It Has Got the Midas Touch- a tired chair gets a golden touch on the cheap

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It Has Got the Midas Touch- a tired chair gets a golden touch on the cheap

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I don’t know how many tired, dirty saggy chairs I have passed up while thrift shopping for my projects.  Over and over I walk-on-by because somehow I had the impression that upholstery is an expensive hobby.  Perhaps it is all the tapes, nails and underlays that I see at the upholstery store – or the $50.00/yard price tag on some of the fabrics I drool over.

This project is proof that with a little creativity, a lot of staple pulling and some clever shopping – a dusty old thrift store find can become the golden girl in your room.

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Before you begin, grab a notepad or even your camera and document how you take the chair apart. You’ll be glad you did, trust me!

There is no need to break a sweat sanding every surface – just smooth out any chips, then paint with a can of your favorite spray paint. I got started with some heavy sanding first, then decided that it really wasn’t necessary.

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Money saving tip #1: Use as much of the original foam as possible. We added a thin foam underlay and a thick quilt batting to the top of the original yellow foam. A few whip stitches keeps it all together. Or if your foam isn’t reusable, find a camping foam or foam baby mattress to upcycle

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Pick apart the original pieces to make a pattern for the new covering

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Money Saving Tip #2 – Don’t buy expensive upholstery fabric.  Look for discounted tablecloths or curtains. Or, hit your favorite vintage shop and find something fabulous.

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Add a covered button for a little style – and to secure the fabric tightly to the curved back.

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Then put it all back together – and fasten where needed.

No longer tired and saggy – this chair has got some style.

Cost for this project:

Chair: $5.00

Paint: $4.75

Foam and Batting: 10.00

Curtains for covering: $11.00

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Because we all need a little lift- a pot stand turned foot stool

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Because we all need a little lift- a pot stand turned foot stool

I love to cruise through my favorite bargain shops- it’s a bit of a fast paced buzz through, scanning quickly aisles and end caps looking for some clearanced cast off that no one wants. Too much time thinking results in a cart full of mediocrity. But if you work fast, only the truly inspirational things jump up and scream “Take me! Take me!

  
On one of these trips, an odd little four legged pot stand (at least I think that is what it was) made me do a double take. It sat on top of a rickety desk acting like it was 3 feet tall.  

  
But when I picked it up- it transformed in my imagination into a luxurious place to put up my feet after a busy day- or a great little place to rest a cup of coffee while I curled up in my favorite reading chair.  

  

This is one project that was pretty simple- and with a couple little tips and tricks, anyone could accomplish. 

Supplies are minimal: 

  • A round surface with legs- just imagine all the items you could repurpose! Stools with shortened legs, plywood circles with legs attached…)
  • Fabric- enough to cover top and sides and wrap under the surface
  • Foam- choose your favorite thickness, factoring in how high you would like the finished project to stand
  • Shank style button, large size
  • Stapler and staples
  • Cambric or a light weight fabric to finish the bottom of the stool. 

Step 1- cut the foam to the diameter of the surface being covered.  Tip: use an electric knife for easy cutting.  I used a good old fashioned bread knife. Not pretty, but effective!

Step 2: cut the fabric, allowing enough additional fabric to cover the top, the sides and at least 3 inches underneath. Trick: tie a string around a pencil with the tail measuring half of the following equation:Diameter+depth of foam+ 3 inches.   Hold the tail in the center of fabric and trace a complete circle.  Cut out just outside the circle. 

  
Step 3- placing the button

Find the center of the foam circle and the center of the fabric circle. (Tip: fold the fabric circle into quarters and pin the point to find the center). With a sharp pointed instrument (open scissor blade, awl, thin knife) poke a hole through both the center point on the foam and the fabric. 

Lay the fabric over the foam, right side up. With a strong thread, or dental floss, thread through the button and the foam a few times.  Pull quite right and tie off. 

  
Step 4: Stapling the fabric

Place the fabric covered foam with the fabric face down on a smooth surface. Center the wood surface over the foam. 

Now comes the fun part! 

Starting at one side, staple the fabric edge approximently 3 1/2 inches from the bottom edge.  Then, working directly opposite, pull the fabric tight and staple. 

  
Trick: work the way around leaving large spaces between staples. After placing a staple, immediately work the opposite side to keep the fabric straight and taught. Don’t be afraid to pull tight (but evenly) all the way around for a smooth firm surface. And if necessary, don’t hesitate to remove a few staples to make adjustments if needed.  

Once staples are place evenly around the wooden surface, begin softly folding small pleats to take up the slack in the fabric. (Note: if using a foam that is thinner in depth, this may not be required as slack can be eased in as you move around the circle)  
Now! Have fun with the staples! After having done a few smaller upholstery projects and removed an unimaginable number of staples- I can be quite sure that inserting staples in massive quantity has therapeutic value.  This must be why upholsterers are such happy calm people! 

  
To finish the stool off properly, attach a thin fabric such as cambric or even sewing interfacing to hide the raw edges and staples. Simply cut a circle just shy of the diameter of the top, and while folding under the edge, staple it neatly in place. 

Finally- and most importantly- grab yourself a cup of your favorite beverage, sit in your favorite chair and prop your feet up on your beautiful new footstool. You deserve a rest! 

Play with Color! Jazz up a canvas with a paint scraper

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This project is a great one to (re)create a a canvas into a fun bit of wall art. All you need is some paint, a paint scraper or putty knife and an old (or new) canvas -you know the one that you bought at the discount home decor store that is outdated? Or the juvenile print that your teenager has rejected?

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  1. For this bit of “art”, I had a ton of fun playing with color.  Rainbows were a favorite of mine long before they became symbolic of anything other than a promise and this project combined an image I love – a tree by a stream -with the beauty of a mosaic style background.  It felt reminiscent of my childhood days when I could squish my fingers into plates of  paint – and brought about a ton of joy as I played with the color.

The supplies are pretty simple – Acrylic paint in the color of your choice, gel medium (I recommend matte) to keep the edges of your paint raised, a paint scraper/putty knife measuring the width of the squares you would like to create and a standard paint brush to create the tree trunk and leaves.  A large plastic tray works well as a palette for mixing the color, but you could easily use disposable plates.

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First things first: choose your color palette.  The beauty of this style is that you can choose almost any color.  Blues (imagine water, sky and clouds!), greens (a deep forest, or a wide open meadow) or your favorite colors, swirling and rolling across the canvas.

Next, plan the placement of your focal point, if you have one – and the outline of how you would like the colors to lay. Sketch them lightly on your canvas with a pencil for reference.

Now, roll up your sleeves and get ready to have some fun!

Start with the lightest color, mix 1 part gel medium to 2 parts acrylic paint. This will create a paste like paint that will be slightly more opaque than it will appear when dry.  Load the putty knife’s edge with the color and beginning in the center of where your focal point will be,  lightly stroke down for one square and then stroke to the side for the second.

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Next, without cleaning your putty knife, pick up a bit of the next color and stroke on the paint palette to blend the color slightly.  As you work across your canvas, you may need to pick up some of the previous color along with the current color.  Remember to stroke the paint palette to blend the color ever so slightly on the putty knife.

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Continue  to work through the design, laying down the background in the same “stroke down, stroke across” pattern. The gel medium will give your paint body, and the edges of your squares will be slightly raised.

Once you have completed the background mosaic, allow the paint to dry completely. Because of the added gel medium, this will take a little longer than standard acrylic paint.

When the background has dried completely, begin to paint your focal point.  A field of flowers? A boat? A silhouette of a child?

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For added interest, you can add a significant amount of gel or modeling paste to the acrylic paint for the final details of your focal point.  For my tree, the leaves were quite raised.  The pedals on a flower stem, or the sail on a boat would also look quite interesting.

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Go ahead and give it a try! It might just take you back to your childhood as well.

All For the Love of Fall- A Front Porch Adorned 

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All For the Love of Fall- A Front Porch Adorned 

After living in South Africa for 9 years (where there are two seasons: HOT and Brrrr) I have a new found appreciation for all four seasons.  And here in the Pacific Northwest we get a good taste of all of them.

But when autumn hits, there is something inside me that fires up.  Maybe it’s the sensory stimulation I get. Who can’t love the brilliant colors, the crunch-crunch of leaves and that wonderful fresh fall air?

My creative juices get flowing.
And it doesn’t take much to add a little bit of seasonal flair to a space.

This year I have paired a hand painted sign I made last year with an antique  water pump and crate on my front porch.


A couple rustic wreaths….


(Isn’t this one amazing? A sweet friend makes these for sale! If you are interested in buying one, leave a comment and I will contact you)

And an old ladder with orchard buckets full of herbs…..


Now my porch is a little bit of everything I love about fall.

Hand painted Ornaments for Sale! – Show Your Christmas Tree a Little Country Love

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Hand painted Ornaments for Sale! – Show Your Christmas Tree a Little Country Love

It doesn’t matter where I travel and what I see, there is nothing that makes my heart warm like country side pastures, humble farm houses and dusty barns.  For me, it symbolizes peace and tranquility. (I do, however, have a few memories of not so tranquil moments in my childhood chasing a pig down the road or running for my life from an angry rooster – but those are stories for another day!)

Not too long ago, I decided to venture into painting some of the scenes that make me so happy – and put them onto some great blown glass ornaments to hang on the tree. A few of these, a few burlap accents, red berries and some sparkly white lights, and it is country love at first sight.

I am offering these barn scenes for sale this year on a custom order basis.  Each is hand painted onto a 4″ glass ornament

$12.00/each plus shipping

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Orders are taken on a first come, first serve basis.  I am starting early this year – and hope to be able to fill all orders before November 25.  Please allow 7-10 days until shipping.

Short and Sweet and to the Point- a handsome nightstand redone

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Short and Sweet and to the Point- a handsome nightstand redone

I have big dreams- and sometimes in my excitement to fulfill them I rush into activity.  But wisdom (and I guess I am getting to the age where this word is now part of my vocabulary) tells me that slow and steady trumps instant and rushed.

Here is one of my dreams: One day, I hope to have a community space where I can share my love of creating and recreating- visions of workshops, retreats and people working on their dreams together-  my little ‘ole heart just starts a-beating!

But for now, I am preparing.. and refining.

Part of this process is found in my garage – a small workspace carved out between my stored boxes of books and camping gear.  And here I get to create beautiful things for beautiful people.


This handsome nightstand, while small in stature, makes a big statement.  It reminds me of a suave gentleman, dressed out in his best white uniform.  (Can you see it too?)

This sat for some time, dejected in my garage, a lone piece that accompanied a set I had purchased.

 With handles missing and scars born in the many moves by its previous owners who were in military service, a little attention was needed.

One day, a friend spotted this nightstand, standing under dust in the corner and asked me to bring it to life for her new home. Now I think of it as an officer and a gentleman.


I didn’t have to work wonders on this piece – it was well made.  But I did have to do some cosmetic work and I was asked to give it a mildly distressed off white finish.

The new black handle pulls were just the thing to finish of his sophisticated look.


He now serves faithfully in my friend’s beautiful room- chivalry at its best 😉
Follow my blog to keep up to date on all my latest adventures.  – and don’t forget to leave feedback! I would love to know what you think

The Chippy No More- a Bistro Style Patio Set with a Fresh Look

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I think that there is a place for the ever-so-popular chippy paint shabby chic look. It can make something that is possibly pretencious look useable- and friendly.  Perhaps I relate because I often feel a little chipped and scratched up myself.

But there are times when chippy and scratched looks forgotten and neglected.  This was the case of this little patio set I picked up at a garage sale last year.  The chairs had nice lines and a unique base- and despite the boat seat style cushions, I really wanted it for my front porch.


After a year of waiting patiently for me, It finally got pulled into the grave for the refresh it needed.

Somehow I thought it would be as simple as brushing of a few rusty areas and painting a fresh coat of paint, but as I started brushing, I realized it needed a steel brush..and a paint scraper…and some sand paper..to properly remove all the rust that had built up underneath the previous two coats of paint.



It’s a good reminder to take good care of any metal items that are outside- especially if the climate tends to be a bit on the wet side. Metal and water just aren’t the best of friends.


After much scraping and sanding, a couple coats of Rustoleum paint and a new cover for the seats, this sweet little bistro set will be privy to many more confidential conversations and moments of musing as I enjoy the view from my front porch.

Because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – A Family Tree for the wall

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Because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – A Family Tree for the wall

I grew up listening to my grandmother recount all kinds of facts about her extended family – Great Aunt So and So who loved fine china and Great Uncle So and So who grew hops out in the country.  It was a blur of names combined with interesting stories of days gone by.  These days, it is my mom who is busy researching her family tree – and she has been pretty successful.  It certainly will make passing family history down a lot easier for me (Thanks Mom!)

This year, as a little token, I decided to make Mom a little family tree for her wall.  Not generations and generations, but just her offspring – because one day we will be not just a little sapling, but a grand old oak.

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I dug into my stash of salvaged cabinet doors.

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I loved that they easily convert to a “preframed” surface just waiting for something fun.

After a quick primer coat of paint on the front and back, it was a pretty simple process. (You can totally do this!)

Here are the items that are needed to complete this project:

  • 1 salvaged cabinet door  (mine was approximately 12″ x 24″)
  • Paint brush for base coat (1 1/2″ works well)
  • White primer spray paint
  • Painters tape
  • Black chalkboard paint (or black paint with a flat finish)
  • Acrylic paint in your favorite color (for the “frame”)
  • White acrylic paint pen
  • Clear Matte finish coat

Step One:  Prepare surface by applying a thin coat of white primer spray paint to the front and back.  This makes any type of cabinet surface paint-able. Nothing is more disappointing that putting time into something to have it bubble up or slide off!)

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Step Two: Paint the frame and back. It doesn’t take much paint, so a small bottle of your favorite color purchased from a local craft supply store will give you more than enough to put down two good coats. (hint: prevent “oopsies” by taping off the “chalkboard area” with painters tape)

Step Three:  Base coat the “chalkboard”. Two coats will give you a good surface, but if you have a quality paint, one coat may just be all you need! Again, it helps to tape off the portion of the surface that you don’t want to paint – in this case, the freshly painted frame.  Make sure the paint on the frame is completely dry before you tape, or the tape may lift off the paint.

Step Four: Free hand draw, or transfer an outline of a tree.  There are many images online that work well – and you can follow a simple method such as the one used here- to transfer it onto your surface.  While you are at it, you can also free hand or transfer printed text – perhaps your family name, or “Family Tree” – or your favorite quote. (search “curly tree” for inspiration)

Step Five: Outline the transferred image with a medium tipped paint pen.  These pens work great if you are patient.  Shaking them, then pressing the tip onto a piece of scrap paper brings the paint to the tip.  Once wet, it flows pretty smoothly, giving a nice steady line. Add the names of each of the people that branch off the family “trunk” – children on the main branches, and grandchildren on the smaller branches.  Add a sweet pink heart to the trunk of the tree using either a small amount of acrylic paint, or a pink paint pen

 

Step Six: Top coat to protect the painted surface.  Make sure that your work is completely dry before application.  One or two coats of a matte finish varnish or acrylic top coat provides scratch protection as well as some moisture resistance.

Final Step: Attach hangers – such as the ones shown below –  to the back of the plaque.

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Display your Family Tree with pride, because one day, your great-great grandchildren will thank you!

How Not to Get Schooled – A Roll-Top Desk Chalk Paint Revamp 

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How Not to Get Schooled – A Roll-Top Desk Chalk Paint Revamp 

My baby is starting highschool this year.  And, yes, I am avoiding pondering the significance of this very thought.

In preparation for the year ahead, it dawned on me that she needed a better space to study. A place not tucked into the deep recesses of her room, but also not in the midst of the family noise.  I found a perfect place- however, it is the first room you see when you walk in the front door. This posed a little aesthetic problem for me.  Visions of paper strewn about, piles of books and pencils scattered was enough to send me digging into my garage looking for a solution. 

This is my knight in shining armor

  
He has the answer to all my problems- deep drawers, cute cubbies and best of all- a fabulous roll down top to hide any residual chaos. 

While I planned on using this to help my my daughter’s education, this desk had more than a few lessons to teach me.  And I thought perhaps I could pass a few of them on to you- to keep you from being schooled by a roll top desk. 
Lesson #1 – Deep dark wood grains are hard to cover with white chalk paint.  

   

   Despite sanding and cleaning, the wood grain and some persistent stain kept seeping through. I had hoped three coats would cover, but it did not. 

  
Solution: Ideally, I read that sealing the wood before painting is the best option. There are primers and sealants on the market designed to do this, but I read mixed results on them. I tried a few less expensive options. First, I tried waxing the stain seepage. Sadly, it didn’t completely block the stain.  

 Next I tried a poly-coat test over one particularly dark area.  It blocked it a bit better, but sadly, not completely.  

After a determined effort, I finally decided to go with the flow, and changed my plans for the desk to include an aged appearance. A little dark wax rubbed here and there at the end and the imperfections just seemed to disappear.  

 Lesson #2 -Moving parts and paint don’t like each other. 

  
I suspected this may be a challenge, so I read up on how to best paint the roll top portion of a desk. Light coat, avoid tracks etc.  Sadly, even following these well meaning tips- it was very difficult to roll up and down.  

Solution: remove the roller cover completely, clear channels and repaint while detached.  Once it was dry, a simple light wipe with the paint in the channels lessened the contrast of the dark channel with the ivory top, yet still provided the flexibility it needs to roll freely. Once dry, I tightly rolled the cover a few times to make sure everything was nice and loose. 

In addition to avoiding getting paint in the channels, it is also important to not allow a build up of paint on the edges where the cover fits into the tracks on the desk. I sanded the edges of the cover 1/4″ from the edge to keep the cover moving freely in the grooved tracks.  A bit of candle wax rubbed into those tracks before reassembling the top helped everything to glide smoothly as well. 

    

Lesson #3– Cubbies may be cute but they are painful to paint.  

   

 This may be obvious to everyone but me, but long handled brushes and tiny spaces make for a clumsy effort. Brush strokes, unintentional paint build up and the incessant “knock-knocking” of the brush handle just about made me pull out my hair.  

Solution: A shorter handled brush, if possible; a bit of patience and determination;  and, eventually, removing the back panel of the desk for better access.

   

In the end, it was all worth it.  It has a lovely old world charm that works so well in my room, yet will give my daughter all she needs to achieve her scholastic goals. A win-win for sure.  Don’t you agree?

   
    
 

A Sweet Bunny Who Totally Rocks! – a doll cradle (re)Done!

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A Sweet Bunny Who Totally Rocks! – a doll cradle (re)Done!

My grandson’s favorite book is Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.  I think it is the illustrations that has captured his imagination, as well as the squeezes I give him as we read it. Capturing imagination is what it is all about!

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When I found a very tired, old cradle at a local thrift store, I couldn’t pass it up.  It brought back memories of me lovingly rocking my favorite doll and doing all the things loving mommies do.

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It wasn’t hard to decide what to do with this poor scratched doll cradle.

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Can’t you just imagine some sweet child leaning over this cradle, rocking the object of their adoration?

This item is currently available for sale! One of a kind and hand painted! $40.00 without mattress and pillow

Bed measures 23″ long and 13″ wide with cradle feet measuring 17″.

This would also make a great photo prop for newborn photos!