Happy 100th Blog Day!

Unbelievably, this is my 100th post on Country Design Home! What started out as a marketing class project in the spring has blossomed into an almost-daily reveal of the trials and tribulations of my DIM (Do It Myself) life. My hope is that by sharing this ongoing saga, you will be sometimes moved, sometimes inspired and mostly entertained by my crazy attempts of decorating our lives in my little red house.

So it is only fitting that today, on my 100th post day, that I continue on with the Hall of Shame saga, one of my very first writings. What started back in April as a pre-Easter project has dragged on all summer and into the fall, as I have attempted a dozen different non-toxic ways of removing 150+ years of lacquer from the railings and balusters of my front hall.

I have scrubbed and sanded them, tried several “eco-friendly” deliciously-scented stripping products that transported me to a luscious citrus grove (that could have been the fumes talking…)

but never quite did the job. So this past Sunday, determined to finish this project in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I brought out the big guns. Minwax Antique Furniture Refinisher. Big yellow can. SKULL AND CROSSBONES. POISON. DANGER.

Takes off the finish, but not the original color. Perfect. Opened all the windows, got all the fans blowing. Readied the supplies.

Donned my Nitrile disposable gloves, grabbed the steel wool. Go. Within moments, the lacquer melted away, leaving the lovely patina and soft caramel color of perfectly aged wood.

Finally! So, as I am moving along the railing, scrubbing away years of lacquer and grime, I started thinking about all the hands that had gripped those railings, including those of our children, now grown and gone. Over the years, they ran up and down those stairs a million times, grabbing that railing, leaving indelible fingerprints and memories that can never be scrubbed away with a steel wool pad… Snapped back to reality when I happened to look down and notice that, along with the wood finish, the liquid appears to be eating away the tips of my disposable gloves!

Hmmm. Check the front of the glove package: “perfect for painting, stripping paint, chemical handling”. Then, the disclaimer on the back:not intended for prolonged, direct exposure to harsh chemicals. Do not use if glove is torn or punctured“. Yikes! Grabbed my industrial orange Home Depot gloves (these are great for anyone that does lots of home and gardening projects. They come in a package of 5 pairs cheap). 

Added another layer of plastic gloves under the orange ones, just to make sure I still have fingertips when I am done-did you read the can?!?Three hours later, I ran out of stripping liquid and steam. The top railings and balluster are finished and look amazing! The rest of the hall looks more like a crime scene than a DIM project…

So I go to open the front door to let in some more fresh air, and find a very sweet surprise!

“Bee”atrice, my beekeeping friend, has left me a jar of her very special home grown, freshly-harvested honey! A few months ago, I wrote about her new hobby in “The Secret Lives of Bee-Keepers“.  I am excited to give the fruits of her labor a try! In the meantime, it’s back to Home Depot for more stripper and gloves. And, a special thanks to all of you for reading my blog (over 20,000 hits!) and sharing your comments about our crazy DIM lives in those past 100 posts. As long as there are projects to complete and lives to live and moments to share, I’ll be blogging about them! Susan


  1. Nice job on the hand rails. I have to finish mine one day. I copped out and stopped halfway up.


  2. And Congratulations on your 100th blog!!


  3. Your red house is so beautiful!!! I love when people dear to use colors on their homes! I grew up on a street where our house was yellow, the neighbors house was red, across the street there was an orange house and up the street a blue and a green one! Almost Lego Land!:) But at the same time so pretty when standing there together!


  4. Especially love this one. Congratulations on your 100th blog. You are so special.


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