Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Thrift Shop Trays

Trays, are the workhorses of home decor.
They're practical, versatile, functional 
and pretty all at the same time.
Now what could be better than that?

When I saw these trays (a set of 3) at a thrift shop in Canada 
I couldn't resist.
They were a bargain at $4.
But then I realized that was $3.06 US.
Even better!

At the time, I didn't know exactly how I wanted to paint them, 
but they were definitely coming home with me. 

I had these decorative papers in my "stash of good things."
They'd work well for this project.

But if you didn't have papers like these,
what else might you use?
....old sheet music, pages from a book, 
vintage sewing pattern envelopes, maps.... 
any of these would be unique.

I used my Go-To paint formula:

1. first paint Black  
2. then follow with my favorite white,
Westhighland White by Sherwin Williams.
3. Finish by sanding to reveal the black underneath.
Easy -peasy.

I randomly tore the edges so things looked less "perfect"
and applied the sheets with Modge Podge. 
Two coats of clear poly-acrylic went on top for protection.

Yes, there were some wrinkles in the paper, 
but to me, they added character, so they don't bother me.

On one tray I added a distressed green border
to fill in the gap surrounding the paper. 

They turned out well!

Each tray quickly found a place to be useful,
one at a bedside, another in a bath
 and the third on a desk.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The French Bench

Just like you, 
I've seen beds turned into benches on Pinterest.
So when these lovelies appeared 
at a local thrift store, it was time to build.

Ultimately, the benches would be for sale 
in a local shop.
This was new territory for me,
and I admit that I was curious to see 
what interest the benches might draw.  

My husband quickly caught on to the idea 
of changing a bed into a bench
and took over construction.
There's nothing he can't do!

I'll come back on the scene when it's time to paint.

Because the benches have a cottage-y design,
they begged for shabby paint and French lettering.

 You'll find lots of French lettering for inspiration
at the 
Graphics Fairy.

This one appealed to me because it reads:  
 " Furnished house with large
apartments and comfortable rooms".

I'd like to think this bench would find itself 
in a house with large, comfortable rooms.

Even though the benches would be white, 
I first painted them BLACK
so that some color
would show when I sanded them. 
If you look closely, you'll see some of the 
under painting peeking through.

And here's another Paint Tip:

White furniture can look too "fresh and clean".
To create a vintage appearance,
brush on a dark brown glaze --
then wipe most of it off with a rag.
You'll get a soft, subtle effect. 

Here's a taste of what you'll see at 

If you're ever near Milford, Michigan, 
plan to visit the shop and enjoy the wonderful
re-purposed, antique and cleverly made items.
It's a visual vacation!


P.S. We were excited to hear that both benches 
sold within a week!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Because I paint for clients,
 I never know what my next project will be 
until the phone rings.
Often it's something that stretches my imagination,
 like this recent project.
And that's what makes each day interesting.

A client wanted a painting for his office.

Muscle cars from the 1960's.
Yes, include the race car his business sponsored.
Yes, to bright colors.
And yes, it had to be large.
3 feet by 6 feet.

I know precious little about Chrysler cars.
Can't tell the difference between
a Challenger and a Charger!

Fortunately, my husband and all his friends
are car enthusiasts.

They provided lots of photos and advice
on what to include in the design. 
With all their suggestions in mind, 
I made a collage of iconic MOPAR vehicles,
and began to paint.

Little by little, things took shape.

I think painting a collage, instead of a scene,
 made the large canvas more interesting. 
I was able to use a variety of cars, 
logos and lots of color.

You can see that instead of painting the cars realistically,
I stylized them,
giving an impression of of their iconic details.

Like this:

Almost finished!

Once the German silver frame was added, 
the piece was ready for delivery. 

And here it is in it's new home.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Maybe you have a piece of furniture from the 1970's 
(or maybe lots of it!)
 and you're unhappy because
 it doesn't look stylish anymore.  

Stop fussing, 

because you have a gem waiting to shine!

The best thing about 1970's furniture is the wood. 
Frankly, if you're going to invest 
time and energy to paint or refinish 
a piece of furniture, 
you want something sturdy and well made.  

You want wood. 
Like this dresser.  
It's vintage 1970's Drexel Heritage.

To bring this dresser up-to-date, 
I decided to paint it white.
But all white seemed boring. 

For contrast, I chose to keep the wood top.

It was in good condition, 
but it needed to be refinished.

Let me introduce you to a time-saver:

Minwax Furniture Refinisher

This is the perfect way to remove
 varnish, shellac and lacquer
without damaging the wood underneath.

No sanding.
No scraping.
No mess. 

The old varnish came off quickly and easily.
In less than an hour, the top was done.

Once I saw the color of the natural wood, 
I changed my mind about staining it,
and left it natural. 

What a difference!

So let's paint!

For this project, I tried out a "new" paint.

Actually it's been around for a while, 
and many of you know about it, 
but it was new to me:


In some ways, it's similar to the popular chalk paint.
Like chalk paint, there's little prep before painting.

Unlike chalk paint, FUSION is thinner 
and seems to go on more smoothly
(at least for me!).
Plus a top coat isn't necessary
unless you want to add one. 

The results were wonderful!

Here's a PAINT TIP you may like to try:

Whenever I plan to distress a piece of white furniture, 

I first paint it black.

Sounds strange, doesn't it?

 I find that the black under-painting 
takes the "sweetness" out of the white paint.
 Plus, black gives an added dimension to the piece when it's sanded.

Like this.

You'll see, too, that I painted the hardware.
 I wanted the metal handles to recede into the background.

Overall, this old dresser now is lighter and fresher.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Casual Table

Hello friends,
Let's look outside for our next project. 

Here's a table I've used on our deck for years. 
Originally, a friend bought it at a yard sale,
but she decided not to keep it, and she shared it with me.
Wasn't that nice of her!

 With its fiberglass top and metal base, it's ideal for outdoor use, 
but after several seasons, the table was worn and shabby,
 -- and not in a good way!


Once again, in my excitement to paint, 
I forgot to take a 'before' photo.  

This one shows the table in primer, 
so we'll call it an 'almost before' photo

Often I'm asked how I decide what to paint and what colors to use.

It's so easy to decide what to paint for a client,
but deciding what to paint for myself is a challenge.
 There are too many options
 and I want to try them all!

This time, inspiration comes from 
the exuberant designs of Mackenzie-Childs.

Known for their lavish use of color and pattern,
you'll see that I'm paying homage 
to their unique style.

My color palette is simple:
 yellow, green & a whisper of blue
against black and white.

The colors are loosely washed onto the table
for a casual, painterly effect.

No precise,crisp edges here.

How do stripes, dots, squares and squiggles 
all work togetherin one cohesive design?


For example, the black elements 
are the boldest and the largest.
The squares on the table top and base
are painted with the same colors 
and are medium-sized,
while the dots are the smallest.

Now, my deck is ready for summer!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chippy Old Paint

Have you lusted after vintage architectural elements,
or drooleed over a weathered column or an old window frame? 

Occasionally you'll find them at flea markets,
or in a salvage shop,
like this one I came across recently in an Ohio shop.
It had a hefty price tag.

 My client has looked for just the right piece of salvage for over a year,
but never found the "right" one.

Ultimately she decided to purchase a new one,
and asked me to could paint it "OLD" for her. 
She bought this beauty from Wholesale Millwork.
Its just the right size for the wall above her bedroom window.

Out came the  brushes, blades, sandpaper and paints
and I ended up with this!

It's chippy with just the right amount of "OLD."

Honestly, if I had a place to enjoy it in my home,
it would never leave me!

Surprisingly, it didn't take long to do.
The layers are slip-slapped on randomly
in any way that pleases your eye.
It probably took longer to dry, than it did to paint it!

If you'd like to try this, 
here's what you need to make this chippy paint effect:
  • joint compound
  • sanded grout
  • 3- coordinating paint colors
  • Crackle Medium
  • clear polyurethane, spray can or quart
  • dark brown craft paint, raw umber 
  • rag, brush, flat edged palette knife

1. Tickle on some PAINT, leaving some of the background showing. 
I used Benjamin Moore Wyeth Blue,  HC143

2. Mix paint into PLASTER.  
(I used what was on the shelf, 
a pre-mixed plaster from DuRock,
 that already had grit in it,
 but you don't need this product for success.)

Toss some sanded tile grout into drywall compound along with your paint.
I used Sherwin Williams Spaulding Gray #6074

 Opt for no texture.  
Keep it smooth if you'd like.

3. Slap-dab the tinted plaster onto the wood. 
 Smooth it out in some places,
leave it rough in others.
Use as many colors of paint as you wish.

I went back an added some deeper blue-green over the taupe plaster.
This is the UGLY STAGE!

Let everything dry.

according to the directions on the can.
Be patient and wait for it to set up.

5.  With a roller, apply the final coat of paint.  
This is your finished color. 
Don't fuss, or worry too much about coverage.
You want this to look OLD and JUNKY

Watch the cracks form as the paint dries.  
It's magic!

6. With a paper towel or rag, 
blot some of the cracked areas 
before they dry completely.
 You'll see more of the colors underneath.
Let dry.

7. Seal with a clear coat of Polyurethane.

8. Add dirty brown glaze on top if you'd like.

I always seal the paint before putting on the antique-glaze
because it allows me to wipe off the excess easily
without effecting the painted surface.

And then it was time to hang it on the wall.


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