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Simply Said at The Empty Nest

Today I had the pleasure of doing a Simply Said party with Janet from The Empty Nest – a delightful  shop that sells Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Janet and I go back a few years — I had met her during Annie Sloan’s US tour, when she was in Leesburg, VA. I was attending and brand new to chalk paint. Someone introduced her to me as my local stockist (back then she was a booth-holder in an antiques shop). Now Janet has a gorgeous shop full of amazing furniture and goodies in Old Town Warrenton, VA. When I was painting furniture I was in her shop almost weekly. Talk about inspiration – check it out!

Ahhh – the mother lode!

Janet’s shop is a feast for the eyes! She has chalk paint, antiques, painted furniture, hand-crafted items, repurposed items, lovely textiles, and so much more! I could browse for hours!
She was so kind in offering to host a party for me in the shop. I set up in the back and we had a nice crowd join us to learn how to use Simply Said in their decorating. Here’s a few shots from the party!
Janet put out quite the spread!
 I loved the welcome sign!!
My Simply Said display included a few painted items, as well as Simply Said’s accessories and designs.
 In this picture I am removing the grid paper from the back of a design.
Here I am demonstrating how to easily hang a design on the wall. 
I had such a nice time chatting with the women who came. I loved hearing their ideas for using Simply Said. One lady, named Sue, is planning on creating a custom design using Simply Said’s online tool, called Your Way. She’s going to make a back-splash design that I have no doubt will be the conversation piece of her kitchen!
This was certainly a fun venue for a party! Big thanks and appreciation go out to my friend, Janet! if you’re in the Warrenton, VA area, be sure to check out The Empty Nest!
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Memorial Day Weekend Yard Sale Swag

Of all the things I love about living in Haymarket, yard-saling is not one of them. Damn gated communities. Seriously, there’s little to no yard-sale activity in this town, because its filled with gated communities. My community doesn’t even allow yard-sales. And it seems the others have a once-a-year community-wide sale, and then the remainder of the summer is a yard-sale ghost town.

So, that means I have to hit-up local cities and towns to find a bargain. I spent Friday on Craig’s List trying to decide where to go. And since I am not from Virginia, I have to map quest everything to see what kind of drive I am talking about. This is too much work. I like the good ‘ole days of driving around town and just discovering endless neon-colored signs pointing me in the right direction. Boo!
At any rate, I was all ready to go at 7 am yesterday, in hubby’s truck, with an address for a Fairfax flea market. Then I realized, “crap hubby doesn’t have GPS in his truck!” So, I had to get into my SUV. That changed my game-plan. Without an open-bed truck, I wasn’t likely to walk away with huge amounts of furniture. So, why drive all the way into Fairfax? I changed gears and decided to try a closer town called Warrentown. I found a few sales on Craig’s List. They were a bust. Except for the freebie plastic Transformer action figures Saxon scored for a quarter. On a side note – taking Saxon yard-saling is the easiest shopping trips EVER! He can sit and look at books or the quarter-toy bin and find something that makes him so happy – and literally only cost me a few coins! Gotta love that.
So, we drove into Old Town Warrenton. I hoped to get into their Salvation Army there. It was closed for the weekend. Of course.  Then we just drove aimlessly – looking for the brightly colored intersection signs with arrows. We found one, and jackpot…it led me to a town-home community sale! And here I discovered a lot of great stuff, at equally lovely prices!
A gigundo area rug. It had never been used before (and it really does look brand new). The lady gave it to me for $45. I thought that was a steal, considering how much a rug of this size costs new! I don’t think I will keep it in this spot, as I have a french-script rug from Ballard on back-order. But, for now, this rug does the trick.

This was the only furniture I found, but without my hubby’s truck it didn’t matter anyway. These pieces fit into the back of my SUV with that big ole rug! I love the Asian chest. The lady, who was probably in her 30’s told me she bought it at an auction when she was just a teenager. It has some expected wear-and-tear, but otherwise it’s in good shape. I don’t even think I am going to paint it. The red is awesome! I’ll clean up the brass, and see if hubby thinks I should keep it. Otherwise, it will be for sale – so stay tuned! The other two little tables will definitely get paint jobs and be posted for sale soon!

Cool clock, huh? The face is what caught my eye. I’m going to paint the body and distress those great edges, so they show through. It will have so much more oomph!

Birds! Imagine how pretty these will look when the frames are painted Old White and lightly distressed!

This cheese tray is going to make a gorgeous decor piece or terrarium after I am done!

Cute little mirror for a girl’s room! It’s already painted and pretty!

I have a thing for carved ducks. These decoys are the real deal, too. Not mass-produced from a home-store. They are signed by the carver, and I have to decide if I want to add them to my flock, or find a new home for them.

Slightly rusted, but in otherwise good shape, this aluminum planter box will look pretty when she’s all painted up! Wait and see!

Dinged up and scratched Pottery Barn frame waiting on a little paint.

Shadow boxes! Going to get a bright color of paint!

This note board/picture frame will look beautiful in Old White too! (can you tell I am a sucker for the antique white color!)

I couldn’t pass up this old peg rack for a dollar! It too will be painted!
So there ya have it, my weekend finds! If you ever want to go yard-saling with me in the Northern Virginia area, email me. Next on my list of adventures is trying out some auctions!
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The Bench is DONE! Before & After Pics

Finally, the little bench that was a big headache is done. And the hiccups experienced along the way feel so worth it, now that I look at the pretty thing she has become. It’s a gratifying feeling, to know I DID this! From a plush, new cushioned seat to a paint transformation – my new bench looks shabby chic and romantic. I love it!

Remember what it looked like originally? Well, just in case you didn’t catch the first post about tearing out the cushion here’s a link to read that post, and the BEFORE photo….

And here is Miss Lovely is now…

Look at those curves!

Have I gotten her from every angle? Here you can see the three simple tufts in the cushion.

And there’s the little pillow I made from the Waverly garden collection of fabrics. See the curtain? That floral pattern is from this collection too – I found it just yesterday at a consignment shop! 

Even Charlotte had to get in on the picture-taking action. Doesn’t she look pretty?

And not to be outdone by the dog, Saxon posed for a pic too!
I left the back open because putting another cushion up there would have required work I wasn’t really willing to do, and frankly, I like seeing the open lines. It looks more contemporary now.

For those interested in the recipe for the paint makeover – I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Two coats of Old White followed by clear wax. Then I distressed with fine sandpaper, and gave it a patina with a coat of dark wax.

I had considered selling this bench. Now I think she’s a keeper. I’ll be moving it around my home, looking for a permanent place to settle her in.

I’ve started working on another little bench. It is a much simpler project and should take another day or so to complete. Keep watching!

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Design Inspiration at Lucketts!

As many of you know, my hubby left Saturday morning for a couple of months overseas. He wasn’t scheduled to leave again for another month, so the suddenness, and gravity of where he was going this time, hit me a little harder than usual. And maybe because Easter was the next day and our son’s birthday party is this weekend. Departure day always sucks – but this one was crappier than usual.

As he drove off to the airport, we headed in the opposite direction toward Pennsylvania, to spend the holiday with my in-laws. On the way, I stopped at a place I have been dying to check out – The Lucketts Store, in Lucketts, Virginia. I needed some retail therapy.

And wow, did that place lift my spirits! I mean, seriously, I was feeling happier as soon as I drove onto the grounds. It was absolutely packed with people, and had a festival atmosphere. They were selling food on the grounds, music was playing (I think. Or perhaps all the coolness of the joint made me hear music in my head?), and people were milling about looking at rustic, farm treasures, funky garden urns, and refurbished finds. They even had baby rabbits for sale! You bet your chocolate bunnies that Saxon begged for one of those – but it didn’t happen.

I found a few items I plan to use to decorate a spring table-setting (more on that to come).

But, in the meantime, I wanted to share these photos of things that absolutely whet my design whistle! Oh how I want to redo my whole house!! That’s not going to happen anytime soon either, but a girl can dream.

I want a hutch. I had hoped to find an old girl in need of a makeover someday, like the top photo (obviously this one has already been made over). Then I fell in love with this beauty above. Less country,  more french. I could see one in my dining room, the other in my living room. Oh, how to choose!

On to wall-hangings…

Okay, I find these girls kind of creepy. But, I was still drawn to them. It’s like the ugly sister is glaring at the pretty sister. The more I look at the photos, the more I want to hang these in my house, just for conversation starters!

They had a selection of really large-scale horse paintings/photos/illustrations. This white beauty was stunning! I would love this in an all-white room. This photo does it no justice – they are simply amazing in person.

Proof that not everything inside an antique shop will look like something from your grandma’s house…these completely cool, driftwoody structures add a sense of modern architecture and rustic charm at the same time. Love them!

I was excited to see this shelf, as I found something similar recently (but smaller), at a consignment shop. My piece is actually from Pottery Barn, not antique, but it’s distressed like this. I’m saving it for my powder room makeover.

This selection of old doors and shutters were outside, aging beautifully in the elements. I’ve seen lots of cool-looking projects online for using just these types of reclaimed pieces in your decor. For anyone who’s been in my home, our great room has a huge 2-story wall that I just don’t know what to do with. It’s a big, blank slate, and I would love to put up some kind of funky, old-door installation. But, that’s a project I am not ready to tackle. But, when the time comes, I know where to find fabulous doors!

Above: More furniture that made me drool!

Below: The drooling continued…

Hello pooch!
This would make quite a statement in the front yard, but HOA would have a fit, for sure!
Loved this chandelier! And the design house featured large, brass numbers all over the place. I thought it would be cool to hang those above Saxon’s bedroom door, with his birth date.

This reclaimed wood farm table was beautiful. Notice the foot? I’m not understanding the foot thing. That is one thing you will NOT find in my place. Ever. I don’t care how trendy it may become.

These long plant-holders on the other hand – loved them!

And this mirror was amazing. Perfect for a large wall. I adore them.

And since you know I am all about the birds, both live and in my decor, I just had to snap a pic of these playful little parakeets. How fun to walk into this room and hear these little guys tweeting! Again, another boost to my spirit! I really would love to buy a beautiful cage, and have a couple of colorful finches in my house.
I saw room after room of things that made me smile at The Lucketts Store. And they got my creative juices flowing for my next paint project. Until then, here’s hoping you run into things to make you smile too!

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My first Annie Sloan chalk paint piece

As soon as I got home from the workshop, I bought myself some Annie Sloan chalk paint from my 2 local stockiest – On a Whim in Lucketss, VA and The Empty Nest, located inside Fox Den Antiques in Warrenton, VA. I purchased a quart of Duck Egg Blue, French Linen and Old White. I also grabbed a sample container of Paris Grey. My bounty was not complete without a can of clear wax and dark wax.

Later, I headed to Lowe’s and purchased natural bristle brushes (for painting), lint-free wiping cloths (for wiping away excess wax), sandpaper (for distressing), mineral spirits (for cleaning the wax brushes – soap & water cleans the paint brushes), and a drop cloth (to preserve the floor in my husband’s man cave, a.k.a. the garage).

With all that loot, I was ready to begin painting. My first piece was this box I found at a local consignment shop. I purchased it with the intention of painting it, as I love the shape of the box, but am not fond of the sunflower and checkerboard design. It isn’t the best quality – a little beat up, but kind of cute, right?

So, the first thing I did was give the exterior a coat of Old White. I slapped it on, as Annie directs, in every which way.  When it dried, I then painted the inside Duck Egg Blue. Already I discovered my first mistake – I should have painted the inside first. It was quite difficult to paint inside (as the little doors do not come off), and not get paint on some of the newly painted white parts. And – I need to invest in a smaller, artist-type paint brush for little areas like the strip of wood down the middle. But, after this struggle, it got much easier.
I let it dry and gave the exterior a coat of French Linen. Waited a short bit, and then it was ready to wax. I started with the clear wax over the entire thing – inside and out. After I applied it with the wax brush, I used my cloths to rub it in, and remove any excess. It felt smooth and dry to the touch. 
Next, I got out course sand paper, and distressed it on all sides. Since this piece was a bit rough to begin with, I decided to give it a lot of distressing, and really age it. So, the next step was to apply dark wax, so it could seep into those distressed areas and imperfections. After I rubbed off the excess (which you coincidentally do with the clear wax – pretty nifty trick!), I again gave it a final coating of clear wax. Then I lightly buffed it.
Here’s the transformed box:
I’m not sure where I will keep this little bugger yet in my house. And to be honest, there’s not a whole lot of little things I have to display inside. This might make a good piece hung on the wall with thimbles inside or something else of that little nature. Any other ideas? Feel free to share!

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Beautiful furniture on display at the workshop

Before I get down to the nitty-gritty of what I learned, I wanted to share images I took of the furniture that was on display at the workshop. It was held at The National Conference Center, and these pieces were displayed in one of their lobbies. I eagerly snapped shots, but should have taken notes on who did each piece – so for that I apologize in advance to the person who did the first piece below.

This was by far my favorite piece in the room. Look at her French loveliness! Oh how I hope to find a deal on something like this one day. Well, this or an amazing hutch.

Here’s some more beauties…The yellow dresser was done by the girls at Hue-ol-ogy.

This lovely chair and hutch were painted by Amy from Gallery on Third. Even the fabric was painted using a stencil on a drop cloth material! She said she just couldn’t find a fabric she liked, so she created her own! Ingenious!

These little tables and armoire were painted by Celeste at On a Whim (in Lucketts for all you Northern VA friends!) I am so in LOVE with the duck egg blue color!

I could totally see this contemporary color combination in my front living room! Love the Emperor’s Silk Red with the black and white fabric! This was done by Terry at Budget Redesign.

Here’s a closeup showing you the distressing detail of another one of my favorite pieces from
BB Home. Love!

And finally, here’s a folksy-fun piece painted by Janet from another local Northern Virginia ASCP stockiest, The Empty Nest.

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I’ve discovered Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Last weekend I attended the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint workshop in Leesburg, Virginia. For those of you who are new to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, as I was just a few months ago, it’s this very popular brand of paint used to give new life to furniture.

I discovered the paint while doing online research, as I was going to attempt my first furniture refinish job in over 10 years. That’s right – year’s ago I dabbled in refinishing old furniture. I’d go to auctions and buy old stuff, then strip it, and paint it. The only piece I still have today is this TV armoire. It was a hunter green piece from Ikea that lacked any character. So, I painted it black, decoupaged the door insets, and added new handles. I’ve always loved how it turned out and get tons of compliments from people who visit. But now that I know about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I might be tempted to refresh this baby! (If I could get it into the garage – it weighs a ton!)

Two months ago I decided to redo a filing cabinet. It was purchased from Home Decorators about 3 years ago and had lots of life left in her. Except it was black (like so much of my furniture purchased during the “black is mod and cool” phase). My new office is a white-wash oak. So, I figured I would strip this puppy and give it a wash. I wanted it to look like this piece I scored at HomeGoods.

Well, after hours of stripping, sanding and white-washing, here’s how it turned out. I’m less than thrilled. Too much grey. It will go back to the drawing board and get the Annie Sloan treatment.

So, this experience of trial and error helped me find the light! I learned of the Annie Sloan American Tour in Leesburg, which just happens to be about a 30-minute drive from my home. I registered and the rest is history! Now I feel so much more confident about painting furniture. I’ve already started a sample piece, and will share that with you too in a post to come.

In my next post, I will show you what I discovered at the ASCP workshop!