Welcome to my brand new blog. Let me introduce myself. My name is Karen Rae Levine and I have a new love. Painting furniture. It’s funny how a couple of cans of paint helped me reshape two aspects of my life: writing and hoarding.

head-shot-lo-res-square clutter

I’m not the kind of hoarder who has a living room piled three feet deep with garbage and a bathtub full of junk. I’m the less complicated hoarder who gets attached to things and has a hard time giving them up. Which means my house is cluttered.

I don’t love clutter. After I visit someone’s house that’s perfect and pristine I go home, look around, and go to bed. I don’t need “pristine” but I love having family and friends visit and clutter means I have to run around and clean up before they come. It makes me hesitate to invite them. Not good.

My hoarding problem was compounded when I remarried and we had two households full of furniture. Together, we bought our dream house. An 1870’s Victorian is very dreamy until you have to renovate it. The major work took a couple of years. In the meantime I couldn’t decide what we would need and what we wouldn’t. I did manage to donate quite a bit, but still, a lot of it went into storage, “just in case.”

“Just in case” is a bad sign. I saved furniture for my kids “just in case” they needed it.” Of course they didn’t need it. When your youngest son graduates college and gets his own apartment, he will not want his twin bedroom set. For the amount of years we paid for storage space, I would have had enough money to buy all new furniture for both of us!

Another bad sign is a weakness for picking up perfectly good furniture from the side of the road.

changing-table old-chairs rattan-1

Or passing a Goodwill store with the feeling that you missed a ride at Disneyworld. But Goodwill is for a good cause, right? Ugh!

Somewhat daunted by the fact that initials of Hoarders Anonymous is HA, I am determined to empty that storage garage and declutter the house. That’s where chalk paint comes in. No stripping. No sanding. Clean up with water. It got those creaky wheels in my head spinning in a new direction.

I’m no stranger to faux painting and furniture refinishing. I’d been doing it since sponge painting was in vogue and people beat furniture with chains. HGTV was my go-to channel and I think I liked crafting with the Brownie troop more than my daughter did.

At the ripe old age of 55 I’ve had a career as an engineer, raised three children, got divorced and started a new career as an author. I only knew life at full speed. Now I’m married to my soul mate and learning to look around… trying to shift into neutral a little more often. Simplify. HA. Easier said than done. But I’m on my way.

Using my imagination and creating with paint, notwithstanding the occasional moments of frustration, is relaxing. It keeps me in the present. It feels useful. I enjoy it. Who knows where it will go?

I’m painting an unused bench for my brother and sister-in-law with their favorite theme.


I brought a Pier 1 cabinet back to life. It has a place and it’s useful!


I revamped a storage caddy for myself so I can attempt to get more organized and stay inspired at the same time.


My mission is to:

  • Use only what I have.
  • Keep only what I need,
  • and HAVE FUN!

Every revamp is a story. And I love a good story. I’ll tell you some of mine.

Next week: The Tale of the Ugly Green Dresser


Once upon a time…