the raw wood experiment.

I’ve been admiring the raw wood trend in furniture refinishing for a while now.  I know it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the Scandinavian vibe of raw wood pieces.

However, I haven’t really understood why so many people are resorting to using oven cleaner to strip pieces when they want to achieve this look.  But if you can’t sand (thin veneer, have to work indoors and can’t afford a fancy sanding system, whatever the reason may be) why not just use furniture stripper?

It seems to me that oven cleaner must be harder on the environment, and your own health, than a stripper like CitriStrip.  I did a little google research and according to an article from Martha Stewart, oven cleaners can contain lye, ethylene glycol, and methanol, which can be very toxic.  Yikes!  That does not sound good to me.

Nonetheless, I thought there must be a reason why so many people are turning to oven cleaner instead of a safer stripper like CitriStrip so I decided to put it to the comparison test myself.

I’m starting out with this dresser.

I picked this up at the thrift store last winter.  It ended up being a really poor purchasing decision.  It was way overpriced for its condition, and I neglected to check it out thoroughly enough before pulling the trigger (always open ALL of the drawers).  In the end, my handyman Ken had to re-build the two lower drawers because they didn’t even have bottoms in them!  How did I not notice that??  And if that weren’t enough, he then had to completely take apart and re-glue the back of the piece as well.

Once all of that was done, I stripped one drawer front using CitriStrip and one using oven cleaner.  Here are the results after one pass with each.

I definitely got a better result with CitriStrip.  Clearly it did a much better job of removing the dark stain than the oven cleaner.  What I’ve heard from other furniture refinishers is that it often takes several passes with the oven cleaner to achieve the desired results.  While it’s true that it can sometimes also take two passes with the CitriStrip, that’s often not the case (this piece required just one application).

The method I used with the oven cleaner was to spray it on heavily, wait 30 minutes, scrub the finish with a brush, hose off to rinse.

I’m having trouble figuring out how this is easier than using stripper, especially if you have to do it three times to get the desired result.

Both processes are quite messy.  However, the oven cleaner method pretty much requires you to be outside on a surface that you don’t mind drenching in dirty, stain filled oven cleaner.  Your driveway?  Your lawn?  Your cement patio?  I’m not sure I want to add oven cleaner to any of those areas.

With the Citristrip, I prefer to use it outside as well, but I’m not washing it off with the hose.  I’m scraping it off with a plastic scraper and then wiping it off into a disposable cup.  I have stripped the tops of pieces indoors in winter too (winter is coming!).  I’m just more careful not to fling the stripper around as I’m scraping it off.  CitriStrip in particular does not have any toxic fumes and can be used indoors with adequate ventilation.

Finally, drenching your piece of furniture in water from the rinsing process can create all kinds of problems such as loosened joints, loosened veneer, swelling, and raised grain.

After my experiment with the two drawer fronts, and considering all of the above factors, I decided that stripping furniture with oven cleaner just isn’t for me.  I’ll stick with the CitriStrip.  I gave my extra can of oven cleaner to my neighbor so she can clean her oven.

However, even though it only took one pass with the CitriStrip for this dresser, and I preferred it over the oven cleaner, ultimately this project reminded me how much I dislike stripping entire pieces of furniture regardless of the method.  I don’t mind stripping a nice flat top here or there.  Or maybe even just the drawer fronts (you’ll see that coming up on my next piece of furniture).  But stripping an entire piece is messy and time consuming whether you use stripper or oven cleaner.

So, as much as I like the raw wood look that is so trendy right now, I doubt you’ll be seeing a lot of it from me.

And that brings me back to today’s makeover.  After all of the work it took to repair this dresser, and then to strip it, I was ready to just chuck it on the firepit when I realized that after all of my hard work the wood itself wasn’t the nice, light color I was hoping for.  But I already had so much into this piece, I knew I had to keep going.  I decided that white wax might be a great way to lighten up the color of the wood.  So I ordered up some of Dixie Belle’s white wax and then tested it out on a single drawer front.

Yikes!  Nope.  It was way too white, and it really enhanced the grain, which wasn’t a feature I particularly wanted to enhance on this dresser.  I have used white wax on other stripped wood and really loved the look, but those pieces had much more subtle grain patterns.  It definitely wasn’t the look I was going for.

That brings me to your q tip for today; you can remove furniture wax using mineral spirits. 

In my case I dampened a scrubby pad with mineral spirits and scrubbed off the wax, then followed that up with a soft cloth with more mineral spirits to wipe away any last remaining bits of white wax.  See?  White wax is gone …

And then I went back to the drawing board.  I still didn’t love the look of this raw wood, I wanted it to be lighter.  This would be the perfect opportunity to test out one of the two-part wood bleaching kits that are on the market.

Sure it would.  If I could find one.

I went to Home Depot, Menards & Fleet Farm, they were all sold out.  Of course.  The bleached wood look is so trendy that stores can’t even keep those kits in stock.  I did find one available on Amazon where it was over $50 when you added in shipping (despite having Amazon prime).  There was no way I was spending $50.

So that left the DIY version of lightening the wood using regular old household bleach and the power of the sun.

Mr. Q and I hauled the piece out into the sunniest spot in the yard and I used a brush to coat it in straight up bleach.

Then I left it outside to sunbathe all day.

The dresser certainly seemed lighter after its sunbathing.  I have to say it wasn’t a night and day sort of difference.  I’ve also read that you often have to repeat the bleaching 2 or 3 times to get the desired result as well.

People who do these things clearly have way more patience than I do!  Good gracious.  Three passes with oven cleaner, followed by three sunny days of bleaching??  Not for me.

I decided to move on to the next step, which is neutralizing the bleach by wiping the dresser down with vinegar water (I used about a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water).  Once the piece was dry again, I sanded it first with 120 grit, and then again with 220 grit.

The work was still not done!  After vacuuming away the dust and deciding the raw dresser looked pretty good, I still had to seal it.  I did a lot of research on the world-wide web and saw that many people noted that adding a clear coat can darken the wood right back up again (or bring red/orange tones back out).  I also noted some people that thought wax did the same.

However, I’ve found that although the wax darkens the finish as it goes on, it does dry lighter.  So once again I pulled out a drawer to experiment.

As you can see, the side of the drawer on the left with the freshly applied wax is darker than the unwaxed right side.

However, here is the same drawer after about 20 minutes of dry time.

I couldn’t really see a color difference between the waxed and unwaxed halves of the drawer at that point.  Just a side note here, both of those photos are a bit over exposed and lit with my very bright workshop lighting.  I don’t want to mislead you into thinking the wood got that light from one afternoon of bleaching.  It didn’t.

I went ahead and clear waxed the entire dresser.  That left me with the question of the drawer pulls.  I really didn’t want to put the existing pulls back on.  I doubt they were original to the dresser, they are totally the wrong style.  They are also way too dainty for the look I wanted to achieve.

Normally with a dresser like this I would have filled the double holes, painted over the filled holes and drilled new holes for knobs rather than pulls.  Knobs are much more affordable than pulls.  But since that wasn’t an option here (since I didn’t paint this piece), I had to come up with a 3″ pull that wasn’t too terribly expensive because I needed 10 of them.  Once again, the search was on.  I looked all over the place for an affordable option, but in the end I just wanted to get this dresser finished so I splurged on a $4.49 cup pull.  Yep, ouch, adding $45 to my expenses for this piece.

That being said though, I really felt like the hardware was pretty important to the overall final raw wood look of this dresser.  So it was worth the extra $45.  Or at least I hope so.

In the end, I do rather love how it turned out.

However, I will say that this is not a piece for a perfectionist.  It has plenty of dings and gouges, some discoloring in spots that wouldn’t come out, and some funky repairs to the drawers.  But it is fairly solid after Ken basically rebuilt it.  And I would say that it has tons of character and a certain rustic charm.

So tell me, what do you think of the raw wood look?  Are you dying to have your own piece?  Or do you think it would look good in someone else’s home, but just not yours?

I have to admit, it was a bit tongue in cheek to use a photo of my grandmother while staging this piece.  I’m quite sure she would consider this dresser unfinished looking.

But then, that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

This raw wood look dresser is for sale, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details on this piece and any others that I currently have listed.

the linen press.

Whenever I’m considering how to paint a piece of furniture, my go-to for inspiration is usually Pinterest.  If I’ve purchased a empire style antique dresser, I’ll go on Pinterest and search “painted antique empire dresser” and see what comes up.

But it was pretty comical when I started researching “painted linen press” recently because the majority of photos that came up first were all my own pieces staring with this one.

This was one of my early postings here on the blog back in June 2014.  It’s painted in Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg and I applied vintage wallpaper to the insets.

Let me note here that in my own personal lexicon, a ‘linen press’ is any piece of furniture where you open up doors on the outside to reveal inner drawers like the ones shown above.  I believe that pieces like this were initially intended to store linens.

I suspect that not very many people call them by this name and that’s why, when I searched Pinterest for examples of linen presses, photos of my own pieces dominated the screen.

In addition to that wallpapered piece, there were also a few shots of this piece

I painted that one back in 2017.  It’s painted in Homestead House milk paint in a color called Bedford on the outside and has an early prima marketing transfer on the front.

The inside on this one was a little more unique in that it was half shelves and half drawers.

I painted the interior in a custom mix of Fusion’s Liberty Blue and Coal Black.

Pictures of this one from October 2018 came up several times as well.  This one is absolutely one of my all time favorites.

It’s painted in Dixie Belle’s In the Navy on the outside, and Fusion’s Limestone on the drawer fronts followed by the French Ceramics transfer from with prima.

It had a gorgeous wood top that I stripped and then just waxed with Dixie Belle’s brown wax.

Another piece that showed up in the search was this one from April 2018.

This one was a bit of a challenge.  I initially painted it with milk paint that pretty much entirely chipped back off.  So I sanded it down and started over with Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth on the outside, and their Mint Julep on the inside.  I also added my old favorite Seeds transfer from Prima to the front.

This piece from March of 2016 came up as well.

It’s painted in Rachel Ashwell’s short-lived line of chalk paint in a color she called Caribbean Sea.  I added some vintage wallpaper to it as well.

I have to say, all I can think of when looking at the photos of that one is how much I struggled to try and make my shed work as a photo cottage.  It took a lot of photo editing to get those pictures to look even semi-decent.

This piece from September 2014 came up as well.

You know what stands out to me in that photo?  Look how small my Limelight hydrangea was in 2014!  It’s the one on the right side.  It’s about twice that size now.

Anyway, it’s painted in American Paint Company’s mineral/chalk paint in Navajo White.

The inner drawers are painted in Annie Sloan’s Louis Blue.

I guess you could say that I’ve painted a good number of linen presses over the years.  And I’ve used quite a few different brands of paint.  I was really hoping to get inspired by someone else’s linen press makeover on Pinterest though!  There were a handful of other painted versions, but nothing that really jumped out at me.

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, I am about to start working on another linen press dresser.

But so far I haven’t entirely decided what my plan is.  For now I’m going to get started on the prep work.  I will sand it down and give it a coat of Dixie Belle’s B.O.S.S. because if you look closely in that photo above you can see that this piece is a bleeder.  The stain and/or tannins in the wood have bled through the white paint.  I also may (or may not) attempt to strip the paint from the top and the front legs.  I don’t know, we’ll see.  So be sure to stay tuned, I want to get this one finished up before the temps drop too low to paint outside.

In the meantime, tell me, do you call these linen presses?  And which one of my linen press makeovers is your favorite?  Leave a comment and let me know.

updating a parlor table.

I shared the parlor table that I picked up at the East Isles sale last weekend on Monday.

I’d painted another six-legged table a few years ago and it turned out quite nice …

so I thought I’d try my hand at giving another one an updated look.

With that table, I stripped and then refinished the top with Homestead House Stain & Finishing Oil in Driftwood.  I don’t often use that product though, simply because it’s oil based.  It takes forever to dry, and it’s pretty smelly.  However, if you’re working outside and you have some time, it does create a lovely finish.

But this time I decided to go for a similar look using a different technique.  Once again, I stripped off the original finish from the top of the table using CitriStrip.  I used Klean Strip After Wash after the stripper to make sure I’d gotten all of the stripper residue off.  Once that was dry, I sanded the top with 220 grit paper to smooth it out.  Then I added just one coat of Varathane’s Sunbleached fast drying stain.

I let that dry for a full 24 hours, and then added a couple of coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat over the stain for protection.

First, here’s how the table top looked when I brought it home.

And here is how it looks now.

Um, yeah.  Night and day, right?  I am constantly amazed by how much you can change the look of something with a little stripping, sanding and staining.

I had used Rust-Oleum Chalked spray paint to paint the base of that first six-legged table to make it easier to get those six legs covered with paint.

I debated going that direction with today’s table, but have you priced that spray paint lately?!  The last time I looked it was up to $11.48/can at Menards.  I did see it for $9.99/can at Target, but there weren’t many colors available there.  It would likely take most of a can to cover the base of this table.  And you know me, I’m nothing if not cheap.

So instead, I decided to go ahead and paint the base with a brush and paint that I already had on hand.  I just wasn’t sure which color, so I tested out a few ideas.  I painted a swatch of three different Dixie Belle colors onto sections of the base; French Linen, Dried Sage and Gravel Road.  In the end, I decided the Gravel Road looked best with the stained top.

That kind of surprised me a bit.  I really thought I was going to like a lighter color with that light top, but nope.  In the end, the Gravel Road won out.

Once the paint was dry, I sanded lightly to distress and then added a coat of clear wax.

In the 1800’s, a parlor table like this one was meant to be the focal point in the center of one’s parlor.  It would have been surrounded by seating, perhaps a small sofa and several chairs.  It would likely have held the oil lamp, and in the evening the family would have gathered around to read or sew.  Since they didn’t have electric lamps, the lamp didn’t need to be on a table near an outlet on the wall, so it could be in the center of the room.

These days having a parlor table in the middle of your room would feel a bit odd I think.  However, this table would make an awesome alternative nightstand.  It would also work really well in a large foyer or hallway.

And hey, notice anything different about the carriage house in the background of that photo?

Well, I’m sure no one would notice but us, but we have a new roof!

While I was working on refinishing the parlor table, there was massive chaos all around me as a team of brave souls clambered around on our roofs.  They worked two 12 hour days to get it all done.  I feel a bit lame that all I accomplished was one small table makeover in the same timeframe.

It feels great to have a nice, new roof to take us into the fall and winter.

Anyway, back to the table.

What do you think?  Did I meet my goal of updating an antique parlor table?

This table is for sale so be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page if interested.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the Gravel Road paint used on this project.

the chateau dresser.

I have another do-over for you guys today.

Remember the fine print dresser?

I painted this one back in March, and it did not sell.  Now granted, as I’ve gone on and on about, sales have slowed way down for me overall.  As a quick update on that, the pair of modern end tables I painted in July did sell within a few weeks.  In addition, I took the bench with the Gregory’s Catalogue paint inlay on it into the shop where I sell on consignment and it sold pretty quickly there.  So things are starting to move a bit.

But back to this one.  I have to admit, I didn’t absolutely love the color combination of the Drop Cloth background with the Sawmill Gravy stencil.  So I decided to re-work just the front of this piece.

Plus, I really wanted to use the Chateau paint inlay from I.O.D.

I learned a really great tip by watching a YouTube video from Lynne at ellen j goods, and that is, you can cut up those pieces on the packaging that show the layout of the design and then move them around like puzzle pieces to create different looks.

So I cut up my packaging and started playing around.  First, here is how the design is shown on the packaging.

You could also turn the one design into two separate designs.

And both of them could be flip flopped, the deer could face outward and the floral urn could be split up on either side.

Here’s another option for using the entire design.

You can continue to create even more options if you’re comfortable with cutting up the individual sheets a bit.

If you have a tall, more narrow piece rather than a wide piece you could use that look above and just remove the side pieces with the deer on them.

Hats off to whoever designed this paint inlay, I’m impressed by the ability to move it around in so many ways and still have the different elements line up with each other.

Here is what I came up with for my piece.

I debated removing the deer (if you look closely you can see they are cut out), but in the end I decided to leave them in.

The full design was just a bit too tall for my piece, so I removed a section that I didn’t use at all and I moved those swags to either side at the bottom where they will actually be on the legs of the dresser.  Had I left them where they were in the original design they would have fallen off the bottom of the dresser.  Here’s how one looks on a leg.

Once I had my layout figured out, I trimmed the blank edges of the paint inlay (for more on the complete process of using a paint inlay, see my how-to post) and then cut up the sheets to match my final design and laid it out on a table so it was ready to go.

To prepare the dresser I first took the drawer pulls back off (I left the keyhole escutcheons in place) and sanded down the stenciled front of the dresser.

Today’s q-tip:  if you’re painting over a stenciled design you will see the ridges of the stenciled paint if you don’t sand them down.

You may also be wondering about painting over a previously waxed finish.  This dresser was finished with clear wax back in March, so about 5 months ago.  You can paint over cured Dixie Belle wax, and the cure time is about 30 days.  In addition, the fact that I sanded the piece pretty thoroughly to knock down that stencil was enough to prep this piece for another coat of paint.

Next I gave the dresser front a coat of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  No need to repaint the sides, of course they still looked good and I wasn’t going to bring the paint inlay around to the sides.   I let my first coat dry, and then applied the paint inlay to a 2nd wet coat of paint.

After pulling the backing paper back off and letting the paint dry, I sealed it with some Rust-oleum matte clear spray sealer.  Then I sanded to distress, cleaned away any dust, and followed up with a quick coat of clear wax.

Next I decided to add more paint to the drawer pulls.  If you’ll remember back to the original treatment of this dresser, the pulls and escutcheons looked like this …

When I put one back on the dresser with its new inlay, I thought they looked way too busy.  So I toned them down by adding two coats of Drop Cloth and then wet distressing them only slightly this time.

Now they blend in quite a bit more.

And as for the keyhole escutcheons, as I mentioned earlier, I left them in place while applying the paint inlay and it worked well to just go right over them.

In hindsight, another option would have been to remove them completely and save them for another piece of furniture.  But as they say, hindsight is always 20/20.  I didn’t think of that originally.

I left the top of the dresser as it was, stripped and finished with white wax.

I staged my photos in the garden with the carriage house in the background.  Lately this has become my favorite spot for photo taking.

I included an old Bakelite clock,  some vintage books in a color found in the inlay and a basket full of hydrangeas.

These blossoms are from my Vanilla Strawberry paniculata hydrangea.  As you may have noticed, there is a lot of vanilla and not really any strawberry.  The pink does develop over time, and these blooms have only just started to open.  I’m sure I’ll be doing a Sunday mornings in the garden post about my hydrangea in the next few weeks as the paniculata’s come into their full glory.  So stay tuned for that.

I’m a fan of the muted colors in the paint inlay, they have a bit of a fall feel to me.

There is a fabulous olive green, some terra cotta colors, and a smoky teal blue.

I really enjoy working with these I.O.D. paint inlays.  They certainly give pieces a unique, hand-painted look.  Personally, I feel like once you have an understanding of how they work, they are easier to use, and somewhat more forgiving, than transfers.  However, I wish they weren’t so expensive!  If you can manage to get more than one use out of them (they say you can use them up to three times), the cost per use goes down considerably though.  I’ll be experimenting more with that in the future.

In the meantime, what do you think of this do-over?  Did you prefer the more subtle look of the fine print dresser?  Or maybe you even preferred the original orange oak look of this one.

The chateau dresser is for sale so be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details if interested.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint used on this project.

the potting bench.

First, an update on Wednesday’s post about the green table.  Shortly after publishing that post I realized that I didn’t want to part with the table.  If I could solve its weight problem, and put some casters on it to make it more mobile, it really would provide the perfect neutral surface for staging photos of small items outdoors.

After flipping the table over, I realized that a lot of the weight was coming from some heavy wood pieces that were attached underneath to allow you to slide the table apart and add a leaf in the middle.  Since I no longer even have the leaf, I could just remove those.  I also realized that the table had once had casters and thus already had the sockets in place to hold them.  I found 4 matching casters in my stash and just had to add them.

And just like that, my problems with the table were solved and now I’ll be hanging onto it.

Do you guys remember back in May 2021 when I contemplated putting a primitive sort of cupboard in front of the carriage house?

At the time I thought it would be a convenient spot for a potting bench, but those who commented on that post almost universally voted against it.

And P.S., after taking that photo above I realized I had the cupboard upside down.  Ooops.

Anyway, I didn’t put the cupboard in that spot, obviously, since I now have my fabulous repurposed guest bed planter there.

And FYI, the Fresh Flower Market sign that was there has moved up to the deck.

But I tucked that cupboard away for a rainy day, and although we haven’t had very many rainy days this summer, I’ve now given it a whole new look so that it can serve as the potting bench inside the potting shed.

Let’s start at the beginning.  First up I had Ken add those large casters to the bottom.  It makes it easier to move it around when necessary, plus I felt like the piece needed to be elevated somehow.  Casters worked perfectly for that.

Next up, after my usual prep of cleaning and scuff sanding, I painted the outside in a mix of 3 different shades of white milk paint.  I was trying to use up colors that I already had on hand.  I had Homestead House Sturbridge White (which was too stark white), Fusion’s London Fog (which was too creamy), and Homestead House Stone Fence (which would have been perfect on its own, but I didn’t have enough of it).  Between the three of them, I came up with a shade of white that was just right.

I got quite a bit of chipping with the milk paint on the top of the cabinet.

But none on the front.  Mostly likely something was spilled on the top in its former life, and that substance resisted the paint.  But I’m OK with that.  I like chippy paint.  After sanding well and vacuuming away any loose paint, I sealed the milk paint with two coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.  That will help seal any chipping paint, and I can easily wipe the top down when it gets dirty.

Today’s q tip:  Always seal chippy milk paint with a clear coat before trying to add transfers over it.  Otherwise the transfer will pull off your paint, rather than the transfer sticking to your surface.

Next up I added some I.O.D. transfers to the front doors.

I used all of their Botanist’s Journal transfer (a section on either end) and then filled in the middle with some of their Ladies in Waiting transfer.

  I felt like these graphics were perfect for a potting bench!

I have to mention here that once again I ordered the I.O.D. transfers from The Painted Heirloom.  I ordered them on Saturday, and received them on Monday!  I was super impressed by the speedy turn around.  I’ve ordered from Vonda a few times and have always had great results.

Once the transfers were applied, I sanded lightly over them with 220 grit paper to distress them and give them a more faded appearance.  Then I sealed them with another coat of flat clear coat.

You may also have noticed by now that I removed the original round wooden door closure thingie from the cabinet.  I didn’t like the look of it.  Instead I added magnetic closures to each door to keep them shut, and I put some knobs in holes that were already there.

These knobs came from Hobby Lobby, but I purchased them a long time ago so I’m not sure if they still have them.

I debated whether or not to paint the inside of the cupboard.  Since I was keeping it for myself, I considered taking the easy way out and leaving it alone.  But I knew it would look great painted in Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road.  I love using this warm, dark grey inside cupboards.

There’s lots of space inside this cupboard for storing extra clay pots and other gardening supplies.

To be honest, it’s not likely that I’ll do much actual potting in the shed.  It will really be utilized more for storage of gardening supplies and possibly the occasional flower arranging.

I tend to plant up most of my larger pots where they sit.  Most of them get rather heavy once they are full of dirt and plants.

With the completion of the potting bench, I pretty much have all of the pieces completed for my potting shed makeover.

But now I’m stuck.  I really should re-paint the interior of the shed, but … well … I’m not looking forward to that task.  I’m struggling with lack of motivation to get that done.  We’ll see if I get to it before the end of summer.

In the meantime, I’m cutting myself some slack (the benefit of being your own boss) and working on a few toolboxes (such as the one I shared at the beginning of this post) instead.  So stay tuned for that.

So tell me, which version do you prefer?  ‘Before’ (and upside down) or ‘after’?

a homeless table.

I know I sound like a broken record when I say this, but gosh, time flies doesn’t it?  I could have sworn that I restyled the photo cottage last summer, but turns out it was actually back in 2020.

At that time I was going back to making the shed into a ‘summer house’ and I didn’t want to actually spend any money on it, so I used things I had on hand including an old farmhouse table.

This is an old, super heavy table that I’ve had for quite a few years.  I used to use it for display at my carriage house occasional sales.

Before placing it in the ‘summer house’, I repainted the table base in Dixie Belle’s Kudzu 

and gave the top a fresh coat of Fusion’s Liming Wax.

  Even after two years in the shed it still looks great.

But now that I want to turn the space back into a potting shed, the table needs to make way for a potting bench.  So I pulled it out of there.

Then I had a little fun staging it in the garden as a spot for making notes in my garden journal.

I searched high and low for a garden journal that I liked earlier this summer and didn’t have any luck.  However, my sister will attest to the fact that I had some rather picky requirements for it.  It had to be spiral, it had to have lots of space for making notes, it had to have a pretty cover, etc., etc.  I dragged her to various shops where I hemmed and hawed over the possibilities.  Eventually I ended up going with a 18 month planner that I found at Barnes & Noble.

This will get me through next summer anyway.  I mainly want to keep track of what I’ve planted where, and when.

OK, so I don’t actually sit in this spot to write in my garden journal …

but maybe I should!  It seems ideal for such things.

If this table were slightly more portable, I’d keep it on hand simply as a photo prop.  It provides a nice blank surface for staging smaller pieces, like toolboxes or product photos.

(that’s a little ‘foreshadowing’ for an upcoming post)

Maybe I should look into adding casters to the table so I could more easily wheel it around.  I don’t know, even with wheels, this table is a bit heavy for me to be man-handling it around all the time.

But for now, this table is homeless.  So here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m going to list it here on the blog for local sale and if someone snatches it up, great.  And if it doesn’t sell, well, I think I’ll continue to use it for photo shoots.

If interested in the table, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.

a leafy green garden chair.

First up, I’ve drawn Deb’s name at random to win my 15 minutes of fame giveaway.  I know there are a few of you Deb’s out there, but I have been in contact with the Deb that won and she knows who she is (sorry other Deb’s!).

Continuing on with my theme of ‘projects for me’ … wait, that sounds so selfish, doesn’t it?  Me, me, me.  As a reminder, since my furniture isn’t selling so hot these days, I’m focusing my energy on finishing up items that I’ve wanted to refurbish for my own home instead of items to sell.  Some of these things have been hanging out in my carriage house for years just waiting for their moment to shine.

I finally have time to get to them!

So, one of the things I’m working on is a refresh of my photo cottage a.k.a. summer house a.k.a. potting shed.  Yep, it has been called all of those things over the years, most recently it was the photo cottage.

If you’ve been with me since way back, you’ll remember that I restyled this shed in my back yard into the ‘photo cottage’ in 2014.  My plan was to create a space where I could stage all of my furniture photos.

As it turned out, it wasn’t really suited for that.  The space wasn’t quite big enough, and at certain times of the day sunlight reflecting off the nearby red carriage house turns the lighting decidedly pink.  So a few years back I gave up on the photo cottage and lately I have been mainly using it as storage.

That led to my decision to go ahead and turn it back into a potting shed.  I’m working on a couple of pieces that will make their new home in the potting shed starting with an old wicker chair.

While considering what I wanted in the space, I knew I wanted some sort of chair in that corner shown above.  The chair in that photo has since been moved into my Q branch and is actually the chair I’m sitting in as I’m typing this.  I really like it in this space, so I needed a replacement for the potting shed.  I started surfing Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for suitable chairs and didn’t find much in my price range (super cheap) that I liked.  I did find an old, beat up wicker chair that was a possible candidate, but then I remembered!  I already had an old, beat up wicker chair upstairs in the carriage house.

Does it sometimes seem like the upstairs of my carriage house is this magical space that I can continuously pull fabulous pieces out of?  Sort of like pulling a rabbit out of a magician’s hat?

Anyway, I had this chair up there.

Way, way back I had Ken add casters to the legs on this chair and I used it as my desk chair before I gave the Q Branch a makeover and it still looked like this …

In case you’re curious, the added casters were a bit of a disaster.  Drilling the holes in the legs required for the casters ended up compromising their integrity (never a good thing), and they didn’t hold up to a lot of rolling around.

So, I removed the casters, glued a broken leg, and then gave the chair a fresh paint job using Rustoleum spray paint in Leafy Green.

I typically use spray paint on wicker because it’s so much easier to get in all the grooves with spray.

Next I reupholstered the plywood seat by adding 4 layers of batting and some fill first, then covering that with an old scrap of vintage floral bark cloth that I had in my stash.

The scrap I had was just the right size for this seat, so it felt meant to be.  I know I’m taking a step back to my old shabby chic days with this piece, but that’s OK.  I’m putting it in my potting shed, I can choose whatever makes me happy for in there … and this does.

Now, I will admit, this chair is pretty beat up.

But I don’t care.  It just gives it more character.  It shows that this chair has lived a full life, and it’s continuing to serve a purpose even if it’s showing its age a little … sort of a metaphor for my own life.

Here’s one last photo that I’m sharing specifically for Honoré who asked to see a wider photo of the carriage house with my new guest bed sign/planter in front of it.

I’m not sure if that gives you the full effect you were looking for, but there it is.

So, the chair is done and next up I’m working on a potting bench sort of piece for the shed.  I’ve got it painted but am waiting for some transfers that I ordered to finish it off.  So stay tuned for that one!

the repurposed guest bed.

As I’ve mentioned, since furniture sales have slowed way down for me, I’m taking this time to focus on projects for myself that I’ve been putting off for a while (OK, maybe years in some cases).  Today I have a really fun one to share with you guys.  There is a bit of a long story behind this one, so you may want to refill your coffee before diving in.

Several years ago, Mr. Q and I swapped our guest room for his home office.  Prior to that, the guest room was the larger room, and his office was the smaller one.  We finally came to the realization that he uses his office every day, and we rarely have house guests.  It didn’t make sense to have the larger room going mostly unused, especially in a smaller home like ours where space is at a premium.

But switching to the smaller guest room meant getting rid of the full sized bed we were using and replacing it with a twin.  We actually traded the full sized mattress and box spring with my neighbor, nnK.  She took the full size, and gave us her twin sized versions.

That left us with a spare full size headboard and foot board (and side rails).  We stuck them up in our carriage house and there they’ve sat since 2017.

Now, you might be wondering why I didn’t sell the bed, so let’s go back a bit.  Here is the bed when it was part of the guest room.

Sorry, that’s the best photo I could find of the bed in its ‘before’ condition and it doesn’t even show the foot board, which is one of those ones that curve around the mattress.

There’s a little history behind this bed.  Mr. Q and I purchased our home around the same time that his great uncle’s estate was being divvied up.  We ended up with this bed, a matching dresser and a dining room set from Uncle Roy’s house.  This was back in 1988.  When we got the bedroom set, it was already painted.  I wanted to return it to the natural wood (that was the trend in the late 80’s), so I sent them off to be ‘dipped’.  Does anyone else remember that?  Maybe it’s even still a thing, I don’t know.  But basically your furniture is dipped in a large vat of stripper to remove the paint.

When we picked the pieces back up from the dipper, he explained that the manufacturer intended for these pieces to be painted.  This was obvious after they were stripped because they were each made out of more than one kind of wood, plus the ‘carved’ details were molded plaster, not carved wood.  So after all of that dipping, I had to repaint the pieces rather than staining and varnishing them.

Keep in mind, this was the late 80’s, I was still in my 20’s (ha, ie. a long time ago), I knew nothing about painting furniture!  So I went to the paint store and asked for help.  They explained that I should absolutely use oil based paint for durability (eeekkk! I can’t stand using oil based paint!), so that’s what I did.  I painted them in an oil based warm white.

Flash forward another decade or two.  I decided to redecorate and paint the pieces black.  I painted over the oil based paint with latex paint.  As you may be guessing, that did not hold up well over time.  That’s the reason I’m telling this rather long winded story.  It’s a cautionary tale of what not to do when painting furniture.  Do not paint over oil based paint with latex paint.  Over time it starts to peel right off, and that’s why I couldn’t sell this bed frame.  The black paint was peeling.  The only way to make this bed suitable for sale would have been to completely strip all of the paint layers and start over, and there is no way that would have been worth the effort.

So I stored it for a few years.  Last winter I thought I’d make the headboard into one of my Christmas signs (like this one).  I had Mr. Q bring it down from upstairs in the carriage house, and that’s when I drove over it.

LOL, didn’t see that coming did you?  But yep, it was leaning up against the wall in the carriage house and it fell over.  That’s where I park my car in the winter, and because the headboard is black and it was dark in there, I didn’t notice it on the floor and I drove over it.

That did a bit of damage.  So I put off working on this project once more.

And that brings me to today.  I finally had the time to work on this one, and I had a really cool plan for it.

I started with removing the plaster wreath from the headboard, and filling the giant crack I made driving over it with some of Dixie Belle’s Mud.

Next up I tried to remove as much of the peeling latex paint as I could, and then sanded the entire piece to prep it for new paint.

In an effort to improve adhesion, disguise an uneven surface, and create additional age with more layers of color, I next pulled out some Dixie Belle Sea Spray and The Gulf paint.

I mixed the two to create a brownie batter-like consistency and painted a coat of that on the headboard.

This was just an underlayer of color though, I painted over it with two coats of Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  I purposely allowed both the black and the aqua to peak through in some spots.

Then I added the Gregory’s Catalogue paint inlay from I.O.D. (for a full tutorial on using the paint inlays, check out this post).

When using a large design that comes on multiple sheets like this one, I start in the middle and work my way out adding wet paint to each section as I’m ready to place that piece.

Be sure to follow all directions with these paint inlays, especially keeping in mind that it’s best to seal them with a spray sealer first rather than a brushed on finish (the paint of the inlay is easily reactivated with a water based finish and will smear).  So once I had the paper backing off and everything was dry, I sprayed my headboard with Rustoleum flat clear sealer.  Once that was dry I also added a couple of coats of Dixie Belle’s flat clear sealer over it.  Since I’ll be hanging this outside, I wanted to protect it fairly well.

Now, let’s look at what we did with the footboard.

Once again, I need to add a disclaimer here.  Since this project was a keeper for me, I didn’t go as all out as I would have if I intended to sell it.  Were I selling it, I would have asked Ken to build a proper box on the back of the foot board.  Instead I just had him add a shelf with a couple of legs at the back to support it.  My plan was to use this as a ‘planter’ by placing it up against the carriage house and putting plastic planter boxes on that shelf.

I painted the whole thing using the same process as the headboard, The Gulf with Sea Spray followed by two coats of Drop Cloth.

I then sealed the inside of the ‘planter’ with Dixie Belle’s Gator Hide.  Gator Hide is their most durable, water repellant finish.  Since I will be placing potted plants on that shelf, I know it will be getting wet so I’m giving it the best chance of holding up.

If you’ve never used Gator Hide, I will tell you that it has a bit more sheen than my usual flat finish.  Personally I’m not a fan of shine, so for that reason I only used it on the inside of this piece where it won’t show.  I used the flat Dixie Belle clear coat on the front.

If you’ve stuck with me so far, here’s where we are with this project.

I’ve hung the headboard sign on the carriage house between the doors, and placed the foot board planter beneath it.  All that’s left is to fill it up with plants.

I learned another valuable lesson here, or at least one that is worth sharing with my local readers.  Don’t go to Gertens first for your plants.  I purchased two small ferns for $14.99 ea, two white caladium for $18.99 ea, and two dark red coleus for $4.99 ea from Gertens.  Then several days later I went to Home Depot and found caladiums that were twice the size for $9.98 and a fern that was 4 times the size for $14.98.  I really wish I had checked Home Depot first!

Well, live and learn, and either way, I am loving this combination of shade plants for my foot board planter.

I’m relying on foliage for the interest and color in this north facing spot.

So, several weeks and … uh … quite a few dollars later, I have created a focal point with lots of impact at the end of my driveway.

I learned a few lessons along the way with this one; (1) don’t assume all painted furniture can be stripped and stained, (2) don’t drive over your headboard, (3) don’t paint over oil based paint with latex paint, and finally (4) check Home Depot for inexpensive plants before resorting to Gertens.

I won’t say this was an inexpensive project.  By the time you add in the cost of the board Ken added to create a shelf, the paint inlay and especially the plants, pots & potting soil, this one added up.  If I’d also had to buy the bed itself, plus all of the Dixie Belle products I used (two colors of paint, Sea Spray, flat clear coat, Gator Hide) … well, yikes!

But I sure am happy with the results.  It’s definitely a keeper.

What do you think?

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing all of their products used on today’s project.


Let’s start the weekend early and play a drinking game.  Get yourself some tequila (or your booze of choice), or OK, if you’re reading this first thing in the morning maybe it had better be coffee.  Now, every time I say ‘deconstructed’, take a drink.  We’re up to three already if you count the title and title photo.

As I’ve mentioned, since my furniture pieces aren’t exactly selling like hot cakes these days (and yes, I even still have that pair of mid mod end tables, go figure), I’m working on both smaller projects as well as projects for myself.  Which brings me to today’s project.

I brought this chair home from the Mac-Grove garage sales back in 2018.

So, yeah, that was four years ago.

Good gracious, it’s about time I got around to it.

Anyway, I purchased it because I thought it would be a great candidate for creating the ‘deconstructed’ look.  If you aren’t familiar with that look, go to pinterest and search for it.  You’ll find lots of examples, like this one from …

I know the deconstructed look isn’t for everyone, but I kind of love it.

Some deconstructed pieces are more functional than others.  I don’t think anyone would want to sit on the example above from Liz Marie, but there are versions out there that are more suitable for actual use too.

First up, I removed the upholstery, which involved pulling about two million upholstery tacks.  Then I removed the really thick foam that was on the seat and clearly was not original to the chair.  That left me with this …

Of course I then removed that batting from the chair back, that may have been original but it was pretty gross.

Then I stood back and evaluated.  I could replace the strapping on the chair back with new strapping.  But … at that point, what would be left of the original chair?  And would it have that deconstructed look that I love?  I decided to leave the old strapping in place.

I also debated keeping the plywood support that was in place on the chair bottom, but I’m fairly sure that wasn’t original either.  And I didn’t like the way that section at the front was half an inch higher than the rest of the seat.  So I asked Ken to cut a new seat bottom for me from a piece of thick particle board.

We didn’t get fancy, and rather than notch out the seat to fit exactly, I asked Ken to just cut it to fit front to back.  That means some raw edges are exposed, but again … it’s deconstructed.

Then I covered the new seat with batting followed by a piece of drop cloth that I had stenciled with the Albert Rouff 1842 stencil from ellen j goods.

I used Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road paint to do the stenciling, I wanted it to look a bit more faded than it would have using black paint.

For those of you who struggle to get a clean line when stenciling, try stenciling on drop cloth.  It’s super easy and nearly fool-proof.

All of the exposed raw edges where the original upholstery was tacked into place just add to the deconstructed look.

Well, I think so anyway.

I also think the little wooden casters on the front two legs are a fabulous detail.

But I do wonder, why casters only on the front two legs?  There are no holes in the back legs, so they definitely never had casters.  What was the purpose behind having just two, or maybe it was simply for aesthetic reasons.

Four years ago I definitely planned to paint this chair with a creamy white milk paint and hopefully get some chipping.  But now I have to confess, even I am starting to veer away from painting everything.  So instead I applied Dixie Belle’s Big Mama’s Butta to the frame of the chair to clean up the wood a bit, but otherwise left it alone.

I have to say, I’m not sure if this dark wood works in the spot (shown above) where I plan to keep the chair though.  There is a lot of black (the baby grand, just off to the right), dark grey on the upper walls, and white.  It feels a little odd to throw in some dark wood.

So now I’m debating.  Do I go ahead and paint it?  Since I plan on keeping it, and I love me some chippy milk paint, maybe I should paint it.  What do you think?  Let’s take a vote.  Leave a comment below, paint or no paint?

Now, for those of you that played the drinking game with actual liquor, please don’t drive or operate heavy machinery.

Thank you to ellen j goods for providing the stencil used on my deconstructed (that’s 10, if you’re drinking) chair.

scandi end tables.

Moving forward on my plan to unstick myself, creatively speaking, I decided to work on this fabulous pair of end tables that came from my neighbor nnK’s parents.

She’d grown tired of them and replaced them with chrome and glass of some kind.

They look great from that angle, but nnk’s mom had kept houseplants on these tables resulting in water damage to both tops.

There was also a spot where the veneer was worn through, I’m not quite sure how that happened.  In addition, the pieces were discolored from years in bright and sunny living room overlooking the lake.

All of which meant that these tables were great candidates for some paint.

I decided to keep it super simple, just painting the damaged shells of the tables and leaving the drawer fronts and legs in their original finish.

Since the previous owners had often spruced up these tables with a coat of furniture oil of some kind, I gave them an extra thorough cleaning with Dixie Belle’s White Lightning which contains trisodium phosphate.  I usually use a TSP substitute, but in this case I thought I should go for the big guns.

Today’s q tip; always wear gloves when using TSP.  Also, be sure to rinse your piece with clean, plain water after cleaning it with White Lightning to remove any residue.

Once the tables were dry again, I sanded them with 220 grit paper to rough up the surface a bit and thus improve the adherence of the paint.

Finally, I painted the shell in Dixie Belle’s Silk paint in Anchor.  Just a reminder, Anchor is the black in the Silk line, Black Sands is a charcoal grey.  I was confused by that once and ordered the wrong color and I don’t want you guys to make the same mistake.

Once again, I chose the Silk line from Dixie Belle because of its built in primer and top coat.  It was super simple to add two coats of Anchor to each table.

The Silk paint has just a tad more shine to it than the very flat chalk paint, but I’d say it’s comparable to the sheen you get with a waxed chalk paint finish.

I then spruced up the existing finish on the areas that I didn’t paint using some of Dixie Belle’s Big Mama’s Butta.

By the way, the backs of the tables look like this …

And here is the completed pair.

I like the clean, modern lines of this Scandi looking pair.

Although this isn’t my usual style, it was still fun to breath new life into these tables with just a little paint and some butta’.  The next step will be to find out whether or not they will sell!  I’ll keep you posted.  Of course, if any of you locals are interested in purchasing this pair, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for the details.

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the White Lightning, Silk paint and Big Mama’s Butta used for this makeover.