Monday, June 12, 2017

My Attempt at Chalk Painted Upholstery

So, I haven't blogged in awhile, and this is a quick-before-the-kids-awake type of post in response to my Facebook and Instagram photos of this experiment. This is mainly a listing of links for someone else wanting to try it.

First, the chairs:

 They wre both the red, hotel looking fabric on the left. The chair on the right is waiting for a coat of wax.

Then the finished product:

And I really like how you can see the texture of the fabric through the paint so that it looks like embossing or damask.


Many of the posts online say to wet fabric first, and sand between coats. I did not remember any of that in my spontaneous inspiration, and just mixed up my paint and slapped it on. If I had remembered to do those things, it sounds like my chairs would be softer. I am reading that people liken the texture to outdoor canvas, whereas mine is more like soft leather.

Would I do a big piece, like a sofa, with this? Um, maybe, but I would probably be much more orderly about it!

And I read somewhere that for the best chance of success, use a paint with a similar tint. So in this case, I had actually picked a brown with a slight reddish undertone to go over my red chairs. Other pictures online have more stark contrasts in their before and afters, but this bit of advice made sense to me.

One tutorial:

Another tutorial:

My go-to chalk paint recipe:
I buy the carton of Plaster from the orange box store for about $10, and it lasts a loooong time. I then buy the sample sizes of Behr flat paint mixed. One of those will easily cover a large dresser when mixed with the plaster. But in this case, it took just over 2 of those sample sizes because the fabric absorbed more of the paint versus wood. However, if I had wet the fabric first, that may not have happened as much....Oh well, live and learn, right?

Happy Painting!
Hillary At Home

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Homestead Experiment-No Money Pantry Makeover

Happy Happy New Year's Eve!! Before I write more, let me just wish all of my dear friends and family a wonderful weekend and prayers for a peaceful New Year! (Rabbit Trail: As I get older, I am not praying as much for prosperity or improved looks, but peace! It is amazing how our priorities change with age and adult life. haha!)

Okay, so here is the summary. I know, if you're at all like me, you're not going to even read this but scroll straight to the pictures. So, I will keep it short with my trademark bullet summary:

*Did not like the look of our cave/pantry.
* We knew that we could paint the panelling when we bought it, but have been waiting for a good time to unpack our pantry into our tiny cottage without too much disruption.
*Didn't get to it do it this summer with a little Septic Saga we were dealing with.
*Christmas break! Time is right, but off-season for our biz which means money is tight.
*Idea: Could we do this without spending ANY money at all? Not a dime?  Let's try!

BEFORE Shots: Coffee Counter

On Christmas Day, we began picking at the white Contac paper to see what was hidden underneath. All along, I had thought it was an MDF slab or something equally unusual, and planned to build a wood counter top. What we found was a wonderful surprise!

It was a beautiful piece of ply with cedar trim! All it needed was to be finished. Thankfully I had plenty of leftover stain and Spar Urethane from various projects to keep my $0 budget! 

And now the rest of the pantry. The pictures speak for themselves; dark and hard to organize.

And now the AFTER pictures! Drum roll please!

 I was extremely tempted to go to Joann's and buy some black buffalo-check fabric for this curtain. But thankfully, I found this blue gingham which works well. It is a little more 'vintage farmhouse' than the trendy 'modern farmhouse', but it goes well with the rest of the decor.

And, are you curious what that little blue cabinet with the wall paper patch on the right is? It is an old sewing cabinet that I scored awhile back that I have been using as a trash cabinet. It hides our trash can, and more importantly, keeps the dog out of it! It perfectly fits out plastic can, and the recycling can snugs in right next to it as if it is a custom job. Bonus-the front of the cabinet swings open like a door, so it is simple to slide the can in and out to dump it. I appreciate it greatly!

 You can't really see it here, but there is about an 8 inch gap between the fridge and the cabinet on the right. Before canning season, I am planning to make a rolling shelf that will hold my mason jar treasures.
 These organizers were left by the previous owners, but hung in really inconvenient spots. I moved them over to this blank wall, and it flows well. 

 Originally I wanted to paint this room white, but since it is the back entrance to the house, we thought white would not be such a good idea with traffic. So, I had a couple of gallons of 'Orchard Hills' green left in the bucket from our living room transformation this summer, and decided to go with that. I am so thankful that we did! Now, it flows so nicely from the main space, and since you can see in the doorway from the rest of the room, it just looks like an extension of the kitchen and makes the whole room feel so much larger! Win!

To wrap up, I call this experiment a HUGE success! We love the room in its light airy-ness, and in spite of the work and late nights painting, it works so much better for our family.  I am so grateful that we had everything on hand to make it happen. It is such a gift and blessing to my homemaking heart!

Again, Happy New Year to you all, and thank you for standing by us during our 2016 rollercoaster!

Hillary At Home

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Septic Saga Wrap-Up!

To keep this post brief, I won't bore you with re-hashing every dramatic detail from the past 4 months. I do, however, want to highlight some of the amazing things that occurred which enabled our little brood to remain here at The Cottage!

To avoid, what I call, "Blog Blah Blah" (where the writer rambles on forevah about every.single.detail), I am going to list it out in bullet points, befitting my Type A tendencies. So! That being said, let's get to it! The highs and lows of The Septic Saga in one simple list:

*Low: March 29th-The infamous day of AK D.E.C. knocking on my door to inform me that AK Dept. of Fish & Game discovered our septic tank was leaking into the nearby salmon spawning stream. They informed me that a Notice of Violation was to come, but wanted to give me a heads' up. (Thankfully I was home to receive that visit, because the letter that followed a week later was pretty intimidating! ) The compliance officer walked back to her car to get a business card for me, and when she returned I was already on the phone with the original inspector from our purchase of the home last year.

*Low: We had to stop using our drainage pretty much right away. That meant catch pans in the sinks, no toileting/showering/laundering! With 4 kiddos, that is not an easy task!

*High: Friends who were out of town for the summer allowed us to use their laundry while they were gone.  Another friend arranged for us to clean the nice bathroom facility at the local RV park in return for showering privileges!

*Incredulous Low: We found out that we did not have a septic tank, but a 60+ year old fuel tank that had been converted to a septic, along with no proper drain field! The inspector acknowledged repeatedly that he knew this, but never noted it on the inspection!Plus, the previous homeowners had re-routed the gray water outside of the septic tank and did not disclose it. They ran a french drain to route it out to the roadside ditch that runs along the front of the property!

*Low: We were told by the first engineer that we would have to put in a mound system septic with a sump pump. Costs were looking at $30-35k! Plus at that time, DEC was still saying they wanted the whole area along the creek in front of our house remediated. Including the $4-5k that would be required in fees to satisfy the DEC Notice of Violation, we could easily be looking at a $50k tab, and a long court battle...

*Major Low: We were told the bank would not loan us the money for the repair since a new septic does not really build equity. We began to look for a rental and make plans to turn the property back to the bank.

*Downright Scary Low: Upon working with our friendly, turned not-so-friendly compliance officer at DEC, we learned that:
      1. Even if we foreclosed and gave the property back to the bank, they would still pursue us with fines and possible jail time since our names were associated with the property at the time of violation.
      2. DEC does not regulate third party septic transactions, only new ones. Thus, there is no 'code' for septics unlike plumbing and electrical.
    3. Likewise, DEC does not regulate who can be an inspector, nor offer training or certification for a septic inspector. In the words of the head of the waste water department in Anchorage, anyone can be an inspector if they get people to trust them to do the inspection. Seriously.

*High: The inspection company brought us a complimentary port-a-potty to use until legalities were ironed out.

*High: Due to the leak coming directly from the tank, and not leaching from the drainfield as originally thought, it was agreed upon that it would be worse to dig up the creek bed itself to remediate versus just letting the small amount of organic matter break down in the moving water. In other words, no remediation costs! Woo Hoo!

*High: The previous homeowners paid for a second engineer to come out and give his assessment. He tentatively developed a plan to put a straight forward system in the frontal area of the property-depending on the water table being low enough. It was doubtful given the location of the creek, but he called for an excavator to do a bucket test and check.

*Major High: The water table was lower than expected! We could put in the system he was thinking of! The cost plummeted to $15k!  We called the bank and let them know the situation in hopes that they could work with us to avoid foreclosure given the new price tag. We just wanted to get it fixed, and would deal with legalities later.  Guess what?! Since the cost would now be under $25k, we could qualify for an FHA Liveablity loan that is designed to assist with roof, septic, and other structural repairs. Given our situation, the loan department moved us to the head of the line and we were able to close in less than a month!

*High: After much debating and downright arguing with the insurance company of the inspector, we reached a partial-settlement and were able to avoid court. BIG sigh of relief!

*And finally, we were going to pursue the previous homeowners for the remainder of the bill, but then felt led to take a different route. Unfortunately, they left a lot of disappointing surprises for us that range from rigging items on the repair addendum to non-disclosing other rigging jobs. Thankfully Farmer Brent is a pretty handy guy, and his tech background leads him to be meticulous and emphatic about fixing things properly, so we have just dealt with them to keep the peace. However, this septic mess is pretty much the proverbial straw that has broken the camel's back, and so we have decided to articulate our disappointment in their lack of integrity by sending a formal letter to them. Since I do not want to write it in anger, it hasn't happened yet...But soon, I think. The outhouse was hauled away after being in our drive for 4 months, and with it went a lot of the anxiety, stress, and inconvenience that their lies had caused. So, I am feeling closer to being able to write it in a spirit of love and ministry...

*Acknowledgements: THANK YOU to all of you who have encouraged us, prayed for us, provided facilities for us, and commiserated with us! You are loved and appreciated more than we could ever say!!!!