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Our Man Cave Renovation – time to redecorate!

As many of you already know, we recently had a plumbing fail in our basement, and my hubby’s newly finished man cave suffered a big loss. All the flooring had to be ripped out, the drywall had to be cut out, and a lot of the electronics and decor got wet and damaged.

Thus, we’re now in the process of getting ready for a major renovation. With that in mind, its fun to take your mind off the sucky part of this experience, by imagining how we might redecorate the space.

Coincidentally, I was just invited to participate in Man Crates Gifts for Men’s “Man Cave Makeover” campaign. Man Crates is an online source for sending your guy a gift he’ll laugh at, brag about, and probably grunt over while breaking it open with its included crow bar. Yup, they come with a crow bar! Highly covetable, these wooden crates come filled with things guys want – beer, beef jerky, grilling gadgets, barware, sweat-inducing spicy snacks, survival gear (in case of an zombie apololypse of course), golf goodies, and products for the poker player or old-school video gamer.

Man Crates asked me how I would decorate a Man Cave, and I have to say I would do exactly what the hubster and I did the first go-around – with an industrial aesthetic. You can check out this previous post that shows a lot of the items we used in our basement, like Edison light fixtures, stainless steel, etc.

For the purposes of this post, I’m thinking pie-in-the-sky, money is no object…and making a list of what I would do, if I could, without a budget or a hubby to stop the madness!

First, I love exposed brick…so I’d give one wall that treatment.

Next, there’d be a lot of exposed ductwork, beams and track lighting with grey walls. Black beams though (which is exactly what’s in our man-cave now)

I’d choose a comfy grey upholstered couch, and pair it with some reclaimed wood pieces, like a coffee table, console or media center.
There is no lack of cool industrial light fixtures available on the market today. I love cage lights, vintage barn lights, and even big mercury glass globes. Oh how to choose!?!
And of course, any self-respecting man-cave needs a game table – especially a pool table. Check out this baby (from Great Gatherings)…oak hardwood, mortise and tenon construction, decorative metal bolts…I think I can hear my husband moaning with pleasure already!
A bar is another given for a man-cave, and these bar stools make my heart go pitter-patter.
As for artwork, I’d do vintage maps…especially city maps, like this…
So there ya have it, my vision for an ideal man-cave – a place where he can enjoy solitude with his Xbox, or a Sunday in front of the big screen with his buddies!
Thank you Man Crates for the invitation to participate in your campaign.
Now back to dealing with the insurance company!

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A Nelson Matter Dresser Makeover

I picked up this dresser and mirror several months ago at an auction.

As you can see, it was a mess. The lovely crackled finish would have been nice to leave as is, excerpt there were places on the top, front and sides that had huge areas of damage. The top had cup rings, the front looked like a tire tread over the paint, and the side had business cards stuck to the surface!

After inspecting the inside when I got it home, I discovered this medallion in a drawer.

It belongs to The Nelson Matter Furniture Company, which had been established in 1844 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After a little research online, I discovered this company went out of business in about 1910. So, you can see that this is an old piece of furniture! And that would explain its sold wood, dovetailed construction, as well as the state of the mirror, which is quite cloudy. However, it certainly doesn’t deter from the beauty of the piece, but gives it more character in my opinion. I loved the bail pulls, even though it was missing one. I loved the keyholes, the swiveling mirror and gorgeous legs. I loved it at first sight, and waited through 4 hours of bidding to get it!

After giving it a quick clean-up with mineral spirits, I decided to paint this with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I used Graphite with dark wax, as well as Paris Grey with clear wax (the two-tone look is so hot right now). And while I had hoped to find a drawer pull to match the existing ones, my search came up empty-handed. So, I ordered 6 new solid brass rosette bail pulls, that were a close match.

And here she is…

I love painting dressers – especially old ones. They always please me to no end with their dramatic transformations! I hope this beauty finds a well-deserved new home!

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The Joy of a New Color

My latest custom paint project was pure joy! The main reason is because I used a color I haven’t tried before and OH. MY. GOD….it made me giddy after just one coat! Take a look. Tell me this transformation doesn’t make your heart sing!

My client, Lauren, was in the market for a vintage buffet, and I had spied this beauty from a fellow furniture guy on Facebook. I directed her to his site, and the rest is history. She had me over to take a looksy at the piece in her home, and we decided this baby was going to make a statement!
 Painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Aubusson Blue! (do you hear that, angels are singing)
The inside was done in a 50/50 mix of Old White and Old Ochre. There was a ton of bleed through on the inside, as the original wood was stained but unfinished. So I had to use clear shellac to block the bleeding and used a few more coats of white than I normally would. But, I gave it lots of texture, and really aged the inside. I love that look.
Everything was sealed with soft clear wax and aged with dark wax. Seriously, what doesn’t look better with dark wax!

This is the original hardware, believe it or not. I tried to clean the dark stuff that was on each pull with Brasso, but it revealed a dingy silver color under the muck. So, I pulled out some gold gilding paste and gave them all a little bling. 
I have been out in the garage swooning over this buffet. Craig’s List has been up on my laptop all day, so I can find a buffet of my own to paint in this color! When the right piece comes along, I’m telling you, I might just redecorate my living room so I can have something big and gorgeous in Aubusson Blue!!
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2012 Project Highlights and Tips for Succes

January 1, 2013. Today’s a day to reflect on the past year and plan for the future. And its been a good year filled with many changes. My family is happy and healthy, and professionally I couldn’t be more pleased. The new book publicity job is going well, and this past Spring I rediscovered how much I enjoy painting furniture.

Between custom work for clients, and the pieces I painted to sell, the projects were, for the most part, highly enjoyable (excerpt for painting a few sets of dining chairs – oh they are a bear)! Here’s some of my favorites from 2012 and tips for success:

My FAVORITE furniture makeover was the french chair…

This was so fun – I really loved the upholstery aspect of this piece, and I hope to do more chairs this year. If you’re going to reupholster a piece, here’s my suggestions to avoid pulling your hair out:

1) Invest in a good stapler – at least an electric one, or you will find you need a lot of muscle just to get them in flush
2) Save the pieces of old fabric you tear off to use as a template when cutting the new fabric
3) Buy more fabric then you think you will need

Here’s the original posts for this project if you want to see and read more:
Ripping it Apart
Painting the Chair
The Reveal

The Antique Bedroom Set – a close tie for second!

Oh how I loved working on this set that included a queen headboard, footboard, side rails, a dresser, vanity and two huge mirrors. The furniture was beautiful, with amazing appliqué details, curves and rasters. Did I say I LOVED this set? And after the paint, I loved it even more. 
Tips for success:
1) Tape off your mirrors with green (Frog tape brand) painter’s tape. Do not use the blue kind – or you will have bleeding. Trust me on this!
2) Invest in beautiful knobs – they make such a difference
3) When painting appliqués, use a small artist’s brush and take your time
Click here if you want to see some before shots of these beauties.
Mona’s Sideboard

This console was a custom paint project that I fell in love with. I swear when it was all said and done, I secretly wished it was mine! I hope to find a similar piece some day and paint it for my own dining room.
Tips for success:
1) Frog tape is great for getting crisp lines around edges if you don’t trust a not-so-steady hand
2) Use dark wax sparingly for an aged patina. If you smear it over the whole piece, it will just look dirty.
3) Sometimes the lack of hardware truly makes a piece stand out. Don’t be afraid to take it off and fill in the holes. But be sure you can easily open drawers.
Here’s more photos!

The bench from hell

Sometimes a piece of furniture is so easy to transform you’ll amaze yourself. At others, it’s such a pain in the ass you could cry. This one fell into the latter category. And I have several posts to explain why linked below. BUT, what’s important is that the end result. This pretty piece sits in my spare bedroom and when I walk past the room, I still find myself stopping to admire her. 
Tips (or maybe I should calls these bits of advice warnings):
1) You will get blisters when removing thousands of staples!
2) Upholstery needles are very long and sharp!
More links:
Removing cushions is hard work!
The next step – fabric.
Making the tufted seat.
Little Red Accent Table

Okay, I have a thing for red. Love red accents in a home, and this piece turned out great with its black wood peeking out from underneath.
1) Always remove hardware before you start painting, unless of course you plan to paint right over it
2) Don’t be afraid of color. A striking piece will make you smile! The 2013 Pantone color of the year is emerald green – who wants to try it out first??!!
Click to see more photos of red furniture.

Gorgeous Wood Plank Desk

This gorgeous desk was also a custom project. The stunning plank top was to die for! I’m not kidding, I’d go out in the garage and just run my hands over it. Just. Beautiful. Wood.
1) The Black and Decker Mouse is an awesome little hand-sanding tool that strips off old surfaces so quick and easy! Perfect for smaller hands and very light-weight. 
2) If you don’t like your wood to have a shiny surface, make sure you use a matte finish. I prefer Minwax Wipe On Poly. They even make a wipe on stain too, that you just brush on, let sit a few minutes and then wipe off. Easy-breezy!!
Annie’s Secretary

This was a pretty custom project I enjoyed doing. It started off solid black. We used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey, and Old White. 
Stenciling tip:
To avoid stencil bleeding, always make sure to wipe your brush on a paper towel to remove excess paint, before you begin stenciling. Each time you reload your brush, wipe first. This will keep paint from seeping underneath the stencil and giving you that blurry edge.

Decoupaged Kitchen Storage Cupboard

This petite cupboard made my favorite list because of the shabbiness and it’s decoupaged interior doors.  Truth be told, I was completely out of Paloma (the purplish color) and Old White paint when I discovered that I had failed to paint the insides of the doors. I was taking this piece to a sale the next day and I had to do something. In a pinch I decoupaged the doors with Modge Podge and scrapbook paper. I loved the surprise of opening the doors and finding the design!
Decoupage tips:
1) Make sure paint is dry before you decoupage over it
2) If air bubbles form, pierce it with a pin, then smooth out with your fingers
3) Avoid using ink-jet printed designs, as the ink can smudge from your decoupage medium
French Coffee Table

The french coffee table was one of my fav’s this year too. The piece was curvy, with scrolls and shell motifs. I chose to dry-brush Old White over Paloma and it created a lovely layered look.
Dry-brush technique tip:
The dry-brush technique is literal – you load a small amount of paint on your brush, and then wipe most of it off onto a towel or rag before you start painting. Keep the brush very dry to deposit very fine amounts of paint on the surface.
More photos here.

Gold Gilding Column Table

I loved this little piece of furniture for its many crevices. Turned grooves allow dark wax to settle in and create such a perfect, distressed and aged look. Gold gilding wax also looked great on those column legs.
Gilding wax tip:
A little goes a long way! Seriously, use a fine-tipped brush and wipe it back to get your achieved luster. Let it set and then buff lightly. Ahhh – so rich!
More photos here.

As I think about the coming year and the things I’d love to take a brush to, a list is quickly developing:
1) A stenciled accent wall in my powder room
2) A mammoth hutch
3) My kitchen cabinets (I just want to wax them. They’re already an antique white color and I think the dark wax would make a huge difference!)
4) I’ve got about 5 pieces of furniture in my house that need a makeover, from dressers to a storage bench.
5) A TV console
6) A mini bar
7) More French chairs
I’ll stop now. Heck, I’ll paint just about anything! Give it a try folks – I think you’re gonna love it!

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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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Distressed Mirror Makeovers

I finished a couple of mirror projects – one for a neighbor who wanted a full-length mirror for her daughter’s bedroom, and another vintage mirror I plan to sell. (Although looking at it in my entryway tempts me to keep it!)

Here’s the vintage mirror sitting on a long entry table. The mirror can be hung or placed on a surface as you see here.  It’s painted with two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in a lovely yellow color called Arles. It’s got a bit of dry-painting in Old White, is lightly distressed and has been clear-waxed for protection. I am selling this mirror for $75.00.

The mirror measures just shy of 33″ wide by 21″ tall. I would guess it had been made with an old wooden window frame, as it is very heavy. You would definitely need to reinforce the wall hardware if you plan to hang it.

And here’s a photo of the full-length mirror. My neighbor wanted it to match her daughter’s antique white bedroom decor. So this was painted with 2 coats of Old White, with light distressing and sealed with clear wax.

Mirrors are hard to photograph. At least for this inexperienced photographer. I didn’t want to get in the picture, since I was wearing my pajamas! I hope my neighbor and her daughter are happy with how this turned out!

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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!