Yesterday was such an exciting day in the thrifty kitchen transformation process-granite installation day! Thanks to Alpha-Granite in Wakefield, Ma, we secured this gorgeous hunk of granite called Steel Gray at a great price, with great service.

Alpha Granite Wakefield, MA

Ten days from choosing the granite to the install, they arrived on time, worked quickly and efficiently and cleaned up before they left.  As promised, the truck rolled up at 8am and the process of removing the old formica countertops commenced.

Granite Kitchen 8am ArrivalNow, as an avid DIY’er, I  like to think that I can pretty much do most everything myself. That is, after all, what DIY means: Do It Yourself. However, I do know my limits, and fabricating and hauling around giant slabs of very heavy granite just was not in my job description for this particular project.

Granite Slabs in TruckSo, here is the before: yucky yellow 1970’s Formica with the over-counter-installed stainless sink which they quickly removed and junked.

Granite Kitchen Stove Countertop Before

 

Granite Kitchen Sink BeforeAnd here is the after: shiny black with flecks of grays and browns, which really complements the painted white cabinets and the awesome hardware!

Granite Stove Side Counter AfterAs we’ve continued the work on the kitchen, the one thing mom and I keep noticing is how much lighter and brighter it appears now.

Granite New Undermount SinkOf course, painting out the dark oak cabinets really helped, but the new, shiny dark gray granite reflects the light as well. LOVE. More importantly, mom is so happy to have gorgeous granite countertops in her kitchen! Next up, the backsplash. You’re not gonna want to miss this one! But that won’t be for another week or so, because I am taking a quick blogging hiatus to upgrade my computer server (this ought to go well) and prepare for our newest junking adventure! So, until August 1, I’ll be seeing you on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram-so come on over and say hi! Hope you are all having a great summer!  Susan

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Right around the 4th of July, I posted a pic of this amazing USA license plate map that I spotted at HomeGoods.

USA Map HomeGoods

It received thousands of hits and shares on Facebook and Pinterest, and so many folks commented on its colorful beauty and unique construction-every state is represented with its own license plate! Then, I spotted this note on my Facebook page:

Aaron Foster USA License Plate Map

Naturally, I had to follow up and find out who the mystery artist was who created this patriotic masterpiece because I always strive to give proper credit to artists and makers. His name is Aaron Foster, he is an artist, an entrepenuer, former standup comic and an aspiring actor as well!

Aaron FosterCheck out this quite hilarious Who is Aaron Foster? video. Turns out, he was on HGTV in its early days, as the host of a show named Freestyle-where rooms were re-decorated using only furniture and decorative accessories already on hand. He created his first USA license plate map back in 2001 to impress a female artist friend. Not sure how that worked out, but the license plate art biz took off. So now, he sells his artwork online via his website, Aaron Foster Designs, at shows and by commission-he has created his artwork for CNN

Aaron Foster CNN logoHost of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert

Aaron Foster Art Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert with Aaron Foster USA Map Art

& network television. This super large Liberty Flag was for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition for the NYC Firefighter’s edition.

Aaron Foster Liberty FlagHe also sells on Etsy, where he is presently offering some of his artwork at discounted prices, so you should definitely check that out here:

Aaron Foster EtsyHere is my recent Q & A with Aaron

Me: Hi, Aaron! I was surprised to see your comment on my Facebook page and am wondering if you could share how that all came about? I have a few questions:

1. Is the photo of the one I shared on my page a picture of the actual one that you created? I took that photo at HomeGoods in Danvers, MA
    Aaron: Yes, that is a photo of one of many USA License Plate Maps I have created since 2001 when I made my first one to impress a woman who was an artist and inadvertently
   began a career as an artist.
2. Did you create it specifically for HomeGoods?
    The piece pictured was created specifically for Home Goods in the sense that they decided the style for the background, rough cedar planks aged and distressed, but I have been
    making the USA Map out of license plates since 2001.
3. Have you made any others?
    While there are well over 100 designs in my collection, everything from American Flags, Classic Cars, Cowboy scenes and iconic American Highway signs such as Route 66 and the 
    Hollywood sign, the USA map has always been my most popular piece.  I have created 1200+ of them. (blogger’s note: 1200+!!!!)
4. How did you obtain all of the license plates?
     I have been doing this a long time and have many suppliers of the vintage plates throughout the country.  At any given time I probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of    
    20,000 license plates in my workshop. (blogger’s note: 20,000!!!)
5. Do you have a website/Etsy page where you sell handmade items such as this online?
     The Etsy Page:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/AaronFoster  
     The Aaron Foster website where you can purchase and/or commission works of license plate art is http://www.aaronfoster.com/
6. Are you interested in sharing the actual construction details?
    While it’s certainly not rocket science, this is how I make my living, pay my mortgage, feed my family, etc., so for those reasons, I’d rather keep my methods to myself. Sorry!
No apologies necessary. Everyone needs to make a living, and Aaron certainly does that with this amazing and unique license plate artwork. A few of my personal favorites:
USA Heart Map (every state represented)
USA Heart Map Aaron Foster License Plate Art
Aaron Foster USA Flag
Vintage Pickup Truck (from any state)
Aaron Foster Pickup Truck
CU-Boulder Logo (my daughter’s alma mater-GO BUFFS!!) Hmmm, I wonder if he makes a Sparky the Sun Devil too??
CU Boulder License Plate Art Aaron Foster
To contact Aaron (whether to purchase a piece or offer him an acting gig) you can reach him at Email: info@aaronfoster.com or Phone: 323-302-3908. And if you do happen to contact him, please tell him that Sue from Country Design Home sent you : ) Now I’m giving you license to have a terrific Thursday, everyone! Susan

 

 

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Blogger’s note: NO REAL WOOD WAS HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS CUPBOARD**

This past weekend, I completed a few more projects while awaiting the granite guy’s countertop installation at mom’s house. I have been working on this piece in my kitchen for quite awhile, and am happy to finally have it done! This is the before:

Coastal Kitchen Cabinet Beforea red cupboard (made of MDF) we purchased a few years back at Jordan’s Furniture Colossal Clearance Center in Avon, Mass (if you haven’t been there, it is so definitely worth the trip! Lots of great furniture at significantly discounted prices!) This piece fits nicely in the narrow passageway between our kitchen and dining room and holds a ton of stuff like paper towels, napkins and several pieces of kitchen equipment that just won’t fit anywhere else. The problem is, since it’s in the highest traffic point of our home, it had been scratched and worn-the finish was like a plastic veneer and scratched off quite easily (and I was tired of the dark red anyway…). Time for a fix, so this is the after: a pretty, light coastal cabinet with a top created from reclaimed window shutters!

Coastal Kitchen CupboardHere is the how-I-did-it: Sanded everything down to rough up the shiny veneer plasticy surface, and sanded the edges to round them off a bit.

Sanding the edges Nothing says “mass-produced” more than sharp, clean edges on furniture. Primed with my go-to primer: Glidden Gripper (you can find this at Home Depot in the paint dept)

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Glidden Gripper Primer

The Americana Chalky paint I planned on using says it doesn’t need a primer, but the before color was so dark, and the new color was so light, I figured I had better just to be safe.

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Chalky Paint Palette DecoArt

Before I painted the entire piece, I accented the frames around the door panel inserts with the Americana Chalky Paint Called Vintage. It is a soft blue/green color that ties in beautifully with the shutter slats on the top.

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Framed Cabinet Doors with Chalky Paint

Then I applied some wallpaper wainscoting (LOVE this stuff too!) to the inside of the panels to give a more country feel to the piece. (For the DIY  how-to on using the wallpaper, click here.

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard with Wainscoting Wallpaper Panel Inserts

I then painted the entire cupboard, including the inside panels, with two coats of Americana Chalky paint in the color Everlasting-so soft and pretty white.

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Chalky Paint for Knob Americana

The more I used this paint, the more I love it. No brush strokes, so easy to apply and clean up. I then sanded the edges to give it a bit of character and contrast.

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Wainscoting Wallpaper Doors

The final coat was the Americana Ultra Matte Varnish from DecoArt. No shine, protects the white paint from fingerprints.

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Ultra Matte Varnish Americana

For the star of this show, the top, I used some old shutter slats that Coach and I had picked up off the side of the road on a drive to Cape Cod. That was one of my very first blog posts, and also one of the first times we trash picked on the side of the road. What a score! The colors are all the original ones-so coastal pretty!!

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Arranging Shutter Slats

I have been using parts of them for several projects, including some little hanging chalkboards which I decided to reclaim for this project. As I was arranging the slats on the top, my original plan was to flip the chalkboard ones over and use the reverse side. But then I thought, why not just leave them so I could write cute little sayings on the surface? Fun!

Coastal Cupboard Makeover Chalkboard

Once I had placed all of the slats, there were a few that hung over the edges, which I quickly remedied with a few jigsaw cuts.

Cutting Shutter slats with jigsawThen sanded the edge smooth with my Black & Decker Mouse sander, which I also picked up at my local Home Depot.  Honestly, I spend more time at Home Depot and Home Goods than I do at home!!

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Cut Shutter Slat Edges

While I was sanding, I made sure that I sanded the top edge just a bit so that the cut pieces had the same worn edge as the rest. (this is the area that fits into the frame of the shutters when they are whole).

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Mouse Sander Edges

Once they were cut and sanded, I glued them into place with this strong sticky stuff-didn’t even require any nailing!!

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard Wood Glue

The original knobs were a nice heavy iron, but I wanted something lighter so there wasn’t as much of a contrast. These mercury glass knobs I found at (where else) HomeGoods, but I couldn’t find handles for the doors that I really liked.

Home Goods Mercury KnobsSo, I grabbed a pair of stainless ones I kept from my old kitchen and painted them with the chalk paint. What, you say?! Painted knobs? But, of course! This week’s Tuesday DIY Tip: you can paint any hardware quickly and easily, especially with this chalk paint! You just paint it on, Painting knobs with chalk paintmaking sure you get in all the tiny holes and crevices, then wipe it off,

Wiping off Chalk Paintallow to dry and done. Wipe away as much or as little depending on the look you are going for.

Painted knobs with chalky paintThe finished cupboard now stands in the space under my incredible driftwood mirror I purchased at (where else) HomeGoods a few months back, along with some other coastal-inspired decor.

Coastal Kitchen Cupboard After Shutter Slat Top PM

Which will all go so nicely in my coastal dream home (if I ever get a coast dream home…) In the meantime, have a dreamy Tuesday, everyone!! Susan

**PS: That disclaimer at the top of this article is for all the wood enthusiasts who think that no wood furniture should ever be painted…

 

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While I’ve been doing my fair share of fixing-upping around here, sometimes I need to just take a break and get some fresh inspiration and ideas from magazines and TV.

Fixer Upper HGTV LogoYesterday I had a four-hour HGTV marathon watching a new show called Fixer Upper, featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines from Waco,Texas.

chip_and_joanna_gaines
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

I am in love with this young couple and their adorable family,

Joanna Gaines and Kids
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

who live in a renovated Texas farmhouse surrounded by chickens and goats (and now cute, fluffy puppies!).

Fixer Upper Family Farm Goats
Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes

The show, Fixer Upper, features recent amazing makeovers by their company, Magnolia Homes, in their own inspired Texas style, but also showcases rooms in their family farmhouse. This is their kitchen, where Joanna sometimes brings clients to show them different types of finishes of poured concrete and stainless steel countertops.

Magnolia Homes Kitchen
Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes.net

You will not believe the transformations they achieve while taking the most broken, run-down, dumpster-dive houses and remaking them into stunning family homes worthy of any glossy magazine cover. A couple of examples: This young couple, the owners of Harp Design Co. (he makes many of Joanna’s wood designs)

Fixer Upper Harp Design Co.
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

purchased this “fixer-upper” for $10,000!! (Yup, you read that right. The prices down there in Texas are nothing like I have seen since the 50’s up here in the Northeast.)

Fixer Upper Before
Photo Courtesty of HGTV

The house was absolutely falling down and had to be gutted, essentially to the studs, and rebuilt. This is the after…I know, right?!?

Fixer Upper After
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

Here is the kitchen before (if you could even call it that-I think Joanna referred to it as a crime scene-lol)

Fixer Upper Kitchen Before
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

The new kitchen-what’s to say? Beautiful.

Fixer Upper Kitchen After
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

In another episode, this home was purchased by the local veterinarian, Dr. Marla Hendricks, who was surprising her new husband who was relocating from California. Chip and Joanna had one month to transform a falling-down bungalow from this:

Fixer Upper Veterinarian's Home Exterior Before
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

to this:

Fixer_Upper_Vet's Home Exterior After
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

The living room before:

Fixer Upper Vet's Home Living Room Before
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

The living room after:

Fixer_Upper_Vet's Home Living Room After
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

A few things about this show make it so unique and fun to watch. The makeovers, of course, are so special, because they do it right, both in the construction, but also, in the inspired decor. Joanna combines rustic country style with touches of glam and pops of color to create beautiful vignettes that are so meaningful to the new homeowners. Unexpected? A vintage bike hanging on the wall of an avid bike enthusiasts new study (episode 12)

Photo Courtesy of HGTV
Photo Courtesy of HGTV

Loving this little boy’s room with baskets of balls and alphabet letters on the walls.

Magnolia Blog Boys Room Vignette
Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes.net

But it is the Gaines family that makes this show. They are so funny and endearing and clearly have a great sense of pride in their work, their homes and their family, which makes this show worth watching over and over. If you had gotten away from watching HGTV because you were tired of House Hunter reruns, then this is the show to watch to get great “simple. fresh. inspiring. unexpected.” decorating ideas! And, they have a shop in Waco called  Magnolia Market, that sells some of the very items you will see on the show available both in shop

Magnolia Market Store front
Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes

and online.

Fixer Upper Magnolia Market
Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Homes

The new episodes air on Thursdays at 9pm, but HGTV is showing lots of reruns right now (they know a hit when they see one!) So, if you will excuse me, I am off to watch a few more episodes I’ve saved on my DVR while I have my morning coffee and then “get after it” as they say down there in Texas. Have a sunny Sunday, everyone!Susan

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While all of the kitchen reno and vintage shopping has been going on, I’ve been working on quite a few projects at home in the few stolen moments I have available. This week’s project: Vintage Reclaimed Ruler Side Table-my new favorite piece!!         Vintage Rules Reclaimed Side Table PMGotta give Coach credit where credit is due. Once I mention that I have something in mind to try to create, he goes all out to find me the proper materials at his yard and estate sales. Little old side table? $3.

Vintage Rules Old TableVintage rulers? Not free, but he’s been collecting them for awhile and stands at about 50 & counting!

Vintage Rules Table and Rulers UncutWhat I love about these rulers are that they originated from old and defunct local businesses, many of them with original phone numbers-no area codes! Brings a little nostalgia to the piece. How sweet is “Make It Your Rule To Graduate From School??”

Vintage Yardsticks and RulersSo, with Lisa from RitaJosVintage’s assistance, we created this cute little reclaimed side table using nothing more than some paint and varnish, wood glue, a brad nailer, painter’s tape and of course, rulers-some for actually measuring and the remainder for decoration (some Coach wouldn’t even allow us to cut because they were too vintage!) Here is the how-we-did-it: Cleaned the table and of course, noted the large crack in the top.

Vintage Rules Old TabletopThat was repaired with some wood glue and a couple of nails. It wasn’t going to be visible so no need for fanciness, just security. I painted the table with two coats of this awesome new chalky paint from DecoArt called Americana Chalky Finish that I bought at Michaels (with a coupon, of course : )

Americana Chalky Paint RelicThis deep graphite gray color is called Relic, which fits in nicely with the piece, don’t you agree? After the paint dried, I sanded it with a damp sponge sander.

Vintage Rules Sanding with damp brickI have discovered with this paint that since it is quite chalky, dry sanding results in a very fine dusting of the adjacent surfaces, but the wet sander smoothes the surface and removes the edges cleanly.

Vintage Rules Wetting the Sanding BrickI attempted to remove the drawer pull to clean and polish it, but it was fastened in a way that it just kept twirling around but would not budge. So, I did the next best thing: painted it, then sanded it. Gives it an antique, finished look.

Vintage Rules Drawer Pull CloseupFor the top, we decided on a design based on an old  “Log Cabin Quilt” pattern, one of my favorites. We measured the first length, then cut it and taped it into place. Then repeatedly cut and taped until the entire top was covered.

Vintage Rules Taped Cut Ruler PiecesYou know, I gotta say, its a lot easier when someone else is doing the cutting and I am photographing them-thanks Lisa! (So, what’s wrong with this picture?? Lisa is not wearing goggles or glasses-my bad! That is a big no-no when using power tools. After all, if you damage your eyes while using power tools, then you won’t be able to see to use power tools any more. Don’t do this at home!!)

Vintage Rules Lisa from RitoJosVintageOnce the top was completed, we lifted each piece as we went along, added the wood glue and then resecured the piece,

Vintage Rules Glueing the Slats into placethen waited until the glue was dry (which was pretty quick because it was about 95 degrees that day!). After that, the tape was removed

Vintage Rules Tabletop Detailand the edges were sanded to smooth out any imperfections or uneven edges.

Vintage Rules Sanding the EdgesThen we secured all of the pieces using a brad nailer. This is the mini version of a nail gun, shoots both staples and tiny little finish nails that you can barely see.

Vintage Rules Brad Nailer GunAt this point we stopped for the day, as the sun was setting, as evidenced by the blue hue of daylight. Not safe to work in the darkness!

Vintage Rules Sanded TableThe next day, I added two coats of this Americana Decor Ultra-Matte Varnish from DecoArt

Vintage Rules Americana Matte Finishto finish the entire piece, including the top (which I had initially glazed to enhance the colors of the different woods of the yardsticks, but then decided I wanted it to have a matte finish as well). This stuff is simple to use, brush it on, allow to dry, no buffing needed. It leaves a slightly textured, very matte finish that works perfectly on pieces where you want to accent the color but not add any shine. After all, this is a relic, right?

Vintage Rules Matte Finish DetailsIt stands now in my dining room with some simple staging.

Vintage Rules Completed Tabletop Closeup PMA sweet salvaged side table that works as both a decorative piece and a handy tool (how many times do you go looking for a ruler to measure something and can’t find one?! Now it will be at your fingertips-as long as you only need to measure 12 inches or less : ) I hope your Friday rules, everyone-TGIF!! Susan

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Welcome To Country Design Home!

Inspired. Rustic. New Country Style...in the suburbs. Because you don't have to live on a farm to create a warm and inviting country-styled home. Follow my DIY junkin' journey as I give tips of the trades and inspired fresh country design ideas to create your own Country Design Home.
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