working for myself.

Every once in a blue moon I work on a piece that is meant for me.  It doesn’t happen all that often because usually my own projects get pushed to the bottom of the list.  Plus, my house is pretty much full, so if I bring in something new then I have to get rid of something else … usually something that I still kind of love, so I don’t do it very often.

But recently I decided to swap out the small farmhouse table on my front three-season porch.  Let’s first look at the table that I had there before …

FYI, I custom mixed the milk paint on the base.  It’s a lovely color, but not one that you can buy already mixed.

Having a small table in this particular spot is super functional for me.  I generally get great lighting here, even on gloomy days.  So this is where I take many of my close up photos of things, like this …

But it was bugging me that the top of this table was pretty stained, and it had black streaks in the wood.  I didn’t love seeing those flaws in my close ups.

Meanwhile, I had this 2nd small farmhouse table out in the photo cottage.

I tried to sell this table when I first painted it, which was way back in October 2015.  It never did sell, and somehow it was just abandoned out there.  While out there, a bird pooped on it.  Yep.  Gross, right?  Although I’ve been told that it’s good luck to have a bird crap on you, or does that not apply to tables?

I thought that the top was probably permanently stained from the dark bird droppings.  It became one of those out of sight, out of mind situations and the table just lingered out there.

But recently I decided enough was enough, I needed to deal with the table.  So I pulled it out and started by cleaning off those droppings.  Much to my surprise, they came right off and hadn’t left much of a stain at all.  So if you’re ever wondering just how durable a waxed wood surface is, well, there you go.  This table top had been waxed with Miss Mustard Seed wax almost four years ago and I was still able to clean that crap (literally) right off.

None the less, I decided that this would be a good time to sand the top down a little and add a fresh coat of wax.  This time I went with Fusion’s Liming Wax instead of the clear wax.  That really brightened it up.

I have to note here that this is one of my reasons for preferring a waxed (or hemp oiled) surface over a poly’d one.  It’s really quite an easy job to sand it quickly and apply a fresh coat of wax giving it a completely refreshed look.  I would say it took maybe about 20 minutes, and now it looks brand new.  Easy peasy.

After adding the wax I decided to try out my new toy, a car buffer.  Mr. Q purchased it for me to save me some elbow grease when doing large waxed surfaces.  It worked great, giving me just a little more sheen than I get when buffing by hand with very little effort at all.  Since I’ve only used it this one time so far, I’m really not ready to provide a recommendation or a proper review of it.  But I’ll keep using it and let you know how it goes.

I sort of captured the sheen of the wax in this next photo.

In the end, I loved the way the top looked so much that I decided I should keep this table and swap it for the other one on my porch.

Once I’d made that decision, I realized that the existing paint color, Miss Mustard Seed’s Shutter Grey, was not going to work on the porch.  But I could easily repaint the base in the color of my choice.  It didn’t take me long to decide on Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen.

I didn’t do any prep at all, other than cleaning it.  I knew that I would be rolling the dice when it came to chipping since I was painting over a waxed surface (I had waxed over the original milk paint as well as the top).  But the wax had been curing for almost 4 years, so I was betting it would be OK (a waxed surface is fully cured after 30 days).

Sure enough, I got just the right amount of chipping.  There are some spots where you can see the Shutter Grey color underneath, but there was no excessive chipping.

After I had the table sanded, I decided that again, since this was going to be for me, I was free to add my own personal style to it.  So I used just a small section from the old Prima Marketing Specimens transfer.

It was just enough to add a unique flavor to the table.

Finally, again, since this table was just for me and I could do as I liked, I did not add a topcoat to the painted part of the table.  Did you know that you don’t ‘have’ to use a topcoat with milk paint?  It will cure and harden over time to provide durability.  It won’t be super washable or water resistant though, so that’s something to keep in mind.  I’m OK with that though.  After all, I’ll probably want to re-paint it again in another four years anyway 😉

But for now, I absolutely LOVE how this one turned out.  As I was admiring the finished product, I said to Mr. Q, “I just love working for myself!”  Somehow it frees me up to make choices based solely on what will make me happy, not on what will sell, or be durable enough for the buyer, or how much something will cost and whether or not I can recoup that cost.

In this case I cut up a large transfer to use just a small piece of it on this table.  Sure, I’ll use the rest of it on something else, but I still probably wouldn’t have done this for a piece I was going to sell.

I don’t know, maybe I need to start treating more pieces as though I’m working for myself!

After taking these photos outside (because it was far too pretty of an evening not to do them outside), we moved the table into its new home on the front porch …

Yep, I have to admit, I really prefer this one over the previous one.

What do you think?

Thank you to Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint for providing the Linen paint, Prima Marketing for providing the Seeds transfer and Fusion for providing the Liming Wax.

a six legged table.

First things first, congrats to Irene for winning the Prima Marketing Modeling Material and molds drawing.  Hope she has fun making up some molds!  Now, onward with today’s post …

A while back my hairdresser texted me to ask if I wanted a table that she was getting rid of.  The table reminded me quite a bit of the one that I use on my side of the bed as a night stand …

It’s the same general style, size and height.  These taller occasional tables are perfect next to a bed that has some height to it.   There isn’t any storage, but a little wicker box will do to hold lotion, tissues, etc.

So although I tend to shy away from smaller occasional tables these days, I knew from experience that this one could serve a practical purpose.  So I said yes.

Here is the ‘before’ …

Oh boy.  So dark it will need three coats of paint to go light, and all of those legs to paint!

More on that in a minute, but first, here’s a look at the ‘before’ condition of the top …

Pretty scratched up and discolored.  But I thought the wood grain pattern in the veneer itself was quite pretty.

So I started out by stripping the top.   Then I got a wild hair to try either white washing or lime waxing it to lighten it up, while still allowing the grain to show through.  But instead of either of those, when I reached into the supply cabinet I pulled out the Homestead House Stain and Finishing Oil in Driftwood which is a grey color.

After the first coat I really thought I’d made a mistake.  It was streaky and dull.  But the SFO (Stain and Finishing Oil) is meant to be applied in several light coats.  Each coat progressively adds a little more color, durability and sheen.  So I applied a second coat, which improved the look immensely.

But then I stopped after two coats because I liked the look, and I didn’t want to hide any more of that grain with a more opaque finish.  I could have added additional coats of the SFO in Natural at this point because it will add protection and sheen without adding color, but I didn’t have any of that on hand. So instead I added a topcoat of Miss Mustard Seed’s clear wax to give it a little more luster and protection.

Next up was painting the base of the table … but oh my, six legs!  That’s a lot of putzy painting with a brush.

I don’t own a paint sprayer.  Typically, spraying is just not for me.  I enjoy painting with a brush.  I know I would not enjoy the process of using a sprayer; taping things off, finding a way to contain the over spray, and most of all, cleaning the sprayer when you’re done.  Yep, that part is especially not for me.  I’ve been known to completely forget about the clean up step and throwing a paint brush away is bad enough.  Having to toss an expensive sprayer would really be a bummer.

But in the case of something like this piece, I’m not opposed to pulling out a can of spray paint to get the job done.

In this case I thought I’d try the Rust-Oleum Chalked ultra matte spray paint in Country Gray.

I taped off the top, and then sprayed three coats on the base of the table.

I pretty much used up the entire can on this one small table.  Spray paint is definitely not the most cost effective solution, but it can sometimes be the easiest.

I staged the photos with a chair and one of my stenciled faux grain sack pillows just to give it some scale.

I filled an old transferware tea pot with some coleus clippings and put it on top of a couple of books too.

One of my readers, Shelly, recommended the book on top, Country Brocante Style by Lucy Haywood.  So Mr. Q ordered it from amazon for me (gotta love that next day shipping).  Thanks for that recommendation Shelly, I love the book.  It fits my style to a t (or should I say a q?)

As for the table, I think it has a completely updated look now, don’t you?

Thanks to Homestead House for providing the Stain & Finishing Oil, and to Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint for providing the clear furniture wax.

If any of you locals need a fabulous new bedside table, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.

uber chippy.

A while back I shared the chair that I recovered in anticipation of taking it to Reclaiming Beautiful (the shop where I sell on consignment in Stillwater, MN).  I had this chair in my own house for a couple of years so the seat needed fresh upholstery to make it shop-worthy, which was an easy spruce up … or so I thought.

I noticed while I was working on the chair that there were a few loose chips of paint here and there, so I just brushed those away and kept going.  After the chair was finished, I stored it in my non-climate controlled workshop in the carriage house for a few weeks before loading it up to go to the shop.

However, when I went to unload the chair from the van after arriving at the shop it was obvious that there were more than just a few loose chips.  It was shedding like gang busters.  I don’t know if it was the time spent in a damp workshop or what, but clearly it was in no shape to sell.  So I left it in the van and brought it back home to see what I could do with it.

I originally painted this chair back in October 2015 using Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Linen.  I sealed it with clear wax.  It was slightly chippy from the beginning as you can see here …

I have found that any piece that starts out chippy tends to chip more over time if not sealed with something more durable than wax and/or hemp oil, like Miss Mustard Seed’s Tough Coat Sealer.  Especially if it’s a piece that is handled/used a lot.  But I’ve never had a piece get this chippy over time.

Plan A was to sand the chair down and re-paint it using the same MMS Linen (or maybe technically this is Plan B since the original plan was to simply re-cover the seat).  In case you are wondering, yes, you can definitely paint over a waxed surface that has cured for 3.5 years.  Normally this would just require a quick scuff sanding.

However, I used a power sander to knock off as much of that loose paint as possible.  And a lot of paint did come off.  But then, as I was looking at the chair, I realized that I kind of loved it looking uber chippy and distressed.  I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (Betty, you may want to look away), but I also know there are fellow chippy lovers out there too!

So rather than re-paint,  I cleaned away the dust and then sealed the chair using The Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat Finishing Cream.  This should help it hold up over time, and prevent it from shedding paint chips all over the floor again.

Also, in case you are wondering, I opted for the Dead Flat Finishing Cream rather than Tough Coat Sealer because it is a thick paste that doesn’t drip.  I’m not the greatest at avoiding drips with more fluid sealers, especially on a piece like this with lots of legs and details where a more liquid product will pool and then drip.

My q tip of the day:  Know your own limitations.  Products that work well for others may not suit you, so experiment with things and find what works well for you!

Hopefully someone out there will love this chippy chair as much as I do.  Although I put it up in our bedroom to take these photos, it’s really not practical to have it in front of my closet door on a permanent basis.

So I’ll be taking this one back to Reclaiming Beautiful again, and this time it won’t be sitting in a pool of paint chips.

Unless one of my local readers wants to snatch it up first (in which case, be sure to check my available for local sale page for more details).

Meanwhile, I’ll be back here on Friday to tell you a little bit more about that pillow on the chair, so be sure to stay tuned!

sign, sign, everywhere a sign.

A few weeks ago my picker, Sue, sent me an ad for an estate sale that was just a few blocks from our office at the day job.  The ad included a photo of a gorgeous dresser that would have been beautiful painted.  I had some other things on my to-do list for my lunch break that day though, so I didn’t think I’d be able to get there.  And can I just add in, it’s super frustrating that so many estate sales are only open 9 am to 3 pm on weekdays, thus making it impossible for any of us 9 to 5-er’s to get there!

I didn’t pay too much attention to the location of the sale thinking that I didn’t have time for it anyway.  As it turned out, I did have an extra 15 minutes after running my errands, so I decided to swing by after all.  Except then I couldn’t find it!  It should have been easy, just look for a sign right?  And I mean an actual sign, not a sign from above.

I knew the general vicinity, just not the exact location.  Except there was a garage sale sign at the corner of every single street along the way!  So.  Many. Sales.  Which one was the right one?

After stopping at three sales, none of which were not the right sale, my fifteen minutes ran out and I never did find the sale I was looking for that day.

The next day was Saturday though, so I decided to try again and just see if the beautiful dresser was still there.  I recruited my neighbor, nnK, to keep me company.  When we got there, there were quite a few things in the driveway, but not the furniture I was looking for.  I assumed it was gone, so disappointing.  Then I noticed the sign that said “more furniture inside”.  Eureka!

Sure enough there it was, inside the house.  Unfortunately, it was part of a set.  The bed was also gorgeous and I would have loved to have it.  The third piece to the set was a dressing table.  I could have made that work.  Then I saw yet another sign.  This time it said “bedroom set – $500”.

After all of that, the dresser was ultimately way, way out of my price range.  True, there were three pieces, but that still would have made each piece $167.  I just can’t justify spending that much on pieces when I know I can find other pieces to work on for much less.  And in case you are wondering, yes, I do sometimes ask if a seller will take less for something, but in this case it would have needed to be much less and I was getting a definite ‘antiques are valuable’ vibe from these sellers.

I was about to just walk away from the sale empty handed when I noticed they had a couple of mid-century pieces for sale as well.  And guess what, they were only $35 each.  Clearly they did not consider them ‘antiques’.  This price was much more in line with what I like to pay for things.  So they came home with me instead, sort of like a consolation prize.

This past week I painted one of them.

It’s your typical Bassett mid-century tall boy, but what I really loved about it was the hardware.  Aren’t those awesome drawer pulls?

I decided to go with one of my favorite colors for mid-century pieces, Fusion’s English Rose or as I like to call it, Millennial Pink.

I did my usual prep, a light scuff sanding following by a good cleaning with TSP substitute.

It took three coats of paint to get good coverage.

I spruced up the hardware by cleaning it with dish washing soap, then once dry I added some of Prima Marketing’s Art Alchemy Metallique wax in Vintage Gold.

Normally I stage my mid-mod pieces with more period appropriate props (say that 10 times fast!), but this time I went vintage using this adorable baby dress.

I used to have several of these, they all came from Sue originally.  She tried to sell them at one of our occasional sales …

But they didn’t go.  So I purchased several of them myself.  They were all hand stitched and absolutely beautiful.

I’ve sold most of them over the years though and this is the only one I have left.  I hang onto it just for staging photos.  It’s hanging from a vintage hanger that I dressed up with one of the Prima Marketing knob transfers.

Can you just imagine the patience it takes to stitch that?

I tried to replicated that amazing original paint color on the hanger on the little chair that is also pictured.

This is a custom mix of milk paint that I couldn’t recreate if I tried.  I just kept throwing in a little of this and a little of that, using leftovers of both Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint and Homestead House milk paint that I had on hand.

The chair is also dressed up a bit with some Prima Marketing transfers from their Delicate Fleur collection.  I’ll most likely take the chair to Reclaiming Beautiful to sell.

I tend to have good results selling these pink mid-century pieces on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, so fingers crossed that this one sells quickly.

As always, thanks to Prima Marketing for providing the transfers and metallic wax.  I purchased the Fusion paint at Reclaiming Beautiful this time around though.

If you’re local and in need of a millennial pink mid-mod dresser, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details.

the nautical desk.

Before I get into today’s post, congratulations to Debbie (not my sister, another Debbie) as the winner of my Out on the Farm giveaway last week.  Luckily she is a country girl at heart so she’s sure to enjoy the farmhouse decor magazines!

Lately I’ve been steeling my resolve and not looking at Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.  When I look, I tend to buy.  But what I really need to do right now is get through some of the pieces that have been stored out in my workshop/carriage house too long.  Like this one …

I purchased this waterfall desk at the thrift store way back last October, before the leaves had all fallen but after our first dusting of snow (as evidenced by the ‘before’ photo).

I had actually passed this one by the first time I saw it, as we know I’m not a huge fan of waterfall style furniture.  But when I went back a 2nd time and it was still there I decided ‘why not?’  I thought it would make a good winter project, ha!  And here it is July.

I mainly loved it for those fabulous handles.  Aren’t they awesome?

Had I painted this one over the winter I would have painted the entire thing.  However, since I procrastinated, I decided to strip the top.  I don’t really like to strip furniture inside the house during the winter.  It’s just too messy.  Plus, even though the citrus stripper I use doesn’t have a toxic, chemical smell, it does still have a kind of icky smell.  Sort of like wet dog mixed with oranges, or in this case, wet old furniture mixed with oranges.  Ewww.  So I save most of my stripping for the summer (please don’t quote me out of context on that, lol).

I felt like this waterfall style would be better served by a more traditional treatment on the top rather than my typical antiquing wax over bare wood, so I stained it with Varathane Premium Fast Drying stain in Dark Walnut.  Then I made a bit of a boo boo and purchased MinWax Fast Dry poly in satin to go over it.  I rarely use poly, and I hadn’t bought it in forever, so I mistakenly selected this oil based poly.  By the time I had it on the brush it was too late to go back, so I just went with it.

It certainly turned out pretty, but I had a heck of a time with drips and runs on that curved edge!  I’d think I had them all and then look back and find that more had developed.  I also ended up just tossing the brush I used because I hate cleaning oil based products using mineral spirits.  Next time it’s back to either the Wipe On Poly or the Polycrylic.

That gorgeous shade of navy blue on the desk is Dixie Belle’s In the Navy.  I used two watered down coats of paint because I find that is the best technique for getting really full and smooth coverage with the Dixie Belle paint.

After distressing the edges by lightly sanding them, I used clear wax for the top coat over the paint.

I spruced up the handles just a bit using my favorite Prima Marketing Art Alchemy Metallique Wax in Bronze Age.

The color looks more gold in that photo, but really it’s a warmer, more brownish color.

This time, rather than using a q tip, I wore some disposable latex gloves and applied it with my finger tip.  This worked much better on the larger surface of these drawer pulls.

Once it was dry (several hours later), I buffed the pulls with a piece of old flannel sheeting to give them a little shine.

You may have noticed that I moved my staging back indoors for this one.  That was mainly because I really wanted to stage my photos with these cupboard doors hanging on the wall above the desk.

These are some old cupboard doors that I purchased at a garage sale for $2 each.  I usually snatch up doors like these because they make great signs.  In this case I painted them white and then added two of the designs from Prima Marketing’s Seaweed transfer set.

The set comes with 4 designs total, and obviously I only used two.  I may do something similar with the other two, or I may hang on to them until I find a piece of furniture that they will look good on.

The detail on these transfers is absolutely gorgeous.

Their nautical theme, plus the fact that they are navy blue, made them perfect to pair up with this desk.

In addition to the transfers, I also used the Prima Marketing Seawashed Treasures mold and some of their Modeling Material to add the shell detail at the bottom of each door.

I feel like I got just a bit too carried away using dark wax to highlight the details of the mold this time.  I’ll have to practice a bit more to make that effect more subtle.  I’ve been playing around with the molds quite a bit and working on perfecting my technique.  I plan to share what I’ve learned soon, and will also have a fabulous giveaway in conjunction with that, so be sure to stay tuned for that one.

In the meantime, what do you think of this nautical style desk makeover?

Both the desk and the cupboard door wall art pieces are for sale.  The desk includes the chair, by the way.

It was one that I just had on hand.  I gave it a quick rub-down with Miss Mustard Seed hemp oil and now it works quite well with the dark wood top on the desk, even though it’s not a perfect match.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle for providing the paint for this project and to Prima Marketing for providing the transfers, the Art Alchemy wax, the mold and modeling material.

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

If you’re wondering where to buy the Dixie Belle In the Navy, you can shop with them directly online or find a retailer near you.

And finally, if you happen to be local (Twin Cities, MN) and in need of a nautical style desk, check out my ‘available for local sale’ page for more details.

the romantic prairie style washstand.

Are any of you guys familiar with the book Romantic Prairie Style by Fifi O’Neill?

It came out in 2011, but it continues to be one of my favorite decorating books.  It’s one that I still refer back to periodically.

I was paging through it the other day and I came across this photo …

I was totally drawn to that green cupboard in the foreground.  Isn’t it fab?  So perfectly chippy, and that green is gorgeous.  As I was admiring it, I thought about the washstand that I brought home from the Prospect Park neighborhood sale a couple of weeks ago.

I thought I could possibly create a similar look on it using Sweet Pickins In a Pickle milk paint.

I started out by stripping the top.  As you can see in the ‘before’ photo, the stain on this thing was pretty dang dark.  The top also had several water marks on it.  I wasn’t sure I would have the patience to see this one through, but after two passes with the stripper, lots of rubbing with steel wool, then cleaning, then sanding, then more sanding … phew … I got ‘er done.

Once I had the top down to bare, unblemished wood I simply waxed it with Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing Wax.  You won’t get much sheen with this treatment, but it creates a wonderfully rustic look.

Then I moved on to paint the rest of the piece.  Since I was hoping to end up with a chippy finish, I opted to skip scuff sanding this one and instead just wiped it down with a damp cloth.  Sometimes this can backfire on you, so I don’t necessarily recommend it if you are someone who isn’t comfortable with an unpredictable outcome.  You do run the risk of having all of your paint chip off if there is something on the surface of your piece that resists the paint.  Scuff sanding will help prevent that from happening.

But I was feeling lucky, so I skipped the sanding and went right for the paint.

It took three coats of the In a Pickle to get good coverage over that really dark stain.

Initially I really didn’t get much chipping, except at the very bottom of the piece.  So I forced it by using painter’s tape to rip off chips here and there.

If you’ve never tried this trick, it’s similar to getting lint off your black slacks using masking tape.  Just press the tape down and then rip it back off.  This technique won’t always pull some chips off, but it often works pretty well (and sometimes too well, so use caution).

Once that was done, I sanded the piece with 220 grit to make it nice and smooth.  I finished it up with Fusion’s clear furniture wax.

I love the cut out detail at the bottom of the washstand, isn’t that pretty?

The bottom on the sides has a similar look, but I didn’t do a very good job of getting a photo of that.

I have to admit, I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out.

Aside from not having a marble top, I think it looks quite similar to the inspiration piece, don’t you?  Although perhaps mine could look just bit more roughed up, huh?

I hesitated a bit before going with the green on this piece.  Historically pieces in this color have taken a bit longer to sell for me, which always surprises me because I absolutely love it.  Check out a few of my fave In a Pickle pieces here, here and here.

But I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this one finds a forever home soon!

If you are local and would love to have a romantic prairie style washstand (they make perfect bedside tables), be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page to see if this one is still available.

spring meadow life.

Pretty much everybody looked at me askance when I showed them today’s piece in its ‘before’ state.

I know they were all wondering what in the world I was thinking.  I have to admit, I’m not even sure why I purchased this one.  I even paid way too much for it at $5.  It should have been in a free pile somewhere, or maybe priced at $1.  In the end, I really just wanted to take on the challenge of bringing this sad little half chair back to life.

In case you can’t tell, it’s basically an ugly 80’s kitchen chair that is missing its back.  It originally had some kind of spindled back, but someone had removed it and left holes where the spindles were.

Ken filled the holes with dowel sticks for me and then I used some wood filler to complete the job.  I sanded them smooth once the filler was dry.

I thought this would make a pretty cute stool … maybe?  hopefully?

I started by painting it with Fusion’s Laurentien.  I hadn’t used this color in a while and I’d forgotten how much I love it.  If you are a fan of turquoise Haeger or McCoy pottery, Laurentien is about that same color.

Such a gorgeous color, right?  And by the way, I took these pictures a week or so ago when the peonies were still blooming.  They are long gone now.

Once the stool was painted, I sanded the edges lightly to distress and then I added pieces of the Spring Meadow Life transfer from Prima Marketing.

Just look at all of those fun images that you could play around with!

I only used four sprigs of flowers on the stool, so I have lots more of this transfer left for future projects too.

 I think the black drawings look great over that punch of turquoise.

This actually makes quite a comfy little stool too.

Perfect for sitting on while perusing your favorite magazine.

So what do you think?  Did I accomplish my goal of bringing this piece back to life?

I took it to Reclaiming Beautiful, the shop in Stillwater, MN where I sell on consignment.  I’m not sure if it’s still there or not.  It will be interesting to see whether or not someone buys it.

Thank you to Prima Marketing for providing the Spring Meadow Life transfer and to Fusion for providing the paint.

If you’re wondering where to purchase the transfer, check out Prima’s ‘where to buy’ page.

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