the gothic dresser.

A while back I sent Mr. Q off to purchase this dresser via Craigslist mainly for its mirror harp, which I took off and am keeping because it’s amazing (you’ll see it tomorrow).  But even though I was mainly interested in the mirror, I also thought the dresser itself was pretty fab.  Here is the ‘before’ photo, which doesn’t include the mirror, but it does include the ‘hanky drawers’.

Hanky drawers are those two little drawers, or in this case hinged boxes, that are sitting on top of the dresser.

They were meant to store handkerchiefs back in the day when people actually had such things.  I generally remove hanky drawers.  Much like mirrors, they tend to limit the use of the dresser.  And without the mirror, they look kind of silly sitting there on top of the dresser.  I’ve already re-purposed them as well, and I’ll share those later this week too.

But for today, let’s just talk about the dresser itself.  I’m calling it the gothic dresser, although technically I don’t think this dresser is ornate enough to qualify as ‘gothic’.  It has a kind of gothic vibe though.  Do any of you know what this style might be called?

I love those tear drop drawer pulls.  Even though one had fallen off, it was included with the dresser so they were all there.  They were the reason I chose to paint the body of the dresser in Homestead House’s Coal Black milk paint.

Unfortunately, when I went to put the drawer pulls back on after painting I discovered that the one that wasn’t on when I purchased the dresser was damaged beyond use.  Argh.  That explains why it was just lying in the drawer!

Luckily I had just purchased some round black knobs with a matte finish from Hobby Lobby and I think they ended up working well with the tear drop pulls.

Rather than paint the entire dresser black, I stripped the top and waxed it with Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing Wax for contrast.

I have been getting a ton of mileage out of that MMS Antiquing Wax lately!

I had so much fun staging this dresser with some of my favorite black props like my vintage phone.

And the all black Big Ben from my non-collection of clocks.

Since I had some paint left over after painting the dresser itself, I painted the 2nd drop leaf from my green alligator table with it and then added a French stencil.

I have to say, I absolutely love how this one turned out.  You can be sure there will be more drop leaf signs in my future with this stencil on them.

By the way, I added a top coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil on both the dresser and the drop leaf sign.

I’m so glad I went with the Coal Black on this piece despite the damaged drawer pull, I think it was the perfect choice with the contrast of the wood top.

Both the dresser and the sign are available for sale while they last.  If you are local, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.





sunbleached coffey.

You’re probably wondering about that weird title, but all will soon make sense to you.

Some of you may recognize the name Kent-Coffey, especially if you know your mid-century furniture designers.  I always thought Kent-Coffey pieces were expensive, high end, sleek, designer items.  On the contrary, a little bit of research has revealed that Kent-Coffey furniture was intended for the average consumer.  Much like Readers Digest books, it was mass produced and was priced affordably.

Not only that, but in addition to the sleeker, more modern designs, Kent-Coffey also made some French Provincial stuff.

Like this dresser from the Charmant line.

I picked this one up via Craigslist.  I had seen a photo of a similar piece online that had been refinished with white washed drawers and a pale grey painted body and I wanted to try the same look myself.  I wish I could remember where I saw it so that I could give proper credit, but I’ve searched and searched and can’t find it.  Suffice to say, this is a copied idea not one that I came up with on my own.

My first step was to strip all of the drawer fronts.  Once I had the finish removed I could see how beautiful the grain was.  After a good cleaning and sanding, instead of white washing them I chose to stain them with Varathane’s wood stain in Sunbleached, followed by a coat of Minwax Wipe on Poly.

I painted the body of the dresser in Fusion’s Bedford.

Bedford might just be my favorite of all the Fusion shades of grey (although I do also love Putty, which is just a little more pale).

I decided to keep the original hardware since it works so well with the whole French provincial look, but the drawer pulls really popped too much in their original brass color.  So I ‘white washed’ them using a Little Billy Goat Goat Stick in Cream.

For more info on Goat Sticks, check out {this post}.

Now the drawer pulls blend a little bit more with the overall sunbleached look of this dresser.

This is a bit different from my usual treatment for a French provincial piece (you can see others here, here and here).  What do you think of it?

Is it your cup of tea?  Or should I say Coffey?

This dresser is for sale. If you are local and in need of some Sunbleached Coffey, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

night and day bookcase.

A while back my sister and I were out and about in downtown North St. Paul, which is basically right down the street from me.  There are a couple of antique shops along the main street, as well as a couple of thrift shops so we were just meandering around doing a little window shopping.  We were walking into the larger antique mall when I noticed this bookcase in the window.

It was missing its shelves entirely, and one of the drawer pulls was broken.  Overall, it was just in pretty shabby shape, and not shabby in a good way.

But the price was right and I could see it had tons of potential.  So I bought it, and Debbie and I loaded it into the back seat of my VW bug.  Luckily it was a beautiful day and we were able to have the top down.  Plus, we only had to drive a few blocks with it.

Later I purchased a couple of inexpensive pine boards and Ken trimmed them down to create new shelves for it.  And then it was just a matter of adding some paint and some new knobs.

The lovely people at Fusion recently sent me a few more of their paint colors to try (plus a couple of favorites).  So I pulled out two colors from their Tones for Tots line for the bookcase, Little Lamb and Little Piggy.

I’ve used Little Piggy before (here, here, here and here).  It’s the most delicate pale pink.  I had never used Little Lamb, but I thought the two would make a great pairing.

I added two coats of Little Lamb to the outside of the bookcase, and two coats of Little Piggy to the shelves and inside of the bookcase.  Once dry I used some 220 grit sandpaper to distress the edges of the Little Lamb.

I know not everyone is a fan of distressed edges, but I think it serves to highlight the details like those pretty corners.  This bookcase was a little bland until I added the distressing.

Although my color choices make this bookcase perfect for a nursery, I didn’t really have any cute baby things to use while staging it for photos.  So I just went with some random items in the right colors.

And of course, you wouldn’t have to use this in a nursery.  It could be used anywhere that you happen to need a pink and grey bookcase.

I really struggled to capture the color of this piece.  I feel like the Little Lamb looks too blue, or too lavender in most of my photos.  Although in person it does have almost a periwinkle undertone to the grey.

This is just one of those colors where you really have to see it in person.

But truly, isn’t the difference between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ like night and day?

What a difference a little paint can make.

Be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page if interested.



the mystic midnight blue dresser.

At midnight, in the month of June, I stand beneath the mystic moon.
– Edgar Allen Poe

OK, wrong month.  If only that quote said ‘in the month of October’, but that doesn’t quite rhyme, does it?  Nothing really rhymes with October, which was rather unfortunate for Edgar since October is the spookiest month of the year.

Well ‘midnight’ works with this dresser because I painted it in Homestead House milk paint in Midnight Blue, so I’m sticking with that quote.

Before I did any painting though, I sent this one over to Ken’s workshop where a simple repair job became a tad more complicated.  I thought I just needed a few drawer stops replaced, but as it turned out Ken had to replace a couple of the drawer glides as well.

Once the dresser came back from Ken’s workshop I stripped the top.  After sanding it smooth, I once again waxed with Miss Mustard Seed Antiquing Wax.  Gorgeous!

Next I painted the rest of the dresser with the Midnight Blue.

I probably could have gotten away with one coat (dark color over dark wood), but I went with two since I had the paint already mixed up and I wanted that deep, rich color.  I also used Miss Mustard Seed hemp oil as my top coat to get the darkest shade possible of this color.

Today’s Qtip:  hemp oil will darken up your colors more than wax or other top coats.  For this reason I love using it when I want a deep, rich color like this Midnight Blue.  I also prefer using hemp oil over black milk paint.  However, hemp oil does not provide quite as much protection as wax or poly.

I had a couple of people mention how much they liked the drawer pulls that came with this piece, but I didn’t put them back on.  I didn’t like the way the pulls on the top drawer hung down below the bottom of the drawer itself.  It makes me wonder if they were even original to the dresser.  I’ll save that set to use another time.  I added these glass knobs from Hobby Lobby instead.

The top drawer of the dresser was pretty grungy.  I think it stored greasy tools at some point in its life.  So I lined it with some pretty fabric.  I purchased this fabric at a garage sale a couple of years ago and I’ve used it to line quite a few drawers.  But I’m starting to run low, so only had enough for the top drawer which was really the only drawer that needed it.

The drawers in this dresser are really quite shallow.  I can’t imagine it being very practical for holding clothing.  But I think it would make a fantastic bedside table.  It would also be perfect for use in a home office with your printer on top and the drawers filled with office supplies.  I can also imagine someone using it to hold a TV, you could fill those drawers with DVD’s.

If you are local and you happen to need a dresser like this, be sure to check my ‘available for local’ sale page for more info.


the green alligator farmhouse table.

Before I get on with today’s post about the Green Alligator farmhouse table, two things.  First, the Vintage Holiday magazine with the article about my vintage Christmas ornaments is on stands now!

I was so excited to see my name in print for the very first time!

But in addition to my feature, the magazine is jam packed with great vintage holiday decor including an article featuring Pam Kessler from House of Hawthornes (if you aren’t familiar with Pam, you should check her out).  If you want to pick up a copy, I’m told they can be found at Target and Barnes & Noble.  If you’re a local, I found my copies at Cub Foods.  I picked up a couple of extra copies and plan to have a giveaway later this month, so stay tuned for that.

Second, I have to report that my ‘product differentiation‘ really paid off.  I sold my sleigh bed yesterday afternoon.  So, just over 24 hours!  Possibly a new record.  I truly believe it was the paint that made the difference, don’t you?

And now, on with today’s regularly scheduled post …

A while back I mixed a custom color that I called Blue Alligator.  Not because blue alligators are a real thing, but because the surface of the piece I was painting was ‘alligatored’ and the color was a pretty blue-green.  I found a lot of conflicting information on the web about what causes an alligatored finish and I don’t want to contribute to that further by pretending like I’m an expert.  All I know is that sometimes the finish on old pieces will crack and separate leaving a bumpy surface similar to that of an alligator’s hide.

Well … anyway … I really loved the color I mixed for that dresser which was a combination of Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen Scale, Homestead House Upper Canada Green and Loyalist.

So I knew I wanted to use this color on something I was keeping for myself someday.

Flash forward to a week or so ago when Mr. Q and I brought home this drop leaf table.

Technically, that’s not a true ‘before’ photo.  I’d already removed the leaves and added new casters.  I’ve done a few of these tables over the past several years (here, here and here).  I’ve kept two of them for use in my own home.  One is being used as the desk in my Q branch, and the other is now being used as a desk in Mr. Q’s study.  The one that Mr. Q is using used to be on my front porch.

I found it so handy to have it in that spot because it made the perfect surface for close up photos for the blog, like this one …

But it was easy to move out of the way when I wanted to take a photo of something larger, like a piece of furniture, in that spot.

So after Mr. Q commandeered that table for his study I quickly realized how much I missed it and started looking for another.  I find that tables like this are fairly common in my area, but prices for them on Craigslist can be all over the place.  I was holding out for a bargain.  When I saw the ad for this one at $25, and only 15 minutes away, I jumped on it.

After I got it home I started by removing those leaves.  I’ve already turned one of them into a sign, and I’ll do the same with the other.  And as I mentioned, I added some new casters to the legs.  As much as I love the look of old metal or wood casters, I will be rolling this table in and out of position frequently.  And I have a painted floor on my porch.  So I decided it would be wise to add new rubber casters to this one to save my floor.

Next I stripped the finish off the top of the table and then waxed it with Homestead House white wax.

Qtip of the day:  when using white wax on bare wood you need to decide how much white you want to see before you start.  Full strength white wax on bare wood will leave obvious white areas in the grain.  If you want a more subtle look you can either wax first with clear wax and then add white wax over that, or mix some white and clear wax together to get a ‘reduced strength’ white wax.  For this table top I started with one coat of mixed wax, and then followed up with a 2nd coat of straight up white wax.  White wax will be easier to blend over a base coat of clear or mixed wax rather than on bare wood.

This particular tabletop had some black spots.  Had I planned to sell this piece I would have probably opted to go with dark wax on the top.  But since I’m keeping it, and I wanted a lighter surface for taking photos on, I just chose to ignore them.

My next step was to mix up some Blue Alligator milk paint based on my recipe.  That’s when I discovered that I didn’t have much Miss Mustard Seed Kitchen Scale paint left.  So my ratio this time was a bit off.  I used a little more Upper Canada Green and a little less Kitchen Scale.  The resulting color is just a bit more green than the Blue Alligator.  Thus, I give you, Green Alligator!

Fortunately, I love this color just as much as the Blue Alligator.

Possibly even just a little bit more.

I used clear wax as my top coat over the paint which darkened up the color just a tad.

By the way, I took all of these pictures on a rather gloomy day so you can see why I love this spot for photos.  I get great light here even on the most dismal days.  With November and December just around the corner, I know I’ll be using this spot a lot in the next couple of months.  Since this porch isn’t heated it can get pretty chilly mid-winter, but you’ll still find me out there taking photos even when I can see my breath in the air.

The chalkboard is made out of the framed mirror from a dresser Mr. Q picked up the other day.  You’ll see more of that dresser and it’s mirror harp soon, but in the meantime I whipped up this chalkboard.

I simply removed the back panel, took out the mirror, flipped the panel over to its smooth side, painted it with black Rustoleum chalkboard paint, and reattached it.  Easy peasy.

I freshened up the wood frame with a little of Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil.

It wasn’t until I was editing the photos for this post that I remembered that I had planned to embellish the frame with an old metal number plate, so I added it quickly and took one more photo.

It’s a small detail, but I love the small details, don’t you?


product differentiation.

As part of our recent master bedroom makeover, we replaced our 90’s sleigh bed with an antique headboard.  Mr. Q was not a fan of having a foot board, so he’s much happier with our foot-board-free bed now.  Here’s our new bed

Initially I was going to post our old sleigh bed on Craigslist ‘as is’…

Then I did a little research.  I found nearly 100 similar sleigh beds listed ranging from $95 all the way up to $579.  That’s a lot of competition.  I thought about listing mine for $75 just to stand out in the crowd.

But then I stopped myself.  Why in the world wouldn’t I paint it?  After all, painting furniture is my thing.  And out of those nearly 100 beds only a handful of them were painted.  Painting it would definitely help differentiate (that’s a fancy term I learned in my marketing class) my bed from those of my competitors.  It will also make my bed more attractive to my target market.  I already had all of the product on hand that I needed, some Fusion Ultra Grip and Coal Black paint, so the only additional investment into this project would be my time.

If you are considering selling items on Craigslist, I encourage you to do your research first.  Take a look at what else is out there and at what prices.  Keep in mind that just because you see an ad for a sleigh bed at $579 doesn’t mean it’s going to sell for that price, especially if there are 99 similar beds priced much lower.  Look at how long the ad has been posted.  Keep an eye on it over time.  Even if the ad disappears eventually, that doesn’t necessarily mean the item sold.  The seller may have given up and donated it to a charity.

One factor that still made me hesitate about painting our sleigh bed was the slick factory finish on the bed and not knowing how well the paint would stick to it.  So I decided to prep the heck out of it.

I started by sanding it well.  Not enough to totally remove the original finish, but enough to rough it up and give the paint something more to stick to.  Next I cleaned the surface with TSP substitute. Then I added a coat of Fusion’s Ultra Grip.  This product is designed to increase the adhesion of Fusion paint.

Today’s Qtip: do as I say, not as I do.  I should have read the instructions before I applied the Ultra Grip.  I really don’t know what I was thinking, but I used a big clunky paint brush that ended up leaving some pretty heavy brush strokes.  That was entirely user error on my part.  The Fusion website suggests applying it ‘thin and sparingly’.  After doing both the headboard and foot board, I did get out a better suited brush for the side rails and as a result the finish on those looks much better.  I can definitely see a difference.  So when using Ultra Grip, be sure to follow the directions!

I let the Ultra Grip dry the required 12 hours before painting over it though, so at least I got that part right.

The next step was to paint the bed.  I used just one coat of Fusion’s Coal Black.  Once dry I had to touch up just a couple of spots that I had missed the first time around, but I did not need a full-on second coat of paint.  When using a dark paint color over a dark wood, you can often get away with just one coat.

Next I sanded the edges to give the bed a distressed, pottery barn-ish look.  I added a little hemp oil to the areas where distressing had revealed the wood. This serves two purposes; it darkens up the fresh wood to make it look as though it was more naturally distressed over time and it also protects the bare wood from moisture.

Here are those side rails I mentioned.

As an added precaution I decided to hang onto this bed for the full cure time of the Fusion paint, which is 21 days, before offering it for sale.  If you aren’t familiar with the distinction, dry time is how long it takes for paint to be dry to the touch but cure time is how long it takes for the paint to reach maximum hardness and durability.  I wanted this bed to reach maximum durability before someone starts to use it, and probably even more importantly before they try to load it into a truck and get it home without dinging it up.

So, that was three weeks ago.  The cure time is up and this sleigh bed is ready to go.  I’ll be sure to let you guys know whether or not my ‘product differentiation’ paid off.

Any of you locals need a queen sized sleigh bed in black?  If so, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale’ page.

the autumn catalogue dresser.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t normally do custom work.  Mainly because I find it too stressful.  I spend the entire time I’m working on a piece worried about whether or not it’s going to meet the customer’s specifications.  It’s just not as much fun for me.  I’d rather be free to make decisions on the fly as I run into problems, and then when the piece is finished try to find a buyer to match up with it.

However, earlier this year when I did the Blue Alligator dresser I had two people who really wanted it.

Since there was only one dresser, it went to the first person in line.  The second person in line, Debbie (not my sister, but another Debbie) mentioned that if I ever did another dresser with the same Iron Orchid Designs transfer she’d love to have it.

So, I did another one.

And as it turned out, Debbie didn’t like the color I chose.  Blue wouldn’t work in the room she wanted it for.

Ironically, I ended up again having two people who both wanted the blue one though, and once again it went to the first person in line.

So now I’ve done a third.  And although it wasn’t technically a custom job, I did paint it in a warm white, which is what Debbie wanted.

And this time I hit the nail on the head.  Debbie loves it.  And seriously, can you blame her?

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Oh boy.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, this one was in rough, rough shape when I got it.  That ‘before’ photo was taken after it came back from Ken’s workshop.  Ken took this one completely apart and put it back together again with fresh glue and wood reinforcements in every corner.  As you can see, it had only one sad little drawer pull.  Ken added the twine handles so that he could operate the drawers while he was working on them.

Not only was all the glue dried out, the finish was pretty dried out and beat up as well.

But I had a feeling there was some gorgeous wood underneath all of that abuse.

So after Ken performed his repair magic, I got out the stripper and started with the top.  I stripped any remaining finish off the top and sanded it down.  Then I waxed it with Miss Mustard Seed Antiquing Wax.  Yes, it’s just the wax over the bare wood.  Miss Mustard Seed has a great video tutorial on how to do this on YouTube, so if you’ve never seen it be sure to check it out.

Sure enough, it was the perfect way to go.  Just look how beautiful that wood is now!  I love these dresser tops that are made out of solid planks of wood rather than a sheet of veneer.

Meanwhile, I filled in the holes for the original drawer pulls on the drawers.  I knew I wanted to switch to glass knobs on this one (with just one hole each rather than the two required for a pull), so I filled the extra holes with Elmer’s ProBond wood filler and let that harden up while I was working on the top.

To prep the rest of the dresser I sanded it lightly by hand.  That finish was so dry that it basically just came off at the merest touch of the sandpaper.  I vacuumed up the dust, wiped the dresser down with a damp cloth and then painted the body and drawer fronts in Fusion’s Limestone.  It took three coats to properly cover that dark wood.

Once dry, I sanded the edges to distress and then applied the Iron Orchid Designs ‘Seeds’ transfer.  The transfer worked beautifully with the Fusion paint.

Q-tip:  the entire ‘Seeds’ transfer is almost 37″ long, this dresser is just under 33″ tall total, while the total space for the transfer is only about 23″ tall.  So I didn’t use the whole thing.  If you look back to the first two dressers, you’ll see that I did the same thing with each of them.  And in fact, I used different sections of the transfer on each one.  It’s quite easy to ‘cut and paste’ in this way with the IOD transfers.  And now I have a section of the transfer left over that will work beautifully on another piece.  It’s a great way to get two pieces out of one transfer.

Once the transfer was applied I went over it ever so lightly with 220 grit sandpaper.  That helps minimize the ‘halo’ that shows around each letter at certain angles of light.

Finally, I drilled new holes and added my clear glass knobs.

I’ve refinished a few serpentine dressers in my day (some of my faves are here, here and here), but this one is especially curvy.

Even the sides are curved.

I think this dresser has been improved 100%, don’t you agree?

So tell me, which of the three versions is your favorite?