we took the plunge

The Ardex plunge, that is. This product has taken the DIY world by storm lately. For those of you that don’t know, Ardex- Feather Finish is a concrete substrate traditionally used in subflooring.  It has been getting increasingly popular as a low-cost way to resurface laminate counter tops.  In my continued quest to update our 80’s kitchen on a tight budget, I thought it was worth a try.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

The über fake looking wood grain formica counter never jived well with the true wood backsplash we installed a couple of years back.

Pallet Wood Backsplash

Counters Before Ardex

Last you saw the space we installed chrome hardware, about a year ago.  At that time, I had searched for Ardex- Feather Finish planning to move right into the counter project. The product is difficult to find although I tracked it down at a local tile shop and now it is readily available on Amazon.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

I delayed the counter installation because I couldn’t make a decision on what sealer to use.  It is very much personal preference however you must choose a food safe sealer considering this is a kitchen counter after all.    Some concrete sealers have a fungicide in them which make sense in a shower or on a patio but on a counter I prefer not to have any pesticides as food may come in direct contact.  You also have the aesthetic choice of sealers with a matte finish, more of a sheen and even stains.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

We went with a sealer we had all along…Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil.  It stained and sealed the concrete, plus it is food safe.  I applied three coats back to back because the porous surface kept soaking it up.  I plan to apply another coat or two this week until it reaches total saturation.
hemp oil

Mixing Ardex is very similar to mixing milk paint.  It comes in a powder form and mixes easily with water.  (1 part Ardex to 1/2 part water)  To prep, we first sanded the countertop to rough it up a bit for best adhesion.  Then we carefully and quickly applied one thin coat right over the formica using a trowel.  It was much like icing a cake.  Ardex dries very quickly and turns to a clay like consistency.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

Twenty four hours later, it was dry and ready to be sanded down to a smooth finish.  I used 60 grit sandpaper and then 150.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

After vacuuming up the dust, I applied another slightly thicker coat. And then repeated the above steps again the following day to make for a third coat.  As you can see, we did not remove the sink.  We simply took the Ardex right up to the edge.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

On the third and final coat, I was more deliberate in my application and trowel marks as I realized these would be seen on the finished surface.

From laminate kitchen counters to concrete on a budget

The process went pretty quickly.  Actual application only took about 30 minutes each time as we didn’t have much counter space to cover.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen

The final step was sealing the concrete finish.  As I mentioned, we chose hemp oil since it is all natural and food safe. I simply brushed on the hemp oil.  This will need to be applied annually as will most sealers on a porous counter.  I am also considering applying a coat of furniture wax for a little luster.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

It soaked into the surface right before our eyes and we continued on with the next coat.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

Overall I love the final finish.  It has a natural rustic feel vs. the fake plastic look we had previously.  I am not convinced that it has the look of a poured concrete counter but I am happy with this low-budget transformation.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

Here’s where this space started and where it has progressed over the past few years.  You can review the transformation starting with painting laminate cabinets, installing a wood backsplash, adding hardware and now resurfacing the counters…

From 80's Laminate to Rustic Kitchen

Next up, the floors!  Then maybe a fancy range hood?

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

 

 

roar & a look book

Lots to share today!  First off, I am loving this sweet little tricycle red chair.  Lately I have been experimenting with heavy distressing which I’m not sure is always my thing.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but this chair was meant for distressing.

mms milk paint tricycle chair-4332

I picked it up a few weeks ago on our road trip.  I actually didn’t mind it in its before state…already perfectly worn and distressed however I thought the mauve color was boring.

chair before

MMS milk paint in Tricycle punched it up!

mms milk paint tricycle chair- wax puck distressing

To achieve this style of distressing I rubbed a wax puck all over the chair before painting.  I focused on areas that were already worn as well as places that would naturally wear like the edges, rungs and back.

mmsmp wax puck

Then I painted two coats of tricycle over the entire piece.  Once it dried, I rubbed back where the wax puck was applied with steel wool to reveal the mauve and raw wood in some places.  And finally, a coat of antiquing wax was applied to the chair to further age and distress.

mms milk paint tricycle chair- wax puck distressing

I love this little lion pillow as well.  It was handmade for me by a family friend several years back.  It seemed like the perfect juvenile prop for this chair.

mms milk paint tricycle chair-4330

While we’re talking about pint-sized chairs, handmade pillows and milk paint, guess what has arrived?  The much-anticipated Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint Look Book!

mmsmp look book one-4352

And yours truly has a little feature.  This rocking chair is in the dried lavender section for all to see!  My cousin and her new baby girl are the owners of this chair.  Such an honor to have it featured along with my very own photography. Can I call this my first photo credit in print?

mmsmp look book one - dried lavender

The look book is gorgeous and full of loads of inspiration and tips.  I will have a few available at both locations very soon. They were only produced in limited numbers so if you’d like to own one, grab it fast!  Or let me know so I can reserve you a copy.

mmsmp look book one-4356

And P.S. major sneak peek into our new slate flooring…it makes a fantastic photo backdrop.

come and knock on my door

Last weekend was wet and gloomy.  We’ve had fantastic weather all summer with very few rainy days so the gloomy weather was welcomed by me.  I found myself lounging on the couch and indulging in a Three’s Company marathon on TV Land.  If you know me, you know I never lay around and watch TV.  I can’t sit still long enough so this felt like such an indulgence.  Listening to the rain and giggling over the antics of the three “kids upstairs”.industrial pallet coffee table-4223

I completely forgot about Mrs. Roper’s style.  It is pretty fantastic!  She really pulled off kaftans and muumuus as much as one can.  I found myself wanting to wear a ridiculous amount of bright bangles and baubles.

industrial pallet coffee table-4245

(BTW if you Google ‘Mrs. Roper’ you’ll see so many guys dressed as her presumably for Halloween.  Go ahead, try it!  It’s a great costume idea.)

We also finished up the industrial pallet coffee table.  I really love this quirky upcycle.  I know this look isn’t for everyone but it can certainly work in the right home.

industrial pallet coffee table-4229

Industrial Rustic is how I’d classify this table.  Or Rustic Industrial.  To-may-toes, to-mah-toes.  I find my own style has been swaying more and more towards rustic & industrial lately based on the finishes and images I’ve been most interested in.

industrial pallet coffee table-4241

This industrial pallet came out of an old sewing factory.  Last you saw it, it looked like this.

vintage industrial factory skid

We gave it a thorough cleaning and sanded the top.  I had planned to stain the top but once it was sanded all of the beautiful age and wear became apparent.

sanded pallet

I knew this was the perfect job for hemp oil.  Oiling the piece made all of those scratches pop in the best way possible while darkening the raw wood just a bit.  It took three coats of oil until it reached saturation.

industrial pallet coffee table-4252

I didn’t stop oiling at the porous wood surface though.  I decided to oil the metal base as well and it really highlighted the faded blue paint.  Who knew that great color was under there?  The metal only needed one coat and took longer to dry.

industrial pallet coffee table-4237

In order to elevate the pallet to standard coffee table height (16-19″), Ryan created custom legs.  After much thought and consideration for aesthetics, he came up with legs consisting of a steel rod, caster, pipe and locking bolt.  He carefully drilled through the metal base of the pallet to attach the industrial leg.  I love casters on coffee tables.  I suppose it is the industrial influence again.

industrial pallet coffee table-4254

So there you have it.  From the sewing factory to our living room!  Trash to treasure.  This one-of-a-kind has sold!  And I am off to find a Mrs. Roper inspired kaftan…

Industrial Pallet Coffee Table by Circa Dee

 

 

custom mix: slate

We have a new DIY project under way in our home.  We’re creating a custom hearth in the corner of our living room.  Once that is complete we’re having a wood burning stove professionally installed.  (We know our DIY limits!)  We’re hoping to have this project finished in time for a fire on the first chilly September evening.  We started planning early so let’s hope we stay on track with the timeline.  In fact, we’ve been talking about executing this for a year, at least, but you know how house project timelines can go…

After much pinning and deliberating we decided on natural slate for the hearth.  Most of the pins on my wood burning board seem to just reflect beautifully stacked wood which I am certainly looking forward to aesthetically, however the end result will hopefully be a combination of the following photos.

source: Apartment Therapy

source: Apartment Therapy

Source: The Kitchn

source: The Kitchn

The slate arrived today and we’ll begin the project next week.   All of the slate discussion seemed to seep into my painting world though.  Completely unintentionally too!

trophy & slate MMSMP dresser-4161

I scored a beautiful old chest of drawers at an estate sale. It actually has the original tag still intact on the back.  (Sorry for the poor quality phone pic.)

Dresser tag

The previous owner had sanded down most of the cherry finish.  Can you believe that?

Dresser before

I proceeded to use milk paint without the bonding agent and expected decent adhesion since the glossy surface was sanded.

trophy & slate MMSMP dresser-4164

Beginning with the drawers, I originally thought I’d paint them typewriter (black) as I knew I wanted to head in a masculine & sophisticated direction with this piece.  However, black wasn’t giving me exactly what I wanted.  On my work bench I had a little artissimo (navy) left over from these nightstands.  And a little boxwood (green) left from this sideboard (which I haven’t blogged about yet).  I went ahead and mixed all three colors together producing such a beautiful deep color that immediately reminded me of slate.  I did not measure but if I had to guess, I would say it was three parts typewriter to two parts artissimo and two parts boxwood – give or take.  Mixing paint colors can be so satisfying at times!

trophy & slate MMSMP dresser-4160

The body of the dresser was painted trophy (gray) which mimics the color of the grout we chose for our slate hearth project.  The entire chest has a durable coat of furniture wax.

trophy & slate MMSMP dresser-4156

The glass knobs pulled the piece together and seem to make it sparkle.  As much as slate can sparkle, anyway.  Tell me what is inspiring you this week!

trophy & slate MMSMP dresser-4167

The chest just landed at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown where you can also find all of the paint colors mentioned and those glass knobs.  I must say that it looks spectacular in the window on Oakland Street.  Go check it out!

trophy & slate MMSMP dresser-4154

I’ll be in Doylestown for another Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint demonstration on Sunday, August 24th at 1pm.  Save the date!

trophy & slate MMSMP dresser-4159

 

summer breeze & dried lavender

Summer breeze makes me feel fine!

This morning was one of those fantastic summer mornings that left me in a really fabulous mood.  I woke up to a chilly summer breeze blowing in from the sea.  The sun seemed a little late to peak.  Just a subtle amount of light streamed in past the drapes.

dried lavender chair-4107

I reveled at how perfect the morning was over a seasonal breakfast of yogurt, farm stand strawberries, homemade granola and local honey.  And it dawned on me, that we’ve lived in this fantastic agricultural beach town for almost a year now.  A year in Cape May!  What a dream come true.

strawberries

I got to work capturing the calm, morning light and snapping up some photos of this now finished caned chair.

dried lavender chair-4108

The chair was given to me by a friend about a week ago.  It spoke to me right away.  Some just do that you know.

IMG_4061

I knew it had to be painted dried lavender and I knew the caning had to remain natural.  It is rare to find caning in excellent condition.

dried lavender chair-4111

Last you saw the chair, it looked like this.  Two coats of dried lavender with bonding agent.  Perfection.

creating chippy texture with milk paint-4091

But wait!  The chair got a soft, nearly silvery glow to it with a topcoat of white wax.

dried lavender chair-4114

Summer breeze…blowing through the jasmine (or lavender) in my mind.

comparing topcoats: then & now

The most pinned and visited post here is one I wrote a couple of years ago about my preference in furniture topcoats.  There has been consistent conversation on that post.  I’d like to continue that conversation over here with a 2014 update.

While the products I was using then are certainly fine products, tastes & trends change and new choices become available.  Let’s check in and compare what I was using in 2012 vs. what I’m using in 2014 and why…

2012 #1 Minwax Paste Finishing Wax – I was using paste wax primarily over stripped and stained surfaces.

hemp oil

Current #1 Hemp Oil – This is my current go-to topcoat for stained surfaces and raw wood.  Basically it can be applied to revive and treat any porous surface including flat paint leaving a rich finish.  Hemp oil is 100% natural, no VOCs and food safe.  I even use hemp oil on my cutting boards and cast iron pots.  It has no harsh odor so I use it indoors.  Hemp oil has a multitude of other DIY uses but we’re just talking about topcoats today so I will limit it to that.  Hemp oil can be applied with a cloth or brush.  I typically use a brush.  I love the addition of oil to my repertoire.

drop leaf table with hemp oil finish on raw wood and paint

2012 #2 Johnson Paste Wax – I always liked the finish this wax provided over painted surfaces but the chemical odor is just so strong that I never use it anymore.

furniture wax

Current #2 Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Wax – When I want a wax finish over painted furniture, I always go for this one regardless of the brand of paint.  It is made of beeswax and therefore has no odor.  It is incredibly easy to apply and leaves a nice even finish.  I apply with a wax brush.  MMS furniture wax dries very quickly, in about 5 minutes, and lightly buffs out with a lint free cotton rag.

mustard seed yellow milk paint nightstand with furniture wax

2012 #3 & #4 Annie Sloan Clear & Dark Wax – These waxes are nice and thick which is why I liked them back then.  At the time I was using a lot of chalk paint so it complemented well.  A thick wax over a full body paint made sense to me then.  However, there has been a lot of conversation around the clear wax leaving a haze and fingerprints while the dark wax was mostly just too dark and hard to work with on its own.  The dark wax is very pigmented because it is meant to be more of a stain from what I understand.  I have experienced both of those issues and pushed through until…

antiquing wax

2014 #3 & #4 Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing & White Wax – No surprise here but I’ve fully converted to all MMS waxes.  The antiquing wax creates such a subtle warm patina with no fear of being too dark as referenced before. The pigment is easy to spread.

lucketts green over trophy milk paint with antiquing wax #mmsmp

On the other hand, white wax creates a washed out look to the painted finish that I’ve been raving about this summer.  The white wax also has a very light scent that is pleasant and not chemically at all.

Mustard Seed Yellow + White Wax #mmsmp

I use brushes to apply these waxes as it helps gets the pigmentation to settle into the paint creating an aged look.  I reserve one wax brush exclusively for each color wax for easier clean up.  It is fun to use both antiquing and white wax on one piece to create depth and the illusion of years of wear.  I like to think of it as highlighting and low-lighting.

white wax

In 2012, I also indicated that I was using a buffer and still receive many questions about my buffer today.  Well, I can’t remember the last time I used it!  I power buffed because all of the waxes I was using were thick and it was the best way to get an even, shiny finish.  My current choice in waxes are much lighter.  When needed, a cotton rag and elbow grease buffs them out in minutes.  Although the beeswax is thinner, it gives a very solid, durable finish when cured.

Of course, this is just my opinion and perhaps, no surprise.  I wouldn’t sell a line of products that I don’t truly love.  There are many, many new topcoat choices on the market including a range of tinted waxes and ones with low or no VOCs.  It is important to find what suits your style best.  Please share in the comments what your go-to products for topcoats are.  I’d love to hear what you’ve discovered!