Rustic Cabinet Makeover Using Liming Wax

rustic cabinet liming wax

Lately I’ve been really thinking about the style direction of our home. (Okay, let’s be real, I’m overanalyzing again!) I like quite a mix of styles, and while I want to say our home is eclectic, I really think the style I’m going for is much more specific than that. After pouring over the design book Modern Rustic, I finally feel less weird about my affinity for primitive furniture alongside shiny and bright mid century duds. Rustic modern? Makes so much sense! So I’ve finally settled on a style descriptor for our home: Polished rustic modern with plenty of mid century funk. Does that make sense? I’m sure I’ll find another description I like better next week. And then another the week after that…

So going along with my affinity for rustic elements in my home, I have this cabinet that I had painted a few years ago, which I now felt should be stripped down to its natural wood state. I figured this would take a couple hours of sanding, and then a bit of waxing. Easy peasy, right? NOPE. Here’s how it all went down.



When I first purchased this cabinet at an antique expo years ago, I loved it for its teal green stain, but it didn’t feel right in my home. So I painted it gray, scraping away some of the gray paint to reveal bits of the green. But now I was ready to strip down both the gray and the green to reveal the beautiful wood underneath. The only problem was, the wood turned out to be, well, not so beautiful.

rustic cabinet before

After a few hours of sanding with 60 grit sandpaper and my palm sander, I had removed all of the paint and previous green stain, but could not get the greenish tint off of the two boards on either side of the door. So the next day I took a belt sander to it with a 50 grit belt. Just got done sanding. Dust everywhere. Jan everywhere. And still greenish wood. I then realized that the wood species is poplar, and as is often the case with poplar, the wood itself had a greenish tint, with a warmer streak to it on the edges. The middle board and side boards were a lovely warm shade of wood that I had been hoping for the entire cabinet. But not the most visible boards on the front. Ugh!

rustic cabinet refinishing

I would never be able to get rid of the green, and if I kept going at that rate, my cabinet would’ve turned into a pile of dust. So I decided— lime it! Then I’d still be able to see the grain of the wood, but not necessarily the color tones I wasn’t loving.

I had heard great things about Briwax Liming Wax, so I ordered some on Amazon (I couldn’t find it at Lowes or Home Depot), and was excited to give it a go.

rustic cabinet liming wax

I recommend really making sure your sanded surface is evenly smooth. What I mean by that is if you had been sanding with low grit paper like I was, you’ll want to incrementally get to a high grit paper (120 grit should be high enough) so that your wood will equally absorb the wax, without splotches occurring where the wood is rougher and therefore thirstier. I had a little bit of trouble with mine absorbing evenly, and regret not taking more care when sanding. When I was sanding I didn’t think it mattered since I was going for a rustic appearance. Oops!

I used a metal spatula to apply some of the wax, and then used a fine cloth to rub it into the wood using circular motions. After covering the entire piece, I took another clean cloth and wiped with the grain to remove any excess. I probably should’ve finished with a clear wax, but I couldn’t find mine, so I’ll do that after I finish unpacking my craft supplies.

rustic cabinet liming wax

So the cabinet refinishing didn’t go exactly according to plan, but I’m just going to embrace it. I was hoping to have a warmer appearance to the wood, but it feels a bit gray because of the greenish tones of the wood beneath the liming wax… and I feel like that’s just so ironic considering the cabinet was already gray before I even began this process! Ha! Still, I like it better with being able to see the wood through the wax, which gives it an extra element of texture that the painted wood just didn’t offer.

Have you all ever used liming wax before? I’ve seen such varying results across the web! I’d love to see your limed projects if you care to share.

rustic cabinet liming wax

KIDDO CRAFT | Abstract Art!

kids make abstract art

When planning out the decor of our living room, I knew I wanted a large, minimal, mostly white abstract art piece to go above the credenza, sort of to anchor the space, since the wall is just a large mass of whiteness. Realizing how expensive original art can be, and how difficult finding the perfect oversize print can be, I decided to make my own! Well, sort of. I commissioned my children to paint an abstract piece for me.

Of course, when you commission your children to make art, you never know what you’re going to get. I was a little nervous, but I figured, hey, if we hate it, we can let them paint over it until we like it! Which is sort of what I did anyway. Here’s my experience…

kids make abstract art

I purchased large canvas stretchers from a local craft/art supply shop, and a piece of canvas by the yard. I used my staple gun and clamps to stretch the canvas across the wood frame, then rolled over top of it with some wall primer, because we always have plenty of it around, and I didn’t want to have to buy a ton of gesso to prep the canvas.

kids make abstract art

I bought some large bottles of acrylic paint, and mixed a variety of neutral hues and shades into disposable bowls. Then I grabbed a couple of roller sizes, a paint tray, big paint brushes, little paint brushes, and put out two shades of paint to get the kids started. After Lucy became bored with the paint and brushes she started with, I brought out different brushes and different shades of paint.

Now, you might wonder how much guidance I gave as the kiddos painted. Really, this was more a sensory exercise than it was an unguided art experiment, so yeah, I was definitely involved with art directing this piece! Ha! I obviously selected all of the colors (or lack thereof) involved, but I was pretty surprised with how much I liked what Lucy created with it. I would suggest things from time to time, like, “What about working in that corner over there?” Or, “Have you tried to make blotches with the tip of the brush?” I suggested blending more, splotching, long brush strokes, and whatever else came to mind, but she did with those directions what she wanted. And honestly, the reason I had the kids make the art instead of me, is because I love how open-ended their minds are, without any preconceived notion of what they want their creation to look like. At least at this age, they can just paint abstractly in a way that I never can.

kids make abstract art

Juniper was newly two years old at the time of this art project, so I gave her sections to work on, and she just enjoyed painting with a small brush. She definitely smeared the paint around a bit with her body at times, but it all adds to the freeform charm of the thing!

I do plan to frame the canvas soon, and try some more canvases of medium and smaller sizes with the kids. I’ll share more about different guidance techniques and more of letting Lucy do whatever she wants on the canvas. I’m really excited to see how her creations come together!

Entryway Plans

moulding inspirationabove photo by Joanna Lavén

I’ve always dreamed of having an entryway, and honestly never thought I’d have the luxury! Our old home’s front door opened to a narrow hallway that dumped you right onto our refrigerator on one side and the powder room on the other side. There was nowhere for guests to sit and remove their shoes, and not really much space to allow me to stand by as guests entered our home. Now that we have an entryway, of course I have had the trickiest time planning the space! It’s still an awkward area, albeit roomier than our old home. We now have a grand space with soaring ceilings, but the towering walls are painfully bare and dark without windows, and the space is too small for any furnishings. I’ve been at a loss as to what to do, until this week!

Of course, I’m chomping at the bit to get started on this space, but I’ve vowed to not begin work here until the living room and kitchen are officially 100% completed. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming and planning!

floor plan

In the floor plan above you can see how cramped the entryway really is, though it feels more spacious because of the high ceilings and open view to the upstairs hallway. There isn’t a good wall to put a console table, because major walkways are supposed to have three feet of clearance for traffic, and this spot barely has three feet without adding furniture to the floor plan.

My first thought was to put a floating drawer on the narrow wall directly across from the front door, but I’m 99% sure we’d all bang into its corner as we navigate the entryway, which we do all day long, as it’s a required passage to get to the upstairs. Now I’m thinking I can fit a small floating console table behind the doorway, as long as it’s not too wide, and then mount hooks on the wall beside it for guests to hang their coats and scarves. That’s about all we’ll be able to fit in the space, furniture-wise, which means we’ll have to spice things up in other ways!

before images

The first image of this post features my major inspiration for our entryway, although I’d like to put my quirky/casual spin on it.  As you can see in the before/during photos above (sorry for the poor quality!), the entry wall recedes about 18″ above the doorway. Such a weird quirk of the space, but after seeing my inspiration image of the beautiful paneled entryway with the black and white checkered floor, I realized an expanse of painted moulding is the perfect way to break up the vertical space, working to disguise that change of plane above the doorway as well. Win/win!

So now I’ll be adding a chair rail to the walls at the point of the plane change above the entry, and painting that chair rail and the walls and moulding below it the same color of gray/green— Benjamin Moore’s Harbor Gray. (See mood board at the end of this post.)

I wish we could put a window above the doorway to bring some light into this space, but there is a large eave hanging out where the window would go, making this an impossibility. My plan is to eventually replace the door and sidelights, opting for full windows on the sidelights with some kind of privacy glass. But that’s an expensive change that we’ll have to do down the road.

doorway inspirationabove left: Pompeli; above right: unknown

Since we can’t replace our doors and sidelights just yet (because I have expensive taste… ugh!), I’ve considered how to help myself love the door we have. (You know what they say, “If you can’t be with the one you love…”) I’ll be adding one-inch moulding pieces around the boarder of each faux paneled section of our doors, including the main entry door and its sidelights, as inspired by the pink door in the above image. Then, I plan to paint all of the doors the same Harbor Gray color as the walls to help the doors become less of a prominent feature in the space until I can replace them with ones I love— wooden paneled ones I love, to be exact.

entryway flooringtop left to bottom right: unknown; Holly Mathis Interiors; British Ceramic Tile; Casa G+S by Grooppo

Now, for the flooring! Initially, I planned to use the same maple flooring in the entryway as I’ve used in the rest of the first floor (except for our technically sunken living room), but I got cold feet as I considered the moisture that will inevitably find its way into our entryway, particularly during our Ohio winters.

I decided tile is the smartest thing to do here, but not only is it smart, it can be so fun too! I considered a variety of interesting tile designs, like this tumbled block pattern I fell in love with years ago when I wrote for Apartment Therapy, or even a bold floral pattern created with a variety of hexagonal tiles. But in the end, we settled on a traditional checkered pattern in colors of tan and white which will segue nicely into the surrounding areas of maple flooring. It’s a pattern that will age well, but still feel bold and fun in its own way.

carpet runner inspirationImage by Nicole Balch

I always love to incorporate a fun and, ugh, dare I say, whimsical element into every room of our home. In the kitchen, it’s our pink sink. In the sunroom, obviously that channel-tufted wall. The dining area? That cat poster. Living room? A big ass yellow sectional.

The entryway is a fun space to work with, because you don’t actually hang out here, yet it is the first, and sometimes the only, space people see when they come to your home. So I’d like it to have some personality, but nothing too permanent, like patterned tile flooring, which was soooo tempting. I figured a carpet runner is the perfect application for a little funk, and I still haven’t been able to get this antelope runner out of my head since Nicole first installed hers last year. While I adore the antelope runner she has, my heart beat really got a little crazy when I saw this spotted carpet runner at Wayfair. I figured I could do a DIY installation to save some money, and it’s inexpensive enough that we can replace it in a few years if we get tired of the animal print look.

stairway gallery wallabove left: Dear Lilly Studio; above right: Alaina Kaczmarski via The Everygirl

Last but not least, I really want to add a gallery wall to this space. It’s my opinion that a stairway is the perfect application for a gallery wall, even if I did unforgettably tumble down the steps when I was a kid because of such a mesmerizing gallery wall in my family’s home. The stairs in our entryway segue into the private area of our home, which makes it the perfect spot for family photos, but also, this is a huge expanse of a wall that is begging for attention, as much as my family photos are begging to be printed. Another win/win.

I’m still bouncing back and forth between a more carefree gallery arrangement of white frames with black and white photos as seen above left, or the more restrained and formal feel of a minimal gallery wall as seen above right. Which do you prefer?

entryway moodboard

To tie it all together, I made this mood board with some elements I already have (like this huge globe light I have yet to instal), and other elements I’m still dreaming about (like these amazing doorknobs that I bought for our pantry and playroom doors). Nothing is set in stone just yet, but I’m finalizing my tile order next week, and will probably order that spotted carpet runner when it’s due back in stock at the new year. But like I said… must finish the living room and kitchen first! I pinky swear, they’ll be done by the end of the year.

PRODUCTS:

  1. Gallery wall frames – Target
  2. Oversized white globe pendant – All Modern
  3. Tumbled bronze and crystal door knob – Emtek
  4. Super White wall paint in eggshell finish – Benjamin Moore
  5. Horizon Gray paint in satin finish – Benjamin Moore
  6. Dalmatian print runner – Wayfair
  7. Floating drawer – Etsy
  8. Dot wall hooks – CB2
  9. Tan and white 8×8 floor tiles – Daltile
 Older