Let’s Finish a Few (Before We Start More)!

With all the work that I have been doing with furniture lately, I have developed quite the respect for furniture design and well made pieces. And nothing breaks my heart more than to see a gorgeous piece that has been not only been neglected but abused.

This weekend, I picked up a glorious old vanity. The owner told the most wonderful story, about how his parents had lived in occupied Japan and bought this pieces. Solid oak and well appointed. Well built and professionally finished.

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But it had been passed down to a different sibling and in the following years, this once lovely piece of furniture had been relegated to a damp, dusty basement. And if you’re reading tis, you probably know what dampness does to wood, especially on veneer. Even as we were carrying it from the basement, pieces of the basic structure were literally falling off! But we had the good opportunity to retrieve every last piece and it is now undergoing restoration.

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From the appearance of the bottom, it almost looks like it was sitting in four inches of water.

We cleared all of the decaying, which is most of the “skin” of the piece. The next step was to start gluing the pieces of the legs back together… we used all the clamps that we had available!

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That is the nice thing about working with these older projects, they are all wood and wood can be made whole again. The newer furniture being churned out of the factories today are made of cheap plywood and pressboard and vinyl and plastic made to look like wood. They fall apart easily and after their initial “shine”, they really show their true bones. Or lack there of. That is what I look for whenever I am presented with an opportunity… the piece has to have “good bones”.

Which reminds me, on our recent treasure hunting, I found an old Singer sewing machine. I love those old ones with the treadle and iron base, I have one that was passed down to me from my mother’s mother, but it is immaculate and I could never do anything to damage it. One day, I would like to make the necessary repairs to get it going, I believe it only needs a belt and a good cleaning.

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So, I found one that the primary cabinet was nearly fallen apart (much like the vanity above). But the side drawers were in fantastic shape, so I dragged it home. I’ve since removed the base and carefully taken apart the cabinets and they are progressing.

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I am painting it the soft green shade that I used in my sewing room, I figured that I could use it to store bindings and elastic and those other little packages that seem to resist being organized.

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The sewing machine, much to my regret, was sold for scrap, but it wasn’t operational and definitely wasn’t worth putting too much effort or money in doing so. I am still trying to figure out what to do with treadle base, if you have ideas, please share.

So much more work to do, and sitting behind this computer isn’t getting it done!

julie

 

Mismatched Hardware? Sometimes Its More Than Okay

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I am always on the lookout for unique and interesting hardware for furniture. Sometimes when I do find pieces I just cannot live without, there are not very many pieces. At least not enough to do a single piece.

That is what happened with today’s subject. I don’t so a lot of green, but love many of the shades that green comes in. And in the course of collecting, I ran across a few beautiful pieces that only came in a pair, or sometimes 4 of a kind. I was sorting and reviewing my hardware collection, when it occurred to me that I had enough green pieces for a dresser if I was okay with using mismatched pieces. I was! I was hoping to find a dresser or vanity that only required 4 pairs, but when I stumbled onto this – well, shall we say – very loved dresser, I knew it would be perfect for the mismatched hardware.

I started with the usual routine, repairing drawers and sanding. When I stripped the first couple of layers of paint and stain from the top, I knew there was some beautiful wood under all of that. So with much sanding and scraping, I uncovered some beautiful oak. I didn’t have the stamina or the sanding tools to remove it from the body, but I decided that if I used a very light shade of green to blend with the hardware, I thought it would turn out okay.

Well, after the primer coats and three coats of a shade of green that is called Mystic Light – almost looks white, even photographs that way. But with the natural stain on the top and the green handles really makes it work. And like I said, there are four matching sets of hardware and the top and bottom drawers have the same hardware. But since they are so far from each other, I don’t think that it hampers the total result.

I’ll stop talking (typing!) and just show you the results… you be the judge!

Light Green Before&After

I absolutely love the way this turned out. I am so hesitant to part with this beautiful jewelry on this piece of furniture. I’ll post it on Craigslist and see how well it is received. Maybe if it doesn’t seem to appeal to others, then maybe I will move this upstairs into the guest room and sell the piece I just finished and put there! Yes, I love this piece that much!

Here are some closeups of that beautiful hardware:

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And another angle of the total package:

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Isn’t the wood on top gorgeous? I love the older furniture – the construction techniques, the angles and curves and the materials used. And that they’re definitely worth refinishing and working on. And the piece will be around for a long time after that too.

I completely missed celebrating my 100th post and now this makes 103! And do I need to say that I love comments, so if there is anything that you’ve seen or read that you enjoy, please leave me a comment. Saying hi is enough!

Thanks for dropping by! And come back again soon!

And as always, keep making beautiful things just because…

julie

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms and Unexpected Places

Inspiration has a way of sneaking up on you from different places and in different ways. Feeling like I have sort of worn out the ombré style and that I wanted – nee, needed, to do something different, I found inspiration. In a crayon box.

I was cleaning out the cupboards upstairs in the hall which has been a holding place for school supplies for the Kid for many years. I had sort of made it my mission to help all his teachers and their students by always buying more than I needed during the back-to-school sales and stashing some away so that the Kid would always have supplies, and also donating at least two or three students’ worth of supplies to his new homeroom teacher. Needless to say, as we near the end of his K-12 school days, I needed to get rid of some. And that is where I saw the Crayola boxes and found inspiration.

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I had picked up a dresser that was the perfect piece… solid and wood, but with absolutely no personality. Well, here it is, a bit of personality now!:

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I am so pleased with how this turned out. The base color – something in between orange and yellow – was a real bear to work with. No coverage whatsoever and even in priming the cabinet first, it required no less than six coats of paint. The other colors, even the yellow, were dreams compared. The black stripes and outlines were done with my favorite Elmer’s paint pens. I struggled for a while on what to use for handles, I wish this had been a piece that had built-in drawer pulls, but in the end, I just used wood round knobs painted the same color as the drawer, hoping to make them blend-in. I think it worked! What do you think?

Here’s a quick before and after:

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Another project done this week is a gem that I found at a storage center. The owners were clearing out a few of the discarded or left behind items, including this lovely little beat up piece:

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But if you can see past the flaking, dull paint and the horrible hardware to see the beauty that lies within, you are off on the right foot. The lovely curves of this dresser tell the real story. And in sanding the chipped and flaking paint off the top of this lovely, I found the most beautiful wood. It took nearly eight sheets of sandpaper and some real dedication and time in removing it all, but it was worth the effort.

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This is three coats of a natural finish, followed by two coats of polyurethane. It just shines and should last another fifty or sixty years! I didn’t spend as much time with the body, but opted to apply three coats of the antique white (one of my favorites) and then add the six ceramic knobs painted a deep chocolate brown. The perfect crowning touch. And here is the result:

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And so that you don’t have to scroll back up to see the before photo, here is the before and after:

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These are the kind of results that I love and only hope to achieve with every piece that I work on. But alas, there are two more pink ombré pieces waiting, one to be delivered and the other to be sold. Additionally, work continues on the doll beds and their matching dressers, armoires and night stands, as well as clothing. I hope to have quite a nice inventory when I am ready to start selling. It is turning out to be a little more work than I thought, at least taking more time than I anticipated. But it is fun and has been rewarding as I put my creativity to work in a smaller scale.

Thanks for dropping by! And keep the crafting and inspiration flowing!

julie

Another Dresser Re-do, This Time in Baseball Style

My garage is full again! I had just sold everything to allow the car to actually be parked in there in anticipation of winter and the first snow. But of course, I hit a milestone of being able to actually pay my mortgage payment using the funds collected from selling all my projects! Wow… that was big for me!

I had actually ended up selling the dresser done to look like a stack of suitcase (you can read about it here), so I did actually want to either create another one or simply find a wonderful piece to replace the piece I sold. There is a small mountain of stuff that came out of the dresser sitting on the floor and in boxes that require a replacement piece. (Honestly, I should sort through all of it and get rid of what I don’t need. Another day for that…). So back to Craigslist. I am sure that I have an addiction to that site, is there a 12-step program for it?

Well, I found a gorgeous piece and from the picture looked like it wouldn’t require too much work, save for a coat of new paint and maybe a good sanding. But it is just beautiful in its details. I had to drive about 40 miles to pick up this gem. Since I was driving this far, I wanted to make the trip worthwhile and so it was back to Craigslist again. Did I find another piece? Oh yeah, I found two! So, this trip was going to definitely be worth it.

Since it looked like I was going to be back in business, I laid claim to a beautiful old vanity, and the guy I picked up from threw in the dresser for nothing. He didn’t see what I could as he told me he was going to use it for building a fire! Argh! Luckily I rescued it from him free of charge!

So, for the past three days I have been keeping very busy in the garage. Again.

I neglected to tell you about another project that I had completed. I think this was just to prove that I could do it. A while back, I picked up this little three drawer dresser that had just about been “improved to death”. I kid, but it’s not far from the truth. In an attempt to give the dresser some panache, they had routed an area around the drawer pulls. The person’s skill was lacking as that had to be one of the wonkiest routings I had ever seen.

And I am so sorry to say that I forgot to take pictures of it before I began. Again. ::kicking myself::

But, I thought that this was a time to try something fun and if it didn’t work, I’d only be out a ten spot, paint and some time. I had done a fair amount of furniture recycling/restoring aimed at the feminine culture, so I thought doing something for a boy might be kind of fun.

Back a ways, I had bought some baseballs off eBay to make bracelets. Of course when I needed one baseball I bought twelve… so I had baseballs stacked in a pile near by craft cabinet. Always figured I’d find something to do with them. So, in a inspiration, I thought I could use them as drawer pulls! Now, something to go with them. So off to cruise the internet.

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One prevailing graphic kept catching my eye.

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So I did a little more searching, found a image of what I thought the dresser might look like once restored and pasted the graphic on top. I had my design:

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Then it was just a matter of transferring the design to the dresser and hand painting the colors.

DSCN0869Then adding the baseballs. It was a simple as screwing into baseballs through the drawer front. Is that cute or what?

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Well, there you have it. Quick and easy and fun to boot! And it was sold to the mother of the most adorable eight year old who loves baseball!

Thanks for dropping by. And keep on crafting, y’all!

julie

And Ombre Continues… More Pink and Now Green!

Quick update with what I’ve been up to.

The furniture painting continues. The ombre style of painting has been very popular and very successful, so I am thinking, why not keep doing something that works really well?

My new daily ritual now starts with Craigslist.org. I’ve been pretty lucky about finding quality pieces to restore. And it is a real labor of love when I start sanding and filling in the holes and cracks and then start with priming. The real fun comes with the first coat of paint, when the beauty of the transformation starts to shine.

This is one of my new favorite results, two night stands and a matching headboard. The night stands were pretty standard, run-of-the-mill piece of furniture cranked out by the thousands in the seventies and eighties. The only saving grace was that they were all wood and some pretty decent construction… dovetail drawer fronts and wood drawer runners. Makes them easier to restore and to give them a second life.

In addition to the night stands, I stumbled across a headboard in a corner collection one night. You know, where the ad reads “you must take all” and I was out for something pretty specific, that I don’t even remember now. In the mess was this headboard with the worst plastic curlicue decoration highlighted in gold paint. My first thought was to just drop this thing in the nearest garbage dumpster I could find. But I opted to bring it home and store it in the garage. For months now, I have been moving that thing out of my way and knocking my elbow into it.

Well, I finally brought it out and took a good look at it. I thought I might be able to use the back of it and just paint the ugly gold decorations a solid color and face it against the wall. But once I hit it with the scraper, I could see that the first piece of curlicue wasn’t securely attached and a little prying with a screwdriver and it came out easily. This left years of dirt and grime, but a blank canvas perfect for my shades of pink!

I am proud to show you the end result of once almost became firewood:

The insets are painted in the same shades of pink as that of the dresser drawers. I think that this set is just adorable! I listed it on Craigslist this evening and almost before it actually appeared in the list, I had several contacts and it has been sold. For full price. And this is the highest listing yet. Sometimes I think that if it continues like this, I could actually begin to really subsidize the household income and maybe I could really think about making this a full time gig.

So, I will quickly show you the second set I worked on. I make it a habit to always check the “oops” paint shelf whenever I hit my favorite hardware stores. On a recent trip, I found a $30 can of paint marked down to $6 and was a pretty nice shade of green. I wanted to try something other than pink and blue and purple and here was the perfect opportunity. So, I matched it to a paint chip card and bought three additional shades and brought it home.

In a rushed Craigslist transaction, I ended up with a dresser bought for twenty dollars. Turned out what initially looked like a quality piece, turned out not to be. But not knowing what to do with the dresser, I thought I’d use it as a “guinea pig” for the green ombre paint style. I thought if it didn’t turn out well, then I would donate it or relist it on the free page of Craigslist. And a few days later, I repeated the error and picked up a headboard not realizing it too, was pressboard with a laminate finish. I thought it would work for a test run of a new primer that I heard would work well for painting laminate. I won’t mention the brand name here, as it wasn’t a very good experience, but suffice it to say, I will not make the mistake of trying to paint over laminate again. Primer or not.

So, here is the end result. I have listed it on Craigslist with a full disclaimer and really just asking for the basic cash that I put into it. Actually not even that much. If handled with kid gloves, it might be a decent set for someone, even maybe a guest room that didn’t get constant use.

I do love the colors and I do have enough for another project. I promise, I will be doing this color combination again.

Well, that is the update for today. Glad to see y’all stop by and hope that you are enjoying the projects. I have some more in the works and can’t wait to share. One big one is that we’ve been starting to clear my son’s (referred to as “the Kid”) room that we decorated when he was eight and loved camouflage. It’s getting a whole new ‘grown up’ and sophisticated remodel, and of course, some of my handiwork is featured. (Haha… who am I kidding? It is ALL my handiwork!) We’ve been working on it for the last couple of weeks and right now, he is down to sleeping on a mattress and has a small table for his computer! But it will be worth it, and he knows it! :-)
Thanks for dropping by! And happy crafting y’all!

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