Cheap to Chic Bar Stools





How to Upgrade Cheap Bar Stools

The light wood color of these cheap bar stools from Walmart weren't exactly the style I wanted for my kitchen island, so I painted and stained them to change their look into more of a rustic farmhouse feel. Here's how I achieved the look.

Sanded top, and sanding sponge used for legs and rungs. 

Sanded top, and sanding sponge used for legs and rungs. 


Sand the seats using an orbital sander, sanding down to the raw wood. The better these are sanded, the better your stain will take to the stools. Next, sand the legs and rungs with a sanding sponge. The sanding sponge can also be used to hit any spots you may have missed when sanding the top. 



Vanilla Frosting Country Chic Paint

Vanilla Frosting Country Chic Paint


After sanding, you're ready to paint the legs and rungs. I used Country Chic Paint in Vanilla Frosting. I love the antique-like color of Vanilla Frosting. And, because it's a chalk paint, it's specifically made to use on furniture DIYs.  

Paint legs and rungs with two coats. 

Paint legs and rungs with two coats. 

Pre-stain tops with wood conditioner.

Pre-stain tops with wood conditioner.


Pre-stain the tops of the stools using a wood conditioner. I brushed on one coat of Minwax Pre-Stain to each stool with a foam paint brush, letting dry for at least 15 minutes before staining. 

Stain tops with wood finish stain.

Stain tops with wood finish stain.


Use several coats of stain, letting dry between each, to stain the tops. I used an old t-shirt to stain with Minwax Wood Finish in Jacobean color. 



I love how easy this DIY was, and how these bar stools turned out! Their look fits into our farmhouse style kitchen way better than how they were purchased as is. 

Anthony & Ashton | Ohio State Engagement Photos

When Anthony and Ashton asked me to take their engagement photos they told me they wanted to have their session on Ohio State's campus - and I was so excited! These forever buckeyes met while in school through a mutual friend, so the campus means a lot to them. I've known Anthony and Ashton for a few years, and can even recall when they first started dating. A perk, and one of my favorite parts of doing engagement photos for friends is watching their relationships grow. I'm so happy for this lovely couple and can't wait to see where their marriage journey takes them! Here's some of my favorites from this session.

I loved that these two showed up to their session with matching OSU shirts! 

Anthony and Ashton have to be the most laid back couple I have ever photographed. They were so easy going, that even though our main iconic picture spot (in front of the stadium) was blocked off and being used for an event, it didn't stop them from being open to other ideas and locations. 

As the sun was setting we switched up outfits, and made our way around The Oval and used different buildings for some great backgrounds. I don't think they ever took a bad picture! They were pros at this. 

p.s. Anthony and Ashton, if you're ready this, I'm really sore from all the walking we did... I think that makes me really out of shape. BUT it was well worth it! 

Mariah & Arabella | Mother-Daughter Photos in Downtown Findlay

This adorable pair met up with me in Downtown Findlay for a mother-daughter session that brought a lot of spunk out of this adorable four year old, Arabella, and her beautiful mom, Mariah. A mini me of her mom Arabella has the prettiest big, brown eyes! This is actually my third time photographing them, so I've enjoyed seeing them once a year for updated photos... And I've enjoyed getting a glimpse at watching her grow up right before my eyes - where has the time gone?! 

This photo shoot took us to the streets of Downtown Findlay. Having went to college, and working for two years in Findlay, I knew the secret gems of some great locations to snap some photos. If you're ever in the area, Downtown Findlay is a perfect place to stroll down main street. From little clothing boutiques, to art galleries, to local restaurants and coffee shops - Downtown Findlay makes for a great little day trip!

On this session we found some intricate steps and doorways alongside buildings to use as backdrops, and my favorite - a huge mural of a famous painting along an alley. But perhaps my favorite photos are the ones we took in front of a plain white column where I was able to get the best smiles out of Arabella... Let me tell you, this girl is ornery, BUT she is so cute! She loved twirling in her dress, showing off how she could stand on one foot, and running towards her mom to give her a big hug!

Here's some of my favorites from their session:

How to: Chalk Board Wall on Kitchen Cabinets

My kitchen has a large floor to ceiling cabinet that fits the refrigerator inside. I decided to diy the open side with a chalk board wall. Here's how I did it, and mistakes to avoid. 

Cabinet wall before turning it into a chalk board wall. 

Cabinet wall before turning it into a chalk board wall. 

After diy chalk board paint.

After diy chalk board paint.


  • Rust-oleum Black Chalk Board
  • 4 in or 6 in paint roller specifically made for cabinets
  • trim paint brush
  • painter's tape
  • paint bucket cover

First Steps

Start by taping off edges around wall, floor and ceiling with painters tape. I also placed an old towel on the floor as extra protection against drips and spills. 


This step is really important. Use steel wool or fine grit sand paper to sand the area you are going to paint. My cabinets have a finish on them. Sanding down this finish, even just a bit, will help your paint cure better. 


First coat of chalk paint.

First coat of chalk paint.

Roll the chalk board paint on and blend in with the trim brush for the edges close to ceiling, floor and wall. The first coat of paint will appear very streaky. 

Tip: Use large passes of paint from floor to ceiling to avoid roller marks/streaks. 

Fourth coat of chalk paint.

Fourth coat of chalk paint.

It took quite a few coats to cover the cabinet. But each coat dried very quickly. By the fourth coat of paint I was happy with how it looked. 


This is the most important step! Prime your chalk board by using the side of white chalk and running it over the whole chalk board. Then wash it off with a damp towel. This will prevent the board from leaving marks from the first words or art you create on your board. 

*Tip: Avoid dustless chalk to prime. Use regular white chalk. The dust is what helps prime the board. I used dustless chalk to prime and ended up leaving scratches. 


Final result.

Final result.

Add the finishing touches.

Add the finishing touches.

Developing Your Personal Brand: Start in College

For me, personal branding is all about marketing yourself. And one of the best ways to do that is online by creating a website. Create a website for yourself and use it to marketyou. It's a great place for you to...

  1. Tell people about who you are,
  2. show off your work,
  3. and impress future employers.

Start creating your website when you're a freshman. You might not think you have enough "content" to create your own website as a freshman, but you do. Chances are you have a resume put together, possibly a high school senior picture still laying around somewhere, a few class projects completed related to your major, and enough tech-savvyness to create a website.

Here's how to get started.

Find a website builder

There are lots of free website builders out there that make it easy for you to create your own. My top three favorites:


Explore these and others. Find one you like best, and play - try different themes, designs, etc. I highly recommend Squarespace for its beautiful pre-built themes and intuitive design features that make it easy to use, in addition to its 24/7 customer service.

Upload the basics

Your website should serve as your digital portfolio. After you've chosen a website builder, start to upload digital content.

Start with the basics. Your website might only have one page of content, and that's okay. Your homepage could include your photo, contact information, and links to your resume and portfolio.

The three basic necessities: Use one of your senior pictures, if you don't have a professional head-shot photo. Upload an updated resume. And add some of your work. Your portfolio of work could be projects you've completed, research papers you've written, or even slides of presentations you've given.

Brand yourself

It's not necessary, but a bonus. Give yourself a brand to help you really stand out. Use similar colors, fonts, and design throughout both your website and resume. Even think about designing a logo for yourself.

I created this logo of my initials in just a few minutes using This could then be used on both my website and resume.

Include your website url on your resume

After you have your website completed, use it on your resume. Use your website's url in the contact section - usually towards the top. This allows those viewing your resume another chance to find out more about you and an opportunity to view your work than they normally could with a typical one-page paper resume.

Keep your website updated

Lastly, keep it updated. As you journey through college, add new work to your portfolio and always keep updating your resume.

My parting advice

One of the best things that I did for myself in college was to create an online portfolio of my work... What started out as a simple website used to house my resume, professional head-shot and some of my photography, design and written work from college classes, eventually turned into a business - my photography and graphic design business - CeeCee Photography.


By Sierra Heaton | Owner, CeeCee Photography