The hallway molding big finish

Like a lot of folks out there, I’m a great starter but a lousy finisher. Case in point: the hallway molding project I began last winter. Yea … until last night at 10 p.m., it was still not done.

But thanks to the BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish initiative going on right now, I was pretty much forced to get my tail in gear and get it done yesterday. The funny thing? It only took me one day to do it. I’m constantly amazed at how I will literally stare at something and stress about it for an entire year rather than just do the one day of work it takes to get the project finished. Seriously, I should probably see a therapist.

So this project started, ahem, last February, after we put in the hickory floors. I wanted to add some decorative molding to “class up” the entry hallway. I painted the lower portion of the walls in a semi-gloss white paint that matches our window and door trim. (In hindsight, when I do a project like this again, I’ll switch to Valspar’s soft gloss finish; it’s more forgiving than semi-gloss.)

I topped off the strip of white paint with chair rail molding, painted the same color.

Hickory-floor-hallway

And that is where the work stopped until last week when I accepted the BLACK+DECKER challenge.

I bought a handful of 8-foot strips of “picture frame” molding from my local lumber company. I used my paint sprayer to quickly spray them with two coats of Valspar’s paint and primer in one.

Spraypainting-molding

After that, I asked for help from my math genius husband. He figured out where each “box” should go and drew the templates on the walls. Each box was to start five inches in from the nearest edge or piece of molding next to it. I simply used his penciled templates to determine the molding cuts I needed to make on my miter saw. Every piece but the wonky one next to the staircase required a simple, 45-degree angle cut at each corner.

Picture-frame-molding-extreme-closeupI attached each piece of molding to the wall using a nail gun loaded with Brad nails.

Finally, I caulked the nail holes and used my paint sprayer to give the walls and molding a professional-looking top coat of the white paint. I taped off everything first.

Taping-off-wall

I also taped craft paper to the floor. A few spots of paint overspray still got on the floor. But I quickly scrubbed it off; no permanent harm done.

Here’s what my new, finally finished, hallway molding looks like:

Hallway-molding-dining-room-side

Hallway-molding-door-side

Hallway-molding-dining-room-side-closeup

Notice how I had to cut around the air vents.

Hallway-molding-closeup

Here’s the wall before the molding:

Finished-stenciled-coat-rack-2

And after:

Finished-hallway-molding

So … what DIY project do you need to finish this holiday season?

BLACK+DECKER has launched a movement to get all your unfinished home projects moving again. You can join them for the opportunity to win $10,000 cash and products. Plus, they might put you and your finished project on a billboard right in the middle of Times Square! (I would seriously make a trip to New York if my project made it on a billboard!) So while our family may never notice that we finished hanging the molding, millions of others will! :)

For this campaign, there are weekly prizes, and one grand prize of $10,000.

BLACK+DECKER weekly prize packages are comprised of one of each of the following:
• BDCDE120C 20V MAX* Lithium Drill/Driver with AutoSense™
• BDEMS600 Mouse Sander
• BDCS40BI 4V MAX* Lithium Pivot Screwdriver
• BDCDCMT120 Matrix 20V MAX* Lithium Drill/Driver
• LCS1020 20V MAX* Chainsaw
• BDCMTRS Matrix Reciprocating Saw Attachment
• BDCMTI Matrix Impact Driver Attachment

To enter, visit the campaign landing page, and enter your first name, last initial, email, city, state and phone number. Then upload a photo of yourself and your completed project. Or you could just head over to the landing page and look at the gallery of finished projects to get inspiration.

Please note: The BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish contest ends Dec. 28.

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Special thanks to BLACK+DECKER for sponsoring this post and inspiring me to FINALLY finish this project! As always, all opinions (and sweat equity) are 100 percent mine. 

4 ways to take care of yourself this holiday season

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Vaseline. All opinions are 100% mine.

Every year, right before Thanksgiving, I take a deep breath, give myself a little pep talk about how, “You can do it!” and prepare to hook myself up to a continuous, intravenous supply of caffeine until Jan. 2.

This year, however, I’m vowing to hop off the holiday hamster wheel for a few moments to experience the true meaning of the season, and to take care of myself for once.

Today I thought I’d share four specific ways I’m doing that right now. You should try them, too!

1. Stop doing something that’s bad for you. 

We all have those little things we do every day that we know we shouldn’t do. (There is time to tackle the big things after Dec. 31, right?) ;) For me, it’s texting while driving. In an effort to be a safer driver, I’ve decided to ditch the mobile distractions. Maybe I’ll listen to some Christmas music instead …

2. Start doing something that’s good for you. 

Again, these are baby steps … no added stress allowed. In the colder months, I suffer from severely dry skin that becomes itchy and painful. In an effort to improve my problem and pamper myself a little, I recently took the Vaseline 5-day challenge.

I received a Vaseline healing kit in the mail that included Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Fragrance Free Lotion, dry skin test strips, a personalized mug, GODIVA hot cocoa and marshmallows.

I’ve used the lotion regularly over the past week and have noticed a difference in the way my skin feels. The proof is in the strips.

It’s amazing what a little lotion, jewelry and polish can do for my DIY project-ravaged hands.

Vaseline Intensive Care Lotions contain healing micro-droplets of Vaseline Jelly to deeply moisturize dry skin. The Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Fragrance Free Lotion is clinically proven to heal dry skin in five days and keep it healed for three weeks. The 10-oz. bottle I got is about $4.99 at your favorite mass retailer.

3. Express thankfulness. 

I’ve always found it a bit ironic that families spend Thanksgiving Day expressing gratitude for their overflowing, abundant blessings, then immediately rush out the following day to stuff their shopping carts full of more stuff.

This year, I’m spending more than just one day focusing on gratitude. When I can spare 15 minutes, I love heading outside with a warm blanket and a cup of cocoa. I chill out in my Adirondack chair; enjoy the crisp, fall weather; and express thankfulness for this extraordinary life. It’s one way I’m avoiding getting sucked into the holiday shopping vortex.

Aren’t these marshmallows the cutest?

4. Spend one day doing nothing. 

One Saturday a few weeks back, I did nothing. And I can’t wait to do it again. On my “do-nothing” day, I slept in. I didn’t make the bed or do any laundry or dishes. I lounged around and watched movies and played games with my family. I flipped through home magazines and catalogs. My do-nothing day was glorious and therapeutic. Some of my most creative ideas and favorite memories have come as a result of do-nothing days.

The holidays can be hectic and stressful; I certainly don’t have to remind you of that. But I hope you’ll consider trying a few (or all four) of these ideas. They will help to give you the meaningful, healthful and joyful holiday season we all crave.

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One furniture piece styled three ways

Back in August, I explained my top two strategies for choosing thrifty furniture. The pieces must be affordable and they must be versatile.

Today I want to prove I’m not just giving lip service. I’ll show you how to style one bookshelf three different ways and also share three key strategies I use to ensure the furniture I buy remains useful for years to come.

I recently snagged a tall bookshelf in a salt oak finish from Sauder® furniture. The finish sort of mimics the driftwood finish that’s popular right now. The piece retails for $209.99, priced lower than others of its size because it’s made from engineered wood and comes to the door requiring some assembly. I don’t mind some minor assembly if it means saving money. :)

I originally set up the bookshelf between our living room and breakfast area. Here it is styled with some items that fit in with the living room decor:

Since the piece stood in a transition area, it was easy to transform it into a china cabinet of sorts by adding some food-related decor. Here’s look No. 2:

After a few months of enjoying it downstairs, we hauled it upstairs to the office/bonus room so it could serve as an actual book shelf and storage piece for my office supplies. Here’s look No. 3:

When I’m on the lookout for furniture, I try to keep the following three key strategies in mind to ensure I pick pieces that will be versatile and useful for years to come.

1. Select a finish that will work in multiple rooms.

You don’t necessarily have to match a finish exactly to everything else you own. Simply choose a piece that has a color or detail somewhere on it that goes with other stuff in your rooms. For example, the salt oak-finished bookshelf works in our living room/breakfast area because it has hardware on the front that matches the color of the knobs on our living room furniture as well as the legs and backs of our dining room chairs and stools.

2. Choose pieces with similar lines as other furniture in your home.

Experienced designers can break this rule elegantly. For the rest of us mere mortals, I’ve found it’s best to pick pieces with similar design structure. For example, you could pair a desk with straight legs and minimal detail with a simple, modern-style bookshelf. However, an ornate, Victorian-style dresser would look out of place next to that same desk.

In other words, if you keep a similar style throughout your home, you increase the chance that multiple pieces will work together in multiple rooms.

3. Avoid pieces that can only serve one purpose.

A baby changing table is one example of this. Instead, why not purchase a dresser at the right height, then add a changing pad to the top? After baby is out of diapers, you can ditch the changing pad and the dresser remains useful.

Spending some time thinking and planning out how pieces will work in my home is how I save money and end up truly satisfied with the furniture I buy.

What steps do you take to choose the right furniture for your spaces?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder. The opinions and text are all mine.