Weekend Fun + Q & A

By Kate Riley October 10, 2011

Hello everyone, happy Monday, hope you had a great weekend!  The hub and I spent our weekend in San Francisco, and apparently everyone else in the world did too. Oh my word the traffic! It was Fleet Week and the Niners were playing at home, but we had great seats at Candlestick and oooooooohhhh yeah, we kicked some boo-tay!  So sorry to you Buc fans, but the Niners played at their very best yesterday. 48-3.  ‘Nuff said.

niner game

The game was awesome and we had such a great time watching in the autumn sunshine, I needed that!  Fall is simply incomplete without great football. 

So I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about things I may or may not have mentioned around here, and I thought I should offer a few As to some frequent Qs so here goes!

Q: I was wondering what color you used to paint your white kitchen cabinets. ~ Jenny

A:  Hi Jenny, I didn’t paint the white cabinets in my kitchen, the cabinets arrived in that finish from the manufacturer (Kemper) in more of a cream color called ‘Toasted Almond’.  However, I did paint my kitchen island last year.  A recent match of the creamy white cabinets reveals that the two closest color matches are "Floral White" by Benjamin Moore and "Ivory Dust" by Valspar.

floral white ivory dust matches


Q: Attached are pictures of my fireplace that I would love to repaint white or antique white but I am fearful that it will not look right against our dark wall and I have never tackled a project this large.  Please help with any ideas or suggestions. ~ Chris

Existing fireplace:

fireplace before


A: Hey there Chris, I wouldn’t hesitate to prime and paint your mantel white or antique white.  A white mantel is always fresh, always classic, and coordinates with your existing planters and candlesticks. It also provides a dramatic contrast to your dark walls and your wood mirror. A little of Rust-Oleum’s high heat paint in black will modernize the brass trim on the fireplace doors too, just like I did with this oak mantel makeover last year. 

Here’s a glimpse of what a paint makeover can do:

fireplace after


Q: I am a new follower and I have a question that I am sure you have been asked a thousand times. I am dying to know where you got the quatrefoil style mirror above your mantel. ~  Kathryn F.

A: Kathryn, that mirror was a floor sample I found at Lamps Plus that was scratched and had a weathered copper-like finish to it. I picked it up for half price due to the minor damage then I spray painted it gloss white and turned it on its side. Good news though, they still carry it, it’s the Casbah Mirror, so you can do the same thing if you’re inclined!

kates mirror and mantel


Q: I’m in the process of getting bids on adding a mantel and surround to my gas fireplace. I’ve scoured the internet in search of the perfect style and low and behold guess who’s fireplace surround I found on Pinterest and fell in love with – yours!  Where is it from?” ~ Roxanne

A:  Hey Roxanne, we ordered that mantel five years ago from Mantels Direct through a local dealer and I’m pretty doggone sure it’s the Hampton Model.  We ordered ours in Poplar in White, and paid to have it installed by a skilled carpenter.  Certain edges had to be cut to perfection to fit around the existing marble tile leftover from the old mantel (and the baseboard too) so in an abundance of caution we decided is was smart to pay a pro install it for us.


Q.  Did you sand your laminate entertainment center first before using the Zinsser Cover Stain?  How did it hold up after a year? A couple of pieces that I am doing for a friend are the laminate and one of them is a bookshelf for her young son – I just want to make sure that this will hold up for her.  ~ Cindy

laminate media

A:  Hi Cindy, no I did not sand it, I simply primed it, lightly sanded the primer, then wiped it down to prep the surface for paint. The real key with laminate is the bonding primer. Some water based formulas will adhere to glossy surfaces, but the Zinsser Cover Stain in the oil based formula is a sure guarantee in my experience.

I’ve painted laminate shelves, bookcases, and that media center too with the same method, and they’ve all held up over time because of that bonding primer. For any surfaces that will get a lot of wear and tear (desk or tabletops, even kid storage centers) or wherever there will be a lot of sliding back and forth, two coats of quick drying oil based bonding primer is a really smart step. I did that, and as a result, he paint job has lasted this long. When the coats of primer are dry, gently sand to remove any drips or brush strokes, then paint your laminate piece with two coats of latex paint for a lasting finish. 


If any of you have any questions for me, feel free to leave them in a comment and I’ll respond there or do my best to respond via email or even in a future post. 


cg kate signature





  1. The football game looks like so much fun. We’re Redskins fans and my husband goes to a game every few months b/c his boss has season tickets. One of these days I’m going to make him take me too! ;) Hope you have a great Columbus Day off. I’m heading out to find the hubs some pants on sale…exciting stuff, I know. ;)

  2. Hey Kate – We were down in SF last year this same weekend for great food and shopping (did some in Sausalito as well.) It was fleet week also and we watched the Blue Angels while sitting in the prison yard at Alcatraz. Quite incredible how low they flew over the island – and our heads! SF is one of my favorite places. I also love the 49ers…Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana…my favorites of all time! So jealous of your weekend! Hope to get back down there in a few weeks for the Oregon v. Stanford game.

  3. To Chris – Do it! Don’t you think it looks so fresh in white?! It pulls it all together. Good luck!

  4. Hey Kate! I know u mentioned before that for big pieces of furniture brush is better than spray paint. But I’m so nervous about two things : one is visible strokes in the paint and paint thickness that makes the furniture stcky preventing drawers and doors from opening smoothly. Also what are primer dos and dont that can help. Btw I sent u an email about same subject. Wasn’t sure I’d miss it or didn’t hv time to respond. Thanks a mill!!!

    • Hey Debra, great question! I agree, the stickiness of paint around drawers is troublesome. I typically try to skip the inside of the drawers for just that reason, and only paint the surround, door fronts, and drawer fronts. Unless you have a professional sprayer, it’s my experience that roller/brush is better for larger pieces than spray paint because of the cost and splotchiness that can occur, but lately I’ve learned with a few coats of Polycrylic or Varathane that splotchiness can be minimized, so if you want to spray prime and paint a larger piece, I say go for it!

    • Hey Amanda, another great question! I typically use oil based primers on raw wood or furniture and follow it up with water based or latex paint. then water based protectants. I use water based primers on walls or other craft projects. The general rule of thumb to remember is you can apply either oil or water based paints over oil based primers, but you can’t apply an oil based paint over a water based or latex primer, so if you’re planning on using an oil based paint (which is becoming increasingly rare these days given the quality of latex paints) you need to use an oil based primer. Hope this helps!

  5. I am SO jealous you were at the 49ers game but I did wear my Faithful sweatshirt yesterday! Long time, OLD fan (since 1975). I haven’t been to a game in many years as I no longer live in CA and rarely get to visit (whine, sniff). Love your blog!

  6. I just love your large cutting board! Would you min sharing its dimensions? I see Christmas gifts in my future. Thanks, Kate!

    • Hey Terry, my long version (for the baguette) is about 28″ from handle to end.

  7. Thank you for calling it Candlestick and not whatever the stadium’s official name is this year. *eye roll*. Go Niners!

  8. Thank you for taking the time out to answer all those queries, that’s very kind of you. I love the fireplace transformation. x

  9. I’m so sad! The Casbah mirror has been discontinued long ago. Have you found one similar that is decently priced?

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