the crackled box.

Remember the wooden box I found while garage saling a few weeks back?  You can see it here behind the Land O’Lakes recipe box …

The seller said he thought it was part of an old record player or radio cabinet, although he really wasn’t sure.

I thought it would be fun to paint it up so someone could use it to store their treasures, whatever they might be.

I also thought this old box was a great candidate for milk paint.  I haven’t been using as much milk paint these days simply because it can be so unpredictable.  And as you’re about to see, once again it surprised me.

I wanted to do some color layering on this one too.  So I started with painting the entire thing with a base coat of Dixie Belle’s Kudzu inside and out.  Next I mixed up some of Sweet Pickens milk paint in Window Pane and added it to the outside of the box.  When I went back out to my workshop the next day the milk paint was thoroughly crackled.

I’m not entirely sure why this happened.  I mixed the milk paint on the thicker side, so that might be part of it.  I also don’t know what kind of finish was on this box originally.  Sometimes milk paint will crackle when applied over shellac, although I had painted this one with that coat of Kudzu so that shouldn’t have mattered.  Otherwise it usually takes some heat to get this kind of crackling, and it certainly wasn’t hot here when I painted this (it was before the massive heat wave we had last week).  However, if you ever want to end up with a crackle finish using milk paint you can dry it using the high heat on your blow dryer to get this effect on purpose.  Putting your piece out in the hot sun to dry will sometimes cause crackling as well.

Anyway, like I said, milk paint can be unpredictable.  Sometimes it crackles and you’re not sure why.  If you’re using milk paint you will save your sanity if you are prepared to go with the flow.

And the crackling looks pretty cool on this old box, not to mention authentic.

To give the box even more character, I added some sections from the IOD Label Ephemera transfer to the front …

and to the top …

Use caution when adding a transfer over chippy, crackled milk paint.  If there is any loose paint, the sticky transfer will pick up the paint rather than the transfer sticking to your piece.  To prevent that you can either sand well, being sure to vacuum away any dust or chips, which is what I did here.  Or you can topcoat the paint with a clear water based sealer like Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat, before applying the transfer.

As you can see in my photos, not much of my undercoat of the Kudzu green shows through.  Instead the milk paint took the Kudzu with it and chipped right down to the wood.  However, I did keep the Kudzu on the interior.

And then I lined it with some October Afternoon scrapbook paper.

So, like I said, milk paint can be unpredictable.  But as long as you are OK with rolling the dice a bit, it’s a fun medium to work with.  If you love the chippy look, it can’t be beat.

How about you?  Are you a fan of the crackled or chippy look?  Or would you rather just stick with chalk paint for a more predictable, smooth finish?

I took this box in to Reclaiming Beautiful, the shop in Stillwater where I sell on consignment, this week.  So if any of you locals are in need of a cool treasure box it might be time for a shopping trip!


and now for the fun part.

I mentioned a week or two ago that I was working on a pair of custom painted toolboxes.  I held off on posting them until today because one (or both?) of them was intended as a birthday present to be gifted to its recipient yesterday and I didn’t want to give away the surprise.

I have to confess, I don’t exactly enjoy the prep phase of toolbox painting.  The toolboxes are often super grungy and need to be cleaned, sanded and sealed before I can even get to the painting part.  But that is a necessary evil and you can’t skip those steps.  Fortunately, these two toolboxes weren’t terribly dirty so the prep wasn’t too difficult.

I do enjoy the painting phase.  Picking out pretty colors for the insides is fun, and it’s not as though it’s hard labor doing the actual painting.  It’s just a bit time consuming with painting the full insides and outsides, and having to wait for different bits to dry before moving on to other bits.

In this case I painted one toolbox in solid Dixie Belle Drop Cloth, and the other is Drop Cloth with a French Linen stripe down the middle (I’ll share the inside colors in a minute).

Once painted, I sanded to distress and then added a coat of Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.

And now for the fun part!  Each of them is like a blank canvas just waiting for me to dress them up however I like.  Although this particular customer requested ‘words’, so that’s what I went with … at least on the outside.

I came up with a fun plan to make one of the toolboxes ‘British’ and the other ‘French’.  I used a variety of transfer scraps from IOD’s Label Ephemera and with prima’s Lovely Ledger furniture transfer and Parisienne knob transfers.

I started with the smaller one.

Obviously this is the ‘British’ version complete with crown.

Or should I say crowns …

since the little bees on the front have crowns too.

This one is painted in Dixie Belle’s Peony inside giving it a lovely pop of bright pink.

I lined it with with prima’s Celeste decoupage décor tissue paper.

The larger toolbox is the ‘French’ version, which seemed appropriate since it had that stripe of French Linen down the middle.

I just love the look of French text even though I have very little idea what it says.  Something about herbs, and amateurs, and maybe the king?

I used one of my favorite Classic Vintage Labels from with prima on the top.

I brought Dixie Belle’s Blueberry paint back out for the interior of this one.

I loved it so much from the last toolbox that I used again here, and I ordered more of it!

And this time I did something new.  I kept the tray that came with the toolbox and painted it up as well.

I lined it with with prima’s Fancy Essence decoupage decor tissue paper, which worked beautifully with the Blueberry paint color.  This time I used Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat as a decoupage medium and it worked beautifully.  So if you like a flat finish, even over your decoupage, give it a try.

I don’t typically keep the trays, but in this case the customer requested it.  I worry that taking the tray in and out is likely to scratch up the interior paint.  Those trays typically have some pretty sharp corners.  No matter how durable the paint finish, those sharp corners are going to scratch it.

But heck, a little wear and tear never hurt anyone, right?

So, tell me, which is your favorite?

French or English?

Thank you to Dixie Belle for providing the paint and flat clear coat that I used on these toolboxes.

when it rains, it pours.

At the middle of last week I was lamenting how dry the ground was for spring.  Typically we get plenty of rain this time of year, so it was odd that I was debating getting out the sprinkler in mid-May.  But then it rained … and rained … and then rained some more.  That’s because I had taken a couple of days off at the day job.  First to recover from vaccination number two, and second, to get some stuff done in the garden.  If we need rain, all I have to do is take a vacation day to work in the garden and voila!  Rain.

OK, maybe I’m being just a little bit dramatic.

And the real reason for that blog post title has to do with old toolboxes rather than weather.

You may remember that the last time I posted one of my painted toolboxes it was already spoken for and I had several people who wanted to buy it.  I was really wishing I had more.

Here’s the thing about the toolboxes.  At the price I sell them for, I really can’t pay more than $10 for the toolbox to start with.  And it’s better if I can get them for $5 or less (even then I’m probably making about $5 an hour for the time that goes into them).

That may sound impossible, but they can be found at garage sales for those kind of prices.  At least here in my area (Twin Cities, MN).  I never find them that cheap at thrift stores though.  So back in February when I posted that last toolbox, I knew I probably wouldn’t have more to paint until garage sale season.

Then one of my readers contacted me and asked if I’d paint up a couple of toolboxes that she already had.  Typically I don’t do custom work, but I will make an exception if the client gives me carte blanche to do what I want, which she did.  I’ll be sharing what I did with her toolboxes in a separate post, so stay tuned for that one.

Next one of my co-workers found another toolbox for me and oops, I totally forgot to get a ‘before’ picture.  Well, no worries, you can just imagine an old rusty metal ‘before’.

For this one, I followed my usual prep process for old toolboxes; sanding down the rust a bit, cleaning well (in this case I used Dixie Belle’s White Lightning cleaner to remove any greasy residue), and then sealing the box with Dixie Belle’s BOSS which will help prevent the rust from coming back through the paint.

Then I painted the inside in a Dixie Belle color that I had not used before, Blueberry.

Isn’t that a lovely color?  Sort of a periwinkle blue.  I love pulling out these pretty colors for the insides of the toolboxes.  I’m not sure I’d ever paint a full on piece of furniture in this shade, but it’s perfect for a pop of color inside something like this.  And I’d definitely use this color on a kid sized chair.

Next I painted the outside in Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  Then I pulled out my transfer scrap pile.  I have quite a few remnants of transfers left over from projects where the entire transfer didn’t quite fit.  I had a 4″ section left from the bottom of the large version of IOD’s Le Petit Rosier transfer and it fit perfectly on the front of the toolbox.

Then I pondered what to put on the top.  With all of my other toolboxes, I’ve been sticking with just black transfers.  This time I decided to add a little color with some florals.

I had a partially used with prima transfer called Wondrous Floral II, it has the prettiest flowers and in particular I thought the blue hydrangea would tie in well with the Blueberry interior of the toolbox.  The transfer didn’t fit perfectly ‘as is’, I ‘cut and pasted’ the individual flowers where I wanted them.

I added one to the side of the toolbox as well.

I left the handle and latch untouched.

They have an awesome patina, don’t they?

This toolbox would be the perfect container for gardening, or floral arranging, supplies.

Sidebar note, that is one of my favorite lilacs.  Isn’t it gorgeous?

If you’ve followed the saga of my sad lilac hedge, that lilac is one of the original plants I put in 10 years ago.  I started out with a row of really gorgeous modern hybrids rather than the classic old fashioned variety (because of course, who wouldn’t want the prettier ones?).  None of the hybrids have done well.  Over the last 8 years or so I have ended up pulling out at least one or two at a time and replacing them with the plain, old fashioned ones.

The old fashioned ones are growing (and blooming) like gangbusters now, while the hybrids continue to look scraggly.  I’ll be pulling out two more this year and replacing them.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to today’s post.  You might be thinking hey, she said ‘when it rains it pours’ and three toolboxes don’t really constitute pouring.  Especially when two of them are custom projects.

Well, while I was working on these three, my picker found 4 more toolboxes for me!

So there’s going to be a few more painted toolboxes in my future.

In the meantime, this one is already spoken for.  If anyone would like to be on a waiting list for the next four, be sure to send me an email at

So, tell me, what do you think of this one?  Are you a fan of the flowers, or do you prefer the wordier ones?  And have any of you had success with hybrid lilacs?  I’d love to know, so be sure to leave me a comment.

Thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing some of the products used in this toolbox makeover.

so. many. small. chairs.

As I was scrolling through my past projects and looking for themes among my small projects, I realized I’ve painted (and/or otherwise refurbished) quite a few kid sized chairs.  In fact, a search of my blog turned up over 30 of them!

I always pick up the wooden ones when I see them at garage sales.

This style is my favorite to work with.

They are adorable painted with milk paint like this one painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s Aviary.

They are really well-suited to that chippy look.

That gorgeous green is In a Pickle from Sweet Pickens Milk Paint.

It’s also the perfect style to turn into a Christmas decoration.

They are also fun for hanging on the wall when cut in half.

I’ve added stencils to them …

And I’ve added transfers to them …

But I also find other styles of kid size chairs as well, like the folding ones.

This little pair of folding chairs were painted in Homestead House’s Laurentien milk paint, and then I added some with prima transfers (Everyday Farmhouse and Sweet Apricot).

And this sweet little folding chair was also painted in Homestead House milk paint in a color called Soldier Blue.

I’ve painted up a handful of kid sized rocking chairs as well.  This next one is painted in a mix of milk paint colors that I whipped up one day.

And this one is painted in Dixie Belle’s Rebel Yellow.

I don’t mind if the chairs have some metal parts either, I just paint up the metal as well.

This next chair is actually my ‘painting chair’ …

I sit on it when painting the bottoms of large pieces like armoires or big dressers that can’t be lifted up onto horses.  I’ve gotten to the point in life where sitting on the floor isn’t terribly comfortable anymore.

I painted a similar style chair in a spooky look last year and it ended up being one of my favorite painted chairs …

And actually, I even sometimes paint the all metal chairs like this little metal folding chair …

Or, in some cases, I just add a transfer …

That chair, by the way, has not sold.  If any of you locals are interested, I’m marking it down to $10.  Check out my available for local sale page for more details.

And then there are a few random styles of chair that I’ve worked with, like this one …

And this one …

Last winter I did a little experiment and added a stencil without first painting the chair just to see how it would sell.  It did sell, maybe not quite as quickly as the painted versions though.

And then sometimes I just leave the chairs as I found them (or more accurately, as my picker Sue found them) …

She found this little pair of folding chairs for me a couple of years back.  I hung them on the wall to stage the photos of this dresser …

And then I decided that I really liked how they looked hanging on the wall so I kept them and hung them in our bedroom.

How about you, do you ever paint kid sized chairs?  Do you have a favorite style?  Leave a comment and let me know!



There has been a little bit of a theme around here lately.  I’ve been getting a bunch of freebies.

First was the roadkill cupboard that I shared a couple of weeks ago.

My neighbor, nnK, found it on the side of the road and dragged it home for me.

Then the weekend before last my sister and I headed to a local town, White Bear Lake, for their trash to treasure day.  I’ve shared this event a couple of times before here on the blog (here and here).  Basically the residents of WBL are encouraged to put their cast off items at the curb and people are invited to drive around and pick up whatever they want.

We usually come home with a few things, but this year we filled up the entire back of the van.

Can you believe that washstand was free?  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that one!

Those drawer pulls are all wrong for it, but I’ll find something better to replace them.

The concrete Asian style garden lantern was an awesome find as well.  Now, before you start wondering if I just stole that out of someone’s garden that was too close to the curb … no, it was in with a pile of other stuff and it’s broken.  The middle section is cracked.  But I am planning to try and repair that, and even if that isn’t successful, I can easily turn that part to the back and no one will ever know.  See …

Those two big boxes at the back of my photo contain a 7.5′ Balsam Hill BH Fraser Fir Christmas tree.  It was a bit of a gamble dragging that home with me.  It’s a pre-lit tree, so there’s a good chance that the lights may not work.  But I thought it was worth a shot since Balsam Hill seems to be a quality tree manufacturer.  I googled it, and when new, this tree costs $749!  Hopefully when it drag it out and put it together in November it lights up.

Otherwise it looks like it could be quite putzy to remove the lights and replace them.  But for a savings of $749, it seems like that might be worthwhile don’t you think?

The little black and white nightstand isn’t super exciting, but it was free and in fairly good shape so I thought why not?

Maybe I can do something funky with it.  We’ll see.

Finally, in addition to the roadkill cabinet and the haul from White Bear Lake, I also brought home this freebie recently.

My friend Jackie found this one on the side of the road as well.  It’s in great shape structurally.  There is a cigarette burn on the top though, so that meant that stripping and refinishing was out of the running as an option.

I actually already have this piece finished but I haven’t had time to photograph it yet.  I’ve been a bit busy.  My sister celebrated her 60th birthday this past weekend and my mom flew in from Las Vegas as a surprise for her.  My sister thought she was coming over to go garage saling on Saturday morning, and instead my mom greeted her when she got here.  You should have seen the look on my sister’s face!  It truly was priceless.

So, we spent a whirlwind weekend having lunch with my mom’s bff from high school (my parents were both born and raised in Minneapolis), a BBQ to celebrate my sister’s birthday, shoe shopping and lunch out on Sunday afternoon and then dropping mom back off at the airport Sunday evening.

Anyway, clearly I’ve been busy so you’ll have to wait until Friday to see how this mid-mod nightstand turned out.  Be sure to stay tuned!


old mother hubbard went to the cupboard.

Today I’m continuing my series of favorite non-furniture projects with a few different upcycles featuring old cupboard doors.

I’ve always grabbed cupboard doors when I find them cheap at garage sales.  Sometimes they even come with fab vintage hardware, which is always a bonus.

And a while back I also figured out that you can find cupboard doors fairly cheap at the ReStore.

Of course, my favorite thing to do with them is to simply turn them into signs.

Lately I’ve been using up a bunch of wooden knobs by adding them as ‘pegs’ of a sort to the bottom of the signs.

I think my all time favorites of these are the ones I did last Christmas.

Those knobs are perfect for hanging your Christmas stockings.

But I think a simple sign without knobs works well too.

Usually I use stencils to create my cupboard door signs, but sometimes a transfer works well for them too.

The Farm Life transfers from with prima were perfect for creating a set of 4 ‘signs’.

This giant ‘Market’ sign was made using a transfer too.

It’s fun to add a little something extra to the cupboard doors using molds.  I added some molds to this Halloween themed sign …

They are a bit subtle since I painted them the same black as the rest of the sign, but I like that subtle detail.

They are a little bit more noticeable on this one …

And a shell themed mold was the perfect accompaniment to the nautical themed transfer on this pair of doors.

Looking back through my old projects, I realized I’d completely forgotten about one of the projects I did with old cupboard doors.  Although most of them have been made into signs, I made this one into a tray.

Those fork drawer pulls were especially perfect for adding handles to a cupboard door to turn it into a tray.  I think I found those at Hobby Lobby, but when I stopped in there the other day they didn’t have them anymore (or I really didn’t get them there, I’m not sure).  Too bad because I was hoping to find more so I could make some more trays.

Oh well.  I’m sure I’ll find other ways to repurpose old cupboard doors.

How about you, do you like to snatch up old cupboard doors when you see them?  And if so, what have you done with them?

the spring flowers cupboard.

One of my favorite customers found this little wall cupboard thingie at an estate sale for me.

(Please ignore the reflection of me in my shabby painting clothes in the mirror.)

I have to admit that the veneer on this piece was actually quite pretty.  I would have felt bad about painting it, except for the fact that the veneer was starting to buckle in a few spots and it would have required refinishing to bring it back to its former glory due to some blotchy fading.  I suspect it was kept somewhere where it was exposed to some sunlight.

But then, there’s also the fact that it just wasn’t anything special ‘as is’.  I knew I could give it a bit more personality with a makeover.

I started by painting the inside in Dixie Belle’s new Silk paint in a color called Tide Pool.

If you haven’t heard must about Dixie Belle’s new line of paint, it is rather different from their chalk mineral paint.  It has a built in stain blocker, primer and top coat.  That’s a big plus because you only have to buy one product instead of three.  You also only have to apply one product instead of three, and it takes fewer coats to get good coverage at that. However, it still took two coats to get full coverage inside this cupboard.  Once cured (21 to 30 days) it is also washable.  All of these qualities make this the perfect paint for using inside a cupboard like this one.

Next up I painted the outside using Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth.  After sanding it a little with 220 grit paper to smooth it out and distress the edges a bit, I took a look at the transfers I had on hand.  In the end, I decided the Cosmic Roses transfer from with prima would work beautifully with the Tide Pool color.  Plus I just happened to have a partially used portion of it in my stash.

I just played around with various segments of the transfer and placed them where I thought they looked best on the cupboard.

I wrapped the transfer around each side.

If you look closely, you’ll see that I don’t achieve perfection when doing this.  Especially around those hinges.  But I’m OK with that.  Perfection is totally overrated.

After wrapping the section of transfer that was on the front of the cupboard up and over the top I was left with a harsh edge about 1″ in on the top where it ended.  I didn’t like the look of that.  So I sanded that edge to soften it, and then I layered another section of transfer over it.  It blends quite nicely now.

As you’ve probably noticed, I swapped out the original brass knobs for some clear glass.

I happened to have a couple of smaller ones on hand that fit perfectly and they add just the right amount of sparkle to the piece.

This was such a fun little project to work on, I totally enjoyed it!  Honestly, creating pieces like this is what keeps me going these days.  It’s so satisfying to take something that was boring and outdated and make it pretty again.

I don’t have anywhere to put this one though, so I will be selling it.  If any of you locals are interested, please be sure to reach out by Tuesday (the details are on my ‘available for local sale‘ page).  Otherwise it’s going in to Reclaiming Beautiful this week!

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle for providing the paint and to with prima for providing the transfer used on today’s project.

it’s raining buckets.

Continuing on with my themed posts about past projects, today it’s raining buckets!

I adore a good bucket makeover, so I pick up old buckets whenever I see them at reasonable prices at garage sales or thrift stores.Sometimes the patina is absolutely perfect ‘as is’ so I just clean them and add a little something to dress them up.

A segment of the IOD Label Ephemera transfer works beautifully for that.  The bucket above is one that I loved so much I had to keep it.  And if you’ve been following me for very long, you know that it’s fairly rare for me to hang onto stuff but occasionally I just can’t bear to part with something.

I also have hung on to this next bucket because I have this small faux Christmas tree that fits it perfectly.

And then sometimes I part with things and later regret it, as is the case with this giant bucket.

I purchased that at a garage sale and the sellers told me it was an old coal bucket.  It was super heavy and I think around 3′ tall.  I added the transfer, which is from the Parisian Letter transfer from with prima.  At the time I didn’t think I had a need for it, so I sold it.  Now I’m wishing I’d turned it into a planter, what was I thinking?

I’ve found a few buckets that have the perfect patina and only need a little something added.  Sometimes it’s a transfer, but some of my earlier buckets were stenciled.

Actually, that French Market bucket is another item I have hung on to.  It serves as the trash can in my bathroom.  I did do a couple more French Market buckets that I sold though.

But stenciling onto a curved surface can be slightly tricky so I usually take the easy way out and use transfers now.

Can you blame me?

It’s simple to do, and they turn out great.

I’ve been known to paint the entire bucket as well.  Sometimes that’s to cover up a surface that isn’t ‘pretty’ (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but sometimes it’s just because I also love the look of a painted bucket.  This white one was one of my favorites.

That transfer is from with prima and is part of the Paris Valley transfer and the paint is Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Ironstone.

I usually get a pretty fabulous result with milk paint over galvanized metal.  As long as it’s not metal that has been coated with a shiny, smooth finish.  This next bucket was painted in Homestead House milk paint in a color called Laurentien, and I just love the chippy result.

I recommend sealing the chippy ones with a clear water based sealer like Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat.  That will help limit the amount paint that continues to flake off in the future.

Both that bucket and the next one have transfers from with prima’s Everyday Farmhouse set, and this one is painted in a custom milk paint I mixed up using Miss Mustard Seed’s Boxwood and Kitchen Scale.

Painting isn’t just for galvanized buckets, I painted this wooden bucket in Homestead milk paint as well.

That gorgeous color is called Soldier Blue.

Way back in my early days, before I knew about the magic of rub-on transfers, I painted this next bucket in Fusion paint and then used the transfer gel method to add a graphic (you can find more details on how to do that here).

I have to admit though, I find that method a bit putzy as well.  It’s so much easier to just apply a transfer.

Transfers are a great choice for dressing up enamelware buckets especially.  They will stick to that glossy surface much better than paint would.

It’s a super simple way to add some oomph.

And then there are those times when I just leave a bucket as I found it.

I loved the original blue stripes going around that bucket and I felt like I just shouldn’t mess with a good thing.

Gosh, is anyone else really looking forward to peony season looking at these last couple of photos?

Sorry, I got distracted by pretty flowers for a minute there.

Anyway, there you have it.  I’ve given you 16 buckets from which to choose a favorite.  Can you do it?  Can you narrow it down to just one?  I know I can’t.  But if you can, be sure to leave me a comment and let me know!


suited to suitcases.

I was searching for something on my blog the other day and as I searched thru old posts I noticed a few themes when it came to my smaller, non-furniture, projects.  I was going to write just one post sharing all of those themes, but it started getting really long.  So I decided to make it a series starting today with the first one …

vintage suitcases.

First of all, I want to note here that I only paint the damaged and/or ‘ugly’ suitcases.  None of the suitcases in the photo above have been painted.  And of course, ugly is in the eye of the beholder.  But for me that means the 1950’s Samsonite style luggage like this one.

After painting them, I like to dress them up in a few different ways.

Back in the early years of the blog I was known to hand paint lettering on them.

I have to say, that was definitely one of my favorite suitcases.  It’s painted in Fusion paint in Seaside and Bedford.  You can get more details on the technique I used to add that lettering here.  Hand painting is very time consuming though, and I was never totally satisfied with the results.  We’re always most critical of on our own work, aren’t we?

I also tried adding a ‘chalk board’ to a couple of suitcases, which made the lettering a little bit easier using a chalk pen.

It was a little easier, but still too time consuming for me so I moved on to stenciling.

I have a few stencils that fit perfectly on an average sized suitcase, and stenciling is so much quicker than hand painting.

I even did a Christmas suitcase one year.

This past Christmas I found the perfect stencil for a suitcase, but didn’t actually find any suitcases.  Fingers crossed that I can stock up on some this summer at garage sales and then put that one to use.

Stenciling isn’t always the best choice for all suitcases though.  I purchased a cast off stenciled suitcase at the thrift store that was a good example of what not to do.

Getting a crisp edge to your stencil on a pebbled surface like that one would be pretty much impossible.  I gave this one a makeover using a transfer instead.

Many of the with prima transfers are perfectly suited to suitcases, like this one …

and this one …

If you’re wondering what one does with these suitcases, they are really just intended as decor items.  I shared Nancy’s house here on the blog last summer, and she is the one who purchased the suitcase in the photo above.  She had it out on her covered porch.

And adding a suitcase to my display of dress forms looks pretty good too.

As an added bonus, they can provide storage for items not used all the time.  I keep Christmas ornaments in some of my vintage suitcases,

and craft supplies in others.

By the way, if you’re ever trying to find posts on my blog about a specific subject matter, such as vintage suitcases,  there are a few ways to look.  You can use the search box over on the right hand side by typing in some key words where it says search for stuff here, or you can look at specific categories like “garden”, “house tours” or “travel” under sorted., and if you know approximately the month and year you can look in visit the archives for that time frame (also on the right).  If you’re looking specifically for a furniture makeover, check out the fab furniture (before & after) tab at the top of the page (just under my header photos).  You can find some specific how-to posts by clicking on the how to. tab up there as well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at some of my suitcase makeovers.  I spent the entire weekend working in the garden rather than painting anything, so I don’t have much in the way of a new project to share this week.  You may have to bear with me until I get the gardens in order this year.

In the meantime, which suitcase look is your favorite?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

woodpeckers are picky eaters.

The other day my neighbor nnK called to say that she had picked up some trash on the side of the road for me.  Wasn’t that thoughtful?  I bet not everyone has a neighbor who brings them road kill now and then!

LOL, but seriously, she did pick this up off the curb somewhere, and she knew it was right up my alley.

cupboard before

I just recently mentioned here that my preference is working on old, primitive pieces and this one certainly fits that description.

It was definitely in need of some TLC.  The outside was bad enough, but the inside was positively gross.


I thought that upper shelf was just kittywampus on accident, but no, it was purposely installed on an angle like that.  I have absolutely no idea what it was used for.

I wonder if the wild bird food guide that was stuck to the front of the cupboard is a clue?


I just have to say, it looks like pheasants and woodpeckers are picky eaters, while mourning doves and redwing blackbirds will eat just about anything.  Perhaps this cupboard hung on the wall in a nature preserve and there were bird identification guides of some kind on that angled shelf.

Well, regardless of its original use, I knew that angled shelf had to go.  I called my handyman Ken over for a consultation and he advised removing the existing two shelves and replacing them with one simple shelf, and I seconded that motion.  We worked together to remove the existing shelves, and then Ken took the cupboard back to his workshop to add a new shelf.

Next up was cleaning.  As I mentioned, this thing was disgustingly filthy.  Luckily we’d had a patch of warm weather and I was able to hose it down out in the yard.  The first time around I cleaned it with some Dawn dishwashing soap.  That worked fairly well for the dirt, but there was some sort of oily residue on the inside bottom of this cupboard.  In fact, there was originally a piece of cardboard lining that bottom and it was totally saturated with oil (you can see it in the ‘before’ photo above), and that had seeped through and soaked into the wood as well.  Anyway, the Dawn barely touched the oil.  So I brought out my TSP substitute and cleaned those oily spots again.  The cupboard was drying out in the warm sunshine, and I noticed an interesting phenomenon.  Even though initially those oily spots looked clean, the warmth of the sun drew more oil to the surface as it heated up.  I basically repeated this process of cleaning with TSP substitute, letting the sun draw out more oil, and then cleaning again about 4 times.  By the 4th pass I had made pretty good progress, but the oil was definitely not entirely eliminated.  But I had a plan in mind for this.  I turned the cupboard upside down.

Now what was once the bottom is the top.  Next I decided to put Dixie Belle’s B.O.S.S. to the test.  I added two coats to all of the oily areas of the cupboard and then let them dry overnight.  After painting the interior in Dixie Belle’s Gravel Road and the exterior with their Drop Cloth, you can’t see a speck of oil seeping through either.  Here is the top (which again, was once the bottom) …

See any oily spots seeping through?  Nope, I didn’t think so.  Also, FYI, I took these photos about a week after painting so some time has elapsed.

I have to say, I am super impressed by this.  Even so, I am glad I flipped the cupboard so the once oil saturated interior bottom is now the inside top and you can’t even see it unless you stick your head inside the cupboard, or take photos of it from a low angle.

I wanted to retain some of the original patina on the outside of the cupboard, while also cleaning it up.  This is one of my favorite things to do with these old primitive sort of pieces.  To do that I simply added one quick coat of the Drop Cloth.  I wasn’t aiming for full coverage, just a sort of touch up (and some parts of the cupboard were not painted originally, like the back and the inside of the door, so those got a little more paint).  Then I sanded the fresh paint back again, especially in areas that would naturally be more worn like around the latch.

Now it looks deliciously worn, but not gross.

I simply had to keep Frank’s Wild Bird Food Guide as part of the finished cupboard, so I attached it inside the door.

It’s just stapled in place, so the future owner of this cupboard could easily remove it if they don’t want it.

By the way, those clay pots?

Yep, I found the size I needed for my wrought iron plant stand at my local plant nursery, Bachmans.  And I found it a bit ironic that they literally say ‘perfect size’ on the tag.

And conveniently enough, they were already white washed.  All I had to do was add the transfers.  I paid $2.99 each for the pots, and was able to buy just the four I needed.

The bucket I used for staging is a bit of foreshadowing.

I added that same section of the IOD Label Ephemera transfer to the front of the cupboard.

I recently stocked up on that transfer after learning that it was retired.  So yes, you’re going to continue to see a lot of that one added to random pieces this year.

The inside was finished with Dixie Belle’s flat clear coat and the outside has a clear wax topcoat.

Here is a side view because I realized that you can’t really get a good feel for the depth of the cupboard from the photos I’ve already shared.

You have a few options with this cupboard.  You could hang it on a wall using a french cleat to support the weight.  Or you could put it on top of a dresser to treat it like a hutch.  You could also add some casters, legs, or feet of some kind to the bottom and have it be a stand alone piece.  I decided not to do any of those things myself so that a potential buyer would have options.

It’s really a good size to use as a bed side table.

But I love the idea of mounting it to the wall in a potting shed and using it to store gardening supplies.

It’s really just a fun ‘container’ of sorts for pretty much anything you’d like to store inside of it.  If nothing else, I feel really good about taking something that was cast off on the side of the road and turning it into a functional item that hopefully someone can get some use out of.

If any of you local readers need a unique storage solution, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page to see the details on this piece.

As always, thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the all of their products used for restoring this cupboard.