oopsy daisy.

Although technically my furniture moratorium continues to be in place, I still bring in the occasional piece(s).  Especially when it’s an amazing bargain that is far too good to pass up.  So recently when I saw an ad on craigslist for a tall dresser that was exactly my style and about half the price I usually pay, I had to send Mr. Q for it.

Yep, I had to.

tall oak before

But this post isn’t about that dresser, it’s about the second dresser that the seller had.  When Mr. Q got there the seller asked if we’d be interested in another piece she had for sale.  He texted me a photo, and I said “sure, why not?”  And thus, he came home with two pieces.

oak pair before

This low dresser was missing it’s hardware entirely.  I suspect the seller removed it at some point thinking she was going to refinish it, and then over time the hardware was misplaced.  It was priced accordingly though, so no complaints on that score.  I planned to just replace it.

Have I ever mentioned that my best ideas usually come to me in the shower?  Maybe because that’s the time when I’m really not concentrating on anything else.  My mind wanders while I’m shampooing.  So I was in the shower thinking about this cute little low dresser and I thought vintage wallpaper!  I haven’t done a wallpapered piece in a while, and looking back I’ve done quite a few of them over the years (here, here, here, here, here and here).

I happened to have a really pretty yard of wallpaper with daisies on hand (I usually order my vintage wallpaper by the yard via Etsy).  But before we get to the wallpaper, I first painted the shell of the dresser in Fusion’s Limestone.  I love the warmth of this white.  I sometimes forget how ridiculously easy it is to use Fusion paint.  I sanded the piece ever so quickly, wiped it down with TSP substitute and slapped on two coats of paint.  Then I distressed the edges a bit with fine sandpaper.  Done.

The wallpapering was a different story.  This was one of the more fragile pieces of wallpaper I’ve worked with.  I ripped it more than once.  Basically though, I measured a section of wallpaper to fit down the left half of both drawers, then a second piece to fit down the right half of both drawers.  I mixed up some wallpaper paste (I use the Zinsser Sure Grip powder so I can mix up just the small amount that I need) and smoothed it onto the back of each piece then gently folded them over to ‘book’ the paper.  I then drew a pencil line down the center of each drawer.  I lined up the wallpaper with the center line and worked my way out.  I kept the patterns lined up so that when the drawers are in place the pattern runs from one to the next, if that makes sense.

wallpaper 2

I made two mistakes with the wallpaper.  The first mistake was rubbing too hard while attempting to remove excess paste from the front with a damp rag.  Some of these vintage papers are not colorfast, and this is one of them.  I could see that I was starting to take the color off the paper.  Ooopsy daisy.

wallpaper close up 2

The second mistake was not allowing enough overlap in the middle of the drawers to cut off the edge of the paper.  The design did not go all the way to the edge on this paper.  There is about ¼” that was meant to be trimmed off.  Dang, oopsy daisy again!

I really felt like this piece needed to be up on casters.  It’s a low piece anyway, so the casters are like adding heels to just give it a little bit of a boost.  But boy, those things fought me every inch of the way.  The dresser obviously originally had casters.  Three out of the four original metal sockets were still in place and extremely rusted.  Although I had 4 vintage casters on hand, only one of them fit in the original sockets.  That meant I had to get those old rusted sockets out.  It took a bunch of elbow grease and there might have been a fair amount of cursing taking place, but I finally got them out and was able to fit the vintage casters with sockets in the existing holes.  Phew!

For such a simple piece, this one really gave me a run for my money.

I think this low dresser would be perfect for a TV stand.  It would place the TV at the perfect height for viewing.  Alternatively, it is also low enough to sit at the foot of a bed with some quilts stacked on top.

I’m still using the beautiful hand stitched baby dresses that I purchased from my friend Sue about two years ago for the occasional furniture photo shoot.

baby dress

They are so lovely, but both Sue and I often ask ourselves what one would do with these other than hang them in a nursery?  Any ideas?

I always enjoy getting a glimpse of pieces inside the photo cottage after they are done.  They never stay in there for long though!

wallpaper in photo cottage


milk paint for beginners.

Hi everyone!  Just a heads up that I have a post today on the Reclaiming Beautiful blog with a detailed tutorial on using milk paint.

milk paint for beginners

If you are within driving distance of Stillwater, Minnesota be especially sure to check it out since there is a fun giveaway at the end (you must pick up the prize in person at Reclaiming Beautiful in Stillwater).

And hey, while you are there visiting be sure to check out the ‘tour’ posts of RB owner Monique’s house if you didn’t see it back in July.   She lives in a beautiful 1892 home that I know you’ll enjoy seeing!

Monique's dining room

You can find their blog {here}.

a color blocked bed.

Bigger is better?

Before we get into today’s post, did you notice I made some tweaks to the blog?  Wordpress announced a new and improved version of my blog ‘theme’ way back in January, but I never took the time to look at it until now.  With this new theme, my page is wider, my photos can be larger, my fonts are larger … everything is just BIGGER!  I think that’s a good thing, but what do you think?  Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion.

I’m still exploring some other possibilities with this new theme, so don’t be surprised if you see a few more changes here over the coming weeks.

On with today’s post!

I’m a fan of color blocking, how about you?

I like it in clothes, and I also like it in decor.  In fashion, color blocking is described as pairing blocks of different colors together.  It usually refers to pairing bright colors, so maybe I should call this ‘toned down color blocking’ because rather than using bright colors I used the muted tones of Fusion’s Algonquin and Limestone on this bed frame.

color blocked bed 1

This bed came to me as part of a set.  I split it up since I’m not much of a fan of ‘suites’ of furniture.  The dresser and vanity have already been painted and all that was left was this bed.  It was in great shape and has the side rails and the slats meant for holding the box spring and mattress, but it wasn’t particularly pretty or interesting.  It was just rather dull.

So I decided to give it a slightly more modern vibe with some toned down color blocking.

First I painted the entire bed in Algonquin, which is a lovely sort of greige color.  The I simply measured and taped off a wide stripe down the center of the headboard and foot board and painted that in the Limestone.

color blocked bed

I distressed the edges a little with sandpaper.

bed close up

Both my sister and my neighbor, nnK, asked me if I was going to put a stencil on the headboard, but I thought that would be too much.  I like that this bed has a subtle sense of style.  It could be dressed up or down with different bedding.

color blocked bed 5

It is for sale.  It is a full/double size bed, so a great candidate for a kids room or a guest room.  Unfortunately vintage beds in anything larger than a full are pretty much unheard of since queen and king sized beds weren’t really around until the 50’s and 60’s.

color blocked bed 3

By the way, have I mentioned that my Limelight hydrangea is absolutely GIGANTIC this year?  Bigger may not be better in this case.  I plan to prune it down a bit this winter to keep it in check!

cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.

When I was a kid my mom sewed most of my clothes and she whipped up some really cute things.  I can remember going through a pinafore stage in grade school.  I loved those pinafores and my mom made several for me.  They had made a come-back in the 60’s people, so don’t judge.  My mom also made matching halter-tops for me and my bff.  My bff’s mom made some for us too.  We loved matching!

My mom tried to turn me into a seamstress.  When I was in my early 20’s and broke, she helped me sew some wool suits for my office wardrobe.  I still get a little itchy remembering those wool pieces that weren’t lined.  I probably should have tried some less ambitious projects because in the end I just got frustrated with how much work was involved and the ‘sewing thing’ just didn’t take.

Although I have absolutely no interest in sewing clothing, every once in a while I do wish I had the sewing skills and equipment necessary for upholstery work or even just for sewing simple pillow covers or curtains.  Obviously I don’t wish it badly enough to do something about it though.

Instead, I find ways to cheat!

I suspect that the cane chair that I brought home from a garage sale a few weeks ago originally had a loose cushion for the bottom.

cane back chair

It would be preferable to replace it with another cushion because that would give it a softer, more comfortable seat with some give.  But since I can’t sew, I decided to add an upholstered seat similar to those on your typical dining room chair.  I started by having Ken cut a base out of plywood.  He cut a cardboard template to get the size and shape right, and then just used that to cut the plywood.  Then I added a bunch of layers of thick batting and covered it with a feed sack that I picked up at a garage sale (out of the free pile, believe it or not!).  I stapled the feed sack on and voila.

chair seat 3

It’s perhaps not the perfect solution, but it works for me.  I only spent about $6 for this chair.  The chair frame was $3 at a garage sale, the grain sack was $0, the plywood seat base was a little less than $3, the batting and the paint were items I had on hand but of course they would add to the cost if you had to buy those supplies.

chair half

By the way, I painted the rest of the chair using Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Linen.

chair angle

I got a little chipping, but I’m hoping that over time the chair will wear and get even chippier.

cheater chair

What do you think of my cheater chair?  Not bad for $6, right?

the dresser that refused to be staged.

andrea's dresser title

Normally I don’t do custom work, but if you’ve read my blog for long then you know that I like to break my own rules all the time.  And I’ve broken this one a few times.

A very nice woman named Andrea purchased the spoon carved dresser from me a while back.

Remember that one?

spoon carved title

It was so pretty.  And when Andrea bought it she asked me if I would be willing to paint another one to match.  Ironically, if you read back to the post about that first one I mentioned that I’d custom mixed the color because I ran out of MMS Marzipan and I had to stretch my paint out by adding some other whites.  So I explained to Andrea that I didn’t think I could match the color exactly, and that I don’t often do custom work.  But … all of that being said, I do love painting these spoon carved pieces and I was willing to give it a shot if she was OK with not getting an exact match.

So Andrea kept her eye out for another spoon carved dresser that she liked and when she found one she sent it over to be painted.  Here is how it turned out.

andrea's dresser 1

Although I used what I thought was close to the same mix of Marzipan, Linen and Ironstone, the color on this one is a bit lighter than the other.  Andrea had mentioned that if I couldn’t get the color quite the same, she’d prefer I went lighter rather than darker.

Andrea's dresser side view

I used the same straight up Ironstone to highlight the spoon carving.  It doesn’t stand out quite as much on this piece, I think partially because there isn’t quite as much contrast between the colors but also because the spoon carving details are smaller on this one.

andrea's dresser corner

I really struggled with staging this dresser for photos.  I didn’t necessarily want to cover up the spoon carving that is at the middle back, but I tried putting various objects on the hankie drawers and leaving the middle empty and that just always looked odd.  I tried using a really pretty transferware pitcher and some vintage books.  Nope.  I tried adding a suitcase into the mix.  Nope.  I tried using several ironstone casseroles.  Still, no dice.

So finally I just filled my large ironstone bowl with a floral arrangement and called it good.

floral arrangement

I just used flowers that were available in my yard; some Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea (they are just barely starting to show a hint of pink), some hosta flower stalks, some sedum flower clusters that haven’t opened yet and a sprig or two of variegated ivy.

Andrea picked up her dresser earlier this week and she loved how it turned out.  Phew!  I’m always a little bit relieved when custom jobs go well.

the rejects.

I came home from South Dakota with a pile of old family photos that no one wanted.

rejects title

While there, we got together with my mom’s cousins and we all sat around the dining room table and sorted through a big tub of photos that came from my Great Aunt Lula Perline Moe.

I’ve mentioned Lu before, I named my manikin after her.  When we were kids we would go out and stay on Aunt Lu and Uncle Homer’s farm in the summer.  Here are Homer and Lu …

lu and homer  You see, Aunt Lu never had any children of her own so she enjoyed having various nieces and nephews come to stay.  And sadly, what comes of having no direct descendants is a big tub of photos that got shoved into someone’s attic after she passed away.  None of the South Dakota relatives seemed to want Lu’s photos.

So we sorted through them during our last visit.  All of the photos that included the other aunts and uncles were put into piles to be shipped off to their branches of the family.  Most of rest were put into the ‘reject’ pile, otherwise known as the pile I would take home with me!

We weren’t able to identify the people in most of these.  For example, no one knew who these guys were …

reject farmer

Although clearly they were farmers who were outstanding in their fields, or should I say out standing in their fields?

I seem to be the only one who wants old photos of unknown people.  But some of them are crazy adorable, so how could I resist?

reject cowboy

These little cowboys are cute as can be.

reject cowboy 2

I did also nab a couple of semi-recognizable photos such as this one.

reject group

Remember ‘blind John the peddler’, my great grandfather?  That’s him on the far left.  He is usually recognizable in photos because he wore dark glasses that covered his eyes.

I wonder why they didn’t ask him to turn his head forward.  Perhaps he heard a sound and turned his head at the last minute.  Maybe they re-shot the group photo and this one was just discarded.  It does seem like an slightly cruel joke, hey, look at the blind guy, he doesn’t know which way to face for the photo.

But then I looked at another photo that included John (on far left) and same thing, he’s not facing the camera with everyone else.

reject group 2

Perhaps that was just his way of posing and no one questioned it.  Here he is again with 4 of his daughters, Olga, Carrie (my grandmother), Evelyn and Lu.

grandma's sisters

My grandmother had 7 sisters and two brothers total, although the youngest girl died as a baby.

I think that my grandmother fully enjoyed her sisters.  After moving to Minneapolis with my grandfather, she would go back to the farm every summer to visit and spend time with her family.  In fact, I think she even went back to the farm to give birth to her first child.  Her sisters would come and visit her in Minneapolis as well.

Just for fun, I thought I’d share a behind the scenes photo from my photo shoot.  The whole time I was setting up and taking these photos, I had a little assistant.

behind the scenes

She’s not a very hardworking assistant though, she mostly tends to just get in the way.

Do any of you have a fascination for old family photos?  Or even just old photos of strangers?

the pirate desk.

Ahoy matey’s, today I have a pirate desk to share with you.

pirate desk before

You are probably wondering what makes it a pirate desk, right?  Well, it had a peg leg when I bought it.  You can’t see it in the ‘before’ photo unfortunately, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.  See those curvy feet (well, as much as isn’t covered by grass)?  Well, the back right one was missing and the previous owner of the desk just nailed on a chunk of 2 x 4 instead.  That explains why the price on this desk was ridiculously low.  Well, that and the numerous spots where veneer was chipping off, and maybe all of the dings too and that one mismatched drawer pull.  Yep, this baby had a few flaws.

But it was especially unfortunate about the foot because otherwise the back of this desk is finished, meaning it could be floated in a room with the back facing out.  But certainly not with a 2 x 4 foot.

So after I brought this one home I called Ken to come over for consultation (which involves him going out his back door and crossing over though my backyard to my workshop).  He looked seriously skeptical as I stood there saying I was quite confident that he could come up with a fix.  Ken may not have faith in his abilities, but I do!

I told him it didn’t have to be perfect, it just had to blend a little bit.  He hemmed and he hawed, and then he studied the other feet, and then he went home and thought about it for a while.  Then when I came home from work a few days later he had done this.

peg leg repair

Ken, being a bit of a perfectionist, was not entirely happy with it but I thought it was amazing!  I knew once I got it painted you wouldn’t even notice that it was different from the other feet.  It certainly beats a 2 x 4!

I decided to go with Little Billy Goat’s Prizewinner on this desk.  I really love this blue!

pirate desk close up

To deepen the blue a bit, I used Little Billy Goat’s new black wax as a finish.  I had only used the black wax on top of black before, so I wasn’t sure how it would work over a color, but it worked perfectly over the Prizewinner.

Did you notice in the ‘before’ photo that there was one mismatched drawer pull on the lower left hand drawer?  I find it odd that the previous owner chose to put the mismatch on that drawer rather than the upper middle.  Duh.  That fix is a no brainer.  I was able to use all of the original pulls on the side drawers and I just added a coordinating knob from my stash to the middle drawer.

pirate desk hardware

I also added a little Paris, France stencil just to give the desk a little extra personality.

Remember I posted a week or two ago about finding some chairs to use with desks?  Then my sister-in-law brought over this chair.

harp back chair

Seemed like kismet, so I painted it up to match the desk and I added a pretty faux grain sack seat.

pirate desk with chair

But guess what?  It doesn’t quite fit under the desk.  Argh.  However, not all desk chairs have to be tucked in, right?  For example, my own desk chair does not fit under my desk because it has arms.

chair seat

By the way, in case you’re wondering how that replacement foot ended up blending in once painted, check it out.

pirate desk back

Be honest, if I hadn’t told you about it would you have even noticed?  Can you even tell which one it is?

I did go ahead and paint the back because with Ken’s faux foot, I think this desk would be perfectly fine facing out.  This way whomever purchases the desk will have options.

I actually did two different photo shoots.  I started out in the photo cottage, but I wasn’t super happy with any of those photos.

pirate desk

So then I pulled it out into the driveway where I staged it simply with a cream colored vintage typewriter and some Reader’s Digest books.


I picked up the books at a garage sale because the colors were so pretty.  I knew they would come in handy for furniture photos.


I almost forgot.  I have one more thing to take care of before this desk is available.  I need to line that middle drawer.  I have to admit though, I’m a little drawn to the graffiti art that I’ll be covering up.

desk drawer

How about you?