece of driftwood ashore on my local beach; the lumber is clearly something that had been used in real construction at some point in its history, it was well-weathered and had had a lot of potential thanks to rusted nails and sheer size. No, it’s not something you come across every day in this condition, but yes, you could pretty easily find a piece of lumber this size and manually stain/weather/beat it into submission with a hammer until it’s a comparable condition. Or submerge it in Lake Ontario for 6 months with an anchor.


Originally, I envisioned it as a 20″ tall lamp base, but after weighing my options and considering the scale of the lamp compared to the rest of the decor in the living room, I eventually cut it in half to create a matching set of driftwood lamps.

Cutting a hole all the way through the wood with a drill and a long paddle bit, I created an access hole for new wires to be run through.

I saved a few dollars by using the electrical system from a lamp I found at a garage sale, laying out all of the components to re-thread them into one of the new lamp bases. You can find the same components at the store pretty easily for <$15.


Running the cord up through the bottom hole in the wood block, I quickly had one lamp hooked up and lighting the room. (There’s an extra channel along the base of the wood block too, BTW, the wire isn’t being crushed at all.)

Following suit with the second block of wood, I now had a matching set of lamps to flank my couch and provide much needed light to the living room. They needed shades too, of course, and after considering a few store-bought drum shade options, I decided to create something myself, a low-cost decision that was worth trying; after all, if the DIY plan flopped or the shade eventually got destroyed, it could easily be replaced. You can use any heavy stock you want for a DIY shade like this, but I chose pages from a well-designed coloring book (literally, something I bought at Anthropologie and and been using sparingly over the last few months, like in projects like this). Because the pages were only 9×12, I chose a few of my favorite complementary pages and cut the pieces of paper into strips, only to hot glue them back together edge-by-edge in succession to create a more randomized effect.

Using an assemblage of pieces from old junky lamp shades (thrift store and garage sale finds), I began to craft something that would be a sturdy frame for the new paper shade to be affixed to.  

Cut, chop, e-6000 and clamp together, the lamp shade structure was starting to come together nicely. Here’s one example of how I created a form to rest on the lamp halo. 


I spray painted the frame components white, and once they were dried, looped the paper shade around it’s circumference and hot glued it directly to the frame. The round frame keeps the paper shade holding its form, and also sits right on top of the lamp halo with ease:

The duo complete, I’ve really enjoyed the warmth that they bring to the room; the ivory and black paper complements the gold/yellow walls and soft wood ties in nicely to other natural and reclaimed pieces in my house.

Thanks again to Lana for inviting me to share a little tutorial in her absence! Check out to learn more about me and see projects I’ve been working on.

The Tree is Done!

I am so  so so over the moon excited, happy, and overjoyed (they all mean the same thing, eh?) that the amazing mural Duane has been working on is, in fact, complete. It’s the most amazing tree I have ever seen in my entire life, and the face that it was created by one of the most amazing people I have met in my life, makes it beyond special. The Tree of Life, over at Disney use to be my favorite tree ever. That was until Joey broke my heart and told me it was a fake tree. Kinda like the day I found out Santa Clause wasn’t real.

So now we have our very own special fake tree, which was a total labor of love from our very special and methodical friend. Needless to say, it’s my new favorite tree. 

From this here above, to this here below, she was grown.

The details can not be missed!

There she is. We love her. And we love Duane too. Yay for another step in the kids room. 



Drum roll please!!!! The day has come where we are actually sleeping on our brand spankin’ new King size bed we made from scratch! I can’t believe we finished this massive project. I cried. I actually cried the moment it was complete. Half out of pure frustration of the time it took, and half because I am so proud Joey was able to make the most beautiful bed! Behold (along with the glorious mess we made) the bed!


Now, this bed is HUGE. I’m not kidding or exaggerating. It’s massive. See the pillars behind it? Those are 7+ ft. tall. We had to inch it over into position, 3 inches at a time. It’s very rewarding to have finished, and we want to share how we completed this project!

We wanted some dark wood feet, so we bought raw feet from True Value and just stained them. A lot of the prep work for the bed can be found here, here, and here, including the feet. After they were stained we added them to the body Joey constructed.


For Christmas, I got Joey some new tools, which came in very handy while constructing the bed. The compressor I got him is super portable and he loves all the attachments you can get. For the bed the nail gun got used most.

After attaching the feet, all that was left to do was assemble the whole darn thing. First we attached the headboard, then attached the wings to the “back” of the headboard. We used the nailgun to secure the back to the headboard and some hinges to secure the wings. As you can see, we were super excited to see it all coming together.

To keep the mattress sturdy, we nailed down some “ladder” pieces to support the mattress. We used clamps to make sure it was all straight. We also numbered the pieces so when we reassembled, we knew it would be a perfect fit.

We would like to say it was easy, but it wasn’t. It was in challenge, but it is also an awesome reward. We made a bed from scratch. Our biggest DIY furniture project to date! We got exactly what we wanted, except now – we need to find a King size mattress we agree on! Let’s check her out one more time!




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