How-to: DIY “weathered zinc” pendant lamp

I dusted off my DIY skills and decided to do something about that ho-hum pendant lamp in my kitchen.


It bothered me that the pendant light wasn’t centered over our table, and as long as I was uninstalling it to lengthen the chain I might as well do something fun with the color. I mused over spray-painting it bright yellow, but decided something deeper, more grounding was in order.

If I had all the money in the world and nothing better to do with it than decorate, I would probably get a pendent like one of these kick-ass pendants.










But since I don’t have all the money in the world, and what I do have can’t all go toward decorating, I had to get creative.

I took the inspiration of the weathered zinc look with the gilded inside. Here’s another beauty to look at.


And I decided to make something similar out of the one I already had. Let me walk you through it.

1) Uninstall your light. My kids were around to tell me I should wait until Daddy got home to help, and then I pridefully told them I was the only one in the household with electrical skills. That alone was worth the project.

2) Remove the light bulb and use painter’s tape to tape off the place where the bulb get screwed in and also along the edge where you want to have the colors meet.


3) Sand that baby. I sanded mine for about 30 seconds before I decided it probably wouldn’t make thaaaat much of a difference, and mine turned out just fine.

4) Paint the inside. I started with the gilded inner dome because I figured I would need to handle the outer part a lot more. I used Rustoleum’s Metallic Paint & Primer spray paint in Pure Gold. I chose this one because it’s more of a muted gold, but there are more glitzy metallic gold spray paints out there too if that’s what you like.8d98a333-15cf-4cbd-bf64-83cc46bf47ab_400



5) Paint the outside with chalkboard paint to get that zinc look (and read on for the chalk trick). I used Rustoleum’s Chalk Board Spray Paint. 81UBSA8pQpL._SL1500_



6) Paint the chain, cord, and the top (if there’s a top that you want to look slightly different than the outer dome like in the expensive examples above). I used Rustoleum Metallic Paint & Primer spray paint in Flat Soft Iron for the chain.ffd73373-cf06-4e55-b889-249078979e02_400

7) Wait about 20 minutes and then do a second coat on everything.

8) Reinstall after it dries completely. I waited about 24 hours.

9) Here’s the chalk trick! To get that weathered zinc look, I took a wet paper towel and rubbed white chalk on it, then I rubbed the paper towel around in different sweeping horizontal-ish motions until it had the right look. Go at it a few times. There’s no way to mess this part up because it’s chalkboard paint and you can always clean it off with a wet paper towel and start over. I took a few tries before it was exactly the way I wanted it.

Now wasn’t that easy?! I’m loving my new kick-ass “weathered zinc” pendant lamp!


Kitchen reveal: f*cking good enough

In my very pregnant state, I have come to peace with what I was able to accomplish with the kitchen. I didn’t repaint over the last color I tried out (too many fumes) and I didn’t switch out the light fixture after all (afraid to start shock therapy too early for the bun in the oven). But I did decorate, and that can be the most fun part of it.

Here’s the first before.



We sold the island and spent quite a few months in serious kitchen soul-searching. I scored this great table revealed here and have had no regrets. The winning table has hosted dinner parties for 8, birthday parties for 10, as well as daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the family. It’s perfect. I bought 2 upholstered benches from World Market to make a cozy corner to sit and eat, enjoy coffee, work, and read at the table while enjoying the park view.

I framed some of my favorite calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co. as inexpensive art in $15 Target frames.

The previous owners had installed an electric range under a very low microwave – only 12 inches from the burners – which means it not only wasn’t up to code but whoever was cooking had to hunch over to fit their arms between the burner and the microwave. Oh, and make sure you’re using a short-handled spoon! Plus only the back burners worked. These factors made cooking a bit of a pain.

So I dragged home a new gas range and hood from the Lowes 4th of July sale, and my husband came to my rescue and installed it. We nixed the microwave (slow-cooking incentive). But after Superhusband installed the range and hood we realized there was a 6-inch gap of unfinished wall where the backsplash didn’t go all the way up to the height of the new hood.

Before: Old stove. When we removed the microwave we saw the backsplash didn't go all the way up so we had to get creative.

Before: Old stove and exposed unfinished wall where backsplash didn’t go all the way up.

I decided to use faux tin ceiling tiles from Home Depot, cutting and assembling to match the gap space, painting them the cabinet color, and installing over that unfinished gap. A $20 solution with infinite emotional payback.

I’m pleased to report that f*cking good enough is pretty damn great.

New stove with faux tin backsplash

New stove with faux tin backsplash

After: Completed eat-in kitchen

After: Completed eat-in kitchen

Inexpensive art: Old calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co.

Inexpensive art: Old calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co.

Sweet little built-in

Sweet little built-in

Handymen, plural

In just over 6 months we have had 4 handymen.

The first handyman was awesome. He was honest and did great work. But he left to serve indefinitely in a toxic waste site in Japan. Which is so great for him and the people he is serving, but a little inconvenient for me.

The second guy had the giggles in an uncomfortable way. Think 23 year-old pothead mixed with the Joker. He did good work, but he wouldn’t call us back after the first couple of projects and left one undone (and unpaid, of course). Then he changed his number.

Then there was Ed, about 60 years old, who swore like a sailor and spoke with “s” sounds that whistled. He wasn’t all that interested in work, though by the looks of his car, clothes, and hair, could have benefitted from some extra cash. But every time I called him to do a job he would try to talk me into doing it myself. Like tiling and installing appliances and bathroom fixtures.

Finally, our latest handyman is reasonably priced, but insecure in his recommendations. I think my decision-making quota has been satisfied for the next 10 years, and am so done with researching options on the little things. And though he does great carpentry, his time management skills are lacking. He works ever-so-slowly, taking lots of breaks (off the clock), and is never, ever on time (I’m talking 2 or 3 days later than he says he will be here). But the bar has been lowered: he’s nice and honest, and we are too close to being at a sweet spot with the house to start over with a new handyman.

Too f*cking close.

Backyard boom!

Unknown-1Remember Gob Bluth, the pathetic magician brother from the TV show Arrested Development, and how he threw handfuls of pennies to [attempted] great effect? I was fearing that would be us, only with wads of hundred dollar bills, and it was to coax along the endless backyard project.

Here’s the sad state it was in just a month ago. It was 4,000 square feet of dirt and gravel staring us down.





I blogged about it here wherein I swore I wouldn’t let my yard get me down. But the more pregnant my belly grew, the more despondent I grew toward my ability to tackle this looming project. My husband had pulled up all that old, crumbling concrete by himself (well, ok, he had the help of our 3- and 5-yeard olds). But even with my dear husband chipping away at it with a pick-axe 3 hours a day, it wasn’t enough, and we brought forth those wads of cash.

Though Gob was unsuccessful in his magic effects, ours worked!



It’s pretty amazing to have grass in the backyard. It was coincidentally completed on our one year anniversary of closing on the house.

I ambitiously claimed we would tackle this project ourselves by the end of June. Turned out having a June deadline was ambitious enough, even for hiring it out. So we hired it out.

Since the completion, our neighbors have been coming over to admire it with us. They are just as relieved as we are that the gravel didn’t get the best of us.

Hire interior painters? No f*cking way.

Today I’m taking victory in the before & after shots of our side entry and basement hallway.



When we first saw the house, it looked like Christmas threw up in here. We painted every damn wall in the house. And probably lost a lot of brain cells from inhaling oil primer and paint fumes.

But before we were done, Josh tried to convince me to hire out the painting of the side entry and basement hallway.

Over my dead body! I shrieked. I wasn’t about to sink into deeper depression because I stooped to the level of *hiring* interior painters. Electricians, sure. Plumbers, absolutely. But painters? No f*cking way.

When I went to tackle the side entry, I was so insane from living in the combination of green and brown walls, red painted accents, blue carpet, tan tile, and peach ceiling (all in this hallway!) that all I could think about was white and grey.

I painted the floors. Then we painted walls Benjamin Moore’s Simply White, and then I painted the coat hook trim Benjamin Moore’s Yellow Rain Coat. So simple. So much better.

Basement hallway after


F*ck it; I got this.


I decided that our bedroom needed a new light fixture. Our bedroom light was too dim but still maxed out on wattage, and I was on the hunt for a new fixture. I was considering one I liked from Home Depot with a Moroccan tile pattern.

And when I saw that Jessica Helgerson, my favorite designer, also used Moroccan-inspired accents within similarly traditional architecture, I was inspired and emboldened.



Photos copyright Jessica Helgerson Interior Design.

And like most of my big ideas that aren’t urgent or necessary, my husband acquiesces financially and somewhat emotionally but isn’t thrilled to be a physical accomplice. Sometimes he has to help, like when I decide I need something in another room like now (!), and in my pregnant state he can’t possibly retain his married card and  let me move the thing myself. But in this case, with no heavy lifting, and with no particular knowledge in this area, he wasn’t jumping up to help. I’m pretty sure he was watching clips of Jimmy Fallen’s #Hashtags while I was risking myself and the baby.

As I called up to him from the bottom of the stairs that I was about to change out the ceiling light fixture, he yelled back, “You sure you got it?” Which in our household translates, “Oh good, I’m glad you aren’t making me do that. Just holler if you’re on fire or being electrocuted. I would hate to lose my unborn child because you *needed* to switch out that light fixture.”

So I called back, “I’m fine,” which translates, “F*ck it; I got this.”


So it went, without fire or shock.

RIP my mental state

Before: speechless

Before: speechless

Ever heard about how when laborers died while working on the Great Wall of China, they were just buried right there within the wall? I think I can relate. My mind is buried in the bathroom we just completed. I acted as our general contractor without any experience, so it’s a wonder I didn’t lose more than my mind.

Some of you are asking about our unexpected construction, so here’s the story. We were putting in a pocket door in the bathroom and found the previous owners lied in the disclosure statement about some major HVAC, plumbing, and electrical issues which were exposed when we opened up that wall. So out went the issues, along with 6 months of our lives. We gutted the walls, ceilings, studs, framing, we even had to jack-hammer out the concrete floor. And then we had to decide how to put it all back together. Here’s a photo of the new framing, plumbing, and electrical.


During: New framing, plumbing, & electrical

Like I mentioned in my post How to go crazy in 6 months or less, I am cursed with unrealistically good taste (read: expensive), all things considered, and also serious indecision, both of which were major factors in lengthening this reconstruction process.

catrin bathroom

Keeping in theme with our 1931 Tudor home, I took inspiration from Apartment Therapy’s A Nod to Old-School Classics dream bathroom design board and then tried to decide how to make that work in our space and budget.

There were many a sleepless nights spent anguishing over the pros and cons of different grout color (I went with delorean grey), high-end or budget tile (I went with high-end SoHo basketweave on the floor and budget Home Depot subway on the walls) and paint (I went with Benjamin Moore Aura in 75% Soft Chamois).

Though my husband tried to assure me I was putting too much pressure on myself, I wanted it done impossibly perfect. This post was really helpful: Buyer’s Remorse? Purchaser’s Paralysis? from Young House Love.

We salvaged the cute pedestal sink that was in there before,


but other than that there was nothing we could keep. It took a lot of time to remove debris, insulate pipes and walls, coordinate framers, window installer, plumbers, electricians, tiler, and paint and trim. And at each stage we had to wait until we could either learn how to do it ourself or save up to hire it out.

We laughed. We cried (a lot). We conquered. Here are the after photos.


Confessions of a Desperate Do-It-Yourselfer

I’ve never ever stepped outside of my marriage. I love my husband and think he is the most handsome and amazing man alive. But lately I have felt a little alone in my quest to put this blasted house back together again. And while I trudge down to the construction zone with my hammer, partially motivated because it needs to be done, part of it is really because I love it. I wish my husband found this side of me as attractive.

home depot

Take old man Herb for instance. He works at Home Depot, on the verge of needing a cane, and I am thrilled to have him hobble over to me and ask if he can help me find something.

You know you’re in trouble when you get that sort of excitement from that sort of interaction.

Sometimes my husband impresses me by picking up a hammer too. But there has to be a lot of incentives tied into the request, if you know what I mean.

How to paint your tile floor

Our former floor tile in the basement had powers to drive anyone to seasickness. It weighed me down like an anchor. Blyech! Check it out. In the same room you see old brick, new brick, and 70s brick tile floor – and none of them worked together.


And the stairway leading into the room also had it’s own issues competing for visual attention.


So I had to eliminate some distractions and start painting. First I attacked that newer brick wall.


Then I attacked the floor.

Painting tile floor is so much easier than I would have thought. Like most painting projects, preparation is key. Any dirt or grit left in there could prevent your new paint from adhering to the floor, and that would be a disaster and a giant waste of time. And if I’m looking for a good waste of time, it probably has something to do with a strong drink.

1) Clean the floor

I scrubbed that bad floor down a few times with diluted TSP (acid – get it at any home improvement store) and then a few times with water until I got up all the messy junk. Let it dry for 24 hours after the last cleaning.

2) Select the paint

When doing important paint projects, I go with Benjamin Moore. In this case, I used their floor paint. For their floor paint I had the option of going with a) an oil-based semi-gloss with higher durability but slightly more slippery or b) a alkyd water-based satin and then having to go over it with urethane. I didn’t want the area slippery, and also like the look of satin floors better, so I opted for Benjamin Moore’s Floor & Patio (satin, water-based) paint in Platinum Grey.

3) Paint!

The paint store worker had used the same product on his basement tile floor so was able to give me some pointers. He said don’t prime because water-based primers are softer than this product, and because it has self-priming properties, as long as my surface is well-prepared, it is self-sufficient (admirable property). So I just cut in using a thin coat (the first coat should be thin to allow quicker and harder drying) and then rolling on a thin coat with a 1/2″ roller, about 3 square feet at a time.


Then go back over that square with a paint brush to leave soft paint strokesrather than the roller bumps/bubbles. Let dry 3 days.


Apply 2nd coat.

4) Seal with 2-3 coats of urethane. Pretty much self-sufficient. Ahh. I feel so much better already.


If you’re not thrilled with your house, grab a blasted hammer.

Are you thrilled with your home? Are you excited to come home to it? Do you take a sigh of relief when you walk through the door?

If not, then let’s hit this one together. Statistically, people are more likely to love their homes if they’ve recently completed a home improvement project. Turns out it doesn’t even matter how big or how small this project is. We are going to take our chances here and triple them!

Think about 3 things in your home you want to improve and make a goal to get to those as soon as possible. Everyone has her own timeline, so I won’t prescribe you mine, but it helps to make it soon enough that you don’t lose momentum and obtainable that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Here is what I want to accomplish within one month:
1) Paint basement floors.
2) Finish the bathroom.
3) Finish the laundry closet.
4) Create a proper guest room.

Okay, fine. I have four gnawing away at my remaining sliver of sanity, but I thought I would list them here so I feel more accountable to finish them before I go off the deep end. These projects will probably only take me about 10 days working 3 hours a day, but since I know myself better than to say I can power it all out at once, I’m taking a more gradual approach. I hear moderation is the key to life.

What are some of your home goals?