Monday, May 30, 2011

Free dresser! But... now what?

We finally had a beautiful, sunny day today but I spent 5 hours of it in the emergency room, getting my dancer daughter's foot re-xrayed and examined (she broke it during her recital last weekend). I am so grateful that she is healing well and will be back dancing by July, but neither of us enjoyed the long wait. I saw a lot of worried mommies with a lot of very unwell little ones today and I just kept counting my blessings that my children are healthy and happy.

On the way home, our moods improved when we spotted this on the side of the road. Feast your eyes on this, uh.... beauty? I have seen some ugly furniture in my days but this one is something special. It's a sort of reddish brown with an accent colour that reminds me of silly putty.

A broken handle, and the whole side is coming off. It's a very solid piece but I'm not sure what kind of wood it is. I've never seen that kind of rectangle panel thingy on the front of the drawers.

It weighs a ton but between the two of us, we lifted it a couple of inches and tipped it into the trunk. Drove it home and had Tarzan get it out of the back of the van - he even fixed the side for me! 

The key holes and sweet little knobs really seal the deal - I think knobs are a bit small for the scale of the dresser, but I will save them for a future project. I think it's begging for special treatment I'm just not sure what that is.

So, now what? I have to strip off all that goopy oil paint for starters and then maybe I will be able to think about what to do with it. I want to do something that will really unify the piece and make it stunning.

I am hoping the inspiration will come to me - if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!

Give Me a Sign...

We are finally getting better weather which means I can get to some heavy lifting. Not literally, of course, I leave that to my husband. We affectionately refer to him as Tarzan - the guy can lift and move pretty much anything which is super handy for a girl who collects a lot of furniture and can never visualize how the couch will look 'over there' until someone moves it 'over there' (and often back again!).

So today I got to some sanding and finishing touches on a few projects. I love old signs and a while back I opened a certain catalogue from a certain store, saw a wall hanging and thought, "I could totally make that". So I did! I used stencils for the top letters and hand drew the bottom letters, then painted everything with a small brush, a whole bunch of sanding, and a lot of patience. We'll talk about the wood source later...

Surf Riders found an immediate home in my middle son's bedroom, but then my daughter wanted one. I flew solo on this one, and with inspiration from a few places, hand written letters, and a hibiscus stencil, I created a girly looking sign that celebrated her love for ice cream.

I made a third attempt at a sign for my youngest son but I wasn't happy with the results - I realized that as much as I enjoyed hand drawing the lettering, whenever I looked at it, I recognized my own writing and it felt less authentic.

That was last summer so with better weather I was back at it. I wasn't even planning my next sign, but I came across this Star Biscuit Sign at That's My Letter. I am obsessed with stars (more on that another day) and who doesn't love biscuits? I had to make my own and I came up with this.

Very loud turquoise base, coat of clear varnish, coat of red, bit of sanding to get that turquoise out in the open and then traced my computer-generated letters with carbon paper. I painted the letters in white and finished with a wash of brown paint and glaze then a random slathering of clear varnish so it would look worn off in some places - I stuck it up on my mantel to dry but I love it so much I haven't taken it down.

Now for the wood - I do love all those gorgeous signs being made out there on old doors, etc. but I haven't been lucky enough to find anything like that so I had to resort to what I had on hand. Plywood. Plain old plywood, lying around behind the shed with the perfect level of weathered-ness. Brush off (most of the dirt) and start painting! I love the chips and chunks missing. Makes it look so much more like it was hanging on the front of an abandoned store for years before being rescued.

This was my most recent success - it's a re-creation of last year's attempt but this time with computer-generated letters and a particularly fabulous, knot-holed crumbly piece of wood.

Taped off the halves and part of the pattern - dry brush the paint on

Lay out the letters and tape them in place

Trace over the letters with carbon paper under the white paper

Paint the letters, using as little paint as possible - the less you put on, the less you have to sand off, but try to keep the outside edges crisp. Sand, sand, and sand some more. I have learned that you can almost completely remove the paint and it still looks fantastic. Give it a really good wipe with a damp cloth - microfibre is my favourite. I didn't varnish this one - I liked it the way it looked without.

Here are a few of the lovely, crumbly details

And the finished product! I was really pleased with the way this one came out. I will be sticking with computer letters from now on.

A few weeks ago, I found a piece of plywood under the leaves in my driveway. I have already started brainstorming - stay tuned!

Linking up Here...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's So Easy Being Green

This is my second "real" post and I was completely overwhelmed by the warm welcome I received to the blog world! Thank you to everyone who sent me lovely messages and comments. I still can't believe how much beauty is being created out there!

I had all these great things planned to blog about these past few days but I was derailed when my lovely 12 year old competitive dancer daughter had a collision on stage and ended up with a broken foot! She is recovering nicely and will be back on her toes in no time, thank goodness.

So I thought I would do a quick post about how, in my house lately, green is the new black. I have always loved the fresh apple green colour palette but in the last year or so, my kids have become equally obsessed. Maybe it's because we spend 6 months every year in the cold, dark months of Ontario winter!

My kids are still a little baffled by the strange activities going on around the house whenever I am building, painting or creating something. They wander in and out, ask what I am doing and then after a few minutes of vague interest, they gravitate back to Sponge Bob.

The surefire way to get their attention is to paint something green. The louder the better. We had this older dresser bumping around the house for years, it's been everything from a t.v. stand to a diaper station but I never liked it and could never figure out how to make it fit into my house.

I had already removed the other handles before I remembered to take the 'before' photo. I know they are antique and probably worth some money but they always reminded me of owls, staring at me...

My husband had long ago stripped the drawers but left the old, bumpy, sticky varnish everywhere else. I decided to use it to my advantage to give the piece some texture. I painted right over the whole thing with Home Hardware Beauti-Tone D045 (only sold in Canada). I used a sort of dry brush technique - I have spent so many hours sanding and scraping, trying to distress things, I eventually learned that if I don't put so much on, I don't have to sand so much off!

So this is what we ended up with

Here's a shot of the detail on the side - I love the way the dark finish underneath shows through! Ooh, and check out that nail - nice!

The whole thing took about an hour and a half and I bought these adorable handles at Home Hardware as well - they are solid and help to get the drawers in and out because they are a bit warped with age (uh, I mean, beauty!)

Next thing to be greenified is my daughter's room - we have a total makeover planned once she's back on her own two feet, and I will be sure to share!

Linking up Here...

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Life for a Tired Staircase

My house was built in 1875 and the years have not treated it kindly. It has been subjected to multiple renovations, including being carved up into apartments in the 60s and then turned back into a family home a decade later.

The front stairs were built in 1975. Each step is a different size, it has Victorian railings, improvised wainscotting and rustic pine stair treads. Much like the rest of the house, it doesn't match itself and it needed help. I knew I could never afford a custom stair runner so I started researching painted stairs and fell in love with this photo from a Pottery Barn book on Kids Rooms.

With only three feet between the stairs and a wall, and no windows in the front of the house, it's hard to get a nice shot but this shows the steps taped off.

I wanted my "runner" 25 inches wide, so based on the first step, I had 7 inches on each side. I measured 7 inches from the right edge of every step and placed the second band of tape so that the outside edges were 25 inches apart. To tape the risers, I measured straight down from the outside edge of the tape on the top tread to the outside of the tape on the next tread. I marked it with a pencil and applied the tape along the line. Three coats of yellow floor paint from my local hardware store, colour matched to Behr Pyramid Gold and it was looking better already.

When the yellow was dry, I ran a strip of very narrow tape up against it, basically as a place holder for the stripe. Two coats of primer and two coats of white floor paint - can't remember the exact colour, just a warm white that I thought went well with my yellow. When the white was dry and cured (three days), I put a band of tape on either side of the narrow piece and removed the narrow piece to paint the navy blue stripe.

Now for the numbers...the font for the numbers is Century and I made the numbers 5 inches tall using the "ruler" feature in Word and and increasing the font size until the number was the size I wanted. 

I used contact paper to make stencils for the numbers. Print the numbers on paper, trace the numbers onto squares of contact paper (I used carbon paper from Staples). With a sharp blade, cut the number out of the contact paper. For 4, 6 8, 9, etc., I cut the middles out and then used a piece of masking tape to middles in place until I stuck them on the stairs.

Center each square on the riser, peel the backing off and stick it in place, if it's not perfect you can reposition it. Once all the squares are in place paint the first coat with whatever colour you are painting over. In this case I gave every number a quick coat of white paint - it seals the stencil so the colour coat won't bleed through. Three coats of navy blue craft paint - I needed so little, I didn't want to buy a big can - one coat of clear gloss on top. I taped off the stripes (one piece of wide tape on either side of the narrow, then remove the narrow tape) and used the same approach. Resist the urge to peel off the tape until everything is really dry.

When all the paint is nice and dry, you can start peeling! Isn't this everyone's favourite part? And now it's time for the big reveal!


I still can't believe these are in my house! I am so pleased with how they turned out and my kids love them. I had to do a little bit of touching up when the new paint peeled off the old, but overall it came out really well. 

We are lucky because I have two staircases in my house so having this one out of commission for two weeks was no big deal. Even if you are painting the only staircase in your house, a project like this goes in phases so there's very little time when you can't use the stairs at all and each step doesn't take too long. 

Now for that back staircase....

It's my very first "link up" post!!! 

Thanks to all who led me here

This blog has been in the works for months. I can't even remember know how I accidentally discovered the amazing world of incredible woman creating the most beautiful things and blogging about it, but when I did, I knew I had found my people! For a few months, I just enjoyed the view.

I was instantly addicted to one of my blog heroes, Ana White and spent all last summer building furniture. But of course, as any good blog lurker knows, once you visit one gorgeous blog, you soon discover another, and another, and another. So in rapid succession, I became obsessed with The Lettered Cottage, Young House Love and, what has now become my first stop every morning and last stop every night, Miss Mustard Seed.

I wait every day for their new posts to appear and still gasp when their latest creations pop onto my screen. I spend hours scouring the unbelievable makeovers, redos, and creations and every single day, I am incredibly inspired by what these amazing women (always with the most loyal of husbands right there behind them...) are able to accomplish.

So today, after all this time, I have scraped together a few moments of my very minimal free time and I am plunging into the blog world! If I accomplish nothing else, I just wanted the chance to link at least once to each of the fabulous places that have made me so happy over the last year, just to say thank you.

So, thank you ladies, for taking the time our your crazy schedules to make the world a more beautiful place, one post at a time!

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