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Say Goodbye to Oak Grain


I have been working on another client kitchen cabinet project, and continue to research new ways to minimize the grain that you get with painting oak cabinets.  (Here is my Tips + Tricks for Painting Oak Cabinets, in case you missed it).  This isn't the first time I'm working with oak, and I'm sure it won't be my last, but it's fun to discover and try new things in order to get a more refined end result.  So, I'm testing a wood grain filler product for myself to see how it fares.

I'm really excited about this latest job, and I think the end result is going to be fantastic.  I have primed the doors and have started painting them.  I thought I would try the filler on the back of a door and examine the difference.  I'd like to see how it works and determine whether it's a service I want to offer at an additional charge, since it is pretty labor intensive across a multitude of cabinets and drawers.

Here is a shot of the back of one of the oak doors, primed.

Here is a shot of another door, where I used the wood grain filler.  Definite difference, right?

You can still see some of the grain, but it's not nearly as noticeable as the grain in the untreated door.  Granted, this door has two coats of primer vs. one, but the grain is definitely diminished.  The nice thing about using a grain filler is that you can apply more than one coat if necessary.

I picked up some Behlen Water Base Grain filler at my local Woodcraft store.  The same place where I bought my amazing General Finishes gel stain for my "Stain Without Pain" projects.  Sitting on top is their "grain filler spreader/leveler" which is used to smooth it out and work it into the grain.

Now, I have some work to do with my technique, as it's not a pretty process.  This stuff is thick and sticky - not very easy to work with as a beginner.

Obviously, I have some work to do on my technique.  I used the spreader/leveler tool to apply it, and I think that was my mistake.  Next time I'll use a rag or even a paint or foam brush to work it into the grain.  The good news is that this stuff sands really well.

Definitely a product I want to master, since so many people are looking to say good-bye to the grain.  I have an oak bathroom vanity redo in my queue, which I think will be a perfect opportunity to work on my technique.

This video would have been a good one to watch prior to attempting this.  It demonstrates both solvent and water based grain filler applications.

What do you think?  Do you have some oak grain you want to banish from your home?


House Gawking


I hope your Easter weekend was as beautiful as ours was here.  Such a nice change of pace to have warm sunshine and clear skies, given what we usually get for the Easter holiday.

Our weekend wasn't without a baseball game, and we headed down to Indian Hill (near Cincinnati) on Saturday.  Indian Hill is one of the most gorgeous areas I've seen around Ohio, and it's unique in every way.  Many of the homes are set on large, sprawling lots (I think grounds is probably a better description), with homes that are off the charts beautiful.

Since we had some time to burn before the game started, we drove around, and I did some house gawking while my husband alternated between calling me nuts, crazy and a stalker

Here are a few shots I snapped with my phone (since my camera would have been a bit over the top).  If I hadn't been driving, there would have been more, trust me.  No worries, I stopped to take these shots and to pick my jaw up off of the floor.

When we rolled up in front of this one, I said, "Is that a house or a country club?"  Yes, it's a house.  Unbelievable.  Who lives in these places?

Amazing, right?

So, of course, I had to scour the real estate listings to get some more house gawking material.  Homes in this area have things that most neighborhoods don't, and it's fun to get a peek inside when you're a crazy house voyeur like I am.

First, let's look at some more exteriors, shall we?  (All photos courtesy of

Of course, pools are quite popular in this area.  And if you have a pool, you must have a pool house/guest house, right?

Not bad for a detached garage/guest house.  I could make it work.

A cute bathroom for a quaint guest house, don't you think?

If you have horses, you can surely find a home with some stables to hold them.

If you're a wine aficionado, wine cellars are an option as well.

And a butler's pantry that looks like a corner store.  LOVE.

Cool, black windows and doors here, and I love the tile pattern on the floor (same as the pantry).

Beautiful coffered ceilings abound - whether in your library/office - 

Or in a massive living room.  I wouldn't know how to live in a house like this, quite frankly.  It's too big for me.

I could, however, live with an awesome closet like this one.  I haven't come across a closet that is "too big" so far.

Plenty of charming elements in these homes as well.  I love this office/craft space.  So efficient, with so much storage!

And this cool and unexpected double sink -

Or a cozy little sleeping nook.  My daughter would love this.

I love this home - such character and charm, with lots of updates inside.  Sorry guys, it's already sale pending, with a cool list price of $1.5 million.  Definitely not as ostentatious as some of the homes we passed in the area.

Beautifully done kitchen with all of the features that I love.

A darling little girl's room.

With a perfect little girl bathroom to go with it.

And a crazy-cute and creative nursery.  Although I wonder how much work it would be to take down that tree...

A perfect little play room.  What kid wouldn't love this space?

Some of the views behind the homes are equally beautiful.

Many of the homes in the area have been there for a long time, and have a great deal of historical appeal.  They just don't build homes like this anymore.

Here's an interesting little piece of trivia about Indian Hill.  The movie "Traffic" was filmed in the area, with Michael Douglas playing the role of a politician who lives in Indian Hill.  He was appointed to escalate the war on drugs, only to find that his own daughter was an addict.  Interesting, yes?

Do you have any neighborhoods like this where you like to do some house gawking?  If you can't get enough - check out the listings here.


Color Case Study: Blue Hues


I think we're due for another installation of a color case study.  Today I'm focusing on one of my favorites - blues.  I never used to be big into blues, but I'm really drawn to them nowadays.  Shocker, right?  I mean, take a glimpse at my paint colors, and that's pretty obvious.

The more I work with blues, the more I realize and appreciate what a great neutral they can be.  Think about it - pair a blue with orange, green, red or yellow, whether a bright or muted hue, and it works.  Never mind how well it plays with neutrals - a navy with a gray - true love.

Mysterious - Benjamin Moore

Certain shades of blue emit such a feeling of tranquility, I think that's part of their draw and appeal.

Stony Brook - Benjamin Moore

Iceberg - Benjamin Moore

Woodlawn Blue - Benjamin Moore

Bold hues of blue are equally striking.  This peacock blue is just fantastic, isn't it?

Jade Garden - Benjamin Moore

Windsurf - Behr

Tropicana Cabana - Benjamin Moore

Restoration Hardware - Dusk

Cedar Grove - Benjamin Moore

There's always the option to take the color to the cabinets.  These laundry room cabinets are the same color that I have on my family room walls- Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore.  (The wall color is Silver Sage by Restoration Hardware - looks much more muted next to the Palladian Blue, doesn't it?)  Silver Sage is also a timeless color that I featured on my Go Green Color Spotlight.  Love it.

Totally different feel on the cabinets vs. the walls.

I love a blue kitchen island too.  

Gravel Gray - Benjamin Moore  This really takes on a blue tone in this kitchen, doesn't it?

I can't track down the island color in this kitchen, but isn't it gorgeous?  Such a fun, beachy vibe going on in here (even though the house is located in Seattle).  I think I would have to have a beachy feel in my home if I lived in a rainy locale like Seattle.

This bathroom vanity is actually Wrought Iron by Martha Stewart.  It reads a bit navy as well.  What a stunner!
Source: I Heart Organizing
This is a custom vanity in every way, including the color, but it was too beautiful not to share.  And that copper sink is fantastic!

And let's not forget blue as an exterior paint color option.

Naval - Sherwin Williams

Blue Note - Benjamin Moore

Make sure to pay a visit to The Creativity Exchange today.  I'm talking about fresh front door colors!

Have a great day!