{spring cleaning: the power washing edition}

Tips for Power Washing Dirty Decks, Siding and More

We are at the end of a long dark winter, and it’s a relief to be walking through my neighborhood and seeing windows thrown wide open and flowers planted in pots by front doors up and down my street. But I also see lots of dirt and grime – remnants of salt, sand, wind and dirt – left behind by six months of old man winter (and a reminder that we survived yet another harsh one).

deck care tips

Give Your Dirty Deck a Nice Spring Cleaning

I remember using a scrub brush as my main tool for outside spring cleaning in the early years. That is, until we decided to rent a power washer to clean the siding. My husband, a guy’s guy, rented a high-power commercial cleaner, and when he was done, half the paint on my siding was stripped away. An unnecessary and expensive learning experience! Read the rest of this entry »

{friday finds: horizontal plank walls}


House Beautiful April 2010

My love affair with horizontal plank walls began in 2010 when I saw this House Beautiful Magazine cover. The width of the planks and soft whitewashed finish on the pine planks looked crazy good to me. The three blue paintings replicating the horizontal lines of the planks made this corner the pièce de résistance in this gorgeous home.

Four years later I’m still crushing on plank walls, but know (and accept) this DIY project will not be happening in my house. My walls are plaster and I won’t go there.

The DIY bloggers who’ve put up their own plank walls make it seem like a manageable project. Painted, stained, or whitewashed, plank walls add anther layer of texture and interest to a room. Enjoy the photos – they may even inspire you to try your own DIY project.

Bruce Knuston planked wall

Bruce Knutson – Edina remodel

Read the rest of this entry »

{wallcovering wednesday: when to go retro with wallpaper}

Retro is Relative

Your children might think of the 1990s as retro, while your grandmother is nostalgic for the 1930s. For you? Maybe the 1980s are more your style. So whether it’s the bold colors and psychedelic patterns of the 1970s, the delicate florals of the 1930s or tiny geometric designs of the 1950s you’re looking for, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

Read the rest of this entry »

{painting or staining: best options for interior millwork}

You can paint the walls, hang the curtains, arrange the furniture, but a room just isn’t complete until you’ve addressed that one final touch, the component that will tie the whole look of the room (and house) together  – the millwork.

Millwork refers to your home’s interior doors, window casings, baseboards, mantels and crown molding. Choosing the right look for your home’s millwork is an important decision, as it not only impacts the look and feel of each individual room, but in many cases it impacts the look and feel of your entire home. And even though you only have two options when it comes to finishing millwork – paint or stain – there is a lot of careful consideration that should go into your final decision. So to get some professional insight on the matter, I spoke with Brandi Hagen, Principal Designer of Eminent Interior Design in Minneapolis.

In about 85% of remodeled or new construction homes Brandi visits, homeowners are opting for painted millwork.

“Most homeowners are going with some variation of white for their millwork to contrast with the dark floors and bold wall colors that are so popular right now. It’s all about contrast, so if you’re using dark, bold colors on your walls and floors you need that clean white line to offset it.”
– Brandi Hagen

White trim

House Beautiful

Some of Brandi’s favorite paint colors for millwork include Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee (OC-45) for a nice, crisp white and Benjamin Moore Calming Cream (OC-105) for a warm creme color. Benjamin Moore’s Mayonnaise (OC-85) is another of Brandi’s favorites.

Best paint colors for trimYou can pick up color swatches of these Benjamin Moore paint colors at your local Hirshfield’s. Hirshfield’s offers “sample size” 16 ounce cans of most paints so you can test the color in your home under various lighting conditions before committing to a large paint purchase.

Although white is a popular color choice for millwork, Brandi says she also likes to use black. She says black isn’t something she usually recommends for an entire house, but for one room that is separated from the rest (such as a bedroom or office), black can really make a statement. Paint the walls a lighter color to pop against the black.

painting trim

Photo courtesy of Brandi Hagen

Staining is another option for millwork. When looking for a stain color, Brandi recommends going either really light or really dark – medium tones are out. Just like with paint, it’s all about high contrast. So think about the colors you want to use in your house and then pick out your stain.

stained millwork

Examiner Home & Living

If you are staining your millwork, Hirshfield’s recommends trying the stain color on a scrap piece of the actual wood used for the project.  Bring along a piece when you’re shopping for stain colors and Hirshfield’s will be happy to provide a brush-out for you to take home.

But if you just can’t decide whether you want to go with paint or stain, there is no rule against mixing and matching!

“There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to mixing paint and stain for millwork finishing. Just think about the flow and transition of your rooms. If you have an open-concept floor plan, it might be hard to make a sensible transition between the paint and the stain. But if you have a closed off room you can make it work.”
– Brandi Hagen

So whether you choose paint, stain or both, the most important thing is to pick a color that will work well with your entire home for many years to come.

“Painting and staining millwork is not an easy task. You don’t want to be refinishing all the millwork in your home every couple of years. Pick a color that you like, but that will also work well as your style changes throughout the years.”
– Brandi Hagen

{how to stain : tips for staining furniture}

Staining wood furniture is a great way to bring out the wood’s natural beauty. But just like with painting, there are some rules and guidelines that should be followed to make sure that your staining project turns out perfect. To get some professional advice on the matter, I turned to Greg, a paint and stain expert with Hirshfield’s in Coon Rapids.

Greg first points out that when starting a staining project it is important to keep in mind that all woods take stain differently. For example, hard, dense woods like maple and hickory don’t absorb stain well so it’s harder to stain them to a darker tone.

Read the rest of this entry »

{exterior paints from Hirshfield’s}

Diane from Hirshfield’s in Eden Prairie is here to talk about some of Hirshfield’s exterior paint options. Hirshfield’s has exterior stain and paint products for just about every price range – not to mention the knowledge and know-how – to help you get the job done!

{tips for staining}

Staining is a great way to revitalize or personalize a piece of wood furniture. It can also be a great way to save a little bit of money by purchasing unfinished furniture then investing some time and elbow grease, yet even the most experienced DIY’er can be intimidated by the staining process.

True, there are some rules to abide by when staining. It is important to know that one color of stain can look different on different types of wood, and can even vary on two different pieces of the same species. But with the help of your local Hirshfield’s paint and stain expert, you will be well equipped to handle the job. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Always wear safety glasses and protect your hands with disposable rubber gloves. It is also a good idea to wear old clothing – as the name implies, it will stain.
  • Test your stain color on a small, low visibility section of the piece you will be staining. If that’s not possible then use a piece of scrap wood. A piece of pine from your cabinet will take stain in a different manner than a Marvin pine window sash.
  • If you are mixing species in your home, wood type makes a big difference with shade and color. This is another good reason to test your stain first, or speak with a Hirshfield’s professional for advice on how different wood will take the stain.
  • Apply a thin coat of wood conditioner with an inexpensive brush before staining so the stain doesn’t “blotch”. Wood conditioner will be helpful with pine and maple, but will leave the stain coat lighter than if not treated with a wood conditioner. Give the conditioner about 15 minutes to dry before applying the stain (no need to sand the conditioner before staining).
  • The most common type of stain, oil-based stains, consists of dyes and pigments mixed in with mineral spirits. Make sure to stir the can thoroughly before and during staining to bring the dyes and pigments up off of the bottom to get the full color. When working with oil-based stains there will be fumes, so make sure to always work in a well-ventilated area (to avoid fumes, go with a water-based stain).


House Beautiful


  • You can apply stain with a brush or rag. With a staining brush, work both with the grain and against it. Don’t worry about being neat just make sure to get a nice, even, liberal coat over the wood. You can wipe the stain off immediately for a lighter tone or leave it on for five -10 minutes before wiping for a deeper tone.
  • When wiping, be sure to wipe in the direction of the grain of the wood. This will guarantee that the stain gets into the wood, instead of laying on top, and will really show off the grain of the wood.
  • Stain only provides color, not a finish. Always apply a finish on top of stained wood.

Your local Hirshfield’s paint expert is always ready and willing to help with any of your staining questions. And don’t forget to look back at our Inspired by Nature – Decorating with Wood blog post for some wood décor inspiration!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 152 other followers