Simple "before and afters"...

Some of the simplest "befores" turn out to be my favorite "afters."

Which explains why I often don't have decent "before" pictures...I think "oh, that's no biggy" and dive right in to giving them a simple little makeover. Then they turn out so stinking cute I wonder why I didn't take time to take "before" pictures.

They are a reminder of why do this blog...to show you how easy it is to take a simple, boring, out-dated, dark piece of furniture and turn it into something you will want in your home rather than in your yard at the next garage sale!

We DIYers live for those hidden treasures...pieces of furniture that people want to get rid of... they drop them at their local thrift store or sell them for pennies in garage sales or just set them out on the curb...we take them home, clean them up and work a little DIY magic. 

The worst...you live with the ugly, dark furniture because you can't afford to replace it!

I get it...you paid a small fortune for your "matchy-matchy" bedroom furniture so you can't bring yourself to get rid of it.

I've shared "makeovers" hundreds of time...too many times to link ALL the pieces I have "upcycled" over the years. But I would bet money you still have a few pieces lurking around your house that serve a purpose or are "family heirlooms" or you paid too much to get rid of it...so you just live with it.

Don't fret...take the plunge...buy some primer and some paint AND CHANGE IT!

LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LIVE WITH UGLY FURNITURE!

This shelf was your typical Target cheapo...dark finish...no I did not take a picture of it "before." Honestly, I think it was a piece someone left at the apartments so I loaded it up and brought it home.

I removed the back panels...primed and painted the frame and shelves with one of my "sample" pots of white (KSTP). I painted the back panels with a sample pot of teal and then reattached them.

Super simple and too stinking cute!

This little bedside table came with a set I bought at an auction. Someone bought the dresser, chest and bed but didn't want this little table.

Meh....

Simple makeover! I removed the drawer and simply brightened it up with some Restorafinish. I primed the cabinet, sand, tack and white gloss paint. It was missing a knob so I ordered two new ones...

....again, SUPER SIMPLE and so stinking cute!

This old oak dresser...the finish and the little applique' really dated the piece.

I popped off the appliques using a chisel...lift carefully...chances are they are applied with a little bit of glue and a few tiny nails.

... sanded the old glue, stained the top with gel stain (no need to strip the old finish) and chalked painted the rest of it....distressed and sealed the whole thing with poly...

Too stinking cute!

Simple...simple...simple! 

Nothing earth shattering on any of the pieces...just super simple little makeovers that updated the pieces and gave them new life! 

Walk around your house...what simple little piece can you haul out to the garage and work a little "DIY magic." Trust me...if you don't like it when you are done, you won't get any less for it at a garage sale! 

Funky little chair makeover and a few upholstery tips....

Another auction buy that languished in the garage for months until I pulled it out and thought..."Hum, I kinda think that is cool!"

It may not LOOK cool, but it is a funky little chair...and I like "different." Not really my style (Hollywood Regency maybe?) but since my style is "eclectic," I can find a place for it! 

I'm not sure exactly what wood it is...my guess is walnut. But the finish was the typical dark stain with black flecks I see on a lot on furniture from the 70's...not really attractive...

 

After I stripped all the old fabric, I used my 1/2 and 1/2 mixture and stripping process to strip the old finish and stain...then I applied 4 coats of tung oil finish (no stain)! I like the warmth of natural wood.

As always, if one comes in, one must go out. So this little chair in my office was moved upstairs into the guest room until I have room in my space at 410 Vintage! I bought it 25 years ago at an estate auction and it was my first real reupholstery project.

Fabric is always a tough one for me...maybe because I know how hard it is to reupholster a piece and I don't want to do something I will tire of and have to redo. I found several fabrics I thought I might like, brought samples home and did what I always do...stare at it for a few days. In the end I went with this fun but somewhat conservative "geo" pattern...I like that it is relatively neutral and could be spiced up with a pillow or throw...

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And spice it I did. When I was looking at fabrics I found an awesome pink velvet. I was briefly tempted to cover the chair in the fabric but I knew it would be a "fad color" I would later regret. But I couldn't stop obsessing over the pink so I decided to find a pink accent pillow.

Naturally, I couldn't find a pillow I like so I ended up buying a little bit of the pink velvet and made a little pillow. Instead of cording, I decided to go with tassels on the corners but couldn't find any I liked...so I made little "tufts" out of feather cording...just too stinking cute!

A simple but fun little detail that brings in the pink I was drooling over without the huge commitment of covering an entire chair in it! I would advise taking this approach on all "big ticket items." Couches, chairs, bedding...keep them neutral and add the "fad" details and colors with pillows, throws, curtains and rugs...accents that are relatively inexpensive to change out when the color falls out of favor in a few short years!

By the way, you may have noticed I changed the curtain...I went with white just to lighten the corner a bit!

I could never post a good tutorial on how to upholstery YOUR piece of furniture...there are so many great video tutorials online for just about any style of chair/couch/ottoman/etc and I strongly suggest you do a lot of research before you start your project. Find a tutorial that best suits YOUR needs.

I will share a few tips that will make your job a tad easier. It doesn't matter if you are recovering a chair or couch or ottoman...these rules apply!

First, learn to sew. Every DIYer should know how to use a sewing machine if for no other reason than to sew pillows or curtains or do basic upholstery or even hem a pair of pants. If you don't know how to sew a straight stitch, learn! I was fortunate that my mother made me take sewing lessons when I was young but I know a lot of local county extensions and hobby stores offer cheap (if not FREE) lessons! Take them...learn! And don't think you need an expensive sewing machine...I have a basic cheap machine that is at least 30 years old! 

Start simple. Before you tackle an heirloom wingback chair with expensive fabric, try something simple like this ottoman....

The drop cloth material I used was relatively inexpensive and super easy to sew. And I used a premade bias tape for the cording.

Take your time! I always think a project will take a lot less time than it actually does...so know that reupholstering anything isn't a "rainy day project!" Maybe a rainy WEEK...but deconstructing alone will take time and a lot of patience and you want to do it right!

Take LOTS of pictures while you deconstruct! Just snap random pictures as you strip the piece. If you are like me you THINK you will remember, but you won't...and you will find yourself sitting there wishing you knew how in the world it was originally put together. So take pictures!

It is always good to have a visual reference!

TRY to keep the pieces of the old upholstery intact so you can use them as a pattern for the new. If the old is really stinky and ewwwy, make a "pattern" with them out of butcher block paper or old newspaper. Make sure you label each pattern piece or old fabric so you know where it goes! And keep in mind that the fabric you remove has been trimmed...so add a few inches on each side of the piece...you can always trim after it is attached!

If you are going to strip and stain or paint, do it after you strip the old upholstery but before the new! 

Take time to make repairs! Make any repairs that need to be made BEFORE you start painting/stripping/staining and reupholstering! Do not spend the time and money reupholstering a chair if it wobbles or needs new strapping. If you don't know how to repair something property, Google it! Or email me! And remember, glue and clamps are your friend...not silicone, not sheetrock screws, not nails. Do it right or you are wasting your time!!!

Remove ALL the old upholstery nails and staples...all of them. And honestly, I have bought every tool on the market to make the job easier and I always revert back to a plain ole' flat screw driver, a hammer and a pair of good needle nose pliers!

Which reminds me...wear shoes! I don't care how careful you are, those nails and staples fly all over the place and you WILL find them with your bare feet!

Speaking of tools, I think I have tried every electric and manual stapler on the market. I have found that MOST will not set a staple flush or securely. So now I use a pneumatic stapler, similar to this one.  Best. Stapler. Ever!!!!  But word of warning...don't make a mistake and don't plan on recovering the piece any time soon because those staples aren't coming out!

Alway cover old batting with new. Even if the old batting seems to be in good condition, cover it with new batting. Always! If it has old horse hair stuffing replace it...if it has old "strapping," now is the time to replace it!!! On a few chairs, I have actually stripped everything down to the bare wooden bones and added new everything. Trust me, that is better than getting it all back together and discovering that the seat still sags or is lumpy and it smells!

Buy enough material! When you buy material make sure you account for any piping (welt cording) you might have to make. You can buy premade cording, but if you are going to make it out of the upholstery fabric it MUST be cut on the bias...in other words, diagonal across the fabric. To give you an example, on this little chair, I needed less than two yards for the seat and back, but I needed another yard just so I would have enough to make the welting. Again, google welt cording/piping and you will find great tutorials that will show you exactly how to make it. 

Make sure you have enough fabric to complete the project before you start. Lay ALL your "pattern pieces" out on the fabric and account for the welting before you start cutting. Nothing is worse than getting half way through the project only to discover you don't have enough fabric...and you bought the last bit of it! If all else fails you can always use two different fabrics on the project like I did on these little tuffets...but PLAN for it!

 

Google, google, google. I learned a lot at the elbow of my dad but today we have the world at our finger tips and you can find a good tutorial for just about any project...even upholstering furniture! I always advise watching as many tutorials as you can find and use the one that makes the most sense to you and your project! Watching DIY tutorials is also a great way to decide if you even want to tackle the project...advisable before you buy a wingback chair at a garage sale for $20 with the intent of "learning to upholstery!" 

Until next week when I hope to share Matt's entry makeover...

 

 

 

Entry cabinet/console/buffet makeover...

Occasionally I will buy something at an auction for resale I THINK I won't need to do anything to! Example...this nifty "primitive" cabinet/console/buffet...

It could be used for many things...hence the cabinet-slash-console-slash-buffet.

It would make a darling entry table. Or a tv console. Or even a small dining buffet.

The wood is really rustic and rough...nifty iron hardware.

But alas, no one shared my vision and it sat in my space at 410 Vintage for MONTHS!

Last week I did a little reset...technical word in the world of retail for "move stuff around." Since this little cabinet/console/buffet had been hanging out for quite some time I decided to bring it home and give it a little facelift.

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Darker gel stain on the top and a grey/blue chalk paint and distress on the base.

I think it is darling and HOPEFULLY someone else will agree! 

Another example of how easy it is to change things up a bit with just a little effort!

Eastlake chair makeover!

Years ago, the "wood purist" in me would never have painted an antique anything!

But slowly I have evolved and my snobbishness has taken a back seat to reality...some "antique" pieces have little use in today's world of decor trends. The rich color and grain of walnut, the depth and beauty of rosewood, the vibrate color and delicate grain of mahogany...zip, zilch, nada.

The day will come when those who followed the decor trends of today will glare at their painted furniture and shiplap walls and growl...it happens. NOTHING is timeless. Honey oak cabinets were timeless...8x8 tile floors were timeless...white appliances were timeless. 

The fact is decor trends come and go and we realize that which we thought was timeless, really isn't.

(There are still some who cherish antique pieces...and of course, as always, do a lot of research and make sure the piece you want to paint is not a valuable antique "as is!")

I have no doubt that this piece I slathered in chalk paint and covered in buffalo check fabric will catch the eye of someone looking for a great side chair...but it will someday be stripped down and refinished...exposing the amazing walnut grain and delicate incised carvings. Someday...but not today.

That was my original plan. Strip the old finish to expose the beautiful walnut grain and intricate carvings, reconstruct, seal with oil and reupholster in a fabric worthy of an antique walnut Eastlake piece.

Knowing all that hard work would garner little favor with my "target market," this chair sat in my garage for YEARS. Seriously, I'm not sure when I bought it but I can't remember a time when it wasn't lurking in the back of my garage.

(If you are a "purist" or antique lover, turn away NOW!)

Some would look at this and think EEEWWWWW!

Yes, it was pretty "eeewwwy." And yes, this is pretty much the shape it was in when I bought it. I think I remember removing the original rotted fabric and a few thousand upholstery nails and I did start stripping it using this process. But I eventually shoved it into a corner of the garage where it languished until I got over my snobbiness. 

I constructed a new seat out of plywood...not even close to the original but then again furniture no longer sits in the parlor only to be used by tea sipping adults. 

The richness and beauty of oiled walnut has fallen out of favor for the "farmhouse" chalk paint and distressed everything!

New foam padding and batting...the old horse hair of yesteryear just doesn't cut it these days. (Thank God...that stuff is nasty!)

The crushed velvet or needlepoint fabric that would have originally ordained this piece was a no-go. I went with the trendy buffalo check that I suspect will be as popular as chevron was a few short years ago!

A bazillion metal upholstery nails...no way Jose! Hot glued gimp is the way to go!

Don't get me wrong, I think it is as cute as a bug's ear! I have no doubt someone will LOVE it! It would be a precious side chair or even a dining chair paired with a farmhouse table that are all the rage!

And as always, it is Litty and Mr. Jinx approved....

As much as I would like to think of myself as a "purist" I can certainly appreciate the desire to fill our homes with pieces we love or suit our desire for "going with the flow" without breaking the bank! 

C'est la vie.

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Cherry tv cabinet makeover....

I've said it before...I am a bad blogger and mediocre photographer at best.

Bad because I often get in such a hurry to start a project I completely forget to take a "before" picture. Mediocre photographer because...well, my photos speak for themselves.

As is the case of this Queen Anne Cherry tv cabinet. Hello 1998! 

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No, I did not take a "before" picture. So I did a little google search and found a cabinet that was SIMILAR to the one I acquired from my neighbor. Color and style are the same, but mine does not have a drawer. 

We have all seen this furniture style...many of us still have it in our homes! I had similar bedroom furniture...not the Queen Anne style, but heavy and dark. I painted my bedroom furniture a few years ago and honestly I don't give it a second thought these days!! In other words, update the outdated and you may stop feeling the need to spend thousands on new!

There are several problems with this tv cabinet. First, who still uses these cabinets for housing tvs? Most of us have transitioned to flat screens...I finally pitched my last hold out a few years ago. 

Second...it is dark and "heavy" looking. Not really the in thing right now.

But they are still good solid pieces that have use and purpose. Maybe not for their original intent, but who couldn't use more storage! 

It is super simple to give these pieces a little update. I know most will not want this piece for a tv cabinet but everyone is looking for storage pieces for crafts, linens or even clothing. Honestly, it could be used in a kitchen for pantry space or a bathroom for towels and such!

Again, it just needs a little facelift.

I removed the back...super simple since they are usually just stapled on.

I added a new shelf then primed the inside of the cabinet with Kilz, sanded, tacked and spray painted it with white paint (KTSP!)

I used bead board to make a new back to add a little "interest." I used THIS process to "stain" it. Normally I would use an accent color but this time I used the same latex paint I mixed up as chalk paint for the exterior.

Making your own chalk paint is super simple...thoroughly mix 3 tablespoons of water and 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris and then add 2 cups of FLAT latex paint. You can use satin or eggshell paint but I have found that the flat tends to "chalk" better when you sand.

Sand and seal! Again I never use wax on chalk paint...usually polyurethane or polycrylic. If you want the added character that you get with dark wax, try applying a dark "glaze" before you seal. Personally, I think you get the same affect without having to use wax. I have even used stain as a "glaze"...this mirror being a good example.

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Finally, I added simple knobs.

Sealing the piece with poly makes it super simple to repaint when the "distressed" craze ends...and trust me it will eventually! 

Some of us remember when this dark "cherry" look was all the rage...

Little Miss Muffet sat on a....

Tuffet?

At least that is what came to mind when I saw these little chairs at an auction. When I googled "tuffet" I found pictures of little ottoman kinda things...but the definition is "a footstool or low seat." So I am going with tuffet. 

As cute as they are (or probably were in 1978) I knew they would require my least favorite chore...upholstery...and sewing! 

So of course they sat in the garage for months.

But I could see them all dolled up in my mind's eye so this week I decided to tackle the project.

First I had to strip off all the old upholstery and remove all the nails and staples!

I found an upholstery material I really love but there wasn't enough to do the whole chair...so I found a solid that coordinates with the fabric...sometimes you have to improvise! 

Chalk painted and distressed the frame...

Rather than use upholstery nails I used gimp...

The cushion is attached to the seat with buttons so I covered buttons with the teal fabric.

Just too stinking cute!

Not sure if these are "technically" tuffets but they are child size and ready for another lifetime of curds and whey!

On a side note, I "googled" what exactly is "curds and whey"...turns out it is nothing more than "curdled milk." I raised two girls...neither included curds and whey in their tea party menu! 

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on her tuffet

Eating her sausage and egg biscuit

Along came a spider and sat down beside her

And Little Miss Muffet squished it. 

We should be empowering our girls...

Sign post from old bed posts...

I have had these old bed posts for eons...they have been sitting in my garden cubby for...seriously, I have no idea how long! I can not tell you how many times I almost tossed them, only to stick them back in the cubby "just in case."

I love the blogs that post inspiration pictures with links...but there are just too many...and honestly, I'm kinda lazy! If you need or want more inspiration, just search "sign post" on Pinterest. I promise you will find something that trips your trigger.

I stumbled across one in my search for ideas for my guest room (I promise to share soon!) Light bulb moment. I have old posts! I have some old hooks....and scrap wood...and paint. 

I CAN DO THIS!!!!

So I did...

Super simple project...while I have all the necessary tools in my Tool Box, this really is a project that needs little more than a hammer, saw, screw driver, glue and nails. 

First I had to clean all the gunk off the posts...then I puttied the holes and built a sturdy base (just a scrap board screwed into the post and trim)...

....chalk...paint...distress...seal...add a hook!

Perfect for a little "Welcome" sign on the front porch....maybe a hanging basket of flowers. You could even add a few more hooks and use it as a coat rack or set it in your bathroom or by the pool for towels...the possibilities are endless!!!

Super simple. And a great way for me to purge another "just in case" thing from my garden cubby!

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The breakfast nook table and chairs makeover

When Matt decided to buy his first home (details here), I knew my love for "making old new again" would come in handy!

I love the dresser and chest I found and refinished!

He was able to use the farmhouse trestle table I featured here

And of course this "cute as a bug's ear" vintage chair makeover!

But he didn't have a table that would fit in his breakfast nook...a relatively small space in his kitchen.

I knew it needed to be a round table since the space is only about 9x9.

I found this round oak table at a flea market...a tad dated in it's original condition but I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

Normally these oak tables are around 48" in diameter but this one was only 32" so it is the perfect size...just not the perfect finish.

I honestly didn't want to strip and restain the top so I decided to go with gel stain...again, I ONLY use the General Finishes brand. It really is the best!

Rather than go with my usual Java color, I decided to go with the Brown Mahogany.

As I have said in other tutorials, the first coat is a bit stressful....

...you really question whether this stuff is going to work. 

Patience...wipe on a coat with an old athletic sock...let it dry overnight...then wipe on a second coat, then a third....

I promise, by the third coat you will see the results you want. Then just seal it with the General Finishes wipe on top coat. 

Sunlight streaming through the windows is awesome in the morning...not so much for photographing furniture...but hopefully you get the idea....

After staining the top, I chalk painted and distressed the table base. I picked up a couple of oak chairs at an auction and chalked painted and distressed them as well...then recovered the seats with some leftover fabric from my club chair makeover!

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Perfect fit for this small space.

One tip...this little table came with a leaf...while this space really isn't big enough to expand the table, it is always smart to refinish table inserts just in case want to use them in the future! 

Also, just a reminder that I do not seal my chalk paint with wax...I use polyacrylic. Someday this whole "distress" thing will go out of style and he will want to paint this furniture...wax would have to be stripped before he could repaint the piece!

Next week I hope to share Matt's first big project...painting the brick fireplace. If you are debating whether to tackle yours, you really want to see what a little bit of paint can do...impressive!

So tune in for the big reveal.

What's my "style"....

As I have said time and again (and evident by my Home Tour) my "style" is very eclectic. What exactly does that mean?

It means I like what I like and because my home is not all "farmhouse" or "traditional" or "mid century" I can pretty much find a place for any piece I fall in love with. 

As I mentioned in my last post my son Matt is buying his first home so I have been on the hunt for pieces that can be transformed and used in his house. Taylor, my daughter-in-law, asked me what Matt's decor style is...hum...not sure I ever asked him. Fortunately, like me, he likes what he likes and doesn't restrict himself to a specific style. He loves the mid century Lane Acclaim tables, but he also loves the farmhouse table I refinished several months ago! I promised him that if it didn't sell, he could have it for his dining area. I have picked up a few chairs and a round oak pedestal table for his breakfast nook. I'll share them when I get their "facelift" done! 

In the meantime I want to share this nifty dresser. Seriously horrid in it's original condition, but I could see the potential. 

Solid wood and very well built...and unique!

I think it could be an awesome piece in his bedroom, along with this little dresser, but I'm not sure I have convinced him it is worthy....but then again, he hasn't seen it finished! 

I absolutely LOVE this piece, especially the old rusty hardware. Matt asked if I could put cup pulls on it like the little dresser, but honestly, this hardware too cool... so unique and amazing. I cleaned them up and reattached them...rust and all! I just think they are awesome!

I chalk painted and distressed the cabinet and gel stained the top. The drawer fronts are latex paint. 

As I said before, if he still doesn't love it, someone else will! 

That is the great thing about being "eclectic"...to each his own! 

I blame it all on "Fixer Upper" ...

As I mentioned here, Matt is buying a house so I have been on the hunt for inexpensive pieces he will need. I often remind my children that it took decades for me to accumulate the pieces I have in my own home...so patience!

But I find myself being terribly impatient when it comes to someone else's house. I blame it on "Fixer Upper." A couple walks into their home after 1 hour and it is perfectly decorated and styled and staged...certainly I can do that in 2 months.

HA!!!! 

Maybe if he had an endless budget...but he doesn't so I have to focus on the essentials with a few "froo-froos" thrown in for good measure.

Saturday I scored a "free" sectional couch. It will be an awesome piece if an upholstery cleaner can get all the nastiness and dog hair off of it...for now it is in the storage shed along with patio furniture, garden tools, kitchen stuff I have picked up and of course his "college day" collection.

I do have a garage full of "projects" and a few of those pieces will work beautifully in his new house...IF it will ever stop raining and I can get them all repaired and painted!!! For now it is just a collection of "junk" that is stressing my OCD tendencies.

Actually I pulled a lot of it out into the driveway Monday, went for supplies, and got home just in time to drag it all back into the garage before it got soaked. Curses. 

I worked Monday and Tuesday building and repairing and cleaning...making wood tops, gluing busted drawers, puttying splintered veneer and misplaced hardware holes. All the stuff you can do when it is raining and you can't drag everything out and start assembly line painting.

One piece is a neat little three drawer chest I scored while emptying out one of my apartments....

It certainly had it's issues. Laminate top, busted drawers, splintered veneer, and an AWEFUL finish! 

Number one rule...if it is broke fix it PROPERLY! No sense in "making it pretty" if the veneer is going to continue to peel or the drawers don't function.

I removed all the "loose" veneer, puttied and sanded. I repaired all the drawers. And because I think this would make an awesome bedside table in Matt's new house, I replaced the top with a stained wood top....

I chalk painted and distressed the cabinet with one of the sample pots I bought when I was looking for a wall color for my bedroom. I kilzed and painted the drawer fronts with another sample! Nothing goes to waste!

And of course new hardware.

Again, I think it would make an awesome bedside table but I have a few other little projects up my sleeve Matt may like better. Nice thing about having a room in a vintage market...if he doesn't love it, someone else will!