another re-do.

Do any of you remember when I painted this chair?

It was back in October 2015.  I used it in my living room for a while, and then it moved to the Q branch.  I was actually going to sell it a while back, but my niece wanted me to keep it because it was the most comfortable option for added seating in the living room when needed (and she was always the one who ended up sitting in it).

But now that we have the sectional with plenty of comfortable seating for 4, I no longer need the chair.  So I decided to freshen it up with some new upholstery before selling it.

I pulled out some drop cloth material, a couple of stencils, and some Fusion paint in Putty and Algonquin.

I don’t have much paint left in either of those containers, but it doesn’t take much to stencil a faux grain sack look on fabric.

Prima Marketing sent me some of their brushes a while back and I assumed they were stencil brushes.  But, they actually call them wax brushes.  Ooops.  Well, FYI, they work great for stenciling too!

The one above with the round ball-like handle was perfect for adding the grain sack stripe to my fabric.  It made quick work of filling in that fat stripe down the middle.

This next brush worked great on the smaller details of the wording.

So, they may be meant for wax, but these brushes work great for stenciling too!

Once my paint was dry, which really only took about 20 minutes or so, I simply removed the old fabric and stapled the new stuff in place.

And now this chair is ready for a new home.

If you’re wondering where to purchase the Prima Marketing brushes, check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

If you’re wondering where to buy the Fusion paint, check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a freshened up chair, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page to see if this one is still available.

pleasure parties accommodated at short notice.

I purchased this pretty vanity or dressing table at an estate sale last summer.

Just ignore Mr. Q’s legs behind the vanity.  He was holding the mirror in place for me.  Ladies, you know you’ve got a keeper when he’s willing to duck behind a vanity while you take your time with some ‘before’ photos!

This piece has so many pretty details and I knew it would look great painted.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to painting it.  Probably because I also knew it would be more putzy to paint with the mirror frame and all of those curvy, carved details.  And I was right.

But it was totally worth it!

I chose to paint it in Fusion’s Little Piggy from their Tones for Tots line.  If you’re afraid of going overboard with pink, or you’re just not a fan of bubblegum, this is the perfect shade of barely there blush pink for you.  In some lighting you can barely even tell that it’s pink.

This is also the perfect shade of pink to pair up with one of Prima Marketing’s newest transfers, Botanical Rose (available for purchase in mid-April).

This piece provides the perfect example of how to use a 24″ by 30″ rectangular transfer on a piece that is not exactly a rectangle.  Since this transfer is a full image transfer, ie. it has a solid background, you might have thought you couldn’t cut it up and use it sort of piecemeal.  But you definitely can (although you may not totally recognize it when done).

I started out by deciding which parts of the transfer would work best on which drawers.  I wanted to mostly avoid using the giant rose in the middle of the design.  I began with the top center drawer, then the two top side drawers, and then I used what was left of the design to piece together the lower four side drawers.  I measured and cut out each section with the backing paper still in place, cutting each piece just a little larger than I needed so I had some wiggle room.

Here’s what was left of the transfer when I was done.

See how perfectly the background color on this transfer works with the Little Piggy

Each drawer front has a solid piece of transfer over it, those background colors on the transfer blended with the paint color perfectly.

It wasn’t until I was putting the knobs back on that I noticed what the section above said.  I wasn’t sure which phrase I liked better ‘staging and expressing’ or ‘pleasure parties accommodated at short notice’.  I went with the latter for my blog post title, but I may have to use ‘staging and expressing’ some time too.

I kept the original hardware again this time.  Initially I was going to add some gold wax to them, but in the end I liked the way they looked ‘as is’.

So, what do you think?  Pretty in pink?

The Botanical Rose transfer is not yet available to purchase.  However, the new spring designs from Prima Marketing should be shipping to stores in mid-April so be sure to look for them then.

If you’re wondering where to purchase the Prima Marketing transfers, check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

If you’re wondering where to buy the Fusion paint, check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a pretty pink dressing table, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page to see if this one is still available.

the lovely ledger dresser.

A week or two ago Prima Marketing contacted me and offered to send me a couple of the new transfer designs that were coming out so that I could be one of the first to try them out.

How cool is that?  I’m so happy that they thought of me, and trusted me to help unveil some of their fabulous new designs!

As soon as they arrived I knew exactly which one I wanted to try first, and I knew exactly what I would put it on.

Now, I know there are people out there who might think the wood on this dresser is beautiful and that it’s a crime that I painted it.  All I can say to that is ‘different strokes for different folks’.  Personally, I think it’s rather … uh, well … let’s just say unattractive.  So I didn’t feel even the slightest qualm over painting it.

I started by sanding the dresser lightly, vacuuming away the dust, then cleaning it with Krud Kutter.  Then I added two coats of Fusion’s Limestone, which is a lovely creamy white.

While the paint dried, I scrubbed up the drawer pulls with some dish soap.  I was planning to add a metallic gold wax to them, but in the end I decided I preferred them with a more subdued look.  However, they were a bit dull, so I waxed them with Homestead House Salad Bowl Finish to shine them up.

I couldn’t really get it to show up very well in a photograph, but the pull on the left is waxed and the one on the right isn’t.  The wax adds just a little bit more depth and shine.

Once the paint was fully dry I distressed the edges of the dresser with 220 grit sandpaper.

Always remember that Fusion acrylic paint is much easier to distress before it has much time to cure.  Once cured this paint is very durable (ie. harder to distress).  I always try to distress it within 24 hours of painting the piece, if not sooner.

Next came the really fun part, adding the transfer.  The Lovely Ledger transfer combines two of my favorite things, French writing and … well … ledgers!  I’m an accountant by day, furniture painter by night (or more realistically, weekend), so this Lovely Ledger transfer was perfect for me.

I had to doctor up the design just a tad to fit it on this dresser because of the detail on the middle drawer.

I suspect that you wouldn’t even notice it if I didn’t point it out.

But if you ever buy this transfer yourself and wonder why it doesn’t look exactly like mine, that’s why.  I removed a flower from one spot and filled in with more wording instead.  Always keep in mind that you can cut these transfers up and re-arrange them to fit your piece more precisely.

One of the things I love about using Fusion paint is that it has a built in top coat.  I find that the transfers work really beautifully over the Fusion in particular because it creates the perfect surface for them to adhere to.  Once the transfer is in place I usually go over it with just a little bit of furniture wax, or in this case I used the Salad Bowl Finish.

Today’s q-tip:  Remember, never try to apply a transfer over a freshly waxed surface.  You’ll end up with a sticky, gooey mess.  Always wait until after the transfer is applied to add wax if you want to.  If you’ve already waxed and are dying to add a transfer, you’ll have to wait 30 days for your wax to cure and then you can apply a transfer over the wax.

I have to say, if I’d had some glass knobs on hand I think I would have used them instead.  They would allow the transfer to be the star of the show.  But the pulls that came with this dresser are so gorgeous, I felt like it would be wrong to not use them.  Plus I only had a mishmash of unmatched glass knobs.

The pulls do cover up some of the transfer though.

So, what do you think?  Did I improve the dresser?  Which look is more ‘you’?  The ‘before’ or the ‘after’?

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the Lovely Ledger transfer is not yet available to purchase.  However, the new designs should be shipping to stores in mid-April so be sure to look for them then.

If you’re wondering where to purchase the Prima Marketing transfers, check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

If you’re wondering where to buy the Fusion paint, check out their ‘where to buy’ page.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a beautiful dresser, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page to see if this one is still available.

ebony and ivory.

I finally got around to painting my baby grand piano this past weekend and all I can say is, ‘what was I so worried about’?

Somehow I had built this up to be a HUGE project in my mind.  Obviously I should have known better.  I mean, come on, I’ve painted a few larger pieces of furniture in my day.  The Welsh cupboard in my dining room for example.

By comparison, the piano was so. easy.

As a reminder, here is how the piano looked originally.

Not super awful, but definitely not great.  And up close the finish on this thing was totally shot …

The arrows are pointing towards areas where the veneer has chipped away.

Before we move on, I have to explain something.  I don’t actually play the piano.  Well, I did take some lessons when I was a kid and I can now play ‘chopsticks’ fairly well.  But many years ago a former co-worker of mine was moving and needed to find a new home for her baby grand piano.  I had the brilliant idea that I would find the time to take lessons one day.  Ha.  Yeah, that never happened.

However, as it turns out, this is one incredibly handy piece of furniture.  It’s got a nice large work surface at exactly the right height for me while standing.  It’s perfect for folding laundry, wrapping presents, scrapbooking, painting small items and it also makes a great buffet/bar during parties.

I honestly can’t think of any other piece of furniture that I could put in this same spot that would be as functional for me while still looking appropriate in the room.  But it was starting to look a bit rough, so as part of my magic wand decorating plan, it was scheduled for a makeover.

I started by sanding it down which took about 10 minutes.  The finish was so dry on this thing that it didn’t take much work to rough it up.  I mostly wanted to make sure to sand down the paint drips that were on it because those can come back to haunt you if you just paint over them.  Next I vacuumed away the dust with my shop vac and then wiped it all down with a damp rag.

Next I pulled out some Dixie Belle paint in Midnight Sky.  You guys know how much I love their other black, Caviar, well this one is just a tad lighter.  That probably sounds odd to call a black color ‘lighter’, but it is just not quite as deep and rich as the Caviar.  It’s also a bit warmer with less of a blue undertone.

I watered down the paint just a tad.  I find that the Dixie Belle paint is pretty thick.  You can use it straight out of the jar if you want a more textured look, but if you want a smoother finish you can water it down which has the added benefit of making it go further.  I only used about 2/3 of the 16 oz jar to paint this piano.  That’s also partially because for the most part I got away with just one coat of paint.  There were only a couple of spots that needed a touch up with a second coat.

A couple of you suggested a strategy for moving forward on this project.  Start with painting the outside of the piano first, then tackle the inside bits at another time.  So I mostly did that, except that I opened the cover that goes over the keys and painted inside there.  I figure that’s the most likely spot to get opened up on occasion.

So I taped off the keys and painted that area.  I also took this opportunity to re-glue some of the ivories that had come unglued.

Just out of curiosity I did some google research on ivory piano keys.  Prior to 1930 almost all pianos had ivory keys, and mine are indeed ivory (check out this article to learn more about that).

Anyway, I used my E6000 glue to re-attach all of the loose ivories.  Then I added a stencil to the top of the piano.

I had so many ideas swirling around in my head about what to do with this piano.  I thought about painting it white and adding a transfer, but then it would compete with the Specimens Cupboard which is in the same room.

I also thought about wrapping some sort of stencil all the way around the sides of the piano.  But stenciling those curves would have been challenging, plus I felt like it wouldn’t be all that noticeable since you really can only see one side of the piano unless you happen to be squishing yourself between the piano and the wall or window.  So not a lot of bang for my buck.

Ultimately I tend to prefer a ‘less is more’ kind of style so I went with this simple ‘European grain sack’ stencil from Maison de Stencils.

Once the stencil paint was dry, I sanded the entire piece lightly with 220 grit paper to smooth out the paint.  I gave the edges a little extra pressure to add a distressed look.

After vacuuming away the dust, I then finished the piano with Fusion’s clear wax.  You might be wondering why I chose to wax such a large piece, and especially one that is probably going to see a lot of abuse.  There are definitely more durable top coats that I could have chosen.  But in my experience wax and/or hemp oil are the easiest finishes to ‘fix’ down the road.  If I get a ring from a sweaty glass, a scratch, or a drip of random paint here and there, all I have to do is sand it down lightly to smooth it out and then add a little wax to just that spot.  So in the long run I think I’ll be better off with wax.

One last thing, I had originally planned on keeping the chair I have ‘as is’.

I don’t want to go all ‘matchy-matchy’ with it and paint it black, but I’m not totally loving it with the piano.  I’ll probably keep an eye out for another option down the road.

By the way, I have to say I found it rather challenging to photograph a black piano in a room flooded with light reflecting off our latest snow fall.

Here’s the view out those windows.

Yep, lots of white to reflect the light.

OK, so if you are keeping track of the magic wand decorating project, here’s where I’m at …

    1.  repaint the insides of the bookshelves in the living room – check!
    2.  repaint the living room walls – check!
    3.  replace the living room furniture – check!
    4.  paint the baby grand piano – check!
    5.  replace the ceiling fan over the piano – check!
    6. repaint the piano room walls

That last item on the list, repaint the piano room walls is the last item on my original to-do list.  But I’m having so much success I’ve decided to go just a bit further with that last item plus add one more.  I’m adding ‘repaint the piano room built shelves beneath the windows’ because they really need it.  As for the walls, I have a plan and I have my handyman Ken’s commitment to help me with it, so you’ll just have to stay tuned to see what we do.

In the meantime, if you have been thinking about painting a piano or some other larger piece but haven’t had the nerve to make the leap, I say go for it!  It’s definitely not as hard as it looks.

the mariner’s chair.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned my living room redecorating plan in the past week or two.  Going in I knew that the next step in the plan was going to be the most challenging for me.  It’s the step where I had to buy new stuff.  Living room furniture to be precise.  You guys know I love buying used furniture at thrift stores, garage sales, or from Craigslist.  I’m not particularly queasy about most vintage pieces.  But I draw the line at two things; sofas and mattresses (well, and also shoes, but seriously, have you ever seen the selection of size 11 shoes at the thrift store?).

Is it a fear of bedbugs?  Is it the fact that at some point I know I am going to wake up with my face smushed into that mattress or sofa cushion and I just want to be sure that some stranger’s hind end wasn’t resting on that same spot in the past?  Is it simply the fact that these items can’t be refreshed with a simple paint job (although I know some of you will argue that you can paint both fabric and leather upholstery, I’ve tried it on chairs and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to tackle a sofa)?

It’s really a bit of all of the above.

So, shopping for new furniture was in order and thankfully my sister agreed to help me out with that.  Last Saturday we headed out to a few different furniture stores and I found a couple of options that I liked.  I took Mr. Q back later and we pulled the trigger on a new sectional from Macy’s.  Since it was President’s Day weekend they had some sales going on that made it the perfect time for buying furniture (for my foreign readers, for some reason President’s Day is a very popular day for furniture stores to hold big sales).  I was also shocked to find that the sofa I wanted can be delivered tomorrow (because I didn’t customize the fabric)!  I was sure I’d be waiting months for something, but no.

So, all of that by way of saying, my plan is going full steam ahead and next week I’ll share the progress I’ve made.  In the meantime, while we wait for the new sofa to arrive, today I’m sharing another little chair that I painted.

This particular chair has been in the lineup for a while now. I actually painted it once already.  I should back up and point out that this chair was already painted red when I got it.  Last summer I decided to just give it a fresh topcoat of red paint and call it good.  So I sanded it a little to rough up the surface, cleaned it well and then pulled out some Homestead House milk paint in Barn Red and gave it a fresh coat of red.  Then I gave it a coat of hemp oil.

 Although I’d used Barn Red before on a pair of faux skis, this shade of red just wasn’t doing it for me on this chair.  So I put the chair on the back burner for a while.

Today’s q-tip:  Paint won’t adhere well over a freshly hemp oiled surface, however, you can paint over it if you give the hemp oil a good 30 days or so to cure and then sand the surface lightly before re-painting.

The 30 days on the back burner somehow turned into something more like 200 days with this chair though.  I finally pulled the chair out of the carriage house one evening last week because I was really in the mood to paint something.  It was too dark out at the time to take a ‘semi-before’ photo, so you’ll just have to imagine the chair being red.

I sanded the chair lightly, cleaned it with a damp rag and then added two coats of Dixie Belle’s In the Navy.

Next I pulled out a stencil and added it to both the seat and the chair back.

After the stencil paint dried I sanded the chair well to really rough it up and reveal some of that red layer underneath.  I wanted this little chair to truly look aged.

The theme of the stencil, ‘drygoods & sundries for mariners’ seems to tie in well with the paint color, In the Navy.  The red, white and blue combo has a nautical feel too.

I finished the chair with a coat of clear wax.

If it doesn’t sell to someone who sees it here first, this little cutie will be headed to Reclaiming Beautiful.  I’m sure someone will be irresistibly drawn to it, what do you think?

tiny cupboard update.

As you know, I have a fondness for tiny pieces of ‘furniture’.  I purchased this little cupboard at a garage sale quite a few years ago.  It was actually the first piece I ever painted in Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint.

That color is Eulalie’s Sky.

But then a little over a year ago I decided to unify all of my tiny pieces by painting them all white using Homestead House milk paint in Limestone.

I managed to break the glass in the door when I did that, so I replaced it with window screening.  I have to say that I kinda prefer the screening.

Then recently I swapped out the metal knobs on this one for some small glass knobs from D Lawless.  More for practical reasons than anything else, those metal knobs were sort of cobbled on with glue and they kept falling off.  I keep my chalk in the upper drawer of this little cupboard, so I need the drawer to be functional.

So that brings us to ‘before no. 2’.

Then recently I became slightly obsessed with one of the Iron Orchid Designs (IOD) transfers called Le Petit Rosier.

For those of you who are confused when it comes to IOD transfers, here’s the scoop.  Originally IOD partnered with Prima Marketing to design some transfers such as my absolute favorite, the Seeds transfer …

So there is an entire line of Prima Marketing transfers that were designed by IOD.  But then IOD branched out on their own and now have a line of transfers that are not from Prima Marketing.  Le Petit Rosier is one of them.  When you are searching for a place to buy IOD transfers, make sure you specify if you are looking for the older Prima Marketing line designed by IOD, or the newer IOD line of transfers.

After trying to resist buying any of the new IOD transfers (because I have a backlog of Prima Marketing transfers to work with), I finally caved a couple of weeks ago and ordered a few online.  La Petit Rosier comes in two sizes, so I ordered two of the smaller ones and one of the bigger ones.  Then I did this goofy thing that I tend to do, I ‘saved’ them for ‘just the right project’.  I call it goofy because obviously I could always order more when ‘just the right project’ comes along if I’ve already used these.  It’s not like I can’t ever get any more of them.

So rather than wait for just the right project to show up, I wandered around my house looking for something I could put one of these transfers on.  That led me to my tiny cupboard.

Only about half of the smaller sized transfer fit on the front (which explains why I originally felt it wasn’t quite ‘the perfect project’ for it).

But dang!  It’s adorable!  And I can always use the bottom half of the transfer on something else.

I love how the glass knobs allow the transfer to be the star of the show.

I did have some floral scrapbook paper lining the inside of the cupboard and the drawers before, but I switched that out for some French papers.  My friend Terri gave me this set of French ephemera for my birthday a few years ago.

Once again, I was ‘saving’ it for the perfect project when I could have been using it for any number of things.  What is wrong with me?

When I went through the things included in the packet of ephemera I found this French religious medal, so I hung that from the cupboard door.

After adding some little pieces of ironstone on the shelves, my tiny camera added the perfect final touch.

For now this little cupboard is on the shelf over the radiator at the foot of the stairs where I can admire it every time I go up or down.

I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  Not that I didn’t love it before, but sometimes it’s fun to switch things up.

What do you think?

a Swedish (but slightly Norwegian) trunk.

Some of you might already be familiar with Goedele François.  Goedele is a blogger (check out her blog, Dala Muses, here), a business coach for creative entrepreneurs, a furniture painter and now a stencil designer!

Goedele recently released her own Dala Muses Nordic stencil collection.  Her stencil designs are influenced by Scandinavian folk art (read more details here) and were also inspired by her move to Sweden.  She now lives in the Swedish province of Dalarna, where the symbol of the Dala horse originated.

My paternal grandfather happened to be of Swedish decent and I still have the Dala horse that he gave me when I was a child.  My sister has one too.

So, when Goedele offered to send me one of her stencils to try out I chose the Dala Horse stencil.

I had the perfect project for it too.

This is a trunk that my sister uses as a bedside table (how many of you are noticing that I took this ‘before’ photo before I painted my living room?).

The trunk originally belonged to our maternal grandmother, so technically it’s Norwegian rather than Swedish.  It was not always painted black, my sister spray painted it about 40 years ago!

Unfortunately no one has retained any historical information about this trunk other than that it came from our grandmother’s attic.  My mom doesn’t recall anything about it at all.  So I have no idea how old it might actually be or who might have made it, which is a bit of a bummer.  I searched the inside and the bottom hoping to find some clues, like a signature or a written note, but no such luck.

Well, regardless, it was ready for a makeover.

I started by sanding it down thoroughly and then cleaning it well.  I decided to use milk paint this time because I think milk paint gives the most authentic looking aged finish.  Plus I had the perfect color for my sister, Miss Mustard Seeds Aviary.  However, I’ve had some super chippy experiences using milk paint over spray paint, so I added a little bonding agent to the mix this time.  My sister would be OK with a slightly chippy finish, but I don’t think she’d like a seriously chippy look.

The Aviary is a lovely smoky blue.  And lucky thing I added that bonding agent because even though I did’t see much chipping as the paint was drying, once I started sanding it smooth the next day I got a bit more chipping than I thought I would.

Especially on this lower corner which makes me suspect there was some kind of oily residue on this part of the trunk …

Had I not used the bonding agent this piece would have been over the top chippy.

Next I pulled out Goedele’s stencil.

As you can see, it’s a two-part-er.  One stencil is the body of the horse and the other is the detail of the saddle, etc.

I suggested to my sister that we use a warm white for the body because I thought it would stand out nicely against the smoky blue of the Aviary, and Debbie really wanted some traditional orange in there somewhere so I used orange for the details.  I used acrylic craft paint for both.

I wanted to line up three horses in a row across the front, all facing the same direction, mainly because I’m a fan of using odd numbers of things.  But Debbie vetoed that plan and said it was either one centered horse, or two.  So I went with two (I thought one would look rather lost all by himself) and turned the stencil over on the 2nd so that they are facing each other.

Once the stencil paint was dry I sanded over the horses lightly to give them a more distressed look.  Then I finished the entire trunk with Miss Mustard Seeds clear wax.  The next day I added a second coat of wax to just the top of the trunk for added durability.

So here’s some behind the scenes info.  When I stage pieces to take photos of them I often start out rather stumped.  For this trunk I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to stage it aside from adding the blue and yellow quilt and some vintage books.

I also knew I wanted to include my little Dala horse and I tried just placing him on top of the books, but that looked pretty silly.  That led me to bringing in this adorable kid sized chair …

and then adding a few other smaller details to the chair like this fun vintage card game …

It wasn’t until I’d taken quite a few photos already that I thought ‘hmmm, maybe I should get some shots with the trunk open’ …

I then added this beautiful vintage monogrammed tablecloth because that’s what you would pull out of a trunk like this, right?

Finally, I realized that I really preferred the look of the trunk open.

So I took a few more shots that way and they turned out to be my favorites.

We were planning on delivering the trunk back to my sister yesterday, but we had snow for most of the day so I opted to stay in.  We’re supposed to have more snow late tonight and into tomorrow, and again on Thursday … so, I’m not sure when I’m going to get this over to her.  But hopefully she’ll like it, and now this trunk will always remind her of our Swedish grandfather and our Norwegian grandmother.

Many thanks to Goedele for sending me the Dala Horse stencil.  You can check out Goedele’s Dala Muses Nordic stencil collection here.

Her stencils are available from selected paint retailers in Europe, but those of you in the U.S. and Canada can order directly from Goedele by emailing her.  Be sure to check out that link for more details.

Also, I’d like to once again thank Miss Mustard Seeds milk paint for providing the Aviary paint, bonding agent and clear wax used for this project.