I was born in Metairie and grew up all over the greater New Orleans area. I headed to LSU, where I remained for 8 years to complete my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Yes, I bleed purple and gold. In my second year at LSU, I met my best friend and partner for life. We both pursued higher education hundred of miles from each other but were married three days after my last final from LSU Law Center. The day of my wedding was, and continues to be, one of the three happiest days of my life. My husband’s residency program brought us back to New Orleans. Shortly thereafter we welcomed our first son, and VERY shortly thereafter, we welcomed our second son.
When my husband graduated, we knew we wanted to stay near New Orleans. Moving to the Northshore was an easy decision as it had everything on our wishlist. Neither of us know much about the area, but I fall in love a little more each day. Up until baby #2, I worked full-time at a Metairie law firm. With two babies and a husband who works A LOT, I needed to scale back. Working part time from home offers the perfect balance for our family. I keep a personal blog about our life with the boys, and now I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing group of women who provide support and an invaluable resource to local moms.
Upcycle Your Home
For any mom, no matter whether you work outside of the home, are a stay-at-home mom, or fall somewhere in between, time is a precious commodity. I am no different. My husband and I recently purchased our first home in the Mandeville area. It is 27 years old and although well-maintained, has not been updated since its original construction. Imagine LOTS of brass. All of the light fixtures were brass, the fireplace grate was brass, even the ceiling fans were brass. My husband and I had delusions of grandeur when it came to this house. We fervently assembled lists and “to-do” projects. I still am not sure how we imagined we would finance these projects. Suffice it to say, we quickly learned that piles of cash do not accompany first-time home ownership. At least not for us.
So we executed the most affordable face-lift: a fresh coat of paint. This made a world of difference but did not begin to tackle the BRASS! Which, let’s be honest, seriously dates a home. I was in the local Helm Paint store purchasing paint for my antiquated kitchen cabinets when a woman asked me if I had heard of Annie Sloan paints. I had not, but a quick Google search revealed that this is what I had been looking for. We had been killing ourselves trying to revive our house with traditional paint. Imagine the sanding, the priming, and the painting with an almost 2 year old and a 4 month old…..Not. Fun.
I had already purchased my Benjamin Moore paint so it was too late for the kitchen cabinets, but we had several other items in our house that we originally hoped to replace with more modern fixtures. Before discovering chalk paint, we reconciled ourselves to the fact that we would just have to live with these until we could afford to update them. Since learning about chalk paint, we have updated the chandelier in our dining room, the ceiling fan in our living room, an old mirror we planned to toss, and the fireplace grate.
First, I tackled the chandelier. I used CeCe Caldwell paint. It is essentially the same as Annie Sloan except that the former is the U.S. counterpart. I purchased the paint from Vintique Finishes at Redoux Home Market and Consignment and Clayton House Marketplace. I chose “Kansas City Wheat” which is a neutral gray/beige. The color palate offered by CeCe Caldwell is perfection. The paint is not particularly cheap, but is nonetheless a bargain because you do not need to prep your surface prior to application. When you factor in the time and money saved, chalk paint is clearly the economical choice. For the chandelier, I did not apply any protective wax/finish because it would never be handled. From start to finish (which took a total of 2 hours including cleanup time), I transformed this brass fixture that I was certain I was going to have to throw away, into a light fixture I now love, all for under $30 (the paintbrush was approx. $20).
Next, I got to work on the living room ceiling fan. I used the same color. This took a bit longer because the blades had to be removed. After I painted two coats of paint, I applied clear wax to all components. Once the clear wax dried, I applied the dark aging wax to the base of the fan for a more aged look.
This mirror was in our goodwill pile. It was given to us by my in-laws when they moved, and the wooden frame was seriously aged. I decided to try one coat of chalk paint and voila, I LOVE it. I used a fine grain sandpaper on the scroll work to create a distressed look.
Finally, I got to work on salvaging the fireplace grate. We originally planned to remove the glass/brass fixture but decided it was an essential child proof tool. I applied two coats of Kansas City Wheat Chalk paint to convert this from garish to stylish.
How to Apply Chalk Paint
First, select your paint. I purchased the sample size for the chandelier ($8.95) and was able to use it for the mirror as well. A little paint goes a long way. CeCe Caldwell can be purchased on the Northshore at the aforementioned stores, and in New Orleans at The Shops at 2011 Magazine Street. I also bought one of their wax brushes, which is only necessary for application of the wax.
Second, wipe down the surface with a damp towel to get rid of any dust. Once the surface is dry, it is ready to paint. The paint is super thick so you only want to apply a small amount at a time. You can use any brush for this. There is no right way to paint it on, just be sure not to over apply as it dries quickly and you want to avoid drips. Let it dry completely (about one hour) before putting on the second coat.
Why Chalk Paint?
- Eco-friendly and non-toxic
- Mineral based, chalk and clays
- Superior adhesion
- Easy clean-up
- Applicable to almost any surface
- Create an aged/distressed look with the colored wax
Transforming dated items in your home is totally doable for a busy mom on a budget. You can give your home a makeover in no time at all! If there is nothing in your home that needs upcycling, check your local thrift store or Craigslist for affordable items lacking in aesthetics that you can upcycle.