Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From Bargain to Beauty

I've always appreciated a good bargain and I have prided myself in being able to find the best deals.  Apparently, not everyone feels this way.  One evening when out at a social event, a woman complimented my new blue blazer.  Without hesitation, I proudly shared with her that it was just $17 on sale at a local department store.  She said "That's OK!  It's still nice!"  So maybe shopping through sales racks and thrift store jungles is not for everyone, but I've grown to love it.  There is a guilt-free pleasure to buying a little something beautiful for my home for under $10.00.  It's also a fun way to experiment with new ideas at an affordable cost.

When I decided to become a stay-at-home mom, it became very important to watch our spending and to stretch a dollar wherever we could.  I was also trying to furnish and decorate a new home.  It was challenging to get the look I was going for on our budget, but I became very good at mimicking the "high end" look.  It meant taking notice of color combinations, materials, patterns, finishes and then carefully selecting items from places like TJ Maxx, Target and Stein Mart that gave the same "feel" to my space.  Thrift stores, flea markets and garage sales provided the opportunity to find real treasures among the junk.  High quality items made of fine materials, but discarded by their original owners in favor of new decor, made their way into my home.  Now don't get me wrong, this was no easy task!  These items are few and far between.  You have to go often, recognize a great deal in the moment and then, without hesitation, buy it and bring it home because it won't be there tomorrow.  I've been drawn to some pretty unusual items too.  This process has resulted in an original and "collected" look in my home that I really love.  No one else's place is quite like mine. 

It can be difficult sifting through all of that stuff, trying to find a treasure!  What you find most often is "junk" with worn finishes, broken parts, outdated styles.  Well now I've found a great way to turn these discarded pieces into treasures, too!  When you find a piece of furniture with scratches and dents, but great lines and details, you can recreate it as a perfect piece for your home.  I found this little beauty for $20 at a Habitat for Humanity Reuse Store while on vacation.  She came home with me and I knew that this would become my new bedside table.  

I really thought that the panels on the drawers would lend themselves well to a two-tone paint treatment, so that's what I decided to do, in shades of white and green.  The details of this table were lost in their original finish, but here I was able to highlight the details like the curved edge on the top, the lovely shape of the drawers, the trim detail on the sides, and the beautiful hardware.

A little dark wax brought some dimension to the carved wood detail at the bottom.

I love the "upcycling" process.  It is good for the earth because it keeps these items out of the landfill.  Buying from places like Habitat, Goodwill and other non-profit thrift stores also benefits the community.  The low cost has allowed me to create new pieces for my home, as well as for others.  In addition, these older pieces are generally made of quality wood, not particle board.  They will last for many years, especially if given a new updated finish. The end result is a beautiful "one of a kind" quality piece at a bargain price, well below current market prices!  It's a win, win, win proposition!  Who wouldn't love that! 

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

First Time at the Flea Market


Had such a good time at the Raleigh Flea Market!  It was so nice meeting all of the wonderful people who stopped by my booth.  Your positive comments and feedback meant so much to me!  Thank you!  And to those who bought a piece to take home, a special thank you to you!  I really appreciate your business!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Raleigh Flea Market, Here We Come!

We're heading to the Raleigh Flea Market this Saturday, September 15th, to sell our stuff!  We will be in Space 309.  Check out the "Items for Sale" page to see the merchandise that will be at the flea market.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 31, 2012

The "Write" Way to Repurpose a Drawer!

 Recently I purchased two drawers, that had somehow become separated from their proper home, so that I could use the attached hardware for another project.  One day I was  looking at these old drawers trying to think of another use for them because I absolutely hate to waste things and I really love to repurpose things!  Repurposing is the act of using something in a different way than it was originally designed to be used.  This is one of my favorite ways to decorate, too!  It's always interesting to see functional pieces used in new ways.  Think industrial carts with metal wheels turned into coffee tables.  It adds a dynamic, surprising twist to your decor.  It's so fun to create something that is "one of a kind!"

I decided to turn them into organizational storage trays.  I thought that they could be used to store all those smaller scrapbooking, sewing or craft supplies together.  That way they could be tucked away in a closet or cabinet and then easily pulled out when it's time to work with them.  I added a chalkboard front so that they can be labeled and two handles on the sides for easy carrying.  

I thought they were just adorable and I realized that they would be great as serving trays as well.  Imagine bringing your child's cupcakes to school with the message "Happy Birthday!" on the front.  They would be great at those potluck dinners because you could write the name of the dish on the front, rather than answer the question "what is this?" over and over again.  At a buffet style dinner, they add charm and an interesting design element.  They could be incorporated into a beautiful tablescape to showcase the season, for example in the fall you could fill it with gourds, pumpkins, fall leaves and pine cones.  Finish it off with a message like "Happy Thanksgiving" or "I am Grateful."  Imagine all the ways that you could use one!

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

From Formal to Dressy Casual

Back in the day, when I was growing up, people used to have a "formal" living room.  You know the room I'm talking about.  The one that you could only peak at from the hallway, but were never allowed to enter.  The one that was beautifully decorated and reserved for some "special occasion" that never seemed to come.  It stood as some sort of monument or tribute to a way of life reserved for the fancy and sophisticated, which apparently did not include you or your brothers and sisters.  In fact, the room was rarely used in entertaining, leaving one to wonder "Who is fancy enough for this place?"  These rooms were often furnished with Queen Anne style tables sporting elegant curved legs and a dark cherry finish, often a piano, and the finest of china and nick-knacks.
The "before" tables (that's a layer of primer on top of the coffee table)
The "after"
Many of us grew up to either create our own "tribute to fancy people" using this furniture, or we inherited these pieces from our family.  When I had an opportunity to redo a set of Queen Anne tables recently, I couldn't wait to get my hands on them and "dress them down."  Our lives today are far more informal than years ago.  Formal attire once worn to the office, church and the theater has been replaced with "dressy casual" attire in an effort to make us all feel more comfortable.  And that is the way we choose to live, too.  The formal living room has been replaced by the "family great room," where you are encouraged to relax and get comfortable.  

These once formal tables were transformed into their "dressy casual" counterparts.  I chose to create a look that might have been more characteristic of a farmhouse of yesteryear, but still having the elegant curves of their once formal lives.  The bodies were done in Old White and then slightly distressed to look as though they had been around for years.

I layered the tops in a Coco and Graphite wash that gave them "character" and then distressed them too, to show the cherry wood underneath at the edges.  The hardware, once shiny and gold, was repainted to an oil rubbed bronze.  

I love the way they turned out and I think they would suit most people's lifestyle today.  In fact they might look great in your fun family room, so if you are interested, they are for sale.  Go on, put your feet up and relax!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Oh, it's so You!"

Easter and taxes and birthdays, oh my!  These are just a few of the things that required my attention in April.  It's been a whirlwind!  But I did manage to get a few things painted, too.  A lovely friend sought my help in creating a custom table for her beach house that would work with her new color scheme.  We decided to layer a Provence teal with a Napoleonic Blue.  The result is this beautiful beachy blue that looks wind swept and sun bleached.  Ah, makes me long for the rhythmic sound of the ocean and a tall, cold Pina Colada!  Oh, but I digress!

I also started on my daughter's bedroom furniture.  This is an American of Martinsville end table, circa the 1960s, that belonged to my grandmother.  We decided to paint it in two tones to play up it's clean lines and mid-century modern design features.  We used Paris Grey and Old White to get this quiet, subtle contrast.  We also added new hardware.  She loves it and it looks great in her room!  Just one end table, and one dresser to go, but you get the idea!

Customizing your existing furniture can be a very affordable, easy way to update your home to reflect your current style and tastes.  Not to mention saving yourself hours of shopping!   It's fun to create your own "one of a kind" custom piece of furniture.  If you would like to recreate one of your tired, outdated pieces, contact me and we can work together to design a custom look just for you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

BAM!- Let's Kick It Up A Notch!

Sometimes, even though a piece of furniture is nice the way it is, you just need to spice it up a little. I decided that's exactly what I needed to do with this recent purchase, a Broyhill server.  "Let's kick it up a notch!"  That is the well known catchphrase of the famous chef from my hometown, Emeril Lagasse. Not only does his philosophy apply to food, it also applies to style.

BAM!  The addition of some Annie Sloan Napoleonic Blue paint, took this piece from ordinary to extraordinary!  When you add a pop of color to a space, it can bring it to life.  Here we are able to do that without changing the wall color, but instead by working with the more neutral tones of the foyer.  The color energizes an otherwise boring space. What a great way to greet your guests!

A little storage cabinet can serve a multitude of purposes.  Small enough to fit just about anywhere, it is perfect here as a foyer/entrance table, a great place to store keys, book bags, or purses. It would also work as a flat screen TV stand, with plenty of space to stash away your DVDs and gaming equipment.  It could provide extra storage in a bathroom, bedroom, living room or kitchen for just about anything.  Of course, you could always use it as it was intended, as a server in your dining room.  So why not spice up your life and "kick your style up a notch" with some painted furniture? 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A New Box of Crayons

These days, I'm either painting, or thinking about painting, or surfing the net for cool ideas (have you discovered Pinterest yet?), or shopping for furniture on Craigslist.  A recent purchase has given me the opportunity to paint my largest furniture piece so far.  It's a lovely hutch and buffet.  I think it's maple, but I know it's a well crafted piece of solid wood and boy, is it heavy!  

It took me about a week to get started, as I explored the color possibilities.  Choosing your vision for the furniture can be the most challenging, but also the most fun part of the process.  Remember when you were a kid and someone bought you a new 64 pack of crayons?  Remember the excitement you felt about the creation of your masterpiece?  What color will I use first?  What will I make?  Essentially, what is my vision?  When doing a piece of furniture, I like to let it "speak to me."  Does it lend itself well to a two-tone design?  Should the color be demure or vivid?  

I wanted this hutch to have some color variation, movement and a slightly distressed finish.  I decided to paint a Duck Egg Blue base coat.  That was followed by some hints of Paris Grey and a wash of Chateau Grey (a khaki green shade) over the entire piece.  Perhaps I was influenced by fond memories of my grandmother's home where a dark green hutch was a mainstay.  

My version of this hutch is a softer, watery blend of blues, greys and greens.  The subtle variations of color are evident as you move closer to the hutch, but from a distance it looks like a soft, mossy green.  

A pretty design on the sides of each drawer is revealed when you open them. 

Reminiscent of my childhood days, it is still so exciting when the creative work is done to stand back and admire my new "masterpiece!"  I am quite happy with the results.

Once designated as a kitchen or a dining room fixture, the hutch is now comfortable in many settings.  Consider using this type of furniture in a living space to display books, pictures, and memories of your travels.  In a bathroom, a hutch offers much needed storage solutions as well as a pretty way to display towels and toiletries.  

By the way, did I mention that this one is for sale?  If you are interested, contact me for the details.  Or perhaps you have a treasured furniture piece that could use a facelift, give me a call and we can look through my "crayon box" for your perfect color.    

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Plain Jane Pines for a New Look

Fueled with enthusiasm from my smaller projects like candlesticks and picture frames, I asked my husband to join me for some Saturday morning shopping for more things to paint.  We headed off to the flea market, but much to my surprise, I wasn't finding the bargains I had hoped to find.  Sometimes I find better deals at thrift stores and garage sales.  Feeling somewhat discouraged we set off for home, but then I remembered reading about an estate sale.  We stopped by on our way home and I discovered some rather "plain jane" pine end tables available at a good price.  I could see they were well-made, solid wood and I could also see the potential there. 

I couldn't wait to get started! I decided to paint the tables in the beautiful Paris Grey color and then to embellish them with a stenciled design in Old White.  This was my first piece of furniture using the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I loved the way the paint went on and the great coverage that you get.  After just about 30 minutes, it was dry and I was able to do a second coat.  I decided to do a "white wash" to accentuate the edge details and braided trim.  Then it was on to the stencil.  I have to admit, it took me some time to get the stencil done on the first table, as it had been quite a long time since I had done one.  But kind of like riding a bike, you start to remember and then it becomes quick work.  Once the stencil was dry, I waxed and distressed the piece a little bit for that well worn look. I purposely left the little dents and dings in the table because I think they add to the character of this hand painted piece. 

I don't know about you, but I love the color combination of the soft grey with the creamy white!  I think they look more delicate and detailed now.  I really like the soft sheen that you get from the wax finish, too!  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Passions Ignite

I just recently discovered my newest passion.  Painting once loved, but now neglected, abandoned or forgotten items to give them a new, fresh beginning.  Some call it "upcycling," but whatever you call it, it's better for the planet to reuse perfectly good items, rather than haul them to the dump.  Not to mention, better for your pocketbook!  Many of us "well meaning" folk bring our outdated and unstylish items to our local charities for donation, hoping they will find a new home.  It's kind of like the "island for misfit decor."  You need vision and a sense of adventure to sort through those cluttered shelves. I've always loved the hunt for that perfect little treasure that will solve some organizational problem, or fill some empty gap or need in my house, but often the finish or the color of an item prevents me from using it as I'd like. 

As the new year dawned, I found myself contemplating all of the unfinished projects that I still hadn't gotten around to doing.  I had several pieces of furniture that I had been putting off painting.  A conversation with my mother, who is a decorative painter, clued me in about a new paint that was perfect for furniture.  It's a European paint and wax system called Annie Sloan Chalk Paint that results in a beautiful finish and is especially perfect for those french country distressed pieces.  It sounded too good to be true, but I had to try it out.  I attended a workshop at a faux finishing studio to learn some finishes to use with these products and came home ready to jump right in.  This new endeavor combined my love of decorating, creative play, restyling, repurposing, and thrifting, and it's good for my home, my budget and the earth!  Imagine that!  I was so excited about the possibilities!

So now all I needed was a project to get me started.  I wanted to start with something small and inexpensive, before I tackled my daughter's furniture.  I found these great little candlesticks at a local thrift store.  I loved the shape, but I was not crazy about the color. 
 A fresh coat of paint, some wax, and a little sanding to distress and voila!
A beautiful vignette to show off my latest creations!