Painted Furniture

My New Favorite Paint

Chalk paint has been all the rage for a while now, but I’ve really only used a few kinds. I’ve always been tempted toward Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, but I don’t have a source close by. I could order it, but when inspiration strikes, I want it, like, yesterday. I really enjoyed using CeCe Caldwell Paints (CCP) until my local source stopped carrying it. I painted a dining table with it about 4 years ago and coated it with Polycrylic. My girls now use it as their school and craft table–meaning it has been glued, glittered, and abused since then. (Here is the link to the original project.) I still love everything about this table from the style to the distressing to the color–Young Kansas Wheat. Here it is today. I try to stay out of the girls’ craft zone, so I typically just see the table from this side which still looks good. (As soon as the camera comes out, Steve just has to be right in the action. Say hi, Steve!)

And this is why I don’t get too close to the table anymore. Many a Littlest Pet Shop critter has been modified at this very spot. (Or spots?) This table wears these badges of life well. Every spot, sparkle, gouge, and smear tells my girls’ creative story. I love it very much. 

When I couldn’t get CCP locally anymore, I started making my own chalk paint with Plaster of Paris and latex paint. Homemade chalk paint might work for the brave, talented few, but no. Just don’t do it.

Here’s why:

I searched the interwebs for coffee bar ideas for my new kitchen. I found a beautiful inspiration photo, and matched it with a vintage buffet that I had been using as an entertainment center. I had painted the buffet in a soft blue-green a few years ago, but I wanted a bolder blue color. I whipped up a batch of homemade chalk paint using Bermuda Blue paint and Plaster of Paris.

Worst. Decision. Ever.

Imagine this entire buffet coated in a thick layer of bright blue goo. Textured goo. <shiver> I was working out on the front porch in the summer heat, and wouldn’t you know it–that paint mixture dried like concrete.

So, I started stripping. Right there on the porch.

Many hours of stripping and sanding later, I was skeert to paint that buffet again. But I did! Ta-Da!

I used Amy Howard At Home One Step Paint that I conveniently bought at my local Ace Hardware. It is everything it says it is. One step. No top coat needed. It can be tinted to any color you can image right there at Ace! The paint dries to a smooth finish with very few visible brush strokes. (I’m sure a light sanding would knock those down, but I personally like to see them in hand painted furniture so I don’t bother.) The final product looks and feels like a lightly waxed, chalk painted piece–not shiny, just a soft and lovely finish. This piece has had months of daily use in my kitchen, and I am pleased to say that it looks just as good now as it did when I painted it.

So, I used One Step Paint again on my bargain dining room table. As a side note, I love a good Home Decorators Collection clearance sale. They were clearing out their Provence Dining Table and offering free shipping–I got it home for under $200. I liked the original chestnut color, but the top of the table started bubbling where it was exposed to water–I think it was a very thin veneer over MDF. I scraped down the raised areas and knew I needed to paint the table to seal it from more damage. I still had half a can of One Step Paint left from the buffet project (this stuff goes a long way!) and here it is!

Go get some of this paint and make something beautiful! Be sure to post a link or a pic of your creation in the comments!

OPP: Other People's Paint


It’s finally spring. I think. Maybe.

I love spring! Spring changes the landscape, gives new life, longer days, and softer nights. Spring starts out slowly, then BAM! It is alive with color and sounds of birds.

That is how this house has been. We are coming up on three (THREE!) years here. Change came slowly, then BAM! Here we are! We’ve completed several major projects: the roof, the boiler, the AC, repainted the exterior trim, added a bathroom, converted a workroom into our master bedroom, and renovated the kitchen. As much as I love my new kitchen, I think the new roof and repainted exterior trim has made me the happiest.

Some people might be Down With OPP (Other People’s Paint), but I am not. Sometimes I’m not even down with my own paint choices. Such is the life of a habitual repainter. (Bunny Trail Moment: I’ll be sharing some of my favorite smaller paint projects soon. While you wait, make sure you get a can or two of Amy Howard At Home One Step Paint from Ace Hardware. When you see what this paint can do, you’ll want to dive in to your own projects–so be prepared!)

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Nothing makes me happier than fixing OPP. The previous owner painted the trim navy blue shortly before we bought the house. Yeah. Navy trim on a blue-green house. (At least the navy was was better than the bright yellow trim color that we found under it!) Our neighbor recently confessed that she thought the navy trim made it look like a haunted house.

It was a bit foreboding: 

After a new roof and white trim paint, it is a whole new house. 🙂

When we bought the house, the roof was metal one that had seen better days. It wasn’t original to the house, so we felt no qualms about ripping that sucker off. Good thing we did–it was hiding quite a bit of rot, especially on this side by the tree:

The whole family took on the trim painting as our summer project. We did hire a painter to do the second and third story windows that we couldn’t reach safely. So much better!

Normally, I’m a Benjamin Moore girl, but we used Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint +Primer exterior paint in “right off the shelf” white. Amazing paint. It took between 2 to 2.5 coats to cover the navy, far fewer coats than I anticipated. Our contractor also used this line of paint for the trim in our new bathroom–I think this will be my go-to trim paint from here on out.

As you can see, the greatest changes in this house came from a humble can of paint. (Many cans, actually.) We knew the bones of this house were good, even if the paint choices were questionable.  Nothing that more paint and a little elbow grease can’t fix!

Let’s see what other changes this spring will bring! It’s good to be home.


My Better Half

The other day The Hubs came home for lunch, and I asked him if he wanted to have a little fun. Of course, he was game.

Then I handed him a hammer and a pry bar.

I’m not sure that was exactly what he thought I meant. And after all that demo, I’m pretty sure the man made his own lunch. He’s a keeper!


Finding Inspiration

There is so much on the internet these days that finding inspiration is easy. Between the gorgeous pictures and articles on, to the eye candy posted on Pinterest, we have unprecedented access to ideas that can inspire us in our own homes.  We also have incredible blogs written by amazing decorators. At the top of my list are these three blogs:

Miss Mustard Seed

The Nesting Place

Blue Egg Brown Nest

I recently subscribed to Laurel Home when I went on an internet bender looking for paint colors.  Finally, someone put in print all my feelings about anything with a pink undertone! Laurel Bern’s posts are fun to read and give insight into what a professional interior designer can bring to the table. Or the wall. Or the floor.

I also subscribe to Better Homes and Gardens e-newsletter and print magazine. What I like most about BHG is the color! They are not afraid to show homes that push the envelope with color. I’m a color girl myself, just not as gutsy. Yet. (Says the girl with the Smurf Blue bathroom. )

Why, yes! The ceiling is painted the same smurfy color as the walls!  Thank you for noticing! We definitely bought this house in spite of the paint. It’s just paint, she said. It will be an easy fix, she said. Yeah, that was a year ago. But the whole house was in need of triage, and I had to prioritize. I loathe this paint less than I loathed the brown walls and ceilings, as evidenced by this Facebook post about my foyer:

In one year, I’ve painted the foyer twice. It is that important to me to get this first room right. Finding inspiration led me to the finished space. (Or finished enough for now!) Here it is after I painted the walls Tranquility by Benjamin Moore. We had just torn out pinky beige laminate tile and discovered charming old pine floors under them:


Tranquility is a beautiful, sophisticated color, but it just didn’t work in this room.  I lacked any inspiration for this room when I chose the paint. In fact, I didn’t even choose the paint–the guy at the paint store did. It was big improvement over the brown, and it gave me time to breathe and plan. That said, unless you love to paint, I recommend getting inspired first!

After a lot of looking and pinning rooms, I found this room on Houzz.  I ran to my neighborhood Benjamin Moore dealer for a sample of that gorgeous Van Deusen Blue, but it turned purplish in this room. A color angel (another source of inspiration!) at the store suggested In the Midnight Hour. It has just a touch of gold rather than red, and the rest is color history. I am still very much in love with it!

Thanks to this post on Miss Mustard Seed, we also pulled out the purple carpeting on the stairs, repainted the whole thing, then installed Dash and Albert runners. So much better!

Now it’s your turn! In the comments, share some of your inspirational finds. I’d love to chat with you! And who knows? There may be a giveaway in the near future!

Beautiful, intentional spaces

Welcome to Cottage Prep!

I’m happy you are here!

At Cottage Prep, we are students of home. We can learn from each other here, sharing tried-and-true or new ideas to decorate comfortable spaces in our homes where we can spend time together, living life. Whether your space is owned, rented, or borrowed, I hope you feel at home here. Share your dreams for your space, share what challenges you, and share what makes you happy. Let’s learn from each other.

It’s good to be home.



Happy Mothers Day!

I had several ideas for my first post on this new blog. However, this morning I realized that a blog about my home has to start with what makes my home so perfect to me. First, the Lord makes my home special because every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:7). Those good and perfect things aren’t things at all–which leads me to the second. 

My Husband. My kinsman redeemer. My best friend. My every day, all day, reminder of God’s love. My reason to smile and wonder why God is so good to me to give me this wonderful companion for life. The father of my children, who are the third reason. 

Those kids are just like sunshine for my soul. They fill my house, my home, with laughter and love. And artwork, clay figures, games, and controllers. (I just edited that last sentence to add the Oxford comma. It’s just how I roll.) 

So, as I go forward writing here, I hope you understand the who and the why behind my attempts to make our house the simple, cozy, happy reflection of the family inside. 

It’s good to be home.