How to refurbish a ping pong table

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so today’s post is all about something green. Our new(ish) ping pong table.

Refurbished pingpong table

This ping pong table was a bit of an experiment. We found the top (in two pieces) in the barn when we first moved in. It was pretty dirty and had even been pooped on by the swallows that live in the barn.

I am always optimistic, so one day last summer, I dragged the two halves outside. I have no idea how I managed to move them by myself because each piece is extremely heavy. I haven’t been able to carry them on my own since. I scrubbed with a brush and sprayed with the hose until all of the poop and dirt (and a fair portion of the original green paint) washed away.

Damaged pingpong tabletop

Matt did not share my optimism that the table could be rehabilitated. That night he tucked the pieces deep into a corner of the driveshed. I have no idea how, though, because the tabletop is heavy even for him to move on his own.

Despite his lack of enthusiasm for the project, Matt did help me carry the top into the house. Then, one weekend while he was out of town, I went to work.

This project was a total experiment, and I’m sure ping pong purists out there will be horrified. But (spoiler alert) everything worked out, so I’m sharing my technique with you.

There were two big issues with the table: 1) We had no legs to go with the top. 2) The top itself was not in great shape.

The leg issue was easy to solve with six trestle style legs from Ikea (Lerberg).

Ikea Lerberg legs for a pingpong table

The top took a little more effort.

I started with a coat of fresh white paint over the lines. After sleeping on it for the night, I realized I really should have sanded the top first, so the next morning I basically started all over again. I sanded down the top, which was not an indoor task. Sanding resulted in a fine green powder over the whole room–not the best scenario with our nice light carpet. There was a defined line between where the drop cloth had protected the carpet and where the green dust had floated beyond the drop cloth’s reach. I was very glad Matt was not home to see the mess I had made.

Refurbishing an old pingpong table

The Shop Vac erased the green mist, and I was able to get back to the painting.

White paint went on again, and, then once it was dry, I taped off the lines. Since painter’s tape doesn’t come in ping pong line widths, I had to very carefully trim it.

Cutting painters tape to narrower width

Then the tape got a quick coat of white paint to seal it, and after some drying time I moved onto the green. Since I wasn’t sure if this was actually going to work, I used some regular latex paint that we had left over from Matt’s office. It’s Manor Green from Benjamin Moore in case anyone’s interested.

Refurbishing an old pingpong table

The green took about three coats, I think. On the final coat, I carefully peeled off the tape to reveal the white lines. Some of the white flaked off (I think giving the white more time to dry, or even doing two coats would have been helpful).

Refurbishing an old pingpong table

Chips aside, the finish was a massive improvement over the table’s previous state. In fact, Matt was so impressed when he arrived home that he started to think that maybe I wasn’t entirely crazy in wanting to save the table.

So now I had a tabletop and I had table legs. How to put them together?

Refurbishing an old pingpong table

It turned out that the Lerberg legs are a bit shorter than regulation ping pong height of 30 inches–hey, I have some standards. Using a few 2x3s and my Kreg Jig I built a frame to attach to the underside of the tabletop.

Using a Kreg Jig to screw 2x3s together

I screwed the frame to the tabletop… or at least to one half. The top ended up being too unwieldy and heavy as one big piece, so I didn’t screw everything together. We set the top on the frame and the frame on the legs, and we think each piece is heavy enough to stay in place on its own.

Frame for the underside of a pingpong table

The six Lerberg trestles mean the table is very leggy. However, we really needed the support in the middle of the table as well as at each end.

We got a very simple cheap net at Walmart. It’s called an “everywhere table tennis” from EastPoint, and we just clipped it onto the table. Again, I wasn’t sure that this refurbishment was actually going to work, so I didn’t feel the need to invest in a professional net.

Anywhere table tennis net by East Point

With the table set up, Matt broke out the paddles, tapped one of the balls across the net, and it bounced. It worked! We had a functional ping pong table.

I had no ping pong skills, but after a week of daily practice, I’ve improved a lot. I finally won a game against Matt yesterday (he also may have let me win one). My ping pong prowess aside, refurbishing the table was a definite win.

Have you ever rehabbed a piece of furniture that seemed beyond hope? Anyone have any ping pong pointers? How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?


February goals wrap up report (and a reveal)

It’s the last day of February and time for the final report on how we did on our goal for the month of painting the main floor hallway, foyer and kitchen.

Want a sneak peak?

Hallway painted Benjamin Moore Abalone

Yup. We have light fixtures, art and fresh paint. Hallelujah.

Just for a reminder, here’s a look back at how this project unfolded over the month:

Progression of painting our hallway

Heading into last weekend, the final task on our list was installing light fixtures. I chose school-house type fixtures from Home Depot (a complete source list is below). There were lots of options through their web site, and these were about the cheapest. I love how the dark oil-rubbed bronze contrasts with the light coloured walls, our pristine white ceilings and echoes the dark tones of our picture frames.

 World Imports Luray Collection Oil Rubbed Bronze 1-Light Semi Flush mount

The light fixtures came in both a semi-flush mount, which I used in the hall, and in a pendant, which I used over the island. I love these lights and have wanted to use them for awhile. They have so much more personality than the boob lights that were there before, and I think they work very well with our casual country setting.

 World Imports Luray Collection Oil Rubbed Bronze 1-Light Pendant World Imports Luray Collection Oil Rubbed Bronze 1-Light Pendant

The final task on our to-do list was also where we fell off schedule a little bit. If I zoom out a little bit you’ll see that we’re still missing one light fixture in the foyer. I’m DIYing this one and need just a bit more time to pull it together. This angle also gives you a glimpse of the kitchen, hallway and foyer all together.

Hallway painted Benjamin Moore Abalone

This one miss aside, I’m declaring February’s project a success.

For us, a month was a realistic timeline to completely transform these spaces. My schedule worked really well to keep us on track. I kept a rough tally and for just the painting, we spent about 25 hours. We worked steadily but didn’t stress ourselves out trying to get it all done too quickly. I’ll definitely be mapping out monthly goals again.

The main floor feels fresh and new. Having Matt’s grandpa’s paintings on the walls really makes the space feel like ours. I’ve fallen even more in love with my house.

Anyone else go through a transformation this month? What did you accomplish in February?

Source list:
Wall paint: Abalone from Benjamin Moore (75% intensity)
Trim paint: Cloud White from Benjamin Moore
Light fixtures: Luray Collection Oil Rubbed Bronze 1-Light Semi Flush mount (this one doesn’t seem to be available online anymore) and Luray Collection 1-Light 34-5/8 in. Hanging Oil-Rubbed Bronze Pendant both by World Imports through the Home Depot
Paintings: Family heirlooms painted by Matt’s grandfather

Progress report 2

Another Friday, and time for another update on how we’re doing with our February project of painting the foyer, hallway and kitchen.

We have colour!

Hallway painted Benjamin Moore Abalone

It’s subtle, but I promise it’s there.

Just to remind you, here’s how the hallway has looked throughout this month.

Progression of painting our hallway

And here’s how the colour stage went down.

Thank goodness for three-day weekends
Two coats of the colour took longer than I expected, but, like everything else that’s been on the to-do list so far, we finished it, and we are on schedule.

Tag, you’re it
Painting at our house is a game of tag, as I cut in and try to stay ahead of Matt who handles the rolling. On the first coat, he caught me quickly. Cutting the ceiling, baseboard, nine doorways and the kitchen meant that I was extremely slow.

I was so glad I made the decision to take off the chair rail. I would not have been happy if I’d had to do more cutting.

On the second coat, Matt didn’t even start rolling until I finished edging the hall and the kitchen. This timing ended up being perfect, as we finished at exactly the same time.

Scraping the bottom of the bucket
We had just enough paint. I bought two gallons, even though Matt thought three might be better. We were probably a bit stingy towards the very end of the second coat, but I still think we have a good finish on the walls… and less than 200mL of paint leftover.

Left over paint

Change it up
We chose Abalone, a popular neutral shade from Benjamin Moore. I find this colour very changeable, which I like. At night with the lights on it looks very grey. In the morning with the sun shining in the windows, it looks more brown.

Lighten up
I had the paint mixed at 75% saturation, as our hallway and kitchen tend to be a bit dim. I was a bit worried that lightening it would change the colour, but it still seems true to the Abalone tone, and the lighter shade works really well in our spaces.

How do you pronounce Abalone? Is it “own” like “home alone?” Or is it “onee” like “baloney?”

Coming up
The major work of painting is obviously done. I’m keeping my eye out for touch-ups, but so far haven’t found any spots that inspire me to break out the paintbrush again.

Since I took the picture at the top of this post, I’ve put the cover plates are back on all of the plugs and switches. Which leads to the final item on my original to-do list: install new light fixtures.

Matt, aka “he who hates pigtails,” aka “in-house electrician” will take on this task this weekend.

What’s on your to-do list for this weekend? What’s the division of labour at your house when it comes to painting and electrical? How do you pronounce Abalone?

I’m dreaming of a white ceiling

I know a lot of people are adding colour and patterns to their ceilings these days, but I am still white ceiling person. Even if I wasn’t, the colours and patterns we’ve had on our ceilings for the past two years would not be my choice… ever.

There were the specks and smears. (Sorry for the poor photo quality. I find it really difficult to photograph our dim hallway).


Then there were the stripes.


Our home inspector’s explanation for these lines was that the insulation in our attic was insufficient. As a result, the ceiling joists got cold. The temperature difference between our warm drywall inside the house and the cold joists in the attic resulted in condensation. Dust and dirt in the air in the house stuck to that condensation, making stripes.

When we upgraded the insulation in the attic, our contractor had a slightly different opinion. Of course I now can’t remember what he said.

In addition to the obvious dirt, there was the overall grey tinge that you saw on Friday.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that we’ve been living with these ceilings since we moved in two years ago. However, I am no longer ashamed. We used Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start primer to make our dreams of a clean white ceiling come true, and I thought it might be helpful to post a bit of a review of this paint.

Out of all of the things I care about in my house, the shade of white on my ceilings is not one of them. My usual method is to use primer to paint the ceilings. For the hallway, foyer and kitchen, I didn’t splurge and go all the way to buying real paint, but I did choose a slightly upgraded primer, rather than the standard formula. The “high hiding” label on the Fresh Start can was what sold me. I had a lot of dirt to hide.

Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Primer

Fresh Start is a slightly thicker consistency than standard primer, which made me feel like I was covering more dirt. It’s not sticky, though, and was easy to apply.

Whether because of the thicker consistency or because our drywall absorbed the paint, we ended up using more than I expected. I had bought a second gallon, not realizing I had one at home already. The extra paint ended up being a good thing because for our 310+ square feet of hallway, kitchen and foyer we used a gallon and a quarter, just for one coat.

I had hoped that we would be able to get away with a single coat on our ceilings, but we ended up having to do two. I’m not sure if it’s that our ceilings were just too dirty, if the Fresh Start didn’t cover as well as I thought it would, or if we applied it a bit thinly in a few spots, but the next day there were sections where I could still see some of the grey.

The second coat went on very quickly (about an hour) and used much less paint (probably just a bit more than half a gallon). The second coat also did the trick. There are no more dirt spots, and none of the grey has bled through.

Since we were working on a ceiling, it would have been helpful for the Fresh Start to have a tint, like some of the specialized ceiling paints out there. These go on light pink and then dry white. In the dim lighting of our hallway, it was sometimes hard to tell where we had yet to paint. At least, it was on the second coat when we were painting over white, rather than grey.

One coat, two coat. One can, two cans. It doesn’t matter now. All that counts is that the Fresh Start did its job, and we now have the white ceilings that I’ve been dreaming of since we moved in.

There’s still one more painting post coming up this week. Check back Friday to see the progress we’ve made on the walls. (Hint: there will be colour!)

Until then, I’m really curious to hear how you handle your ceilings. Are you all about white, like me? Or are you one of those daring folks that embrace the “fifth wall?” What’s your go-to primer? Anyone else tried Fresh Start?

And just in case you’re wondering, Benjamin Moore has no idea who I am, I bought my own paint, and this post is just my opinion.

Progress report

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Given the occasion, I have to start with a quick note of love.

Thank you all for reading, commenting and following along on our adventures. I feel like I’ve found so many new friends, even though many of us have never met. Your warmth and support makes my day everyday, so today I have to give some of that love back. I can’t send you all chocolates and roses, but I can say a very sincere thank you.

Valentine’s Day means that we’re halfway through the month, so it’s time for an update on my February goal of painting the main floor hallway and kitchen.

Here’s what was on the to-do list for the first half of the month and how we did:

  1. Patch and sand holes from chair rail. By Feb. 7. Final coat went on Feb. 4, although I didn’t manage to sand it until Feb. 7. Doesn’t matter, though, ’cause it got done.
  2. Buy paint. By Feb. 7. Done Feb. 6.
  3. Wipe down the trim. By Feb. 7. Done Feb. 7.
  4. Remove cover plates on plugs and switches, take down old light fixtures and install pig tails. Feb. 8. Done Feb. 8.
  5. Paint the ceiling. Feb. 8. Done Feb. 8.
  6. Prime the walls. Feb. 9. Done Feb. 8. A whole day early.
  7. Paint the trim. Feb. 14. After 5 1/2 hours of painting spread out across the past four evenings, I can say this one is done as of last night. Another whole day early.

Plus two new additions:

  1. Remove the old doorbell chime box and patch hole. Mostly done Feb. 9. This is Matt’s add-on that still needs one more coat of paste, but it shouldn’t delay this weekend’s plans.
  2. Paint a second coat on the ceiling. Done Feb. 9. Expecting a single coat of paint to cover our filthy ceiling ended up being a bit of wishful thinking.

Even with additions, everything–every single thing–is on track.

Progression of painting our hallway

After the frustration of 2013 where I was not very successful in accomplishing projects around the house, the progress we’ve made this month makes me tremendously happy. Sure wiping down all of the baseboards and trim (9 doorways, remember) was not my ideal way to spend my Friday night, but I did it, it’s done, and I made my deadline. Planning every step and setting deadlines have been super helpful.

Some soundbites from last weekend:

  • “This ceiling is disgusting.” (Matt) It totally, complete was, but no longer.
  • “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” (Matt) Ummmm… we killed ourselves on the basement reno?
  • “This hallway feels wider.” (Julia) “Wider or whiter?” (Matt) “Uh… I guess both?” (Julia)

Here’s an illustration of our disgusting ceiling. The white circle is where the light fixture used to be.

Dirty ceiling before painting

We’ve only primed, but it has already made such a difference. I’m excited to add colour this weekend. Here’s what’s coming up next:

  1. Paint the walls (two coats). Feb. 15-17 (a three-day weekend).
  2. Install new light fixtures. Feb. 22.

I’ve learned that it’s just too easy for me to procrastinate and push projects off. So far with my new technique of mapping the steps out in detail and scheduling each stage, I’m staying on track. This is a major breakthrough for me.

And people, I am so excited to see the final product and to share it all with you. Will the reveal be an acceptable late Valentine’s gift? I think it’s going to be even more awesome than I expected.

What have you been up to this month? Care to share your mid-month update? Do you have any special plans for Valentine’s Day? I think my present will be a night off from painting. Happy weekend, everyone. And happy Valentine’s Day.

February goals

It’s the first post of February and time to for the rubber to hit the road… Or to put my money where my mouth is… Or my plans into action… Or whatever the appropriate cliche is.

Back in January when I posted about my Home Goals for 2014, I talked about breaking down my projects, setting timelines and sharing more of the progress.

So, in an effort to live up to my promise… and maybe actually accomplish some projects around the house, I’m going to start the month with a post about what I’m hoping to accomplish over the next four weeks.

Painting the main floor hallway and kitchen was at the top of the home goals list, so that’s where we’re going to begin. The universe has demonstrated its support of this plan by sending me a Benjamin Moore coupon.

Benjamin Moore paint chips and coupon

Here are the steps and the timeline:

  1. Mop the ceiling to try to remove the soot or dirt or whatever has turned my white ceilings grey. Done at the end of October.
  2. Remove the pictures hangers, nails and screws from the walls. Done in November.
  3. Sand all of the walls so that they don’t feel like sandpaper anymore. Done in November.
  4. Patch holes and rough spots and sand the patches. Mostly done in November.
  5. Sample paint. Done in December.
  6. Choose a colour. Done in January.
  7. Buy new light fixtures because Matt will not live with pig tails longer than he has to, and I won’t reinstall boob lights. By Jan. 31. Ordered 3 and thrifted one Feb. 1.
  8. Remove the chair rail since I decided in January I don’t like it enough to cut around it. Done Feb. 2.
  9. Patch and sand holes from chair rail. First coat went on Feb. 2, but I’ll need at least one more.
  10. Wipe down the trim. By Feb. 7.
  11. Buy paint. By Feb. 7.
  12. Remove cover plates on plugs and switches, take down old light fixtures and install pig tails. Feb. 8.
  13. Paint the ceiling. Feb. 8.
  14. Prime the walls. Feb. 9.
  15. Paint the trim (baseboards + 9 doorways… ugh. But no chair rail… yay!). By Feb. 14.
  16. Paint the walls (two coats). Feb. 15-17 (a three-day weekend).
  17. Install new light fixtures. Feb. 22.

My big problem last year was finding the motivation to start, continue and complete projects. This year, I’m hoping to find motivation in a few places:

One, I’m very deadline driven, so a schedule–as long as I stick to it–is usually a good thing for me. The only thing that might throw me off this month is that I’m a huge Olympics fan, so I may be distracted by the television a bit more than normal.

Two, I’ll be posting updates as I go and holding myself accountable to all of you. Hope you’re ready for in-progress posts like you said you were.

Benjamin Moore paint samples Abalone, White Dove and Grey Owl

The biggest motivation will be thinking about the result we’ll be working towards. A freshly painted, clean, bright main floor. Maybe we’ll even be able hang some pictures on the wall and make the space truly feel like ours.

What’s on your to-do list for February?

Trompe l’oeil barn board

If that title isn’t a contradiction in terms, I don’t know what is.

I associate trompe l’oeil with fancy murals and beautiful chateaus. Not with farmhouses, and certainly not with mudrooms. However, in my recent mudroom makeover, I created the look of barnboard in an attempt to dress up basic boring slab bi-fold closet doors.

The closet doors are one of those projects that were added on to the makeover because I had to. The doors were coated with an anaglytpa wallpaper that had been painted. It did not match up to the rustic feel I was going for, so I decided to strip it off the doors. Doing that revealed why the doors had been wallpapered in the first place: layers of badly chipped paint that I couldn’t simply paint over.

Chipped paint on bifold closet doors

I briefly considered covering the doors right back up with another textured wallpaper–bead board this time–but then I had another brainwave and decided to strip them back to the bare wood. The thought process went something like this: “Bead board… paneling… planks… vertical planks… like siding on a barn… like barn board… hey, barn board!”

I had seen Minwax Classic Grey stain on the dollhouse Jessica made over at Running With Scissors and was impressed by how she was able to replicate weathered wood, so I decided that was the way to go.

However, just like when I was painting trim in the mudroom, the motivation to strip the closet doors was hard to find. After a few months of procrastinating followed by many, many coats of stripper and lots and lots of sanding, my closet doors were finally naked. Perhaps because of all of the stripper I had to use, I found it difficult to get an even coat with the stain, but I think that works in my favour, as barn board is made up of varied tones.

Minwax grey stained bifold closet doors

Then to make my flat bi-fold closet doors look a little bit more like weathered grey boards, I took a black marker and drew vertical lines down the middle of each door to make trompe l’oiel planks. If I’d really been serious, I could have routed a very shallow gouge down the middle of each door, but I was just going for the feel of barn board and not trying to replicate it too closely.

Draw barn planks with a marker

I reused the black metal pulls that were on the doors originally, turning them vertical to look a little more barndoor-ish. Remember, this makeover was all about cheap and cheerful and working with what we had.

So there you have it. Magic marker barn board planks. Or if you want to be fancy, trompe l’oeil barn board planks. Not a bad way to dress up basic flat panel bi-fold doors.

And there you have the last project of the mudroom makeover. Thanks for all of your great comments and suggestions throughout these posts. It’s so great to finally have one room done.

There are lots more ideas on how to make flat doors more interesting on Pinterest and all over the blogosphere. What are some of your favourites? Do you have barn board (real or fake) in your house? Anyone have any suggestions of the best paint strippers to use? I’m not sure the brand I chose was the most effective, because I felt like these doors took an awful lot of stripper. Any stripping horror or success stories to share? Have you ever “faked it” and made your own trompe l’oeil?

Monday night football

360 feet: the length of an American football field (including end zones)

384 feet: the length of trim currently in our basement–all of which required two coats of paint

Painting trim

Matt and a portion of our 23 pieces of casing

We’re at the two minute warning on this basement renovation. Walls are painted, carpet is scheduled for next week. The next play is to install the trim.

We bought pre-primed MDF casings and baseboards, but they still needed two coats of paint–Benjamin Moore Cloud White in a pearl finish. So I strapped on my knee pads and got to work.

Didn’t you know painting trim is a full contact sport?

Painting baseboard

Me and a portion of our 18 pieces of baseboard

The task for this week is to install all of the trim. It’s team MJ versus seven doorways and five rooms.

Cheer us on as we head for the end zone!

Saturday night love letters

For our Saturday night date, Matt and I primed his office–it’s an exciting life we lead, I know.

Given that we were on a date, I tried to inject some romance into the evening and left a note for him while I was cutting.

I love you

He wrote back.

I love you bacon

It’s clear where his heart lies. He even framed his message.

Painting green walls

Ultimately, the love letters, the bacon and even the retina searing green primer were all covered by two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Manor Green–Matt’s choice of colour. Helping your husband paint his office forest green? That’s true love in my opinion.

Anyone else have a hot date this weekend? How did you spend your Saturday night?

Shades of grey

Blame it on being away at a course for two days and missing husband and home. While driving back to the farm, I decided that the best colour to paint the basement is the one that Matt liked the most. After all, the basement was his main priority when house hunting, and I’ve said that my priority is to make it nice for him.

There were six finalists in the running: two off-whites, two creams and two greys. When I asked you what you’d choose, one of the off-whites, White Dove (my favourite), came out on top with Misty Gray (Matt’s favourite) in second.

Poll results

We decided to make it Misty. However, it turned out not to be that simple.

I went and bought a 5 gallon pail of Misty Gray. We put the first coat on the long room. And I didn’t like it.

The grey was so subtle that it looked to me like we’d painted the room white. As much as I liked White Dove, now that we’d chosen to go grey, I wanted the colour to be noticeable.

So we returned to Benjamin Moore with the pail and asked them to adjust the colour. The next tint on the fan deck was Bunny Gray, and that’s what we aimed for–keeping in mind that the colour wouldn’t be exact given that we’d already used more than a gallon from the pail.

There were two things I was unsure about though: I thought that Bunny might still be too light, and I was also concerned that we wouldn’t have enough paint in our pail to cover the whole basement. And with our custom mixed colour, we likely would have trouble matching it exactly if we came up short.

So I decided to order a single gallon of Thundercloud, the next shade darker after Bunny. When we got home, we dumped the remains of our Misty sample pail along with the gallon of Thundercloud into our pail of Bunny.

Grey paints in a pail

Misty is the light blob at the top, Thundercloud is the swirl in the middle.

Matt mixed it all together, and I crossed my fingers as I picked up my paint brush. Fortunately, I was happy with our Franken-colour, and we went to town.

Grey painted basement

Sorry for the picture quality here. It was dark by the time we finished painting, and lighting in the basement isn’t the greatest. This is the future ping-pong area in the main room of the basement.

Running to the store for the retint and being away from home for a couple of days cost us a bit of painting time, so we still have a little more to do yet. But with the colour finalized and a few free evenings this week, we’re expecting to make good progress this week.

Have you ever mixed your own paint colour? How did it work out for you? What do you think of our custom shade of grey? Given my subject matter and the title of this post, I feel like I have to ask if there are any Shades of Grey fans out there? I haven’t read it myself. Do you recommend it?