In Which We Repaint Furniture For The First Time

My parents gave us this beautiful Howard Miller mantel clock for our wedding, and when we got it home, we had no place to put it. I felt like the cheap black of all of our bookshelves wouldn’t do it any justice.

So we decided to paint one of them.

Cheap Walmart IKEA bookshelf before painting

This is a cheap Walmart/IKEA bookshelf — plywood with a cardboard backing. Here’s how we did it:

Step 1: Sand off as much black laminate as possible from the bookshelf.

Step 2: Prime the bookshelf. We used a Shellac-based primer (B.I.N. by Zinsser) based on an Apartment Therapy “reader intelligence report” I found. The guy at Home Depot confirmed this primer would be a good fit for this kind of project, but BE WARNED. We tried to use those stupid inexpensive foam brushes with the Shellac, which was a disaster. (Rollers and paint brushes work fine, but the Shellac basically ate foam.)

Step 3: Sand down the first coat of primer and repaint.

Sanding Zisser primer for second coat bookshelf furniture do it yourself painting

Step 4: Sand down the second coat of primer, and apply the first coat of pigment paint. Rinse and repeat.

Processed with VSCOcam with g1 preset

Creighton thought that primer was simply white paint, but here’s the truth: it’s not. Primer gives the paint something to adhere onto, and it’s made up of a different chemical composition than paint. Paint has pigment and is oil- or water-based. Primer, like this one, can be based on a few different materials and can play nicely with different types of paint.

Also, repainting/refurnishing furniture, especially cheap furniture, is not easy. I had read that priming is an essential step to getting an optimal look, so we took the time and effort to do it well.

Step 5: Profit.

Behr Surfer paint color medium base white primer bookshelf repainting refurnishing before after

teal bookshelf IKEA repainted pop of color


Busy Summer

Things we are doing right now:

  • Dying the couch: We stripped the upholstery last weekend, are going to wash it, dye it, and find a way to put it back on with some new batting. Right now, the couch is sort of torn apart and this big foam bench in my living room. Pretty fun.
  • Brewing beer: Well, we aren’t actually doing this yet, but I’m starting my first batch Saturday.
  • Training for a triathlon: I’ve been swimming every morning and we bike pretty frequently, so I signed up for a triathlon in October. I’m excited but also terrified. We bought crazy bike shorts and are going to start more long-distance biking. I feel this weird impulsive urge to tell EVERYONE I KNOW so they can marvel at how awesome and athletic and brave I am.
  • Planning for Thailand: We are going to Bangkok in September. Uh, yes. And we are staying in Cambodia for a night and visiting Angkor Wat. What? Yes.
  • Planning a trip to Auburn: August 10 & 11
  • Planning a camping trip: Labor Day weekend
  • Trying to get to New York so we can bring home The Van: this one is all on Creighton
  • Getting involved with AAF Greenville: I’m going to be the Communications Chair. Hell yes.
  • Planning, like, a wedding

So like two months ago I said we would have some details to share about the venue, but you can (finally) check it out here. It’s going to be awesome, y’all. I’m flying down to Mobile the first weekend in August to see it and to start answering some of the “tougher” questions about my wedding. Like, I know literally zero about wedding flowers.

My Beef with “Bridezilla”

Here’s the truth: I never wanted to get married.

Something about the word “wife” makes my skin crawl. Something about wedding cake turns normal, sane independent women into teary-eyed clingy monster girls with no sense of self-identity or sexual drive.

Something about wedding porn made me seriously quiver whenever I tried to calmly browse through the stacks of wedding magazines at the salon or the place where I got my nails did once.

Plus, it’s so feminine, gawdy and expensive.

But you meet the right person, and …


Here’s the truth:

My wedding is one year and one day away.

I have been engaged for 364 days already.

I am ready — finally, maybe — to get this shit moving.


Here’s the truth:

I never thought I would be a bridezilla. I’m much to realistic for that.

But I’m already starting to feel like one.


When you’re planning a wedding, part of you knows you aren’t planning this for you. You’re planning it for your family and friends, so they can experience for a couple of hours your love — and nurture it. But things start to happen to your brain, and everybody wants something or envisions something, and the venues just want to squeeze the maximum dollar value out of you possible. And honestly, I’m embarrassed by it all, by the pressure and attention and the value I’m finding I really do place on this silly party.

I am reminded of when I was young, and I hated when the waiters would circle around our dinner table on the night of my birthday and sing their variation of “Happy Birthday,” and usually I would cry because I hated the attention and the whole restaurant staring at me and I also wanted it so badly and was embarrassed for wanting it …


But it can make you feel sort of isolated.


I know I am not doing this alone — I have a fabulous, patient fiance; a generous, wonderful mother; a brilliant, amazing sister/wedding coordinator; and the best Maid of Honor in the world.

But I can’t help cringing inside when I allow myself to be excited or overdramatic or neurotic like I am, or let my guard down — my facade of “I don’t care.”

And I hate the term “Bridezilla.” It just adds to that embarrassing isolation, doesn’t it?


(Even though it may occasionally be totally apt.)


On saying “yes” to the dress

So I bought a wedding dress.

Wedding dress shopping goes a little like this: You walk into a store, they ask you questions you have no idea how to answer (like, how did you envision looking on your wedding day? I am seriously the only girl who never actually imagined getting married when I was 5 years old? I played with imaginary friends and saved imaginary animals. I was practically set on getting married in a loin cloth) and then they pick out some dresses for you that are all sample sizes (read: not your size) because you don’t want to spend $7,000 on a dress you’re only going to wear once (theoretically). Then they clamp you in it and everyone stands around and looks at you. Mom got weepy/emotional/choked up a lot.

OK. Let me stop for a second and explain I didn’t hate wedding dress shopping. It’s actually a LOT of fun to wear all these gorgeous gowns (especially the ones I’ll never afford/buy that are all beady and lacy and extravagant) and look at myself and have my mom tear up and feel beautiful. It is a really cool experience. I wasn’t frustrated or mad or angry that the dresses didn’t fit the first time. I wasn’t bored even though everyone seemed to think I was. For me it was a very internal experience. I think everyone wanted me to be more animated about the process, but the plain truth is that the process still terrifies me. And not only am I a total weddingphobe, I just didn’t want to spend $500 on a dress and then $500 to have it altered. One woman was insane and snapped at my sister/wedding planner.

And then we went to this one shop, The Timeless Bride in downtown Mobile. When I first walked in, I was like “no way” because everything seemed really “pretty” in the bad sense of the word and sort of outdated. But the woman was amazing. She had, seriously, 1,000+ dresses in stock for all shapes and sizes, and they were AFFORDABLE. It was crazy. The other cool side of the coin is that they were vintage. She had wedding dresses dating from 1930 to 2010. The one I picked out was an Alfred Angelo ivory dress from 2010 with a custom-built navy sash. It has a gorgeous lace-up corset that makes the back look really cool. It doesn’t cover my scar, but I’m not ashamed of the scar: It’s part of me. It was the right fit (read: it fit me like a freaking glove and made me feel super sexy) and needed practically no alterations. Plus it was only $500. I think I paid $750 for the whole thing: dress, sewn-in boob cups, headpiece, custom-built sash with some sparkly accents and feeling like a freaking sexy bride. $750 for a dress AND headpiece to match? With NO alterations? You really can’t beat that. The 2012 Collection bridal stores wanted $500 minimum for a dress that I didn’t even really like that much, plus another $300 or so for alterations. The sash would have been extra, and headpieces can run $100-$300. I think the MSRP for the dress I bought was close to $700 alone two years ago.

It really is possible to do a wedding on a tighter budget, but you have to be flexible, patient and open to new experiences. I was convinced I wasn’t going to like The Timeless Bride when we walked in, and I was hungry, and we almost left because Mom was getting impatient (we had to wait a bit because we showed up early). But it was so worth it, and now my wedding dress will be A) something I’m excited about wearing, B) something reasonable, practical and in my budget and C) “me.”

It was the right dress and the right decision, and I never thought I’d say “yes” to the dress. Especially not like that, on that night. I had no intentions of leaving with a dress purchased. I had more shopping to do.

But when you know, you know.