Sunday, July 17, 2011

Croquette Inspired Dresser

     Five years a ago, I went to a Parade of Homes in New Richmond, WI.  There were all these fabulous upscale houses built using reclaimed everything-they-could-get-their-hands-on.  There were so many great ideas and me without my camera.  One thing I remembered, probably because it was easy enough for me to pull off, was the pulls they used in the den.  They had taken old wooden croquette mallet heads and used it on the drawers and cabinet doors (hefty reclaimed barn boards sanded and oiled.  Gorgeous!!)
     I had this five-out-of-six-and-no-ball set for over a year in the shop with no buyers.  I'll bet they wish they bought them now!  The hard part is finding the right dresser or buffet to pull off the look and, of course, the right number of drawers.  When I crossed paths with this ugly little thing at a garage sale, I knew it was the one.
          I had to remove the veneer along the bottom and putty the lines in the drawers.  The original holes got filled in using my golf peg trick and wood filler.  Two coats of Rust-Oleum's Colonial Red and she was ready for her new sporty pulls.
     I wish I had taken before and after shots of the mallets because the coloring was faded enough and it had a grey weathering to it that wasn't all that appealing.  (I guess now I realize why they didn't sell.)  I painted a new stripe and polyurethaned the heads.  Of course, I kept the handles for another project I have no idea about.  The finished dresser....................
     I got lucky with the two smaller drawers.  I found exactly two wooden mushroom knobs with the same coloring and even a little matching paint on them like it was meant to be.  Two less in my overwhelming collection.  She's on a roll!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Chicken Finally Gets Loved

     Someday I am going to have to take pictures of our indoor junk yard for you all.  It ebbs and flows between estates we buy and we always manage to leave some space to walk from the front to the back, but woe to the person who needs something specific because it is usually somewhere in the back corner on the very bottom.  Murphy's Law.
     Because we find so many great estates, we can't get through all the stuff fast enough, so, inevitably, we see some of the same s*** packed and piled.  So, when my partner came at me with this chicken cut out from an estate from April of last year, I knew I had to do something with it now or it would meet it's demise in an unprofitable way.  It's funny how certain things get in your craw and it takes the brunt of your frustration.  I could hardly blame him eventhough this poor chicken was the least of our junkyard problems.  My partner got the short stick and had to 'reorganise' the mess.  Some things you can control and others like dressers that need new backs or chairs that need a major overhaul, are a bit more daunting and time consuming.
     I wanted to do something special with her but nothing 'spoke' to me.  I'm starting to think I'm some kind of board whisperer.  It's got to be the right saying on the right board in the right font or it looks awkward and forced.  Maybe I'm just anal.
     Meanwhile, I had this large bread board that I had been struggling with to find the guessed it...everything.  When I laid the chicken against it with the intention of putting thought into it later, it was like a light came down on it in spotlight and the angels started singing the Hallelujah.  Destiny!
      I painted the chicken white and scuffed her a bit to add some loving.  I then took some walnut stain to tone the white down and give her a look like she's been around the block, or coop, in this case.
     I scoured my fave haunts to find the right font.  I already had this board destined  to say something 'egg' but by itself, it didn't look complete.  Not until I had this chicken thrust upon me.  Oh, happy day!
     And, the finished look.............
     Just yesterday, I found the perfect board for a song snippet from The Sound of Music I've been dieing to do.  I'll post it on our FB page when I get it done.  BTW, congrats to us for achieving enough fans to get our vanity URL!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chalk Board Dresser

     My partner picked this simple little dresser up at an auction for cheap.

     To me, this one screamed that I should do something a bit different.  Because it was cheap and had easy lines, I felt it was worth the risk.  I've been dying to do something with license plates but that didn't seem quite right.  It had to be wooden-knob-friendly because I couldn't afford to put another 10 knobs into my collection.  I'm finding I have a secret aversion to the mushroom knobs.  I've only just found this out.  Don't ask me why, but the first thing I find myself doing is thinking how I can replace them.  I always thought they were sweet before but now I look at them like they don't have enough pizazz.  Anyway, I wasn't going to let a replacement happen this time.
     We had just bought some chalkboard paint for my 'Lunch Special' sign, so I had my sudden epiphany as I was finishing that project.  Chalkboard drawers!
     I sanded the dresser lightly and put on two coats of Rust-Oleum flat black.
     I added the chalkboard spray paint to just the drawers and the knobs.  I contemplated doing the whole thing but thought it would be too much of a 'dusty' look.  I'm glad I didn't because I really like the contrast between the clean black and the used chalkboard surface.
     The best part...   I got to keep the wooden knobs!

     Tip:  Don't forget to prime the surface before you actually write on it or the first thing you write will be permanent - always in the background.  It is simple to do.  Just take the side of your chalk and rub over the entire surface and wipe off.  That's it!  Now you are ready to write what you feel.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Marriage of Two Desk Parts

      I love it when people have an idea of what they want and we can make it happen!  My partner had just returned from an auction and still had this beauty in the van when he sold it.  A gal came in looking for a monsterous-sized desk she could use for a crafting table and when he showed her this, she saw the potential.
     Originally, it had been two separate pieces that were married together.  The back part of the top had been cut off to make it sit flush with the wall.  At one time this top would have been part of an island piece because you could see there was housing for another set of drawers.  What are people thinking, huh?
     So, the new potential owner saw some recently finished pieces and loved the idea of a natural top with the dings and character enhanced with a shabby chic white paint job on the bottom base.  Armed with a vision, we got to work.
     I started by scraping the thick grease layer off the top so my partner could sand it easier without gumming up the sander.

     He sanded the top down while still leaving the character and used old maple flooring to fill in the back part.  He ended with three coats of polyeurethane to seal the perfect character flaws.
     Meanwhile, I sanded off the silver spray paint oops on the drawers to have a more uniformly colored surface.  I painted the whole thing with two coats of Rust-Oleums Heirloom White and did a major scuff job to it.
    This is the process and end results...........
After scraping off the layer of grease
Maple flooring back

After three coats of polyurethane
Two coats of paint and a scuff job on the left

Scuff job done on bottom part

     Origianally, we thought we would just leave the top of the desk itself alone but after I thought about it, I knew that I would like to have it all painted.  Besides, if I was purchasing it, I would see the possibility of maybe separating the top from the desk someday and having two pieces for the price of one. 
     The two pieces separate were ungodly heavy!  I never really had a good lighting after we put the top on and I really didn't feel like asking him to move it AGAIN so I hope you can see how fabulously cute it really turned out to be.
     I realize we can't keep everything that comes through the door but I would have loved to have gotten the chance to get bored with this one.  He's lucky to have sold it while I was doing something else important, whatever that was.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wire Fencing Chandeliers

     Oh, the possibilities!  Most people think it's the obvious garden border, but it is not!  It is the makings of the base for my shabby chandeliers!
     I've got so much fencing, it is not even funny and with the season on, this is something I should have done a month or so ago.  I keep picking fencing up at garage sales by the truck load.  I do prefer the white but I'll take the green, too.
     So, today, I decided to work on my tetanus status (note to self, need shot!)
     I know you've all seen the Country Living version and that was the source of my inspiration, but with my own twist.  This is what I ended up with.............
     This one looks a lot like the CL version, except they used the old antique fencing with a heavier gauge.  I definitely recommend using the newer fencing for a first timer to get the feel of working with wire.  I use a needle nose, some kind of wire cutter and a heavier talking-to pliers.  My technical words, of course.
     I've got buckets of chain for any just-in-case moment.  Garage sales, of course.  Out here in the boonies, people will sell and apparently buy anything.  This all keeps my profits high, thankfully.
     While I should mention the obvious safety precautions, I don't practice them.  You are dealing with rusty crap that their dog has probably peed on not to mention the rust-factor altogether.  When cutting, pieces can go flying, hopefully not in the eye direction.  Also, gloves are good at keep blood blisters at bay.  Since I am more of a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do kind of gal, go nuts at your own risk.

     This version has a ton of ideas attached to it.  Any old plate can become a candle holder, watering hole or bird feeder.  It doesn't have to be a plate.  See next pic.......
     I've had this metal checker board hanging out for over a year so I used it as a colorful platform.  Try using a silver platter.  You don't have to put holes in it, just bend the wires to nestle it in.  
      I always use stuff I have and try to keep it in the same patina but sometimes I have to improvise (cheat)  and use newer links and hardware.
     This one, I got a little creative and made it a three-tiered.  I have a similar one at home that holds my chipped tea cup collection.  I've kept it out year-round and haven't lost one yet.

        So, I had some antique fencing that I wanted to try out now that I feel I've gotten the hand of the lighter gauge.  Ta-da!!

     (Please forgive the pictures.  I know it is hard to see with a busy background.)
     I'm working on a ridiculously huge one as a permanent piece for the shop.  I've got my hands on some 4' antiques fencing.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Miss Mustard Seed Inspired Dresser

     I've been dying to do a dresser like Miss Mustard Seed.  Marian does such a wonderful job turning tired dated pieces into something with real character.
     I had successfully re-did a previous dresser using one of her dressers as inspiration but I didn't duplicate the natural top like she had.  The contrast between that and the more shabby base was beautiful! 
    When I received this photo-finish dresser, I knew it was the prefect experimental piece.  
     Because I was working in the shop area when this came in, I had to get my trusty block sander out.    Fortunately, the photo-finish on the top was pretty thin and already flaky so it was relatively fast work.  Since I have very little experience working with stain on this level, I didn't really know how perfectly sanded it needed to be.  I was told that I might have to spend hours getting the top flaw-free, however, I didn't want it perfect or the scuffed paint job I was planning for it would look out of place.  So I emailed Marian quick and she said, "I am totally not a perfectionist.  It just has to look great, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.  The thing with stain is that you have to have all existing varnish and stain removed, or it won’t take evenly and that can look really bad.  It’s honestly easier to strip and stain then it is to sand."  I didn't have the luxury of using stripper because I didn't want my customers being fumigated, so I applied more muscle.  Yes, I generally tend to work harder, not smarter.
     I worked through three grades of sand paper and scuffed the sides enough to ready it for paint.
     I had found this Icicle Blue paint at a garage sale for 50 cents last year and applied two coats.
     Have you noticed how Marian scuffs her 'worn' pieces from all directions?  For some reason this goes against my more anal notions of what's right although I understand the concept that authentically worn pieces aren't going to go with the grain.  I had to close my eyes the first few strokes but I got the hang of it quickly.
     I finished the top with a walnut stain and decided to lightly stain the base over the paint as well.
     A piece Miss Mustard Seed would be proud of!

Perfectly marred top!
     I actually received two photo-finish dressers the same day so I kept one as is on the sales floor to show people what it had looked like before, hoping the sell the natural version to some brave individual.  Guess which sold first.  Not too surprising and now I have another to have fun with!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reclaimed Pressed Cardboard Project

    We have a fascinating customer who is re-doing their home with creative ideas and trying to focus on being Eco-friendly.  Fortunately for us, that meant she was dropping off some of her unused materials, including this pressed cardboard counter top.  This stuff is heavy but easy to work with so we were more than happy to add it to the project list.
     A year later, we finally uncovered it from our in-door junk yard.  My partner, the gifted wood worker and creative reclaimer, made this fabulous work space with it.  It is pretty enough to use as a kitchen island but also very functional in a work shop.  I personally tested the latter.  It was the perfect height for me with my sign projects.  Usually I'm bent over a makeshift something-or-other that is never even remotely ergonomically correct.  So, for a short period of time, I went home with straight back.
     Ever since my stop-sign-red dresser paint job, I've been dying to do another 'red' something.  The pressed cardboard has a great textural look so a red seemed the perfect compliment.
     What color would you have chosen?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Ultra-Cool Reclaimed Bench

     Have I mentioned how much I love his benches?  Well, he did it again and I'm in love - the bench, of course!

     We had this old pew given to us.  By the time we got to it, it had been painted and left to the elements for a few years.  The color was great but peeling terribly in sheets and the seat was splitting and coming apart from it's sides.  We had it for sale 'as is' in the shop for over a year with no bites.  After moving it around the shop a few times it got even more precarious so we had put a 'free' sign on it with still no bites.  Finally, we moved it to our second shop when we had opened it because there was more room and that is when it gave up the ghost.  The poor thing collapsed in our hands.
     Not one to see it as kindling, my partner lovingly stored the parts away for a rainy day.  A year later, he has given new life to some of those parts.  He used the seat and back piece for the bench and cut a door in half for the sides.  The arm rest is made with cherry pieces he found in the basement of our building from another life.  He used his nifty pocket hole maker from a garage sale score to give a clean look front and back.  We debated greatly as to how to finish it and in the end he polyurethaned just the bench.  The back was left alone with the original green color.
     This bench was so long, we actually have enough for another project.  Oh, the possibilities!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Versatile Bogger Award

     Thank you, thank you, thank you, Karajeanne of Decor Voyeur!
     What an honor to be thought of for such an award! 
     Now with such an award comes certain responsibilities, some easy and one I find challenging. 
1. Thank the person who awarded you (easy)
2. Share 7 things about yourself (somewhat challenging)
3. Award 15 discovered bloggers (urg! only 15?)

     I would like to take a moment and say that if you haven't stopped at Karajeanne's blog Decor Voyeur, you are missing out on a great part of the day.  This gal will keep you in stitches with her candidness.  She is witty, charming, honest (you gotta see her kitchen to understand the                                                        depth of this forthright honesty), bold and without fear.  This gal loves                                                         you, Karajeanne!
     Next step............
  1. My favorite lunch is CHEAP.  As long as it is under 50 cents, I'll love it.  Lately, that would be Raman noodles, a hunk of good cheese and hamburger bun from the local bakery.  (You can get a sack of three day old goods for $3!  I make a lot of French toast and bread pudding.)
  2. Our house does not look like our shop.  Not even close.  It does have some vague eclectic touches but everything else, like the furniture, is ordinary.  It's hard to keep anything noteworthy knowing we will gut the house if we need inventory.
  3. I love raking!  I find it very relaxing.
  4. I believe in fashion over function.  I feel a need to wear no less than 3" strappy little numbers no matter what I'm doing.
  5. I prefer hotdogs to hamburgers.
  6. I would rather sand a floor for 9 hours than sit in the shop for 3.
  7. I'm still waiting to feel like a grown-up;)
     The fun part............and not in any particular order!
  1.  If you need a good, hard, falling-down laugh this is my go-to
  2.   Are we finding a pattern?  I feel their pain and can relate on too many levels.
  3.  Great male take that's funny and sensitive.
  4.   This gal pays attention to all details.  She even thinks about the drawers.
  5.   Beautiful shop and merchandising ideas.  Love her taste in clothing!
  6.  Great storyteller!
  7.  If you have ever received any hate mail, there is worse.  This helps me put things in perspective with everything I do and say in and out of blog world and how we should treat one another.
  8.  Everyone should have a space to themselves for whatever they what to do.  This is so cute and inspirational!
  9.  Jacqueline is someone I met in blog world whom I find inspiring and tremendously kind.  She is how I picture all influential bloggers.
     The last five are my go-to for inspiration.  They are my favorite for just browsing during my down time with lunch.  They are part of my daily routine when I need to force myself to step away from the paint can.
     Well, there you have it.  I've got so many other favorites that I could go on, so, I'm hoping they get mentioned on the way by other bloggers. 
     Thanks for this opportunity, Karajeanne!

Dresser Inspiration

     I really like the glazed look.  I really do.  I actually can't wait to try it myself.  When I saw this dresser, I didn't like it.  I've admired all the projects I've seen on other blogs.  Maybe the glaze was too heavy, too much.  I thought this dresser looked dirty and I'm sure that was partially true because the glaze was tacky in some spots.  Anyway, it had to go.  
I had started sanding a little of the bottom drawer before I
 remembered to take pics
     Originally, I thought it had to be this fabulous red I just picked up.  It's a bright lipstick red, the kind the pin-ups wore and every gal wishes they could pull off.  Somehow, though, it didn't seem right.  I kind of liked the idea but I wasn't entirely sold.
     Meanwhile, I had been emailing Marian from Mustard Seed Interiors.  She had transformed this so-so dresser into this eye-catching beauty and I wanted to know exactly how she did it.  Fabulous, right?

     My partner took our dresser out back and did some initial sanding, basically to get it ready to be painted.
     It looked so much cleaner but not quite enough.  I took some steel wool to the details.  A little too much but I loved the look and that is when it hit me.  I could get Marian's look from my already painted piece.
     So, much sanding from my little block sander and a half a bag of steel wool later, I was satisfied with my new look.  I loved Marian's natural top look but I decided to leave a scant bit of paint on mine.

To finish the look, I polished the hardware                     
Before pic of glazed hardware.

                                         and used a paste wax to really make all the colors pop!

                                                           Did I mention it had a mirror?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Retro Counter Cabinet Redo

     Cute and simple redo.  I am such a sucker for yellow.  Our walls above the wainscoting is this same yellow but it doesn't seem as bright as it does on this little counter piece.
     We ended up keeping the linoleum top on it because it's hard to argue with the time period thing and also because it was in perfect condition.  The metal trim was all intact, so I just buffed it with some steel wool to clean it up.
     The inside was lined with contact paper that was half falling off but my trusty heat gun took care of the rest of it.
     Oh, the powers of a coat of paint!