Chair rail in the family room and breakfast nook

The last several weeks I’ve devoted to getting half-finished projects wrapped up and checked off the to-do list. I’m great at going full steam and starting a project. Finishing the project? NotSoMuch. I’m a 90-percent-er. I get about 90% of the work done and then get distracted with a shiny new fun project. I’m like a dog who sees a squirrel. Totally focused and then all of a sudden,… “SQUIRREL!!”

It’s time to hunker down and get these loose ends wrapped up. Even if I literally die of boredom.

One of the projects that I’ve been putting off for months is finishing hanging chair rail in my family room and breakfast nook. I hung a few random pieces A YEAR ago and then never quite got around to hanging the rest of the moulding. Oops. (See Project #11 on this list.)

Yikes. Well, guess what? I did it. I got er done. It was boring. And it wasn’t as fun as decorating something. But the moulding is hung and painted and… well… it’s done. Hallelujah.

See? Proof. I am the chair rail master. I mastered those chair rails.

I started by using my nail gun to hang all the moulding. Then I used wood putty and filled all the holes. After that I caulked all the edges, and finally, painted it all a semi-gloss white called Alabaster from Sherwin Williams.

For these darn rounded edges I just ended the moulding before the edge. On the staircase wall I cut a piece of chair rail and centered it on the wall.

Here’s the wall totally finished. After I painted the chair rail I went around with my gray touch up paint to make it crisp and clean looking. The gray wall color is called Bedford Gray by Martha Stewart.

I pretty much showed my hand when I shared my fireplace redo. Did you notice the chair rail?

Speaking of fireplace redo, I know that a whole lot of you hate the painted tile. And I just want to say that I don’t love it either. I did this project pretty much for free, and the black tile is better than the ugly beige tile, but it isn’t ideal. I do plan on updating the tile as soon as I want to deal with renting a wet saw. So stay tuned for an update on that. I do still love having a black mantle though. 😉

Anyhoo, here’s another view of the chair rail under the tv. Notice I ended the rail before the rounded edge.

I figured I should paint over my extremely dirty and scuffed up baseboards while I was already sitting on the floor with the trim paint out, so those all got a fresh coat of paint as well.

I’m not much of a taper (haha a tapir. Like the animal. Ben will be proud. It’s his favorite animal.) , but I do tape off the floor when painting baseboards so I’ll have a perfectly crisp line along the floor. Oh, and so the paint doesn’t get all over the carpet.

I know it’s the highlight of your day to look at my dirty and dingy baseboards. What could be more fun than checking out some random bloggers baseboards? I can think of 100 things more fun. But I figure if I had to sit there for hours bored taping and painting them, I might as well bore you for a few minutes by showing you how bored I was. Thanks, I love you too. xoxo

After a year of staring at a half-hung chair rail, I’m thrilled to finally be able to check this little project off the to-do list. My next goal is to finish hanging moulding around all the windows in the house. I only have 9 more windows left until I am totally DONE trimming out all the windows.

So, do you love moulding and trim and chair rail? Or is it just me and Thrifty Decor Chick that can’t get enough of it?

PS I’m guest posting at I am Momma Hear me Roar Tuesday morning. Stop on by and say hi to Cheri. She is so awesome!

A dramatic fireplace makeover {white moulding & black mantel}

I just finished a project that didn’t take too long and wasn’t too difficult, but has a huge impact. The fireplace in our home is in the corner and angled. It seems like the perfect high impact focal point, so to enhance the fireplace and make it really stand out, I added a bunch of moulding and painted the mantel black.

Check it out.

Here’s a refresher of what it looked like when we moved in, and a week ago:

{Way Before and Before}

Such a dramatic difference, right?!

I couldn’t be any more pleased with how it turned out. It definitely has that WOW factor that jumps out at you the second you enter the room.

I gathered lots of inspiration photos before I tackled this project. Too see all my inspiration, visit my Fireplace Pinboard. I have to say though that my love for a black mantel is directly inspired from Sarah of The Yellow Cape Cod. Her style is amazing.

This fireplace has come a loooong way. Check it out when we first moved in. Looks like a bachelor pad with that art and the gumball machine.

and now!

Even I do a double take. It’s seriously amazing what a little elbow grease and some paint will do for a room.

What good is a post without a tutorial? Here’s how I went from blah to Vavoom.

I started with a drawing. Most of my projects start on paper as chicken scratch. I drew a very-not-to-scale sketch of the fireplace, then added my trim. Once it was drawn I measured the entire fireplace and added my measurements to the drawing.

Before I started nailing wood to the wall I did a trial run with painter’s tape just to make sure I liked the look and spacing of everything.

When I did the board and batten in my daughter’s room, I bought too many sheets of MDF. I have enough strips of 4″ wide MDF to board and batten this entire house! I’ve been finding all sorts of projects to use this stuff on.

For this project I used my 4″ wide strips of MDF to frame out the mantel. I started by adding strips down either side of the angled wall.

Pardon all the stereo equipment on the floor. Ben was tinkering with all of it and then had to leave town for business, so I worked around it until I got sick enough of stepping over it. Then I moved it. I love keeping it real over here.

Then I added my horizontal strips. Make sure you measure and use a level before nailing your boards to the wall.

I finished up the MDF planks by adding the vertical ones. Some pieces are white because they are leftover from another project.

After that I was pooped and went to bed. I guess that’s what happens when you start a project at 7pm.

The next morning I got the kids off to school and finished my project. I spackled all the holes in the wall and I used wood putty on all the nail holes in the MDF. Then I used paintable caulk to fill all the edges for a crisp clean look.

TIP: when filling nail holes in MDF, use wood putty instead of spackle. The spackle is too wet and will cause the MDF to swell.

I also taped off my ceiling and side walls to help protect my gray walls from getting primer and paint all over them.

You always want to prime the MDF before painting (unless using a primer and paint in one). Otherwise you will end up doing 20 coats of paint to cover the MDF. For the planks I used Zinseer Bull’s Eye 1-2-3 Primer. I’m not married to it, but it works well and is what I had in the garage. Please note, I used a different primer for the tile. Read on for those details.

I primed all the MDF planks with a paint brush. I didn’t want to dirty up a roller as well. But when it came time for painting I did use a roller on it.

In the middle of all the planking and priming I also started to prep the tile for a new paint job. There is absolutely no reason I used blue and green tape on this project other than it’s what I grabbed first. The blue Scotch tape and the green Frog tape both are such exceptional products that I really have no preference of one over the other.

I used a Zinseer primer called BIN Primer. It’s suppose to adhere better to stuff like tile.

After priming the tile I got busy painting all the new moulding and wall. For all my trim work in my house I always use the same color – Alabaster by Sherwin Williams (except the laundry room trim is color matched to the ikea built-ins). For this trim I bought a satin finish so the texture on the walls wouldn’t be so glaringly obvious.

To paint all the trim I first used a 2″ wide angled brush (my favorite is the stubby one from Purdy) on all edges. Then for an extra smooth finish I rolled the white paint onto the walls with a little fluffy roller for textured walls. I also rolled the paint onto the planks using a very smooth roller for smooth surfaces.

During all of this fireplace chaos did I mention my husband was on a business trip? Oh, and the kids insisted they “decorate” for Halloween. While I’m cutting and painting and trimming, I also went in the attic and got out all the Halloween decorations. THIS is literally my life:

Finally it was time for all the black paint! It took me two coats (plus some touch-ups) to get the mantel and tile covered. Here’s the mantel after the first coat.

The black I used is called Francesca by Martha Stewart. I got it in the Glidden primer and paint in one in a semi-gloss finish. I used this same paint on the tile as well.

I have no idea if it will stick to the tile long-term. We never touch the tile or walk on it, so ours will probably work fine but if you do this project yourself you might want to double-check if this type of paint will work.)

When I was done I had a few little touch-ups and hard to reach places so I used a very small paint brush for that.

After two coats, it’s looking pretty fresh. I didn’t roll any black on, I used a paint brush for everything.

So, what do you think? Are you a fan of dramatic black mantels?

I love going back to my archives and looking at pictures of my house two years ago. It’s amazing how much my style has transformed and also how far this house has come. It was fun pulling old photos for this post.

The laundry slash mudroom is almost done

You guys, I am so close to being done with the laundry room renovation. And I am giddy with excitement over how it’s turning out. So. Much. More. Awesome. than I could have anticipated.

We’ve been using the laundry room while it’s in transition, and even with missing trim and much needed paint touch-ups, the room functions as a laundry-slash-mudroom perfectly. Definitely worth the hard work and time I’ve invested in it.

I started a few weeks ago by showing you how to hang beadboard and how to turn ikea furniture into a mudroom locker system.

Then I dove into showing you how to run a vent pipe through your new mudroom locker system.

Today I want to give you a basic update just to show you where I’m at now. I also will give some pointers on hanging wall hooks so they are level and spaced evenly apart.

Here’s the mudroom locker system almost totally finished. All it needs is a little bit of finishing trim and some crown moulding.

I finally hung that shelf across the top (I just followed the directions that came with the shelf from ikea). I also added a strip of MDF across the back and hung up 5 new coat hooks.

I chose to add a strip of MDF across the back before I hung the hooks for two reasons. One, I think it looks more finished and more “built in”. Two, it gives the hooks additional support. The screws had something more than beadboard and drywall to bite into.

I cut a strip of 4″ wide MDF the length that I needed it, and then before I hung it up (with liquid nails and a nail gun) I measured and marked five evenly spaced lines across the board.

Then I marked where each of the screws needed to go for each hook. After I hung the board to the beadboard I drilled pilot holes into each of the screw hole markings and puttied up all my nail holes.

By pre-drilling all the screw holes, you can now prime and paint your board and not worry about where to hang each hook. You will see all your pilot holes after the paint is dry.

By pre-measuring and pre-drilling before painting, once the hooks were hung I didn’t have any paint touch-ups. It was really nice. (The coat hooks are from Home Depot and were around $4ish each.)

Now that the top shelf and the coat rack are hung I can finally focus on adding trim around all the raw edges. I bought some quarter-round I’m going to add to cover those edges. It will help give the unit a much more finished and built-in look.

Here’s how the unit is currently looking. It is fully functional, just needs the basic finishing touches (trim).

I may even add some pretty knobs to the bench drawers. It would be purely cosmetic though since the drawers have a great tap function. You just barely tap on the drawer and it pops open. The kids’ socks are stored in the drawers (they each get a drawer).

And here’s a sneak peek of the entire room. I can’t wait until I finish all the trim and crown moulding so I can give you a full tour of the room.

Oh, and check out the “before” photo. What a dramatic difference!


I think I’ve been starved for some serious DIY projects after taking a break from big projects all summer long. I just love transforming boring spaces into super-functional and pretty ones.

For a source list, check out this post.

Part 1: How to install beadboard and turn ikea furniture into mudroom lockers

Part 2: How to install a vent pipe through shelving

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