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Fun tutorials, how-to projects, free downloads from jones design company

how to paint a piano

Furniture purists … avert your eyes. This is a post about how I changed our perfectly fine piano from glossy mahogany to white. Did I ruin it? Maybe. But do I love it 1000 times more? Yes. Yes I do.


I posted a mid-progress photo on instagram and was surprised by how many shared the desire to paint their piano and also questions about how to do it. So here it is – all my steps, tips and encouragement for painting your piano.

First, a little back story. We inherited our piano from my grandparents but it is not a piece that holds any particular sentimental meaning. From the day we brought it into our house six years ago, I’ve wanted to paint it. There was a trend a few years ago when everyone was painting their pianos mustard or aqua and I was so tempted (especially by this photo), but just never felt committed to any one color. Years passed and the piano always felt dark and not right for our style until a few weeks ago when I came across this photo and it was jut the push I needed.

Paint it white. That was the answer.

So Ryan and our friend dragged the piano outside to our front walkway (a crazy place to paint, but it was the spot that made the most sense) and away I went. It was a pain, I’ll be honest. But totally doable. And I’m so happy with the results.

Here’s how the process went:

STEP ONE // take apart the pieces and tape it off.


Be very detailed to make sure you keep the paint off the keys, the inside components and the metal foot pedals.


STEP TWO // sand each piece


I used a fairly fine grit sand paper (100) just to rough up the finish.

STEP THREE // wipe clean


Make sure you get all the dust off. I wet my cloth a tiny bit to grab the sanding dust which worked well.

STEP FOUR // prime

Once the piece is sanded and wiped clean, apply a light coat of primer. For the piano bench, I brushed on the primer, but I did not like the brush strokes so for the piano, I switched to spray primer. It was much easier.

STEP FIVE // spray paint


I bought 8 cans of glossy white spray paint and it was just enough. I also picked up this spray adapter which made things much easier. Then I just sprayed away.


Some things I learned when spray painting a piano (these might help you avoid my mistakes):

1. use thin coats and quick sweeps across the furniture

2. let it dry for a few minutes between coats


This made me so frustrated and I think the wrinkles came when the overcoats went on too heavy.

3. lightly sand in between coats. I didn’t fully sand – just the places that were a bit rough.

4. shake the can often to keep the paint mixed up. I used gloss paint that did not totally go on glossy. It’s a little blotchy. I think if I had consistently mixed up the paint, it would have gone on smoother.

5. be so careful about over-spray.


I had a blanket and paper and cardboard down, but the spray still made it onto the walkway and over to my car parked in the driveway (big oops!). Just make sure you cover anything and everything that might come in contact with flying specks of paint.

6. maybe don’t paint it in your front yard.


My poor neighbors had to see it wrapped up like this each night for a few days while I was in between coats. I did about 4 or 5 light coats of paint (plus the first coat of primer). I let each coat dry fully so I could sand if needed. It took me 4 days to complete the project.

7. If I were to do it again, I would have opted for a can of paint in a softer white and a sprayer. The basic glossy white spray paint is white-white without any warmth and can look a little stark. Once the piano was back in the house and accessorized, it does not look quite as bright, but could still be a a bit warmer.

8. It really wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. I should have done it years ago.

Before and afters are always fun, so here it is:


It feels so much more modern and fresh. Someday when we replace our carpet with hardwood, you’ll be able to notice the pretty brass pedals and casters on the front legs (my favorite part). But even still, I love how much lighter this nook feels with the piano now white.


So tell me, are you wanting to paint your piano? What’s stopping you?!


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rolled MAGAZINE flowers + antler chalk art

During my ‘quieting the house‘ rampage, I finally convinced myself to get rid of stacks and stacks of old magazines. Why was I holding on to them? I can not tell you. But from the comments on the IG photo, magazine-hoarding seems to be a common problem among perfectly normal women.

All of those extra magazines got me thinking … what can all of us hoarders do with old publications that we’re truthfully never going to read again? We can make stuff. Cute rolled paper flowers, for example.


Add the rolled magazine flowers to a simple chalkboard project and you have an inexpensive and whimsical piece of art.


Let me show you how to make it.



SUPPLIES // magazine (or catalog), scissors, hot glue gun

STEP ONE // cut a page from the magazine into a circle. It does not need to be perfect.


STEP TWO // cut a spiral in the circle. Wavy and imperfect is good.




Tightly coil starting from the outside
Roll to the end
Release coil
Hot glue to center part

TO MAKE A LEAF:   make-a-magazine-leaf

Cut leaf shape from magazine
Accordion fold and hot glue to hold
By placing a few flowers together with leaves, you get a colorful bouquet.




Print out the antler template (download in the archive)
Turn over and cover with chalk
Flip template over and trace antler outline with pencil (this will make a faint transfer on the chalkboard)
Trace again with chalk
Add the rolled magazine flower bouquet with double-sided tape to the chalkboard and you’re finished.


Sometimes a minimal project with free supplies is the best.


To download the antler template, you are welcome to log in or join the archive (our library of free printables, fonts, clip art and templates). Log in here.

And now for a few questions: are you a magazine keeper? Do you have any other suggestions for what to do with old issues?

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how I edit iphone photos for instagram

My iphone is like an extension of my arm – it’s by my side at nearly all times of day (and night). I love it for texting and checking the weather and asking siri important questions like ‘how many days until …?’ (asked by a certain second born who is slightly excited about his upcoming birthday) and watching cute youtube videos like this one and this.

Most of all, I love it for the camera.

Admittedly, an iphone does not take the same quality of photos as a real camera, but the fact that it is always with me, easy to use and quick to capture everyday moments works out just fine for me. It is fun to practice photography with my phone – looking for interesting angles or composition or finding the right light – and sharing those photos on instagram is a favorite, too.

I almost always do some editing before posting to instagram (I like a slightly dreamy, washed out look) and thought I’d show you what that looks like.


We’ll use this photo taken yesterday of a piece of my mom’s blackberry pie (yum).

Here it is straight from the camera:


It’s a nice photo and could probably be used as is. But running it through some photo apps gives it just the right amount of artsy-ness to make it a little more visually appealing.

I use the standard camera app to take photos and then edit through Afterlight – a simple to use $.99 photo editing app.


I begin by opening Afterlight and bringing in the photo from my photo stream.


I brighten slightly, add a bit more contrast and occasionally bring the sharpening up slightly as well.


Next (here’s the most important step) I choose the guest filters and then the Russ filter to get the dreamy/washed out look I like. You can change the opacity to adjust how strongly the filter is applied. Once I like the look, click the check mark to save.

Instagram is set up as square photos, so sometimes I use the crop tool to cut the photo into a square before posting.

Sometimes a photo just looks better with it’s original rectangular proportions, so I like to add borders to get the square size without cropping the photo. To do this, I click on the borders icon, and then Original.


Next I click on the side borders and it will automatically turn the photo into a square with white margins. Click the check mark to save.

Once finished editing, I click the Done button at the top right and then save as a small image to my camera roll. I like to save a copy to my photos and post to instagram from the IG app, but you could also just click on the instagram icon from Afterlight to post. Your choice.

And here is the final edited image:


Just those few simple steps really give an average photo a fancier look!

Here are a few more before & afters to see the subtle, but pretty difference editing makes:









Hope this is helpful in making your photos more beautiful!



SnapShop iphone course (I took this course last year and it was so good! If you want help learning how to compose interesting images, play with settings, learn more about editing and fun photography tools, Ashley teaches it perfectly. Learn more about her excellent photography courses here).

See my instagram feed here.

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