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



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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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



behind the scenes

Hey guys.  What an amazing experience the Philly Home Show has been.  As you read this, I am moving the remainder of the inventory from the convention center back to the shop for next weekend’s sale!  (Save the date – February 23rd)  I met so many wonderful, like minded individuals who love to repurpose and reinvent their homes.  So welcome to all of the new readers.  I hope you find some inspiration here!

I wanted to share some fun tidbits today about what goes into putting a room together at the Home Show.  As I pictured before, you start with NOTHING.  A huge open convention center room with nothing more than a concrete floor.  This is how it looked when I arrived two weeks ago.


Within the hour, the carpenters were installing walls.


They are simply sheets of 4×8 drywall erected to carve out a 12×20 sized room.  At that point, it was all mine to do what I wanted with.  Exciting.


First came paint.  Major thanks to my friend Marc from Radon-Rid who was a trooper with set up and break down.


Call him to get your radon levels tested!  And Ryan helped too of course…


Then the wall installation which consisted of vintage blueprints.  This was the most time consuming part but also the biggest impact in the room.  Because I planned to salvage the 40+ year old paper again, we very carefully and gently hung it on the wall.  It wasn’t a permanent installation.  Major thanks to my mom for helping with this tedious job.


Many people asked where I found all of these prints.  The renderings belong to Ryan’s dad – my father-in-law to be.  Each was drawn, signed and dated by him in the early 70’s.  Now you understand why I wanted to salvage as many as possible, right?  Again.  It is a bit of a time capsule.


Many retired architects and contractors commented on the installation and told me about a stash of similar drawings they have and never knew what to do with.  They don’t make ’em like this anymore with the evolution of CAD and similar programs.


Now obviously this is an extreme example of re-using the blueprints but there are other options for reuse too.  Like lining drawers with the paper.  Or just installing one accent wall.  Or a gallery wall of framed, sentimental sketches.  I always thought this would look cool in a little boy’s room or a home office to give it a little punch.  Side note, the original blueprint of hour house is permanently mounted in our cellar stairway.  It is so cool.  I just wish I could move it to a more noticeable place.

Home Show - Repurposed Frames & Vintage Vanity

Next we arranged the furniture while installing pallet wood baseboards and yardstick chair rails to break up the paint and paper.  I love how the greyed out pallets coordinated with the blue walls.  By the way, the inky blue wall color is called Ming Vase by Clark & Kensington, Ace Hardware’s line.  I am a regular at Fisher’s Ace and they kindly donated the paint.


And finally the accessories.  My favorite part.  Circa Dee’s mission mentions family heirlooms…

The mission at Circa Dee is to inspire home through repurposing, refinishing & reinventing.  Learn to give vintage, family heirlooms and found materials a new life when mixing them with modern decor.  High style never looked so eco & budget friendly.

…so I thought it was important to have some of my own in this show room.  There are a lot of little personal touches like old family photos.


These are all relatives of mine on my father’s side. My great grandparents…


This is a picture of my maternal grandmother taken right in Philadelphia decades ago.


Ryan’s thesis is tucked in this little reading corner.  Don’t worry we have extra copies to loan if you want to read up on immunology and the like.


There you have it – blueprints, family photos, thesis.  What heirlooms are subtly placed in your home?

More pictures of the finished room can be seen here.

Reclaimed Industrial Bedroom

Linking to Funky Junk Interiors