Monday, May 31, 2010

Super Special, Ultra Exciting Project!

So here it is. That extra big, completely terrifyingly exciting project that I'll be tackling while I'm away. Are you ready?
No, I don't think you are.
Okay, here it is.

Isn't it gorgeous? My brother brought this vintage couch across the country with him when he moved from North Carolina to Utah. And while he and his bride love the couch itself, the fabric with which it's been covered is not very loveable. It's kinda hard and scratchy and very burlapish (I dub that a word). Durable? Yes. Comfy? NO. Not the kind of fabric that makes you want to sprawl out and take a snooze.

During my visit to Utah I'll be giving this couch a complete reupholstery job. There may even be some wood refinishing happening as well.
Do you think I'm crazy? I do.
This is scary stuff! Look at all of those buttons and tufting! And the double welting that goes all the way around the whole thing?! YIKES!!! Oh, and don't even remind me about the cushion covers.

Still, I'm so, so excited. I've never done a project of this scale before, or with so many different techniques involved- many of which I've never even tried before. So that makes it scary, but those are also the reasons that I'm looking forward to it. Plus, it's for my brother and sister-in-law, and I love them both so very much.

Besides, I won't be in it alone. I'll be making the dog my assistant. Wish us luck!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The thrift store's thrift store

This evening the kiddles and I will be making our way to Salt Lake City, then on to southern Utah for my kid sister's high school graduation on Friday evening. I'll be hanging with my folks and siblings and other loved ones for a while, then heading back to SLC to work on a super special, ultra exciting project for my brother and his wife before coming home. I'll show you a little teaser tomorrow, okay?

Anyway, I hope to still have some posts for you to enjoy in my absence. They may be a little scarcer than lately, but I promise there will be something!

Not long ago I mentioned a thrift store in my area that is like the thrift store's thrift store. It's a place where donated items go that are either not in good enough shape to be sold in the regular stores, or that have been to a thrift store but just never sold. For most of the items there, I have a feeling it's the last stop before the dump.

The Bargain Center is just a warehouse-type of room with large wooden bins arranged into rows where everything is just dumped in. They try to organize things, so there are bins of just shoes, just clothes, just toys and games, etc. And of course there are several bins if just STUFF. They don't usually have much furniture, but I like to see what I can find anyway. I pop in every now and then and usually have mixed luck. Sometimes I'll leave with just an item or two, and sometimes I'll fill a cart. My most recent trip was definitely a successful one!

The chunky wreath and cute little basket I found are in great shape. They just need a little dressing up to make them special.

That suitcase was way too darling to pass up, but when I spied it a lady was opening it and looking it over. I think I actually whispered out loud, "Don't!". Luckily she walked away from it so I scooped it right up. Things like this are always interesting and useful items to decorate with. I can see this stacked with one or two other suitcases or even perched on top of a plain little table to create a unique side table or nightstand.

Luck struck again as I was heading to the register. An employee had just laid this in a bin as I was approaching so of course I snatched it. Isn't it beautiful?!

I'm not really into wrought iron myself, but I know how popular it is and this star burst clock is a real eye catcher.

Hopefully it just needs a battery, but if a new clock mechanism is what it takes to get this beauty on the wall, I'd say that's an easy fix.

The bin of board games and puzzles usually gets a quick glance, but this time I spotted an old Scrabble game. I love Scrabble (even though I'm not any good at it), but I'm sure it's missing a lot of tiles which makes it unplayable. I hope to be able to come up with a craft or two using the tiles that it does have.

This is the item I'm most excited about. I put the basket in the picture to give you an idea of its size. The top is only hanging on by a nail, so that will need to be fixed, but otherwise it's in good shape.

It stands about thigh high and has that cool worn-in character that I love. The "Taters" themed paint detail? Yeah, it's gonna go.

It's very Idaho, and as much as I love potatoes, I have other plans for this bin. I can see this being used to store pet food with a little scoop attached by a chain, or a pretty little place to throw newspapers or plastic grocery bags to be recycled. Can't wait to work on it!

The Bargain Center is definitely not your typical second-hand store. Only certain items have actual prices, like clothing, shoes and books. Everything else is sold by the pound. Seriously. Everything I'd found was just wheeled onto a giant scale while still in the cart, then the weight of my items was determined by subtracting the weight of the cart which was marked on the side of it. The more "poundage" you buy the cheaper it gets. I was in the 40¢ per pound range so I got everything I just showed you for $10 and some change. ☺

Seriously, if you live close you need to check it out. As much as I'd love to keep this place a secret, it just wouldn't be fair.

If you're local, here's the info for "the thrift store's thrift store".

Idaho Youth Ranch Bargain Center
2619 Sundance Blvd.
Nampa, ID 83651

Store hours:
Monday – Saturday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday Noon to 5:00 pm

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I think I'm dead.

So maybe I'm not dead, but I'm definitely walking on air. Wait, is that Cloud 9 up ahead?
Okay, that was corny. I can't help it. I'm so stinking excited! Tickled is probably the best word to describe how I'm feeling. Why? Well I'll tell ya!

When I got home from an outing with my family last night I decided to check my Google Reader. Kristine over at The Painted Hive had a new post, so as I slowly scrolled down to read it, imagine my surprise and amazement and sheer joy to see my little high chair project featured there! Ha!

Remember it was Kristine that I turned to for help with this project, and upon her advice that I relied in order to do it right. Well, she's beginning a new section on her blog called "Busy Bees", which features the work of other bloggers. And she chose little old me to be her very first Bee! I couldn't stop grinning. I think I even squealed and clapped a little bit. Or maybe a lot. And then I made my husband come and read her post. And then I read it again myself.

Sweet, ego-inflating feature aside, the fact is, you need to visit The Painted Hive. If you haven't yet, you. Must. Go. Kristine's refurbished and rehabilitated furniture pieces are all amazing, her taste in decorating is downright breathtaking, and she really just knows her stuff. So go now and be inspired!

Meanwhile, I'm going to go smile to myself for a few more hours.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

White chair with hand painted detail

While working to make the chair in the photo below a little cuter, I hit a snag. Let me show you what went wrong, and what I did to fix it.

Here it is painted in "Heirloom White" with a little distressing and some hand painted detail on the back.

The bird turned out fine. I did not free-hand this, by the way. It's traced. In fact, one of these days I hope to be able to show you with step-by-step photos how you can do this yourself. But that will be another time.

The leafy twigs... well... there's the snag. In my attempt to make things easier on myself and save a little time, I used a Sharpie marker to draw on the fine lined twig instead of painting it.

I knew I couldn't do a clean job with paint, so I improvised. Bad idea. When I put a clear coat over it to protect the paint, something in the sealer made the Sharpie bleed. Aren't those things supposed to be permanent?

My solution: very fine sand paper. You can barely even tell it got sanded in this photo.

But here you can see the difference in finish. The sealer just kind of absorbed the marker, so all I had to do was sand that layer off and it took the Sharpie with it.

This time, I did it right. Black acrylic paint, fine-tipped paint brush and a damp napkin just in case of mistakes.

See? Not very good with the paint. But that's okay. This is supposed to look hand painted, worn and imperfect, so I left it alone.

Another coat of sealer and it's all done!
The end.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Vintage high chair = Favorite yard sale find!

After writing a blog post for 5 days in a row last week, I think I'm actually beginning to run out of material. But not just yet! I have to share with you my lovely little vintage high chair now that it's had a good cleaning and a little TLC.

When I bought it at "The Yard Sale" it was quite dirty and had some of the old finish that was basically flaking off. But I loved the time worn look that it had and meant to keep it. Since I was planning on putting this chair back to work, I knew it would need to be protected somehow so that spills wouldn't just absorb into the wood. However, I didn't want it to become shiny, which a polyurethane would do. So for a solution I turned to a blogger who is much more knowledgeable about such things than I am.

After reading over a very helpful post chock full of information written by Kristine at The Painted Hive, I decided that Danish Oil might be the product I ought to use on this beauty. Just to be sure, I e-mailed her a photo of the chair and asked her what she thought I should do. In just a couple of hours she'd replied and given me oodles of info!

Here's what she had to say:

Using a liquid sealer over any raw wood will inevitably cause some change in the timbers appearance. Try brushing on a little water to see if you like the look of the timber when it's damp. A sealer will most likely cause the same type of effect (perhaps a little lighter) though of course water will promptly dry whereas a sealer will penetrate the timber, locking in moisture and providing a (usually shiny) barrier, thus repelling stains and maintaining a richer look.

I would say you're right in that danish oil (sometimes called Scandinavian oil) is your best bet for a liquid sealer as it has a much more natural, subtle finish than poly. Another option would be to try beeswax. Beeswax is less penetrating than a liquid sealer so will maintain the silvers in your timber better though, while it does seal well when done properly, the seal is not as effective as a liquid based sealer.

She answered my question so thoroughly that I was left with no doubt that Danish oil was the way to go. While I really liked the "silver" look of the wood, I didn't want to take any chances using something that might not seal it from food stains. I'm so, so happy with the results!

It's not a dramatic change, but that's what I was hoping for! You can see that the wood was given an overall richer look and darkened quite a bit, but I don't mind that at all.

There's still quite a variation in the tones of wood throughout the chair which gives it tons of character. I also love that the Danish oil didn't add any sort of sheen to the wood. In some places it looks almost raw, but I know that it's protected.

Since the tray had split in a couple of places and had been "repaired" with some sort of glue before I bought it, the Danish oil caused the glue to become tacky and it stayed tacky. My solution was to lightly sand over the whole tray with fine sand paper, then just wiped one some satin polyurethane. This got rid of the tackiness and made me feel like the tray (which will obviously be the most used part of the chair) got a little extra protection. (Isn't that little leather strap adorable? It's attached to the underside of the tray and snaps to the bottom of the chair. Cute!)

Finnley hasn't had a chance to really use it yet, but doesn't he look excited?!

One more comparison for ya.

SUPER HUGE THANK YOU to Kristine for taking the time to answer my question, and for imparting so much wonderful information to a novice like me! I really love this chair and feel confident now in letting my little one actually use it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Before and After: octagonal table and entry mirror

More "before and afters" today!

This sweet little table finally got its makeover. Here's how it started out.

You may recall the post I wrote discussing the possibility of painting the bottom yellow and leaving the top unpainted. Well, I tried it, but the "buttery yellow" turned out more like Big Bird yellow. Seriously, this photo isn't showing how bright it really was.

During the few seconds it took me to walk to the garage and back, my little guy had pulled two chairs up to this table and was contentedly "reading". What a good idea! It's the perfect size for kids!

Anyway, I decided to try and tone down that yellow with a little white glaze. I think it did the trick.

The top got a couple of coats of Danish Oil to protect the wood but giving it no sheen.

And since that partially-painted base was bugging me, I ended up removing the top and painting the rest of the base yellow as well. (Did you notice that in the photos above? Yeah, that looked weird.)

The top turned very orange when I put the Danish oil on it. You can see the difference in the photo with my son reading.

But I like the rustic quality that it still has. All of the grooves and dents and discolorations that it's earned are still visible, and that's what I wanted.

Next is the mirror that's been hanging in our entry. I wish I'd taken a photo of it hanging up. The entry is really small and tends to get kind of dark, so I thought hanging a mirror in there would help. It does, but since the frame of the mirror is so dark and it hangs above a dark cabinet, the feeling was still kind of, well, dark.

All I did was tape off the mirror to save myself the trouble of having to scrape paint off of it...

...then hit it with a coat of the same white glaze that I'd used on the table above. Using a clean cloth I just wiped away some of the wet glaze to show the surface and give it some depth.

I'm still trying to decide if I like it, or if it needs something else done to it. (Are you noticing a trend of uncertainty with some of my projects lately?)

But it definitely lightens up the space, which is what I wanted.
More "before and afters" to share later!