Welcome to Southern Comfort!

Hi, I'm Elizabeth and I invite you to grab a glass of sweet tea and join me as I (along with my husband, John) renovate our love nest. We're both born and raised in the south and love to share with you some of our favorite recipes, stories and our life. We hope you'll come back often!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kitchen Island Makeover

When a very close friend of mine remarried (Hey Donna!), she moved down to Alabama. Well, Donna already had a completely furnished house in Raleigh and her husband, John had a completely furnished house in Alabama. So when the two merged, some furniture didn't make the cut. Luckily for John and I, having just bought our first house, were able to snag a few pieces to help our little house look like a home.

One of the pieces was this beautiful kitchen island.
Isn't is awesome?!?!

Donna had painted it red to suit the decor in her kitchen which looked GREAT, but in our kitchen it looks a little strange. I've been mulling this project over in my head for about 6 months now. I've thought about it so much that now I had no clue what color to paint the darn thing. Do you ever do that? Over think things? I'm guilty of this. Donna called me "The Thinker" growing up. So after some thoughtful consideration and some guidance from John, We've come up with a plan that we think will work.

I'm going to sand down the top of the piece to reveal the natural wood grain. I want to be able to use it as a countertop, so I want to replenish the wood with a food-safe varnish or oil.
As for the bottom part of it, I want to paint it white to make our kitchen look larger. I'll replace the drawer knobs with oil rubbed bronze ones to make the look come together.

Here's the first coat of paint I put on last weekend.

We're getting there.

Another coat:

Looking better...

The drawers: And yes, I had to paint them while Lil' Pickle took her nap. It was interresting.

So this is where I left off for another week.

This weekend I sanded all the red off the top. It took me 4 hours. My arms and neck still hurt. Thank GOD for an electric sander. I can't imagine what it would have been like to do it all by hand. Anyways, after much frustration I sealed it with Mineral Oil.

Oh my gosh I love these knobs!


And because we all LOVE a before and after:

Here's the cost run-down.
Island = Free (and recycled :)
Paint = Free (we already had it on hand)
Sandpaper = $3.00
New knobs = $12.00
Mineral Oil. $1.87

Total: $16.87

Not bad. Not bad at all.

What do you think? Did we do a good job? I'd love to hear what you think!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The $5 Challenge!

If you're new to the blog world, I'm about to blow your mind. If you're not new, you already know all about Lindsay, from Living with Lindsay.

Everyone is dying for Spring right? I know I am. If you're reading this, then lord knows you either love me (thanks for reading Mom!) or love your house. So what do you have to lose?!?!

Participate with me in the 2nd Annual $5 challenge Lindsay is hosting!

Here's the plan: Using ONLY items from the Dollar Store and the Target Dollar Spot, create beautiful Spring decor for your home. You can ONLY spend $5 here folks. The deadline is on March 23rd. Here's the LINK to get all the info from Lindsay.  Let me know if you're going to participate! I'd love to hear and see all the projects :)

Here's to the burns from glue guns, paint in your hair, creative juices flowing and lots of fun getting your home ready for Spring!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mis-Match Part 1

We live in the south. The same south that's famous for its hospitality, pineapple door knockers, sweet tea, pecan pie and the blessed John Deere tractor. Yes, I happen to be a fan of all of these. But today I want to talk about another factor of the south we're famous for. Mis-match decorating.

The south (as well as many other areas) is famous for using heirloom pieces to decorate the home. Complete magazines have been devoted to this kind of decorating too, ahem, Country Living and Tradional Home. Here recently with the trend of "Going Green" you've probably noticed PotteryBarn and Restoration Hardware using older, reused furniture (or the look of older, reused furniture) in their pictures to give that homey, lived in, comfy feel that only old furniture can provide. Here are a few pictures of what I mean:

I love this traditional set. It shows how easily you can bring a older style chair into the 21st century with a little facelift. See the fabric they used on the chairs? A wonderful choice that's clean, well tailored and easily makes the room flow and accept the more modern touches from the stemware, dishes and look at that chandelier! Love. The jute rug really brings the space together by defining it, but because it's very rustic, it brings down the formality of the table to fit in just about any space for comfort.

Look at that sideboard table. It's just lovely. Clean lines, made of a nice, sturdy wood and has a very rustic feel. It reminds me of something you would find in a cabin. But look at what they've done. By simply adding a couple of modern table lamps, and a mirrior, they've achieved a very high-end look. I love how they kept with the nature theme by adding some beautiful branches in the modern bowl for some texture. I'm sure you can re-create this same space in your home easily (and with a small budget). My thought is, if you have a picture to go by, and you love the look, why bust your brains trying to figure out how to make it work in your house? They've done the hard work for you, take advantage of it!!!

Recently, since John and I got married and bought our house, we've been given a lot of furniture from my Grandmother. Yes, we want the furniture because of the heirloom quality of it. But is it our style? Some yes, some no. It's working with those pieces and having the eye to weave them into our current style to make the pieces seem intentional instead of an attempt.

John and I lean more towards traditional pieces with clean lines, with touches of modern elements. We don't want our house to scream 21st century, but we don't want it to look like Grandma's house either. We're still trying to find the balance of the two.

If you have two VERY different pieces (say two pieces that are of the same height you want to use for nightstands) but you aren't sure how to get the pieces to mesh into your taste and style, don't worry. I'm here to help teach you how.

First of all, are they of the same stain or color? If not, a simple coat of paint or re-staining it will help bring the colors together.
When placing the stands next to one another and they aren't exactly a match, don't worry. They aren't going to be right next to each other in the room. They'll be separated by an entire bed, linens, fabrics, textures and light. It won't matter they aren't of the same color.
You want them to match in this respect:
  • Are they of the same time period?
  • Do they have similar lines?
  • Will they give me the look I want?
Here's an example:

See, the nightstands don't match. They look great because it's what the owner wanted. They made the room coheisive from the look they wanted.  And the bed is definately an heirloom piece (at least that's what they want us to think). So don't be afraid to mix and match. Even the best designers don't buy sets of furniture for bedrooms or living rooms.

I hope I've given you some great advice to live by when you're searching for that next great piece. Whether it's at Potterybarn, the flea market or your favorite consignment shop. I hope you go with these things in mind.

Coming up:
What pieces we've been able to integrate into our house that are family pieces and pieces we've chosen together to make our house more "us". Stay Tuned...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

walk the line

Back when John and I bought the house, we stared on the kitchen as our first project. You can see that adventure HERE. But when we started pulling off the wallpaper, along with it came all the caulking from  over the counters and above the sink. Because it was a transparent silicone, we were ok with it coming off, as long as we replace it. I had dreams of a beautiful, straight, bright white caulk line. My biggest fear when starting this project was having curvy caulk lines after all that work. I have this horrible OCD with wavy caulk lines. They bother me. Give me the shakes. With this in mind I did some homework.

Ranger Dad (he works for the park service here in NC, so for all intensive purposes, he'll be referred to has Ranger Dad) has worked in the construction business for over 20 years. He's done countless remodels in their house so I knew I could trust Ranger Dad to get some great advice on getting this perfect line. Well, I love Ranger Dad. He's great at so many things. Advice on how to do a project, not so much. He's one of those guys who'd rather do it than tell you how to do it. Ugh. This didn't help.

Ok, Google. My new best friend. I simply Googled how to do this and low and behold, I got a hit on one of my favorite blogs I already read. Young House Love. I love YHL. They are my idols of home DIY. If you haven't checked them out you should. But it was THIS post that gave me all the info I needed.

So with my new-found knowledge, I gathered my materials and grabbed John by the sleeve and headed to the kitchen. What? You don't grab your unsuspecting husband on the way through the house on a mission?

This is what you'll need:
Painters tape
Damp paper towel
A wet finger (we kept a small cup of water for easy dipping)

Be sure to buy the correct type of caulk for the job. We stuck with a silicone caulk to be sure it kept out all the damp nasties from getting down in the wall. We trust DAP for all our caulking needs, this is what the tube looks like:

Next, we taped off where we wanted our line to go. Since I was after that CRISP line, this part was essential. So we checked, re-checked and checked again just to be sure.

Now comes the fun part. The caulking. John put on just enough caulk to seal the gap between the two layers of tape, but not so much it looked like a blob of toothpaste. It looked like this:

After getting it down, we needed to smooth it out. Enter the finger job. Yes, that's the technical term. John used a wet finger to swipe across the line of caulk. This displaces the caulk to create a nice finished line, and removes the access. The papertowel was used to clean off messy fingers as we went along.

Last step: The reveal.
At this point we were both crossing our fingers and toes that it worked. SLOWLY we pulled back the tape.

Voila. Worked like a charm. We couldn't have asked for better results.

The best part is, this project took only about 15 minutes start to finish. John went ahead and did the rest of the kitchen while we had everything out, and I must say it looks quite good. So in under 1 hour, we have a very safely sealed, water repelled, and beautifiully finished caulk line around the kitchen.

Thanks YHL for all the great tips!

So what do you think? Did we do OK? Anything you would change or do differently?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Up!

We are all tired of Old Man Winter this year. Sure we like our cold nights snuggled up by the fireplace. Our hot mugs of coffee, tea and hot cocoa. The hot baths with salts and bubbles after a long day at work. But this year, we've had our fill. Not just the Early house, but everyone I talk to.

This year has brought us historic snowstorms, buckets of snow and ice to NC (which we still have piles of on our back deck.. yes it's been over 2 weeks since it fell.. melt already!) Kids haven't been in school in over 2 weeks in some parts of the mid-Atlantic, and jobs have been delayed due to sloppy, trecherous, dangerous road conditions. But there's a bright side!

Yesterday while I was walking around the yard I saw THIS:

Could it be? Is Spring really just around the corner? So I looked some more and found THESE:

I slowly, and calmly walked in the house and grabbed my camera. Surely my eyes were decieving me (again). But sure enough. I got back and they were STILL there! I planted these bulbs back in November thanks to April, a friend of mine from work who graciously gave us these bulbs as a wedding gift. And low and behold, it's a gift that keeps on giving! Hopefully for MANY more years.

But YES, Spring IS coming. Slowly, but surely. I'm looking forward to thawing out, flowers in my yard, green grass, longer days, the smell of warm rain, cool breezes, opening windows and airing out the house, and of course, listening and watching all the little birdies in our yard.

Here's to being Twitterpated with Spring!
Double points to you if you know what Twitterpated is. Can you guess? Do you know? What are YOU looking forward to?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Hi Everyone!
 I must apologize for the delay in posts this week. I was on a roll there for a while! No worries, I haven't gone anywhere. This week has just been plain crazy for our house. John's been feeling a little under the weather, so getting him to recooperate is a job in and of itself, not to mention actcually going to work. Last weekend we were blasted with a HUGE snowstorm which left our house, neighborhood, town, and roads covered in snow and ice. Luckily, John and I were able to use our time wisely sitting in front of the warm and cozy fire, coming up with some fantastic projects coming up soon! Yay!

After all this winter weather we are simply dying for spring to arrive. Cabin fever and dry winter skin have made themselves at home with us and we are simply ready to rid ourselves of them so we can get ouside and get more done! It is very difficult to strip and paint doors on their hinges (project hint!).

We have a lot lined up for the next few months. I love all the comments and emails I get from all my readers keeping me on task and asking about projects I've mentioned but never posted about. Thanks for nipping at my heels, that's what keeps S.C. going! I need the motivation ;) And you my peeps are my motivation. That and the fact that if I don't start getting more things done I'll end up with hives and anxiety attacks from looking at a half complete house and that just can't happen folks.

So here are a few things to be looking forward to (I can't really put a timeline on them since I have ADD and tend to let some projects slip by while others take front stage. You know what I mean don't you?!? But they all will happen):
  • FINALLY starting to paint the upstairs and get it looking like it belongs in this century.
  • Stripping interior doors and how to paint them with spray paint (and they look great!)
  • Kitchen island makeover
  • Before and After posts for installing new hardwoods throughout the downstairs
  • And for a big DIY project, our master bathroom remodel (we've never shown you our bath because it's that bad)
See? I told you we have plenty up our sleeve. We haven't been slacking this week, well aside from the occasional nap since we were snowed in for 4 days. :) Now, where did I put my mug of hot cocoa? Have a wonderful day everyone!
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