Light at the End of the Elfa

Hi! I am following up on Monday’s post with more on our new shelves. I am a bit obsessed with them. I had fallen into a trap in with those Elfa shelves and not even realized it. When we moved in, we immediately unpacked all of our “shelf stuff” onto the two sets of shelves and there it alllll sat. All the way up to the ceiling on both sides of the dark fireplace. WHY SO MUCH STUFF??

LR Before  DSC_0708


When we took them down to paint the walls, we realized what could be if we just didn’t put them up.  It dawned on me that we could use the matching shelving units on both sides of the fireplace. They are two types of the Ikea Vittsjo – we actually got this one, the single tower, last fall to use as a bar, and ran to get this one, the double tower, Sunday morning. They are tall enough, and airy aaand black. So what’s a girl to do? Break out the spray paint!


I used a few light coats of my current favorite gold spray paint (of those that I have used) which gave the shelves a beautiful warm gold finish. Here is the one we had already with one coat. I decided to paint them after putting them together. I could have saved a little paint, maybe a can, by spraying all of the pieces before putting them together but that would give me infinitely more opportunities to scratch or smudge the finish. I would definitely recommend going this route. This particular paint dried extremely quickly, which is something I love about it.


Once the walls and the spackle filling the Elfa hardware holes was dry, we moved the shelves inside. And I all but died of happiness.


I got to work putting everything back together. The things on the bar shelves didn’t change much, but I did move the glassware to a higher shelf and moved the cocktail mixing stuff lower to lighten the top a bit. You can also see that at some point in the paint fume fueled frenzy that was last weekend, the console table that the tv sits on got a couple quick coats of green paint. No more red!

DSC_0766 DSC_0834

The other side needed WAY more editing and fussing. I started by putting all of the books in the bookshelves behind the couch. Yes, that couch table is really just an empty Ikea Expedit. Now, not so empty.


After a few tv shows worth of fussing, this is where I ended up. There will definitely be more tweaking, but it is about a million times better. It includes a few of my prized possessions, like the wave radio that I got in 1999.


And finally, the whole thing.


Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 4.57.17 PM



The Nuclear Option

Hi! I am EXTREMELY excited about this post. It blows the last post out of the water and basically renders it moot. You see, while I was fussing around trying to make our living room brighter despite the lack of light and the dark brick, there was one other option that Sam and I had been kicking around without being ready to pull the trigger. I give you The Nuclear Option:

Painted brick fireplace by Just Something I Whipped UpInstead of trying to mitigate the brick, we painted it white. While we were at it, we painted the walls white, got rid of the Elfa shelves that we inherited from the previous owner and painted the tv console table. The whole thing sort of snowballed – kept saying “should we paint this while it is out? – and suddenly we had a whole-room makeover on our hands.

Painted Brick Fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

Painted Brick Fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

Painted Brick Fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

Painted Brick Fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

Today I will talk about the brick painting part and cover the shelves next time.We had been hesitant to paint the brick because we do plan to sell the house at some point – it is pretty tiny – and we didn’t want to do anything that future buyers might not like. You know, the value of exposed brick and all. I was the very first thing I wanted to do when we moved in but we hemmed and hawed and put it off. If it was our “forever house” it would have been a no brainer. With the encouragement of some friends who know what they are talking about – both design and real estate wise – we decided to do it. It was not nice looking brick and the opposite wall is still (nice-looking) brick down the full length of the house. This is the view of the side of the room opposite the fireplace. Thrilling, I know. I have plans for it but have not gotten around to executing them.


And lastly, it just looks. way. better.

Now to the nuts and bolts.


  • Dropcloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer (we used Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3)
  • Roller with 1″ nap for textured surfaces
  • Flat latex paint in white (we used Benjamin Moore Extra White)
  • Paint trays
  • 3″ Paintbrush (medium quality – it will probably be ruined but you don’t want hairs in the paint job)
  • 1″ Artist paintbrush
  • White paintable caulk

First we lifted off the mantel which luckily was super easy. Then we spread the dropcloth around the chimney and used painters tape to secure it. We knew we’d be painting the walls and the ceiling is already white, so we decided to skip taping those off. We rolled on a coat of primer. The thick nap picks up SO much paint. After the first coat, we decided to only use one roller because using two was a huge waste of paint. After the first coat went on, I used the larger paintbrush to get primer into the mortar lines where the roller couldn’t reach, and around the edges. Then I went back with the 1″ artists paintbrush to get the even tinier spots.


There were lots of nail holes in the chimney that became extremely prominent once the bricks were white. I filled the nail holes with paintable caulk and while I was at it, realized how much better it would look if the spaces between the chimney and the ceiling and walls were filled as well, so I went around those with caulk as well.

DSC_0739After about 2 hours we repeated the painting steps – rolled on and then touched up. The next morning, I rolled a coat of flat latex paint over the primer and touched up around the edges, but didn’t need to go back with the small paintbrush because the little crevices were already white and I couldn’t tell where I would need to touch up. Darn.

We planned to leave the apron until everything else was done so that we could stand on it while we painted the rest. However, when it came time to paint it we realized that we really liked having just a bit of the brick left. Once the paint was dry we popped the mantelpiece back on and moved on to the walls. And there you have it. I could not be happier with it. It is basically a whole new room.

DSC_0720 Painted brick fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

The Nuclear Option

I will be back tomorrow to tell about our awesome new shelves!



Three Quick Living Room Updates

Hi! I have been a little scattered and working on a few things at once and so most of those things are not done done, just almost done. So, I am going to share the three little things I have updated in the living room in my continuing quest to brighten it up.

The very first thing I did was take a picture to determine exactly which dark things were bugging me. I think it tends to be easier to tell in a picture, but I am not sure why. This is what I was working with. The other side of the room is a bit better, but today I am focusing on the side that needs most help. Incidentally, it is basically impossible to take a good picture of this room.


A few things really jump out. First, there is just way too much stuff, but that’s not a problem I want to work on until the other shelves in the study are done. Second, the brown blinds practically punch me in the face, and the dark fan makes the ceiling, which is not low, feel like it is resting on my head. Also, the fireplace just looks so, so messy. Those are things I could fix. I found that clock broken, requiring an outlet, and looking super dingy at Miss Pixie’s and fixed it up, and my mom made the driftwood sculpture in college and then my dad and I turned it into a lamp last year, so even though they are dark, they are definitely staying.

My plan was to paint the fan blades white. At some point I would love to have a room where the sort of British Colonial woven ceiling fans work, but that is not this room at this point. Did you know that most ceiling fans blades have ANOTHER COLOR ON THE BACK?? Stop laughing, adult family members of mine, not all of us knew this. I was all ready to paint, but when I climbed up the ladder to get the blades down, I was greeted with the delightful surprise of MUCH lighter veneer on the other side of the blades. Yahoo!


Changing them is really simple.  The little wing-nut-esque guy is really a sort of switch that slides the bent pieces of metal out of the way and allows you to lift the fan off of the two rivets. In the end, it took about 3 minutes to flip them over and be done. Ignore the exposed cords. I keep trying to tape them up “for now” and they fall down, so I gave up. There was a light fixture there when we moved in that was the first thing to go when we moved in and then someone who will remain nameless has not quite finished the job. But the wires are better than the light fixture, so there’s that.

DSC_0743 - Version 2 DSC_0713 - Version 2

I think having the light wood there will be good in the end. I don’t want to go too far accidentally paint myself into a white box in there.

Moving on to those blinds. I just took the whole thing off. It was remarkably simple and only required a screwdriver. We are going to need a curtain there at some point but that one change made the biggest difference of all.

DSC_0713 DSC_0719 - Version 2

The last bit is going to sound a little counterintuitive, but it was a great step. I painted the firebox matte black. DO NOT USE REGULAR PAINT FOR THIS. I ordered Rutland 1200° Brush-on Flat Stove Paint from Amazon because it was the only one I could find that specifically mentioned being ok to use IN the fireplace. Rustoleum has a high-heat paint that I have seen around a lot, but the guy at Frager’s said not to use it and since we actually use the fireplace a lot in the winter, I went with his advice.

The application isn’t hard, just EXTREMELY fumey. I vacuumed out the fireplace and then brushed it on straight from the can. And almost passed out. When they say well-ventilated, they MEAN well-ventilated. If I owned a respirator, this would have been the time to use it. But, it made a huge difference and all it cost me was paint and a few brain cells. It just looks so much neater.

DSC_0708 DSC_0708

There is obviously plenty left to do in there – a larger piece of art over the mantlepiece, paint the red console table another color, get curtains – the list goes on. But I think chipping away at some of the smaller stuff in the meantime is making a difference and I am really excited. So, a not-so-memorable before and after.

DSC_0743 DSC_0713



Brass Lamp Be Gone

Hi! Today, I give you my “new” green lamp.

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

On the way home from Ithaca last week, we stopped at a few of the gazillion thrift shops  along the way and in the weirdest of them all (a former grocery store, complete with defunct freezer aisle) I found a gloriously awful and yet awesome big brass lamp. I didn’t know where to put it or what to do with it, but I figured I couldn’t go wrong for $3.99. So, in all of it’s thrift store brassiness:

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up  Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

A quick note – if you are getting a lamp at a thrift store or a garage sale, see if you can find a bulb and an outlet to make sure it actually works. If it does, great, if it doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world. Most lamps are not that hard to rewire and I have a project coming up that will prove it.

Once we got it home, I thought maybe I would look good in our bedroom, which is super boring right now. AND I finally found something that I can paint green!


  • A lamp
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer suitable for metal
  • Spray paint – I used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch in Meadow Green Gloss
  • Spray lacquer  – I used Rustoleum Specialty Lacquer in Clear

First I cleaned the lamp with some dish soap and a toothbrush, dried it really well and then left it in the sun for a bit to dry any drops I missed. The spray paint won’t stick if there is any moisture.  Once I was sure it was all dry, I taped off the socket and the cord and primed it. I put on two light coats. I was thinking of three, but the spray paint is paint+primer, so I figured two would do it. I waiting about 15 minutes between coats and it seemed to work fine.

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up  Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

I covered the primer with three light coats of green spray paint and then two coats of lacquer.

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up  Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

Luckily I had a shade that fit and all of the paint except the green, so it was a really inexpensive project. I used one of my finials – a malachite and brass one – that looks great with the green.


I have vague plans to de-Ikeafy our bedroom. That’s a project for another day, but I thought the lamp could be a good start to sprucing up at least the bureau wall. This is what we are working with. Not bad, not amazing. Except the shell jewelry box that my dad made for my high school graduation, which is amazing.

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

Moving on to the bureau situation, the most difficult part was hanging the mirror, which is a heavy beast and of course, the hangers on the back don’t have the same spacing as the studs in the wall. I got Sam to find the studs for me because he is just generally more careful and I decided I would rather take a shower. He put two heavy duty screws into a couple of studs for me, I added two larger picture hangers to the back of the mirror and then hung it up.

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up   Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

Much better.  The bad brass is all gone and at that wall is at least a little more interesting.

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

I replaced the cardboard box and plastic Revere bowl that Sam keeps his stuff in with a not-plastic Revere bowl, and moved the 100k of his business cards that end up in there into the study. I purged the weird stuff that ends up in the stuff bowl on my side too.  And those bowls? Yours truly won Most Improved July 1995 and 1996 in sailing class. Actually kind of embarrassing. Let’s not talk about July 1994. As I recall there was a whole lot of crying.

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

And my extremely cute sisters (they have since grown up a bit and are now extremely accomplished and beautiful women) and really cool parents (they look basically the same now):

Brass Lamp Be Gone by Just Something I Whipped Up

The orchid came in a purple pot, but a few coats of gloss white spray paint made it look way better. A few pictures of family and our honeymoon and we are in a much better place.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 4.57.35 PM



Coffee Table Makeover

Hi! We were in Ithaca visiting Sam’s parents this weekend and I found some pretty awesome stuff – in particular a pair of mid century side tables. Stay tuned for a post on those at some point, once I get around to fixing them up.

Once we got back, I decided it was high time to lighten up our living room. It is a room full of stuff I love, but somehow it was just off and I realized the other day that it is because there is so much red, black and dark brown, which are just not colors I love. My first fix was to pull out the red rug under the table.  I got it for our bedroom in our old apartment and it didn’t work, but I held onto it and it landed in our living room. After a while I got a big sisal rug to go under it and went with a cool layered look, but instead it came off as dark and busy. So, I finally took it out and things were immediately better (phone pics, sorry):

Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up

Aaaahhhh, much better. But then it threw the other two glaring problems into focus. 1. The soot above the fireplace from when I almost burned our house down after owning it for 4 hours. Not exaggerating. No matter how small and burned down your first fire starter log is, DO NOT ADD A SECOND. Ugh. 2. The coffee table. To be fair, some neighbors from our old apartment left it out on the curb and we snagged it, but then left it in the not-enclosed garage there for a year so it is actually in pretty good shape, considering. Shabby chic looks great in some rooms, as does “well loved” furniture, but I don’t love the shabby chic style for my own house and it was really more well-neglected than well-loved. So at long last, I decided to paint it.

Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up


  • Coffee table
  • Random orbital sander
  • Sandpaper  – 100 and 150
  • Mask
  • Cloth
  • Primer – I used Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3
  • Painters Tape
  • Brush – my new fave is the Wooster 2 in. Shortcut Angled Brush
  • Paint tray
  • Paint – I used BM Ultra White and Pelican Grey, both in Semi-gloss
  • Floetrol

We brought the table outside and then I sanded. And sanded and sanded and sanded. The random orbital sander worked wonders on all of the chippy black paint on the flat parts. The rest was hand sanding which was hot and dusty and long. In the end, I had a black sawdust bathing suit “tan.” It was gross.

Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up

Then I wiped everything down and put on a coat of primer. I started with the roller but it wasn’t all that much more helpful so I bagged it and went with a brush from there on out. It wasn’t a perfect coat, I really just wanted to cover everything. I love my new little brush. It is great for cutting in and has a comfy rubber handle. I did one coat on the base and two on the top.

Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up

While that dried, I went to fetch the paint. Weirdly, Frager’s was HOPPING at 3:30 on a Tuesday. Finally, everything was mixed and I went home. I decided to mix in some Floetrol, which is supposed to reduce brush marks. I didn’t measure it out, just sort of eyeballed a little bit based on the instructions on the bottle and mixed well. I taped off the middle rectangle and the legs and then painted the middle, the sides and the drawer gray, and the edges of the top and the legs white. I put two coats of grey on the sides and four on top – I will probably go back and add a topcoat soon.

Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up

And some before and afters. I also went after the soot with some soapy water and  a scrub brush and it went a long way.

Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up

Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up Coffee Table Makeover by Just Something I Whipped Up

There is still a ways to go in our living room, but things are slowly brightening up. There is just a ton of STUFF in there, which does not help, but once the study bookshelves are done I can redistribute and that should help too.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 4.57.43 PM