Monday, April 7, 2014

Looks Better, Feels Better

> Within a year of our moving, we had made significant progress toward getting rid of the honey-stained oak that was everywhere in our last house. It took a while, but neither of us like its yellowish color, so it was worth it. When we were walking through our new house with the realtor, my second thought was, "oh great—more yellow oak I'll have to stain!" (my first thought was "wow, I love this house!")
> We learned right away that the fireplace didn't burn off all the gas, so the only way to safely use it was to open the windows at the same time (kinda defeats the purpose of having a cozy fire!) So, we shopped around and budgeted replacing the insert with a new vented one.
> We had a few extra tiles that match the floor and tile facade, but not enough to replace what they'd have to remove to make the insert change, so we initially intended to buy a few more matching tiles, but I convinced Gene that it would look even better to do something contrasting in size and/or texture. He was persuaded, so we spent way too much time deliberating over several alternatives at Lowe's, and finally decided on a weave pattern.
> As I've said before, I'm a huge fan of before-and-afters, so of course I took photos to document the process and confirm that we made a whole bunch of "right" decisions (unfortunately with large windows above, to the sides, and across from the fireplace, it was tough to get good lighting, but I think the effect in pictures is still good enough to get a sense of how much better it is). We love it!
> Next on my DIY list: the seemingly endless yellow oak handrails...after my knees recover from being on them too long during this last project!


  1. Debbie LeonardJuly 17, 2014

    Could you explain the process for changing the color on the surround? How did you prep the area and what kind of stain did you use? I need to do something similar in my house. Thanks!

  2. Hi Debbie - I used Minwax Polyshades (they have lots of different stain products, so to do it this way, make sure this is what you get). I like that you don't have to completely strip the old finish off--just clean, then lightly sand the surface. This color is Espresso, they have a few other choices as well, but it needs to be darker than whatever you're covering. I STRONGLY recommend trying it on a "practice piece" first so you can get a sense for how it works–it's a little different than staining natural wood, and it works a little differently than other products as well. You can stain over old stain and it has ployeurathane in it as well, so you don't have to varnish after. It's a little tricky to get used to, and you have to work kinda fast--once you brush an area, it layers on darker if you hit the same area again, so you have to be really careful and deliberate. Let it dry thoroughly, but once it's dry, it has a really nice smooth finish that's easy to clean, dust etc. (I'm not even sure if these are the instructions on the can, my dad had used it before so I was familiar and just did it the way he did–in our last house, I stained bathroom cabinets, our headboard, stair railing, kitchen table...all not hard once you get a sense of how it goes on! Good luck :-)