Jeff Lewis is My BFF

Confession:  I am a huge fan of reality TV.  More specifically, I am a huge fan of reality TV that airs on Bravo.  There are certain shows that I DVR religiously – Flipping Out and the Rachel Zoe Project – and others that I watch anytime I see that they are on.  It’s fun, mindless entertainment, and I spend a lot of time being really annoyed that the Real Housewives of [Insert City] are neither housewives nor real.  I’m deep, y’all.

I love my two favorite Bravo shows because they have taught me things.  Watching Rachel Zoe, I’ve learned a lot about style and fashion, although I am unable to apply it to myself (that’s a story for a different day).  Flipping Out with Jeff Lewis has helped me to develop an appreciation for modern styling and what it’s like to work with contractors.  Add those take aways in with Jeff alternating between being the fun boss and yelling at staff members for the smallest of transgressions, and you have the recipe for my favorite show on Bravo.

And now, we can also add in that my new BFF is the designer extraordinaire and star of the show.

Jeff Lewis is my BFF | Makely School for Girls

Filed Under: Paint Your Walls, Real Life with Lindsay, Transform Your Furniture

A Mid-Century Desk Comes of Age

I live in a little town right outside of Austin, Texas.  If you’ve never been to this part of the country, you really owe yourself a visit.  Austin is not what you think of as Texas.  It’s the hippest of the hip and the coolest of the cool.  In fact, it’s so hip and cool that it’s hip and cool to act like it’s not hip and cool.  Got it?  Yes, it’s confusing, but just go with it.

Being as that I live a stone’s throw from Austin, we get to have fun friends come stay with us so they can explore the town.  This past October, my sister and three of her girlfriends came to play.  We spent the weekend shopping and eating and listening to live music in my favorite parts of this great city.  But before we did any of that, we had something else to do.

“Would y’all go with me to pick up a desk I found on CraigsList so I don’t get ax murdered?”

Yep.  My guests are forced to go on CraigsList runs with me.  It’s sort of like my little fee for them getting to visit – a Lindsay Tax, if you will.

Of course, they were sweethearts and were happy to go with me to pick up the desk I had found.  I had been on the search for something with cool mid-century lines, yet still big enough for me to work on.  I found a desk from a delightful couple who had used it in their family business for years (and probably wouldn’t have ax murdered me at all).  It was in nearly perfect condition, and I tried to contain my excitement as the girls and I loaded it into my pick up truck (I am a Texan after all).  The desk was an exact match to a funky rehabbed one I had seen somewhere online, so I knew that my plan for mid-century to meet awesome was going to work out quite well.

Mid-Century Desk gets a Modern Touch | Makely School for Girls

Filed Under: Project Gallery, Transform Your Furniture

Beginner’s Tips for Using Milk Paint + a Project Sneak Peek

My favorite DIY projects are always the ones that involve painting.  More specifically, I love the ones that allow me to update a vintage piece of furniture with brightly colored paint.

To date, I have only used three types of paint on furniture – latex paint, acrylic paint and spray paint.  There is a world of different types of paint available on the market, but I have never wanted to rock the boat.  I know how these paints are going to react on my surfaces, and 9 times out of 10 I reach for plain ‘ole latex paint.

I’ve been itching to try something new (I still haven’t tried Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, y’all).  When I saw the gorgeous finishes that my friend Marian was achieving with her new Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at milk paint.  She was sweet enough to send me a few colors to try out, and I couldn’t wait to get started.

Until I saw that the paint came to me like this.

Yep, it’s a little cardboard box of paint.  A beautiful little box, but still a box of paint.  I almost froze in sheer panic – particularly when I opened that little box.

Crap!  It was a bag of powdered paint.  It reminded me of every failed attempt I’ve had with boxed cake and muffin batter in that I can never get all of the lumps out.  Ack!  I shut the box and stuck it in my office for a few weeks.

As fate would have it, I found the perfect desk for my office redo (if you follow me on Facebook, you should be happy to know that I have quit obsessing about it), and it screamed for me to use the gorgeous Flow Blue color that Miss Mustard Seed sent my way.  I had to be a big girl and just deal with the powdered paint.

After a few problems along the way, I ended up with a beautiful finish on the desk.  When it was all said and done, it was actually really easy to use!  The cool thing is that you only mix what you need, so you don’t have 1/2 of an unused can of paint when you are finished with your project.  It leveled beautifully (no brush marks) and in an hour I put the hardware back on my drawers.  I could have never done that with latex.

I know I can’t possibly be the only one who’s nervous to try a new type of paint, so I put together some tips to help ease your nerves.  There are several types of milk paint on the market, but I’m talking specifically about Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint since it’s the only one I’ve used.


Five Beginner’s Tips for Working With Milk Paint


Tip #1: Watch the Instructional Videos

Marian has put together a series of videos that give brief tutorials on everything milk paint.  She shows you how to mix it, how to apply it, and how to get a no-chip finish if you aren’t going for the chippy look.


Each video is only about 2 minutes long and can be found here.  I highly advise watching them all before you begin, even if you don’t think you necessarily need to.  It will be 10 minutes well spent.

Tip #2: Stir, Stir, Stir

To mix your paint, you add 1 part paint to 1 1/4 parts hot water.  What?  Yeah, I hate ratios like that, too.  I ended up doing 12 tbsp of powder to 15 tbsp of water in an empty paint can, but you can use a plastic cup if that’s more readily available to you.  That ended up being the perfect amount for what I needed for my project of painting the fronts of six desk drawers (the rest of the desk will be another color).

In one of her video tutorials, Marian says that you need to stir for about five minutes.  Trust her on that!  Stir, stir, stir with a paint stick.  I didn’t stir long enough and the paint was too lumpy…which leads me to my next tip.


Tip #3: Test the Paint on a Scrap Piece of Wood

Even if you have painted eleventy million pieces of furniture, test the consistency of your milk paint the first time you use it on a piece of scrap wood.  It is supposed to be thinner (i.e. more watery) than typical latex paint.  If it’s not stirred well enough (see Tip #2), it’s pretty lumpy and chunky.  If you think that it needs more water (instead of just stirring it more), it will be really runny.

Because I didn’t test my paint on a scrap, here’s what my drawer fronts looked like after the first coat.

I’ve painted long enough to know that I can just sand down whatever is not working, so after the first drawer dried I quickly sanded down the lumpy areas.  Once I applied the 2nd “just right” coat to the “too chunky” and “too runny” drawer fronts, they looked great.  If I would have tested on a scrap, I wouldn’t have had the panicked feeling I felt when I saw my first and second consistency attempts.

Marian suggests using 1-2 coats of her milk paint, but I went ahead and used 3.  I’m a rule breaker.  I wanted complete opacity since the primitive/farmhouse/chippy look, though beautiful, is not my personal style.

Why, yes.  I propped my drawers up with Solo cups.  Necessity (and laziness) is the mother of invention.

Tip #4: Protect Anything You Don’t Want Painted

I learned the hard way that since milk paint is much thiner than latex, it is much runnier and dripper, too.  Before I knew it, a few drops had slung off my paint brush and into my drawers.

In the grand scheme of things, the drips were not a big deal to me.  I’ll either leave them alone since I’ll never see them when they are covered in my desk junk or I’ll use some Krud Kutter to try to remove them.  But, if the drips had gotten on an important surface, I would have been very irritated with myself.  So, mask off anything you don’t want painted, just in case.


Tip #5: Don’t Panic

When it was all said and done, I found that my original panic about milk paint was unfounded.  Once I got the consistency right, it was really easy to use.  It dried quickly, which is a huge plus when you want to transform a project in a short amount of time.

Like with all paint, if you don’t like it you can lightly sand it off.  I had to do that with the “too chunky” drawer shown above and it now looks no different than the others.

I can’t yet speak to the durability of the paint, but I trust Miss Mustard Seed’s judgement.  I applied one coat of her furniture wax and plan on doing a second coat for added protection.  This was also the first time I had used furniture wax, and I was pleasantly surprised in how easy it was to apply and buff off.

All in all, I loved Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint and will definitely be using it for future projects if it is available in the color I want.  There’s no need to prime or sand (you add in some liquid bonding agent if you have a glossy surface or if you don’t want to end up with a chippy finish) and the finish is very nice.  I appreciate that her color palette includes some paint colors that can easily be used in more modern spaces.

There’s nowhere for me to purchase it locally yet, but I can order it from one of her retailers who sell it online.

I can’t wait to show you the finished desk!  Hopefully, I’ll be able to show you that by the end of this week.

Have you used milk paint before?  Have you been scared to try it?  Let me know your thoughts!

I was provided with some Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint products for the purposes of review.  All opinions and mistakes are my own.

Filed Under: Project Gallery, Transform Your Furniture

Hiding an Eyesore with a “Built-in” Bookcase

When we moved into our home four years ago, there were so many little features that I found charming.  We had the giant above the front door ledge.  There were various art nooks that provided some architectural interest.  What would become the playroom and Zack’s room had these little doors that provided access to large attic storage spaces.

As such things go, I soon realized what a pain all of those things are to decorate around.  In the playroom, I began by having a sofa in front of the little attic door.  The problem was that the door handle is at head height, so not only did it stick out above the sofa, but I hit my head on it several times when I sat down.  That sofa is long gone thanks to an old man cat with a bladder problem and a rage issue, but the door remains.  And I’ve given the door the evil eye ever since.

Several of my friends, notably Centsational Girl and Just a Girl, have created faux built-in sets of bookcases using pieces from Ikea’s Billy collection.  After obsessing about their new beautiful spaces, I realized that installing my own built-in Billy system could not only provide us with some needed playroom storage, but it could also solve the eyesore door problem.  I measured and discovered that my door would fit inside the dimensions of the wide Billy bookcase with a few inches to spare.  Some Billy Olsbo doors would hide that attic door without a problem.

Sorry for the terrible photos.  A new camera, better lenses and camera lessons are on their way to me soon!

To make them look truly built-in, we had a few steps to take other than just assembling them.  The first thing I did was to lay the thin plywood backing on the empty Ikea boxes and paint them yellow (Sunflower by Glidden).  Using a high density foam roller, I primed them with Zinsser Cover Stain oil based primer, and then then gave them three coats of yellow paint.

We slid the backings into our four bookcases and nailed them into place per the instructions.  For the one section of bookcase that hides the door, we had to cut the backing so that we still had access to the attic through the bookcase.  If that doesn’t make sense, it soon will.

Another thing we had to do was attach the four free standing bookcases to each other.  We laid them flat (fronts down) and raised the two shallower end units so that their backs would be flush with the deeper units.  Tom drove some screws through the sides on the bottom and top of the units.  He also attached some 2 x 4 boards to the bottom to help tie them together and also raise the bookcases up so that the baseboard trim we would install would be level with the trim that was already on our walls.

We very carefully tilted the bookcases up and anchored them to the wall from the top with L-brackets going through the studs.  These bad boys aren’t going anywhere.

You can see where the paint got scraped off of the backing on the little unit on the right.  We slid the backing into the unit against the direction of the arrow that was printed on it.  Who’d have known there was really a right way and wrong way to slide those suckers in?  At any rate, I was able to easily touch up that paint.

Unlike Kate and Chris, our “built-ins” couldn’t go wall to wall since we had a closet door and an open railing to deal with.  So, we had to end up buying baseboard trim (instead of removing what we already had and reusing it) and nail it to the front and sides of the unit.  We also added crown moulding to the top, quarter round at the joints to the wall and between the individual bookcases and a strip of lattice to the front to hide the seam where the two larger units were joined.  Kate did an excellent job explaining this process, so I won’t even try.  I primed the mouldings and painted them with a latex paint I had color matched to the units – I just took a shelf in to Lowe’s to do the color matching.

Once the moulding was finished, I painted the wall behind the bookcase and added the shelves and doors to the unit.  And in the process, the attic door was hidden.  I’m not sold on the yellow yet, and I’ll probably end up changing it.  But, I’m going to wait until my room is complete before I worry about that.  It’s just paint after all.

The great thing about this Billy “built-in” idea is that it looks professionally installed, provides a ton of storage, and hides the eyesore of an attic door.  See?

To access that attic space, all I have to do is remove the shelves and unlock the attic door.  I may take me an additional minute to get into the attic as it did before the doors were hidden.  This part of the attic is where we store all of our Christmas decorations, so we only need to get in and out of there two times a year – to get the decorations out and to put them away.

All I have to do now is crawl through the bookcases.  And it is SO worth it to have that annoying little door hidden.

Yes, I’m in my pajamas.  Yes, it may have been 3 o’clock in the afternoon when I took this picture.  Just keeping it real, y’all.

 Have you had to come up with a creative solution to hide an eyesore in your home?  Have a question about my bookcases?  See you in the comments!


Filed Under: Transform Your Furniture

What is Wood Glaze?

I take my role as a teacher/demonstrator/leader on this blog pretty seriously.  When I’m working on projects, I honestly ask myself each step of the way, “Is this something that my readers can easily do without needing special tools?”  If the answer is no, then I try to find another way to accomplish the same thing.  I strive to only use tools that I think most of you have (or should have) at your disposal.  It’s extremely important to me that everything I do be easy to repeat.  This blog really is all about YOU.

So, when I got an email about furniture glaze over the weekend, it hit me that there was something really fundamental that I’ve never fully discussed.

Hi Lindsay,

I just popped in on your site and it’s very helpful…except the reason I ended up on there was my search for “what is wood glaze?” I have no idea what it is but its suppose to be for distressing furniture which is what i wanted to do.

Can you please explain what it is? I went to Lowes and Home Depot and those guys know nothing about it.

Please help!


I have talked on and on and on about my love of glazed furniture.  I have posted instructions on how to glaze wood, metal and plastic.  And I have glazed just about every piece of furniture that has entered my house over the last few years.  All that, and I’ve never really talked about what glaze actually is and where to find it.  Thanks for the question, Amna!

Glaze is a type of medium that you can apply over painted or stained wood.  You can apply the glaze with a paint brush or with an old rag.  The glaze has a much thinner consistency than paint and it has a longer “open” time, which means that it stays wet longer than paint.  Because of those properties, you can work with it for about 10 or 15 minutes before it dries.  Some people actually use stain as a glaze, but my personal experience is that stain dries far too quickly to be used well.

Although some companies make pre-tinted glaze, it’s usually clear when you find it in the paint store.  The folks at the paint counter will tint it (i.e. add colorant) for you in the color of your choice from the same paint line.  For example, if you are using Behr glaze, you’ll have to pick a Behr color.

When I talk about glaze, I am always referring to furniture and accessories.  You can also use glaze to create a faux finish on your walls, but I much prefer a striped chevron to a ragged on faux design.  That’s just my personal preference, though, so I’ve never used glaze on a wall.

You can buy glaze at several different places and in several different brands.  My very favorite is by Ralph Lauren, and it’s called “Ralph Lauren Faux Glaze.”  It used to be sold at Home Depot, but it no longer is.  I’m lucky to have an independent paint store close by (a Benjamin Moore dealer), and he carries the Ralph Lauren brand.  All I have to do is pick the Ralph Lauren color from the paint chip wall and ask him to tint a quart of glaze to that color.  I like to use the color Black Silk since I like my glazing to look more “urban” and less “French,” which generally has a brown glaze.  For a typical DIYer, a quart of glaze will honestly last you years and a gallon will last a lifetime – I’m still working with the same quart I bought a year and a half ago, and it’s only half way empty.

To locate a Ralph Lauren paint dealer in your area, visit their website and search for store locations.  Enter your zipcode and select “Ralph Lauren Paint Stores” from the drop down list of store types.

Home Depot carries a faux finishing glaze by Behr.  I have never used it, and I have heard mixed results.  If you can’t find the Ralph Lauren glaze in your town and don’t want to order it online, the Behr is probably your next best shot (but Ralph Lauren really is the best).  There used to be a Valspar product at Lowe’s, but I haven’t seen it locally lately.  Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore also carry tintable faux glazes, but I have not heard anything about how easy they are to use.  Obviously, these companies aren’t the only ones who produce glaze, but they are the ones that I am the most familiar with.

Like I said before, I have put together sort of a Glazing 101 post that you can read to get the details on how to glaze just about anything.  I’m also always willing to answer any glazing questions you my have – either leave a comment or send me an email.

In the meantime, I’d love to see your glazing projects!  Post links in the comments to anything you’ve used decorative glaze on.  I’m looking forward to checking them all out!

Filed Under: Transform Your Furniture

How to Get Designer Finishes on Painted Furniture

This post is sponsored by Altar’d.

One of the biggest questions I get here on the blog, through emails, and via Google searches is on the topic of painting furniture. You love it, I’m obsessed with it, and we all want to make sure we do it the right way so it will hold up for as long as we want it to.

Pretty much everything I know about painting furniture, I learned from Mandie Morris of Altar’d. She has a business here in Texas where she transforms gently loved furniture into works of art. A few years ago, she put out an eBook that was game changing in the furniture painting field. Techniques held close to the vest were no longer secrets, and the rest of us could refinish our furniture with confidence.

Tarnished Peacock finish by Altar’d

Over the past few years, Mandie’s business has grown and grown. She’s painted thousands of pieces of furniture and moved her business from her garage to a storefront. I have loved watching her success and seeing the amazing pieces she shares via her Facebook page and website.

Restoration finish by Altar’d

Mandie’s popularity lies within the fact that she doesn’t just paint furniture. She creates custom finishes that have depth and dimension. Her color selection is very in fashion, and her combination of colors, tinted glazes and metallic finishes just can’t be beat. Every time she posts a picture on Facebook, at least one person asks, “How did you do that?”

Samples of the most popular Altar’d finishes

Well, she’s finally showed us her cards. Mandie has put together an eBook on her “Most Wanted Finishes,” that includes 15 of her most requested, best selling finishes. She sent me a book to review, and my email back to her was something like, “Crap! This is book is amazing!” And I wasn’t lying.

Within the pages of the new eBook, Mandie gives you the exact formulas and brand names of her popular finishes. You can literally print out the page for the finish you like, take it to Home Depot, and hand it over to the folks behind the paint desk if you wanted to. She couldn’t make it more simple to achieve a gorgeous finish.

One of my favorites is her Tarnished Silver finish. I see this one in my very near future.

I just can’t give enough gushy love for Mandie’s new finishes eBook. It contains perfect blues, perfect whites, a perfect red (which is hard to find)…you’ll even learn the coolest “Anthropologie” styled finish ever.

The Altar’d Most Wanted Finishes eBook is $15 and can be purchased here.  You can also get the newly updated and still awesome How to Paint Furniture eBook ($10) and her great Decorative Finishes eBook ($10), as well.  After your purchase, you are able to download and read them instantly.

I know quite a few of you have bought one or both of Mandie’s first two books.  What do you think about them?

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for the Altar’d eBooks, so that means I receive a small commission on each one sold through my site.  Of all of the affiliate requests I receive, Mandie is the only one I’ve ever decided to partner with.  That should tell you something about the quality of these eBooks.

Filed Under: Giveaways & Product Reviews, Transform Your Furniture