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  I think it went from 70’s outdated honey stain to modern glam.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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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.

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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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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In the hopper . . .

Here in Texas, we don’t have basements, or real attics for that matter.  All we have is the garage, and mine isn’t a particularly large one.  The garage is where just about all of my furniture finds and projects end up.  I work real hard to get it cleared out and then enjoy one to two weeks of being able to park our van in there, only to load it back up again after the next great find.  Sigh.  I probably should accept that as long as we live here and I’m in this business, my garage is going to be more of a rotating furniture factory than a place to house our car.

Here is a peek at the projects hanging out in my garage right now.

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I found this awesome, hand-built shelf/hutch in someone else’s garage . . . at an estate sale a few weeks back.  It was super cheap and I grabbed it thinking it would make a great display for my shop.  But I’ve developed a liking for it, and so I’m thinking we might keep it here.  We have lots of big wall space in our house, so I  may chop off the bottom pieces that make it a hutch (you can’t really see it in the pictures) and hang it on a wall space as display shelf.  I’ve already thought of lots of neat things I could put on it . . . but for now, it’s just hanging out and serving as a drop spot for paint and tools.

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I also have this great sideboard I found just a few days ago.  I wrote in my last post about my excellent estate sale timing a few days ago . . . how I dropped in right when 90% off was announced! Well, this was one of my awesome finds.  And it gets even better:

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Here’s the top! A solid marble slab with hand-painted tiles, mirror, and trim work.  It’s gorgeous and in excellent condition.  And for you purists out there, don’t worry, I am not going to paint it.

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It was part of a whole set that included a huge armoire and vanity . . . unfortunately, this was the only piece I could fit in my already stuffed van.  It is truly ridiculous what I payed for it–maybe one of my best finds ever.  It does need a tiny repair–one of the casters came off and needs to be fixed back in place.  So, it also sits in my garage for now.

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I found this really old oak chest of drawers on CL last week, and it’s already got a quick coat of milk paint on it.  I’m super excited about the knobs I found for it, they are really sleek.

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Two of the drawer bottoms need repair though, which is a job my hubby has to help with.  So it’s also hanging out in my garage.

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Besides business projects I have a few personal projects going on as well.  I have been working on re-doing my little office area (more on that later . . .) and this great cane arm chair is part of my new scheme.

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It’s waiting for  a coat of MMS Artissimo and some new fabric on the seat.

Lastly, I’ve been doing some furniture switching in my boys’ rooms.  The two big boys got bunk beds to replace their two twin beds, and the baby had one of the twin beds moved into his room.  It won’t be too much longer before he is out of the crib and into a big kid bed, yikes.

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I have a box spring left over from the big boys’ room (they can’t use their boxes on the bunks), but not another twin mattress yet.  I don’t dare put the box spring down onto the bed without a mattress . . . it is low enough that my little one could climb onto it and I know I would find him jumping away, boring holes down into the box! So, it’s just kinda hanging out until I can find a good deal on a twin mattress to go on top.

Rarely are things settled for a long around here.   I wish you all a productive week for all of your projects!

Insider Decorating Tip #1

I have never been officially educated in the art of decorating.  I am not a trained professional interior designer.  But, like I mention in my bio, I learned alot about putting together a home from my mother.  She really does have an eye for decorative design and she passed down some of that design instinct to me.  As my husband and I have moved from house to house over the 10 years of our marriage, I have had lots of time to practice also.  Along the way, I have learned some “Insider” tips that the real professionals use and know, and I would like to share some of them with you.

My first insider tip is : Never, ever, ever buy furnishings in a set.  It may seem like the easiest thing is to go to “Big Box Furniture Store” and buy their couch/loveseat/coffee table/side table combo, but what you make up for in ease  you majorly lose in interest.

Think about it–when you see those pictures of bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms on TV commercials that are priced by the whole set, do those pictures ever look really enticing?  Those rooms are dull, dull, dull.  Variety, contrast, and complementation is what makes a room look interesting.

Take a look at these two professionally decorated rooms, and notice how nothing in the room officially matches.

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photo courtesy CusatoCottages.com

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Photo courtesy of bhg.com

The chairs differ from the couch, and sometimes from one another, the side tables differ from the coffee tables, the lamps are different, pillows are different, etc.  But don’t these rooms look stunning?  If you want to furnish your home like a professional decorator, never buy the set!

In my own home, the room that is most “finished” is my living room.  It is a hodge podge of colors, textures, and wood grains, but they all come together to complement one another.

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Now I know my living room doesn’t look quite as nice as those two pictures above, but it’s not too bad!  And, it was done for very little money, all things considered.  My two biggest expenses in the room are the Pottery Barn rug (which was purchased with a gift card off Ebay), and my sofa (purchased almost 10 years ago for less than $600). Everything else came from Craigslist, flea markets, antique stores, or were hand-me-downs.

My two leather chairs were Craigslist finds.  I purchased them from an older gentlemen and they were like new.  I paid $200 for both of them. When we moved into this house, I needed a side table to set between them, so I pulled one of my favorite pieces from my bedroom, the super shabby white cabinet.

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Totally doesn’t “match”, but it works.  The wood underneath the distressed white complements the leather well.

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You also need to feel free to experiment with various wood tones within a room.  Not everything has to be a dark stained mahogany.  Different wood colors add visual interest, and unless you go from super light to super dark, they almost always compliment one another.

My entertainment center was a hand-me-down gift from some former ministry supporters. It is a really nice Hooker piece, so it will stay with us for awhile.

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The darker honey stain though isn’t exactly the same as the console table I inherited from my grandmother.

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And neither of them perfectly match my floors.  But together, their tones play together well.

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I also have used some non-traditional things as furniture in this space, like two old suitcases.  Stacked on top of one another, they are a small side table and hold my books and  magazines.

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It has taken me years to collect and put together these things, and my room will continue to evolve as I find more unique furnishings.  So, decorating without the set requires some patience . . . but it will pay off!  Your space will look much more professional and much more interesting.  Look for things you like, and for things that complement one another, but don’t match.   Your room will develop over time, and each piece will have its own story and own value to the room.

So, if you have a bedroom set, dining room set, or living room set, I want you to go pick your least favorite piece and list it on Craigslist TODAY!  Then enjoy the hunt for something unique to replace it.  Have fun!

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Glitter Glue and Paint

Henry Link Lost & Found

Several months ago while I was working on my Duck Egg dressers, I  decided to paint one of my own pieces while I had the extra Duck Egg Annie Sloan paint.  It was this piece, given to use for free back when my husband was getting his Master’s Degree and we were pinching every penny we had:

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It was a neat piece, and I liked the distressed look of it, but it was a little too distressed if you know what I mean.  It looked like a dog had chewed on one of the front legs, and there were several big dings out of the wood.  But again, it was free! It hung out in our guest bedroom for awhile, and then it found a new home in this awkward corner by our entryway.  I was doing some rearranging to get ready for the arrival of #3, and I decided to use the small chest that was in the awkward spot as his changing table.  So, the free yellow chest of drawers was put in its place, and ended up fitting the spot quite well. Unfortunately, the distressed yellow was almost the same color as our walls, so it definitely needed a new color to make it sing.

Here is what it looks like now:

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Much better!  I was going for shade that matched the gray/blue in my favorite home decor piece, my Pottery Barn wool rug.

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I use that gray/blue as an accent color throughout my main living space.

Well, here’s is where the story gets fun! Last week, I was looking around on Pinterest to get some furniture painting inspiration, and spotted a chest that looked exactly like mine! I made my way to the original blog and discovered that it was a Henry Link piece from his Bali Hai collection, made popular in the 1970’s.  There is quite a following out there for this specific vintage line, and here I was with my own piece!  Who knew?

Now that it’s repainted, I think it is truly beautiful.  I ended up going with a custom mix of Duck Egg blue and French Linen, topped off with Antique White accents and Dark Wax.  I love now how the detail of the faux bamboo really stands out.

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The original hardware is also fantastic.

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And now since I’m in the know on Henry Link, I have been keeping my eye out for pieces for sale.  I found this cute little nightstand for $20 on CL earlier this week.

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I’m not sure if it’s for real or a knock-off, but it has that same great hardware and faux bamboo detail.

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Maybe I’ll start my own collection.

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Update on my French Settee, it sold 3 weeks after putting it in my space, along with the matching chair I reupholstered!  I had the privilege of meeting the customer who purchased it.  She was a sweet young mom, who was expecting her second little girl.  She was putting together a french themed nursery, and thought both pieces would be perfect.  One day she envisioned her two little girls curling up on the settee reading books together . . . I love it!  It was a joy to get to hear how my work was going to be used.  She said she would email me some pictures of the nursery when it was all finished.

Linking up to Furniture Feature Friday