Tag Archives: Before and After

Fairest mirror on the wall

In the vein of my continued fascination with paint and its transformative effects, here’s a look at the dresser mirror I upcycled for my Adored stepson’s bedroom makeover:

dresser after

You can see the matching nightstand across the room in the mirror reflection (you can see a little picture-taking hand, too).

mirror close upThe first three coats of the mirror were in Shalestone (same shade at the dresser drawers). The final coat came from a bit of leftover Pumpernickel from the dining room downstairs (remember that makeover? here’s a peek). I brushed it on and then immediately wiped it off with a paper towel. I was attempting to replicate the look of the floor lamp in the room, and I’m not sure I completely succeeded, but I like it a lot better than it looked before. The finishing touch was three coats of polyurethane, so the mirror is a bit shinier than the dresser, which received only a wax coating.

Here’s how the dresser and mirror looked before (no, I take no ownership of the empty Fireball bottles on the dresser in the before shot):

Let there be light: Nightstand transformation

As happens with home improvement projects, one thing leads to another and a single project turns into a dozen projects.

Longtime readers will recall the project my Beloved and I undertook two years ago that began with a wish for new curtains and ended with six colors of paint on every wall on the main floor, new carpeting and a new sofa (read about the beginning of that project here, and for your complete satisfaction, check out the before-and-after shots here, here, here, here and here).

So it went with repainting my Adored stepson’s bedroom.

His grandmother painted his bedroom when we moved in 2007. The room formerly belonged to a 3-year-old, and baby blue was not what my then-13-year-old stepson wanted, so Grandma repainted it in Chicago Bears blue and orange. Very dark blue. And very bright orange.

Alas, I don’t have a before picture, so you’ll just have to imagine its perfect garishness.

Adored stepson now attends college, so we decided a new paint job was in order. Well, I decided. My Beloved adores the Chicago Bears, so he probably would have tolerated it, but me? Not so much.

Still, Adored stepson comes home often so I couldn’t convince anyone to repaint the room in a nice coral (orange-ish, see?). Oh, well. So we repainted one of the very dark blue walls a slightly lighter shade of dark blue (Pittsburgh Paints’ Calvary if you must know). And the other dark blue wall and the two orange walls were transformed with Silver Blueberry, a smoky medium blue.

And as along as we were repainting the walls, well, the headboard would really pop against the dark blue wall if it were white instead of black, right? And, gee, the nightstand was just too dark, too, right? And if we brightened up the nightstand, we better repaint the dresser, too, huh? And get new lamps?


Today, I share with you the results of the nightstand makeover. I’ve discovered I love painting furniture. When one starts with a beat-up, unloved piece of wood, the payoff is enormous. Very satisfying.

Here’s the nightstand before:

Nightstand: Before

Nightstand: Before

The top is formica, not wood, so that required a coat of primer first and a couple of coats of Milk Paint (regular readers may recall I painted the body of another piece of furniture in Milk Paint, and if you’re interested in seeing that incredible transformation, click here).

I settled on painting the body of the nightstand in Ashen, sort of a grayish cream. The drawers are a bit lighter with Shalestone. Going from dark to light makes for a dramatic transformation. Here’s how it looks after:

Nightstand: After

Nightstand: After

I hated those clunky drawer pulls, so I invested in sleek new ones in a wavy brushed chrome. It required filling the old holes, with which I had uneven success, but I’m still happy with the results:

And check out those legs: A little Milk Paint accents the embellishment that was already there:

Nightstand leg: Close-up

Nightstand leg: Close-up

As long as I was already painting the nightstand, I also painted the dresser (twice as wide) in the same colors. And the mirror that hung above it now needs a shot of paint, too. I’ll share the dresser transformation as soon as I finish the mirror (later this week, I hope). And tomorrow, I’ll share the after photos of the repainted bedroom. Stay tuned.

Pantry makeover beats reality TV

I don’t know what it is about my personality type that I adore before-and-after pictures so much, but I must not be the only one because room/closet/hair/body makeover photos can be found everywhere.

I found myself staying up late last night waiting for the after images of the conjoined twins on the latest episode of Oprah’s “Where Are They Now,” and I don’t know why I was so entranced. I’m not a conjoined twin. I don’t have a conjoined twin. I don’t even know a conjoined twin. Why did I feel compelled to see these strangers made famous by Oprah?

I don’t know. I guess I’m a sicko.

Apparently, TLC is making lots of money off this rubbernecking fascination. When I was checking on OWN’s TV offerings tonight, I happen to notice tonight’s TLC lineup includes “900 Pound Man: The Race Against Time,” “The Man with the 132-lb Scrotum” and “40 Year Old Child: A New Case.”


Instead of indulging in TLC’s car accidents, I worked on one of my own today: My pantry.

Pantry: Before

Pantry: Before

It was such a disaster area that when I resorted to “storing” my latest Costco staples on the floor, I knew I had to do something. What’s worse is that this pantry is in an often-used entryway to our home, so it was an eyesore to guests, too. How embarrassing (not as awkward as a 132-pound scrotum, I’m guessing, but still, it’s unseemly).

I removed absolutely everything, washed the floor (yes! the woman who doesn’t mop floors! swept and mopped! I know!), dumped most packages less than half full (I did keep a half-dozen well-wrapped Thin Mints, however) and replaced everything by theme: Cleaning supplies, paper products, breakfast foods, crackers, pasta, chips, sweets, coffee, dog food, etc.

Pantry: After

Pantry: After

I discovered I have enough aluminum foil, quart-size storage bags and paper plates to last a lifetime, but at least they’re all in one place now. I need to get a few organizing devices, but I made vast improvements without spending a cent (and no surgery either!). I’m left with a pile of paper bags, which I think I’ll just toss, and a bunch of kitchen linens for which I need to find a home.

Perhaps my before-and-after photos here will satisfy your rubbernecking inclinations and you can ignore TLC tonight in favor of something more redeeming. Like Oprah’s highly anticipated interview with Lindsay Lohan.


Things are looking up in the dining room

While standing in the cashier line at the home improvement store earlier this month, I found myself behind two guys wearing tool belts who looked like they knew what they were doing.

I was standing there in high heels holding yet another gallon of paint I probably should have purchased the first time I was there. I didn’t know what I was doing, but these two sounded like they spent their days measuring twice and cutting once rather than the other way around.

“Thank God I talked her out of the crown molding,” said one guy who seemed to be referring to his wife.

“Yeah, crown molding is a pain in the butt,” agreed the other guy (only he didn’t say “butt”).

I just shifted my weight from side to side. “Hmm, we’re putting up crown molding,” I thought silently. “Huh. That guy’s wife lost the battle. Too bad.”

It never dawned on my that crown molding isn’t exactly a DIY project anyone can accomplish.

Top of the column after painting but before crown molding.

Over the course of a several more visits to the home improvement store, I learned a lot more about crown molding. It’s a flat board, not a triangular chunk of wood. Installing crown molding requires more than a little geometry. And you tend to need more of it than you think.

But thanks to my dad, I got the crown molding I wanted, and it brings sophistication and class to the plain old columns separating my dining room and living room. Originally, they were painted a reddish purple, but we chose to paint them in Raindrop to match one of the walls in the dining room; the very faint aqua color looks more like marble and the crown molding lends a Greek air to the columns. Here’s the after shot:

The column featuring Dad's crown molding.

Crown molding brings the eye up, and our nine-foot ceilings weren’t emphasized enough in the old decor.

The dining room before.

Why not highlight all that space up there? Besides dressing up the columns, we chose 95-inch curtains instead of the standard 84-inch type, and we hung them outside and above the windows so they frame the windows rather than cover them and cover the outside woodwork. We found fancy finials that echoed the detailing on our dining room table and buffet, and instead of expensive valances, we added a stunning (but much less expensive) wrought iron wall hanging above the rod.

The dining room after.

Check out that Pumpernickel wall color! We dumped the lampshade light fixture for a more suitable, elegant option, too.

While Dad’s muttering while he worked on the crown molding taught me how challenging crown molding can be, it didn’t come close to being as tough as ordering area rugs online and returning them.

Our old rugs on the hardwood were way too red to fit in our new decor. My Beloved orders everything online and though I hesitated, I went along with some rugs described as “tan, ivory and blue.” When they arrived, we discovered they were brown, tan and red, with a smidge of blue. Not at all what I wanted, even when Tyler managed to get the online retailer to offer a discount. After much wrangling (7-by-9-foot area rugs don’t just go back in the box), we returned the wrong-color rugs. We ended up paying $35 in shipping to return them, and we’re still awaiting the arrival of the promised refund in our checking account. Despite all that, we ordered more rugs online — this time from Home Depot, so we could return them there if necessary.

Front entryway conversation area: After.

We’re still waiting on the largest rug for under the dining room table, but the second rug design sets just the right blue tone under the conversation area at the front door.

Makes me want to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea. Ahh.

Tomorrow: A clever repurposing of old things in the living room.