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...

 

 

 

Twofer...

What is a twofer...well, in this case it was one chest of drawers made into two...twofer-the-price-of-one.

Clever, huh?

The chest was obviously "dated" and too tall...

....but it appeared to be three separate sections. I pulled the drawers out and did some sloothing and found that it was indeed three sections stacked on top of each other, secured with screws. No biggy! I just removed the screws attaching the top two drawer section and presto-bingo, I had two chests...one with four drawers and one with two.

The top had a little boo-boo...a little "wood sculpting" and it was good as new.

I wish I had taken a picture of the finished repair, but honestly I forgot all about it it! Just know that it takes a little wood putty and patience to "sculpt" a repair....but not impossible!

I removed the hardware on the sides and puttied the holes.

I removed all the drawer hardware and puttied the holes I knew I wouldn't use with the new hardware

I chalk painted and distressed the four drawer chest and replaced the dated hardware with nice cup pulls.

I am a "hoarder" of legs so I took a set I had stocked away and attached it to the two drawer section.

I KSTPed (kilz, sand, tack cloth and paint) the two drawer section and painted it with a high gloss white lacquer....simple new hardware!

Twofer....

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!

Cleaning and sealing the deck...

I rarely share mundane chores...why? Well, because they are mundane. But this week I thought I would share our weekend chore only because I think I might have found a new product I like.

I say "I think I might" only because I suspect it will take a few years before I come to a conclusion as to whether it actually works. As far as "ease of application," it's a winner!

The back deck is on the north side of the house so one half gets no sun and had a good build up of black and green gunk. The other half gets a lot of sun so most sealants with stain tend to fade over time! For years I have just scrubbed it annually with bleach and Dawn.

Years ago I used a high power washer to clean my deck...not only did it clean it, it literally chewed the wood! Curses! (I suspect it was more "operator error") I sealed it with an oil based stain/sealer and it was a real pain in the rear...dry time was unreasonable when you have cats who like to sun bathe on the back deck.

Clean up wasn't a huge deal because I usually just tossed the applicator! But it made it near impossible to "start and stop" the project...I pretty much had to do it all at once!

And honestly, it was pretty stinky!

Time flies and while it feels like I just did this whole tedious chore a few years ago, I think it has been more like 10...so it was time once again to power wash and seal the deck.

This time I borrowed my neighbors power washer...only 2700 PSI but it cut right through the black gunk and dirt. 

Then I went on a search for a water based deck sealer. I'm all about oil based anything...and while I know it may not hold up as well, "ease of application" is a biggy these days!

I started researching like I always do...I googled "best deck sealant." I found a product on Amazon with five star stellar reviews...even says it right on the bottle...#1 Deck Premium Wood Stain.

I ordered the "Light Walnut" and tested it on the little deck off the master bedroom.

(Yes we neglected to clean the sides of the steps, hence the "green gunk.")

I was a little freaked out at first because it was kind of a "purplish haze" when I first brushed it on but it dried to a pleasant cedar color that blended well with the old stain color. I was able to clean the brush and bowl with soap and water so I didn't feel the pressure of getting it all done at once!

So, what do I LIKE about this product. First, it does not stink! Pretty much odorless. Second, it dried in 1-2 hours as promised so I didn't have to worry about the critters. I poured it in one of my "work bowls" and used a cheap 4" paint brush to apply it....it was like brushing on water! It was super simple to clean with soap and water.

I wish I had taken "before" pictures of the deck so you could see just how nasty it was...but again, I usually don't share mundane chores so I didn't even think about it. This is a picture I snapped with my phone after I potted my summer plants...you can kinda see how bad it was!

This is what the deck looked like after cleaning but before applying the stain/sealant. 

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It had been a few days since we powered washed the deck, so before I applied the sealant I hosed it down and let it dry....as you can see, the water just sits on the deck...no "beading."

This is "after" the sealant...looks amazing and the water beads right up which tells me the wood is sealed...for the time being!

The "side by side" comparison...again, it dries fast so I will be able to move everything over to the done side when I finally get the energy to finish it!

Why do I "think I might" like this product? I have no idea how long it will actually "seal" the deck.

Check back in a year or two!

Another Drexel Accolade addition to the family....

It has actually been in the garage for months...but when I needed a large piece in my space at 410 Vintage Market and dug it out,I couldn't bring myself to turn loose.

A Drexel Accolade dry bar/server. The top actually flips open.

It isn't the first piece I bought for resale that wormed it's way into my heart...no secret that I love mid century pieces.

But this Drexel Accolade bar is more of the "Hollywood Regency" style. Identical to this little Drexel side table I painted with a high gloss lacquer and love in my den....

There is a good chance I will paint it if I decide to keep it...for now I have shined up the brass hardware and will leave it at that.

Over the years I have snagged some amazing bargains at auctions and on Craigslist...a little DIY magic and they are stunning additions to any home!

This Drexel coffee table....

My growing collection of mid century dressers...

This one is Matt's...I just don't have any more room!

My never ending collection of side tables!

I started collecting Lane Acclaim tables years ago...I think between the kids and I we are up to 10! That doesn't include the 2 walnut Lane coffee tables and the end table I just refinished for Katie and Matt!

Chairs...

Odd little bookcases are always fun!

If you walked through my home you might think I lean more towards the "traditional" side of home decor at a glance...but all these pieces have blended in to created a cohesive "eclectic" style. This "style" of home decor allows me to infuse pieces I love without worrying too much about whether I am breaking a "decorating rule" for a specific style!

So...back to the amazing Drexel Accolade console/bar...

In my opinion, there is too much "wood tone" in this space...I absolutely love the wood grain on this piece but there has to be a good balance...it just doesn't feel "balanced."

So there is a good chance that IF it stays, it will get painted. Again, that is a big "if." I think I have had no less than 5 different buffets and hutches in this space at one time or another and I always end up moving them out and moving the table back against the wall...as I mentioned before my toes tend to find anything out of place, and since the dining table has been against the wall for the better part of 19 years, it may not work well in the middle of the dining room where it REALLY belongs!

We'll see...that is one of the beauties of learning to DIY furniture...you can buy it cheap, paint, upholstery or refinish it and promptly move it out if it doesn't suit your needs. Without the guilt of having to live with something you hate because you paid a fortune for!!!!

OR it can find a permanent home where it can shine for another lifetime!

Another campaign dresser makeover!

If I find one, I'm gonna buy it! A campaign dresser!

This one isn't a "vintage" campaign dresser...probably an imitation but sweet all the same! Well...it wasn't when I bought it....

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Structurally it was in great shape but the finish was definitely lacking. A little KSTP (Kilz, sand, tack and paint...high gloss white lacquer), scrubbed up the brass hardware, and presto....

Again, this one wasn't a REAL vintage campaign dresser...but that didn't stop someone from buying it 1 hour after taking it to 410 Vintage.

This, my friends, is a REAL campaign dresser!!

I have already scrubbed up the brass hardware (no tricks there...Brasso, Brillo and A LOT of elbow grease.) I had to order a few replacement hardware pieces...holy cow those little brass doo-dads are expensive (found them on Etsy.) I sprayed on Kilz and sanded it down. Now I just need to apply a few coats of white lacquer...I can't wait! I will make sure I share it when it is done because I know it will be beautiful!

PORCH MINI-MAKEOVER....

Now that Matt has settled into his new house, we have started on a few little projects that make his home a little bit more...well..."him." (If you search "Matt's house" on this site you can will see several of the projects we have worked on!)

The back yard was a total disaster...lots of trees and years of neglect. I wish we had been smart enough to take before and after pictures of the side yard we have been working on. We added a few flower beds, raked up a truck load of rocks and brought in four truck loads of dirt and mulch. We seeded with fescue. I know it will probably burn up this summer but he was so excited to see the little guys sprouting! We dug up some of my neighbor's lirope and transplanted it in his new flower bed....repurposed the stones that were originally used as a "pad" to make a stepping stone path....a new little Japanese maple. I think it will all be wonderful when he is finished. My yard is an oasis...I have remind him it took 19 years of hard work to get it that way!

The back patio was a tad on the blah side. I did remember to snap a few pictures with my Iphone before we added just a few little touches.

We changed out the flush mount "boob" light for a pendant light...seriously, who puts a dinky flush mount light on a vaulted ceiling?

Threw down a pretty striped rug and added a potted palm and hanging basket. Nothing earth shatter but just a few simple touches to dress the space a bit!

He still needs to change out the seat cushions and eventually I would like to add a baker's rack or build a potting bench...maybe add some kind of wall decor on the wall! We could paint the wood railing but he is determined to eventually add a large deck off the patio so no sense in putting out the effort for the time being!

A few little touches here and there can add personality and style to a space.

It takes time to make a house your home... 

Losing weight is a bitch...

Okay, so it's not the WORST journey I have ever embarked on...quitting smoking was a tough one. After 27 years of smoking and countless failed attempts to quit, I finally did it...it has been 4 or 5 years and I still use an e-cig. I am so hell-bent on NEVER picking up another cigarette I will use these little e-cigs as long as there is a smidge of urge or until someone convinces me they are worse than smoking a real cigarette.

My grandmother chewed nicotine gum for the last 10 years of her life after a life time of smoking 3 packs a day. 

I was also a down-to-bleeding-finger-tips nail bitter through my teens...

My point...quiting smoking, loosing weight or dropping any bad habit is tough...no question. But I approached each with the same mind set I approach a daunting DIY project.

How do you eat an elephant...one bite at a time.

Through my 20s I stayed in the 120s...through my 30s I stayed in the 130s...in my 40s I crept into the 140s and got so frustrated I tossed my scales (like it was their fault!). I hit 50, quit smoking and went through menopause and that was when all hell (and seams) broke loose! I finally realized that at this rate I am going to die a very over weight person.

My daughter Katie is my inspiration (and my hero) After gaining the obligatory 10+ pounds (and more) her first two years in college she finally set out to loose weight last year...65 pounds to date. I am in complete awe of that girl! She looks and feels amazing!

Because of the extra weight I am carrying I look and feel like a complete frump.

Sooooo....last month I decided to take the first bite and loose a few pounds.

So here are a few tips I would like to share that seem to be working for me. 

Get your mind right. Seriously...this can't be an "I want," it has to be an "I need"...and you have to really get your mind right. In other words, be committed to making some serious changes and be willing to make the sacrifices...every day. 

Set REALISTIC goals. The thought of losing 30 pounds was mentally defeating and seemed so daunting. So don't think big, think small baby steps. For the first six weeks my goal was 10 pounds. I have reached that goal and now my goal is to get to a solid 150 (2 more pounds) by the end of the month. My next goal will be another 10 pounds by the end of June. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't make it, but I will make an honest assessment of what I am doing wrong! If I meet that goal, I will set a new REALISTIC goal.

Maybe pounds isn't your goal...maybe it is a specific clothing size...regardless, set realistic baby steps! 

Buy a good set of scales. I bought the dial kind because I didn't want a digital scale telling me I gained or lost 2/10ths of a pound. Just a personal preference! I weigh every day.

Skip the fad diets. And pills...and shakes...and wraps. I know they are all the rage and you can loose a lot of weight fast, but when you go back to eating carbs or protein or normal homemade meals, you will not only gain all the weight back, you may gain even more. So I decided to NOT "diet." Rather I made a decision to make a "food-choice" change.

Identify foods you can and need to live without...your "danger" foods.

Cutting out ALL sugary drinks is a must. Fortunately I did this years ago...no more sweet tea or cokes. I drink water...but now I make it a priority to drink more every day. I fill my large Yeti cup with ice water in the morning and drink it all day! Coffee is okay and I even allow myself creamer...knowing there ARE calories in creamer!

I love bread but I can live without it...so no breads (or chips or crackers)! Same with white potatoes, pasta, nuts, cheese, ice cream, cookies and brownies. Love them all...and I can do some serious binging on all of them... but I can live without them!

No more sandwiches or hamburgers...no more bowls of Cheez-Its and peanuts...no more big bowls of ice cream/chocolate chip cookies/brownies every single night! No more afternoon binging on crackers and cheese and no more french fries or bake potatoes smothered in butter, sour cream and cheese!

I don't completely deprive myself...I ate some tortilleni alfredo during Sarah's birthday dinner and I had a bite or two of some brownies Sunday night.... but I am VERY cognizant of how much I eat of my "danger" foods!

Count calories. They matter! I love ranch dressing but I thought oil and vinegar dressing would be better...but come to find out olive oil has TWICE the calories as most ranch dressings. WHAT!!!!!???? I know olive oil is probably "healthier" but since my goal is to seriously cut down on calories for the time being, ranch it is.

HOWEVER, I read labels, I know the calories I am taking in and I carefully watch the portion size! I found a chart online that tells me how many calories I can eat a day and while I don't micro-count every single calorie, I have a good, HONEST idea of what I eat every day.

The first week is tough! Just getting out of the "habit" of grazing all day and not snacking on sweets in the evening takes some serious self-discipline! But once you get through the first week or two and you see the results on the scales it gets a little easier. For me, it has made me even more determined!

Increase the calories you burn. After all losing weight is all about calories in, calories out! So do something. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk around the block. Get out and do some gardening. Do something. No need to buy a gym membership, a new bike, or an expensive piece of exercise equipment just yet. Just increase your movement. Eventually you might want to add some REAL exercise to your regiment, but at first, just get moving!

What does my daily "diet" look like?

I eat two scrambled eggs every morning. 

For lunch I have a veggie salad.

I eat a normal dinner...eliminating potatoes, bread and pasta. So while I may still cook potatoes, I fill my plate with the veggies and skip the "fattening" stuff!

For snacks I stick with dehydrated bananas (crunchy and sweet) and veggies. If I get desperate for something sweet, I keep "diet" candy bars on hand...like Atkins or Weight Watchers...but again, watch the calories in each bar...they can run 200+ and that is a lot of calories if you are trying to keep your daily intake below 1200! I eat ONE...not all 10 in the box like I use to...again, this takes some self-discipline!

My go-to warm veggie salad is super filling and super yummy!

I saute' chopped veggies in bulk and keep them in the refrigerator and warm when I am ready to eat. 

1-2 scallion (or onion if you prefer...)

6 small zucchinis (chopped 1/2" cubes)

2 bunches of asparagus (chopped 1" long)

1-2 cups of frozen corn

I saute' these veggies in 1 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. I also splash in a tad of balsamic vinegar and oil dressing...just for some flavor.

Balsamic vinegar and oil dressing

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon of agave nectar

1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice (the bottled kind works just fine!)

6 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Every week I chop up leaf lettuce and a bag of spinach for salad. Handful of salad, a cup or two of sauteed veggies and low fat ranch. Sooooo yummy and very filling.

All this being said, if you HONESTLY watch your calories and increase your daily activity and the scales just don't budge, I would suggest having your thyroid and hormone levels checked...those things really can affect your weight...but again, be honest...are you REALLY making a conscience effort?!

One time I went to the doctor and told him I just knew something was wrong with my thyroid...I had gained 10+ pounds in a month. He checked...nothing. After the visit I made my daily run to Starbucks....my son had given me a $150 gift card for Christmas so I had been going to Starbucks and getting a venti mocha every day...for over a month. Yeah, lightbulb moment!

That one little "habit" had added 450 empty calories to my daily intake!

Losing weight is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It took getting brutally honest with myself about what exactly I was doing (and not doing) every single day.

Most important, I had to realize that it took decades for me develop some pretty bad "food choice" habits and gain this weight...so losing it wasn't going to happen in a month...or even two. 

I hesitate to even share this journey...but here it is. If I eat a loaded baked potato or bag of Reese's peanut butter cups tomorrow I know I will feel like crud. But at least I know I can get up the next day and start eating that elephant again. 

Baby steps.....

 

 

 

 

Just ANOTHER mid century dresser!

I can't help myself...when I see one, I just gotta have it!!!

A mid century bedroom set...Fashion Trend by Johnson Carper. I couldn't find a maker's mark anywhere on the set so I googled "mid century dresser" and found a picture of one like it!

(Look at the curves on this lady!)

I ended up having to buy the entire set at an auction...dresser, chest of drawers and full size bed frame. I sold the chest to off set the cost of the dresser...which is the piece I really wanted! I have a full size bed in  Mitchell's room so I might use the bed frame in there.

I decided not to strip and oil the drawers...they really are in excellent condition....I wiped them down with Restor-a-finish just to clean and brighten a bit. I painted the "box" (KSTP...high gloss white) only because the top was laminate... I did that with Matt's dresser and I love how it turned out!

My original plan was to put the new dresser in the guest room until I get this one back from Katie in a year or so...

But then I got to thinking...why would I hide a beautiful piece like this in a guest room? 

So I took the dresser out of my room and put it in the guest room and put the new one in my room!

LOVE!!!

The only other thing I have added to my "proper" guest room is this little rattan table (bought two and sold one) and the magazine rack from the living room. 

Again, you will not find AFFORDABLE new furniture that is built as well and with woods like walnut, teak, rosewood and mahogany! There is a reason vintage and antique furniture have managed to survive decades of use!

When I walk around my house and look at some of the beautiful vintage pieces I have collected I am amazed at just how little I have paid for them. Keep in mind MOST were in much need of a little care and attention but if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do the work, you can create a home filled with beautiful pieces too! 

That is why I have this blog...to show you just how easy it can be!!!

Stop drooling and start doing!!!

Finally...painted walls!

I finally did it...I painted the walls in the main living areas! 

Over a year ago I seriously contemplated painting the downstairs living areas. I called my painter friend and set up a time for him to paint while we were on vacation! I painted samples all over the walls...and promptly cancelled the painter and painted over the sample spots with the same ole' "Cream" paint color that has been on the walls for 19 years.

I just couldn't pull the trigger! I know one of the issues was my inability to commit to a paint color. The other issue is my inability to admit I am just getting too old to tackle these big projects.

But last year I painted my master bedroom SW Nuance (a much smaller project, but a butt-kicker all the same!) I then used the same color in the guest room makeover.

I really love it. It contrasts nicely with the Swiss Coffee trim but it's not so dark that it over powers the room. It seems to be the perfect back drop for any decor accent I want to add in a room.

After living with this new paint color in my bedroom for a bit, I kinda sorta thought I might like it in the living areas. I called my painter friend and rescheduled.

It is no secret that major changes are tough for me...so the fact that I picked a paint that wasn't TOO different from what I had before isn't surprising.

While it isn't a HUGE difference, it is indeed different. The original color was "SW Cream" and it was definitely on the "yellow" spectrum. The Nuance is more of a very light "griege" ...one shade lighter than Useful Grey on the color chart! 

You can really see the difference on the walls side by side....

When it was all said and done, I really love it...it looks clean and fresh. While I had everything off the cabinets and walls I took the opportunity to deep clean (OMGosh there was some nasty gunk lurking behind and beneath!) and rethink all the stuff I had adorning the walls and cabinet tops! 

I removed the "heirloom china" from the dining room walls and pass throughs and a few knick-knacks and china plates from the cabinet tops...not huge changes but enough to open it up a bit.

One of my favorite changes was the dining room art...

Several years ago I painted the frames and changed the mats...but I was never a huge fan of the actual prints. 

A few weeks ago I bought some botanical prints at an auction. They are numbered prints by Kate Nesslar (Google her!) and they really are beautiful! I removed the not-so-pretty black and gold matting and they fit perfectly in the red mat! And they look awesome!

I don't know why picking a paint color is so hard for me...paint is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to make a big change...and the best thing is if you don't like the color, no biggy...just repaint it. 

Hiring something to do what I could have easily done myself ten years ago is another toughy.

But in the end, I can't believe I waited this long to make this change and I certainly don't regret hiring someone else to do it for me!

The next big chore on my list of home improvements is the tub/shower in the master bath! I want to take out the whirlpool tub (that I have literally used MAYBE 3 times in 19 years) and add a large walk in shower. And that my friends will get hired out as well!

Getting older has a few advantages...

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Gel stain tutorial on table makeovers...

I did it again...dove head straight into a project without taking a "before" picture. But at least this time I got an "inbetween" picture!

These little tables were simple makeovers. I picked up the side table at an auction a few weeks ago. Got it for a few dollars because, well, it was nasty, the color is pretty putrid AND the top had come unglued.

No biggy for me. I glued and clamped the top, then I sanded off the old finish on it. Yes, you heard me right, I sanded it. Two reason...first, I got glue on the top when I repaired it and stain will not adhere to glue. Second, it is solid wood and I knew I couldn't do a lot of damage to it. Light sanding...220 grit! Just enough to remove the old finish and glue residue.

I got the drop leaf table from my neighbors. I told you I am the dumping ground for neighborhood furniture...it just "appears." Again, the top is solid so I gave it a light sanding.

I knew I wanted to paint both tables but as always I have to have my fix of stained wood. So I used gel stain on both tops. 

Gel stain is SUPER easy to apply IF you use the right technique and product. As I have said before the ONLY gel stain I will use is General Finishes. It is not a brand the big box improvement stores carry so I usually order mine on Amazon. I have tried other gel stains and have not been happy with the results. The General Finishes brand never disappoints. I have used both the Java and Brown Mahogany colors.

I am going to share how I gel stain...it is a super easy application process and perfect for real wood or even that cheapo fake stuff you find on the ends of cabinets. Since it goes on fairly translucent, the wood grain (real or fake) will show through.

I have used this process on cabinets, tables, dresser tops and drawer fronts....some I have stripped down to bare wood, others I simply applied it over the existing finish.  It is a great process to use on any project where you want "stain" but know you might not get a good result by completely stripping the piece and applying penetrating stain!

First step for ANY makeover (after repairs of course)...give the piece a good cleaning. In this case, since both tops were solid wood, I also gave them a good sanding. Sanding is NOT necessary but you want to make sure that any old finish is stable and somewhat smooth. So if your old finish is flaking or a bit rough, sand it smooth with 220 grit paper.

You will need....

The gel stain...again, I ONLY use General Finishes. A quart will cost you around $30+ but it seriously goes a loooong way!!! If you just have a small project, get a pint. I have found that it doesn't store well.

The gel stain top coat...in this case I used the GF Poly wipe-on top coat. But I have used a spray on Polyurethane and Polycrylic and they work just as well. 

Disposable rubber gloves. I always have those on hand. Just the cheap latex gloves you buy in a box so you can toss when finished.

Old athletic socks. Again, I keep a stash on hand. Any time I find old socks at thrift stores or garage sales I buy them. They are perfect for applying any type of stain or finish and I can toss them when I am finished.

That's it...a relatively short list of supplies!

The trick to applying gel stain is to remember it is suppose to be somewhat "translucent." Put on a rubber glove, then an old sock over the glove...dip you finger tips into the gel stain and wipe the gel stain on the piece with the grain. The first coat will look like crud so don't try to get perfect solid coverage! Just wipe it on LIGHTLY WITH THE GRAIN....do not "glob" it or apply it thick...it is NOT paint. I usually wipe it on, then use the clean side of the sock to give it one final wipe WITH THE GRAIN...working edge to edge. 

THE FIRST COAT WILL LOOK LIKE CRUD!!!! I can not stress this enough...you are better to go light than to try to make the first coat look decent. It is not going to! If you can't see the grain through the coat of stain, it is WAY to thick.

Now, let that dry over night. Then do it again. New glove, new sock. Wipe on a second LIGHT COAT! The second coat will look a tad better, but not great. THAT IS OKAY. Keep it light and translucent! 

Let the second coat dry over night. Then with a new glove and sock, apply the third coat. NOW it should look good. The stain should allow the grain to show through!

If you feel like you have messed up....too thick, too streaky, just don't like it...you can still wash this stain off with mineral spirits if you haven't applied a top coat! 

Let the third coat dry overnight. If you are happy with the look, apply your top coat. Again, I used the GF gel wipe on poly on these tables...super easy to apply. Rubber glove, sock, wipe on. As simple as it sounds. You may want to apply 2-3 coats of the finish...especially on tops or cabinets that get a lot of use...just make sure you wipe it down with 0000 steel wool and tack cloth between coats. You will get a nice smooth finish that way!

Presto, bingo! This really is an easy application IF you don't overthink it and try to get a decent looking finish on the first and second coat...if you do, you will put the gel stain on too thick and I promise you won't be happy with it! My neighbor, Tammy, tried this process on a little side table...and sure enough she put the stain on too thick...it did not turn out well! Each coat should be light and "translucent." 

After I let the top coat dry well for a few days, I painted the rest with chalk paint...a light distressing with 220 grit sand paper and sealed with a spray on polyurethane. Again, sometimes I use polyurethane, sometimes polycrylic. I find that the urethane tends to "yellow" and give the piece a bit of an aged look...which is kind of what I was going for here. The polycrylic is a true clear coat and won't alter the color of the paint or yellow with time.

(As you can see the sun was very bright the day I tried to get decent pictures of these two tables...trust me that was the ONLY day this past week that it wasn't dreary, raining or cold as crud. I even had to cover my hostas this week to protect them from a freeze...and they are predicting another freeze this weekend...grrr!)

My recipe for chalk paint is 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris, 3 tablespoons of water, mix well then add two cups of flat latex paint. I usually paint two thin coats, then sand and seal.

Cute as a bugs ear and ready for another generation of use!

This week I decided I am getting too old and tired to paint my own house. I actually hired someone to paint my living room, kitchen and den! Ten years ago I would never have paid someone to do something like that! 

But just the process of getting ready to paint creates a mess and is exhausting!

This, my friends, is the reality of home improvement...normally we bloggers only share the beautifully styled and perfect "after." Truth is, most projects make a mess!

I'm a pretty clean person...or so I thought until I moved things that haven't been moved in years...yuck! 

I'm painting my living areas the same color I used in the master bedroom and guest room....SW Nuance. I'm a little nervous about painting these rooms a different color...I told you, change is hard for me. But I have lived with this color in those two rooms and I THINK I will like it! The painter will be here around 10 so there is no turning back now!

Hopefully the weather will take a turn for the better and I can finish and share a few fun projects I have waiting in the wings next week!

Until then....