Talkeetna in the Winter

7My photography MeetUp group recently got together to explore Talkeetna, AK.  Although I’d been past the turn off for this little town many times on our trips to Denali, I hadn’t yet stopped in to check it out so this was the perfect opportunity to do just that.  We met up at the Roadhouse for breakfast and socializing first.  It was in the negative temps outside so the warm interior with yummy handmade specialties was a great way to start the visit.  There was a small bakery selection in the display cases and a variety of specialty syrups and sauces above.

abfThe staff pulled out several of the trays so I could get a better look at the massive options from specialty cinnamon rolls, to meat pies and unique Alaskan items such as “Rudy in a Parka” – which was an oversized version of a pig in a blanket but with reindeer sausage.  That’s what I chose to try and was very satisfied with it.

cdeAs we sat and ate one of the group members who comes to Talkeetna a lot told us about the history of the area and how the Roadhouse becomes a gateway for visitors from around the globe who have come to summit Denali.  During the summer months she said it’s not uncommon to have a variety of nationalities in this small room swapping tales, creating music and interacting.  Around the room there are flags for teams who have successfully summited the mountain and photos of some as well.

1234In one corner monies from around the world have been posted, sandwiched between terrain maps, team flags and more photos of successful climbers.
5And on the far wall was this interesting cuckoo clock.  I wasn’t able to get the history on the piece but imagine it arrived as a gift from a foreign visitor many years ago.
6With a full belly for warmth I bundled up and headed out in to the frigid temps to capture a few more of Talkeetna’s quirks.  I loved the textures of the old building and signs next to the smooth icicles hanging from the roof line.

89Across the street was a pizza place with eclectic artwork.  I can easily envision this place in the summer with dread headed servers taking patrons orders on the patio. A few more steps down the street was the beer garden of Denali Brewing which I’m sure is also another hot spot during the summer tourist season.

1011In the center of town – which was literally right next door to the brewing building on the main street – was the Fairview Inn.  It seems to be the major hotel in town.  I didn’t venture inside but the rules sign out front did make me smile because it’s definitely not something you’d see many other places.

1213Across from the Fairview Inn was Nagley’s Store, which looked like it had been pulled right out of a scene from Northern Exposure.  This is the towns general store for all your basic goods.  While the sign on the front of the building seemed relatively new, the two on the side of the building quickly reminded you that this place has been around for a long, long time.

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Next door to the general store was this little stand.  I’m assuming it’s a vendor booth during the tourist season but during the winter it’s a collection of local wildlife bones and antlers.14There were several signs around town describing early pioneer life and how Talkeetna was settled as a trading post.

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There were also some interesting art displays including this one that was above a house with several salmon inspired designs.  I got the sense that there’s a strong artist community here, which makes sense because the surrounding scenery is quite inspiring.  21

There were also a handful of historic cabins and homes that were preserved with signage describing how they were significant to the history of the town.1920Due to the extreme cold I didn’t stick around to read all the signs or investigate any of the sights in depth.  Instead I wandered the side street just off the main road taking in the sights and identifying spots I’d like to come back to check out in the warmer months.  But the snow and ice did have a special beauty to it as it clung to the buildings.

1718At the end of the main road I spotted this establishment, which I assumed was another brewery type vendor.  I just loved the Alaskan signage and door handle.  Next door was another historic cabin in need of a bit of restoration.

2224I stopped back into the Roadhouse to warm up since I could no longer feel my fingers and learned that the group planned to head over to the park at the end of the main road to see where the rivers met and the landscape opened up to views of the mountains.  This was obviously the main snow machine trail in town and access to nearby hunting areas.

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As we reached the riverbed I heard the train whistle nearby so I hurried down the trail and caught the train just as it made it’s way across one of the trestle bridges.25As I returned to the group who had set up to photograph the mountains I saw that one of the members had ventured out into the snow drifts where her shoe had gotten stuck and frozen in place!  Like most photographers, her primary concern was handing over her camera for safekeeping, then the group leader helped dig her out.
2627Once she was safely in the vehicle warming back up I got a few shots of the mountains, including Denali, which graced us with a fairly clear vantage.  The clear day made the panoramic view amazing.

2829panoI had to get back to town for an appointment that afternoon so I bid farewell to the group and headed back toward the highway.  Along the way I remembered to stop at a viewpoint I’d spotted on my way into town which gave another great view of the range and The Great One.

3132I’m pretty sure the Hubs and I will be back this spring or summer to explore a bit more when everything is open and I’d like to try the zipline through the trees at the edge of town.  I’ll be sure to share that adventure here when I do! 🙂Save

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A Quick & Easy Makeover

afterHere’s one of the quick little projects I’ve done recently.  I spotted this little scroll decor piece on one of the local buy/sell pages for $1 and just couldn’t pass it up.  Here’s how it looked when I bought it.

beforeAlthough it was cute in it’s original state I thought it would look better with a metal finish rather than the faux stone one it had.  A couple quick coats of ORB spray paint and it’s got a whole new look.

finishI’m not sure where I’ll use it just yet, but for now it looks pretty next to another of my quick projects, this mini faux succulent planter.  I’ll share how I made that later this week!

Snow Day!

stoliToday is Tequila’s birthday, which coincidentally coincides with National Love Your Pet Day (AKA – everyday in the DBDT household)!  Although we didn’t do anything special to celebrate, I did take a break from photography work to play in the snow with the herd.

tequilaHere in Alaska we don’t get many “snow days” off from work or school because life continues on no matter how much snow there is in this region.  Luckily, President’s Day provided a perfect opportunity to pretend that it was a snow day and stay home – only venturing out as far as the yard for some fun.

Each of the fur babies has a favorite toy to play with outside.  Tequila loves her frisbee, Stoli has a stuffed soccer ball with handles and Brinley is ALL ABOUT HER TENNIS BALL!  It’s a good thing we have a long driveway where I can use the ball chucker to throw it down the drive way for her.

run3Today Stoli decided it was more fun to try to steal her ball than play with his own.  But try as he might, he just couldn’t seem to beat her to the ball, or get her to drop it by bouncing around her.  Eventually he gave up and was content to just run back and forth.

run6run2runrun7Sometimes I’m not sure he knew where he was running to, but he was having plenty of fun regardless.  And all that running keeps him warm despite that short haired coat of his.

stolirunEach time I’d angle the chucker back for a throw this is the face I’d see.  Complete and total concentration.

readyUnfortunately that didn’t always translate into finding where the ball went when my aim was a bit off and it landed in a snow bank.  bsnowShe did attempt several methods to find those errant balls.  It was quite hysterical to watch her dig and plow her way through the snow in her quest, especially since the snow was as deep as she is tall in most spots!

snorkelrearsnorkel2snorkelsnorkelupThen she’d look up in frustration to see if I had guidance to give.  I’d point her in one director or another until she realized this was a lost cause.

bA few times big sister attempted to help, snorkeling through the snow and retracing the paths that Brinley had made, carving them a bit wider as she went.

snorkelhelptstrailtequilatrailShe didn’t have any luck finding the missing balls either and decided to go back to her frisbee.

tplay2tplaytplay3And while all this was going on Miss Luna decided to come out to the porch and supervise.

lunaThat’s as far as she made it since she doesn’t like to get her paws in that cold white stuff and it’s definitely deeper than she’s interested in.

Apparently all that fun wore everyone out because a few minutes after we came inside everyone was out cold.

sleepsleep2Including Luna!  It’s hard work supervising all that chaos. 🙂

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A New Project

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Hi everyone,  I know it’s been quiet here on the blog but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.  The day job has been super busy, I decided to revamp my photography website and have been working on several small projects that have been waiting in the wings for months.  I’ll be photographing a lot of those projects this weekend so I can share them with you next week, but in the meantime I had to share my new project.

I picked up this adorable antique sewing table on one o the local buy/sell pages with a modern sewing machine for just $85!  Although the sewing machine is what drew me to the post since that was the main photo when I read that the table came with it for that price I immediately contacted the seller to see if it was still available.  Lucky for me it was because I’ve been on the hunt for a piece for this spot and a sewing machine for other projects.  We had to reschedule the pick-up a couple of times, but it finally came home this week and it’s literally a perfect fit or the space.

The seller told me the piece had been in her family for many years and she always hoped someone would refinish it, which is exactly what I plan to do.  It’s in need of some simple repairs to a few spots and tightening up of all the screws, but those should be easy.  I’m going to live with it as is for a while to refine my ideas, but the Hubs and I agree on an overall plan to leave the cast iron legs alone, paint the drawers on the base of the table and refinish the top in a cherry to match the sewing table we refinished on the other side of the bed.  Lastly we’ll find similar knobs to match the other table for all 6 drawers.

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I had originally wanted a small dresser for this space, but we typically don’t have guests stay that long and with the closet system in this room there’s plenty of space for them to unpack if they should.  I may turn the open space where the sewing machine use to sit into a vanity so guests could get ready in their room if the bathroom next door is in use.  There’s already a chair in this room so they could just pull it over when needed.  I’m not sure if I’ll replace the top completely and put a large mirror against the wall or use the flip cover to hide a mirror underneath that can be opened when needed.

For now it’s a perfect spot to hold the lamp and fill in the empty space.  I’d love to hear your ideas on how you’d use the piece, so share them in a comment below!

Junkin’ in Portland

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Our last trip to Portland was planned around attending a large junk show similar to the one we’d gone to the previous year farther north.  This one was called Junk Bonanza.  Several of the same vendors were at this show so they were on the top of my list to check out first.  We paid a little extra for the early bird tickets so we got in before the general crowd, which means we also had first dibs on items.

The Hubs had told me that if I found something large that I wanted we could store it at my mother-in-law’s house until he could make a trip down the Alcan to pick it up in the spring.  Knowing that I had that option in the near future, I made a bee-line for B’Aase Repurposed‘s booth.  I had missed out on their super cute upcycled planters last time and was hopeful they’d have some more.  Although they didn’t have planters this time they did have this awesome bell made from a gas canister cylinder.  I knew right away it was meant to be in my yard.  We also found some cool metal fishing floats at their booth that will be used on rain chains to the rain barrels this year.

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I took a peek at several other booths as I made my way to the next group on my priority list.  I really liked the large burlap webbing ottoman I spotted at this booth and may attempt to make one or two for the new deck we plan to build this summer.

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Grange Industrial was my next priority stop.  I had researched them online from the vendor list and really liked their style.  They had several large pieces I pondered over, including some adorable repurposed wheelbarrow planters, but I knew I had a budget to work within and not having a spot I knew I’d use each item in I decided to pass on them.

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Although it wasn’t on my priority list because they didn’t have an online site I could research them at beforehand, I just couldn’t pass the JBRO booth without browsing before the crowds arrived.  It was a wise choice because I found a garden trellis, a rake head and velvet pumpkins – just in time for fall decorating.

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By now the general admission had started and things got a little more crowded.  I started browsing the vendors row by row and fell in love with UberChicHome‘s large display.  I was originally drawn to their grain sack pillows but the Hubs pointed out a vintage wooden cart on the corner of their booth.  The vendor said the item was on hold for another 5 minutes for someone who said they would be back for it.  We decided it was worth the wait to hang out and see if we could get it if the other person didn’t show up.  5 minute later, there was no returning customer and it was ours.  And about 2 minutes later someone else was asking to buy it as the vendor swiped my card!  The one we got is very similar to the one in the lower right corner of the photo below but nicer.  You’ll see it in a bit when I share my haul.

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While we were waiting for the no-show customer I poked around the booth right across the aisle.  Rusty Glamour definitely had my vibe – rustic with a touch of industrial and farm house.  She had several cool pieces like those pendant lights made from old theater spot lights you see right out at the front and a vintage wheel chair.

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What I loved most at her booth were these awesome sea bag pillows.  They were large and I knew they’d be durable based on the material.  When I pointed them out to the hubs he reminded me that we still had his sea bag and his dad’s.  So we decided to make our own using those.  I’m hoping to get to that project in the next few months and will share it here when we do.

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Once we had the cart paid for I ventured on to other nearby booths, including All My Favorite Things, where I found an awesome rustic bench.  I actually pondered on the bench for a few minutes because it was a great price (based on my Alaska comparisons), but I wasn’t sure if I’d use it on the deck or front porch.  Another lady heard me talking about it with the vendor and told me that if I didn’t buy it she would.  Knowing I had two possible spots to use it off the top of my head I couldn’t pass up the deal.  I also contemplated those rustic stools you see in their booth below but I didn’t have a specific spot in mind for them so I decided to let them find another home.  I found a large stoneware crock at this booth for a great price as well.

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Now that I had several bigger pieces paid and on hold around the show I wandered booth to booth to see what struck my interest.  One of my favorite set-ups was this farmhouse style booth, although didn’t find any treasures that had to come home with me from there.

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To give you an idea of just how big the show was, here’s a panoramic shot I took from one corner of the exhibit hall!  Good thing I wore comfortable sneakers!

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I’ll show my haul from the show in just a moment, but I also wanted to share some of my favorite booths and items I spotted when we visited the Monticello Antique Marketplace in Portland during the same trip.  This was our first visit to the store and it didn’t disappoint.

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There was something about this particular booth that drew me in.  It had a perfect blend of rustic, farm house and western.  Another booth had these cool metal coil lights.  We have a couple of these in my materials stash so I may give it a try!

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We came in through the side entrance where there was a little cafe, so I really enjoyed finding the main entrance with this awesome garden style display.

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A little alcove near the entrance was decorated for Halloween – can you tell I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while?! LOL.  I loved the large undertakers sign on the back wall and may just make something similar for our mantel come this October. 😉

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Ok – it’s finally time to share my haul from the Junk Bonanza show.  I didn’t get a shot of the smaller items since it was threatening to rain, here are the big items that await our return in the spring!  I can’t wait to bring them home and put them to use around the house and yard!

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I love that the crock has a Portland stamp.  It will be a fun reminder of our many trips here.  And I find it interesting that it’s also a “6” like some of our others, including the one in our master bedroom.

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Here’s a closer shot of the little wooden cart we scored!  This one is much nicer than the one you saw in the picture before.  It’s got removable panels for the tray of the cart and an old school reflector on the back – which is my favorite detail!  I’ve decided it’s going to live on our front porch where it will be protected from the elements but can be filled with plants or seasonal decor.  It will probably also be used for photo shoots, which should be absolutely adorable.

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Since the Hubs is already planning to make a trip back with the truck in the coming months, I’m planning to hit several antique shops in downtown Camas, WA while we’re there as I’ve got a few things on my wish list that I’m sure will be better priced in that area.  I’d love to hear what you think of the treasures we found and ideas on how you would use them!

re:MADE

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Today I wanted to share a fun shop I recently discovered in Anchorage called re:MADE.  I’ve been following them on Facebook for a while now but am not often on their side of town so I have’t been in until last week when I saw a post with those adorable animal pillows you see in the photo above.  I knew they’d be great for my neutral winter decor and could transition into other uses so I made plans to visit them the next day during my lunch hour.

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When I pulled up I spotted their cool re-purposed signage and immediately knew I was going to like this place.  There was so much to look at inside, but I quickly found the pillows I had come from and pondered which to get for several minutes.  I’ll share which ultimately came home with me at the end of this post.

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Nearby I spotted this fun deer art which was created with wood planks and painted license plates.  It would be perfect for an industrial or rustic style room.

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This cute antique desk held fun little paper trees.  If I’d had a spot for either they would have come home with me as well.

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These map phrase frames caught my eye too.  They were all very different, yet each inspired adventure.  My favorite was “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.”

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There were several large reclaimed marquee lights available.  These would be so cool lit up on a wall to spell out words like FAMILY or PLAY!

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I giggled to see this large pile of driftwood in a back corner.  The Hubs thinks I’m crazy when I collect pieces every time we go riding on the trails in the summer, but apparently I’m not the only one fascinated wit the cool textures.

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These cork trivets and halibut pot holders were great gift ideas for the cooks in your life – or just as decoration for your kitchen.

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These vintage looking pieces were tablet pouches or covers.  The leather tab helped keep the tablet secure inside while the outside just looks totally cool and retro.

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Still wondering what came home with me after my little shopping trip?  These cuties – a bear cub and hare!  They work well with our current pillows and fit right in with the other rustic winter decor I’ve got up.  I’m excited to use the hare again for spring as a nod to Easter and the bear cub will probably move to the guest or foster room.

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I’m kinda loving how simple everything looks after the holidays, especially with the new to us sectional we found on the buy/sell page for a great price.  It’s super comfy and the new pillows just make you want to hang out on it all day.

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I also  brought home this cool vintage sled!  I spotted it as I was heading to my car after paying for the pillows and stepped into the snow bank it was sitting on to check it out.  I quickly put the pillows in the truck and headed back inside to pay for this.  It’s going to be a great prop for winter time family portraits with small children. 🙂

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I’m glad I found this new resource for unique decor and it warms my heart to know that what I spend there helps those in need.  That’s what I call a win-win!  If you’re in the Anchorage area and like upcycled decor I highly suggest you check them out.

Barn Doors for the Office/Studio/Craft Room

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I’m so excited to share this project with you guys now that it’s finally done!  It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m so so so happy with the end result and as it usually goes – the delays that occurred along the way made the end result better than the original idea.

From the moment we found our floor plan and decided the formal dining room would be my office/studio/craft room I knew I wanted barn doors instead of the french doors the builder offered.  But that wasn’t one of the priority projects when we first moved in so it had to wait.  In the meantime I pinned ideas and the Hubs and I drafted out a basic plan for the project so we could start gathering the supplies as we found good deals on them.

We originally purchased barn door hardware at Tractor Supply when we were in VA visiting my family over a year ago and shipped it back to ourselves in AK.  It was nickel, but we planned to paint it black to better fit our style.  Although we had the hardware, we still had other more pressing projects so they sat for several months.  Eventually the Hubs purchased a piece of metal box rail to create the track and then built the barn doors, which I stained.  We now had all the pieces we just needed to install them, so we dug up pictures of the house during the framing stage and quickly realized we didn’t have any of the header over this opening to determine where the studs were!  Thinking back I remembered that because we opted not to have the french doors, the builder didn’t frame in the opening at first.  We noticed this during one of our site visits and made sure he would add framing between the two walls so we’d have a spot to install the track.  Apparently the next time we came back that had been added and drywalled over already.  We could guesstimate where the studs were based on the screws in the drywall, but the Hubs wasn’t sure there was enough support for the heavy track and doors.  I was pretty bummed and started thinking I wouldn’t get the barn doors I’d been envisioning.

A few weeks later we saw a friend’s barn door project they had just installed and as the Hubs discussed the install with his fellow DIY-All-The-Crazy-Things-My-Wife-Thinks-Up husband, a new option was discovered.  Their track and hardware was less bulky and not as heavy, so it didn’t need as much support as the system we had.  They had purchased the kit on Amazon and really liked it so we were pretty confident we would feel the same way.

The Hubs drew up a new plan and determined we needed to build new doors that weren’t as heavy as the ones we’d already prepped.  It was a little disappointing, but I was excited to finally have the project back on track and feeling good that it was actually possible.  I posted the track and the hardware we already had on the buy/sell page and the Hubs ordered a similar kit on Amazon.  The kit arrived quickly, but life got crazy again and the project had to wait.  Over the Christmas holiday the Hubs got things rolling again starting with installing the track in the office.

tracktrack2He had to drill a few new holes for the support rods so we’d hit the studs but he made it work.  And then he built two new doors out of cedar planks using the same design as the original doors he’d built (which became backdrops for a recent show display and are now posted for sale).  Although they were pretty in their natural state, the cedar had an orange tone that clashed with the other wood tones in the space.  I’d been envisioning weathered, rustic doors like something Joanna Gaines would salvage and use.  So we decided to stain them and see how I liked that.

doorA coat of stain later, they were looking much more in line with the other elements in the room, but it was still too much wood for me so I decided to paint over the stain and then distress them so the bits of stain and wood would show through.  The Hubs picked up white paint at the store and I planned to paint over the next few days.  But then I saw the perfect color on a dresser one of my favorite bloggers was redoing for a remodel/flip house she’s working on and I knew that was what I needed.  Unfortunately, she was using Maison Blanche’s Printemps chalk paint and there are no retailers for that brand here in Alaska.

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So I did some research and found a similar color in Annie Sloan’s chalk paint line (which said favorite blogger also uses often) that was available locally.  It’s called Chateau Grey, but it’s really a greenish grey color.

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Now that I had my perfect paint color I set to work.  Since the weather has been in the negative temps and the doors were so large I set up shop in the garage with the doors propped up on various plastic totes.  The Hubs joined me in the garage to organize and clean up a bit from several recent projects.  We left the door to the house open so the kiddos could be with us as well, but they weren’t staying out of the way enough so the Hubs rigged up an impromptu baby gate for the doorway.  The ensuing pitiful faces were hysterical.  They whined and paced and made a few attempts to thwart this annoying obstacle.

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This was the easiest painting ever, because they recommend you brush in all directions for a rustic finish.  Which means paint like no one’s watching.. except those sad little faces behind the gate!  I cranked up the radio and boogied my way around the doors swishing my brush, and my bottom, to-and-fro.   The end result was two very pretty greenish gray doors.  Both the Hubs and I were really liking the color but my heart was set on that distressed look so he dug out the sander for me.

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As I got ready to sand I noticed this heart wrenching little face.  While he siblings had given up and wandered off to nap, she sat like this for hours, sighing every so often just to remind me that she wasn’t pleased with being detained.  Unfortunately for her, it was time to sand so we removed the gate and closed the door to keep the dust out of the house.

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A light sanding brought out so much texture!  Just look at how different the one un-sanded panel on the right looks from the rest of the door.  I had to hand sand in a few of the tighter spots but that went quickly as well.

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Because I was using a chalk paint the next step was wax to seal everything in and protect the finish from those slobbery children of ours.  Although this wasn’t the first time I’ve used chalk paint it was the first time I’ve used it on a project big enough that required sealing, so this was my first experience with wax.  I used Annie Sloan’s clear wax so it would work well with the paint.

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Using the “boogie while you brush in all directions method” it went on very quickly although it was a bit straining on my hands because you ‘push’ the wax into the grain.   A little pain was totally worth it because it really highlighted all of the texture the sanding had created.  Just look at the difference between the waxed half on the bottom right and the un-waxed section on the top left!  And up-close it had so much detail!

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To give you a better sense of how much the wax changed the look, here’s a shot of the difference.  The door on the right has been stained, painted, sanded and waxed while the door on the left has not yet been waxed.

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I got the front of both doors waxed and was going to wait a few hours to flip them over and wax the back side (yeah… just think on that for a moment…) but the Hubs made a great suggestion – why not hang them and I could wax the back while they were on the track.  He’s seriously brilliant sometimes – which is one of the reasons I keep him around. 🙂  So up they went.  The rollers on the hardware just sit on the top of the track and are very easy to install – it’s just a matter of lining them up and setting them on the track.

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I love how the black hardware looks with the green!  And it’s got an industrial rustic style that fits our home perfectly.

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Here’s a few more shots of the doors installed on the track and ready to glide back and forth.

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Seeing the green next to the white cabinets makes me so glad I didn’t paint them white.  It would have been too much and this color really makes them look reclaimed rather than new.

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I could have stood here and stared at them all day.  They look awesome open.

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And closed – although the fur babies weren’t fond of this option!  After we had them installed we noticed the door on the right sits at a bit of an angle from the other door creating a small space at the bottom of the seem between the doors.  The Hubs thinks he may have installed the hardware a little crooked which is causing this issue.  We’ll correct that at some point, but since the doors will be open 99% of the time that can wait a bit.

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Here’s how the doors look from the other side when closed.  It’s not as dramatic as the office side, but like I said – it will be very rare that these doors are closed.  I’m sure the fur babies are appreciative of that.

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In order to fill the whole opening we did have to make the doors a bit wider than the side walls, so they stick out just a bit.  It’s not really noticeable and it actually works well because it provides just enough room to add handles so the doors are easier to move from this side.  I haven’t picked out hardware for that yet, and since it’s not a priority I’ll take my time to find something I really love.

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There’s also a bit of extra room between the doors and the cabinets.  We built the desk when we were planning to use the original barn door hardware which would have hung away from the wall a bit further, so we left extra room for that.  Now that we chose a more flush mount system there’s more room.  I think it still works well and it’s just wide enough for me to sneak the broom in there when cleaning.  Plus on the craft cart side it leaves  plenty of room to reach back for my paper cutter without scraping your knuckles on the doors.

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I’m so happy to have this big project done and I smile every time I look at these beauties.  They really give the space a finished feel and add so much character.  In fact they were looking so good that my craft shelves were feeling a bit “womp, womp” next to them, so I’ve been changing things up over there to create a more cohesive look.  I will share that update soon. 🙂

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I’d love to hear what you think of the end result, so leave a comment below.  And if you have questions about anything I didn’t cover send those over too.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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