Distressed about distressing

I was face-to-face (face-to-seat?) with the chair. I had spent days painting it, working my brush around every spindle again and again. The old brown stain had been replaced with a warm white finish.

White painted wooden chair

But I was about to change all that. Or I would if I could bring myself to step towards the chair.

I had a piece of sandpaper in my hand, and my plan was to rub it over my freshly painted chair making it look older and a little bit worn.

“Do I really want to do this?”

“If it doesn’t work or I mess it up, I’ll have to paint the chair again.”

“But remember the vision.”

My vision for the guest room is to embrace a bit more rustic style. A slightly shabby chair would fit in better than a perfectly painted one.

I lifted the sandpaper and got to work.

Distressed painted wood chair

The end result looks okay, I think. Definitely more interesting than the plain white chair. I’ve never been a shabby chic person, so I’m still adjusting to this look. Now that the guest room is coming together, though, I feel like the chair fits in.

Distressed painted wood chair

The plan for the weekend is to focus on the curtains, which are pretty much the last to-do for the guest room aside from some more accessorizing. I should be sharing the finished space with you soon.

Have you ever distressed furniture? Did it make you nervous? Are you a fan of the shabby chic style? What causes you anxiety when you’re making over furniture?

Halfway to a hospitable guest room

This house is the first time we’ve had an honest to goodness spare bedroom. We like it when people come to stay with us. However it doesn’t happen that often. Perhaps because the room has never been very welcoming.

You saw last week that making over the guest room is one of my home goals for 2016. Today I’m ready for the first progress report.

Here’s a really bad photo to show roughly where we started. (We usually put sheets on the bed when we have guests).

Guestroom before

The specialest features of this room were the stippled ceiling, ugly ceiling fan and pseudo wood paneling. And everything was dirty. Incredibly dirty, as is the norm for any untouched space in this house.

I’m almost ashamed to remember that we used this room as our bedroom up until about a year ago. When we scraped the ceilings after Christmas, the water running down the walls left brown and grey dirt tracks. So gross.

Despite its… specialness… this room is not going to be a hard fix. Here’s the to-do list:

  • Scrape the stippled ceiling
  • Paint the ceiling, walls and trim
  • Replace the light fixture
  • Make window treatments
  • Refinish the desk chair
  • Strip the paint off the metal bedframe (and maybe repaint)
  • Decorate and personalize

And here’s where we are so far.

Guest room makeover progress

Better, right? Even that paneling looks okay now that all of the holes are patched and it’s painted a pretty blue-green (Wythe Blue from Benjamin Moore).

We’ve obviously made really good progress, but despite appearances I feel like I’m only halfway. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve moved onto decorating (hanging pictures, adding the flowers) as a way to avoid starting on the curtains.

The finishing touches are usually the hardest part of any makeover, right? But if we truly want a hospitable room, we should give our guests the option of sleeping past dawn. Sigh. Curtains here I come.

Do you have fake wood paneling at your house? How about a guest room? What must-haves should I include in our guest room?

Home Goals 2016

I really enjoy the process every January of setting my home goals for the coming year. (If I’m being honest, I start thinking about them in December or even earlier). I’m not big on resolutions on the personal front, but on the home front my annual plan helps me stay focused.

This year, I’m going to try to continue last year’s plan of striking a balance between productivity and a bit of relaxation. There’s still lots to do, of course. But it’s been four years since we bought the farm. Obviously, our renovation pace is not even close to breakneck.

We are approaching the point where we have either really big projects (kitchen, bathroom, garage, master suite) or small stuff (paint the guest room, dining room, my office). For now, I’m keeping the focus on the small stuff.

Which will help me to continue another theme from last year: frugality. We did pretty well on that front in 2015. You’ve seen some of my long-term renovation plans already, so continuing to save money in 2016 will be helpful.

And that’s the first goal on the list: get an idea of how much the Big Reno is going to cost.

Beyond that, the focus is going to be on small, frugal things.

Guest room

Matt and I got a start on this at the tail end of last year by scraping the stippled ceiling. We have more to go to make it match the picture in my mind.

  • Paint the walls and trim
  • Replace the light fixture
  • Make window treatments (ugh… I really don’t want to sew curtains again)
  • Refinish the desk chair
  • Strip the paint off the metal bedframe (and maybe repaint)
  • Decorate and personalize

Finish the basement

Scrabble art for the basement

Source: insideways

The basement was our very first project when we moved to the farm. But the nit-picky finishing bits are still hanging around. I just need to get my butt in gear and get it done.

  • Trim around the cold cellar doorway
  • Finish the built-in storage area in Matt’s bathroom
  • Make/buy art to finish off the space (this one’s a carry-over from the 2015 home goals)
  • Build shelving in the closet under the stairs


My list of wanted furniture is getting shorter and shorter.

  • China cabinet for my office
  • Coffee table for the living room
  • Reupholster slipper chair for my office (in the same beautiful Brissac Jewel by P Kaufmann that I used for my bulletin board)

Vegetable garden

Last year’s top home goal returns. There’s still more to do to make my dream vegetable garden.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes (we can’t have the squashes running rampant again this year)
  • Plant perennials: grapes, asparagus, rhubarb, more raspberries
  • Run a waterline out to the garden

Outdoor clean-up

Manicured meadow

Source: LandVest

I’m going to be a bit ambitious this year and add a second outdoor task to the list. The task of cleaning up this property could be a full year project for a full team of people. It’s a job of picking up rocks, extracting weeds (fire worked well last year), grading (and maybe adding a bit more topsoil), seeding grass, mowing. And it’s a matter of picking my spot… and being satisfied with a spot, not all of them. Here are my options:

  • North side of the house
  • West side of the house
  • On the edge of the woods at the north side of the house
  • Around the barn (all points of the compass)
  • Behind the driveshed and around the garden
  • At the foot of the driveway
  • Along the shore of the pond (oh how I want to clear the shore so that I can get close to my pond)

Six goals for 2016. I feel like there’s a bit of symmetry in that. Most important I feel like these goals should be relatively achievable.

In fact, the year is already off to a pretty good start.

The guest room is well underway, and I’ve started a few projects for the basement too.

You’ll see some of those soon.

Are you setting goals for 2016? What projects do you hope to complete this year?