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A new craft room!

If you’re like me, you have an unused room in your house that becomes the dumping ground for all things that don’t have a place. Storage center, filing cabinet, winter coat closet – these are all apt descriptions of how that room was being used. My husband and I both agreed it should become something functional – and would be my space. (since hubby just got a pretty sweet man cave in the basement)

What did I decide to do with it? Make a craft room of course. Truth be told, I really wanted a room to wrap presents – with one of those handy wall racks for hanging rolls of colorful paper. And I wanted a counter height table for wrapping, so I wouldn’t spend one more Christmas even hunched over the bed, wrapping gifts with an aching back. 
I had a vision in my head of what I wanted, the color scheme, etc. It’s a small room, so it didn’t take more than about a week and a trip to Home Depot to make a reality.
This is probably my favorite part of the room – this pegboard wall with the wrapping supplies. We simply bought two pieces of pegboard and drilled them onto the wall.
I made this craft table and it was super easy! I bought two cube shelves, which form the sides of the table. They sell these at Home Depot – they are 36″ wide and the same exact width of the hollow door that formed the top of the table (also purchased from Home Depot). We used a saw and cut the door down to a good size, so that I could easily walk around the table with plenty of space. I painted and stenciled the unfinished door, and attached it to the cube shelves with Liquid Nails adhesive.
I had an old brown wooden book shelf, and just painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Paris Grey. The yellow is just sheets of scrap book paper decoupaged on the back. 

A grey linen-wrapped memo board holds items of inspiration, and the white shelves on the left house paint. Furniture painting will not happen in this room, thus big cans are still stored in the garage.

My french chair makeover has found its home! It’s been sitting for a year in my living room, but the grey and yellow are perfect for this room. I shoved a grey-topped IKEA desk into the closet (and took the doors off). Now I have a great place to surf Pinterest!
Isn’t this rhino fun? I found him at HomeGoods, and new he would make a great addition. And I can hang my apron over his horn!

Now you can see the sewing machine, notions and gift bags all shoved down in the bottom!

I’ve had a lot of questions about these frames. They came from HomeGoods. But man, they would be easy to make. They’re just grey-washed boards glued together. The white is foam core, with a small little piece of plastic covering the photos, with screws holding the images in place!

My wonderful neighbor Tara Sutherland took these family photos. What fun!
So there you have it – my new craft room. So far, I’ve made Valentine’s day keychains in this room, and wrapped a couple of gifts. But, I’m awaiting a craft kit in the mail and will work on it in this space too. More photos to come!
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The Secretary is In!

This afternoon I delivered another custom piece for a client – a lovely secretary desk.

Below are the BEFORE photos: (Even completely spray-painted black, it was very pretty.)

 Here’s the AFTER: painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen and Old White.

I distressed the edges lightly and added dark wax in the crevices on the crown molding and around the window panels, after sanding back the stencils.

She decided to leave the inside black. Thank goodness, can you imagine how much time it would have taken to hand-paint inside all of those compartments!!

Here’s the piece in her home, adjacent to its matching table and chairs. She loved it and I am so happy with how it turned out!

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Graphite French Country Tables

I have someone interested in having a dining set painted in Graphite, the Annie Sloan chalk paint color that isn’t quite black, but a lovely charcoal color. The shade deepens to nearly black with layers of dark wax. I have been dying to try it out, and gave it a go with two french country tables I acquired recently.

These Bombay coffee table and end tables were in need of repair – both had damaged surfaces, but were otherwise in great, sturdy condition. (sorry, I forgot to take a photo of the coffee table in the BEFORE stage)

First, I sanded down the table tops to remove most of the damage and smooth out the surface. This convinced me that I really need to invest in an electric sander! Using sanding blocks and manually doing it was a you-know-what! And I was doing this in my garage, on a friggin 90 degree day, when the humidity was high enough to drown a duck in its own sweat! No fun.

Next, I painted each with a coat of ASCP in Old Ochre – a sort of antique white color. Then I painted the tops in Graphite. It went on a bit blueish. A very pretty color indeed! I made sure to paint in every direction – left to right, up and down – purposely giving it texture. After it dried, I began waxing it with several layers of dark wax. Each time it got a little darker – and more beautiful – because the wax settled into all of that texture. The color is spectacular – aged and beautiful! Then I clear waxed the legs. Next I distressed the edges of the tops and just a bit on the bottoms of the legs. I went over all distressed areas of the tops with another layer of dark wax. The bottom distressed areas got clear wax again, and I finished by putting just a tad bit of dark wax on select areas of the legs to age them a bit too.

Here’s the finished pieces:

Charlotte can’t resist a photo shoot!!

These pieces are for sale: http://leopardandblackinteriors.com/2012/04/items-for-sale.html

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The Bench that Might be More Than I Bargained For

A couple of weeks ago, as I was anxiously awaiting the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint workshop, I spied a little bench at one of my favorite consignment shops in Haymarket, called The Very Thing. First, let me tell you that this place is a stone’s throw from my house, and I visit it nearly everyday. I have found some great things there – unusual stuff I wouldn’t get anywhere else – ever! Like a Hillary Clinton-autographed & framed illustration of the Christmas room in the White House, which I couldn’t wait to surprise my mother-in-law with this past holiday!

So, this bench was in one of their small rooms, flanked by about 5 pillows and tucked behind even more items. It was like a chameleon – hidden in its habitat. It was so plain-jane, it had virtually disappeared among the other stuff. Perhaps that’s why there’s was a sale tag on it for $75.00. Furniture doesn’t go on sale too often at The Very Thing, unless its been there for a while. Believe me, their stuff moves fast. I have sold countless things there, and one day I scored these two fabulous chairs within minutes of them arriving into inventory.

Anyway, I might have overlooked the bench if I wasn’t looking at things through new eyes. Eyes that searched for old or otherwise unwanted things hungering for a makeover. The bench fit the bill. But not for $75.00. So, I offered $50, and was bingo – she went into my truck!

Here it is, waiting a turn for new life, in my garage…

When I spied her I thought, “ooh, I can reupholster the seat and back cushions, too!” I’ve done that before. I had noticed at The Very Thing that the cushions were already peeling up from the wood. Upon closer inspection, it appeared they were just hot-glued down. So I figured that removing them would be easy-breezy, right?

WRONG! Here’s where this project got hairy…

I went into the garage to look at her and imagine what color I was going to paint those lovely spindles and curved arms. I don’t plan to paint this piece until I have few more under my belt, and feel more confident about not ruining it. But, I wanted to at least start on the fabric portion. So, I attempted to remove the top fabric on the back. Remember, I thought I would just be a matter of pulling it off. I started slowly, and could muster no more than turning down the edges. So, I got out a flat-head screwdriver, thinking I needed something to get down inside further. I poked, prodded, and felt like it just wouldn’t give. Something was holding it tight. And like any woman who can’t open a stubborn pickle jar, I called my husband.

He too had problems. I’m thinking, “that’s some damn strong glue,” when he gave it all his brute strength (Hubby is a big guy with big muscles). Off came the fabric – the FIRST LAYER of fabric!
I was so excited – it was like unearthing a piece of history, seeing the older fabric underneath. Then I joked with Hubby that perhaps there was a copy of the Declaration of Independence under the seat cushions!

So here is what we removed:

And here is what we discovered underneath:

The two fabrics are very similar. Part of me wondered why someone would bother to cover it with nearly the same fabric. Maybe they didn’t like the little frilly edging? At any rate, look at the above photo – see all those staples? Those staples were from the first piece of fabric Hubby yanked off. Only the edges had been glued down – to hide all of these staples. We knew there was no way to pull this next layer off.  Plus, as a very inexperienced seamstress, I know my limitations. I have no idea how to make piping to hide staple edges, like the last person had done. Nor, was I really wanting to take the time to learn. (I am impatient, and just wanted to get this done easily without having to turn on my sewing machine)

We decided it was easiest to remove the back panel:

I initially thought I would salvage the wood, recover it, and wood glue it back in. But, it turned out the wood, was just some cheap, paper-thin material that splintered, cracked and buckled in our hands.

And that wasn’t the worst part. Here’s what the bench looked like now:

Two rows of staples. And I mean a lot of friggin staples! I spent 2 days pulling these things out with a pair of pliers. I got blisters and a backache from this crap.

Hubby pulled out a few before he gave up and went back inside. It would have been much easier, had the row of newer staples not kept breaking in half, leaving us with tiny pieces of metal sticking out of the wood. The first row and older staples were much stronger and in most cases came out in one piece.

So, the next step was to sand down the leftover bits of staple still lodged in the back:

I borrowed my neighbor’s Dremel and sanded down the bits of metal. Hubby came out to find me doing this with sparks flying. He said I looked like I was welding. Ha! Once I was down to wood, the next step was to sand the area smooth, as some of the staple left holes and lifted wood. I used very course sandpaper.

And here is what it looks like now. Very smooth! You can still see the row of embedded staples, but at least you can’t feel them anymore (or risk being stabbed in the back when seated).

So now that the back is ready for paint, I have decided that I will not be adding new upholstery to the back again. I rather like how the empty spaces look up top.

And I will NOT be going through this whole procedure again for the seat. See how the seat, propped against the wall, has 2 individual cushions? I can not yank even one more staple! Instead, I plan to add plenty of batting over the whole thing, cover it and replace it as a single cushion. I promise to share pics of that too.

What I can show you now, is the very pretty fabric I found for this job:

It is Waverly home decor fabric, which I purchased on sale at Jo-Ann’s Fabric. The floral, called “Fairhaven, from the Vintage Florals Collection, ” will be used on the seat cushion. The ticking, called “General Store, from the Ticking Stripes Collecion,” will be used to cover a pillow form I got. I figure a little pillow on the bench will look very pretty. And I loved both these fabrics so much, I just couldn’t choose!

My next step with this project will likely be the pillow or seat cushion. I want to paint a few other items before I start this. Hopefully the rest of the work will be easier!

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Some of the secrets I discovered at the “Workshop”

First I have to let my groupie-side shine – I posed with Annie herself during the book-signing!

Even her signature is a work of art!

I tried desperately to find one of my favorite bloggers, who was there as a special guest for being one of the first to spread the gospel about ASCP in America, Marion, aka Miss Mustard Seed. Alas, the place was so mobbed, I never got so much as a glance in her direction. Bummed!

We broke into small groups with expert ASCP painters, including the ladies in the photo below (left to right): Forgive me beautiful-lady-on-the-left who’s name I never caught, MJ from Hue-ol-ogy, Trish from Hue-ol-ogy, me, and Terry from Budget Redesign.

These are the sample pieces I created using their techniques for creating a Soft Gilded piece (in pink, this color is called Antoinette), a 2-Color Distressed piece (Old White), a Modern finish (Duck Egg Blue), and a Rustic Finish (Barcelona Orange with dark wax).
One of the first questions I needed answered was the order in which a piece is worked on…do I paint then wax, or distress then wax? Ahh – it was so confusing! But, I learned the correct order, according to Annie Sloan: PAINT, WAX, DISTRESS, AND WAX AGAIN.
The wax helps seal in the paint and protect it. There’s clear wax, which you can’t see. But, it gives the paint a more lustrous, deep color. Annie Sloan also makes a dark wax, which also protects, but gives a more rustic, aged appearance in my opinion. I am on the fence about dark wax. Do I like it? Not sure yet.
Other things I learned at the workshop:
1) I can paint on nearly every surface known to man with this paint – concrete, glass, clay, wicker, walls, floors, etc
2) You don’t have to prep a piece of furniture before starting to paint. No primer, no sanding needed.
3) Annie says don’t worry about imperfections. Be fast when you paint, and don’t paint in straight, orderly lines. You can almost slop it on. Seriously. Watch her video. No back and forth for her. Streaks will disappear when the paint dries.
4) This paint dries fast! You can get a piece done in a day. 
5) For a shiny appearance, buff your piece the next day after the wax has dried, by wiping vigorously with a clean cloth. For a matte appearance, don’t buff at all.
6) Use 3 coats of this paint and you’ve made yourself a chalkboard! Wow, how fun would it be to have a chalkboard in all these colors!
So there ya have it folks. It was a great learning experience for me. I’ve already painted my first little piece at home and will share that in my next post. But the fun will really start when I show you the progression of a bench I plan to do. I’ve already started “tearing it apart.” More on that later!