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The Elmer’s Glue Technique

A friend of mine recently brought me this all-white armoire to paint for her toddler son’s bedroom. She wanted to make it more masculine.

At first, we contemplated an antique blue color, and were going to decoupage old Sports Illustrated’s pages on the doors. She’s going for a vintage football theme – so cool! Then while she was getting her daily dose of eye-candy at HomeGoods (wait, doesn’t everyone go to HomeGoods daily?) she spied this vintage looking cabinet.

She brought it to me, and said, “let’s do this to the armoire.” Okay I said, while thinking, “geeze louise how will I distress down the blue, without going past the black and showing the armoire’s original white color?”

So, I consulted a Facebook group of painting gals that I belong to, who are real pro’s. Most of them run retail shops, or furniture restoration businesses. I knew someone there could help me. And a great person, named Meghan Cobb did. You can check out her business page here.

She advised me to use Elmer’s Glue to get that lifted off, chippy edge look on the blue paint. You can use Elmer’s Glue to crackle paint, and there’s a lot of YouTube videos out there that can show you the basics. Here’s one I watched.

I wish I had taken step-by-step photos of this process, but its very messy and I didn’t have someone who could shoot photos for me. Stopping to wash my hands was impossible. You’ll understand in a minute.

So here’s how this project went down:

1) I painted almost 3 coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint decorative paint in Graphite over the entire armoire. Then to give the grey color a deeper/blacker hue, I dark waxed the entire thing. I did not clear wax this piece.

2) Next I used Zinnser clear shellac to seal the graphite on the doors and drawer fronts, where I planned to do the glue/blue paint trick. Why this step? Because it allowed the blue to be lifted off without taking any of the black with it. We did not want to see any of the original white.

3) When the shellac dried, I thinned down some regular old white school glue. I used Elmer’s All Purpose glue. I just added water and mixed it to a thin consistency. Next I spread that on the doors and drawer-fronts, working on one at a time.

4) I did not let the glue dry at all. I immediately painted Annie Sloan’s Napoleonic Blue over the wet glue. Once it got tacky (in a couple of minutes), I used a paper towel to blot away the glue and paint around the edges. It worked perfectly and did not even begin to lift any of the black away.

5) To get some crackle, I pulled out my hair dryer and ran it over the wet blue concoction.

6) Once it was completely dried, I dark waxed over the entire surface again.

So here is how it turned out:

I hope she likes it!

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How shall I arrange my new furniture? UPDATED

New neighbors moved in across the street a couple of months ago and during a meet-and-greet party they hosted, the lovely lady of the house and I got to talking about furniture and decorating. In the course of the conversation, she revealed that she had two white slipcovered love-seats that she was selling. I was in the market for the very same thing, so I jumped on them!

You see, my old white couch and chair, which has served my family well for many years, will be settling down into our basement video game room in a few months.

With that in mind, I knew their replacements should also be a white or cream color, as I wanted to keep the same color palette in there. I really also hoped to find a slipcovered piece, one that would come off entirely, so I could wash it occasionally. Why? Because I have a 5-year old and a dog that love to lay on the couch in this room and stare out the front window. Or wrestle. Or wipe dirty hands/faces on the cushions.

As luck would have it, the new pieces fit the bill. They are a pair of chair-and-a-halfs, from Crate&Barrel. They look brand new! And they gave me a great deal on them – how could it get any better?!

So, here they are in the room. Gorgeous, right? Then why does something feel wrong to me about the arrangement?

Here you can see this room is right inside the front entry. As I come inside the door, something feels amiss. Do you think its because the room layout used to be more open? In my mind, this couch-facing-couch layout felt very contemporary and symmetrical. However, after I emailed the photo to my husband he said it looked “old-fashioned.” What??????? As you can imagine, my doubts doubled and here I am fretting over how to lay out this space.

I love the new pieces, and do not think they look old-fashioned whatsoever. And in talking it over with hubby, I think he meant that the space looks more “traditional” than it had previously. I had considered moving one of the pieces against the window, but worry that Charlotte will want to sleep on it or get up on it to look out the window. I even went to far as to buy a bench at HomeGoods last night to put in front of the window for her.

But, its too wobbly for her to comfortably get up on. She attempted it once, and after falling off, she won’t get near it now. So, its going back to the store.

What do you guys think? Shall I turn both of them around to face each other in the opposite direction?
Maybe I just need to get used to a more intimate sitting space. Maybe its the fact that the one piece is “floating” and I’m used to the furniture against the wall. Maybe I am just PMS-ing.

Check back in a week. I’ll be in love with it!

UPDATE: 1/28/13

I consulted my design loving Facebook friends, and they gave me a bunch of suggestions. Here’s the space now:

I moved the couches to form an L-shape.

I moved the red trunk under the window.

I got rid of the large boxy-shaped end table and large lamp. Those pieces worked fine next to a full-size large couch, but these demure little chair-and-a-halfs (or settee) needed something smaller in scale.
So now there’s a glossy black stool-like table in its place.

I picked up a couple of grey pillows and that awesome gold-yellow rug, which turned out to be too small. (why do things always feel larger when they are folded up in the store!!??) So, I’ll have to return it. BUT – I so badly want another yellow-patterned rug for this spot. Let the search begin!

Overall, I feel much better about this arrangement. It’s more open, and “feels sexier,” as my hubby put it. Heck, if he thinks it’s “sexy,” I’m sold!

Baby its cold outside, and the painting is at a standstill

A few weeks ago we had some record warm temps here in Northern Virginia. It was January and in the 50’s/60’s! But as all good things must come to an end, the thermostat dropped and this week it was frigid. Like 15 degrees cold! So painting in the garage is on hold until the forecast shows temps at least in the 40’s.

Here’s a large gorgeous piece I was able to finish before the Ice Age hit.



This gorgeous cabinet was painted hunter green inside and out. The client’s decorating has changed and she didn’t want to see any green on this baby anymore. To distress this piece and not have any green show through, I had to sand away the green paint in all the areas I planned to distress. Take a look…
I got out my truster Black and Decker Mouse and sanded off the edges – farther back than I intended to distress – so I could be sure the green didn’t show through. For the most part, this was successful, although I will admit, tiny hints of green did appear in some of the finer areas, like the molding up top. But, when it was all done, those areas looked more like dark wood than green, and the client was pleased with the overall appearance.

It’s painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Paris Grey on the outside. I clear waxed the entire piece to seal the paint. Then I distressed lightly along the edges, and dark waxed in select areas to give it an aged look. Don’t you just love how this grey looks? 

On the inside I painted the shelves (plus two more not appearing here in this photo) and the entire inside in Old White. The dark wax on the bead board made this back really pop! 

This was a really big project, and I can’t wait to see how my client decorates it in her home! While the weather was still nice, I started another big piece of furniture (for the same client) – this white armoire.
We’re going to give it a more masculine appearance, and match the paint scheme to this piece of furniture.
I’ve already painted the whole piece in Annie Sloan’s Graphite. And as soon as the temperature creeps back up next week, I’ll work on that chippy blue effect. Wait till you hear about this – you do it with Elmer’s glue!
While I was between custom projects, I got a great deal on this used shelf. It was originally black and I wanted it to be red to match my laundry room colors.
I brought it inside and painted it in my kitchen! This puppy was painted and waxed in just a couple of hours.
I think the washer and dryer are jealous!

Alrighty folks, think warm thoughts! And pray for Spring to get here soon!

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I’m a sucker for a fill-in book!

Call it what you like – a scrapbook, art journal, diary or memory book – I LOVE fill-in books. You know, those wonderfully gifty-type books that prompt you to fill in the pages with notes, reflections, photos, drawings and things you never want to forget. I adore them. They call to me from the bookstore wracks. Really, they do.

I’ve done so many of them over the years. You probably have too. Like the bridal planner book. And of course, the Baby Book. I’ve done the fill-in prompted style, calendar style and even turned an ordinary photo book into a memory book.

For my husband’s first Father’s Day, I made him a scrapbook called, “Why My Daddy is Better Than Your Daddy.” Someday this will be Saxon’s book.

Years ago my bestie, Rhonda, and I exchanged fill-in books for each other. The one she gave me is called Friends are Flowers that Never Fade. I still cherish it! She stuck in all kinds of photos of us from high school and even a note I wrote to her! We still can’t remember what it was I said she should have “tried out for.” And “trauma” – why did I write that? Ha! Who knows, but this makes me smile.

(don’t judge my big hair in this pic – it was the 80’s!)
Recently, my mother-in-law gave me a fill-in book to keep throughout Saxon’s school years, called School Years. I really have to get started on it! I love that it has pockets for tucking in their drawings, tests, report cards, etc. So perfect!
And I’m super excited because for the first-time ever, I get to combine my book publicity job with my love of journaling books. This season I am handling the publicity for a new book called, Art Doodle Love: A Journal of Self Discovery (STC Craft | A Melanie Falick Book). 
This beautiful little book provides prompts and inspiration for scribbling, doodling, gluing things inside, documenting events, reflecting on things past and so much more. I love it and can’t wait to let the creativity ooze out onto the pages! Check out this video of a user enjoying Art Doodle Love!
And a book I just have to get my hands on is the Annie Sloan Workbook
I’ve seen so many furniture painters using it to keep their “recipes” for custom color mixes. You can use this as a place to keep magazine clippings of decor and items you want to use in your next home renovation ore redesign. There’s pockets too for storing fabric snippets, ribbon, etc. I would like to document my furniture paint work in it, by keeping before and after photos, along with paint swatches. Then I could carry this along to client’s homes to show them examples. At any rate, I need to hop on down to my local stockist, The Empty Nest, and get myself a copy pronto!
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, these little books are such a joy to give and receive. (And in case my Hubby is reading this – so are diamonds!)

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We Made No-Knit Scarves at Craft Club

This month our neighborhood craft club got together and made scarves. Except we didn’t knit – we knotted. Intrigued? So was I.

Here’s the project we based our craft from – Martha Stewart’s No-Knit Scarf. So first, we went out and looked for some really chunky yarn.

Our neighbor, Lisa, led the craft, since she had done similar macramé knotting previously.

The next step was to cut 12 strands that were 108″ in length. She said that would give us 9-feet, but that we’d lose about 1/3rd of it in the knotting and be left with a 6-foot scarf. So we all started cutting our 12 strands.

Chrissy, our hostess, used really amazingly soft and thick yarn! And she made delicious soup and sandwiches, too! (she’s known in the neighborhood for her wonderful cooking!)

After the 12 strands were cut and ready to go, we had to secure them under the end of a clip board.

Then we separated them into 4 groups of 3 strands each.

The next step was to take the two groups of strands on the right and knot them as you would tie a shoe: overlap the two groups and then tuck the ends of one group through the loop (this sounds much more complicated than it really is – just pretend its a shoelace.)

Then do the same thing again, except this time, reverse the way you go into the loop. So, if the first time you tied you shoes you went over into the loop, this time go under. You are creating a square knot.

Repeat this on the left side with the two left groups of strands.

Now, take the two innermost groups of stands – and make the square knot by using the same technique explained above. Repeat the entire sequence, until you get to the end.

Lisa was really good at it.

Me, not so much.

Gail was a natural and finished quickly!

Somehow I ended up with about 8 inches of strands on one side and 3 on the other, so I had to stop and just cut the longer pieces off, which resulted in a smaller scarf then I had wanted. But, the scarf is warm and I love the color. I really enjoy Craft Club because it introduces us to crafts we may not have ever attempted otherwise. And its fun to get together with the ladies and enjoy food, drinks and girl time, while being creative.

Next month we are making pearl heart ornaments in honor of Valentine’s Day – stay tuned!

I met Design*Sponge’s Amy Azzarito

Yesterday I went into NYC to meet with a few of the authors I’ll be doing book publicity for with Abrams|STC Craft (which really has been like a dream job for me). I met Amy Azzarito, who is the managing editor for the uber-popular website, Design*Sponge. She’s also the author of the upcoming book, Past & Present: 24 Favorite Moments in Decorative Arts History and 24 Modern DIY Projects Inspired by Them.

I’ve talked with Amy on the phone before and she’s always been super nice. Meeting her in person was no different – she was engaged, positive and had great ideas for spreading the gospel about her book (which I am psyched to work on as its all about DIY home decor). As I sat there listening to her, I kept thinking to myself, “I hope she doesn’t mind that I want to be a groupie and take her photo!” She didn’t mind.

Amy Azzarito (left) with her new book, Past & Present, and some woman on the right who needs a haircut!
Amy’s book includes essays about some of her favorite moments in decorative arts history that pair with do-it-yourself craft projects for related modern decor. Check out some of the projects below!

 I myself want to try making several of the projects in the book! What a fun day I had…surrounded by books and creative people! Does it get any better?!!

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Who doesn’t LOVE a bargain!!

Its the new year and time to purge. I took a look around my house the other day and thought, “damn, there’s a lot of STUFF in here.” You know, stuff, that you sort of sit out on a shelf – maybe because it was a gift, or maybe because you found it in a moving box and wondered why you never displayed it. And over time, this stuff accumulates. Before you know it, its like you fed your stuff after midnight and your house if over-run with it! (giving my age away with that retro-movie reference to Gremlins)

So, I decided to get rid of some of it. Kitchen gadgets (can you believe I have 3 blenders), decorative things like pottery and wall-hangings, and even spare furniture that’s not serving a purpose. In doing so, I made room for a find I’m so proud of I could squeal!

I found a pair of these cuties at a Ross store! Yes, I said it, a Ross store…the same place where you can find designer duds at a fraction of the price. Yup, they sell furniture too and the price is almost always right!

My chair for $119

I scored two of these petite accent chairs for just $119 each! Look at how lovely they are: tufted backs, piping, casters on turned front legs, and gorgeous linen script fabric.

Now hold your breath, because here comes the amazing part…I found my chairs’ cousins on Amazon for $660 each!! (marked down from $825) Heck, these could be switched-at-birth siblings to my two chairs! The noticeable difference, other than the price tag, is the limed oak legs. Theirs are darker than mine.  But seriously – don’t they look almost exactly the same?? I’m giddy with the notion that I saved myself over $500 a chair!

Amazon’s chair for $600

Sorry to gush, I just had to share this steal of a deal with you guys. I was excited when I left the store, and even more over the moon after this discovery. Who doesn’t love to find a super bargain!

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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!