Sewing, Refashioning, Repurposing & Thrifting Through Life

A Dear Friend’s Dining Room Revival

Dear friends, it has been so, so long since I’ve posted anything…ugh! I’m so disappointed in myself but believe me when I say tons of stuff has been happening around here. We’ve done major renos to our master bedroom. I will have lots around that project. I’ve also been dealing with annoying health issues that have slowed me down a bit. I have not even logged onto WordPress to read blogs that I follow! Let’s see, what else? Oh, I had a lovely trip to Croatia in August to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary and I adopted a senior siberian husky. Our resident dog (Shayla), also a siberian, is 11 years old and is taking some time to adjust to having a “new guy” around. My youngest has gone off to university and left Mr. and I with an empty nest. Life has been crazy but wonderful.

This is the story of a tired oak dining room set. My old high school friend Connie posted a pic on Facebook asking if anyone knew someone that would be able to stain her dining room a darker colour. I suggested she could DIY this and I’d help her but I ended up taking on the project. I am so happy that I was able to transform this set. Older pieces are so worth saving. You simply cannot buy this quality today in any of the big box stores. High end? Maybe, but who wants to spend tons of money on furniture. A nice vacation sounds better to me.

Connie is just as funny as I remember her from all those years ago. I am so glad we connected again. Who knew that a DIY project could bring people together this way. She would not let me include a picture of her in this post but believe me, she is just as pretty and fun and funny as I remember. You know that one friend who is a little bit wild and and crazy (in a good way)? That’s her.

Here’s the set before.


I started by giving everything a light sanding to rough it up a bit so that the General Finishes Java Gel Stain would adhere properly.


As well as some filling in where the veneer on the sides was starting to peel. Incidentally, finding veneer on vintage or antique pieces is very common and not an indicator of poor craftsmanship.


After one coat, looking pretty splotchy. This is quite normal.





I was done. Four coats in total and then I noticed something.


I hadn’t seen them when I was looking straight on but there were what appeared to be “bubbles” on the surface of the table. Argh! My level of frustration! I felt sooooo bad. I knew there was no way I could leave it like this. What was the cause? I’ve done countless projects with stain before. I couldn’t really “feel” anything with my fingers but it didn’t look right. It could only be from previously water damage.


I had two choices. Leave as is or sand down to bare wood and redo the whole table. Option 1 was a definite no. There was no way I could hand this back to her in this condition. I asked myself would I use this table the way it looked in my own home? Absolutely not…so I sanded. And sanded. And sanded. I was afraid that the top layer was actually veneer and worried I might strip off too much. Here it is during the sanding process.


Looking much better. The spots are disappearing.


Went on to apply about 4 or 5 coats of stain and top coat. Here’s the finished project.


I love how it turned out and absolutely adore the new chairs she picked out. Check out her flooring too! It’s pretty cool. On a side note, I worked on this in October and while it had been fairly warm, I was applying the top coat on the table during a bit of a cold spell. I noticed a bit of a cloudy appearance in some spots from the top coat. I know that this is from temperature change so if it’s not looking the best, I’ll go back in the spring and touch that part up if necessary.

For now I look forward to enjoying a few drinks and some laughs with an old friend. Thank you Connie for putting your faith in me. I like wine. Red wine. 😉






Oak Staircase Complete

I did manage to finish the staircase and completely forget to do a post about it. I first wrote about staining/painting the staircase here.

I finished it just before Christmas and this is how it turned out.


The giraffe belongs to the Mr. He won’t let me get rid of it. Not going to lie, this project was a LOT of work. Very time consuming but so worth it, I think.




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Oak Staircase Makeover

Here’s a peak at what I’m currently working on. My lovely (blah!) oak staircase. This is the original stain. I’ve been working furiously to give it a facelift. UPDATE: see how it all turned out in this updated post here.

stairs before.jpg

Here’s another view.


After some sanding to rough up the surface and taping in prep for new stain.


In progress-stained and white paint started on risers.


I’m not done yet. This is turning into about a 2 week job. I’ve so far gotten all the white risers done and a couple of coats on the spindles. Still have a few more coats to go but so far, I think it’s really brightened up what was a dark staircase. My foyer is quite large and the stairs are one of the first things you see when you walk through the front door. I wanted them to be the focal point. Let me know what you think. I’ll post the final reveal if I ever get this all done!



Reader Inspired Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

I’m happy to say that this post is a reader inspiration! Mr. Restyle occasionally shares our projects with coworkers (I had no idea). He happened to share our kitchen makeover with a lovely lady named Cristina. You can read the original post on our DIY kitchen makeover here.

Cristina shared the post with her husband Dante and they decided to set out and redo their own cabinets using General Finishes Java Gel Stain. Cristina and Dante share a passion for restoring old furnishings to their former glory. Restaining their cupboards is a great way to achieve a brand new look.

Here’s the before of their cabinets. Ah yes, the good ole honey oak!

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Looks like their kitchen was already a happy place to be but look at the after below!


Here’s the after.


Gorgeous! So sleek and modern.


Great job guys! Here’s Cristina and Dante’s before and after for comparison. I am so happy to do be able to share our projects and more importantly, to hear that others can achieve something amazing from them.




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DIY Kitchen Makeover

This post has been a long time in the making. There are so many elements to write about that I am splitting them up in a multi-part series to cover everything we’ve done in our kitchen over the last several months because there are so many different things we did in here and each of them deserves their own post so I can tell you all about how we did it.

Here’s a look at the before.


Our house was built in 1990. We purchased it in ’97. We sold our previous house in one day due to a bidding war and didn’t have much time to find another. Our daughter was 3 years old and we  were expecting our first son. We moved in when he was 2 weeks old.  Call us crazy. This house was our dream home at the time. It was big, or at least it seemed that way then. Well, 18 years later and we hadn’t done anything to this room expect for some re-staining of the cabinets years ago to this reddish hue. It was an ugly yellowy-oak colour to begin with.

Notice there’s no backsplash and that drives me crazy! The countertop is that cheap builder’s laminate. The tiles, while not really in style anymore are not all that bad. They’re white with grey streaks and grey is in now so hey, who cares? Would I like to replace the floor? Sure, but realistically, we are getting to be empty nesters. Two of our three children are away at school. The plan is to downsize in a few years so I don’t want to pour too much in here before we list it but I do want to bring it up to date.

Here’s the after.


What we did:

  1. Restained the cabinets using Java Gel Stain from General Finishes and added new hardware. There were 30 of them!!! I did this part.
  2. Replaced the countertop with butcher block.
  3. Replace the double sink with one big apron sink. LOVE! I wasn’t sure how I would get used to having only 1 sink but I love it even better than the double. I don’t miss the old one at all.
  4. Replaced the faucet and water filtration system.
  5. Replaced the kitchen island with the refinished early 1900s sideboard. I wrote about this piece here.
  6. Added a new glass tile backsplash.
  7. Installed 16 new potlights.
  8. Replaced the chandelier and ceiling fan with a new chandelier and the lovely pendants.
  9. Refinished a 1940s tabletop and added that to a 1920s dining table base.
  10. Chalk painted some tufted dining chairs.
  11. Added new drapery to the sliding door.
  12. Painted over that ugly yellow paint.
  13. Replaced all the electrical outlets.

AND…we did it all ourselves! How much do we love DIY? We are very lucky, Mr. Restyle and I. We work extremely well together. We are like a powerhouse when we get moving. Lucky for me he took these pictures on his phone without my knowledge. My hands were usually covered in stain or paint during this makeover and of course, I didn’t take any pictures. The separate posts will have better quality pics, I promise.

Kitchen B&A.jpg

Some more pictures.

View of the pantry before. Yes, I still have white appliances and all those crazy magnets all over the fridge!

pantry before

Pantry after.

pantry after.jpg

The refinished walnut table and chairs made over with chalk paint.

table after

stove after







Early 1900s Sideboard Turned Kitchen Island

Happy National Thrift Store Day! Heading out later to see if there’s anything good left. For now, here’s this.

If you read my last post, you may have gotten the hint that we are in the middle of a complete kitchen transformation, DIY-style. One of the things we knew we wanted was to replace our oak island with something old. Found this quarter-sawn tiger oak sideboard from the early 1900s.


Man, was it in pretty rough shape. You can see a lot of the tiger oak veneer is peeling and there’s a big chunk taken out of the top.



But look at those claw feet! Gorgeous!


Here’s a picture of our kitchen taken a few years ago but this is pretty much what it’s been looking like.

kitchen before

You can see the island here and the oak cabinets. As for the yellow paint, I did this a few years ago. Not sure what possessed me as I am not a fan of yellow. Suffice it to say, I was reading about feng shui and got caught up in the whole (what I deem as ridiculous now-sorry if I offend) notion that colour affects what happens in your life and in your home. I am so anti-new age anything now. If you’re wondering what happened to the old island, we posted an ad and had several responses to this free giveaway. It went to a good new home!

We had a plan to find something old and paint it but when we saw this piece and Mr. Restyle sanded it and removed the veneer that absolutely had to be removed, we both felt bad about the idea of painting it. So what did we do? We stained it. And then we both hated it. Back to our original idea. I’ve done this before where I’ve had doubts. Don’t do this. Go with your gut!

We painted it with ASCP in Old Ochre but stained the top with General Finishes Java Gel Stain. Mr. Restyle used a router saw to fix the top piece where a good chunk was missing. So clever! You can barely tell now. Sealed the whole thing with the satin top coat also from General Finishes.

New knobs were added still in keeping with the original look.

keyhole drawer

I love our new island and I am sure it will serve us well for years to come. Here’s another look at the before and after.




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