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DIY Home Trends We're Crushing On

Purchasing a fixer-upper? Bring your home up-to-date with these simple yet chic DIY tips from our very own Ashley Unmussig, who is transforming her 1950’s ranch home on a budget.

One of the most budget-friendly upgrades that will transform your home is PAINT! When we purchased our 1950’s ranch with pea-green walls and wood paneling, I knew painting was going to be the first update on our list, but I had no idea how much it was going to TRANSFORM our home.

Project #1Refresh Your Wood Paneling and Trim

Before       

While the popular option may be to remove it, if you don't have the budget, consider a coat of paint. It can instantly make that dark outdated paneling look fresh and bright for a fraction of the cost.

As with any project, preparation is key, especially with the extra attention painting wood paneling requires, but if you do the steps correctly you will be amazed at the results.

Start by cleaning. Our house had sat vacant for almost a year before we moved in so we did a deep clean using rags and a vinegar solution to remove all of the dirt and cobwebs. Do not try to paint over a dirty surface because the paint will not adhere to the surface properly.

Next, fill any holes or surface imperfections with wood filler. Once dry, lightly sand all your paneling and trim with 150 grit sandpaper (I recommend using a palm or orbital sander for large areas of paneling). Once the sheen is gone you know you’ve sanded enough off. Using a wet rag or tack cloth, wipe all your surfaces down. If you have noticeable gaps between your paneling and trim, use painter's caulk to fill. It will make all the difference in how professional your finished product looks.

Next, it's time to prime the wood. Then priming and painting the panels, I like to cut in the seams between the panels with a brush, then immediately roll over the whole surface with a foam roller. Foam rollers are key to a smoother finished look as opposed to using a nap roller that will leave a texture on the wood.

Primer is always a must when painting wood paneling or trim. It is controversial if paint + primer products are as good as applying a layer of primer, then a layer of paint. When painting wood paneling it is best to use a stain-blocking primer, let dry then lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper, and wipe clean with a tack cloth. 

Now it's time for the topcoat. The current trend is to paint your trim the same color as your walls, to give a minimalist look, but really it comes down to preference. Typically, trim is painted in a semi-gloss or a cabinet and trim enamel to allow for easier cleaning. You can also choose to use an eggshell finish on the walls with a satin finish on the trim for a more subtle contrast. We wanted a very modern look so we went with a flat finish on all of the trim and walls in our home but we made sure to use Behr Ultra Scuff Defense Stain Blocking Paint & Primer. This paint has incredible durability and cleans with ease. I wouldn’t recommend using a flat finish unless you are using a high-quality paint.

Project #2- Kitchen Cabinets

                                 

You bet our 1950’s time capsule came complete with an outdated kitchen! Now I want to start by saying if you were going to invest in a full renovation, updating the kitchen would be one of the best places to spend your budget for the return on resale value it would bring. However, full gut jobs on kitchens can get costly fast and take time if not planned out well. We knew when we purchased our home that a full kitchen reno would be done…at some point. We had other areas we had to tackle first, so we opted to do minimal cosmetic updates using only paint to make the space enjoyable until then. Is it perfect, no but was it worth the extra work for a temporary fix…1000%.

Painting Cabinets is very similar to painting wood paneling, with a few extra steps. Before you start you need to know the condition of your cabinets and evaluate what types of materials may already be on them (stain/varnish verse already painted cabinets). Note: if working on an older home before 1978 make sure to get all paint tested for lead before starting any project. Wood cabinets are ideal for painting but any material can be painted that can be prepped by sanding for paint adhesion. If your cabinets have existing paint that is in good condition you can paint over them. If the existing paint is chipping you will first need to strip the old paint, then move on to sanding.

To update our kitchen cabinets, we removed everything from the cupboards, removed the hardware, doors and drawers. We repeated the same preparation steps of thoroughly cleaning, then sanding all of the surfaces.

There are two general methods of applying paint to cabinets: with a paint sprayer or by hand using a brush and roller. Both have their pros and cons; it depends on your comfort level, time and money you are willing to invest. Using a paint sprayer will save you time but will cost more. It also takes some practice to get a good technique down and requires more prep to avoid overspray. Applying by hand is more time-consuming but can save money and might be a more comfortable level of application for beginners.

We opted to apply by hand, using the same technique as we did on the wood paneling. Start with your cabinet bases, with a brush, cut into the corners and seems (similar to cutting in a wall) then immediately go over it with a foam roller while your surface is still wet. Use this method for both primer and paint.

For a professional finish, I recommend using 220 grit sandpaper and lightly sanding the cabinets after applying your primer. Moving on the cabinet doors apply primer and paint using the same technique.

We updated our existing hardware by lightly sanding and spray-painted with a semi-gloss Rust-oleum 2X Paint and Primer.

Now the fun part of watching it all come together. Reassemble your cabinets and hardware. With this one update using only paint, it may feel like you have a brand new kitchen!

Project #3- Kitchen Countertops

 

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What would beautifully painted kitchen cabinets be if we had left the dated countertops? Am I right!?

Rust-oleum makes an amazing product called Countertop Coating that you apply to laminate surfaces. The wear and durability of this product is outstanding (if you apply it correctly); you can clean it with your standard household cleaner and scrub it and to top it off it has a HomeShield Antimicrobial Protection!

It has 12 colors, in a range of nice neutrals, you can choose from, but the paint counter must tint it for you. We chose Grey Mist for our kitchen countertops. The sheen dries satin.

The application is unbelievably simple and fast. Watching the paint dry was honestly the hardest part! Before you begin, I recommend reading the product instructions thoroughly so you can ensure your conditions for applying are correct.

We started by lightly sanding all surfaces of the laminate part of the countertop. We have a metal edge that runs around the entire surface. We made sure to sand with a coarser grit sandpaper to ensure the paint would adhere. Next, we cleaned the surface with a damp rag and let dry. The instructions state if painting laminate, no primer is needed, however, we decided to apply one coat of primer, using a foam roller, because we wanted to make sure the product adhered to the metal edge. Once the primer was completely dry, we applied an even coat of the product. For the smoothest finish with minimal roll marks you want to make sure you are only working wet on wet. If sections of the product begin to dry, do not roll back over them. We have several imperfections in our countertop, so I knew we would need more than one coat. We carefully followed the recommended dry times and recoat instructions on the product label. We ended up applying three coats to achieve our finished look. We waited 24 hours before placing objects on the surface.

 Project #4- Home Exterior

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First, I want to tell you, we did a full overhaul on the exterior of our home over the course of a year, for the ultimate curb appeal. While I cannot go into every detail of the many projects that took place to get us to the final result, I want to highlight one main point…90% of the projects to update the front of our home were done using PAINT! We painted our front door, our windows, our hand railings, our front porch, the house numbers, the brick…EVERYTHING! Instead of looking around, thinking what needs to be ripped out and replaced, we said what can be painted! Was it a ton of work, you bet but it saved us thousands of dollars, and now every time I pull into our driveway, it feels like HOME!

When we first purchased the house, I had a vision of white brick with black modern accents. We initially engaged a professional painter, but with a $4,000 quote and extra time on our hands, from the stay-at-home mandates in place, we decided to take on the job ourselves.

As with any successful project, the key is to first research and prep. I researched paint and application methods for two months before starting our project. As a part of your research, you need to know what type of materials you are going to be painting and what condition they are in. In our case, I knew I was painting original, unsealed brick, but upon performing our own inspection of the brick, we determined there were a few places where the mortar needed to be repointed (filled in) before we could begin painting.

Before beginning your paint application, the first step in preparation is cleaning. We pressure washed the entire exterior of our house and let the brick completely dry for two days, thankfully with cooperating weather conditions. Speaking of weather, we ended up beginning our project in July and it was miserable. In hindsight I would have waited until cooler dry months to start, so know when optimal weather will be for your area.

When researching paints, you will discoverer there are easily hundreds of products for all types of surfaces you can use. If you were to hire a professional to paint your exterior, they would likely first prime then paint. Well if that’s the case, why do they even make paint + primer products! There are lots of variables that will help determine if you should use a separate primer, then paint, or if you can use a combination product. If you are painting a surface that is stained or a dark color, I would recommend using a primer to give you a neutral base. The primer will do a better job at covering, so you won’t have to use more of your actual paint, which typically is more expensive than primer. It does, however, extend the application time, as you have to clean-up in between switching out products.

In our case, we decided to use a paint + primer because we felt our brick was in good condition and we could buy our product at a discount if we purchased so many gallons. In my research, I found that the most expensive products are not always the best products. We ended up selecting Behr Masonry, Stucco and Brick acrylic latex paint for all of the following reasons: self-priming, could be used on interior/exterior brick as well as adjacent wood and metal, water repellency, mildew resistant, excellent coverage, and color retention with a 20-year customer satisfaction guarantee! While the product label met all our criteria and sounded promising, the reviews are what sold us. I encourage you to read reviews when selecting any product for a project! Now before we settled on a color, we purchased 14 samples, painted several different test spots on the brick that received different light and shade and lived with them for a week. Any Behr paint can be tinted to the Sherwin Williams color deck at Home Depot, and our winner was SW White Duck.

The most efficient way to apply paint to the exterior of a home is with a paint sprayer. Professionals use a model that has a long hose that runs into the gallon bucket and has a handheld sprayer attachment. Larger hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot have professional sprayers that you can rent by the hour/day/week that range from $75 to $1,400. It may be worth it to purchase your own. We already owned a small handheld paint sprayer and opted to do most of the work using that, however it was not as efficient as it only held 32 oz of paint, so we had to refill frequently. Towards the end, I broke our sprayer and opted to finish the last bit of the project using a roller and brush in order to save a buck. I DO NOT recommend this as it was laborious and back-breaking. Spending the extra money upfront to rent a professional spray equipped for our size job would have saved us so much time and made for easier application in the long run. Also, I want to note make sure you follow all safety measures when working on ladders or scaffolding. We opted to do this job ourselves because our home is one story. While it can result in a huge cost savings, but not all projects should be a Do It Yourself.


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