the beast.

When I was searching out pieces for my Chippy Barn collaboration, I found this empire piece.

In the end I decided to paint this one dark, and instead used the taller empire dresser that I shared last Friday for that project.

I paid top dollar for this piece at $100.  I don’t usually spend that much, but this one really appealed to me.  Plus, it’s a good sized dresser.  Plus, it was in relatively good condition.  Plus, it’s a solid, well constructed sturdy piece of furniture.  So I splurged.

I suspected right away that those drawer pulls were not original to the piece, they just aren’t the right style.  And did any of you notice that just one of them is on upside down?  Go back to the ‘before’ shot and see if you can find it.  Or maybe 7 of them are upside down and only one of them is right side up, I’m really not sure.

Anyway, when I removed them I found that there were original holes behind them for a knob.  Yep, they definitely weren’t original.

So I filled the two newer holes that had been drilled for the pulls before painting.

Here are my tips for filling holes like these.  First, place some painters tape behind the hole.  This keeps the fill you use from squeezing out the backside of the hole.  Next, fill the hole as full as you can with Dixie Belle’s Mud.  Let that set up overnight.  Once dry, add a layer of spackle over the Mud.  The spackle is not sturdy enough for the entire job, but will give a smoother result for the final coat.  Once dry, sand smooth and paint.

I challenge you to find those filled holes now!

Once the holes were filled in, I sanded the dresser lightly and then cleaned it with TSP Substitute.  I was planning on going with Dixie Belle’s Bunker Hill Blue on this one, but when I pulled it out I realized I didn’t have quite enough paint for this large piece.  So I decided to stretch my paint by adding some In the Navy.

Here’s a comparison of the two colors for you.

The Bunker Hill Blue is more cobalt, while the In the Navy is a very dark navy almost bordering on black (here is one of my fave pieces I painted with In the Navy).  The combination of the two is a gorgeous, rich navy blue.  It ended up being the perfect color for this piece.

Oh, hey, did you notice anything else about how I changed up this piece?

I removed the trim pieces that were on either side of the drawers.

That was totally just a personally preference kind of thing.  I didn’t like how ‘colonial-ish’ they looked.  I feel like the dresser has a much more current feel without them.  I know some of you are going to wish I’d left them on, but I’m making all of the decisions here so they came off along with those classic colonial drawer pulls.

By the way, I replaced those pulls with some simple wooden knobs that I had in my stash.

Also, I finished this dresser with a coat of clear wax.  You can see a couple of streaky spots on the top edge of the dresser in that photo above.  Those are spots that I missed with the wax and didn’t notice it until looking at the photo.  Ooops.  That’s an easy fix though, just go over it with more wax.

I got the idea for staging this piece from Flea Market Finds magazine … or maybe it was Country Living … uh oh, I can’t remember.  Well, regardless, a recent issue showed a room with shelves that housed the set of classic books that I found in my attic last December.  I got these books from my parents and had entirely forgotten about them.

I must confess, I never saw myself doing anything with these books other than donating them to the Goodwill eventually.  But there they were in the magazine, and they looked pretty fabulous in a color-blocking sort of way.  So I pulled them out of the attic once again.

You might be wondering why I titled this post ‘the beast’ and really it’s just because this dresser is quite a bit larger than it looks in photos.  It is 46.25″ tall x 41″ wide x 22″ deep.

I think this dresser is a great example of how much you can change the look of a piece with just some paint and a hardware change.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint, as well as the Mud, used for this project.  Thank you to Fusion Mineral Paint for supplying the clear wax (once again I used their new Hills of Tuscany scented wax).

You can find Dixie Belle products here.

And here is a link to info on where to buy Fusion Mineral Paint products.

If you’re looking for a beast of a dresser in a rich navy blue, check out my ‘available for local‘ sale page.

cottage white and toile.

As most of you know, I am on the re.design with prima design team.

A while back Prima asked if any of us would like to collaborate on a project using Amulent Paint from The Chippy Barn.  Since I love trying out new products and sharing them with you guys here on my blog, I jumped at the chance.

Amulent Paint is not a chalk paint or a milk paint, instead it is a ceramic paint.  I have to say, I don’t know much about the science behind ceramic paint so I googled it.  I found an article online about ceramic paint that lists its benefits (you can find the article here):

    • A smoother, more continuous paint film that resists cracking.
    • Superior stain resistance—stains don’t get absorbed, so they can be wiped off.
    • The ceramics produce a less tacky paint surface, which reduces dirt accumulation.
    • Round spheres roll past each other in the paint, greatly enhancing flow and leveling.
  • And microspheres help hide the underlying substrate and reduce the luster of the paint.

It all sounds good to me.

So, I started searching online for just the right piece to use for this collaboration and found this empire style dresser.

I knew I could deal with the mismatched knobs.  This piece also had quite a bit of loose veneer, but that was remedied with some gluing and clamping.  And FYI, this is another faux wood grain piece.  Those stripes are fake, so I didn’t feel one bit of guilt painting over them.

After gluing, clamping, sanding lightly and cleaning thoroughly (this dresser was also disgustingly dirty when I got it) with TSP substitute, I added a coat of Cottage White.

I always prep my pieces with a light scuff sanding followed by vacuuming inside and out.  When you’re working with used vintage furniture I think it’s just good common sense to give them a good clean before you move on to painting.  Generally I use TSP Substitute which is less harsh than TSP but does a good job of removing any greasy residues.

I was quite impressed by the coverage of this paint after just the first coat.  I stopped there and let the paint dry for a good 24 hours mainly because I wanted to be sure I wasn’t getting any bleed-thru from that orange-y looking stain before moving on to a second coat of paint.

I was in luck, no bleed-thru on this one.  So I added a 2nd coat of the Cottage White.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t need a 3rd coat, especially since this is a white paint.

I also found that the Amulent Paint distressed beautifully.  I sanded the edges of the dresser using 220 grit paper to add a little ‘age’ to my finish.

Next I pulled out re.design with prima’s Simplicity transfer which is a lovely black toile print.

I considered using it for all of the drawer fronts, but to fully cover them all from side to side would have required three sets of the transfer.  The drawers are around 26.5″ wide by 36″ tall,  the transfer is 22″ wide x 30″ tall, so just a hair short both ways.  So instead I decided to just do the top two drawers.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the graphic punch of black and white, and this transfer was perfect over the Cottage White paint.

For a final finish on this piece I used The Chippy Barn’s Specialty Clear Wax in the Lemongrass scent.  If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I LOVE using products that smell good.  If you like lemongrass scent, you will love this wax!  If you’re not a fan of lemongrass, it also comes in four other scents; Lavender, Lilac, Peppermint and Spearmint.  Or you can get it unscented, and in white, brown or black.

This dresser was short 3 glass knobs when Mr. Q brought it home.  Not only that, but the knobs were filthy dirty and the metal screws were quite rusted (and not in a good way).  So I found three matching (or mostly matching) knobs in my stash, soaked the originals in soapy water to get them clean and then replaced just the screws with new ones.  Did you know that you can buy these screws in chrome or brass at D Lawless Hardware for just 20 cents each?  Good to know if you ever run into a piece like this.

In the end, all of the knobs look brand new.

As a final touch, I lined just the top two drawers with some scrapbook paper.  The drawer bottoms were a bit stained so I opted to cover that up.

I think this one turned out lovely.  It would be perfect for someone’s cottage style decor, and with six drawers total it would provide great storage.

Thank you to re.design with prima for setting up this collaboration and for providing the Simplicity transfer.  And thank you to The Chippy Barn for providing the Amulent paint and the lemongrass scented wax.

If you’re looking for re.design with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

If you’d like to check out The Chippy Barn, you can find them here.

And if you are local and need a sweet, cottage style dresser visit my ‘available for local sale‘ page to find out if this one is still available.

some people never learn.

Some people never learn … and by ‘some people’ I mean me.

Every time I take on an upholstery job that involves anything more than just stapling new fabric over old fabric, I do these four things.  First, I procrastinate for a really long time before even getting started.  Second, I cuss the whole time I’m working on the project.  Third, after lots of time and effort I manage to create an incredibly amateurish end product.  And then finally, I obsess over all of the flaws.

Let’s face it, upholstery is just not for me.  As much as I would love to be good at it, I’m not.  Of course, I could work at it to improve my skills.  I also could buy the right tools, which makes every job easier.  But the bottom line is that I simply don’t enjoy the process.  Let’s hope I remember this the next time I’m tempted to take on a pair of chairs like these.

I found this pair of balloon back chairs at an estate sale for a great price, $10 each.  I debated buying them knowing how much I dislike upholstery work.  But I just couldn’t help myself.

Once I got them home I immediately started questioning the wisdom of my decision.

Just look at all of these upholstery tacks!

Those were all going to have to come out.  Plus, look at that cherry red stain, it was likely going to bleed through paint.

Seriously, what was I thinking?

I honestly debated just loading them back into the van and taking them to the Goodwill.

But instead I decided to use my tried and true strategy for getting something like this done.   Rather than trying to complete this chair makeover in one fell swoop, I broke it down into more easily accomplished tasks.  Step one was to remove those darn tacks.

That took me nearly an hour for each chair.  Ugh.

Next I put a coat of Dixie Belle’s BOSS on each chair.  I didn’t test them for bleed-thru, I just assumed that they would.  I like to let the BOSS cure for at least 24 hours before painting over it, so that was as far as I got the first day … no, who am I kidding … the first week … that I worked on the chairs.

The next time I pulled them out I added two coats of Dixie Belle paint in Sawmill Gravy.  I knew I was going to use drop cloth fabric on the seats, and the last time I worked with Sawmill Gravy I noticed it was the perfect match for the drop cloth that I use for painting.

The chairs sat around for another week or so after being painted, but when I had some more time I pulled them back out, sanded to distress them and then added a coat of clear wax.

A few days later I pulled out a new drop cloth I’d purchased.  I cut some sections large enough for the chair seats with a few inches left over for shrinkage.  Then I washed and dried the fabric.  Next I stenciled it using Dixie Belle paint in French Linen for the stripe and Midnight Sky for the rest.  Both of the stencils are from Maison de Stencils.

But when I held this fabric up to the chairs I realized two things.  First, this new drop cloth fabric was a different color than my older drop cloth and I didn’t like the way it looked with the Sawmill Gravy.  Second, the black paint felt too harsh compared to all of the other more muted colors going on.  I really wanted a more subtle monochromatic look.

So I went back to the drawing board.  I cut two chunks of fabric off my old drop cloth (luckily I had a couple of corners that didn’t have paint all over them).  I washed them up and then stenciled them without the grain sack stripe and using the French Linen for the rest of the design.

Next came the trickiest part, stapling the fabric in place and cutting around those 4 spots where the chair back is attached to the seat.  I managed to get it done, but very inexpertly.  I’m not even going to describe how I managed it because at this point you should not be taking advice from me on how to upholster.

After the fabric was all stapled in place, I trimmed off the excess using a razor blade.  I found that I couldn’t get close enough to the staples using a pair of scissors.

The last step was to glue some trim all the way around to hide the staples.  I used my hot glue gun for that step.

I had to laugh when I finished up and realized all of the different tools I’d needed for this part of the job.

What a mess.

But in the end I have a pair of semi-decent balloon back chairs.

I don’t plan on keeping the chairs, and I know I’ve done a terrible job of ‘selling’ them here.  But if any of you locals are in need of a pair of budget priced chairs that look pretty, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co and to Maison de Stencils for providing some of the products I used on today’s project.

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

If you’re looking for Maison de Stencils you can find them here.

the birds and the bees.

Once again, my handyman Ken did a fantastic job turning a bed into a bench.

Mr. Q retrieved it from Ken’s house and set it up in our piano room (which is where I paint in the winter) last Friday afternoon.  When I got home from the day job I took this quick ‘before’ photo so that I could get started painting it right away.

Originally I was going to go more neutral and paint it either white or a pale grey.  But then I decided I was bored with playing it safe and I pulled out Dixie Belle’s Savannah Mist.  This is a lovely grey blue color.

But before I applied the Savannah Mist, I decided to paint out the new wood bench seat using Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Curio, which is a dark brown.  This way when I distress the edges you won’t see brand new wood underneath.  Milk paint (much like a traditional stain) soaks into bare wood rather than sitting on top, and it dries really quickly so I didn’t have to wait long to start painting over it with the Savannah Mist.

I was able to paint the seat in Curio, then add two coats of Savannah Mist to the bench in the space of a few hours on Friday evening.

I decided to try the bare leg look again on this piece since there were four pretty turned legs to work with.  They were fairly dinged up though, so this was a good opportunity for me to try Dixie Belle’s No Pain Gel Stain in Walnut.  The difference between a gel stain and a traditional stain is that gel stain sits on top of the surface, while traditional stains soak into the wood (like milk paint does).  Because of that, you can use a gel stain without having to completely strip off the old finish.

I sanded the legs just lightly with some 220 grit paper first.  As you can see in the ‘before’ photo, for the most part I did not sand down to bare wood.  I also did not have an even color before moving on.  I then cleaned off the dirt and dust using a damp rag.  Next I applied two coats of gel stain with an old t-shirt.  Looks pretty darn good for not having to strip first, don’t you think?

It’s not perfect, but certainly totally sufficient for these legs.  If you’re a perfectionist, you might prefer stripping to bare wood, using a traditional stain, and then adding a poly finish.  But if, like me, you think some imperfections simply add to the charm of an older piece then the No Pain Gel Stain is for you!

You might be wondering at this point why I didn’t just use the gel stain on the seat before painting it, rather than the Curio milk paint.  That’s because the gel stain is an oil based product.  It takes much longer to dry than milk paint.  I would have had to wait a couple of days to paint over it.

So to recap; gel stain and chalk/latex/acrylic paint sit on the top of a surface, traditional wood stain and milk paint soak into the surface (providing they don’t meet resistance from a pre-existing finish).

In addition to leaving the legs unpainted, I also left that little trim piece at the top of the bench unpainted.

It has the sweetest little original floral decal on it.  I don’t usually try to save those because, to be honest, usually it just looks a bit wonky to paint around one or otherwise try to retain it.  But in this case I thought leaving that part unpainted along with the legs created a nice triangle for your eye to follow.

As a final touch, I added re.design with prima’s The Birds & the Bees transfer to the bench.

I just love what this transfer says, This is the place that I love the best, a little brown house like a ground-bird’s nest hid among grasses, vines & trees.  Summer retreat of the birds and bees.

How sweet is that?  And how perfect for a bench in the foyer of someone’s home.

I used a variety of brands on this piece.

So thank you to Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint (Curio milk paint), re.design with prima (The Birds & The Bees transfer) Fusion Mineral Paint (clear furniture wax), and Dixie Belle Paint Co (No Pain Gel Stain and Savannah Mist paint) for providing all of the products used to finish this bench.

Let me know how you like the end result!

And if any of you locals are in need of a unique bench, check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.

bed benches.

A week or two ago I purchased another bed frame that I sent directly over to my handyman Ken’s house to have turned into a bench.

I neglected to get a ‘before’ photo of the bed because we literally picked it up and drove it straight to Ken’s garage and unloaded it there.  But, it’s very similar in design to the first bed bench that Ken and I collaborated on in the summer of 2018 …

It has a similar shape to the headboard and also has a curved foot board.

This bench was one of my favorite pieces.  It was painted in Fusion’s Putty and has one of the early Prima Marketing transfers on it.

Do any of you remember the story of me seeing it later in the buyer’s home?  I was purchasing a bedroom set from someone via Craigslist and when I got there to pick up the bedroom set, there sat this bench by her front door.  I did a double take, it was one of those ‘something is out of place here’ moments.  It took me a second to realize that I was looking at a piece I had sold the previous year.  Small world sometimes, right?

Our second bed bench collaboration was completed in October 2018.  This bench was made from an Eastlake style spoon carved bed frame that started out looking like this …

I painted it in Dixie Belle’s Caviar which worked really nicely with the more masculine feel of this piece.

Our third bed bench collaboration took place in January of last year with yet another entirely different style of bed.

Ken had to do a little more finagling with this one to get a bench out of it.  It had an opening in the headboard that need to be filled in with a plank of wood.

This one was painted in Fusion’s Bedford.

I added one of Prima Marketing’s earlier transfers to this one too.  By the way, both of these transfers are no longer available.

That was one of my favorites though and I used it on many pieces.  I still have a couple of these particular transfers stashed away for a rainy day.

I can’t believe it has been over a year since my last bed bench collaboration with Ken.  Time really does fly!  It was certainly time for another one.  As always, Ken whipped the bench up in no time.  I’m just putting the finishing touches on it and I’ll share it later this week.

In the meantime, I’m curious, which of these three was your favorite?

soldier blue.

As you’ll remember, a couple of the prize packages for my 12 days of giveaways included some Homestead House Milk Paint in a color called Soldier Blue.

I had never used this color before, and in fact never even really realized this color was available (see all of the Homestead House Milk Paint colors here).

Two things struck me.  First of all, it’s a gorgeous shade of blue.  Second, it’s pretty close to the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year, Classic Blue.  I knew I had to give it a try myself, so I mixed some up.

It looks a bit lighter as wet paint and I wasn’t sure I would get that gorgeous deep blue in the Homestead House photo.  But, as you know, paint always looks different once dry.  Especially milk paint.  Plus the top coat you use over milk paint can really change up the color.

So I pulled out this adorable little vintage kid-size folding chair that my picker Sue found for me.

I knew painting all of those slats was going to be a pain.  It’s so challenging to avoid drips when you have this many surfaces going on.  But one of the things that I love about milk paint is that it’s super easy to sand off any drips one the paint is dry.  Much easier than with other types of paint.

All I did to prep this chair was wipe it down with a damp cloth.  I was hoping to get some chipping, and the previous finish was fairly worn off so I was willing to gamble on getting just the right amount of paint to stick.

I painted the chair with two coats of the Soldier Blue, then once dry I sanded it lightly to distress.  Sure enough, I got some awesome chipping.

I knew that using hemp oil as my top coat would give me the deepest version of this color, so I pulled out Dixie Belle’s Howdy Do! Hemp Seed Oil.  This is another new-ish product from Dixie Belle that came out around the same time as their Big Mama’s Butta.

I usually apply hemp oil with an inexpensive chip brush, and that definitely would have been the smarter/easier option for this chair.  But, I was too lazy to dig out a chip brush so I just used an old t-shirt.  Clearly this is another situation where I have to say, ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  It’s a little harder to get the oil applied in all of those crevices using a rag.  It would have been much easier to brush the oil on, and then wipe away the excess with a clean rag.

Keep in mind that hemp oil will not add much sheen (if any), and it will also produce the darkest version of the color of your milk paint.  In this case, it was the perfect choice and it really brought out the richness of the Soldier Blue.

I had the perfect little piece of vintage toy china to use for staging this chair.

Isn’t it sweet?  I found it at a garage sale last summer.  It’s only about 2.5″ tall.

Remember when Mr. Q and I cleaned out our attic while getting out the Christmas decorations?  I came across some old stuffed animals in a box and decided to hang onto a couple of them for staging kid’s stuff.

Mr. Bunny still looks pretty good after 20 years in the attic.

I’m loving this shade of blue.  Now I just need to find a bigger piece of furniture to use it on.

I’ve put it in the stash of stuff that I need to bring in to Reclaiming Beautiful (the shop where I sell on consignment).  I probably won’t get it in there until next week though.

  But in the meantime, how do you like the little Soldier Blue chair?

As always, thanks to Homestead House Milk Paint for providing the Soldier Blue Milk Paint and to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the Howdy Do! Hemp Oil used for this project.

french folding chairs.

The main reason that I ordered the aqua paint colors from Dixie Belle that I’ve been sharing this week was for this pair of french bistro style folding chairs that I picked up while garage saling last summer.

Here’s a photo that I took when I purchased them … when the grass was green and the ground wasn’t frozen …

I folded them up to store them and I have to tell you, I had a heck of a time opening them back up again!

As I was working on them, I discovered that one of them had an IKEA tag on it.  So, that explains the poor functioning.  They were cheap chairs to begin with, and time had not done them any favors.

Well, hopefully my custom paint job will make them more appealing to a buyer than the basic IKEA originals, and I’ll be pricing these pretty low since they aren’t vintage.

To prep I simply cleaned the chairs with a damp rag.  Then I painted the wood slats with two coats of Dixie Belle’s The Gulf.  I opted to not paint the metal because I felt that it would scratch far too easily, especially if anyone tries to fold the chairs up.  Once dry, I sanded the chairs to distress them.  Next I pulled out the leftover scraps of the new re.design with prima Cosmic Roses transfer that I used on this dresser …

I had a 6″ strip left over at the bottom that didn’t fit on the dresser.  It was just enough to do both chair backs.

Initially I wasn’t sure how I was going to like this design on just two 1.75″ slats with a wide gap in between.  But after I had the first one in place I really liked it.

I also added some Tim Holtz number rub-on’s to the back of each chair.

I used Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat on the chairs just to give them a little bit more protection than my usual wax top coat.

These chairs are perfect for pairing up with a small farmhouse table to turn it into a desk.

I enjoyed staging these photos with all of my aqua pieces from this week.

I had loads of fun playing around with the three different shades from Dixie Belle.  As always, thanks to Dixie Belle for providing the paint and to re.design with prima for providing the transfer.

If you’re looking for the perfect aqua, you can check out Dixie Belle paints here.

And if you’re local and need a pair of pretty french bistro style chairs, check out my available for local sale page to see if these are still available.