A Magazine Feature and an Updated Countertop

Hello? Anyone there?

I’ve been quiet a long time, hopefully some of you stuck around!

I can’t believe that I still haven’t posted anything about our finished bathroom. I think I’ve just been procrastinating because it’s such a small room, and my photography skills aren’t going to do it justice. I really love it so much though, and I can’t wait to see if you do too!

But here’s some exciting news…

house in mag

Cottage4c made it into Country Sampler magazine! We’re featured in the March 2015 issue. Esther and Franklin Schmidt photographed the house for the magazine in the fall of 2013 – so it’s been a looooong wait!

I’ve read so many wonderful stories of bloggers and photo shoots in their homes. And then there’s my story…

I was so excited that they were coming that I must not have been thinking straight, and I almost managed to ruin the whole shoot. For real! Esther told me on the phone that they wanted to shoot for a spring issue, and that fact registered in my brain. For that day. However…

The week before they were to arrive, I sent an email to double-check some things, and one of the questions that I asked was – ‘how much fall décor would you like me to use?’. Ummm…. fall? Was I not just told a week earlier that the house needed to look like spring? They were shooting IN the fall, therefore my simple brain apparently discarded any other piece of information that didn’t pertain to fall. ugh. Unfortunately, the email got lost in the shuffle of a freelance photographer’s very hectic life and travel schedule, and they never had a chance to correct my transgression.

Imagine Esther’s surprise when she walked into my ‘spring’ home and found orange and yellow leaves, scarecrows, and pumpkins around every corner. (Are you cringing on my behalf yet?) I can’t believe she didn’t turn around and run the other way. Bless her – she patiently waited while I ran to the basement, grabbed all of the empty fall bins, and then threw every last bit of orange and yellow debris into them. Sweating.

The worst part for me (hard to believe it gets worse, I know!) was that I didn’t have time to arrange any of my spring/summer things. I couldn’t even find everything in my panic! It usually takes me at least a few days of moving stuff around before I’m satisfied with how it all looks. Obviously, home photographers are also great stylists, but since I couldn’t find half of my accessories, there was only so much we could do. More sweating. ugh. I had to laugh (kinda wanted to cry though!) when I read one of the captions in the magazine regarding my mantel. The writer of the feature’s article (who is amazing) used the phrase ‘sparingly adorned mantel’. She really sold it – almost makes you think it was an intentional design choice!

Regardless, the day was a success (I managed to make it onto the pages, so someone thought it looked ok!). I’ll admit that I have, over the last year, gotten a sick feeling in my stomach every time I thought about it. I had an amazing (possibly once-in-a-lifetime!) opportunity, and didn’t feel like I got to show the full potential of this little cottage. It was a little bit devastating. But now I’ve put all of the negative feelings behind me (well, mostly) and am just proud that we’re actually in a magazine! It’s kind of a dream come true!

I can’t believe how much has changed since they were here. I wanted to show you something I did on a bit of a whim one day. I’d been unhappy with my kitchen counter pretty much from the day it was done 10 years ago. So many rookie mistakes. We didn’t build the top wide enough, so the counter top doesn’t hang over the cabinet drawers, it’s aligned with them. This makes wiping crumbs off the counter and into my hand very difficult. The tile I chose isn’t smooth – it’s very rough and rustic looking. Which is nice, but not for kids who like to do their homework on the counter. Also – light grout. yikes. I’ve tried so many things to clean the grout. All the things, really. I couldn’t get it to look decent anymore. That’s what drove me to paint the counter.


kitchen from hall (634x640)


painted kitchen counter

(Oops – forgot that we also replaced the tile backsplash with beadboard!)

The smart thing to do would have been to buy the Rustoleum counter prep kit. But I didn’t want to spend the money or take the time to go and buy it. (Really it’s because I didn’t want to take the time – I wanted to start right then and there.) I thought that the shellac primer I had would be good enough. Two coats of primer. Two coats of chalkboard paint. Two coats of poly. Two weeks later, lots of chips. :(

I wouldn’t even mind touching up the chips all of the time if the fresh paint would blend with the old. But it doesn’t at all! Even after I re-poly! I can’t even begin to explain why that is. It’s ok though – we’ve been planning to replace the counter, and will one day soon. But even with the chips and the non-matching touch-ups I like the look of the counter better than before. So I don’t feel in as big a hurry to replace them.

counter close up

This is a close-up (obviously!) that shows all of the different sheens going on. The original, touch-up that was also white-washed and poly’d, and touch-up that I haven’t tried to blend yet. It’s not pretty up close, but from a distance it looks great! :)

Also – I thought that I wanted butcher block, but I really love the look of the black! My intention was to chalk-up the surface of the paint, because I am obsessed with the look of blackboards. Still. I know that every design trend list that comes out says that chalk boards are done, but not for me! There’s no way to live with a chalkboard countertop though. It’s too flat a finish – it just felt gross. I tried to poly over the chalk, but the poly just wiped the chalk away – the effect was lost. Instead, I did a white-wash using watered down paint to get the same look, and then used satin poly. I love it! I’ve heard this said before, but it really does look like soapstone.

faux soapstone


This is a home recently in Country Living magazine that has plywood counters that were painted with chalkboard paint to mimic the soapstone look. So I’m actually on trend! Take that Buzz Feed!

It’s nice to be back – I hope that you all are doing well!

Much love-




  1. So glad you’re back ! Love your blog and especially the pics of your beautiful home…

  2. Congratulations on the magazine feature Brenda, so excited for you!!! I need to go find a copy today! Your counter top looks great, love the black. So happy to see you blogging again. I was showing my mom your blog when we were together during the holidays because I knew she would just love your beautiful home and garden!

  3. First time I have followed a blog. Totally enjoyed the article on you and your cottage home in Country Sampler. I like your ideas. I want to do the chalk board on the fridge idea. Then when the “grands” come over they can write Grammy and Pop notes on it. Now how to convince Pop to do it for me?
    I am looking forward to your ideas on changing up, or maybe better said dressing down my formal living and dining rooms

  4. Congrats on your feature! That is so exciting. Your house looks adorable as always. And yes…I want to see pics of that updated bathroom stat! Hope all is well!

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  5. Was surprised to read where your cottage is located. I am from Latrobe, Pa. just 40 miles east of Pgh.and wondered how far away your little cottage is from me. Loved all you have done with it. Your site is so interesting to me.

  6. Oh, I am so happy to see a posting from you! I have your site in my bookmarks, and check it every once in a while. I am so glad you are back, and congrats on the magazine feature.

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  18. Hi…It’s great for me, I love what you did. Thank you for your blog … <3

  19. Really great work, your kitchen looks much more beautiful. Nice arrangement and decoration. Totally agree that the smart thing to do would have been to buy the Rustoleum counter prep kit. Looking forward your next post about bathroom. It must be really interesting. I also want to know how to arrange my RV bathroom and good products to equip for it. Looking to buy a RV shower head, any idea? Just found this: https://outdoorfact.com/best-rv-shower-head-reviews

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