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The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Painting Cabinets

Guide to painting cabinets

Last week I shared with you our plans for our Master Bathroom renovation and if you remember, I mentioned that phase 1 of the plan (code name: Make it look nice with no money) was already in action. I had already painted the walls and trim in our vanity area, so the next logical step was to get rid of the 1980’s era brown cabinets.

bathroom before and after Since the goal was to not spend any money, I decided to use the leftover paint from the foyer and french door (Glidden Seal) to paint the vanities. Not only was I feeling cheap this week, but I was also feeling lazy and really wanted to knock out this project in an hour or so.  So here’s my guide on how to be lazy and still get a great paint job!

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Painting Cabinets

Total working time on this project was 1 hour, although I did it over 3 days to let the paint adequately dry before handling.

First up, remove all the doors and hardware from the cabinets.

easy way to paint a vanity Next, give the doors and cabinet a quick one over with a sanding block. I mean literally just graze all of the surfaces with it. This should only take a minute. Seriously, don’t obsess over this.  Then get ready for my secret weapon for being super lazy when painting cabinets: All surface Prep (also known as TSP substitute). Spray this product on all of your surfaces, wait a minute, then wipe off. Not only will this clean your surfaces, but it will also help de-glaze them thereby helping the paint stick (and voila you get to skip priming).

tsp By now you should have spent about 5 minutes prepping your surfaces and it’s finally time to paint. In order to fully maximize on being lazy I recommend you use the best paint possible (for instance paint and primer in one). I used a combination of a foam roller and high quality paint brush to get this finish.

quick painting cabinets Total it took two coats with about an hour dry time in between to get these cabinets looking perfect. For the doors I always paint the backs first let them dry for a day then flip them and paint the fronts. I gave the fronts a full day to dry before re-hanging them.

dark gray vanity And with just an hour of work time and no money spent, my bathroom vanity looks a million times better.

cabinet makeover

And here’s looking into the actual bathroom where the other vanity also got a paint job:

bathroom cabinet makeover

Key Points:

  • Prep surface with a quick sanding and TSP substitute
  • Use a high quality paint
  • Foam rollers and high quality brushes will give you the best finish. I recommend this brush.
  • Don’t rush the drying process.

What’s next?

bathroomvanity plans This makeover is just getting started, so there is still plenty to do. We plan on framing out the mirror with some old door moldings, refinishing the counter top with a concrete product, and making a small curtain to block the view of the trashcan.  Stay tuned for those updates and more…….

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Patriotic Summer BBQ on a Budget

Summer BBQ budget

I love throwing a BBQ. It’s one of the reasons we built a huge deck and patio. There is nothing quite like spending an afternoon outside with friends and family eating, drinking, and playing games while watching the kids run by laughing as they chase each other. Unfortunately, the cost of hosting parties has started to become prohibitive. It’s amazing how much I can spend on food for a gathering of just 10 people. Regardless we have started hosting an annual Memorial Day party, and I have started searching for ways to keep the price in check. Below our my tips for hosting a patriotic summer BBQ on a budget (I mentioned this was a memorial day party but obviously all the decor and food can be used for 4th of July or Labor Day as well).

patriotic decorations

I have 2 secrets for showing off the red, white, and blue at your BBQ: The Dollar Store and Target’s Dollar Stop. It’s a little ridiculous to spend a lot of money on decor that might literally be up for a couple of hours. I bought the miniature flags from Target (3 for $1) and I place them in all our pots. They also look great lining paths. The pinwheels also came from Target while the paper lanterns were from the Dollar Store. My other secret is that I save all these decoration from year to year. I have a large plastic bin that I put all our party decorations in and pull them back out for each party.

memorial day children

The Dollar Store and Target are also great spots to pick up patriotic accessories for the kids. Beside headbands I also picked up the kids a bunch of temporary tattoos and glow sticks.


summer bbq food

Food and drink is single handily the largest expense of any party, so this is where you really have to keep your budget in mind. There are 4 things to keep in mind when picking your menu:

  1. Limit the amount of dishes you serve. You are not Golden Carrol.
  2. Choose dishes that make a lot of food for little money (salads).
  3. Choose dishes that can be prepared in advance, so you can actually enjoy your guests.
  4. Ask guests to help out.

The chicken kabobs were a big hit. I bought 4lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast (@1.99/lb) and marinated them for a hour before skewering them with red, green, orange, and yellow peppers as well as onions. It only took 1 of each pepper to do this. We had 12 people at this particular BBQ and we maybe only went through 2/3rds of the kabobs.  We prepped all the kabobs before our guests arrived. This was the only dish that had to be cooked once the party started.

The strawberry spinach salad is my go-to dish for just about every potluck. People always rave about it and it’s super easy to make.  All you have to do it combine spinach, sliced strawberries, feta ( i like the herbed feta), and pecans (look for Pecan Pie flavored pecans for something really special). I usually offer many dressings on the side for guests to choose from but raspberry vinaigrette is definitely the best.

A fruit salad is another dish that everyone with enjoy and that will allow you to stretch a buck. I combined watermelon, pineapple, and blueberries to keep with the patriotic theme. I used metal cookie cutters to cut the watermelon into star shapes for an extra special touch.

The alcohol budget can get out of control quickly. Remember, it’s not your job to provide everyone’s favorite drink. We always have  water, lemonade, and beer on hand then I choose to make one signature drink. This year I choose a Star Spangled Sangria. Click the link to get the recipe. What was great about this drink was that I used the strawberries, pineapple, and blueberries in the other dishes as well, so I didn’t have to buy any extra fruit for it.

summer sangria

Finally, our guests each brought a dish to share. That included potato salad, cucumber salad, salsa and chips, and chocolate eclair. I am always very directive when guests ask what they can bring. The last thing you want it to have 3 potato salads. I’ll often tell people the menu I have already decided on then ask them to specifically bring either a side, appetizer, or dessert. This helps ensure that you have all the bases covered and don’t get too many similar dishes. Also, don’t be afraid to ask guests to BYOB. My brother is a beer drinker and not much of a cook, so I always suggest that he brings beer to the party. He feels like he gets to contribute and I don’t have to buy beer. It’s a win, win!


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The best plants for the porch

shade plants If you want a beautiful porch that will add tons of curb appeal to your home all you have to do is add plants. Most people, however make 3 crucial mistakes when it comes to potting plants on a covered porch or patio.

Mistake #1: You bought sun loving plants.

Most covered porches and patios are going to be shaded or at best partial sun. Make sure you pick plants that are shade tolerant for your porch. Flowering plants that are labeled full sun will quickly loose their flowers if placed in the shade.

Mistake #2: Your plants aren’t large enough.

When you are planting in a large garden bed you can cluster multiple plants together to get a large impact, but unless you have 20 pots on your front porch this technique isn’t going to work for you. You want your plants to  be visible from the street, yard, or house so that you can enjoy them when you are not sitting on your porch. Also, if passerbys can’t see the plants from the road then they are not boosting your curb appeal. You have limited space on a porch, so make sure to pick plants that are large and lush looking. You can see from the picture below of our porch that while there are not a lot of plants they all make a dramatic impact from the street.

Shade plants for porch

Mistake #3: You are not watering or fertilizing enough.

Pots have many benefits over gardens: no weeding, less space, can be placed on concrete. However, they do have one downfall: the suck up water and nutrients out of the soil since they can’t be replaced naturally through rain or organic decomposition. This means that your pots need to be watered and fertilized frequently. I find that once the summer heat hits my pots need to be watered everyday and since the ones on my porch do not receive rainfall that means I water them by hand.  Typically fertilizing once every 1-2 weeks is fine or you can plant in Miracle Grow soil or use a slow release fertilizer.

Below are my 3 favorite plants to use on our covered porch. All do well in the shade, look beautiful and lush, and are easy to maintain.


hosta on front porch

Hostas are a mounding perennial that prefer shade to partial sun and produce purple flowers in late Spring. Many people don’t think to plant perennials in pots, but the major advantage of them is that with absolutely no work they come back every single Spring. In fact, Hostas require absolutely no work to maintain. One of my favorite things about Hostas is that you can split your stock. After a year or two if your plant is becoming rather large you can dig it up (preferably in the Fall) break it in two, and replant them as two separate plants. I’ve done this many times in my garden and they always come back beautiful, and well, hey who doesn’t like free plants? Hostas are planted for their foliage and will maintain their bright green leaves until winter (the flowers will die back after a couple of weeks). They come in many different varieties including variegated which you can see in my picture above.

Boston Ferns

boston fern for the porch


 Boston Ferns are another shade loving plant that is grown for it’s foliage. I hang 3 ferns in baskets on my porch every year, and they instantly add a vibrancy and lushness to an area that looked otherwise dead all winter. As tropical plants, ferns do well in the heat and won’t die back until the first frost.


New guinea impatiens

My first two picks for the best plants for the porch were both green foliage and for good reason. They are large, lush, impressive, and won’t lose their vibrancy, but sometimes a little color is called for. My favorite flower to use on my porch is impatiens. Impatiens are shade loving and come in a variety of colors. Other than deadheading, watering , and fertilizing they  do not need any extra care. They will bloom all spring and summer until the first frost hits. The variety I have planted above is called a New Guinea Impatiens and is a little more fancy than your typical run of the mill variety.

Well those are my top 3 choices for plants that do well on a covered porch. Keep in mind that I live is zone 7, so your success with some of these plants may vary depending where you live, but in general they are all pretty low maintenance. So tell me, what are you go to plants for covered areas?

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How to age wood with paint and stain

This is the process I used to create the aged wood look of my reclaimed wood moose head and extra large pallet and burlap frame. How to age wood with paint and stain

This is a quick and ridiculously easy tutorial on how to age wood using paint and stain. I used pallets for this project and raided the garage for paint and stain, so it actually cost me nothing to do this. To start sand your wood down just enough to remove large splinters. If your wood is brand new take both sides of a hammer to it as well as other garage tools to create dents and gouges. Since my wood was from pallets it was already pretty banged up. This technique is very easy and almost impossible to mess up. The key is to create depth and texture using many light coats of paint and stain. Wait until the stain or paint is dry to the touch before moving onto the next step. Honestly, I found that by time I finished one step the first pieces were already dry. Here’s what my wood looked like before I started to faux age it:

How to age wood with paint and stain

I’m going to use this wood in two upcoming projects I am really excited about and I wanted different shades of wood so I raided the garage and found these 3 stains:Mission Oak, Red Mahogany, and Jacobean. Ideally you don’t want the stain to be gloss or have polyurethane in it. Only one of mine did and it came out fine though.

How to age wood

Step 1: Using a chip brush add an even coat of stain to each piece of wood.  At this point it will still look like new wood just stained. I used the same brush for all 3 stains so I wouldn’t waste any brushes. Keep your stain and brush out for steps 2 and 4.

How to age wood

Next, find a flat finish white paint. I used ceiling paint which worked out perfect, but you could also use latex primer or craft paint.

How to age wood with paint

Step 2: Dry brush the white paint onto the wood. To dry brush dip the brush into the paint then try to remove most of the paint on the side of the can. Next, using quick light strokes brush over the top of the wood.  You’ll notice that the wood is starting to look aged now. Here’s what is should look like:

How to age wood with stain

Step 3: Dry brush a coat of stain onto each piece. You’ll notice that this starts to really bring out the texture of the wood. For this step I used the mission oak on the unstained wood to give it more depth.

How to age wood

Next, I created a grey wash by mixing equal parts grey craft paint with water. I used Americana Slate Grey that was left over from another project.

create a grey wash with grey paint and water How to age wood with paint

Step 4: Dry brush the grey wash onto the wood.

  how to age wood


Step 5: Dry brush the stain on one last time. When the stain is completely dry I gave it a light sanding with a sanding block.

How to age wood

That’s it! You’re done. Wasn’t that easy? You really can’t screw this up. If you find you are a little heavy handed on one step, just keep repeating the steps until you achieve the look you are going for. Here’s another look at them:

How to age wood

And one last close-up:

How to age wood

Make sure to check out the two projects I used this wood for:

Reclaimed wood moose head

Pallet and burlap extra large picture frame

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