norwegian blue.

Kim left a comment on one of my posts about my trip asking if I’d been inspired by any of the colors I saw in Norway or Scotland, and the answer is a resounding yes!

As I mentioned in my post about Oslo on Wednesday, I loved the vibrant blues that I saw at the folk museum.  The bright blue on this bed is stunning.

While the faded blue on this trunk may not be as bright as it once was, it’s still lovely.

And in fact, beautiful shades of blue were everywhere, like on this door in Stavanger.

I don’t think I even realized just how much blue had caught my eye until I started going through my photos.

Even the Norwegian posters were blue!

I just love the perfect chippy, worn blue on this chair.  If I could have brought this home as a souvenir, I definitely would have.  Do you think I could have shoved this into the overhead compartment on the plane?

Probably not.  Instead, I had to create my own version of it at home.

I purchased this little stool at my ‘breakfast meeting‘ the other day and it was the perfect candidate for a Norwegian blue paint job.

Funny enough, Behr actually makes a color called Norwegian Blue (N470-5), but nope, not the color I wanted at all.  So I chose to use Miss Mustard Seed’s Flow Blue milk paint, it’s the perfect Norwegian blue.

I followed my usual m.o.  A little sanding, followed by a cleaning with TSP substitute, followed by two coats of paint.  And this time I finished with Miss Mustard Seed furniture wax.  I got just the right amount of chipping/distressing on this adorable little stool.

Although it looks pretty great paired with the desk in my Q-branch, it’s definitely not comfortable enough for the amount of time I sit here writing my blog.  So it won’t be staying in this spot.  But I’m going to carry it around my house for a while and see if I can come up with a spot for it.  Just a little something to remind me of the beautiful blues of Norway!

By the way, did you notice?  There is a little sneak peek of one of my upcoming travel posts on my computer screen.

We’re not going to get to Flam until sometime in July though, so you’ll just have to stay tuned for that one!


a pretty french provincial dresser.

I was recently contacted via Facebook by the daughter of one of my regular blog readers (thanks again for that Wanda!) who had a couple of dressers she wanted to sell.  She was conveniently located in Stillwater and the price was right, so I sent Mr. Q to pick them up on his way home from work.

The first one is a pretty french provincial dresser.

I decided to ease back into furniture painting slowly after my trip, and for me that means using Fusion paint.  Compared to milk paint, or even chalk paint, Fusion is just so darn easy to use.  It requires minimal prep, two quick coats of paint, and bam!  You’re done.  No need for a top coat.

Fusion recently shared a really great chart for determining how much prep your furniture needs before painting (be sure to pin this for future reference) …

My piece had a fairly glossy varnish on it to begin with so I followed that darker green route.  I scuff sanded with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned it well with TSP substitute.  Then I just got out my brush and started painting.

I went with a two tone look starting with Fusion’s Little Speckled Frog, which is a pale minty green, on the body of the dresser and finishing up with Fusion’s Limestone, a warm creamy white, on the drawer fronts.

 Fusion sent me a free sample of the Little Speckled Frog when they came out with their Tones for Tots line.  It would be the perfect pale green for a nursery, but I think it works equally well on a piece for a ‘grown up’ don’t you?  I wanted to go with a ‘pretty’ color on this piece and these two were the perfect combo!

Once the paint was dry, I hit the high spots with some sandpaper to distress the finish.  Always remember to do this shortly after Fusion paint dries, if you wait too long the paint will cure and be more difficult to sand off.

I used my Little Billy Goat goat stick in Gold Leaf to brighten up the existing hardware (you can read more about goat sticks and how to use them here).

I didn’t add a solid coat of the gold, but rather just highlighted a bit here and there.

See what I mean about pretty?  This is just such a pretty feminine piece with all of those curves.

This was a super easy makeover for a slightly dated piece of furniture.  Now that I’ve got my painting mojo back, maybe I’ll tackle another milk paint project next!

This dresser is for sale locally.  Please check out my ‘available for local sale’ tab for more info.

sometimes the chippy sneaks up on you (alternatively titled ‘hold on to your hat Betty’).

I’m arriving home from my trip to Norway and Scotland this evening, but it may take me a few days to recover from the jet lag and get back into the furniture painting groove.

But in the meantime, I’m sharing this pretty little dressing table that I painted just before I left.

Isn’t it sweet?

I debated keeping the painted flowers on the drawer, but in the end I just didn’t want to work with that color scheme of greens and oranges.  Instead, the Homestead House milk paint color I chose for this piece is called Stone Fence.  It’s a lovely pale greige.  If you hold it up next to a warmer color it looks quite grey, but if you compare it to a cooler grey it looks quite beige.  It’s one of those great colors that blends well with anything.

I followed my normal procedure with this piece.  I sanded it lightly, cleaned it with TSP Substitute and then painted it with two coats of Stone Fence.  I followed up with two coats of Homestead House Limestone on the details (much like I did with the Gatineau table).  I did notice some areas starting to chip before I added the Limestone, but not anything excessive.  However as I added the Limestone once again I could see that more of that color was going to chip off.

I decided to keep an open mind and just keep going.   So I sanded to distress and knock off any flaking paint, then I went over the whole piece with my shop vac.  At that point I had quite a bit of chipped paint on the Limestone details, but still only mild chipping of the Stone Fence.

That’s where I probably made a wrong turn.  I decided to add a coat of General Finishes Flat out Flat.  I thought it would seal the piece to prevent further chipping.  I’ve used it over milk paint before and had good results.

But this time I couldn’t have been more wrong.  As the Flat Out Flat dried, it lifted even more paint including the Stone Fence!  In addition, for some reason the top of the dressing table got very streaky looking.  I don’t have an explanation for this, but am just sharing my experience.  I’d say use caution if you ever decide to add Flat Out Flat over milk paint.

So hold on to your hat Betty, this one got really super chippy!

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Betty is one of my readers who isn’t terribly fond of my chippy pieces.  I once accused her of being my mother using an alias because my mom also can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would want a chippy piece of furniture.  I am very slowly trying to win Betty over to my side, but I’m betting she’s not going to like this one!

As you can see in this next photo, the sides and legs of the dressing table didn’t chip nearly as much as the front.

I know that there are fans of the chippy look out there that will love it, even though this look isn’t for everyone.

Although technically this piece is a dressing table, or perhaps could be considered a small desk, it’s really quite petite.  I think it would make a perfect bedside table instead.  It would have plenty of room for your alarm clock, some bedtime reading material and possible a reading lamp.

So what do you think?  Is super chippy for you?

a Swedish spoon carved cupboard.

Nnk (my number one Craigslist spotter) spotted the ad for this spoon carved cupboard and sent it to me recently.

I can never pass up a good spoon carved piece.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, spoon carving is a style of wood carving that looks scooped out like the bowl of a spoon.  It is not carved with a really sharp spoon (which is what I always thought when I was a kid).  I’ve always considered this a Swedish style, probably because my own spoon carved washstand was passed down from the Swedish side of my family.

I haven’t been able to find any references to spoon carving being associated with Sweden online.  If you google Swedish spoon carving you get information on carving actual wooden spoons.

Well, regardless, I’m calling this a Swedish spoon carved cupboard.

It has some really interesting drawers.  Let me see if I can properly explain how they work.  There is an isosceles trapezoid shaped piece of wood that is attached to the underside of the top of the cupboard.

There is a matching notch cut out of the back ‘side’ of the drawer.

As the drawer slides into the cupboard, it basically hangs from this trapezoid piece of wood.  This is the only thing holding the drawer up in the back.  There are no glides or runners that the drawer rests on underneath it.  In the case of this cupboard, the bottom edges of that piece of wood that the drawer hangs from were totally worn down from use over time, which meant the drawer would fall off of it in the back once pushed in.

Luckily I have the ever resourceful Ken the handyman neighbor on my team.  He cut a new piece of wood for the drawer to hang from and attached it to the underside of the top.

Problem solved.

Then I started with stripping the top, sanding and cleaning the bottom, and then painting a base coat of color.  I wanted to cover up all of that orange toned wood, so I painted two coats of Homestead House milk paint in a color called Cartier.  It’s a very subtle grey-green color.

Once I had two coats of Cartier on, I decided I’d like to see several layers of color to really make this piece feel like it has been painted several times over the years.  So I added just a few swabs of a little bit of the Blue Alligator that I had left over from the headboard shelf from last week.

When you are adding layers of base colors that you will eventually cover up with your final color, it’s OK to not paint the whole thing.  However if one of your colors is really dark and the other is really light, that contrast may be hard to cover with your final color thus requiring more coats.

After my undercoats of paint dried I discovered that I had quite a lot of spots where the paint was lifting (chipping).  I really didn’t want to see so much of that orange stain.  So I decided to try something.  I added a coat of Miss Mustard Seed Tough Coat Sealer next.  That sort of sealed the chippy-ness in place rather than allowing the paint to all flake off.

Next I added some Homestead House Beeswax Finish in spots where I wanted my final color to chip to reveal the layers of color underneath, and then I painted on two coats of Homestead House milk paint in Raw Silk.

Raw Silk is a white with a grey undertone, or a very, very pale grey, depending on how you want to look at it.  It changes depending on the lighting and what is around it.

By the way, the Tough Coat Sealer trick worked perfectly.  I have very few spots where I can see chipping right down to the original wood color.  And in fact the only chipping I have in my final coat of Raw Silk is where I put the beeswax.

Usually when I paint a spoon carved piece I like to highlight the spoon carving by painting it with a lighter color, but this time I didn’t do that.  I felt like the carving on this piece was pretty busy and maybe didn’t need to be highlighted.

I left the top of the cupboard natural with just a coat of custom mixed grey wax (a mix of Homestead House black & white waxes).

This is a very rustic piece of furniture.  In fact, it’s the perfect piece to feature after our discussion on Monday regarding the problem with perfection!  For those of you who love a piece that shows its age, this one is right up your alley.  It has obviously been around for a long time and previous owners have taken turns patching it up.  There are several charming repair spots that I left as is, like these pieces of wood that are nailed, and in one case even bolted into place to shore up the door.

Ken did do a little work on the hinges of the doors so that they open and close properly, but otherwise he left them as is.

And I left the inside of the cupboard alone as well even though the shelves are rather crooked.  I find those details charming, and based on the comments on Monday’s post I’d say many of you do as well!

I suspect this piece may have originally had a hutch that sat on top, don’t you?  I don’t normally see cupboards like this on their own.  Perhaps at some point the top wasn’t salvageable anymore and someone discarded it and just kept the bottom.

I can picture this piece providing great storage in a laundry room or a bathroom.  Or fill it with board games in the family room.  It would fit right in on a three season porch too.

Where would you use it?

P.S.  This piece is for sale, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ tab if interested.

the catalogue dresser.

It probably goes without saying that I have gotten just a little addicted to the Iron Orchid Designs furniture transfers.  I can’t seem to stop putting them on things.

Today’s victim is a gorgeous dresser that I picked up a few weeks ago.

This dresser also came with a matching bed (you’ll see what I did with that later this week), and this was definitely a case where the seller was not a craigslist pro and thus didn’t understand some of the tips for improving the chances of selling your item.  Why?  Because first of all, she had one ad for both the dresser and the bed, and her lead photo was a dark and blurry photo of the bed.  So right off the bat she wasn’t going to entice anyone to click on the ad to see more.

Second, the photo of the dresser was also dark and blurry.  You really couldn’t see any of the gorgeous details it has.  Furthermore, she had very little text with her ad.  I think it said something like ‘bedroom set for sale’, which meant anyone searching for ‘dresser’ or ‘antique’ or ‘vintage’ wasn’t going to see this ad.

All of this worked in my favor because no one snatched this set up before I could get there.

I wanted to use another furniture transfer on this dresser and I wanted a white background for that.  Painting one of these mahogany pieces white is always a challenge, plus this one required a little extra repair work as well.  In order to spare you from too many boring details, here’s what that included:  Ken repaired one of the back feet using a peg and some glue, I filled the drawer pull holes on the top drawer to make up for just one missing handle, I sealed the whole thing with Rachel Ashwell Clear Primer to prevent bleed through, I painted a base coat of Fusion’s Putty so I would have something to show underneath any chipping that wasn’t just red mahogany, I added three coats (yes, it still took 3 to get good coverage, even over the Putty) of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Linen, I applied the transfer, I sealed the whole piece with General Finishes Flat Out Flat.


 But I think it was worth it, don’t you?

If you’re wondering about the transfer, I cut it apart and did each drawer separately which allowed me to center the design from top to bottom on each one.

In hindsight, if I had to start over on this one, I think I would have switched over to all glass knobs.  But maybe that’s just me.

I think the drawer pulls take your attention away from the transfer a bit too much.  But by the time I put them back on it was too late to change my mind on that without having to re-paint the whole thing.  I also debated painting the handles white to help them fade away.  But in the end I decided that I should leave them alone.

And if you’re wondering why I bothered with the undercoat of Putty, it was for exactly this result …

It adds a subtle depth to the dresser where the milk paint chipped without being too obvious of a contrast.

There are so many beautiful details on this dresser including the gorgeous ball and claw feet.

I love a good ball & claw, don’t you?

This was the first time I’ve used the Flat Out Flat.  I love how flat this finish is and that it doesn’t alter the color of the milk paint at all, which is a quality that I especially like when using white milk paint.  I did find that it crackled the milk paint just a tad.  You can see that in this next photo …

It’s possible that I added it too soon, maybe I should have let the milk paint cure for a couple of days first.  I’ll continue to experiment with the Flat Out Flat and keep you posted.

But in the meantime, this lovely dresser is going to be for sale.

Be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ if you are interested.

when is rusty just a little too rusty?

My friend Sue snagged this rusty old Cosco stool for me last summer.  I posted it on my Facebook page at the time with this caption.

I struggle with this question.  More so when I’m going to sell something rather than keep it.  Personally I like distressed, beat up items that show their age (no wise cracks about Mr. Q here please).  I sometimes cringe when people cover up a beautiful distressed patina with fresh new paint.  If I had been keeping this for myself, and if I liked the yellow and white, I would have cleaned it up and kept it as is.

But alas, I don’t need another stool, and I really feel like this item will sell better with a paint job.  This led to the next question, how should I prep it?  I have found that if you don’t seal a rusty metal piece, the rust will seep through your new paint.  Again, I don’t necessarily mind that.  It’s a fun way to change up the color of a metal item, but to instantly re-gain some of that rusty patina.

But again, how rusty is too rusty?  This stool had a lot of rust.  So I decided to go ahead and seal it.  I started by vigorously sanding the seat and back fairly smooth and lightly sanding the rest.  Then I painted on a coat of the Rachel Ashwell Clear Primer.  Once dry, I painted a coat of Fusion’s Laurentien on the base and Fusion’s Raw Silk on the seat back.

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating.  I absolutely love Laurentien.  It’s a gorgeous pop of turquoise!

When the paint was dry, I felt like the stool looked far too crisp and freshly painted though.  So I sanded down the edges of the seat back.  And the tops of the steps.

But when I started sanding the edges of the seat itself I quickly realized that I didn’t like seeing the yellow peek through, so I decided against any further sanding.

As I studied the ‘finished’ stool, I really felt like it needed just a little something more.  So I pulled out my Iron Orchid Designs transfers.  The bottom section of the small “Richardson Seeds” transfer was a perfect fit for the seat back (I used the full transfer on the green window recently).  This is another of the cool things about these transfers, you can use just a portion of one and save the other part for another project.

To give the transfer a little extra protection, I waxed over it with clear furniture wax.  But I assume the future owner of this stool won’t actually be sitting in it leaning against the back too terribly often.  If I was expecting that kind of use I would add a matte finish poly over the transfer.

Although this would be adorable in a potting shed, I think the comments on my post for the Blue Alligator dresser on Monday pretty much established the fact that most of us aren’t lucky enough to have one.

 So, how about just using it in your kitchen as intended?

After all, when a step stool is handy, everything else is too!

blue alligator.

I had been keeping an eye on the Craigslist ad for this dresser for at least a month.  I thought it had potential, but at $100, it was overpriced (which is why it sat on Craigslist for so long).  I finally decided to send the seller a lower offer and they agreed to my price.

When Mr. Q and I arrived to pick it up, the seller told me that she’d had it posted for $200 originally and it never sold.  She’d ultimately realized that she really just wanted it out of her garage, so that’s why she lowered the price to $100 and then further agreed to my even lower offer.  The implication being that it was worth way more and I was getting a heck of deal.

Some people seem to think that anything that is more than 80 years old is a valuable antique.  Not true.  Condition is everything in the world of antiques, and this dresser was in pretty poor condition.  Starting with the fact that at some time in its life someone cut the sides off the top.  I assume they needed to fit it into some narrow space and the only way to accomplish that was to trim it down a little.  In addition, just check out this alligator-ed finish …

On top of that, the knobs on the top drawers were completely bent and misshapen, the drawers were hard to open, and there were paint drips all over the top.  And did I mention that it was positively filthy and obviously had been in that garage for quite some time?

But I bought it anyway.  I could see it still had potential, just not $100 worth of potential and certainly not $200 worth!

To get started, I sanded it down just slightly and then cleaned it with vinegar water.  Next I sanded down the sides of the drawers (where they sit on the glides) and then rubbed a block of canning wax over them so they would glide more easily.  Then I once again used my ‘perfect chipping method‘ and added some Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish (you can also use Miss Mustard 100% beeswax) in spots that I wanted to chip.

Choosing to go with milk paint on this dresser was a no-brainer.  Milk paint and alligator are the perfect pair.  The tricky part was deciding on a color.  Since I’d gotten several comments recently from readers who love seeing more color and are bored with white, I thought it would be fun to go more colorful with this one.  I wasn’t in the mood for any of the straight up milk paint colors I had on hand though, so I decided to create my own.

Now I’ll just go ahead and apologize right now to those of you who might want to try and recreate this color.  Not that you can’t do it, but it will require three different colors and two different brands of milk paint because this color is a mix of equals parts Homestead House Loyalist, Homestead House Upper Canada Green and Miss Mustard Seed Kitchen Scale.

I think I’ll call this color Blue Alligator.

And see what I mean about milk paint and alligator?  Such an awesome effect.

I’m not sure any of my photos do justice to Blue Alligator, and I don’t think I can adequately describe how it differs from straight up Kitchen Scale.  It has a little more green than Kitchen Scale (thanks to the Upper Canada Green), and it’s a little more muted (thanks to the Loyalist), and it’s a little bit lighter.

And I have to tell you, I loved this color so much I painted two more things with it.  A chalkboard and another piece that you’ll be seeing in the next week or two.

Painting this piece ended up being the easy part.  Two quick coats and it was done.

Next came the exciting part.  I pulled out another of my Iron Orchid Designs transfers.  This is the larger version of the same design I used on my green window last week.  In fact, this transfer was actually too large to use on this dresser ‘as is’, so I cut it apart and just used the sections that worked.  If you look closely you’ll see that my dresser is a mishmash of various pieces of it. I did each layer (top, middle, bottom) of drawers separately.

According to the Iron Orchid Designs YouTube videos, you can put any typical top coat over their transfers.  So I went ahead and waxed the dresser with Homestead House furniture wax next.

Finally, I found some knobs in my stash for the top two drawers.  They looked a bit too new next to the original drawer pulls though, so I decided to try a new technique on them and added a copper patina.  I’m going to post about that process in more detail later this week, so be sure to check back for that.

So now, what do you think?  Is this thing just gorgeous or what?

OMG!  Right?

Wouldn’t this dresser be amazing in a potting shed?

I could also see it working perfectly as a small buffet in a dining room.

It actually looks pretty much perfect right in that spot on my front three season porch.

But I’m not planning to keep it.

Of course, if it doesn’t sell … well, let’s just say I won’t be crying in my coffee.

For now though, this dresser is for sale, so if you are local and need a gorgeous dresser be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale’ tab.