Category Archives: DIY & Crafts

One Room Challenge Week 5: How to Paint an “Old Wall” Look

Wow, the One Room Challenge has really been a journey! Originally I wanted to makeover our basement into a light, bright, creative studio for blog DIYs, a creative business, who knows the future when you have a big inspiring room to play in, right? But in Week 3, the basement flooded. In Week 4, it flooded again. The basement is beyond any makeover now. Only a total tear-out can help it. So in Week 4 I moved the ORC party to a guest room two stories higher — there’s no flooding 12 feet above the ground and far from plumbing pipes!

So after switching rooms halfway through this challenge, I am sooooooo thankful we have an extra seventh week now. This has been a lesson in handling unexpected events, and thinking fast and flexibly.

I’m not spending much money on this makeover because 1.) I was not planning to  re-do the guest room, and 2.) I already own much of what I need, and whenever our basement is renovated, I want to move the studio down there per the original plans. What’s a great way to get big visual change on a lower budget? Paint!

Paint Paint Paint

As shared last week, the guest room had dark terra cotta color walls, painted with a mottled effect to look old. I left one wall in the original terra cotta color, and painted the other walls with a similar texture to look old. I followed the steps that I shared in a previous tutorial — How to paint new walls to look old — with one big difference. Instead of using a sea sponge, this time I used a Woolie, shown here:

(Hmmmm. Sorry it’s so dark — I will re-shoot this with better light.)

The closet nook walls shown in my previous tutorial have a “small splotchy” look that I still want to fix. I think it’s hard to avoid that when using a sea sponge, even though I shared tips in that post to avoid small splotches. They still happened to my wall. The Woolie has a broad base and you can twist and turn it, pounce it, swipe it, do all sorts of big wide moves with it to make “splotchy swaths” — like big splotches instead of little ones. Here’s part of a wall I did this week. It has bigger swooping swaths of varying colors:

How to Paint an Old Wall Look

One recommendation in my “old wall” painting tutorial that I followed again, and it worked well again, was the advice for choosing paint colors. I recommend using two to three similar colors. Three is much better. You will get more depth on the wall. Then choose an accent color, usually a natural color like a beige or gray.

For the room I show you today, I did the opposite with wall color vs. accent color choices. Because the wall color is beige, my accent color is terra cotta.

Paint Colors for Natural Old Wall Look

Here are the three colors that I used to make the old wall look shown above:

Paint Colors for Natural Old Wall Look

Then the accent color, where small areas of the color peeks through the three above colors. The walls were previously painted mostly with Benjamin Moore Audubon Russett (HC-51) and Georgian Brick (HC-50). I left small subtle patches of this terra cotta color peeking through the beige and white layers.

Accent Color

The ceiling is a light gray. When the walls were terra cotta, the gray wasn’t so obvious. But now that the walls are turning beige, this is emphasizing the gray in the ceiling.

Gray Ceiling

I’m not loving that. I don’t feel like repainting the ceiling. But after finishing the walls, I think I really need to paint the ceiling. There are so many other colors in the room — a teal nook in the closet, a terra cotta accent wall. Gray on the ceiling adds yet another color. I will likely paint over the gray with Benjamin Moore Maritime White, so I’m pulling a color from the wall up onto the ceiling. Also, the white color will be lighter and help bounce light around more, which I like.

How Much Paint to Get

Now, I just suggested buying numerous paint colors. But that doesn’t mean that this is going to cost a lot. As you’ll see below, you are not applying full even coats of paint. So you will use less paint. I used a surprisingly little amount of paint, far less than I expected.

As a benchmark, here is what I used for “two and a half” walls in a room that’s about 10 x 10 feet, with walls that are 8 feet high. I say “two and a half” walls because I left one wall alone with its previous color, and there is a closet and door on another wall, plus two smaller windows. So I painted about 200 square feet. I used:

  • A sample pint can of Simply White and about 3″ of a gallon can of Simply White
  • A quart of Bungalow Beige
  • A pint sample of Maritime White

Yeah, that’s it! I even bought a quart of Maritime White, thinking for sure I’d run out of a pint. I didn’t. As you’ll see below, you are applying light layers and leaving lots of holes showing the layers below, so you will use a lot less paint. Also, rollers suck up a lot of paint. I would have used a lot less Simply White if I had sponged that on the wall instead of rolled it.

Painting an Old Wall Look

Here’s how it went down. Or, how the paint went on!

The first layer, Benjamin Moore Simply White, was painted terribly! On purpose. I loaded a roller and haphazardly rolled the paint in different directions on the walls. It looked awful, really awful!

First Layer

First Layer

But don’t worry. This is how it’s supposed to look. The purpose of this layer of paint was to cover most of the terra cotta color, and to not leave a perfect finish. Old walls are imperfect, right?

After painting for years, I trust the process and know it will turn out okay. Though this week wasn’t without its worrisome moments. As you’ll see in a minute.

The second layer, Sherwin Williams Bungalow Beige, was applied to the walls with the Woolie. I pounced the Woolie on the wall, swished it, swooped it,  twisted it, turned it. Anything to make a random effect. You don’t want to see any repetitive patterns. I was aiming for a natural weathering look on the walls. So to achieve this, you want to make wider swaths with the Woolie. Leave areas of the colors below peeking through.

Here’s how it looked after this second layer:

Second Layer

Second Layer of Paint to Make an Old Wall Look

I was painting this Bungalow Beige layer late at night. The next morning I took a look at the room. My heart sank. It felt so … blaahhhhhhhhhhhh. Like it was a FEELING. A feeling of sadness. Hopelessness. Loneliness. This is how the room FELT! It FELT like a single lonely piece of plain beige paper, all wadded up and discarded in the middle of a room with beige floors, beige walls, beige ceiling. Just so much beige-ness.

Oh my. What did I do?

I had a moment of uncertainty. But just a moment. This is to be expected!! I just erased a rich deep color and replaced it with, yeah, blahhhhh.

One solution is to TRUST. Trust the process, and keep going. To avoid this blah-ness, a third layer of paint is necessary. The third layer adds more dimension.

When I put swatches on the wall a few weeks ago, some colors looked flat, but the Benjamin Moore Maritime White was really singing in this particular room and in its light, during both day and night. Like I was really loving it. So I saved it for the last paint layer, the most obvious paint layer.

The third layer, Benjamin Moore Maritime White, was also applied with the Woolie, just like the second layer. I paid attention to how much of the first and second layers I wanted to peek through. And also, I was careful about how much of the original terra cotta to leave peeking through.

I felt MUCH better after adding the Maritime White onto the walls! Instead of wondering if I’d made a big boring mistake, the walls are coming more alive, and sophisticated, with the addition of this third layer.

Mottled Old Wall Look with Paint

The accent color, Benjamin Moore Audubon Russett, in the end wound up being far more subtle than the original plan. I originally left larger “rivers” and random spots of the terra cotta color:

River of Terra Cotta Paint

Making an Old Wall Look

But, the next day, as I looked around the room, my eye kept getting caught on those terra cotta blotches. And I realized, I don’t think that’s what I want to be looking at. It’s too much. Plus, I was envisioning the final result, all the other things that will be coming into the room — the textiles, the patterns, the textures. This gives you an idea of the things that will be in the room:

Texture Color Pattern Textiles

The big terra cotta rivers and blotches on the wall will compete too much with these things. The other factor is, this room is smaller, about 10 x 10 feet. If it was a huge room, maybe the walls could have handled more “stuff” happening on them. In this room, I decided it was “trying too hard.”

So I painted over much of the terra cotta. I left subtle areas that you can see in person. But they don’t photograph well, so it’s hard to see online. I should note, what you see in the next photo is not the final wall — this is after the second layer of paint. The third layer evened the splotches out on this wall a lot more:

Painted Over Terra Cotta Accents

After getting through these steps, I am starting to feel excited about the walls and how they’ll “play” with the other things coming into the room!

Speaking of the Other Things …

I started painting other pieces too. I’ll share more in future weeks. For now, here’s a peek at a little Moroccan table that will be a step stool to get up into the Moroccan-Indian closet nook:

Moroccan Stenciled Step Stool

And I started painting trays that will be stenciled to look like baskets from Africa, like the one shown here with the trays:

Trays

I started painting over a bowl that no longer fits my style. It will be painted with varying colors of Chalk Paint, then dry-brushed with metallic copper to catch on the raised edges of the flower pattern:

Repainting a Tray

There is still a LOT to do … I’ll stop now and get back to work!

But first, visit the other bloggers who are doing the One Room Challenge. There are 20 featured designers and about 200 guest participants who are making over rooms. As the end gets closer, I’m seeing color concepts come together, accessories meeting furniture, walls and floors transformed, and innovative DIYs. Go see what they’re doing!



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Furniture Makeover: From Danish Modern to “Antique”

Several times, I’ve transformed furniture from a plain “Danish modern” style into something far more interesting (to me, at least!). Did you know you can makeover furniture from plain Danish modern into a global style — Chinese antique and Indian antique?

Here’s a few pieces I’ve made over …

I did a makeover on this cabinet to make it look like a Chinese antique:

DIY Cabinet Makeover

Click here for a full tutorial. I used a small poster of a Chinese scene that I ordered from the V&A Museum, olive green milk paint, a few pieces of basswood, and Chinese style hardware found on eBay. That’s it! It now fits much better with our global decor, with Moroccan lanterns and a gong found in Cambodia.

I added raised stencils and Chalk Paint to this armoire to make it look like an Indian antique:

DIY Armoire Makeover

Click here for a full tutorial. I used a Moroccan stencil from Royal Design Studio and created a raised effect, and several colors of Chalk Paint and Clear Wax from Annie Sloan to totally transform this armoire. Oh, and new pulls that look old, from Anthropologie.

Cabinet Makeover Indian Antique

I’m itching to do another piece. I wanted a shelf or cabinet in our living room to hold a bunch of books. While surfing the Ikea website, I found the BESTA cabinet with DJUPVIKEN doors:

IKEA BESTA DJUPVIKEN Doors

That’s what that cabinet looks like now. But when I look at it, I see its future!

I see adding paint to make it look old, metal studs, and old metal hardware from India, to make it look like an antique damachiya (wedding chest) from northern India. Here’s a few examples of what this cabinet could become …

This damachiya was sold by Hammer & Hand Imports at Etsy. I loooove it, the chippy turquoise paint:

Antique Turquoise Blue Indian Wedding Chest Global Warm Industrial Storage Trunk Sideboard Console Media Console

Incidentally, the carved chippy painted wood piece that we used for the base of a bathroom counter in our “second home” apartment in India was found at the Hammer & Hand Etsy shop — check out what we did with it!

Here’s a damachiya that shows the metal stud idea, from De-Cor in Pasadena, California:

Damachiya from de-cor

I think it’s the raised square-ish shapes on the IKEA cabinet that made me see it as a damachiya similar to these old chests. With chalk paint or milk paint and the right metal accents, I could make the IKEA look old, like we found it in a desert hideaway in Rajasthan and shipped it to Chicago!

You can tell I’m not a huge fan of the currently popular mid-century modern style. Because any furniture we own that’s similar to that style, I keep turning into global antique style!

Maybe you will see a “DIY damachiya” in my living room in a future post.



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DIY Tutorial: How to Make Wrinkle-Free Paper Decoupage with Golden Medium

I explained in a previous post about how I’m wrestling with wrinkles. For wrinkles on my face, I found AHA facial masks helped minimize those wrinkles. What I didn’t have a solution for until recently is wrinkles in paper decoupage! Because this is a DIY/design blog and not a beauty blog, today I’ll talk about solving the wrinkle problem in paper, because decoupaged paper gets wrinkles too.

How to Make Wrinkle Free Paper Decoupage Collage

Here are the keys to a wrinkle-free surface on decoupage projects:

  • COAT with Golden Polymer Medium (Gloss or Matte)
  • DESIGN your collage as you usually would
  • HEAT with a heat sealing iron/tack iron or household iron

Step 1: COAT

To learn why I recommend Golden Polymer Mediums, see my previous post that explains why you should use Golden Polymer Mediums and not glues like Mod Podge or Aleene’s Tacky Glue.

Yes, Golden Polymer Mediums might cost more than Mod Podge or Aleene’s Tacky Glue (see a money-saving tip below). But trust me, if you don’t want wrinkles in your decoupage projects, the money spent on Golden Medium, plus following the steps I share below, is worth it. For years I wrestled with Mod Podge and trying to smooth wrinkles, poke wrinkles, or slash them with an xacto knife and smoosh out the air, etc. etc. etc. None of it worked. Every project got permanent wrinkles.

I now follow the COAT – DESIGN – HEAT steps, and the messy wrinkle days are over!

Golden Polymer Medium Gloss and Matte for Decoupage

Golden Polymer Medium is available in Gloss or Matte. I use both Gloss and Matte for the COAT – DESIGN – HEAT method. Both work for me. Your choice depends on whether you want a shiny surface or not. Here’s the difference:

Non-shiny finish with Golden Matte Medium:

Paper Collage with Golden Matte Medium

Shiny finish with Golden Polymer Gloss Medium:

Paper Collage with Golden Polymer Medium Glossy

The shine is showing where light hits these pictures, but the whole collage is shiny like that.

Golden Polymer Medium is a professional artist supply, so you’ll find it at art stores like Blick Art Supply (Gloss and Matte). You can get it on Amazon (Gloss and Matte). I’ve seen it in the art aisle at Michaels.

Coating Paper with Golden Polymer Medium

Once you have your choice of Gloss or Matte Golden Medium, next follow these steps:

  • Choose the pieces of paper that you want to use for collage. I usually use colored, patterned scrapbook papers.
  • Using a soft paint brush or foam brush, brush a thin layer of Golden Gloss or Matte Medium over one side of the paper.
  • Let the medium dry. It will dry quickly. Your paper may bend a bit when it’s wet with the Medium, but it will flatten out. (Note: Don’t let the papers touch each other when the Medium is wet – the papers will get stuck together!)
  • Turn the paper over and brush a thin layer of Golden Gloss or Matte Medium on the other side of the paper. Let the medium dry.
  • Choose a surface you want to adhere the papers to. You can use a heavier scrapbook paper as a base. Some collage artists recommend using thick 140 lb watercolor paper. You can also adhere papers to wood boards, canvas (be sure the canvas is stretched very taut), foam core board, etc.
  • Brush a layer of Golden Gloss or Matte Medium onto the surface you want to adhere the collaged paper to. Let the medium dry.

Papers for Decoupage

Golden Medium on Decoupage Collage Paper

Drying Paper

Coating Substrate

STEP 2: Design

Now it’s time to create your collage! The fun stuff!

  • Arrange the papers into a collage.
  • Cut the papers, rip them.
  • Layer the papers and build up papers on top of each other.

Layering Papers in Collage

If you coated papers on both sides with Golden Medium, just layer your papers on top of each other — after the next heating step, they’ll all stick together. You can even add other things like string or yarns, lace, etc. Just be sure to coat these things with Golden Medium too, so everything will fuse together in the next step.

This Design step is all up to you — your time to have fun and be creative!

STEP 3: HEAT

When the papers are arranged the way you like them, next you will set the papers with heat. This will activate the medium and make everything fuse and stick together. Without wrinkles!! For this step, you can use a “tack iron” or “heat sealing iron.” It’s a small iron:

Hangar 9 Heat Sealing Iron Collage Decoupage

I got the Hangar 9 Heat Sealing Iron. Because it’s small, it’s good for decoupaging on smaller surfaces where a regular size household iron won’t fit. I’m decoupaging papers in boxes to make decorative niches, and this Hangar 9 iron is perfect for getting into the little corners:

Heat Sealing Iron for Decoupage with Golden Medium

If you don’t want to invest in a heat sealing iron, you could use a household iron, but be careful to test it first at low settings, so you don’t heat it up too hot.

You will also need a special paper between your Medium-coated collage papers and your iron. You don’t want to put your iron directly onto the Medium or it will cause a mess and possible flammable hazard. I used the Release paper from collage artist Jonathan Talbot. Look for silicon and teflon papers that are designed to protect things while heat pressing. The good thing is, the papers are reusable for a long time to stretch your dollars — you can re-use them for years. Here’s some Teflon sheets at Amazon.

Fusing Everything Together with Heat

  • Plug in a heat sealing iron, also called a “tack iron,” or use a household iron.
  • Lay a release sheet (silicon or teflon sheet) over the paper collage.
  • Push the iron lightly over the release sheet, heating all areas of the collage. It doesn’t have to get too hot. I set my tack iron at heat setting 3, the mid-way point, and that’s working fine.
  • Take a look at your collage, check to be sure all papers are adhered. If some areas are still loose, run the iron over those areas.
  • It’s also possible that if you missed applying Medium to some edges, the edges won’t adhere. Simply dab some Medium on areas where it’s missing. Let it dry. Then heat the area with the iron.

Heat Sealing Decoupage Collage

Sealing Decoupage with a Tack Iron

The final result should be a wrinkle-free collage! Woo hoo! Yay!!!

No Wrinkles in Decoupage

I know it’s hard to see here, but this surface is as smooth as glass! No wrinkles or bubbles anywhere!

I’m not done with this project yet. You’ll see in posts to come, this will become a bejeweled niche with a Rajasthani-style arch, inspired by Jaipur, the Pink City of India. I cut an arch with the Cricut Explore Air, and next need to cut the arch from plywood with a jigsaw. This is what’s next:

Arch

Storing extra papers

You might have pieces of paper left over that are coated with dried Medium. You can use these papers later for more collages. But when you store them, separate the Medium-coated papers between pieces non-stick release paper or wax paper. This way, your coated papers won’t get all stuck together.

Supplies Needed

Here’s a summary of the supplies:

  • Golden Polymer Medium in Gloss or Matte
  • An iron: a heating sealing/tack iron or typical household clothing iron
  • Silicon or teflon release paper
  • A surface to adhere paper to: thick 140 lb watercolor paper, or other surface like thick paper, wood, canvas, other hard panels
  • Soft paint brush or foam brush
  • Scissors
  • Paper towel

MONEY-SAVING TIP

I’ve used 40% and 50% off coupons on Golden supplies at Michaels, which cuts the cost considerably. My local Michaels has both Golden Matte Medium and Golden Polymer Gloss Medium. I do enough decoupage that I buy the 16 ounce size bottle.

I will also buy Golden products on sale at Blicks Art Supplies. If they have 40-50% coupon discounts, I am not aware — if they do, someone please tell me!


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