Saturday, March 23, 2013

Desk Restoration

Deciding to move away from Distressing for the moment, I wanted to focus on this interesting desk I picked up on Craigslist about 3 years ago.  While Craigslist can be quite a scary place and you always want to make sure you choose your purchases wisely and bring along a friend when picking up your goods, it can be a fantastic spot to find affordable pieces for your home decor.

This desk was purchased when I was moving into a new flat across town.  I had very little in terms of furniture to decorate and very few resources.  I used Craigslist as my main source of shopping and along with local garage sales, I was able to fill the apartment for under $200.00.  And many of the items I purchased for the flat remain in my home today.  This desk has been useful to me over the years as a pretty sofa table.  I liked the look of it and had no intention of doing any type of renovation to it.  However, over the past year, I have moved my living room in a completely different direction than I ever thought I would, incorporating dark browns and rich blues.  In keeping with that theme, I decided to paint the sofa table a dramatic teal, which matches the distressed mirror over my fireplace mantel (you can read more about that project HERE) and also fits in seamlessly with the rest of the living room decor.

After hauling it outside to my garage, I got to work sanding the item.  While sanding I discovered that this item has endured quite a bit of wear and tear over the years including a cracked frame and warped drawer.  I sanded over the dents and chips the best that I could and made a mental note to keep an eye on the desk over the next year.  If the desk proves to be more than a hassle and headache than a pretty addition, it will go to donation.  I think it's super important to make sure the items that fill your home not only add creative flare but are also functional and useful to you and your family.

I ended up taking off a small decal on the front panel.  I didn't think it would look good painted and didn't want the hassle of dealing with it throughout the painting process.  A flat head screw driver did the trick in prying it off and a quick sanding over the area made for a smooth surface.

Before removing decal

After decal was removed and the item had been sanded and primed

Once I was finished with sanding, I used a spray paint primer to cover up the gold trim and fill in the cracks before painting.  I like spray primer because it is super quick and allows you to concentrate on specific areas that need attention.  

Once the primer had dried completely, I moved the item inside to paint.  I've had this paint color on hand for about a year so it took a lot of mixing to get the paint ready.  Because the paint was very thick and I was painting a large piece of furniture, I mixed in a latex paint additive to lengthen the drying time between coats.  This will eliminate brush strokes and prevent the paint from coagulating as you make your way around the piece.  Use the directions to measure your paint and additive and make sure you throw down some tarp or large pieces of paper before you get to work; this can be a messy process. 

Floetrol.  My additive of choice.
Paint color is Behr's Teal Zeal in an egg shell base.
Because I primed, it took two coats of paint to achieve a flawless finish, with none of the original desk color peaking through.  Once the paint had completely dried, I went over the entire desk with a clear polyurethane to seal in the paint and help prevent future scratches and nicks.

I found two glass knobs in my office which were purchased at Hobby Lobby last summer.  Any time I am at Hobby Lobby I make it a point to stock up on knobs.  They have a great selection on all types of knobs and they are always on clearance.  I went with the glass knobs on this project because the paint color is very bright and I did not want to add any additional drama.

Overall, I was super happy with the turnout here.  The desk fits in well with the living room decor and because it matches the mantle mirror, I think it pulls the room together nicely.  The project took one afternoon to complete and I waited one full night before putting anything on top of the desk to ensure there would be no indentations on the surface from heavy objects. 

Second-hand items are a fantastic way to decorate your home on a budget.  Be sure to check out your local garage sales this Spring for some great finds.  These items will be a great addition to your home for many Happy years to come!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Distressed Vanity

I've had distressed decor on the brain as of late.  Not only do distressed pieces create instant drama and romance in any room, but they are also very accessible to the decorating novice and extremely easy on the wallet.  Today's subject is a gorgeous vanity given to me by my mother to do as I please.  She purchased it years ago at a local antique shop.  It had been in her room, filled with her jewelry and keepsakes.  I love the style of this piece and I particularly dig the deep drawers and unique storage spaces on top of the item.

My initial plan was to simply sand and seal the item using clear polyurethane.  Upon trying out this method I was disappointed to see a thin, milky film forming on the surface as I brushed on the poly coat.  I asked a furniture expert (my dad) what could cause such a film and discovered that the air temperature could have affected the seal.  I had started this project in my backyard last fall when the air was just becoming crisp and chilly.  By exposing the poly coat to cold air, it did not properly dry.  Good to know! 

My dad's advice was to re-sand the item and start over.  But because I'm really into distressing right now, I decided to move forward with this project as a distressed piece.  And I wanted a pronounced Shabby Chic look.  I used an antique cream paint color I had on hand and applied one full coat of paint.  After that coat dried I used a smaller brush to go over areas that I felt needed more paint.  The idea here is to take your time and remember that you will be going over the finished item with sand paper.  This is also the type of project with an outcome that is based solely on how you want the piece to look.  I wanted this item to look as though it had aged gracefully.  After the second round of brush strokes, I was satisfied.

I used my electric, hand-held sander to go over the paint and only after I was sure the item was completely dry - usually 2 hours.   I used the sander almost as I do my paint brush; moving along the grain of the wood and paying particularly close attention to the edges and corners, which is where the item will see the most wear and tear.  Once I was satisfied with the look of the piece, I went over the entire item with a dry, soft cloth to rid the piece of any dust or debris.  I applied one coat of a clear polyurethane which produced a clean surface and shiny appearance that will both protect the vanity as well as give the item a pretty sheen.   The vanity was completed with two knobs purchased at Hobby Lobby on clearance. 

I purposely left the two panels underneath each drawer unpainted.  I like the color of the wood here.

I love the romantic look of the vanity and plan on using the piece in my guest room.  Topped with soft flowers and delicate keepsakes, I look forward to having this gorgeous (and Happy) hand-me-down in my home for years to come. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

DIY Custom Painted Girl's Chair

 This little chair has been a staple in my daughter Olivia's daily routine since she was able to walk.  Purchased at a garage sale as part of a set that included one other chair and a small table, this chair has managed to stick around through 3 moves and lots of fun play sessions directed by Miss O herself.  She moves it throughout the house, from our coffee table to her dollhouse, over to her baby doll's cradle while she sings her baby to sleep and back to the coffee table.  It had a lot of wear and tear and the other day I started getting the itch to revamp it for her and make it a little more girly and personalized.  I asked her what colors she would like the chair to be and she immediately replied "Pink.  And Purple".

With that, I got to work.

Again, the simple steps we need to remember are sanding and priming.  In this case, I only primed the colored circles because I wanted to be sure that they would not show through.  A stencil brush was the perfect size and did the trick for priming the colored circles.

I used stencils for a pretty seat decoration and to add a personal touch, I used letter stencils to include an "O" and an "S" for Olivia Septer.

Once the stenciled decorations were completely dry, I applied one coat of polyurethane on the seat to ensure protection through all of the wear and tear that comes with a busy 5 year old's daily routine.

Upon a curiosity-driven Google search of "girls personalized play chairs" I was given many different styles and choices from many different online stores.  None of which came in below the $50.00 average mark.  FIFTY DOLLARS?!  For a little girl's chair?  No thank you!



Peruse your local garage sales this spring for used children's furniture.  Pick up some paint and stencils from your local craft or hardware store and give yourself an afternoon.  Your wallet will hardly be dented and your little one will thank you for her perfect, one of a kind chair.

Happy Weekend Everyone!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Quick Change... and a Quick Bread!

In an ode to lazy Sunday afternoons, I thought I'd share a few, quick changes that anyone can do to add a little oomph to their home decor and style.  And when you're finished with those, enjoy a quick and easy Banana Bread recipe that my family loves.


This was my great grandmother's dresser.  The gold drawer pulls are original.  I liked them but wanted more of a shabby chic look.
Knobs purchased at Hobby Lobby.  Normally $3.99 a piece, these white knobs were on sale for half off.  6 knobs were $12.00 before taxes.
The knobs add a soft and subtle charm to the dresser that compliment the shabby chic appearance.  Nothing fancy here; just simple accessories.
One of my favorite features of an antique dresser: dovetails.
I've always loved the unique carvings in this piece.

Accessory Rack

This rack was purchased at Hobby Lobby on clearance.  It hangs in my office and holds scarves and hats. I think the pop of color and unlikely wall art add inspiration in a creative space.

Banana Bread Recipe


1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.

Spread slices with honey or serve with ice cream.
I've been using this recipe for years and it always turns out fantastic.  In fact, it's actually written down on a piece of paper titled "Fantastic Banana Bread Recipe".  I found it on Food Network's website the year before my little Olivia was born.  I've made it for family dinners, holiday parties and even as part of a care package for friends and family during times of bereavement.  Nothing beats a warm, moist piece of banana bread.  Brings a smile to anyone's mouth.  Read more at: 

Happy Sunday Everyone.