Top Posts 2013

The new year is almost here, it’s always fun to see what were the highlights of the year that’s ending.  I started this blog in February, and here is a quick peek at the top 5 posts from then until now.

1. Hand-Painted Gray Chest

This was my first attempt at hand-painting a detailed design. It was a fun project and I love how it turned out.  I think it takes top spot because it is a very popular image on Pinterest.

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2.  Duck Egg Dressers

These “His” and “Her” antique dressers were such an awesome find.  I practiced my refinishing skills for the first time on each of their tops.  I was so excited that they sold as a pair, since they were bought and re-done together.

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3.  Milk Paint Experiment

I will admit, this one surprised me.  I think it may have received so many hits because it details a special paint resist technique I tried using Vaseline. Either way, it’s #3!

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4. An Adventure in Upholstery

Oh my goodness, this project basically took up my entire summer.  Working on this French settee was my first time attempting to reupholster anything and so was a major labor of love. I met the lady who purchased it, and she was buying it for her daughter’s French-themed nursery.  It’s always fun to know where a piece is heading.

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and #5. Artissimo Sideboard

This is probably my favorite piece of the year.  I tried out a new MMS milk paint color and it was purchased by  a local friend for her entryway.  She bought it as a birthday present for herself.  I think it went from 70’s outdated honey stain to modern glam. It also has been popular on Pinterest.

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I am not surprised that all of these posts are about furniture makeovers! They continue to be the bread and butter of my business.  I love finding and writing about my unique small treasures, but my real passion is the furniture.

Thank you for all of your support in 2013 and for making these posts so popular!

Happy New Year

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Dried Lavender Chest Reveal

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  We enjoyed our family time together, although I have to admit I am glad to get back to “normal” today.  Christmas day started nice and early in our house, so we were all quite tired.

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Before the holiday got into full swing, I was able to finish the antique chest of drawers I told you about in my last post.  Yesterday, with the help of my visiting mom, I hauled it inside to grab some staged photos before taking it up to my space at ACM.

Here is what it looked like before.

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It was a beautiful piece, but was really scraped up and super dirty.  I decided to go with a new color for it, MMS Milk Paint in Dried Lavender, because it just called for something feminine.

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The top was sanded down and got a new coat of stain, and here is the final product after another coat of milk paint and some finishing touches.

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The milk paint went on really well with this piece, and I didn’t do any sanding to prep. For whatever reason I did have some trouble with one side chipping way too much.

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But I just sanded it down with some fine grit paper, and painted two more coats on that area.  This time, the paint stuck without a problem.

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I really like the smoky purple of the Dried Lavender, and how it plays well against the freshly stained top.

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Speaking of the top, it was one solid piece of wood, which is the first time I have found that in a piece.  Usually everything I work on has a top coat of veneer.  It re-stained beautifully.

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I highlighted a few areas with a very watered down wash of MMS Ironstone, just to give some added depth.

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It had enough stunning detail on it already that I didn’t do any distressing, besides the sides of the drawers and a few places where the milk paint naturally resisted.

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It was a great piece to work on and I hope that it will find its new home soon.

Now back to catching up on laundry, dishes, and all that other stuff that was set aside during the holiday!

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Running vs. Painting

We are in between cold spells here in N. Texas.  Two weekends ago we were iced in for 4 days, but since then the temperature has been steadily rising to the peak today of a pleasant 70 degrees.  The cold and rain is supposed to return this weekend though, so I’ve been trying to squeeze in as much outdoor time as possible over the past few days.

A  few weeks ago I signed up for another race, the Cowtown Marathon in Ft. Worth.

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It’s in late February, and I’m only running the half marathon (only 13.1 miles compared to 26.2).  I took some time “off” after running my first full marathon in October, but I was ready to have a challenge again.  So my training for this race is a little more intense than what I have done before.  I’m doing really crazy things like running sprints and running up hills over and over again . . . I know, it sounds like torture.  But, my goal is to shave off about 12 minutes from my fastest finish time, and “they” say this is how to do that.

So on this gorgeous day today, I had some sprint running I was supposed to do.  I didn’t get a chance to go first thing in the morning, but my husband got home early at around 3:30 and gave me the rest of the afternoon off.  I had the choice to go do my sprint running, or start working on a new piece of furniture.  The antique chest and new bag of milk paint was just too tempting . . . so I went with the painting.  Great for my business, not so great for my training!

I am trying out a new MMS milk paint color–Dried Lavender.

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It’s kind of a light, smoky purple.  I’m not generally a purple girl, but this piece seemed to call for something very feminine.

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I was able to finish sanding down the top of this great antique chest of drawers and paint two coats on the base.  Here’s just a little preview. It’s starting to look fantastic.

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I have one more day of great weather tomorrow . . . which will I choose? I have more running I’m supposed to do, but its so hard to leave a piece half-finished!

I really could use a few more hours in the day.

Two Trees

Decorating a Christmas tree is one of my most favorite things.  I love them so much, I wish I could keep it up year round.  Creating a beautiful tree takes a little bit of practice, but doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars in designer ornaments or first-class trees.  I thought you all might enjoy taking a peek at my Christmas trees (yes, two, and I’ll explain why) and also some tips on how I create a beautiful tree without breaking the bank.

Both of my trees were handed down to me by family.  Neither is pre-lit, and one of them always leans.  No matter though, they have a great look to them and I don’t mind the time of hanging the lights myself.

Our first is our little kitchen tree.  It’s a normal height, but skinny, and it’s the leaner.

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For many years this was our only tree.  It was handed down along with a big box of ornaments and decorations, some of which still hang on the tree.  Most of the ornaments though are ones my children have made.  If you have small children, you know come Christmas time they come home from everywhere–church, school, friend’s houses, camps, etc–with hand-made ornaments.  This little tree is a great place to display them all.

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Because its “their” tree my boys hang the ornaments by themselves.  This fun elf from my childhood takes up residence there once the decorations are done.

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If you are feeling overrun with hand-made ornaments, consider having a smaller, second tree that can be filled with those treasures.

And then, there is MY tree . . .

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As the only woman in a house of 4 boys, I have to fight to preserve “pretty” places.  This tree is one of those.  I am in charge of this tree, and it is where I get to display my pretty decorations

This tree was also a hand-me down and also is not pre-lit.  I light it with both clear and red lights and have a silver, red, and green theme with the decorations.

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This tree is obviously fuller than our skinny tree, but it still wasn’t tall enough to fill up the two-story ceilings in our living room.  So, I’ll share with you my secret–

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It sits on top of a cooler! And, I refuse to pay over a $100 for a tree skirt, so for both of my trees I purchased red fabric and just drape it around the base. It works perfectly fine and doesn’t even require sewing.  The draped fabric camouflages the lines of the cooler, and as presents pile up under the tree nobody  ever notices that it’s propped up.

I have collected my ornaments over the years and they are almost exclusively purchased from Hobby Lobby.  A few boxes I bought for $.99 or under after Christmas at Target.  I also embellish the tree with inexpensive floral sprays from Hobby Lobby. I pull them apart and stuff pieces of them in the branches.

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On top of our staple of red, silver, and green ornaments, I add each year an ornament for each of my kids, again, mostly purchased at Hobby Lobby.  When they are adults and have a tree of their own, I will give them their collected ornaments.

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Also, if we take any trips I try to grab an ornament from our destination.  This one is from a trip my husband and I took to the Boston area before we have kids.

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Isn’t he cute?

I also use floral sprays for the topper instead of a traditional star.  They are just stuck up in the top and spread out to balance the shape of the tree.

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This year I added three of my new vintage postcard glitter banners.  These I made on my computer, printed of myself, and embellished with glittered edges and pretty ribbon.  I love what they add to the tree.

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Even though this is “my pretty tree”, my little ones still enjoy spotting their ornaments on it.

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Gotta love that nap hair!

It continues to evolve each year as I find new things to add.  In any given year though, I generally don’t spend over $10 in tree decor.  It’s possible to have a beautiful tree on a small budget, you just have to make smart moves and get creative.

Be on the lookout for family members who are “upgrading” their trees and may have an old one to pass along. Garage sales are also great places to find trees.  And you can find beautiful ornaments for a fraction of departments store costs at places like Hobby Lobby, Target, or even Wal-Mart.  Try making some of your own decorations, like my glittered banners.  And remember, if you’re just starting out, be patient to collect beautiful things for your tree over the years.

Merry Christmas to you and enjoy your Tree(s)!

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Farmhouse Dresser

I haven’t been doing much painting lately, mainly because I haven’t found anything worth painting! But a few weeks ago I grabbed this sturdy old dresser off a Facebook garage sale site.

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It had great, simple lines but was stained an orangey/honey color and was really roughed up on top.  The weather cooperated this week and so I was able to refinish it in an afternoon on my back porch.

When I started working on it I saw traces of it being painted before.

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 Someone had stripped it and re-stained it some time ago, and it was time for me to give it new life #3.  When you come across solid wood pieces like this, don’t pass them up! Giving them a new style is so simple and they are built to last, so they’ll be a sturdy piece of furniture for years to come.

I sanded down the top to smooth it out and get the yuck off.

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Then gave the base two coats of MMS milk paint, a 3:1 mix of Shutter Gray and Ironstone.  That’s just what I happened to have on hand.

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Those two coats dried nice and quick in the sun, then all I had to do was give the whole piece a good scrape to remove any flaking paint and top it off with a quick coat of wax. I re-stained the top with a poly/stain combo product (again, just what I had on hand) and while I didn’t like the thickness of its application, the end product turned out great.

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I did give the whole piece a quick once-over with my orbital sander before I painted it, so the milk paint stuck quite well and chipped in fine pieces, which is what I was going for.

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The top re-stained really well and compliments the blue/gray.

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I’m happy with it! It was such a quick piece that it may have spoiled me . . . It will head up to my shop as soon as I have a spot open up for it.  Until then, I’ll enjoy it here.

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My Style of Black Friday

What is your Black Friday tradition?  Are you one of those people who camp out in line in the wee hours of the morning to score the best deal? Or do you just watch the news footage of those people from the couch in your jammies?  Well, I spent my Black Friday at one of my favorite places, First Monday Canton Trade Days.

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The weather was beautiful, and in my opinion there is no better way to walk off those extra holiday calories than some good junkin’.

I was expecting larger than usual crowds, but it was surprisingly calm at the south’s biggest flea market.  A few of my favorite vendors were missing, but I still found lots of wonderful stuff. Here are a few highlights.

A petite vintage rubber stamp holder . . . I have seen these used as wine glass holders, jewelry displays, or just enjoyed as they are.  They have a great, unique shape.

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This stool is quite primitive, with lots of rust and chipping gray/blue paint.  What I really thought was unique though was that once upon a time, someone made part of an old wooden spool into the seat.

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I loved this antique paper cutter.  I have seen lots of these around, but never a white one.  It even has hints of turquoise paint showing through the white.

DSC05775One of my favorite finds was a collection of six vintage cardstock punch-outs of Santa in various scenes.  The image is printed on both sides, and on one side Santa’s suit is velvet.  This one of Santa with a reindeer (Prancer, maybe?) was my favorite, so it’s staying with me.

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If anyone recognizes them, I would love to know where they originally came from.  A children’s book or magazine . . .? You’ll see Santa some more in an upcoming post.

Continuing the Christmas theme, everyone needs a rocking horse at Christmas.

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The detail on this guy is amazing, down to his fluffy white mane.

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After getting back home, I did head out with the fam a little later to take advantage of a traditional Black Friday sale at Lowe’s. We came home with a handful of poinsettias, a steal at only $.99 each.

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I also grabbed two real fir wreaths.  I usually don’t decorate with real greens because they are pricey and tempermental.  But these little guys were only $5, so I grabbed two.  One is hanging over my Craigslist shutters that sit on the landing in my stairway.

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And did you spot our Elf?  He’s perched up high to be able to see all the action.

I think my favorite Lowe’s deal though was two more industrial shelves for our garage.  You all have seen glimpses into my garage before . . . it is a disaster. Now, all of my business stuff is contained in one shelf!

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It helps me breath a little easier every time I head out there.

I hope you all found lots of wonderful deals yourselves and have enjoyed your holiday weekend!

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Milk Paint vs. Chalk Paint, My Take

I get lots of questions from friends and family about what types of paint I use on my furniture and what my thoughts are on the different paints available.  Most of those questions center around milk paint and chalk paint–the two hot furniture paints out on the market right now. Other bloggers have taken aim at answering this question about the pros and cons of each paint, but everybody has a unique perspective, so I’ll offer mine to my faithful readers.

Milk paint has been around for quite awhile, but from my understanding chalk paint is a relatively new product.  In the past 2-3 years both types have gained lots of popularity because of their ease of use and great color pallets. They are both wonderful products, but they produce different results.

There are several different brands of each, but the two I use are Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint, and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

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For the purpose of this post, you can assume any mention of milk or chalk paint refers to these two brands.

Let’s get started!

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Milk Paint

Milk paint comes in a powdered form and is mixed with water before use.  You only want to mix up as much as you will use in one sitting, because the paint is perishable.  It is a thin paint, and can produce many neat effects, from looking like a colored stain to that awesome “chippy” effect you have probably seen.

Milk paint requires no prep on the furniture, although how well it sticks depends on the existing glossiness of the furniture’s finish. The more glossy the finish, the more the paint will naturally peel and chip away.

Here are the Pro’s of Milk Paint:

– affordable cost

– beautiful color pallet

– creates interesting, one-of-a-kind texture with its natural chippiness

– environmentally friendly

– different colors can be mixed to create your own custom color

Here are the Con’s of Milk Paint

– can be difficult to mix and get the paint smooth

– is  a little unpredictable, the chippiness cannot be controlled without purchasing another product to add to the paint

– color can easily turn streaky as pigments separate, you have to keep mixing the paint you’re using

I really love using milk paint, although I would not recommend it to a furniture painting “beginner” because it is so different than any other kind of paint you may use. It requires some practice, but once its mastered you can use it to create really unique looks.

Here are  a few pieces I have painted with milk paint:

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Ironstone over Shutter Gray

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Luckett’s Green

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Luckett’s Green

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Artissimo

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I usually save milk paint for those pieces whose natural surface is in good shape.  I like the chippy effect, and so I tend to only use milk paint over surfaces that I am ok with showing through.

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Chalk Paint

Chalk Paint is sold in quarts and has a wide range of trendy, yet classic colors.  It’s a thick paint that you can use at full strength, or water down to your liking.  It will stick to just about anything, so it is a great option for covering a laminate wood surface or even metal.  It is almost fool-proof to use, and because of that, I consider it worth the almost $40 a can pricetag.

Several of the colors I have used covered well in one coat.  Each quart of paint will go a long way–I have painted a full size bed frame (with rails), dresser, and desk with hutch with one can. Like milk paint, it distresses easily and so requires a top coat of some kind.  Annie Sloan sells soft waxes which are a great option, and those can be used to add additional depth and texture to the piece.

Chalk Paint Pro’s

– very, very, very easy to use.

– provides great coverage and can transform a piece quickly

– beautiful array of colors available

– versatile paint, easy to clean up and store

– easy to mix and create custom colors

Chalk Paint Con’s

– high cost, roughly $40 a can

– Annie Sloan’s line lacks dark colors

– can’t create the interesting natural “chippy” look that milk paint can

I would recommend chalk paint to anyone, even to beginners.  Its a great time saver because it will stick to anything without having to previously sand and it dries in about 20 minutes.  It does need some sort of top coat to take away that chalky, flat look though, and using one color for a whole piece can look a little cheap.  I think my pieces have gotten better over time as I have learned how to use more than one color to add interest and detail to a piece.

Here are some pieces I have done in chalk paint.

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Custom mix French Linen and Pure White with Old White accent

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custom mix French Linen & Duck Egg Blue with Old White and Dark Wax

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Duck Egg Blue with Old White dry brush

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Aubusson Blue

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French Linen with Old White

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Aubusson Blue

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Duck Egg Blue with Old White and Dark Wax

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Paris Gray

So who is the “winner” ? Well, neither.  I love and faithfully use both paints. Each has its own unique qualities though, and so I pick which to use based upon the piece I am painting and my vision for it.  They are both awesome products and are taking over the DIY world, so maybe you should give one a try.  I hope my thoughts have educated you a little, I’m happy to answer any other questions you may have.  Happy Painting!

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