April 24, 2013

Our bar....and how I painted the tiles.

This is the final instalment in the series of posts about our Rumpus Room.  
The other two can be found here and here.

Our home was built around 1990 and although that doesn't seem that long ago to me, it kind of is when it comes to home decor! 
Our apricot bathroom is proof of that ;)

One area that really isn't even that fashionable to have in a home any more is a bar.  I've seen them rip them out on television shows that help people update their homes in the hope of selling them.  

This is our bar area, in a corner of our rumpus room...
The sign is ours and I quite like it :)  I had already taken down the gold coloured pine shelves to paint them when I took this photo.  I'd also removed a very ugly mirror that we wondered why was even in a bar.  We found out why...it was hiding a big patch of mortar. 
Oh dear.
As 'unfashionable' as having a bar in your home apparently is these days, we are quite fond of it, for a few reasons:

- Our rumpus room makes an excellent party room, and as our kitchen and main living area is on a different level in our home, it is very practical having a mini 'kitchen' downstairs (don't let my husband hear me call his bar a kitchen, lol!)  

- Our guest bedroom is adjacent to this area so I like to have a jug and tea/coffee supplies set up here so our guests can help themselves to a hot drink in the morning then hop back into bed if they wish 
(a small bar fridge is on our wish list!)

- this level of our home, with a couple of minor adjustments, would work very well as a short term holiday let, and given that we live in a beach side village in a popular tourist/holiday area, this is an option that we may be keen to explore further in the future.  The bar would become the kitchen with the addition of a fridge (as mentioned, on the wish list!), a microwave and a small hotplate and benchtop stove.

- my husband has some prints, photos and memorabilia that is special to him, and the only place I think they work in our home, is in a bar, as in...'that's going straight to the pool room'...lol, love that movie...probably only Kiwis and Aussies with excellent taste in movies will get this ;)

After we did the planked walls, I turned my attention to the bar, and how I was going to make it 'fit' into the newer lighter room, without spending really any money (which is pretty much the sum total of renovation budget we have left for this room right now).  
Paint was the answer...I always have that on hand!  
I decided the answer was to paint the tiled bar top, which to be honest I was a little worried about but I figured I really couldn't make it any worse...and if it didn't work out, I'd just have to chip off all the old tiles and re-tile it in a better colour than brown (a bigger job, but something I could do, having managed to do some tiling jobs before).  

Here's how I did it:

I started off by cleaning the tiles thoroughly, which meant several hours of scrubbing the grout which had, I think, 20 odd years of parties on it...yuck!  It turns out brown grout is a good colour for hiding muck that I didn't even realise was there till I started scrubbing.  Once I got all the muck off (I used a fine scrubbing brush, hot water and Jif cleanser) I rinsed it well with a clean wet cloth to ensure it was totally clean with nothing left to interfere with the adhesion of the paint.  (This is always really important whether painting tiles or furniture...many residues can interfere with adhesion, even the natural oils on your hands).

Once clean (and dry), I used another clean cloth to wipe the entire surface with methylated spirits to make doubly sure it was clean, then I primed with Zinsser Cover Stain.  I could have also used BIN but Cover Stain is what I had on hand.  (I find the two products fairly interchangeable although for covering tannin bleed I get far better results with Cover Stain than BIN).  Cover stain is quite sticky to work with when brushing it on, so you have to work fast and not go over and over your strokes or you'll end up picking up patches of paint that have already started to cure (yes I learnt this the hard way!)  What I found worked well was quickly brushing over a small section of the grout lines, then using a foam roller to go over the tiles which also blended in any brush lines.

I didn't take any photos of the primed stage, but it would be fair to say it looked shocking and I did wonder what on earth I had got myself into for a short while! I reminded myself that paint jobs often (usually!) look worse before they looked better, and kept going.

I did two coats of primer then once it was dry, sanded very lightly, and wiped down with a clean wet cloth.

For the top coat I used water based enamel in semi gloss (Dulux Antique White USA).  I used the same brush/foam roller technique and it went on really nicely.  I did four coats then left it for several days to harden, then applied three coats of Porters Clearcote (water based sealer).  This last step possibly wasn't necessary since I had used a semi gloss paint but as these tiles are a work surface, I wanted to ensure the finish was as durable as possible.

Here it is now...

(The white door leads to the guest bedroom, it is the first door in the house I've painted...I have lots more to do, but what an improvement it makes).
These are the previously gold coloured pine shelves that I painted.  In hindsight I should have also painted the shelf brackets, but oh well, another job for another day!

Remember the big ugly stripe of mortar I mentioned at the beginning?  I found the perfect way of hiding it, with this print of old number plates in the shape of the Eiffel Tower.
(I've been a fan of old number plates as home decor for about ever...some of my favourite possessions are four rusty old number plates my Dad 'borrowed' off decommissioned buses in South America in 1999...wherever I hang them makes our home feel like home to me).  
I actually saw this print while looking for something else, before I knew I 'needed' it.  I fell in love with it instantly but thought I had nowhere to put it, so even though it was only $10, I left it there.  Then the brainwave hit me in the middle of the night a few nights later (does that happen to you, too? Please tell me I am not the only one!)  I rang the shop (Lincraft) just before closing on a Saturday and asked if they still had it...luckily they did...I didn't actually ask for measurements, I just willed it to fit, and it did ;)
The bar is certainly a busy little corner of the room, but my decorating style is not, and will never be, minimalist ;)  
I'm pleased to say we have most certainly given the durability of the paint work a good testing with plenty of drinks raised and lowered, and it is holding up perfectly.

So, there you go...a cost-effective alternative for making ugly tiles disappear.  
This may not be our forever solution, ideally I'd still love to replace the bar top with something much more modern, but it looks a whole lot better than it did before, and it works for now.  
That's good enough for me :)


  1. Looking forward to sharing a drink with you there someday!

  2. It looks great, what a difference. I need to paint some tiles but was unsure about it, I think I'll give it a go now.
    I love saying straight to the pool room too, great movie :)

    1. thanks Ruby...I'd say go for it...just make sure those tiles are clean, that is the biggest thing :)

      The Castle is a classic, isn't it...my Dad and I like to quote lines of it to each other, never fails to crack us up!
      xx Karen

  3. Awesome Karen! You must be really proud of yourself, give yourself a big pat on the back! looks soo much better now and what a perfect space to meet all those needs. I though you were going to say that the reason why you love it so much was because you could store all your alcohol there;-)

    1. well actually Courts, now you mention it, lol...since coming to Aussie my hubby Geoff has started brewing his own beer so the shelves under the bar are usually chock full of bottles awaiting drinking! I keep my bourbon bottle upstairs in the pantry, much closer at hand that way ;)

      xx Karen

  4. it is amazing how that bit of white paint has lightened and modernised the whole area!

    1. I know Deanne, I love white paint! Looking forward to getting the ceiling finished now, that will lighten it up even more :)

      xx Karen

  5. You have given the bar area real personality. Love reading details of your renovations and decorating

    1. Hi Veronica, thank you...I tend to write posts like I talk...too wordy, lol, but I do like to mention all the details!

      xx Karen

  6. Well done on the tiles - what a transformation! This really is more than a bar given it's real potential to be a kitchen. Love the way you disguised that ugly bit of mortar, really unique.