A special birthday celebration!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know my dog has become my "fifth child." Yep...that is what happens when you become an "empty nester." You take and post waaaay too many pictures of your animals and, of course, you celebrate their birthdays!

Wednesday we celebrated Cleo's 2nd birthday! If you go by "dog years," I officially have another teenager!

Our grandpuppy, Zoey, came to celebrate with us!

They LOVED the pup treats...the hats, not so much! Zoey wouldn't even wear one for a picture....party pooper!

And of course I have a TON of projects in the pipeline....three chairs to reupholster, five little dressers to repair and rehab and who knows how many other little projects piled in the back of the garage!

I did get a few pieces finished and ready to take to 410 Vintage...this shelf/desk is only one of many...but as usual I either forget to take before OR after pictures...in this case, the before.

Imagine honey oak...eeeck! A little KSTP treatment, and again, another lifetime of awesomeness!

I know I harp on it, but it bears repeating. The ugliest piece of furniture can be dolled up with a little paint! 

I have four dressers lined up in the driveway ready to strip and paint IF the weather will cooperate. I think that is one of the biggest problems this time of the year. One day it is 70, the next we have a freeze warning. So I shuffle stuff around and work on what I can depending on the weather. Some days it is too cold or windy to paint, so I use those days to do repairs or work inside on upholstery projects. Then when it warms up a bit, I paint, but if it is too windy I can't spray paint. Curses!

Not going to complain because in few short months I will be gripping about the heat! And honestly, this is what I love about Arkansas...four seasons! I just wish it would make up it's mind from one day to the next!

Simple makeovers for the worst offenders...the KSTP treatment!

There is NO excuse for ugly furniture. With warmer weather just around the corner, it is time to start looking at your furniture with a critical eye and making a list of pieces that CAN be changed with just a little bit of work!

We all have it...those "cheapo" pieces of furniture that are, at the very least, offensive! Maybe they were given to you, maybe you bought them at a "discount" store...maybe you bought it at the thrift store to fill space in a room.

Pressed board construction, laminate tops, dated finishes, pieces you put together with a little allen wrench thingy that came with the worthless little "screws" that promptly strip out and leave the piece wobbly and worthless!

It's ugly and cheap, but seriously who has the money to buy "real wood" furniture when you are struggling from pay check to pay check and having to buy shoes for a kid whose feet seem to grow a size every month.

I get it...I've been there. Fortunately I have learned to shop resale and auctions for "quality" pieces...and even if they need a little TLC, I have the tools, knowledge and time. But not everyone has that...or the money to buy and refinish high quality pieces.

That is why I advocate the KSTP treatment. Let me explain....

First, before you even get to the KSTP treatment, ALWAYS give the piece a good cleaning. On the nastiest, I use ammonia water but some can just be wiped down with a little water and mild detergent. Whatever you need to do to get the gunk off the piece! If it is "stuck" on just scrape it off with a razor! No matter if you scratch the finish...you are going to paint it!

Second, make any and all repairs that need to be made...and if you don't know how to repair it properly, google it! 

Okay, now the KSTP treatment....

K- Kilz (my favorite primer but any QUALITY PRIMER will do! That is why this is the KSTP treatment and not the PSTP treatment!)

For smaller pieces I use a spray can only because it is easy and gives me a nice smooth finish. On larger pieces I use a brush and 4" foam roller! TIP! Always shake the can longer than the directions recommend. Kilz will spray on with a "grainy texture" if you don't shake the can well! No biggy since you are going to sand anyway, but just makes it a little easier! Also, pay attention to the temperature recommendations...it matters!

Many paints SAY they are a "primer and paint in one." Sorry, I am old school....I ALWAYS prime and I personally recommend it. If you want a superior finish that will hold up to use and abuse, prime! 

S-Sand. A 220 grit paper will usually smooth out the piece after it is primed. I wrap a piece around a sanding sponge block!

If you have "ornate" legs or detailing, use 000-0000 steel wool.

USE YOUR HANDS, not your eyes. Feel the piece.

Trust me, if it isn't smooth, it WILL show after you paint it! Sand it until it is smooth to the touch! If you cleaned the piece well, scraped off all the gunk, this step really should only take a few minutes.

T- Tack cloth. A MUST after you sand but before you paint (or apply any finish). Blow or brush off as much as you can, then use a tack cloth!

You can purchase it at your favorite home improvement store...usually in packages of 2 and relatively inexpensive (around $2)! You can wipe a piece down all day with a clean cloth, but you WILL leave "stuff" on the piece if you don't tack cloth it. Tack cloth will remove EVERYTHING. If you still feel "stuff," hit it with the sand paper again and then tack cloth again! 

P-Paint. This is where people usually freak out. My favorite for wood or laminate furniture is oil-based but it can be a tricky paint to work with for a novice and difficult to clean up. Fortunately latex paints have come a long way and are much more durable these days! QUALITY spray paint is probably your best bet for smaller pieces. I say quality because you can buy spray paint a tad cheaper at discount stores, but I am not a huge fan of cheap paint for ANY project! I usually buy Valspar or Rust-oleum from Lowe's.

On smaller pieces of furniture the difference will only be a few dollars but will be worth it in the long run. 

Each of the brands come in LOTS of great colors...just find the color you love! I have found very little difference between the two brands...the Valspar tends to dry a tad quicker....but both are quality paints! ALWAYS shake the cans well and follow the directions on the can!!! 

I have followed every tip in the book to get rid of the occasional "striping" on large, flat surfaces...like dresser tops or table tops. It doesn't seem to matter how I spray, what the temperature is or how hard the wind is blowing...sometimes I get stripes.

My solution has been to purchase the little "sample pots" of paint custom mixed to match the spray paint I am using and roll it on the large flat surfaces with a 4" foam roller! 

Penetrol and Floetrol are a MUST any time you roll or brush on paint...oil or latex!

Use it. It will eliminate the brush and roller marks and give you a MUCH smoother finish! 

These are just a VERY few projects using the KSTP treatment (I have done hundreds!)....world of difference for a little bit of work! I am working on a piece right now that is in the S stage...primed and sanded but now I need to figure out what color I want to paint it...soon!

 

Even light fixtures and paddle fans can be spray painted!!! On metal pieces and furniture hardware, I use metal primer primarily for the "rust retardant" factor!

One last important TIP when using ANY technique to paint anything....ALWAYS give the piece time to cure before you put it to work! 

I was always skeptical of those "two day" makeovers they did on tv where they would paint something and then "stage" the pieces with all kinds of stuff within hours of putting a final coat on. (Kind of like getting your nails painted at the salon...even though you dry them for 10 minutes, you are still going to ding them if you dig in your purse for your keys! Unless you get gel polish...awesome stuff!) Trust me, that is the fasted way to ruin a finish! Don't do it...be patient and give the paint time to harden (cure) before you set a lamp on it or try to hang the fixture (trust me...I have had to repaint many pieces because of impatience!) 

One dated, nasty, cheapo piece of furniture can ruin an entire room. Toss it or paint it! YOU CAN DO IT!

*I have not been compensated for pimping these products! These are the products I use and work for me!!!*

Display hutch...before and after!

Brian has long since stopped questioning my purchases at auctions. I think he has developed a little bit of faith in my ability to make something out of nothing. But occasionally I do question myself. I must have subconscious flashes of inspiration that, in the stark light of day, are forgotten because occasionally I will look at a piece I brought home and think "WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!" 

This would be one of those pieces....

It's not a horrible piece...it's just very "ho-hum." Not an antique or even remotely interesting. Just...well...boring.... for lack of a better word.

Basically just a  "pine and particle board" piece that is pretty dated...seriously, hunter green?

The upside to this piece is it did not need any major repairs...just a few nuts and bolts tightened here and there. The stained top, shelves and crown where in good shape and didn't need to be refinished.

Honestly, it just needed a little "facelift." A brighter color to update it a bit! I taped and papered off the stained areas, removed the ugly wooden knobs and gave it a little KSTP treatment (Kilz, sand, tack cloth and paint!) 

My favorite teal spray paint and simple little black knobs and we are good to go!!!

I even "displayed" a few of my auction finds just so the pictures would have a tiny bit more interest! This piece would be an awesome addition to a kid's room, an office, or even in a kitchen!

Again, this is one of those "boring" or "dated" pieces you probably have floating around your house. Whether it be bedroom furniture, a little table,  an old dresser, or even a dated light fixture, a couple of hours and a few cans of spray paint can make all the difference. You don't have to be even remotely creative...just find your inspiration and go for it!!!

I have a garage full of projects I have been working on since the weather warmed a bit! I can't wait to share...something for everyone!


Finding inspiration for a ladder shelf!!! And my master bedroom update!

One of the awesome things about the "blogisphere" is all the great inspiration and instruction you can find for just about anything you want to do! 

A few weeks ago, my inspiration came from Kristi at "Making it in the Mountains." She built a ladder shelf for her back deck and it is awesome!!!

Someday I plan on making one exactly like this! I bought a few ladder shelves at an auction recently and when I priced them to see how much I should sell them for they were going for around $150! Craziness! And they aren't even fit for outdoor use like Kristi's!

Anywho, MONTHS ago I ended up with a beat up old desk from an auction...the auctioneers know us now so when no one bid on the poor old thing, he pointed at me and asked if I would pay a dollar...whatever...I figured I could do something with it. Heck, the awesome hardware is worth a buck!

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I originally planned on restoring it but truth be told, it was pretty rough and I have learned that "rehabbing" these old desks really isn't worth the time and effort for resell. The top was laminate and the drawers were veneered. The only good solid wood was the leg and it was hanging on by a few flimsy nails!

But the drawers were well constructed...and the veneer was easily "patched." 

So I decided to use the drawers and make a "modified" version of the ladder shelf...a drawer shelf! 

I think it could be used as a storage shelf in a bathroom or laundry room...maybe toy storage in a kid's room! It's pretty sturdy so it can hold a lot of "stuff." 

I painted the drawers with the "frosted berry" paint I bought for my room. Not that I think it NEEDED to be that color, but I have the paint and I like it! Rather than use the awesome hardware (I am hoarding those for a special project) or fill in the holes, I used rope on the two bottom drawers and a plain white knob on the top! It doesn't NEED pulls, but I want it to look like what it is...drawers!

I cut the top drawer down....I contemplated cutting the middle drawer down as well...no reason why I didn't...I just didn't! 

Thanks for the inspiration Kristi!!! 

(BTW, it sold within  hours of putting it in my booth! Wow!)

MASTER BEDROOM PROGRESS!

As I mentioned in this earlier post, I finally broke down and bought the laminate I want for my master bedroom! Lumber Liquidators had a deal I just could not pass up! Fortunately, it will take two weeks to get it.

"Back in the day" that would frustrate me. There was a time when I could pull the trim, remove the old flooring, lay the laminate, reinstall the trim and paint...all in ONE day...or at least a weekend. Now...not so much. I have been pulling carpet and glue-down hardwood for over a week! My back ache and sore legs make living in this disaster of destruction somewhat tolerable!

Please note that even when my room is in complete disarray, I still make my bed every day! I am thoroughly convinced that the first day I don't make my bed will be the day I die...it's a "thing" I have. (discussed in detail here)

I had to remove the base of the fireplace surround to remove the flooring. I stupidly laid the floor THEN built the fireplace surround...I know better than that. This is a prime example of WHY it is a problem to set cabinets and fireplace trim on top of flooring!!!! Chances are you will replace the flooring long before you replace cabinets or fireplace surrounds...and removing the old flooring will be very difficult if it is under the cabinets or surround!

I did find one neat thing...I guess when I built this room I painted "I "heart" you" on the floor. How sweet!

There is a downside to DIY projecting! The mess! But I have wanted new flooring for YEARS so it will be worth it!

I decided to reuse the existing trim and set it on top of the new flooring...so I have to pull all the trim, remove the nails and scrape off the old caulk. 

I also decided to do the floors in the office...but right now I am only going to do the main bedroom and get it back in order before I tackle the office. The office is ALL glue-down hardwood and it will be a booger to get it all up! I played with gel staining the existing hardwood...and it would have worked had I stained it all at once rather than doing a big "test splotch." Unfortunately, you can see the "lap over" of the stain and it looks horrid. So it all comes up and new flooring goes down! 

I am hiring my neighbor to remove all the old flooring in the office...it is a small room but after a week of working on the master bedroom and what I know will be a labor intensive 2-3 days of installing the new flooring, I am finally having to admit I am too fricking old to "do it all."

Curses.

Updated "antique" school desk and school chair...

Several months ago I went to an auction at a pretty nasty place.  Most of the pieces I brought home had to be scrubbed with ammonia.

I bought a little school chair and an old school desk.  Did I bother to take a picture before I started working on them? Um, no!!!  You would think after all these months I would learn.  But often times I bring stuff home, store it and then the first time the temperature spikes above 60, I start tearing into it!  And this time of the year, those days are rare! 

I did find a picture of the little chair...but the desk was used to prop up the large wood windows I bought so it didn't get in the family photo!!!

So again, it is time to close your eyes and "imagine."  For anyone over the age of 40, it's not going to be hard. More than likely, it was the kind of desk you had during your elementary years.  Beige formica top, grey metal base and an open shelf for a little plastic pencil box and books. 

After both got a good scrubbing, I used "automotive primer" on all the metal.  Kilz works well too, but I usually use "automotive" primer on metal.  I find it just "bonds" better.  I didn't prime the plastic on the seat or the top of the desk.

For the desk top, I used chalkboard paint.  Then I sprayed the base with an awesome "teal" color.

For the chair I used a red "plastic" spray paint on the seat.  You can buy it at Lowe's and it is specifically formulated for painting plastic.  I think any spray paint would probably work but since I needed to buy paint for this project, I went with a paint specifically for plastic. I sprayed the legs with a bright white.

Cute!  Perfect for a child's room!  

Both of these will be in my booth! (The desk sold in ONE day!)  Sometimes I wish I still had young kids so I could do cute little projects like this specific to their decor!  

Then I remember that when I had young kids I didn't have time for cute little projects like this!  

Sew awesome....

I really want, and honestly need, a sewing desk...some place I can store and use my sewing machine without having to set it up on my dining room table.  I found this sewing desk in a thrift store and man-oh-man was this thing seriously ugly!  

 I knew this desk could be a little treasure after the cruddy paint job was stripped away!

And even to my surprise, what a treasure it is...what I found under two layers of paint was beautiful mahogany. Initially someone had painted it a really disgusting green and then I guess they tried to improve it by painting it a flat black.  

This is a prime example of hurting a piece in a failed attempt to "enhance" it!  Truth be told, I felt a little guilty painting the base and drawers white.  But I could never live with myself had I not restored the top to it's prior glory!

Before I started refinishing, I cut the opening a little bigger to accomodate my sewing machine.  TIP ALERT:  when cutting veneer mark the cut with a pencil and then score the veneer with a utility knife. Then use a jig saw with a very sharp blade to cut  "inside" the score...if you don't, the veneer with split and splinter and you will make quite a mess! 

Normally I use Formby's Furniture Refinisher to strip latex paint and old varnish...but two layers of paint needed a little more muscle....so I used a citrus stripper. I will not use anything stronger on veneer (always use any stripper per the instructions and in a VERY well ventilated area!)    This piece didn't have a single chip in the veneer and I didn't want to risk hurting the piece by using industrial strength stripper!  Took a little more time and more than one application but it was worth it.  

After removing all the old paint, I took 0000 steel wool and mineral spirits and gave the wood a "bath."  When stripping wood, regardless of what you use to strip it, always "wash" the piece with mineral spirits to remove all the "crumbs."  After it dries, take VERY fine sand paper or 0000 steel wool and sand lightly before applying stain or a finish.

TIP ALERT...keep old toothbrushes on hand to get into groves and corners when stripping furniture.  DIYers never throw away old toothbrushes, coffee cans, socks, old tshirts or towels...trust me, you will need them!

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Since I knew I was painting the base and the drawers, I didn't strip them but I did sand and prime well before painting.

And again...ALWAYS USE TACK CLOTH BEFORE PAINTING OR APPLYING FINISH...AND BETWEEN EVERY COAT!!  I seriously can not stress this enough! So many DIY tutorials tell you to "wipe down"...again, I challenge you...wipe down your piece with a clean cloth, and even some mineral spirits...then wipe it with a tack cloth!  You will be shocked at how much crud was still there!

Two coats of gloss white paint on the base and drawers.  A light coat of walnut brown stain on the wood to even out the color and give it a little more depth....4 coats of my favorite Formby's Tung Oil. New crystal knobs. Total awesomeness!

I can not stress how beautiful this wood is....I wish I was a better photographer.  And I wonder if I should have stripped and stained the drawer on the right...but then again, I kind of like the paint/stain contrast...I think I would love it either way!

I REALLY love tung oil.... it allows the grain of any wood to just shine!  And it is sooo easy to take care of and touch up when needed!  (Now I know why my father refused to use polyurethane)  I think so many use polyurethane because they are concerned about durability....that is honestly not an issue with tung oil!  Try it...it is almost impossible to mess up the application (unlike poly) and it is extremely easy to touch up scratches in the future if necessary!  

This project was pure joy!  Anytime I can take something that has been so abused and turn it into a treasure it just makes me happy!  

Maybe now I will enjoy sewing just a little more!  

My home office....

I will try to post "before/after" projects as I muddle along and try to figure this all out.  I always have something new in the works, but a lot of the "old" projects are fun and interesting....and hopefully inspiring! 

Last year I decided I was fed up with my old office....big clunky desk, big clunky dresser, big clunky mess.  The problem is, when I first bought this house 13 years ago, my "style" was more traditional...now I am to the point where I want sleek and more "mid century."  Honestly, if the only cleaner I had in my house was windex, I would be happy....which might explain why I put glass tops on all my furniture! 

Anywho, I was digging my way through a little "junk" shop one day and stumbled upon a desk and a dresser with distinct "mid century" flare.  I couldn't get it in my truck fast enough!  This led to a complete transformation of my entire home office!!

 

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Once I got the desk home and stripped down the nastiness from the top, I knew I couldn't paint it. Less one little cigarette burn (a reminder of WHY I shouldn't start smoking again) it was beautiful!  So I coated it with 4 applications of my favorite tung oil and kilzed and painted the bottom of it.  I had the "modern" hardware leftover from my masterbath remodel, so I slapped it on there to save my nails.  The desk chair has been in my attic for 13 years...and honestly, I have NO idea where it came from or how long I have had it.  But again, after stripping it down, there was no way I was painting it....solid mahogany under all the dirt and grime!  So it too got a few coats of tung oil and a new seat cover.   

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One of the things you will see I do through out my house, is decorate with things I love.  The large diploma on the wall (to the left) is my great grandmothers University of Arkansas diploma from 1920.  The little bulldog statue on the desk (left corner) is one that sat on my great grandfather's desk umpteen years ago....both worthy of display! 

I will feature the dresser, refurbished paddle fan, and the sitting area (including the antique wingback chair I was literally carrying to the street when I decided to experiment on it)  in later posts....this room is loaded with "charm" and almost every piece has been refinished, reupholstered, repurposed or reinvented....stay tuned!!!