How to restore a cosmetically damaged wood finish

before and after wood scratches

Today I wanted to run through a list of tips and tricks we’ve found to work well when restoring cosmetic damage to furniture.  This content does contain affiliate links.–please see our privacy and disclosure page for more details.  I picked up this secretary desk which was actually in incredible condition except for the desk inside.

Secretary desk

When we went to pick it up Blake took a look at the inside and said “did they lock a cat in there?” ….sometimes you do wonder how some scratches happen….

Inside scratches on secretary desk

scratches on wooden desk

Anyways, along with fine scratches there was also nail polish smears all over and something that looked like a gold sharpie mark. I can just see a girl painting her nails here. It’s kind of fabulous really!

nail polish on wood

paint smear on wood
So the first thing I do is clean the furniture (and I mean put some muscle into) with Murphy’s oil. This is going to remove oils and grime that just build up over time. Especially if you’re cleaning up a table or something used in the kitchen!

Murphys Oil

Next I go after scratches with steel wool. The FINEST steel wool you can buy…anything coarse will do way too much damage. I go lightly over the scratches just to get things smooth. Now for the nail polish (or paint splatters too)… If it’s a big glob sometimes you can pick it off with your nail carefully. If it’s a smear that’s been there for who knows how long I use a citrus based cleaner (per lots of googling) and I let it sit for a few minutes. I come back and wipe it off and then immediately go behind with my steel wool. This takes some dedication and patience and some grit but it will slowly start to come loose. It shouldn’t take any of the color away but it will leave the spot looking a little dull & cloudy compared to the rest of the finish. Don’t fret! Polish will take care of that.

citrus based cleaner

nail polish removed from wood

I wipe down the piece again to get the dust the steel wool leaves behind. Then I use Old English for the shade of wood I’m working with (dark here). I first put it directly on my problem spots and let it sit for a few seconds. I use a clean rag and rub it in in a circular motion going out from the spots blending over the whole surface. I’ll apply this again to the whole piece until I’m satisfied with the color and cover up of the scratches.

after using old english

after wood scratch repair

After it dries for several hours I go over with a white rag just to see if I’ve left any residue. I complete things with a coat of furniture wax applied with a clean rag. This will help seal in my work and also protect the surface going forward.

I would of course recommend using a professional if you’re needing to rehab a several thousand dollar antique but for a quick makeover at home where you’re thinking paint may be your only option–it’s not!

The new roof line

Where were we? I’ve been having to do some serious big girl research on blogging to get some things straightened out and as a result I’ve had to stay off my site and let the professionals take over for a few days. The library card I thought I was getting for Everly was apparently very much for me too!


So, we left off (before a pie and a new shelf) in the beginning stages of changing our roof line in the back of the house. I’m happy to report this project is nearly complete! We’re talking 1 piece of hardy board and a can of trim paint away!


new roof line



Our trusted carpenter and Blake, over the course of two days, pulled everything out, reframed the window, created new rafters, and put the roof back except for the shingles. It was a CRAZY detailed process…one we couldn’t have tackled without the help of someone who can think 5 cuts ahead of where you always are! I feel like it’s not even fair to reduce this process to these pictures. It was from 8am-8pm+, 100 degree weather, on a roof. NOT PLEASANT but Blake is a DIY soldier!

open windowEs room open new framing new rafters Blake in the heat waiting on shingles

We lucked out and found a ton of extra shingles in the basement! Not that shingles are expensive but this way we wouldn’t have to worry about matching the existing. Yesterday the roofers were able to come out and blend in the new shingles with the old. You can tell a small color difference but they said within a couple of months it won’t be noticeable at all! I think the house just looks a lot better now too! Like this is how it should have been done all along.

Now that the water leak has been fixed we can turn our attention to what started this whole thing in the first place! Our downstairs bedroom which we need to move Everly (and eventually both girls) to. Before I can do anything at all the ceiling has to be fixed which should be happening today/tomorrow and then I’m going to clean it like crazy and freshen up the paint. My nesting bones can hardly wait!

before of Es room

We’ve also made the decision to move the ceiling fan out to the living room and put the chandelier (painted a fun color!) in this room. Speaking of living room, we sold our couch and while we wait for the new one I’m really enjoying the wide open space not having a sectional provides….can I put up my Christmas tree yet? Just kidding all you T.P.S. associates (TPS=Thanksgiving Protective Services)…but really.

And speaking of Christmas…. we get asked a lot about recommendations on tools we use and items we’ve found to be tried and true.   I’ve added a page at the top of the blog now called “Shop Our Tool Belt”.  It’s a little store that’s directly connected to Amazon where we’ve linked in some of our favorite items (and they go beyond the tool belt).  These ARE affiliate links so if that kind of thing concerns you check out our privacy and disclosure page for details. Because it’s our page I control 100% of what is put in there and therefore we wouldn’t put anything we don’t already use and have a positive opinion about!  I’ve really just started adding some items as I think of them but I’ll keep updating as we work through projects and find new toys…I mean tools… Anyway, this could be a one stop shop for that difficult person to buy for 🙂

I’m also working on some FREE printables for the site which I hope to start posting within the next week!

PS: how are we feeling about the instagram stories? I uploaded a couple and I think it’s kind of a fun way to follow bloggers behind the scenes! If you want to follow us on instagram you can do that here and to follow us on facebook see the link at the top right of the page.  Talk to you soon!

Back door storage makeover

Our back door leads straight out onto our patio area and when we first moved into this house, in an effort to just get things hung on the walls, we put two hooks by the back door.  At the time they held dog leashes.  That didn’t make any sense because we walked the dogs out the front door, not on the patio.  Probably a year into living there, in a new effort to make each space make sense, we ditched the dog leashes and put our most used coats on the hooks by the back door.  We all know how it goes right? You hang a hook somewhere with the intention of having one jacket on it and the dang thing ends up being like a rabbit.  It breeds coats! Suddenly you have 5 coats hanging there you didn’t even know you had and the one you always want to wear is on the bottom of the stack.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Am I right?

Another thing that always irked me about this is that said hooks were right above our trash can.  Something about our coats hanging over the trashcan had me constantly wondering if I smelled like garbage when I wore my coat.

Once we redid the patio and were spending more and more time out there the same questions constantly started to crop up.  “where is the sunscreen?” “where is the bug spray?” “have you seen the lighter?” “WHERE did we get all these bubbles and why are they constantly on the coffee bar????”   This prompted me to long for a shelf right at the back door to hold all of these everyday items.


FINALLY. A space that makes sense and is working for our family!  I found this old, pre loved, shelf and felt it fit the bill enough for what I was after.

before shelf

The only thing I didn’t love was the hokey look of the thing.  When I got it I didn’t have time to give it a makeover so I hung it up as is…a trial run for our needs I suppose.   I realized a couple of things in my test drive.  1) the pegs were too large for key rings 2) occasionally things would fall off the shelf 3) I was never going to get used to that watering can floral scene.

I went shopping in our basement for some supplies and found enough white paint, some gold spray paint, and a wooden dowel all on hand.   Hobby Lobby was running the 50% off hooks and knobs sale so I grabbed 4 of gold hooks to match my theme for less than $5 total.


I probably put about 4 coats of paint on the whole thing to get good coverage.  I think I put a couple coats on a day just as I walked by.  I removed the old pegs with some pliers (the struggle was REAL) and filled in the holes with spackling we had on hand…making sure to place my new hooks below so they would be in solid wood.  I sprayed the wooden dowel with my gold paint and lodged it into the shelf securing it with some glue.



I love the clean look of the finished product! Now each of our most commonly used patio items has a designated spot!

close up

with door

Mock Apple Pie


Friends of the world wide web… I’ve discovered a secret and I so want to share it with you!

We have a garden and my husband has a serious green thumb.  We accidentally missed this zucchini in our last pick and the thing grew to giant proportions.

A giant zucchini is going to be a littler firmer than your standard size because it’s just grown past its prime. I hadn’t heard of making an apple pie with zucchini (instead of apples) until my mom saw a friend post about having a huge zucchini and making the pie. I did a little bit of research and while it’s common and a known thing I don’t think it’s  THAT common. It’s something I would probably file under weird… But here I was, with a GIANT zucchini and some time of my hands (nap time, that is).


I’ve listed out the ingredients I used below and also the steps I took.  Veteran pie makers seemed indifferent about leaving the seeds in vs. cutting them out but I figured I would take them out given this was our first tasting.   It was pretty unreal how much the sliced zucchini looked like sliced apples!!

To get a tart apple flavoring I splashed the slices in some lemon juice…I didn’t measure….just used it until I felt like I had covered all the slices.  I also sprinkled on some sugar and let all of that sit while I prepped the other steps (listed below).  Once everything was ready I just put in the pie pan and let the oven do the rest!



The house smelled heavenly (is it Fall yet?) and the result was a pie that tastes identical to apple pie. Just like everyone else promised–if you didn’t know apples weren’t used you would never assume anything was different!

Now, unfortunately this hasn’t created a healthy pie because all you’ve done is replace a fruit with a vegetable and then still covered it in sugar. But, it is a great way to utilize the veggies coming from the garden until apple season is truly upon us!


  • 8 cups (or around that) of sliced zucchini
  • 2 pie crusts
  • 1 stick of butter (melted)–this is 1/2 a cup
  • lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup regular super
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 tbs of flour
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of water


  1. Set out your pie crusts according to instructions (unless making from scratch).  I think most boxes recommend they sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  3. Wash and peel your zucchini.  I sliced into quarters long way and then cut out the seedy center to get an arch shape like an apple slice.
  4. Put your sliced zucchini in a bowl and cover with lemon juice.  Can also sprinkle a few pinches of sugar and give a good shake or stir. Sit these aside. Melt your butter down (I microwaved but you can do it in a saucepan on the stove) and add in the 3 tbs of flour.  Once blended, add in the sugars, vanilla, and water.  Let this simmer until you’ve prepped your pie dish.  The consistency looks like melted caramel.
  5. Put a pie crust into your dish and mash around all edges.  I put a little flour under mine but I don’t think that’s really necessary.
  6. Back to the slices you sat aside-now sprinkle your cinnamon and nutmeg all over them until covered evenly.  I am not the biggest fan of nutmeg so I didn’t use much but I think for these two spices you just adjust up or down depending on your tastes.
  7. Pour all the slices into the pie dish and take the sauce from the stove top and pour almost all of it into the dish making sure to cover the slices well.  Leave just a small amount in the pot to coat the top pie crust with.
  8. Layer on your top pie crust and prick several times with a fork.  Brush the remaining sauce onto the crust and spread evenly.
  9. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 345 for another 35 minutes.
  10. Can be served with ice cream! (Who would have thought zucchini would make you crave a cold scoop of ice cream???)


New roof line

If you’ve been around here for long you know we’ve been chasing a water leak for the better part of two years.  Two leaks actually (but the same kind), one in the kitchen and one in the guest room.  The one in the kitchen seemed to have tapered off but the one in the guest room only got worse.  As we’re turning the guest room into a room for one of our girls (and eventually both) we had to officially repair the ceiling and pray we had stopped the leak.  We gave plaster repair the old college try (Lord have mercy).  After one afternoon attempt we threw in the towel for a while which ended up being a blessing.  It allowed it to rain enough for us to see water damage happening to the brand new plaster.  Leak not fixed.  Such a bummer.  We called more people out to look things over and everyone had the same reaction….”we have no idea”.

Well, we had SOME idea.  We knew it had something to do with these two reverse dormers on the back of the house.


Each water damage spot was right below the reverse dormers.  We decided to have the roofing on those redone (we had repaired the window trim as much as we thought was physically possible so didn’t see how any water was seeping in around them).  Blake agreed to do the demo of the project for a little break on the cost of labor.

Upon ripping things apart he quickly realized all the rotten wood underneath the windows.

We had a carpenter friend make a late night house call (angels walk among us) and he told us what he would do if it was his house.  The plan was the same plan Blake and I had tossed around several times but tried not to commit to because it was the most extensive and expensive plan.  We needed to get rid of the reverse dormers and do one solid roof line across the back of the house.

new roof line

This would require taking out perfectly good windows and replacing them with windows that were a bit shorter…like the one on our bathroom (back middle of the house). We still have double full size windows on the sides of the rooms so I don’t feel like we are losing that valuable of window real estate.  This just means we can have more flexibility about furniture on that wall in those rooms!

This project now is going to include a little more demo, redoing siding, resetting windows, taking out and putting back in drywall on the inside, and roofing the newly framed out joists.  It’s just pretty much NOT what my very nesty self wants to be getting into at 33 weeks pregnant.  And I talk like I’M getting into it.  It’s really the husband who is taking the brunt of this redo… But hey, we had central air installed the week before Everly was born so I won’t act like it’s out of the norm for us:)

On the eve of project-stop-the-leaks-2016 here is where we are:


Can’t wait to share the rest of this process once we get it all put back together! For some peeks along the way be sure to follow us on instagram and facebook! Oh and I’ve dropped this tip before here but it’s worth mentioning again, if you’re local, Ken’s Inc. on Wade Hampton is a supply haven! We got the exact windows we were needing for about $100 less than what the big box store was going to charge us (a piece!!).


1 painted basket down, 6 to go!

We are busy around here trying to work on outfitting one of the downstairs closets to have as much storage as possible.  This little space is truly the size of a phone booth and serves as a miniature walkway between what will be Everly’s room and the playroom.  When we renovated the upstairs we used this space to run plumbing and electrical and then we just sort of left all of that exposed because we didn’t have a reason to close it up at the time.   I’m going to do a full post about the closet itself but for now I’ll leave you with where we are currently.  Blake built in a tower of cubbies we can use to store things for the girls.  The right side panel is just covering all of the pipes and wires running to the upstairs.


Opposite the cubbies is a space for two short rods which we will also make use of but just haven’t gotten there yet.  Anyways, we have a total of 7 shelves here and my favorite thing to use would be baskets because I can quickly toss in bows, shoes, socks, etc. and have things instantly feel more organized.  My favorite place to buy a basket is the thrift store! The same basket that would cost me at least $10 in Target will cost no more than $2.

I started with this square basket I picked up for $1 and just wanted to give it a little more personality for the space.  Using some tape and a paint sample I already had on hand I just added a little stripe around the middle.


I promise it’ll look more charming once it’s isn’t up against unpainted MDF board…this sweet little pendant adorned a gift basket we received before Everly was born!

1 spot down, 6 to go! Can’t wait to share the after of this space! …I tried to convince Blake we needed to wire a miniature chandelier into this little hallway/closet but I think somewhere between that comment and the mention of wallpaper he stopped listening.

Oh, and if you didn’t believe me about the thrift store baskets….here’s another.  The last pack of gum I bought cost more than that! 🙂


Would love to hear in the comments if you’ve seen any great ideas for maximizing design and functionality in a tiny space!



Throwback to an old before & after!

This morning I’m sharing a blast from the past (truly ya’ll, 2012!).  This was one of our first projects we tackled together and I recently sold it for over $100 to a lovely lady who works from home.   I haven’t been to an auction in quite some time but reading over my first experience here has me itching to go again!


That moment when you find yourself at a furniture auction with your hand shooting up into the air before you even realize what you are taking home. That was me. Of course I’ve seen auctions on TV and you see the nice lady there who slowly raises her number and gives that half smile and nod….


There I was the new proud owner of a rotting pile of wood. This was my first auction and I had told myself I had a $5 limit. Naturally this meant, by default, I was taking home the only thing no one wanted. The auctioneer chuckled as he found a way to politely describe the last item. “Next up…this….primitive…desk. I’ll start the bidding at $2.50.” WAS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!? I was the proud owner of my very own “primitive desk” in less than 3 seconds and I didn’t even have to compete for it! The auctioneer looked at me, and my family, and said “you do know you have to take that home with you tonight”. My Dad said “at least we can burn it…that’s cheaper than firewood”.

from iphone 541

Like a kid on Christmas I jumped up and ran over to admire this little charity case I was taking home. I was too enthralled with the fact that those glass windows were intact and actually slid back and forth (with the assistance of a body builder) to see what everyone else was seeing.

look at those sliding glass doors!

look at those sliding glass doors!

My joy elicited giggles from strangers as I rambled on about my vision to those I came with. “I’ll show you”, I said. Blake, being the excellent husband he is, never once questioned me. There may have been a smirk or two….or ten… but he never actually voiced that he would rather have a bonfire and a couple beers with my Dad than bring my new baby home.

The next morning we (did I mention I have the best husband ever?) set out to give her a makeover. About 10 minutes into sanding Blake decided whoever had made the decision to TAR the top onto the desk should be eaten by wolves. So, we replaced. A trip to Lowes for a nice smooth piece of wood and some stain made about a million years of difference.


After that it was really just some screws to tone her muscles back up and two coats of covering in Kilz2 and she was looking much younger already. Once all that dried we went back with a tube of caulk and filled in the gaps. Wrinkle filler if you will.

from iphone 1054

Look at her now!

from iphone 2113

Total cost:
Desk: $2.50
Wood: $13
Stain: $5
Caulk: $3
Kilz2: had this on hand
Screws: had these on hand
Time: we did this over a weekend
Total: $23.50