Before & Afters of 2009

By Kate Riley December 17, 2009

Hiya friends.  I was just looking back through the archives doing a little blog housekeeping.  In looking back to February to the beginning of this little online adventure of mine, it seems I’ve been a teensy bit busy.  In hindsight, all I can say is I should have bought stock in some home improvement and fabric stores, cause I sure spent a few cents throughout the year sprucing up some stuff. 

A few folks have been asking for a roundup, and perhaps a few of you who are new around here may have missed some of these crazy schemes eager projects. 

So here’s a look back at thirty of my Before and Afters from this past year.  These were all completed by yours truly and include a range of projects, from the smaller afternoon paint transformations to some totally overhauled spaces.  They’re in no special order of importance. 

For the full articles, just click on the titles . . 

. . . and away we go !

# 30 – Garage Sale Benches

This pair of mismatched benches were forced to coordinate with some gel stain, and then recovered with some bright fabric and pom pom trim to create tea party perches in my daughter’s room. 

tea party benches


#29 – Balcony Upgrades in One Afternoon

Mr. CG’s office mates had a plain balcony until I upgraded it in an afternoon as a birthday present. 


patio before


patio after

This use of river rocks was featured by Apartment Therapy as a great way to mulch plants. 

river rocks and rug

For the full tour of the entire balcony space, click here.   

#28 – Painted Cabinet

This paneled cabinet was the perfect size, but had less than a perfect finish for my daughter’s room.  I sanded, primed and painted it, then “wallpapered” the back. 

painted cabinet before and after

Detail inside:

painted cabinet after detail inside

#27 – Footboard turned Message Center

This lost and lonely footboard was revamped into a message center with some primer, white and chalkboard paint.

footboard message center

I added knobs and use it indoors as a coat rack in the mud room hallway.

footboard with knobs

My friends over at Luv In The Mommyhood really liked this one. 


#26 – Salvaged Dresser

I brought home this $15 dollar beat up dresser from the Goodwill and restained it in ‘Antique Red’ for my nephews shared bedroom.   


salvaged dresser before


salvaged dresser after

And how cool is it that Minwax Corporation named this dresser their Showcase Project back in April ?


#25 – Thrift Store Chairs

I repainted the frames and recovered the seats on a pair of tattered chairs from the local thrift store to sit outside under our covered balcony.

   thrift store chair

balcony after


#24 –  Bleak to Très Chic

Yet another thrift store chair that also got a new fabric seat and some delicious nailhead trim.

bleak to tres chic chair b and a

I also painted it using my easiest technique in the world for achieving a distressed antiqued look with a can of white spray paint.

nailhead trim chair


#23 Bathtub Bliss

One of my favorite spaces in the universe is right here in the master bathroom.  Here’s the bathtub Before (or halfway):

bathtub before

Bathtub After:

bathtub after

The entire master bathroom was finally finished this year.  Want the tour?  Click here


#22 – Disappearing Brass

A simple project with big impact – the dated brass surround of our fireplace was painted with some high temperature black paint for a fresher look.

fireplace before and after


#21  Stripped Down Dressers

These chipped pistachio green thrift store finds were stripped and repainted in a muted gray with pewter hand painted detail and pulls for my brother’s bachelor pad.


dressers before


dressers after


#20 Girly Glam Closet

My daughter’s closet got the royal treatment with a fresh striped paint treatment on the wall  and then I added some swaged beaded velvet curtains to replace the old closet doors. 

closet before and after


#19  Repainted Buffet and Hutch

The finish on this classic French style piece was chipping and in need of repair.  I chose to refinish it with some oil based white primer and paint and I added a ‘Tiffany Blue’ hue paint treatment to the back. 

buffet before and after

buffet detail


#18  Cinderella Chair

This Goodwill chair was refurbished for my office with a fresh coat of paint.  It was recovered in a stylish chocolate and spa blue fabric and finished off with some nailhead trim

cinderella before and after


#17  Outdoor Baker’s Rack

This spindly old thrift store shelving unit was primed and refinished with outdoor paint and given new life as an étagère for outdoor dining all summer long. 

outdoor etagere


#16  Tufted Bench Transformation

I tore apart this dowdy looking bench, repainted it, and recovered it in lemongrass silk, and I also re-tufted the seat cushion too.  It now sits under the window in my daughter’s room. 

tufted bench before and after

Detail up close:

tufted bench close up


#15  The Catalog Bench

This storage bench I ordered years ago and arrived with an unexpected saturated cherry finish.  It was given a fresh coat of white paint and a custom seat cushion.

painted bench before and after


#14 Goodbye Brass, Hello Class

This grouping of random dollar brass items from the Goodwill was given new life with a can of spray paint (imagine that . . .) and transformed into a spa bath shelf for my master bathroom.

brass before and after

#13  Upgraded Bar Stools

A pair of Pier One barstools get a custom look seat cushion for the kitchen with some foam, fabric and one afternoon’s worth of work.


upgraded bar stool

#12  Headboard turned Coat Rack

An old headboard gets a new look, transformed with some white paint and bronze hooks into a one-of-a kind statement coat rack. 

headboard before and after


#11   One Fair Chair

An old Heritage chair gets a fresh coat of paint, some silver handpainted detail, and a new aqua velvet seat cushion.

fair chair before and after detail

#10   The Draper Dresser

This Dorothy Draper knock off I picked up at the Goodwill.  I was not a fan of it’s classic spotty black paint job, I gave it a fresh coat of blue and white paint.  (OMG – she painted a Draper !   … well as you’ll see, so are many other designers these days.)


draper before


draper after


#9  Doll of a Wall Mirror

This old mirror set used to belong to a dresser but had been long abandoned, so I spruced it up with some fresh white paint and a new mirror for the arch. 


wall mirror before


wall mirror after

#8  Green Painted Desk

I needed a writing surface in my girl’s room, but the scratched honey tone finish on this thrift store desk wouldn’t do, so I painted it with my own custom blended paint.

painted desk before and after

#7 Table Turned Writer’s Desk

This table I picked up for $40 dollars at a store closing its doors.  I painted it white, stenciled the top, then added a glass top surface for a unique writer’s desk for my home office. 


writers desk before


desk and chair


#6   Thrift Store Highboy Restained

A thrift store highboy was restained and an entry mirror repainted to upgrade our foyer to a more elegant look.

thrift store highboy

#5  Restaurant Window Redo

Our friend in a downtown restaurant asked that I give his front window a rustic Italian landscape, so I upgraded his display of simple succulents with some deep red colored urns, iron work, olive trees, and textile patterned pillows. 


risibisi before


 risibisi after

#4   Playroom Transformed

PlaySkool ruled the roost in our kids playroom space until I reclaimed it with some organization and a spectacular wall map focal point. 


playroom before


playroom after

Both Young House Love and Oh Dee Doh featured this space !


#3  Girl’s Room in Bloom

My daughter’s old nursery went from baby blue room filled with clutter to sweet as a candy soft green and pink – perfect for a five year old girl. 


girls room before


girls room after


#2  Staircase Transformation, Part One and Part Two

Our plain oak contractor staircase gets a new stain and paint/glaze treatment, and the walls get a dramatic wallpaper treatment with molding and a chair rail. 


stairs before


stairs after


#1  Home Office Remodel

My home office is transformed from an overdose of brown into a fresh new space in a palate of white, aqua blue, and brown.


home office before


home office after

That’s the year in review, featuring most of my Before and Afters.  Stay tuned for another roundup of original creative projects I’ve featured throughout the year !!!


  1. wow! well done you! i’m pleased to say i’ve been here since the start and got not intentions of giving up my daily d fix in 2010! have a great christmas :)

  2. Great round-up. :) I think I’ve seen just about all of your amazing projects, but it was so much fun to sit and remember them this morning. It was honestly a little bit inspiring. ;) If you can do ALL THAT from Feb. to now, then maybe, just maybe I can get off my bum and make some decisions about the changes I want to make in my own home. :) Fabulous, as always, dear Kate! :)

  3. It’s amazing that you been at this for such a short period.Thats a lot you did within that time. Can’t wait to see what the new year brings.Thanks for the inspiration ? God bless you and the family.Have a great holiday season and may God bless everything you put your hand on.Thanks for sharing and for the inspiration.:-)

  4. You rock! Totally inspiring….. I swear I’m getting off this computer right now……….you make it so hard! Usually it’s 10pm , I’m creating something I’ve seen on your blog and my kids go off to bed shaking their heads! Haha…. Wishing you and your family a Happy Holiday and a Happy Healthy New Year! <3

  5. Wow! How do you do it all? Very inspiring. What a wonderful home you’ve made for your family!

  6. I can not believe how much you have done in only a year! You are truley inspiring and so talented. I look forward to reading your blog every day and look forward to 2010!

  7. …and this is why you are my favorite (and only) blog I follow! Thanks for the recap of your amazing year!

  8. Amazing! You really have done a lot this past year! I can only imagine what you will have in store for us next year! so excited!
    Hope your family has an amazing Christmas!

    God Bless

  9. Wow – I didn’t realize how many great ideas I’d learned from you this year until now. Yeah, I mean I KNEW you were genius, but now it just seems multiplied. Thanks for all the great inspiration all year long – can’t wait to see what’s coming!

  10. You were one busy lady this year, Kate! It’s like you guys are living in a whole new house with all the changes and decor you did! Looking forward to seeing what all you do in 2010.

  11. My goodness you’ve been busy! I can’t stop thinking about that stair makeover – it’s my all-time favorite!

    Looking forward to whatever you have in store for us next!


  12. You just love white don’t cha’ ! Haha.. Teasing. You’ve done wonderful work in the course of one year. Lots to be proud of and brag about. I’ve seen proud…NOW lets;’ hear ya’ brag!!
    CONGRATULATIONS. Can I live there?

  13. Girl, I’m tired just looking at all of these & I have to say, I’ve seen about all of them, so I guess I met you early on. Amazing that you’ve only been blogging this year. I’ve got my Top PRojects ready for a party early January and hope others will join in too. IT’s fun to look back at all we’ve accomplished, isn’t it? And you’ve certainly done more than your share, they are all spectacular. I pared mine down to Top 10. Merry Christmas!

  14. I first started reading you when someone linked to your fabulous stairway. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and seeing your amazing transformations!

  15. Wow…amazing how busy you were this year! My favorite projects were the playroom transformation (i literally would copy EVERYTHING in that room if I had the space to do it…lol)
    I love that bench that you put in your daughters room, and your home office remodel is GORGEOUS! You are one talented lady!!

  16. What?! I would have assumed you had been blogging for longer! Outstanding job, on your projects and the blog! Give yourself a pat on the back and sit down for a couple seconds to relax!

  17. So many wonderful projects! You have been one busy mama this year!!! Thanks for the link luv and for giving us so many inspirational ideas for our homes! Happy Holidays to you and your family!

  18. AWE-Some! You have totally inspired me to want to move away from the black spray paint and to explore other colors! Great WOrk!

  19. You certainly have been busy! I still can’t figure out how you handle everything. It’s been great joining you and sharing with you all of your beautiful projects. Thanks for such inspiration!

  20. ….as always, you’re the bomb. This stuff is all amazing. LOVED the cool tip using taupe metallic paint for the gold mirror!! I’ve been searching for a fix, and now you’ve helped me once again. I knowt that’s the smallest tip comparatively with the rest of what you’ve done, but ever so timely and appropriate for my projects at the moment. Now to tackle repainting monster bookshelves…wish me luck! Thanks as always for every ounce that you put into this blog. It is so very much appreciated!

  21. Wow. I think you are my idol! :)
    You never cease to inspire! Thank you so much to the best gift anyone can give someone else—-the desire to create!

    Have a Merry Christmas! Love the Christmas music, by the way!

  22. I love this post! As a new reader, I felt that I had missed a lot, but now, I feel much more up to date. It would be fabulous if you would put together another post like this! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  23. Wow Kate your are amazing. My favorites are the head board turn coat rack, the staircase and the office tranformation for under $1,000. Trading spaces has nothin on you. You are an inspriration. Look forward to 2010 and hopefully seeing you on TV.

  24. An amazing array of projects. WOW! I don’t think I’ve accomplished anywhere near as much as you did in one year–as I did in my whole life!
    You need your own TV show!

  25. I don’t know how you get anything else done! You are always working on something. I am so impressed with all that you get done and it looks beautiful.

  26. You are really very talented. Since I’ve found your blog, I look forward to seeing what’s new each day. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  27. What a busy year! It has been a pleasure coming along for the ride. I hope your contributions are genuinely appreciated by your family. You deserve real pats on the back in addition to these virtual ones.

  28. Girl, you’ve got it all together ~ a vision, a knack for finding nice pieces on the cheap, the know it all to tackle some of these projects, and the “get down to business attitude” to get all these projects done in a year. Can you come to my house?

  29. Wow! You are just amazing! Everyone of these projects is awesome & inspiring…I would’ve been lucky to have gotten one of them completed!
    Happy Holidays :)

  30. You’ve had so many good projects this year. I liked seeing the roundup, I had forgotten about some of them and bookmarked them. Great job! :)

  31. So many great ideas!! Before finding your blog I never thought about spray painting or painting furniture. My husband and I have painted our coffee table and dining room table!! Thank you!! Can’t wait to see future projects!!

  32. So inspirational…like a feast for my eyes. Now I hope you run yourself a wonderful bath in that tub…soak…and take a nap. Boy oh boy do you deserve it! Holly

  33. I don’t even know how I stumbled upon your website but I am such a convert! I LOVE all the wood refinishing projects you include, and I agree with your love of paint in general and spray paint in particular. My best friends say there is nothing I will not paint, and they’re (almost) right! My husband and I are in the middle of refinishing our dining room woodwork and our stairs – yes at the same time, and yes we are a bit crazy! Anywho, thanks to your staircase transformation we have decided to go dark with the wood, and I can’t wait until it’s all done to see the final take. Thank you so much for all your inspiration and keep those projects coming!

  34. Wow….. I don’t even know what to say… Fabulous! Don’t EVER EVER move ( LOL ). Your house is absolutely gorgeous… the girls room omg FAB… Can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2010!

  35. Kate bravo~well done to you! You provide such wonderful inspiration. Thank you ever so much.

    May your family have a wonderful holiday season and blessings to you you for a happy, healthy, creative new year!

  36. MY MOUTH IS DROPPED! I remember all of these posts, but can’t believe it when I see them all together. WOW! You WERE busy…do you know how many things a month you did? You are totally done with your house and now I need you to come do mine. I have four rooms that I haven’t even touched…big rooms just waiting for you. :)

  37. every one is so very inspiring! I have only made over a few pieces myself but your long list and all the great results really wants me to try a lot more, thanks for all the great things you share on your blog!

  38. This is great – I just found you a few months ago so this helps me catch up. I’m so inspired that I have several projects lined up. The problem is I’m in a small condo so I will have to wait til spring so I can do all that spray painting outdoors. I don’t know if I will have the patience to wait that long. Does spray paint freeze??? (OK, I’m kidding.)

  39. Hi,

    I must say that I’m happy to have found your site! I love your makeovers and can’t get enough of your before and after shots!
    You’ve imspired me to shop at thift stores just so I can find those special pieces to makeover. Keep up the great work!

  40. Oh, what an impressive lineup of projects. All so tasteful and truly inspiring. I’ve being reading your posts for just a few days only, but I am not going away now. So much inspiration here. Thank you for sharing and best Christmas wishes to you and your family.

  41. Your makeovers are truly amazing. I really love that highboy you restored. I can’t believe I just found your blog… where have I been? LOL


  42. Your (crazy) amazing!! I just found your blog today and I cant believe how much you have done…How inspiring!! You make me wanna go to the :)

  43. Those projects are soooo much fun! Love them all, especially the office! My husband is all about shiny and new but not me. How can I resist the thrill of an amazing transformation, from junk to glam?! ooh la la. =)

  44. P.S.

    Which Goodwill do you shop at because the one here in Vacaville usually bites and that lovely $15 dresser you picked up would be more like $65 here. I love that you are west coast too! It seems like all the good design blogs are east coast and I was started to feel left out. lol

  45. I’ve been viewing your site all evening, as I’m sure you’ll see, and I have to say my jaw was just dropping over and over again on this post. It’s UNREAL how many incredible fixes and changes you have done in 2009! WOW! Can’t wait to follow you as one of my “daily reads” from now on. Fantastic stuff!

  46. I just bought an old headboard from the thrift store for $2.00. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it but after seeing your headboard transformation I know exactly what I want to do . Thank you!

  47. Geesh! I just love everything! I can’t believe the eye you have and that this is your house! Gorgeous!

  48. You have proven good design does not have to cost an arm and leg, just time, effort and thinking outside the box.

  49. I actually LOVE that you use heirloom white for most of your transformations! I wouldn’t have it any other way or else I wouldn’t read your site every single day for a clean, fresh, and elegant source of inspiration. I say long live heirloom white!

  50. HI,

    Love your site! Can you tell me how you did the map on your playroom wall? Do you have any hints for diy framing? Thanks!!!


  51. hi! i love your diy before and after pics. inspirations galore!!! i look forward to reading your blog everyday. thank you.

  52. Good God.. That’s an amazing turnover for one year! I’d color me satisfied if I did *one* of these in a year. You are a warrior.

  53. You are extremely skilled. I am trying to make a bench cushion much like the one in your Tufted Bench Transformation. Please tell me what you used inside (foam, nufoam, polystuff). I would really appreciate it :-)

  54. I love your site!! Thank you for all the pretty before and afters! I especially liked the repainted buffet and hutch-I think I may try the same thing with mine!

  55. I really love everything about your site especially the furniture make-over. I used to hate old furniture and disregarded parts but you’re such an inspiration, I quickly developed love for them. So inspired, I started my own site. Thank again!

  56. I am just starting out on DIY projects and yours are such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

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