I’ve got to hand it to you…

Do you despair because your home has basic builder-grade cabinetry and you wish for something more? More custom? More colorful?

Well, do you have two hands and ten fingers? Do you have access to a few things like paint and hammers nails? If so, the world is your oyster!

If not, the world is still your oyster, just a little harder to crack.  Sorry about you not having all ten fingers. My grandpa lost a finger once when he was down on the ground picking potatoes and someone came along digging up the potatoes with a shovel, and shoveled hard into the ground and sliced it right off. 

Sorry for that tragic and unappetizing story first thing in the morning, but that is why I always warn people TO BE CAREFUL WHEN SHOVELING!!! Never let the bottom of a shovel and your hands share the same space. Again, sorry for telling you that gross story, but if I can save even one finger … it’s worth it.

OK. So take your builder-grade cabinet and as many fingers as you’ve got, and get your little hands to work!  Check out what Debbie did to this worn out and basic bathroom vanity:

Blue Vanity Before


blue vanity makeover copy copy


A little paint, some trim, and framing out the base substantially made a huge difference. Here’s how it looks in her bathroom:


Blue Vanity

It’s anything BUT basic! Fabulous job Debbie!

Get the how-to on her blog Painted Therapy.

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How to paint polka-dot upholstery!

Have you ever wanted to learn how to paint upholstery? If you said yes, keep reading!

If you said no, keep reading anyway! I like you. Don’t leave.

Today I’m going to show you how I painted this thrift-store chair for my daughter’s room. It’s definitely not perfect, but I think it turned out pretty cute. Best part: it’s EASY!

Painted polka dot chair

The before was most definitely NOT cute. It was probably harboring a disease. But let me tell you, this thing was built to last. Even though the fabric has seen better days, and those days were probably decades ago, it is still in amazingly sturdy shape, and didn’t have a single hole or tear.

That’s super obvious step #1 when painting upholstered furniture: make sure there are no holes or tears. Paint won’t fix them. I’m sure you knew that.

polka dot chair before

Step two: make sure the fabric of your piece is a nice flat weave. No fluffy, velvety fabrics allowed.  You are one-way trip to Crustyville with a layover in in Crunchy Town if you attempt to paint anything like that.

Step three: spray your fabric lightly with water. This is supposed to help the fabric not drink up your paint, but it’s going to drink it up pretty good on the first few coats anyway, so honestly spraying it might not make any difference at all. But do it anyway. Why take chances.

Step four: mix a fabric medium into your paint. (I just used plain old white interior latex paint). The fabric medium is supposed to help your painted fabric feel less like paint and more like fabric, plus help with durability.  I dutifully mixed up some fabric medium in my paint, and my chair feels like plastic. Nice, soft, waterproof plastic, like what outdoor fabric feels like, but it’s definitely not fabric-y anymore.

So now you know.

Step five: don’t panic. It might feel like your chair will require 10,000 coats of paint to acheive adequate coverage. It won’t. Keep going!

Once you’ve applied the final coat, it’s almost time to polka-dot! But first, measure.

I measured and marked a little pre-dot every two inches. This was tricky around all the curves and angles of the chair, so my advice is to use a washable marker to make your marks, because you most likely will be wiping them off and readjusting them as you go. It’s tempting to just eyeball it, but trust me, measuring is key.

making polka dots with a circle sponge

And now, we polka-dot! Making the polka-dots was the funnest part. I used a circle sponge and just gently twisted it around to form a nearly perfect circle. My sister the hand-model helped, which made it go so much faster.

how to paint a polka dot chair

Coming along!


midway through painting polka dot chair

If you look closely, you can see a few splotches, but touching them up was no trouble at all.

polka dot painted chair

And that’s it!

Again, it’s not perfect, but unless you are looking really hard for the imperfections, your eye just goes right over them and sends a signal to your brain and that signal says “Whoa! What a cute little chair!”

painted polka dot chair black and white

Feel free to ask me your burning upholstery painting questions in the comments, and also feel free to pin and share this post!  You’re the best.

how to paint a polka dot chair pin it

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Choose Your Own DIY Adventure! Sofa Edition

Today’s makeovers are coming to you “Choose Your Own Adventure” style! Here we go!

We begin in your living room. Something is not right in here. Something is the opposite of right. Something is wrong.  You take a good long look around until your gaze rests on your sofa. Suddenly it all makes sense. The culprit is your fuggo sofa. Realization dawns that you’ve been unhappy with your sofa for a long time. It’s old; it’s worn out. You can hardly stand to look at it, let alone sit on it. It’s time for a change. Do you:

A: go buy a new sofa.

B: figure out a way to restore your sofa.

If you chose A., go to the furniture store. Bye.

If you chose B., congratulations! Your journey continues.


You decide your sofa can be saved. But you don’t know where to start. Let’s start by touching your sofa. Run your hand over it. What do you feel?

A: leather.

B: fabric.

C: gross, I’m not touching that thing.

If you chose A., scroll down to this sofa from Eden at DIYHER. Notice the worn and faded leather. Can it be saved? Is there any hope?

Dyed Black Leather Sofa


Dyed Black Leather Sofa after

Heck yes there is. You order yourself a bottle of leather dye and bring that baby back to life in a snap. You remember to wear gloves and do it outside because leather dye is potent, but also crazy affordable, hey! You are thrilled with your results and live in a blissful state of happiness for the rest of your life.


If you chose B., turn your attention to this couch from Tamara at Provident Home Design.  The droopy brown fabric brings you down, and it’s pretty stained too. But you have company coming to visit soon, so you decide now is a perfect time to try painting upholstery. You mix yourself a homemade batch of chalk paint, look up a few online tutorials for tips and tricks, and  …

Gray Painted Couch Before

Gray Painted Couch

… you paint that couch.  It’s now a lovely neutral gray, and when your visitors arrive they are amazed. They can’t stop commenting on your wisdom, problem solving skills, and DIY expertise and nominate you to run for President, and you end up winning, and wow, now you are the President. Congratulations!


If you chose C., your sofa may look something like this loveseat from Christy at 11 Magnolia Lane. You remember how thrilled you were to find it at a thrift-store for $14, but have been overwhelmed by the task of reupholstering it, so it has sat unchanged in your home ever since. But seriously, it grosses you out.

reupholstered loveseat before

reupholstered loveseat after

But today you bite the bullet. You decide to take charge of your life and conquer your fears, and you teach yourself how to reupholster your couch. You do an amazing job! You decide to help other people conquer their fears too. You record your philosophies on a series of audiotapes and sell them on late-night infomercials. You become a world famous motivational speaker/life coach/furniture re-upholsterer. All of your dreams come true.


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Bomb Kitchen

You might think that almost all of the kitchen makeovers I share here on Better After are white kitchens. But you’d be wrong. 

Just kidding, you’re right. Most of them ARE white, because most people who are renovating their kitchens are choosing white. And why shouldn’t they? White kitchens are bomb. (That’s what the kids say these days. I know because I went out to dinner the other night and we asked our teenage waiter guy if he would recommend the BBQ chicken pizza, and he said “That one is bomb.”  So don’t go around calling things THE bomb, gross, so unhip. Now you know).

BUT ANYWAY. I have something different for your eyeballs today.

Just kidding, it’s also a white kitchen makeover. But STAY WITH ME. It’s not any old basic white kitchen makeover.

Brick Wall Kitchen Before 1

Brick Wall Kitchen 2

Perhaps it’s the wall-getting-knocked-out part, or the wood-paneled-ceiling part, or the original-brick-wall-of-coolness part, but the white cabinets were the last thing I noticed.

brick wall kitchen makeover before


brick wall kitchen after

Even though it’s much bigger now with the wall knocked out, it still feels so cozy and warm. What do you think?

Get a closer look on Brooke’s blog Re-Fabbed.




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