adirondack chairs around fire pit on old shed concrete pad

Saving Etta - Backyard Transformation

Saving Etta Update: The Backyard Transformation

This has to be one of the biggest transformations (besides the demolition and framing) at the Saving Etta project! The backyard was an unruly mess of vines, overgrown shrubs, and weeds. I resisted the urge to do any landscaping until all the crews were finished outside. No sense in spending any time on landscaping when it would get messed up by trucks, equipment, and foot traffic.

While construction was going on, the yard took a beating. One week the demolition guys were pulling the dump truck into the yard to fill up with the debris. The next week an excavator dug the crawlspace and hauled the rest of the dirt to the back of the lot. Then we used the yard as a staging area for building supplies. Plus it doubled as extra parking on days when we had more than one crew on site. Over time most of the grass was gone and I probably picked up 4,532 random nails and screws littered in the yard. Needless to say, it was a mess by the time exterior construction was done.

The Backyard Transformation

On a particularly beautiful fall weekend, Pretty Handsome Guy (aka my husband) and I decided to plan a family yard work day at the house. We’ve tried to involve our boys in as much of the process as possible. We agreed to pay them for their time after the house sells. This seems to have been the incentive it took to get two teen boys off their devices and out for a yard work day.

Although there was a lot to do, I felt confident we could knock out a big chunk of work, especially using the power tools my friends at STIHL sent me. When I approached STIHL about being a Saving Etta sponsor, I assured them we’d have plenty of landscaping and yard work to showcase their new battery-powered line of tools. To be completely honest, I was a little skeptical of the power behind battery-powered vs. gas-powered equipment. But after trying the tools, I was thrilled with their performance. These STIHL tools have quickly become my favorite yard tools for the Saving Etta project AND at my own home.

STIHL battery powered tools: mower, blower, hedge trimmer, and chainsaw

Before they were delivered I had the privilege to try a lot of the STIHL gas and battery tools at the STIHL headquarters in Virginia Beach.

brittany trying chain saw

Joining me were a bunch of other badass builders, like April from Wilker Dos and Sarah from Ugly Duckling House. It was invigorating hanging out with other like-minded women who have figured out how to build and DIY their homes one project at a time. (See, you can do it too!)

women of Stihl event

During the event, we got to try all the new STIHL power tools. The STIHL battery-powered yard tools were definitely a hit from the start. Most of the attendees found them less intimidating. Plus, the tools were lighter weight and easier to handle.

Three Series of STIHL tools to meet your yard work needs:

The AP Series is designed for professional landscapers and people that use the tools on a daily basis on a variety of different properties. The battery has a longer run time, but also weighs the most of all the STIHL batteries.

The AK series handles the yard work of a typical suburban homeowner. The batteries have a slightly shorter run time, but the battery isn’t as heavy (a good thing for those of us who don’t lift weights on a daily basis.)

The AI series is perfect for small yards and quick clean up tasks. The AI tools plug in to charge (no external batteries.) The trimmer, leaf blower, and hedge trimmer would work well for small yards or town homes. Because there is no external battery, they are the lightest weight of the battery tools STIHL offers. The trade off is battery life is shorter than the AK or AP series.

Here’s what I love about the STIHL battery-powered AK series yard equipment:

The tools STIHL sent me are all within the AK series, so I’ll share what I love about them specifically. All the AK tools use the same batteries. Which means you don’t have to store a bunch of random batteries for each tool (although the chainsaw and mower need the AK 20 or higher battery to run for any length of time.)

battery powered STIHL yard tools all run on same battery

Speaking of longevity, there are three different AK batteries (the AK10, AK20, and AK30), with the 10 having the shortest run time and the 30 the longest run times.

In contrast to the gas-powered tools, the AK battery-powered tools are much quieter. In particular, this appeals to me most when it comes to the leaf blowers. I happen to live in a neighborhood filled with big tree-filled lots. I wish all my neighbors had the BGA 56 battery-powered leaf blower, because my Saturday and Sunday mornings would be a lot more peaceful in the fall. The unmistakable high-pitched leaf blower whine is constant in our ‘hood come September – December (and sometimes well into springtime.)

Despite my dislike of noise, my biggest pet peeve about gas-powered lawn equipment is the odor that sticks to your clothes after doing yard work. Guess what! With battery-powered tools there is no gas or stinky fumes to make you smell bad! Plus, there’s no need to keep a plethora of gas cans around for the tools that require a different ratio of gas to oil (and I can’t ever remember which tool uses which ratio.) Personally, I’d love to get rid of all our gas cans in the garage. (Something about keeping a highly flammable liquid in a room attached to our house has always made me nervous.)

Did you know a battery-powered landscape tool can save you time? It’s true because you don’t need to winterize your battery-powered tools before the cold weather sets in.  And if you want to get technical, when your battery runs low, you can charge it while taking a quick little break. This saves time driving to the nearest gas station to fill up your gas can.

Finally, let’s talk about weight. No, not the holiday cookie weight I put on in December! The STIHL battery-powered tools weigh less than their gas-powered relatives. The mower was my personal favorite because it was so lightweight I could lift it into the truck by myself on days I needed to mow Etta’s front lawn. This was such a life saver since most of the time I was working solo at the house.

A little more about the STIHL AK tools I tried:

STIHL BGA 56 Battery-Powered Leaf Blower

  • STIHL BGA 56 Battery-Powered Leaf Blower: This is by far the lightest leaf blower I’ve tried (I’ve used two other brands, one was a gas-powered and one was another battery-powered leaf blower.) The gripping handle is in the perfect spot to automatically keep the blower balanced during use. This blower has plenty of power for moving leaves (both dry and wet.) One thing I noticed recently, is there is no vibration to tire your wrists (I can’t say that about our gas blower.) My teen sons love using this blower too, especially because it is lightweight. And as I mentioned before, the noise is definitely less than a gas-powered blower.

STIHL HSA 56 Battery-Powered Hedge Trimmer

  • STIHL HSA 56 Battery-Powered Hedge Trimmer: This trimmer packs quite a punch; in fact most of the skinny tree sprouts and thicker branches were easily cut by it. The HSA 56 made quick work of pruning and tackling the vines growing over the bushes. Noise and weight are both much less than a comparable gas hedge trimmer. And as I mentioned above, no gas, no mixing ratio, and easy to store for the winter!

STIHL MSA 120 C-BQ Battery-Powered Chain Saw

  • STIHL MSA 120 C-BQ Battery-Powered Chain Saw: We have a rule in our house that if a tree is too big for a small chainsaw, then we shouldn’t be cutting it down ourselves. The STIHL MSA 120 C-BQ Chain Saw is perfect for the homeowner who wants to take down some spindly trees or low branches. It has enough power to get through some small hardwood trees on our lot. I loved using the chainsaw to break down large limbs to a manageable length for curbside yard waste pick up. It also came in handy when the lumber delivery forklift couldn’t get past a low limb. 

STIHL RMA 460 Battery-Powered Mowe

  • STIHL RMA 460 Battery-Powered Mower: As I mentioned above, this is a surprisingly lightweight mower and yet it doesn’t disappoint when it came to mowing an overgrown jungle. After our summer vacation, I came back to knee high grass at the Saving Etta house. I wasn’t sure the mower would be able to handle it, but it cut through the grass with no problem. My husband has been cutting lawns since he was a teenager, so you can imagine the side-eyed look he gave me when I told him I thought he might like this battery-powered mower. One day I caught him trying it, and he told me he liked it. The one caveat is if you have a yard larger than about 1/3 of an acre, you may need a few extra batteries to replace when the first runs out. Of course it all depends on your lot size and mowing conditions. You might want to talk to your local dealer to find the mower that’s best for you. As a baseline, our lot is 1/2 an acre and mostly wooded, but we do have a fair amount of grass. The mower makes it through our lawn mowing on one AK30 battery charge. If we did run out, it’s not a big deal since we typically have one battery charging while the other is in use.

Although this post is sponsored by STIHL, I have to be totally honest when I tell you: We are in love with the STIHL battery-powered yard and lawn tools! If you were my neighbor, you’d see this to be true. We are frequently out in our yard using these pretty orange and white tools.

STIHL battery powered tools: mower, blower, hedge trimmer, and chainsaw

Now that you know a bit more about the STIHL tools I was using at the Saving Etta project (trying to SAVE the backyard); let me show you the transformation!

The Overgrown Mess of a Backyard:

Over the summer a healthy crop of weeds and brush took over most of the yard. After exterior construction was done, my husband and I loaded the boys into my truck and headed downtown. Luckily the weather was sunny and cool because it was a full day affair. Here’s the video of our work day:

By the end of the day we had cleared back at least 10 feet from each side of the yard and created three huge piles of yard waste.

piles of brush for yard waste

After removing the brush piles, the trailer, and leftover construction materials, we added some adirondack chairs and hung the porch swing I built using pallet wood. Isn’t this a peaceful scene? I could sit out on the swing for hours and take in the scenery.

fall colored trees in saving etta backyard

We staged the fire pit area on top of the old shed concrete pad. I decided to leave the pad should the homeowners want to build a shed in the future. Without a garage, a shed would be a good place to store additional yard equipment.

yellow adirondack chairs around fire pit

Or they might continue to enjoy it as a little patio and fire pit.

adirondack chairs around fire pit on old shed concrete pad

Hope you enjoy the rest of the before and after photos.


before backyard transformation with trailer and dirt hill

overgrown bushes back side of yard


backyard after transformation view toward privacy fence

My favorite view of the backyard can be seen from the upstairs bedroom window.

two story side of house backyard transformed

It helps when the black Plygem Mira windows frame the view so nicely!

backyard view through windows


view from upstairs window before landscaping


view from upstairs bedroom window of yard with tree swing and adirondack chairds


back of saving etta house before landscaping


back deck transformation and landscaping

Adding a deck off the back of the house really extended the living area. I had always envisioned a little bistro set outside the master bedroom.

back deck outside master bedroom with blue chairs and landscaping

lovely photo of deck and low landscaping plants around deck

If I lived here I’d spend mornings sitting out there with a cup of coffee enjoying the view.

beauty shot of camellia bush and mums outside master bedroom


before backyard transformation


after view of backyard with straw and pine straw

after view of landscaped saving etta yard

If you have a keen eye, you may have noticed all the big rocks in the landscaping.

pile of pier stones ready for reuse

These were the pier stones from under the original 1900 portion of the house. The mortar between them had crumbled to dust and some weren’t offering any stable support to the house. Instead of hauling them away, I decided to keep them to incorporate into the landscaping.

three pier stones from original house used as landscaping rocks

This one with the stripe on it is my favorite. If I lived here I’d have to give it a name, like “spot!”

new foundation bushes by back deck

Isn’t it amazing how much this yard has been transformed? It feels so private and secluded despite being within walking distance to downtown Raleigh.

view from back yard at saving etta house

A few weeks later, with the help of lots of rain in North Carolina, the grass blades started coming up!

grass growing in backyard at Saving Etta project
I hope you enjoyed seeing the backyard transformation. What do you think? Do you dream of a yard this big and beautiful?

I can’t thank the folks at STIHL enough for helping make this construction site into a dream yard. If you need to upgrade yard equipment (or buy your first yard tools), I highly recommend the STIHL battery-powered yard equipment. They are a joy to use and more environmentally friendly than gas-powered tools. You should check out the STIHL equipment at a retailer near you.

The Backyard Transformation

Disclosure: STIHL is a Saving Etta (and Pretty Handy Girl) sponsor. I was provided with STIHL tools and safety equipment to makeover the Saving Etta yard. In addition, I was provided with an expense paid trip to visit STIHL headquarters. I was not told what to write. All opinions and words are my own. I will always let you know if you are reading a sponsored post. 

Want to know the basics principles for landscaping? Read this article I wrote to learn how to give your yard a mini (or mega) makeover yourself:

Landscaping 101: Tools, Planting, and Adding Color to your Landscaping | Pretty Handy Girl

Helping Homeowners Stay Home for Good

There is a crisis in Wake County (and much of the country for that matter.) Affordable housing and the ability to maintain a home is a struggle for many people. Ply Gem has made it their mission to help keep people in their homes with the Home for Good Project. In the past few years they have donated over 1.8 million worth of home exterior products.  Organized a small army of local contractors and volunteers to give time to take on a variety of home improvements and home repairs in the communities where they live and work.

I was honored to be a part of the kick off of the 2018 Home for Good Project, right here in my hometown of Raleigh, NC.

When Ply Gem reached out to me about being a sponsor for the Saving Etta project, we discussed how I could be a part of their larger mission to save homes. Ply Gem started the Home for Good project in 2016 to try to help homeowners stay in their homes by providing much needed repairs and renovations to houses in disrepair. Ply Gem reached out to the Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization program to identify local homeowners who were in need of exterior renovations and repairs.

If you read my blog, you know that Habitat for Humanity is one of my favorite charities. All Ply Gem had to say was “Habitat for Humanity” and I knew I wanted to be a part of this wonderful project!

8 Days, 5 Houses and 400 Volunteers

It began on one of the hottest weeks in Raleigh. The 2018 Ply Gem Home for Good Project kicked off on a Monday with 90 degree heat here in North Carolina. Despite the weather, hundreds of volunteers showed up to make a difference.

Each house had at least a dozen volunteers eager to chip in and make a difference for the homeowner. The repairs involved adding beautiful new energy efficient windows and long lasting maintenance free siding from Ply Gem. The homes also received a variety of other exterior renovations including new roofs (when needed), new paint, and landscaping.

I took a day off from working on Etta and drove my work truck over to the Home for Good Project house I was assigned to. When I pulled up out front of this cute little ranch house, it looked in pretty decent shape until I got closer.

The yard was overgrown and the bushes were growing on the house.

A poison ivy vine had been climbing around the back storage structure and deck for a while. And the siding was in rough shape.

We all worked together to remove the poison ivy and trim branches from around the house.

Within an hour, the over grown bushes and vines were tamed and trimmed.

Next we moved on to maintenance tasks. We cleared the gutters and I took down a downspout to clear a clog.

A group of contractors showed up to start installing the new vinyl siding.

It amazed me how quickly the siding was installed. And the light moss green color was a nice compliment to the house.

The house looked so much better by the end of the day. But, you won’t believe what this house looked like by the end of day eight! Ready to see some dramatic before and after pictures?

Front Before:

Front After:

Back Before:

Back After:

Back Deck & Shed Before:

Back Deck & Shed After:

Hard to believe it’s the same house!

Want to see more? This is another Home for Good Project house around the corner from the one I worked on.

Front Before:

Front During Rehab:

Front After:

The siding, the windows, shutters, and trim were all donated by Ply Gem. Check out those beautiful new shutters, windows, and pediments!

Ready to see another transformation?

House Before:

House After:

New siding, windows, and trim made this house a show stopper!

I can’t get over that adorable yellow front door.

This was such an amazing experience to be a part of. I hope to be a volunteer for the Home for Good Project again next year.

Want to learn more about the Home for Good Project created by Ply Gem? This video will explain more about the program and give you a peek at the actual transformations.

If I’ve inspired you to find out more about the Home for Good Project, take a look at all the projects that are happening around the US! Click here to find out if there’s an opportunity for you to volunteer with the Home for Good Project near you.

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored post for Ply Gem. It was written as part of their sponsorship of the Saving Etta project. I was not told what to write. All words and opinions are my own. I am very particular about the brands I work with, and only partner with companies that provide quality materials and/or services. 

Painted laminate table

How to Paint Laminate Table Top to Withstand WearHow to Paint a Laminate Table Top

Do you have a laminate top dining table that you want to paint, but are not sure how to paint it so it will withstand the wear and abuse a table usually receives? I can help by showing you how I painted my table. It was easy to do but takes some patience.

Hello awesome readers, I am Julie from Love My Simple Home, and I’m so excited about today’s post!  Over the summer I purchased this laminate dining table at a yard sale to use in my dining room.  After storing the table for several months,  I finally decided to pull it out of storage and give it a beautiful new finish with bright white paint.Laminate Table Top

Laminate Table Top Material List:

Palm Sander

Paint with Primer

Foam Roller

Paint Pan

Synthetic Paint Brush

Polycrylic Clear Satin

Paint a Laminate Table Top Step 1: Clean

The very first thing you need to do is wash the table off.  Use a soapy sponge with water to clean all the dirt, oil, or grime off the table top and base.  Use a clean dry towel to dry it completely.

Paint a Laminate Table Top Step 2: Sand

The purpose of sanding is to give the paint/primer something to grab onto.  Use a palm sander with 220 grit sandpaper and sand the top in the direction of the grain. You don’t need to sand too much, just enough to add some “tooth” for the paint to stick to. After sanding, clean the surface again with a soft clean cloth.  If the base of your table is in poor condition, go ahead and sand it too. (You might find it easier to hand sand the base of the table.)

Laminate Table Top


Paint a Laminate Table Top Step 3: Paint

A table that will be used daily needs a paint that is durable and can withstand spills.  I recommend BEHR Premium Plus Ultra in an Eggshell enamel finish. (You don’t need an entire gallon, one quart is plenty.) This paint is stain-blocking and is paint & primer in one.  For a super bright white, use Ultra Pure White.

Laminate Table Top


Apply 4 thin coats of paint with a foam roller.  Wait 2 hours between coats.  Don’t let the first few coats discourage you. They will show the laminate underneath. Be patient, the end result will be a beautiful smooth finish.

This is what the table looks like after one coat:

Laminate Table Top

Here is the same table after 4 coats:

Laminate Table Top

If you are painting your base, use a paintbrush to paint the legs and other parts of the table that are not easily accessible with the roller.

Paint a Laminate Table Top Step 4: Seal

The final step to keep your table beautiful and help it stand up to wear is to seal it!  Use at least 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic clear satin to seal the top of the table.  Using a synthetic paintbrush apply one thin coat and let it dry overnight (patience).  Then lightly hand sand with a 320 grit sandpaper.  Clean off the surface and add another coat, wait 2 hours and apply the final coat (or more coats if desired).

Laminate Table Top


Allow the sealer to harden for at least 48 hours. Then start eating at your beautiful new table.

Laminate Table Top

Would you believe this table was an ugly laminate tabletop if you had not seen the before pictures?

Laminate Table Top

That’s it, I hope this tutorial was helpful!

Laminate Table Top

If you liked this post, I think you’ll also love these posts because they will help you transform more furniture in your house!

Laminate Table Top

Faux Weathered Gray Wood Grain Table Top Tutorial


Facelift for a Knotty Pine Dresser | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Paint a Knotty Pine Dresser


How to tile a fireplaceHow to Tile a Fireplace

Hello Pretty Handy Girl Readers! Sarah here from The Created Home. Today I’m sharing how you can update and customize your fireplace by doing your own tile work. Don’t be intimidated, tiling is actually quite accessible for DIYers, and once you get the hang of it you’ll be unstoppable. You may even find that you really enjoy it!

As with any DIY, especially one you are new to, you will need to read all the way through to make sure you are familiar with the process and always take proper safety precautions. Use ear and eye protection when you are using a tile saw. Read the manual for your tile saw and make some test cuts to get the feel for using it.

Note: This tutorial will not cover the grouting step. The tile I chose for this project was close together and did not require grout. I’ll cover that in more detail in just a bit. To learn how to grout, read Brittany’s tutorial on grouting and sealing tile.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

tiling supplies

How to Tile a Fireplace: Make a plan

Entire tutorials can be written about how to choose and plan out your tile. There are a LOT of options out there. Bear in mind that a patterned tile will require more work when laying out, as the pattern needs to be visible and centered in the space. Example: In this fireplace I would have loved to use a cement tile look, but the tiles I found were 8″ and the sides of the firebox only allowed for 6 ½” (which would have looked awkward with the designs I liked.)

Ugly Before Shot:

tile fireplace before

A second thing to keep in mind is that knowing the square feet to be covered is only half the battle. Chances are you’ll have a number of small pieces to cut which will render some part of each tile unusable. It’s a good rule of thumb to always get 10 – 15% more tile than you need.

Once you have the tile you will need to plan your layout. Where will a row have to be ripped to fit? Where will the pattern repeat? What order will the tile need to be applied? For this project my husband and I spent just as much time making the plan as actually installing the tile.

Get to work:

For this project we chose to tile over existing tile, which was far simpler than removing what was there (even with the poor shape it was in.) If your tile doesn’t have adhesion issues this may be a great route for you. We tested the waters [tile] here and found that the damage to the existing tile was superficial, albeit highly unattractive.

damaged tile fireplace

Once you have a game plan it’s time to make your first cut. A tile saw (or wet saw) cuts much like a table saw, but it needs a constant source of water to keep the blade cool and the dust down. Keep a pail of water on hand to refill the saw as needed. Some tile saws can be hooked up to a water source via a hose.

tile saw wet saw

You will be covering the edges where the tile runs into the wood mantle surround with some sort of trim, so it’s not important that you are dead on with every cut fitting perfectly against that edge. This is also useful if you run into issues with things being out of square (which happens frequently). You can see in the photo below the tile does not fit snuggly, or uniformly along the far sides.

How to Tile a Fireplace

Using a Wet Saw: a few tips

I recommend using a tile saw rather than a snap cutter (which just doesn’t work very well). It can be intimidating at first, but go slow, use caution, and follow some basic rules to ensure a professional looking, safe job.

The first rule, is to keep those fingers away from the blade. Make your cuts slow and steady. Water should be flowing around the blade constantly as you gently push the piece through. You can avoid chipped ends by pushing the piece through very, very slowly as you reach the end, being careful not to force the blade. Too fast and the corner of your tile will likely chip off.

wet saw tile saw fireplace

Use your fence to make sure your cuts are straight. You may have to trim off ends if you tile is staggered, as ours was. Place the trimmed end to the outside, where it will be covered with molding.

How to Tile a Fireplace

How to Tile a Fireplace: adhering the tile

Tile adhesive comes either pre-mixed or in powder form. Pre-mixed is great for small jobs like a fireplace, but either route is fine. Use the notched trowel to spread the adhesive on the back of the tile piece, covering the entire back.

how to tile

The notches will leave tracks, like so:

how to tile

Position the tile where you want it and push firmly, wiggling it around a bit so those tile tracks fill and the tile is firmly adhered along every point to the fireplace.

how to tile a fireplace

If you are grouting between your tiles you will use spacers around each piece. The pieces we used required being set close together to mimic the look of the “preset” tiles. We used the adhesive to fill any small gaps that did show. Again, be sure to check out Brittany’s grouting tutorial if you plan to use grout.

how to tile a fireplace

Continue adding the tiles to the desired pattern. Be sure to account for how your final row will fit, as it will in all likelihood require cutting the tile crossway to fit correctly. The good news is you will be able to hide the seam at the top with some molding.

tiling over existing tile - How to Tile a Fireplace

This fireplace required tile down on the hearth as well, which meant notching around the mantle. To make those cuts be sure you are cutting the tile face up and draw lines to help guide your cuts. The blade will undercut a bit farther than your top cut, but it will be hidden underneath. You’ll quickly discover that most lines are not square, and probably have a gap something like this. Use some caulking to seam it all together and it will look just fine.

tiled hearth

Finishing the Fireplace: adding trim

Molding completes the finished product and hides those seams. Quarter round is a great option for the fireplace. Paint the molding to match the mantle. Attach by driving brad nails through the quarter round at an angle so it goes into the hearth. Caulk around the molding for a seamless look.

fireplace molding

Bonus Content: wrapping the hearth

The front of the hearth here had tile, and I decided the better look would be to wrap it in wood instead to tie it into the white of the mantle and break up the tile a bit. It’s the same look I created when we redesigned our own fireplace.

how to tile a fireplace

To create this look you will need a piece that is the same width as the height of the hearth front inclusive of the tile you just added. If you are lucky you won’t have to rip a piece down to fit.

The sides of that front can be square cut or mitered. To miter the front, cut one end at a 45 degree angle. I prefer to use the saw’s bevel function to get this cut nice and straight.

bevel cut

Place the piece against the front of the hearth and line up where it will sit.

miter cut hearth front

Mark the other end where the short end of the 45 will sit. This is easier and more accurate than simply measuring.

marking cut

It also helps to sketch the angle of your cut while the wood is in place to ensure you don’t cut the wrong way (it’s easy to do).

How to Tile a Fireplace

Cut 45˚ for the side pieces, then measure and make the 90 degree cuts. You can easily cut those back to fit, so cut a little at a time. Paint the molding. Attach by finish nailing the angles together, and then either nail or glue it to the face of the hearth. We used construction adhesive and clamps, letting them sit overnight.

Stand back and enjoy your hard work!

how to refinish a fireplace with tile

As you can see, not only are there a lot of options for refinishing a fireplace, there are a ton of options for tile itself. Tiling is a great way to go that doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Our cost for this fireplace was just over $100.

When we started, this fireplace was far from the focal point of the home, as you can see . . .

fireplace before

. . .and here’s the dramatic finished look.

How to Tile a Fireplace

Now it’s your turn! Put those tiling skills to work and tile it up! In no time at all you’ll be chatting with company and casually mention, “Oh yes, the fireplace. did that. No big thing.” And don’t forget to share your before and after photos so we can all admire the transformation with you.

Happy tiling!

~See More of Sarah’s Projects~

Check out these other posts to up your tiling game!


How to Re-Paint Dated DecorWant to know How to Repaint Dated Decor?

Raise your hand if you are a thrift shopper? No, what about yard sales? Have you ever seen any ugly ceramic decor items that shouldn’t have survived the 70’s or 80’s? Nodding your head YES? I thought so. Today I’m going to show you How to Repaint Decor. Those dated monstrosities can look like something you bought from Ballard Design or Pottery Barn! Don’t believe me, well check out this groovy pair (emphasis on pear. LOL.)

Would you believe this is the same fruit duo?

Yup! I scored them both for $5.

Now, have you seen these deliciously rustic pears from Ballard Designs? Yes? Did you happen to catch the price tags? $49 each!

Umm, no thank you, I’ll stick with my $2.50 fruit—Thank you very much. Let me show you how you can paint any ceramic, pottery, or china decor item to give it a new updated look. You’ll need a few things first.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Optional: Rustoleum Comfort Spray Paint Handle (saves your fingers from cramping!)


Clean your decor item with soap and water. Dry thoroughly.

Lightly sand the surface to give a little roughness.

Lay your decor item(s) on paper and spray with several thin coats of spray primer. Allow the primer to dry.

Spray several light coats of Rustoleum’s Heirloom White spray paint. Allow to dry.

If you want, you can leave the base color white. But, if you want to color your item, mix a base color with the acrylic craft paints. Using the fan brush use a “cross-hatch” pattern to apply the paint onto your item. (This gives more depth and interest than painting on a thick coat of paint.)

Next mix your glaze by combining acrylic paint (Mix raw sienna (dark brown), burnt sienna (red brown) and yellow ochre until you have a nice golden brown antiquing color.) Pour a small circle of glaze material onto your plate. Dip the fan brush into the glaze medium and then into the mixed acrylic paint. Dab off some paint onto the paper plate (you don’t want your brush to be saturated.) Brush the glaze onto the item and use the fan brush to blend the glaze around. Feel free to use the same cross-hatch pattern you did earlier.

Work in small areas and brush the glaze around until your brush doesn’t have any more glaze on it.
Then use a rag to dab around the decor item until you are happy with the results.

Paint any features onto your decor item (stems, branches, faces, etc.) To paint the pear’s leaf, try a dark brown (raw sienna) and a yellow ochre for the highlights. Acrylic paint is really forgiving. If you don’t like it you can paint over it.

I couldn’t be happier with the results of my repainted home decor! I saved myself about $95 for two decor items!
This fruit decor is perfect for any season . . .

But, I like to bring them out in the fall.

Happy thrifting y’all! Never leave cheap dated decor behind again.

Did you see that ladder above? It is the other half of this ladder and I added shelves to create my own ladder display shelves!

Ladder Shelves