Checkerboard Table–Easy as 1, 2, 3 . . . 8

checker_2Painting a checkerboard design on a table is a great project that will infuse your front porch (or wherever) with that old-fashioned, laid- back feeling we all associate with a game of checkers.  It’s simple, quick and best of all, will probably cost you less than $20 (including the table).

1.  Acquire a Table

  The first thing you need to do is get your hands on an old end table.  Now, maybe you’ve got one stuffed away in your attic or your basement or maybe you’ve got to head to the mission store or start hitting those garage sales.  Whatever you need to do, get your hands on an old end table.  And don’t worry so much about appearances.  This project works well even if the table is chipped, scratched or cracked.

checker_42.  Paint the Table (if necessary)

  If the table is not the color you want it to be, follow these instructions to get it looking exactly the way you want it.

3.  Pencil in the Checker Board Pattern

  If Checkerboardyou’ve got a checker board around the house, get it out and duplicate the pattern on your table using a ruler and light pencil lines.  If you don’t have a checker board for reference, a standard checker board is composed of 64 squares laid out on an 8 x 8 board (see inset).  32 will be light and 32 will be dark. We recommend laying the board out with either 2″ squares, 1.5″ squares or 1″ squares based on the size of the table.  (Choosing one of these sizes makes it much easier to tape it off later when you get ready to paint).

4.  Tape it Off

  Once you’ve got the pattern penciled in, it’s time to tackle the most time-consuming part of the project:  laying down the masking tape.  Start with atape1 roll of safe-release masking tape available at your local home center or hardware store.  Purchase the roll in the width that you drew your squares.  (If you drew 2″ squares, go with the 2″ tape, etc.)  Tape around the edges of the entire board and then tape off alternating lines and alternating squares (see inset).

5.  tape1Paint the First 16 Squares

Using a paint color darker than the rest of your table (or lighter if you’re table is quite dark), carefully brush or roll the paint over your taped-off table top.  As soon as you’ve finished this, carefully remove the tape and let the surface dry.  If you’re planning sharp lines for your checker board pattern, then let the table dry overnight.  If you’re planning on distressing the top as we have in our photos, you only need to let the top dry for a few minutes.  (The reason is this:  if you tape over the freshly painted surface too soon, you run the risk of pulling up some of the new paint when you remove your tape.  If you’re planning on a distressed look, this doesn’t matter.  If not, then you better wait).

6.  Tape it Off Again and Paint the Other 16 Squares

  After you’ve let the first set of squares dry it’s time to tape off the rest of the board.  Lay your tape just as you did the first time, taping off alternating lines and alternating squares (see inset).  Once this is accomplished, apply your paint to the open squares using the same method as you did previously.  Again, carefully remove the tape immediately after you finish painting.

7.  Tape and Paint the Border

Once you’ve finished the squares, lay two strips of tape around each side of the board exposing a 1/8″ or so gap that will become the border.  Paint this border in and remove tape carefully.

8.   Distress & Finish

  If you’re planning on distressing the piece, you can do this as soon as the paint is dry to thChecker Board Table checker_33e touch, or you can leave this part of the project for another day.  Just use light pressure with some 150 grit sandpaper and dust over the entire surface of the table.  Continue this until the checker board pattern is sufficiently distressed.  Wipe the table clean with a slightly damp rag and, when it’s dry, either leave it as is or apply a single coat of a flat polyurethane varnish or a spray lacquer.  (Be advised, unless you use a water-based polyurethane or a non-yellowing lacquer, this protective coat will yellow slightly over time.)

This Checkerboard project takes a little bit of patience, but other than that, it’s easy.  It’s something anyone can do and it’s extremely inexpensive.  Check it out!  And let us know how it went!

Quick Project: Striped Frames

striped_framesI found the picture frame at the left when I was cruising around the internet.  It was pretty much the type of frame I needed for a particular project I had in mind.

However, there were two problems:  first off, the frame I found, the one in the picture here, came in that color green.  And that’s the wrong color green.  I needed a slightly darker, less olive green than what’s pictured here.

But that’s not important.  Color’s not important, because the second problem with this frame was that the asking price was . . . wait for it . . . $120.  Yes.  Apparently, the child in the photo comes with the frame.

Needless to say, when I saw the $120 price tag, I quite naturally backed off and closed the computer down for fear that I might mistakenly bump a couple of keys and put that obscenely-expensive frame into “my cart.”

A couple days later, I was back, looking for more frames.  And I found them.  And this time, they were a real bargain:  only $40.  They looked nice and were mostly (again) what I wanted . . . though the colors weren’t perfect and the price was still (in my opinion) high.

I was just about to toss them into “my cart” when inspiration hit me:  I work at RepcoLite.  I deal with paint all day long.  Why in the world would I buy a frame like that for $120 or even for $40 when I could turn a frame I already own into the same thing for free?

See, I’ve got the perfect frame at home–it’s just got a gold-leaf look to it and I don’t want that anymore.  I also have a couple quarts of two different greens at home because I painted a dresser earlier this year for the same room.  From there, I put it all together and came up with a great, quick, simple, money-saving project that I’m going to pass along to you as today’s “Quick Hitter.”

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 quarts Hallmark Ceramic paint in your desired colors (check your basement shelves or stop out at RepcoLite!)
  • 1 can of flat black spray paint
  • 1 picture frame
  • Sandpaper
  • Brush
  • 3M Safety Release Blue Painter’s Tape
  • Old newspaper or a plastic dropcloth to protect your work area.

How to Do It:

This project is about as simple as it gets.  Just start by doing a light scuff sanding of your picture frame (with the glass removed, of course).  Just dust over it to take some of the shine down–you’re not trying to bring it down to bare wood!

Once you’ve done that, wipe it clean with a dry rag.

After wiping it down, place the frame on a large sheet of plastic and spray paint it lightly with your FLAT black spray paint.  Don’t try to make the first coat cover if it doesn’t seem to want to.  Multiple light coats are much better than a single heavy coat.

Once the frame is coated solidly black and is completely dry, take your lighter color of Hallmark paint and apply it to the entire frame.  If you need a second coat, apply it when the first coat has finished.

Now, once that initial color has dried (overnight to be safe), take your special 1″ Safe Release 3M Painter’s Tape (you’ll notice it should have an ORANGE cardboard core) and apply it in straight lines down your frame.

To mimic the look of the frame above, just run the tape down the parts or areas of the frame where you want the original color–the lighter color you first painted–to show through.  Leave the other areas untaped and  paint over them with your darker color.  As soon as you’ve finished, carefully remove the tape.  You don’t want to pull it too quickly or it could lift your original coat of paint off.  (And, just a quick note:  that’s why we recommend using 3M’s Safe Release Blue Tape.  Any other tape is lightly going to cause problems).

Once you’ve removed your tape (and have let the frame dry), you should have a chic, hip and happening striped frame that you can incorporate into your decorating.  If you want to get fancier yet, go ahead and scuff the frame slightly to distress it, bringing out the undercoat of black along the edges.

Conclusion and Suggestions

Now, possibly, this project sounds complicated and long, but let me assure you:  it’s not.  You should be able to easily accomplish it with a total work time of about 1 hour per frame (at the very most).  Doing multiple frames at the same times will also save you a fair amount of time.

And finally, if you decide to give this project a try, go ahead and get creative beyond the scope that I’ve already described: Alternate the color patterns on multiple frames, vary the sizes of the stripes.  Run the stripes up and down on some frames and side to side on others.   Overall, just have fun with it and realize that with the right paint and a little creativity and energy, you can duplicate almost anything you see at a home decor store–for pennies on the dollar!

Quick Project: Framed Handprints


If you’re looking for a quick project that can make a huge impact in a room, check this one out!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Quart Hallmark Ceramic Matte Paint from RepcoLite (it’s the best, afterall!)
  • 1 Quart RepcoLite’s Prime-All Waterbased Primer
  • 1 picture frame
  • 1 scrap of wallpaper (or decorative paper) big enough to fit in frame
  • A few sheets of heavy-duty artist paper
  • Some old newspapers (to protect your work area)
  • An old paper grocery bag
  • Double-sided tape or photo adhesive

How to Do It:

This is a great project that will take you very little time, but that will pay off big in terms of visual “pop” in your home.

Just start with a standard picture frame. If it’s already stained and finished, then do a light sanding with some 150 grit paper and prime with RepcoLite’s Waterbased Prime-All primer. Once it’s dry, apply the Hallmark Ceramic Matte finish paint in whatever color you selected using either a roller or a brush.

Set the frame aside to dry (with Hallmark, it will only take about 30 minutes or so to dry).

While the frame is drying, take your scrap of wallpaper or your decorative paper (picked up cheaply at any hobby store with scrapbooking supplies) and cut it to fit inside the frame.  (A simple way to do this is to save the paper insert that came with your frame.  Use this as a template).

Anyway, cut the wallpaper or decorative paper to fit the frame and set it aside.

Once you’ve got these things accomplisblackframe_handprint2hed, it’s time to create the handprint in the center.  Now, this is not a difficult process, but there are a few things to know that will make your results turn out well.  First, you’ve probably seen this done before (at school) where the handprint is “globby” and, well, for lack of a better word…ugly.  The reason this happens is because kids usually mash their hands down on the paper while they’re covered with way, way, WAY too much paint.

The easy way to fix that is this:  carefully brush the paint you used to paint the picture frame onto your child’s hand (if you’ve used Hallmark Ceramic, it’s perfectly harmless–though you will want to supervise for obvious reasons).  Making sure your child doesn’t touch everything in site or eat the paint, help your child press his or her hand onto a paper grocery bag.  Do this a number of times until you start to see a clearly defined handprint.  Once you get to that point, shift from the paper bag to the sheets of heavy duty white artist’s paper.  Help them firmly press their hand onto the paper and then help them lift their hand off without smudging the print.

Maybe make a couple just to be sure you get a good one and, while those are drying, wash your hands and clean up your supplies.

When everything’s dry, cut the handprint paper down and tape it or affix it using photo adhesive to the center of the wallpaper scrap.  Mount everything in your frame, hang it up and there you go:  something cool, something unique, something that will serve as a great memory and something that will add some visual pop and interest to your room!

More Unique Headboards

I’m kind of frustrated.  See, I would love to try some of these headboard ideas I’ve been writing about in my own home–but I can’t.  Or really, to be more accurate, there’s no point.  The beds we already own are adequate and they don’t lend themselves to this project.  So I’m kind of frustrated.  But, I take some comfort in the fact that I can still write about these and get you thinking about them and hopefully convince some of you to give the ideas a try.

Anyway, I’m going to breeze through a few ideas today with only brief descriptions or information.  I think these particular ideas are pretty basic and don’t need too much explanation.



It’s just like it sounds.  Buy either a section of Picket Fence at the lumber yard, or build one specifically.  Since you’re using it inside, you could easily build it out of regular pine and then simply prime and paint it for that clean white look.

If you opt for this . . . don’t let yourself leave the motif without completing it.  You’ve installed a picket fence in your bedroom . . . that means you need lots of greenery and “outdoorsy” stuff.  Possibly sky blue walls, possibly (in a kids room) a tree mural.  Maybe you need to wind some “greens” or “vines” through the slats of the fence.  Whatever you do, have fun with the theme and build on it.


Here’s another idea that I think has a ton of potential.  Buy or get your hands on (lawfully, of course!) one of those changing screen things you see at home decor stores and then it’s up to you how creative you can get.

Some of these screens are frames with scrolling and winding metalwork.  That’s fine.  They can be mounted directly behind the bed as is.  I’ve seen other screens that are like the screen on the right.  This one had a uniform brown canvas backer that was removed and replaced with the black and white fabric.

Again, whatever you do is up to you . . . the point is . . . think beyond what you immediately see!



I don’t know exactly how this one was done, but it seems to be more about patience than skill.  It’s made entirely of those little wood shims can pick up at any lumber yard.  They were probably sanded (though not necessarily) and varnished when the look was completed.

However they were put together, the look is a weird combination of modern . . . and warm and woodsy . . . you could really go any direction with something like this.

And there you go . . . a bunch of ideas for headboards.  And the point, above all, is to remember to think creatively when a need arises.  When you need a new headboard for a bedroom, you could jump in the car and drive to the home decor store, pick one out, and call it good.  Or, you could get creative.  Maybe you’ve already got everything you need for the perfect piece.

Old Shutters Headboard

Picture from M.E. Beck Design, Inc. at

Picture from M.E. Beck Design, Inc. at

In keeping with some earlier posts about headboards, here’s another idea worth your time and attention:  what about using old shutters?

This idea works especially well if you’re interested in a distressed look (as we see in the picture at the left).  If that’s the look you’re going for, it doesn’t matter if the shutters are old, chipping, faded or even broken (note the second white shutter).  All of those things play into “the look.”

So, whenever you’re wandering through a large flea market or a mission store . . . keep your eyes open for little treasures like these!


  • BUILD YOUR OWN.  Now, if you can’t find some plantation shutters like the ones above, don’t worry–you could still imitate the look with some very simple exterior shutters.  And if you can’t find any wooden ones for sale, you could easily build your own.  Just take a look at the picture to the right for inspiration.  The shutters don’t need to be complicated.  Just create some shutters, finish them in whatever style appeals to you and mount them.
  • MIX and MATCH.  Don’t be afraid to combine headboard ideas into one.  For example, an obvious combination would be to start with 1 old window and then install a shutter on either side of it.  Go crazy and complete the look by building a small flower box underneath the window with greens or real potted plants.

Whatever you do, as with all these ideas, have fun.  Don’t jump at the first idea that crosses your mind.  Think about it for a while . . . turn it over in your brain . . . and you’ll be surprised how creative you really can be!

Tri-Fold Door Headboard

In an earlier post, we talked about using a standard paneled door as a headboard.  Here’s another take on the “door as a headboard” idea that really offers you a ton of creative opportunity:  create a headboard from a set of tri-fold closet doors.

Now, admittedly, this is maybe a bit more expensive than some of the other ideas–you would need to pick up a set of doors if you don’t have them–but the project will produce a very unique and interesting result that’s probably worth the expense.

Here’s how to achieve what you see in the picture, as well as some other variations you could try:

Stripes, Stripes, Stripes

As we see in the picture, stripes can create a calm, soothing, clean and somewhat modern feel in a room.  And the good news is that accomplishing a look like this is much easier than you may think.

However, before we spell out the “how-to’s” regarding this project, let me start by saying that the biggest, most important tool you’ll need (besides the doors and the paint) is the right tape.  Trying a project like this with the wrong masking tape is going to be disappointing and frustrating.  So don’t go cheap on the tape if you’re going to try this!  I strongly recommend picking up a role of 3m’s “Orange Core” safe-release masking tape at RepcoLite.  This is a specially formulated “safe-release” tape that will both leave sharp, clean lines while at the same time come off freshly painted surfaces without pulling up the paint.  Using a tape like this will prevent any bleed-through or “bumpy” paint lines.  You’ll get sharp, crisp lines and (trust me) you’ll be happy!

OK, start with the right tape and the rest of the project is easy.

Prime and paint the doors with a white (or the predominant color in your scheme) Eggshell finish.  Preferably RepcoLite’s Hallmark Eggshell.

After the doors have dried for 24 hours, carefully measure off and tape the different section that you want to apply the different color stripes to.

Roll your colors onto these areas using a small roller and allow to dry for 20 minutes to an hour before carefully removing tape.

Continue in this manner, filling in the doors with the differently sized and colored stripes until the doors look the way you want.

Once you’ve accomplish this, let the doors completely dry and mount them.  (Remember this, though:  Latex paint dries to the touch in hours, but doesn’t reach it’s full cure or full hardness until about 30 days later.  This means the doors/headboard won’t be as durable as possible for the first month or so–so go a little easy on them!)

Variations on this One

Don’t stagger the stripes–run them from one end to the other.

Skip the stripes entirely and paint each door a separate color.

Paint the doors a solid, consistent color–all three of them–and then run 1, 2, maybe 3 narrow stripes (1″, 2″ or so) across the doors from left to right.  Clump these narrow stripes or spread them out.

Run the stripes from top to bottom rather than left to right.

Apply wallpaper to the doors instead of paint.

The variations are basically endless.  It’s only a matter of the limits of your creativity.  Above all things:  have fun!