DIY Mail/Key Organizer

Howdy y’all!

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA on the blog lately. Packing and moving back into school can get a little crazy, but I am officially all moved in! It’s so weird to say that, it seems like I was just getting back home for the summer. At least I have another month before classes start (I’m here early for my athletic training clinical rotation. I’m with high school football this fall! Although our group hasn’t actually got to go to practice yet, because our background checks weren’t done over the summer, so we have to wait until that is taken care of. It’s just been a bit of a mess to start the year lol) Anyway, I know you’re all dying to see my lodge and how I decorated it. Don’t worry, I’ll be doing a post soon to show y’all everything 🙂

I only had one slight catastrophe on move in day when I realized after my parents were already halfway home that I had accidentally left my purse in their van (major face palm). Everything turned out fine, though, they overnight shipped it to me, so it’s back now!

I wanted to share a little DIY project and what I learned from it with you lovely people on this fine Tuesday. Some people constantly struggle to keep track of their keys, so hopefully this mail/key organizer will make that a little easier! Added bonus: you can put mail or whatever you want on the built-in shelf. Since we don’t get mail sent directly to our lodge, I’m just planning on putting some decorations on it!

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I stumbled across this gem on Pinterest a little while back and thought “hmmm that would be nice to have since there are 6 hooks and there are 6 girls living in the lodge.” I then saw the attached price tag, immediately scoffed and said “I can make that for under $30.” And that I did.

Luckily, in the description, it had the measurements of the piece, so I just took the picture with me to good ‘ole Home Depot and asked an employee there about what kind of wood I should get. The gentleman that helped me was named Chris and he was oh so helpful! He even helped me load the planks in my car. Shout out to you Chris!

Here are the materials you’re going to need:

  • Wood planks: I used a 2″ x 4″ x 8′ and a 1″ x 6″ x 10′. However, in hind sight, I would have used something smaller such as a 2″ x 4″ x 6′ and a 1″ x 4″ x 10′ (Keep in mind that these are the common measurements, not the actual ones. Actual lengths are about 1/2″ less.) Either way, you’re going to have a little bit of wood left over. You can use those pieces to make another fun DIY project (like the one I mention later in this post.)
  • Wood stain (I used Minwax Jacobean)
  • Polycrylic top coat
  • Eight 1″ wood screws and two 2″ wood screws (get the Phillips head if possible)
  • 2 packs of double prong robe hooks (you’ll have one left over)
  • Tape measure
  • Hand saw (a circular saw would have been ideal, but a hand saw gets the job done)
  • 100 grit sandpaper to smooth edges

Now that you have all the materials, let’s dive right in!

The first step is cutting the wood into the lengths you need. If you use the smaller dimensioned planks (not what I used) then you’ll need four 23″ long pieces and one 20″ long piece of the thinner wood. Then take the thicker plank and cut two 11.25″ long pieces. REMEMBER: measure twice, cut once!

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I had never seen this kind of hand saw before, but I’m so glad we had it because it’s so much easier to use than a regular saw!
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One plank done!

Side note: The thinner wood I got was too wide for the piece at the top so I went back to Home Depot and asked them if they would be willing to cut it horizontally to make it about 3.25″ wide. They said unfortunately they aren’t able to cut horizontally, so I thought “I’ll just do it myself.” I was kind of annoyed that they didn’t suggest a skinnier wood to begin with, but oh well, sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands. But let me tell you THIS WAS SO ANNOYING! It took forever and I had wished that I would have gotten a skinner plank to begin with. However, it would have been much easier to cut with a circular saw, but I realize not everyone has one of those just lying around the house (I don’t.) So don’t do what I did, get a smaller plank!

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Measuring out the new width

This was my set up:

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I used textbooks to hold the other end down while I cut
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About halfway there! This was so tiring
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Done!

The next step is to sand down the edges where you cut, to smooth them out. This goes by very fast.

I then arranged the pieces how they were going to go, to get an idea of how it would look. (FYI: If you are using the smaller dimensioned wood three of the 23″ long pieces go on the back (2 touching side by side on the bottom and the one you see at the top. The other one will go in the front. The 20″ one will go on the bottom acting as the shelf)

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Next, we need to stain (or paint, whatever your preference) the wood. Allow 8 hours for the stain to completely dry before adding the polycrylic top coat. This needs only 2 hours to dry (I did two coats.)

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There is an extra piece here because I was making something else as well

I used the other piece in this photo to make this fun little sign for our bathroom. At first, I didn’t like how “perfect” it looked with the starkness of the white paint against the dark wood so I scuffed it up a little bit with sandpaper to make it look a little more rustic. I like it much better now!

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Back to the mail/key organizer! Now that your wood is finished, it’s time to screw the pieces together. Disclaimer: Make sure that the power drill is charged before you try to do this (mine wasn’t so I had to wait until the next day to finish because it needed to charge for 9 hours!)

I had very little experience using a power drill before so I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t even know how to attach the screw to the drill! So what did I do? Googled it. I watched a Youtube video and figured it out. Turns out there is a thing called a drill bit that you put in the hole and then tighten. If my description isn’t helpful, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FjCpf1uUB8

Start with the back pieces and use a level to make sure they are straight (if you used a handsaw to cut the wood, chances are they aren’t going to be perfectly straight. That’s okay, just ballpark it.) Screw the thinner wood into the vertical pieces using the 1″ screws. It helps if you hammer the screws in just a little bit before screwing them in all the way. I only had four 1″ screws so I had to use 2″ screws for the top piece (It took two trips to get the correct ones. I accidentally got 1.5″ screws instead of 2″ the first time.) When drilling, make sure you apply a good amount of downward force to the drill to keep the screw straight.

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Hammer the screw in just a little bit

Once that is finished, flip it over and slide the bottom piece in between the two vertical pieces. It’s going to be a tight fit so you can use a rubber mallet to carefully put it in place (don’t use a hammer, it will damage the wood.) Next take the two 2″ screws and screw them into the sides.

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It should look like so at this point

Next, take the last piece and screw it on the front using a 1″ screw (again, I used the thicker wood so I used a 2″ screw, but I would recommend using the thinner wood for this part and the bottom shelf as it will cause the whole thing to be much lighter.) Theoretically, I could have cut the thinner wood lengthwise again, but it was just so much work, I used the thicker wood instead.

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I had some trouble with the last screw going in all the way. I think it’s because there was a knot in the wood that was preventing it from going any further, but because of this, the drill kept slipping off of the screw and would damage the wood. Eventually the head of the screw became stripped so I couldn’t get it in anymore and just took a hammer and pounded it in the rest of the way.

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You can see the head of the screw became stripped and the damage to the wood where the drill slipped off

With a little stain, you can hardly even notice any damage now!

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The final step is to add the hooks! Take your tape measure, find the middle of the board (should be at 11.5″) and place your first hook there. Take the screws and hammer it in a little bit and drill the rest of the way in. Find the center between the edge and the middle hook (5.75″) and repeat with the other two hooks.

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Find the center
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Hammer the screw in just a little bit
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Drill the rest of the way
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After one was in
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And the rest!

Ta da she’s all done! In hind sight, I wish I would have spread the end hooks out a little more. I was so focused on getting the exact measurements, instead of what I really wanted, but I think it still looks great! From start to finish, this project took me 3 days to complete (it would have been 2 if my power drill had been charged!)

Here’s what she looks like hanging in our lodge. I used four command hooks that can hold 7.5lbs each (it weighs a whopping 18lbs, but I would rather be safe than sorry!) This is why I suggested using the skinner wood for all the pieces that aren’t vertical. It will save you several pounds and command hooks!) I’m just praying that it will stay up there and it won’t come crashing down in the middle of the night, completely destroying it (fingers crossed!) It survived night one so far! I just can’t wait until I have my own place where I can do whatever I want to the walls and don’t have to mess with command hooks anymore. I’m screwing that sucker into the wall as soon as I get the chance!

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I’m the only one who has moved in so far, but you get the idea!

Now that you’re finished, sit back, admire your work and give yourself a pat on the back for making something yourself instead of shoveling out more than double what you paid to buy one off the internet. Sometimes it’s just better to do things yourself! I’ve been really proud of myself this past summer for doing things with my own hands that isn’t something easy like a painted mason jar. I remodeled tables entirely by myself! It taught me the valuable lesson of hard work and using my bare hands to make something come to life. I’ve really enjoyed watching an idea I have come to fruition with a little creative thinking.

If you’re considering doing a DIY project there are two things that you should keep in mind: time and money. Ask yourself “how much money is this going to save me?” and “how long will it take me to do it?” If it will save you money but take a long time to complete, it may not be worth the effort. Or maybe perhaps it won’t take a long time to do, you just simply don’t have the time to spend working on it, thus buying it would be your best option (or you could find a friend who loves DIY projects and ask them to make it for you 🙋🏼) The best DIY projects save you money and can be done in a short amount of time!

I hope this inspires you to try to make something yourself that you’ve had your eye on instead of overpaying for it!

Much love,

Alyssa

DIY Floral Bucket Decor

Happy Monday y’all!

I hope your weekend was eventful or restful (depending on what you needed!)

Today I’m going to share with you a really easy DIY decor idea that will add a nice touch to any space!

First, you need to find a vessel that you’re going to put the flowers in. I got this galvanized bucket at Hobby Lobby for 50% off! I actually went there to get something else but as soon as I saw it I was in LOVE!! I had no idea what I was going to use it for, but I knew I had to have it (and for 50% off why the heck not?!)

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LOVE this bucket!!!

Originally I was thinking I wanted white flowers in it, but the more I got to thinking about it, I already have enough neutral colored decor items. I know, I know farmhouse style is all about neutrals, but I just wanted a little pop color and when I saw this on the other side of the display, it was exactly what I was looking for. I love the sunflowers and they have a nice farmhouse feel as well.

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I thought these specific sunflowers were too bright for the look I was going for and the filler pieces looked too fake for me, so I looked elsewhere. I ended up getting five larger sunflowers from Michaels and some star grass all for 40% off. I love how realistic the star grass looks!

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Star grass for the filler

I immediately went home after I had the supplies and started piecing it together. I trimmed the sunflowers using wire cutters to the length I wanted and took out sections of the star grass and wrapped it with floral wire so it had somewhat of a structure. After I had everything in the bucket, I thought it looked a little bare in some places so I ended up putting three other smaller sunflowers I already had in the middle to fill it in.

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The smaller sunflowers in the middle were used to fill in bare spots
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Finished product!

 

My only slight complaint is that the star grass tends to peek through the openings of the bucket so you have to gather it as much as possible and put it straight down into the bucket.

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Star grass peeking through the openings of the bucket

 

This project is very easy and takes very little time to do! I’m extremely happy with how it turned out and can’t wait to move in (exactly 2 weeks from yesterday!) to play around with all my decor.

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Example of how you can pair items for decoration

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You can use any vessel or any color/type of flower depending on the look you’re going for. See different styles below. Just have fun with it!

 

Hope your Mondays aren’t too Monday-ish!

xoxo,

Alyssa

 

DIY Floral Wreath

Hey y’all! Hope you had a wonderful fourth!

It’s been a while, so let’s jump right in!

If you’ve experienced the sticker shock of pre-made floral wreaths, this post is for you! It’s kind of insane how expensive they can be. By making your own wreath, you save so much money and it’s pretty easy too!

Let’s start with the needed materials:

  • 18″ Grapevine wreath
  • Faux flowers
  • Floral wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Optional decorative sign
  • Paint for sign (if applicable)
  • Glue gun to attach sign

I got my grapevine wreath from Michaels for less than $5 (and I had a coupon!) Do me a favor. Don’t ever go to Michaels without a coupon. They have them available ALL THE TIME. Join their rewards program and you’ll get even more deals! I promise you will save so much money.

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The only thing I don’t really like about the wreath is that the branches that stick out some  break off easily. Other than that it’s great! It even has a little metal ring you can use to hang it from!

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I got my flowers from Michaels and Dollar Tree. I wanted pink, blueish/purple and white! The floral wire is also from Dollar Tree. Cut the flowers into individual stems with your wire cutters. Do not use regular scissors for this step! You will cut yourself like I did a few weeks back. Wire cutters are so much easier. This is what they looked like after I separated them into individual stems.

 

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The next step is where your creativity comes in. You just stick the flowers in the wreath into a design that you like! I wanted the blue and pink flowers intermingled and the white on the edges. Just make sure the metal ring is at the top! I put all the flowers where I wanted them to go and then realized the ring was on the side (face palm) so I had to redo it.

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After I got the flowers placed where I wanted them

The next step is kind of tedious. Flip your wreath over and use the floral wire to secure the branches that are loose and then trim the stems that are sticking out a lot with the wire cutters. The easiest way to secure the floral wire is by tying it like a bread tie.

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Secure loose stems by tying floral wire like a bread tie

The final step is to use you glue gun to secure your decorative sign! I got my 12″ hello sign from Etsy for $14. It was originally unpainted but I painted it white. I think the sign really pulls it together! Without it, the wreath is a little plain. It just adds the last needed touch! Another option you could use is your room number/address number or the letter of your last name.

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My “hello” sign I purchased on Etsy
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The final product! I’m in love!

That’s all there is to it! This project is so fun and simple and not to mention cheap! The total cost was about $27. That’s less than half of what some pre-made wreaths sell for! So worth it!

Hope y’all enjoyed this post!

If you make your own wreath, I would love to see it!

Much love,

Alyssa

DIY Table Remodel!

Happy Friday y’all! We finally made it to the weekend!

If you have talked to me at all within the last two weeks then you probably know that I have been redoing some tables for an apartment (that I’m sharing with 5 other roommates) at school. I’m sure some of y’all wished I would shut up about it and now that I’m finished, I will (who am I kidding I’ll probably be talking about these tables for as long as I have them.)

I have had the idea to redo some tables ever since I found out we got into the lodge. But I didn’t just want them for the apartment. I wanted to be able to use them in my future home as well.

I’ve always been crafty, but I had never done anything like this before. However, I was ready to take on the challenge!

The first thing I needed to do to kick-start my project was to find my tables, obviously. I knew I wanted a coffee table and two end tables, so like any great DIYer I did a little Pinteresting to get some ideas of farmhouse styles and paint/stain colors. I found some inspiration pictures which you can see below:

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I wanted the coffee table stain to be a little darker than the picture, but I definitely loved the decorative white legs
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I LOVE this crate bookshelf/table (functional and pretty!) I wanted to replicate this exactly.

With my vision in mind, I took to Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. This was the hardest part of the whole process for me. I wanted to find the tables now, but finding exactly what you want on sites like those take time. I had to keep reminding myself to be patient and that I had the whole summer to get this project done.

I found my first table, which was located in Indy, on Craigslist near the end of the semester so my dad picked it up on the way to come move me out for the summer. This table was pink y’all. Pink as can be. I affectionately nicknamed it the pink monster. The main reason I was drawn to it was because of its unique shape: hexagonal. For some people the pink might be a major turn-off, especially since I was planning on completely transforming it. But, I knew that a little TLC could make it beautifully my own. And the best part? It was only $20!!! What a deal!

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The second table I found was a coffee table in Georgetown on Facebook Marketplace. It was originally listed at $80, but I negotiated down to $60 (it never hurts to ask!) This was a beautiful table on its own and I was a little nervous about remodeling it, but I rolled up my sleeves and got to it.

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I bought the two crates from Michaels for $10 each. I was slightly disappointed because I had seen them for $8.99 a few weeks earlier when I didn’t have the money for it (lol story of my life) and they weren’t eligible for coupons (how tragic!) But at $10, it was still a fair price.

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When I had all of my tables, the next step was to buy the materials for the transformation. On my list was:

  • Rust-oleum white chalk paint
  • Minwax Pre-stain
  • Minwax Jacobean Stain
  • Minwax Polycrylic
  • Paint Brushes
  • Elmer’s Wood glue
  • 60-grit sandpaper

So I took a trip to Home Depot one Wednesday night after work and dropped $80. Yup, you heard right: $80 for 7 things. I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap, but I had prepared myself for that before. When you think about it though, it really is worth it because you would basically spend the same amount of money if you were to buy the tables that were already done the way you wanted. I do wish Home Depot did coupons like Michaels—I would have saved so much money.

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All of the materials needed for a transformation

I now had everything I needed to make my vision become reality. Finding the time to do it all was my next task.

I made a check list of exactly what I needed to do on a Friday night and went to bed because I had to be up at 5:15 the next morning for work!

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Note: I did not distress any of my tables. I wanted them to have a clean look. They will distress over time.

I planned to start on them after I got off of work on that Saturday. As soon as I got off at 1 I raced home, put on some work clothes, put an Ale-8 in the fridge for later, got all my materials laid out and went to work.

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My work station
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Make sure you have the proper safety equipment when sanding!

I started with the coffee table first. This table gave me a run for my money y’all. I started by sanding off the clear top coat with 100-grit sandpaper using a palm sander. I had never used a palm sander before and had literally no direction other than reading the instruction manual. The edges were difficult to sand evenly since they were curved. The biggest problem I faced was not changing the sandpaper often enough so I had a few spots that got a little damaged, but now you can’t even tell.

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You can see the damage here from not changing the sandpaper often enough

Next I applied the pre-stain with a paint brush, which took about 10-15 minutes to dry.

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While I waited for the pre-stain to dry, I got my Ale8 out of the fridge and took a break and cranked up the music.

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I then applied the first coat of stain with an old rag (I didn’t want to mess up my new paint brushes.) IMG_1937

The stain needed to dry a minimum of 8 hours before applying a second coat. The longer the stain stays on, the darker it gets so I wasn’t sure if it was going to need a second coat so I let it dry overnight.

I then took my sander to the pink monster. This thing took forever to sand because it had at least 3 layers on it. It took me over an hour to completely sand the whole thing, but when it was finished, it sure looked pretty!

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Before

 

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After!

I called it a day, took a shower because I was covered in saw dust and spent the rest of my evening relaxing.

The next day the coffee table was looking lighter than I wanted so I applied the second coat of stain. This time I reluctantly used my paintbrush because the rag I used was trash-worthy. Cleaning the paint brush was the biggest pain in my rear end. I eventually gave up and it stained the bristles, but it wasn’t oily anymore, which was what I was the most worried about. While I was putting the stain on I thought it looked very dark, but I figured I would just wait until the next day to see what it would look like.

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Next on my check list was to stain the pink monster.

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After the stain had been applied

I then started on my crate bookshelf/table. The crates were actually pretty rough in some places so I had to sand it down a little bit before I glued them together I put some of my textbooks on it to add some weight and took another Ale8 break. The glue needed to sit overnight to ensure the best hold so I called it a day again.

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The next day I checked on my coffee table and I was not happy at all with how it looked. It was literally black. You couldn’t even see the wood grain. I was very frustrated with it so I just left it alone and worked on the other tables with the idea of resanding the whole thing again when I was finished with the others in mind. I think it actually would have looked fine after the first coat if I had taken the table indoors and seen what it looked like inside because that’s where it’s going to be anyway. However, because it was outside, it was much brighter so it actually looked lighter than it probably was.

After the disappointment with the coffee table, I started painting the crates. It took me two coats, but it dries within 30 minutes so it was super easy!! Table number one=done!!

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During
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The finished product!

Next I started on the polycrylic coats for the hexagonal table. The label says it recommends 3 coats with 2 hours of drying time between each coat. With work I didn’t have time to do it all at once, it took me about two days to get all of the coats done.

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During the polycrylic application

After the polycrylic had dried, I began painting the legs. I put painters tape around the edges where I had stained to make sure I got a clean line. I used a bigger paint brush for the longer, flat parts and a smaller paint brush for the intricate details of the legs. Again, it took me two coats. Table number two=done!

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Before
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During
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After
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The finished product!

With the other two tables finished, it was finally time to tackle the coffee table again. I took my sander to it and it was taking forever! I thought it was just because the layers were super thick, but I finally realized when I was almost done I was using the wrong sandpaper! I had the 100-grit on instead of the 60-grit (face palm.) I switched to the 60-grit and things when a lot faster.

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The table was literally black. I was so mad.
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See how thick the layers were?
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The white sandpaper was what I was using (100-grit) and the red is what I was supposed to be using (60-grit)
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After it was FINALLY all sanded!
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The final time staining

The only things left to do were to apply the coats of polycrylic and paint the legs. The underneath had this really ugly green paint on it so I painted that too.

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The paint says that it is “one-coat coverage” however, this is what it looked like after one coat. If you were going for a very distressed look (which is common when using chalk paint) I would say this is fine, but I wanted mine to look clean and fresh so I did a second coat.

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After just one coat of paint
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Legs are done!
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Finished product!

This meant I was officially done! D-O-N-E! I still can’t believe it. It only took me a week and a half from start to finish (if I hadn’t had the trouble with the coffee table it would have taken me less than a week.)

I’m obsessed with how they turned out and am so excited to put my decor items on them. They give the perfect farmhouse look. I can’t wait to see how they look in our lodge when we move in in the fall!

I loved doing this project and was so proud of myself for how they turned out considering I had never done anything like this before, even if I did have a few bumps along the way.

I hope this inspires you to start your own DIY project! If you have any questions or need advice on your own project, feel free to message me or comment below!

XOXO,

Alyssa

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