:: Country Living monsters ::
:: light control ::
:: painting those chairs for the second third time ::
:: puppy love ::
:: checking every shot on screen ::
:: luscious rest the day after ::
:: four months later, a lovely gift from New York ::
:: a pinch-myself moment ::
Wow, friends! Thank you so much for all the cheers about all this. Goodness, you! Thank you for being here, for reading, for spreading this all around. Yes. Wow.
Also, thanks for indulging me as I’ve taken up an entire week’s worth of space to blather on and on, and then whip out my stack of photos and blather on some more!
Today, I’m answering a few questions about the photo shoot and magazine experience, then on Monday, we’ll get back to our regular programming, which, I have to say, I’ve missed. It’s my sweet spot. Grin.
Read on for the answers to questions you may have asked…
How did all this happen?
Last spring, soon after I had posted the photo tours of our little house, our story and photos were seen and quickly appreciated by Country Living’s contributing editor, Catherine Burke, who happens to be a blogger (yes, you must go read her blog!) whom I’ve followed for several years now. She passed our story and photos on up the line, and seven months later, here we are in the Country Living magazine! Thank you so much, Catherine!
Did you emulate any of the styling that they did for the shoot?
There’s always something to learn from other creatives. Christina Wressell and her assistant, Molly, did a fabulous job of styling our home in such a beautiful way. I particularly liked how she corralled all the coffee/tea/sugar/honey items onto a round cutting board of mine (seen on the counter to the right of the sink in the kitchen photo). I took her queue and placed our honey, sugar, and stevia jars on a round pottery plate that I had. It sits there, handily next to the coffee maker now.
I also added even more houseplants to my collection (thank you Country Living!). Love. And a few more throw pillows are planned for the living room, bedroom, and loft.
Was it hard having a bunch of people take over your home?
I loved it! There’s a certain invigorating energy that fills the room when a creative team comes together. It reminded me of my past life of merchandising, styling, and doing catalog photo shoots for retail stores. There is a chaos and an order that somehow dance together, and beautiful things happen as a result. And, really, as I’ve said before, the crew were all so kind that we felt like we became friends in those three days.
And then? The day after was such bliss. Quiet, deep in the couch under a blanket with a book, bliss.
Were you gifted with anything from the shoot?
Yes, and no. To the wild delight of our boys, the crew left all their yummy snack food/shoot food (we’re talking 2-3 totes full)! They left me the wonderful live plants that were used in the shoot, and when re-arranging my pantry shelves after the crew had left, I found a glass canister jar that had been forgotten. I got to keep it.
I think I could have asked to purchase any of the items that they had…there was one small brass bowl that I loved … (seen on the bottom shelf, holding pinecones on page 55) but, in the end, an imminent snowstorm that was barreling our way forced the crew to change their departing flights to earlier times/days, so on the hectic last day they, and we (we were dashing to a football game) ended up with no time for any communication about buying props. No worries. We already have everything we need.
Tell us more about your chalkboard painted countertop! Is it really that durable? And how, exactly, did you make it?
Oh, those countertops have sure have piqued a froth of interest! I’ll begin with the last question first.
When our cabin was being built, the kitchen counter surface material was, of course, one of the decisions that had to be made fairly early in the design plan. My hands-down money-isn’t-an-option pick was soapstone. But, even though the counter is only 8 ft. long, the budget didn’t have room for the real deal. So, I brainstormed an idea that I wasn’t even sure would work, but I was game enough to give it a try. This was a cabin, after all; the perfect place for doing something unconventional.
I had the cabinet maker craft the counter out of 3/4” furniture grade plywood (please note that I recommend furniture grade, nothing inferior), with a 1 1/2” edge band of solid wood (I would recommend a tight-grained wood such as maple, birch, or ash). This gives it the look of thickness along the front edge, and is a trick that is often used by natural stone and solid surface countertop fabricators. I recommend a good sanding of the entire surface with medium and fine grit sandpaper to ensure a smooth, uniform look. If you’ll be using an under-mounted sink don’t forget to give the sink cut-out edge a good sanding as well.
I then applied three coats of chalkboard paint with a small sponge roller, letting each coat dry between applications according to the label instructions (I didn’t use a primer, but you may want to get the advice of a paint expert on this). I let the paint cure overnight, then I sanded the entire surface lightly with fine grit sandpaper. This brought out the black/gray variegation inherent in the paint, bringing it even closer to the authentic look I was going for. I wiped the surface clean with a tack cloth, damp wiped it, then let it dry.
The final finish of paste wax was applied with a soft cloth in a circular motion over the entire surface. I let this cure overnight. The brand I used was Howard Citrus Shield, purchased from Home Depot.
As far as care of the countertop goes, I would compare it to solid butcher block, or real, unsealed stone in that it requires a certain, minimal amount of maintenance. Every three to six months, I get the chalkboard paint out and, with a thin artist’s brush, I touch up areas around the sink cut out and the front edge (the 90° edges) where the paint has worn a bit. I let it dry, touch it up with past wax, and it’s good to go. In the year and a half that I’ve used this kitchen, I’ve resealed the entire surface with paste wax only once. It’s a good feeling to know that if or when the counters might need to be completely re-done, I can do it myself.
As for durability, this finish has surprised me. Our kitchen gets heavy use. With few exceptions, I cook three meals a day, and bake regularly as well. Since we have no dishwasher, the sinks and counters are used by all five of us in hand washing dishes after every meal. I also do some home canning – preserving fruit and vegetables every year for our winter pantry. We do not baby these countertops. If I were in the position of making this same decision again, I would choose this chalkboard painted counter, without hesitation. It’s a great solution for under $200.
With that, I wish you a lovely weekend, friends!