dear time.

Terri left a comment on my post about the Norwegian blue stool suggesting I use it as a plant stand on my front porch.  What a great idea!  It fits perfectly in this corner …

Placing it out there and getting some decent photos meant I had to get the front porch cleaned up for summer.  Usually I do this much earlier in the spring, but I’d never gotten around to it this year.

Now that everything is shipshape perhaps Mr. Q and I will make the time to sit out there and do some reading.

Recently my 12 year old neighbor told me that her favorite thing at school was ‘dear time’.  Huh, I said.  Dear time?

Drop everything and read!

Don’t you just love that?  I definitely need some more ‘dear time’ in my life.

I hate to say it, but more ‘dear time’ does not bode well for you guys because more reading inevitably leads to less painting.

And the front porch is pretty inviting now that it’s all fresh and clean.

The black cupboard is filled with my vintage cameras.

Here is the other end of the porch, in case you were wondering what it looks like these days.

I’ve been known to use this spot for staging photos of finished furniture.  The small table is easy to move out of the way, and it also provides a great surface for taking close up photos of smaller items.  I get good light here since it’s surrounded by windows.

But boy, I’ve been really tempted to just keep this dresser in that spot.

I haven’t managed to sell it yet, so maybe that is a sign.

Speaking of signs, here’s one that reminds me to not take life too seriously and instead spend more time relaxing on the porch …

Not to worry though, I’ve been managing to get in some painting time this week as well as some ‘dear time’.  I have a lovely linen press dresser I’ll be finishing up this weekend, so be sure to come back next week and check it out.

 

please watch your step.

Hey, any of you guys feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t get projects completed very quickly around your house?  Well, you are definitely not alone.  In fact, I may just be the poster child for unfinished projects.

Three years ago I posted about wanting to spruce up my front hallway and stairs.  I started a pinterest board (because isn’t that the way you start every project?) and Mr. Q starting ripping out the carpet.

Once the carpet was out, it looked like this.

And I’m embarrassed to admit that it stayed this way for well over two years!

I managed to get the risers and the baseboard painted last fall, and that was definitely an improvement.

But the treads still looked like this.

One of the factors that contributed to my procrastination on this project was the inability to make up my mind.  Numbered stairs?  Grain sack striped stairs?  Wallpapered risers?  All fun ideas, but I just wasn’t sure.

In the end I really just wanted old farmhouse stairs, maybe with a fun twist.

And I wanted worn looking stairs.  I love old stairs where the paint is worn away from years and years of use.

So in the end I decided to paint the treads with black milk paint (in this case, Miss Mustard Seed’s Typewriter), and I finally got around to doing exactly that last weekend.

I think it will be interesting to see how the milk paint wears over time.  Also, I was originally planning to put black wax over them, but quickly realized I didn’t have enough black wax on hand.  So instead I used hemp oil.  I know that hemp oil is not going to provide a lot of protection, and I’ll definitely have to re-apply at some point.  But I’m OK with experimenting a little and seeing how it goes.  I may end up ordering some more black wax and adding that over the hemp oil.  Ha, ha, is anyone else rolling their eyes?  Do you really think I’ll get around to doing that when it took me three years to get this far?

Maybe not.

But in the meantime, after I got the treads painted and oiled I decided I needed to add a little bit of quirky fun.  So I got out my Cricut and some black vinyl and added a simple message.

The nice thing about the vinyl is that it’s removable.  So if I get tired of this (or come up with a better idea), I can just take it right off.

But for now I kinda love it.

Isn’t it amazing what you can do with a little paint, some vinyl letters and three years?!

getting creative.

You might think that you’re about to read a blog post about some fun and creative project.  But no, I’m actually going to tell you about my window repair which wasn’t much fun but we did have to get a little creative in the end.

Remember way back to the summer of 2015 when I told you that I was making over my dining room?  Yeah, it’s still not quite done.  It’s almost done, but not quite.  One of the big hold ups was the windows.

As a reminder here is how they looked before …

window-before

They don’t look so bad in this photo, but if you look closer you can see that trim needs new paint and the window on the right doesn’t have a screen.

I’ve mentioned before that my dining room was an addition built by the previous owner of my home.  The windows are a bit wonky.  They are sort of just cobbled into place and aren’t centered between the two 6″ x 6″ posts that are on either side.  Over time the storm/screen combos and the outside trim boards had started to rot.  Then this spring a bird decided that pecking away at those soft spots was a super fun hobby.  He pecked huge holes in a couple of the trim boards (sorry, I didn’t get a photo of that).  In addition that right side storm/screen had completely fallen apart.  At that point we knew we had to stop procrastinating and deal with the problem.  Plus re-doing these windows entirely, centering them and maybe even eliminating that big trim piece down the center would be a nice improvement so why not just get ‘er done.

In early summer we ‘hired’ (it was just a verbal agreement) a handyman who’d done some work for us before to replace the windows.  He had a busy summer though and thus forgot all about our small window job.  About mid-August I started to panic when I realized he wasn’t going to get to us and we needed another solution.  So we called Renewal by Andersen.

Now before I go further, full disclosure, Mr. Q worked for Andersen Corp. for almost 30 years.  We have been fully brainwashed to believe they are the best windows on the planet.  They also aren’t cheap.  We expected that.  However, when the quote to replace two windows came in at over $6,400 dollars I believe I snorted coffee out through my nose.

Let’s see … new windows or a trip to Belgium next year?  Which is it going to be? That’s a no-brainer, right?

We could have kept shopping around for a cheaper solution, but any way you cut it, replacing custom sized windows and re-building the cobbled together framing was not going to be cheap.

If you’ve read my blog for very long, I’m wondering if you can already guess who came to our rescue.  Ken!  Of course!  With his Ken-do attitude.

Since the windows themselves were still fully functional, it was really just the trim and screens that needed work.  Ken got busy and re-built screens to fit our windows.  He used parts of the existing screen framing and added new pieces where necessary.  Then he replaced the rotted exterior trim with new boards and I painted them to match the existing trim.

windows-exterior

Of course, the repairs that Ken did aren’t going to improve our r-value like new Andersen windows would have (although he did add some new insulation to the surrounding framing).  But I did the math, I estimated that it would have taken well over 30 years to save enough money on our heating bill to pay for those $6,400 windows!

In the Q household a trip to Belgium trumps high quality windows every time and unfortunately we can’t afford both.  When Mr. Q and I are sitting in the old folks home reflecting back on our life are we going to regret not spending money on quality windows?  Or are we going to remember how much we enjoyed that trip?

Once the repair work was done, I could focus on the last step, paint.  If you check back to that ‘before’ photo above, the inside trim was painted in a gold-ish color.  As part of my campaign to make my dining room seem lighter, I repainted the trim white.

white-window

And by the way, I used one of Fusion’s new colors called Raw Silk (the same color I used on the pumpkin I posted on Monday).  This is the first time I’ve used Fusion paint on trim work.  It occurred to me that it was the perfect product for the job.  Once cured it should be waterproof.

You see, I’m planning a little winter window garden for this spot so ‘waterproof’ would be a good thing.  I found this amazing giant wood tool box at a sale this summer.

winter-window-garden-2

 I stenciled it with a french garden stencil and I’ve added some re-potted white geraniums and some lavender plants that I want to over-winter.

winter-window-garden

Whether or not these plants will do well over the winter is yet to be seen, but I figured it was worth a shot.  This window faces south and gets great light.

Although I put everything in the window for my photos, I then took it all back out again.  I want to give the Fusion paint that chance to cure before adding heavy items.  I’ll put everything back in a couple of weeks.  But just to give you an idea of how it will look …

dining-room-window

What’s left in the dining room?  Stripping wallpaper on either side of the window (yep, that’s wallpaper on those walls), painting those white, and then coming up with something amazing for the opposite wall.  I’m still working on that plan.  It may take another year, we’ll see.

But in the meantime, which would you pick?  Fancy new windows or a trip to Belgium?  Who’s with me on that one?

 

 

my vintage finds.

Last week I posted about an awesome barn sale that was taking place at Kim’s house, as well as the St. Croix Valley Vintage Crawl.  Since the weather forecast for Saturday was less than stellar, my sister, my friend Terri and I decided to participate in the Crawl.  If it’s going to be stormy all day, why not spend it checking out some fab vintage shops?

my vintage finds

That picture is probably a little misleading since I already had that scale and flour sifter.  It’s what’s underneath those items that is new and deserves ‘find of the day’ status.

Ta da!

jelly cupboard 1

I bought this lovely jelly cupboard at Kim’s barn sale.  I just couldn’t resist it.  The color was perfect, the size was perfect, and I’ve always wanted a jelly cupboard.

Most people might think they should use this piece in a kitchen or maybe a dining room.  Not me.  I’m going to use it in my bedroom.  There are shelves inside that hold folded t-shirts and jeans, while the two drawers are perfect for socks and undies.

bedroom cupboard

This cupboard suits my style so much better than my old 90’s cherry colored armoire.  I’m so happy with it despite the fact that I wrenched my back while moving it in!

I still need to figure out what I want to keep on top of it.  I’m not really going to leave the scale and the flour sifter up there.  I’m going to wait and see what comes my way.

I also purchased this old iron foot board at the barn sale.

iron bed

I haven’t found the perfect spot for it yet, but it will definitely go in the garden somewhere.

I also came home from the Crawl with this perfectly aged blue metal stool.

blue stool

I purchased it at My Sister’s Cottage.  It was one of those things where I just had to have it, even though I didn’t know where I would use it.  You know how that goes, right?  You carry it around your house just looking for the right spot.  This stool found a home relatively quickly in the kitchen.

kitchen stool

I’m sure you’ll see more of it in future photo shoots.  It’s the perfect shade of blue!

So stay tuned!

throwback thursday no. 1

I was in the process of doing some photo organization last weekend, and I decided that it might be fun to share some things with you guys from my pre-blogging days.  I started q is for quandie in November 2013, but I took lots of photos before that.  Lots.  So, I bring you … throwback thursdays!  Yeah, I totally stole that from Facebook, but hey, I can do it too, right?

  Our first throwback Thursday features the photo cottage before it became the photo cottage.  Oddly enough, I didn’t share much in the way of ‘before’ photos when I made it over, just one quick photo of the emptied out shell.

summer house before

Yikes!

So let’s back up just a tad and take a look at the place before it was emptied out.

potting shed sofa

These photos were taken in 2010, way before I ever thought I’d have a blog.  So yes, I had a ‘she-shed’ long before anyone even coined that term.  Just for the record, I kind of get the heebie jeebies over that name.  I don’t know why, there is just something about it that is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me, how about you?

I called it the ‘summer house’ (a much prettier name than ‘she-shed’), and it was very girly.

potting shed dishes

The walls were pink.  I remember the color was called Paris Pink, can it get any more perfect than that?  And I had scads of floral china everywhere.

potting shed window

Much of this china was later used for my ‘words on plates’ projects.

I had an awesome chandelier hanging from the ceiling, but it was just for looks.  I don’t actually have any power out there.  It’s a little hard to see in this photo, but I took photo copies of old black and white pictures and wrapped them around the ‘candle tubes’ which looked really cool.

potting shed chandelier

I still have the chandelier in storage.  I’m hoping that I’ll come up with the perfect spot for it again soon.

I had a green wicker chair in the corner next to a little metal garden table with a glass top.

potting shed green chair

See that wall sconce above the chair?  Does anyone remember those mirrored sconces?  I don’t know what the background story is on these, but they tend to be a dime a dozen at garage sales (were they from Home Interiors maybe?).  They are usually black.  I painted mine white and added the little green teacups to them.  After taking them down, I sold them along with the green chair at my Carriage House sale.

CH3 Summer 2014

I also recovered the cane back sofa and sold it.

cane sofa

This cupboard is the only piece that I kept in place out there.

potting shed cupboard

I’ve spruced it up just a little when I made over the cottage by adding some vintage wallpaper inside the drawers …

studio cabinet drawers 2

and repainting the inside …

studio cabinet empty

you can read more about that {here}.

As much as I enjoyed styling this little cottage back then, the sad reality was that I rarely used it.  I don’t have too much time to spend just relaxing, so when I do have time to just chill out I prefer to do so in maximum comfort.  None of the seating in my summer house was very comfortable.  It looked pretty, but didn’t function all that well.  So I really never just sat out there.  I have gotten a ton more use out of the photo cottage.  Two years after making that decision, I know it was the right one!

photo cottage exterior

So photo cottage it remains!

I hope you enjoyed throwback Thursday.  I’ve got lots of old photos to share, so next Thursday we’ll take another trip down memory lane, I hope you’ll check back.

 

let’s give thanks.

OK, maybe it’s a little early to start thinking about Thanksgiving.  Although obviously this year I will be giving thanks that my sister and niece live here in Minnesota now and will be celebrating with me!

give thanks 1

 But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, this post is about giving thanks that the next step in my dining room makeover is complete!  The table.  Here’s a reminder of how it looked before.

hutch 2

Mr. Q made this table about 20 years ago.  At the time a co-worker of his was selling some 4″ x 4″ cedar boards so Mr. Q decided we needed an extremely heavy, indestructible table.  He’s added several coats of shiny poly over the years to make sure it remained impervious to damage.  I’ll be honest, this has never been my favorite piece of furniture (sorry hon!).  If you’ve read my blog, you’ve seen my style and probably realize that this isn’t exactly ‘me’.  But one has to make compromises in marriage, and this was one of mine.  It wasn’t until I started my recent dining room update that it occurred to me that even though Mr. Q is quite fond of the table, maybe he wasn’t ‘married’ to the finish.  Eureka!  How did this not occur to me sooner?

So I asked him how he felt about me giving it a fresh new look.  Turns out he was on board (pardon the pun)!

The first task was stripping all of that poly off.  Egads.  It took 4 passes with the citrus stripper to get that stuff off.  It was a messy and time consuming process.  I probably could have sped up the process by using a more heavy duty chemical stripper, but since I was doing this inside the house I didn’t want to add toxic fumes to the mix.  Once it was stripped and then cleaned with buckets and buckets of fresh water, I sanded it down a little to get a smooth surface.

Meanwhile, in between passes with the stripper, I dug out some scrap pieces of the original wood from the back of the carriage house and tested some possible finishes on them.

I started out by purchasing two different shades of grey stain.  I really didn’t like the way the stain went on, something about it just felt off.  It was partially the sheen, partially the colors, and partially the streaking that I couldn’t seem to get rid of.  Honestly, staining just isn’t my forte.  I’m sure that there are expert woodworkers out there who could have achieved the look I was was going for with stain, but I’m not one of them.

So I went back to the drawing board.  I gave some more thought to what I was hoping to accomplish.  I wanted to tone down that orange color of the cedar, maybe get a sort of sun bleached look, lighten up the entire piece and give it some more ‘age’.  I didn’t want to entirely cover up the grain, but I wanted to minimize it a little.  I did some more research on pinterest looking at many different approaches to faux-aging wood.  And finally I realized that I should just stick to what I know, paint!  I decided to pickle the wood on the top of the table, and then just paint and distress the base (there was no way I was going to attempt to strip the base!)

There are a myriad of choices for pickling methods out there!  There are even special products made just for pickling.  I stuck to the basics.  I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White, and diluted it about 50/50 with water.  I wish I had diluted it even a little more for a more sheer look, but hindsight is 20/20.

pickle 1

As it turns out, pickling is incredibly simple.  I applied the watery paint with a brush and then wiped it off with a paper towel.  The paper towel probably breaks some official rule that requires a lint free cloth, but it worked for me.  I’d use caution with that if you use a darker color.  I worked board by board because I didn’t want to have any weird overlap lines.  I wiped off quite a bit of the paint, and I really rubbed and smoothed with the paper towel to get rid of any streaking and to work the paint into the wood, frequently changing to a fresh paper towel.  I did just one coat.  Once it was dry, I went over it with my palm sander and some fine (220 grit) sandpaper.  Then I waxed with Miss Mustard Seed furniture wax.

pickled table top

Well?  What do you think?  An improvement over the shiny cedar look?  I really love the new look, it is almost exactly what I was picturing in my head for the table top.

For the table base, I just sanded the original finish lightly and then painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint in French Linen.  Once dry, I distressed and then waxed with my custom blend dark wax.

table base

I’m really not sure I like the way the French Linen on the table base is playing with the Fusion Linen on the inside of the hutch or with the bamboo rug.  It’s funny because I would have called both of these colors a ‘greige’, or warm beige/grey.  But when you put them in the same room with each other the Fusion Linen has a warm green undertone, while the French Linen has a cool blue-ish undertone.  I debated using the Fusion Linen on the table base, but I thought that would be too ‘matchy-matchy’.

dining-table-after

Maybe I should have just stuck with the Old White on the table base?

Well, water under the bridge.  After nearly cramping every muscle in my body while crawling around under that table to paint the base, I just don’t have it in me to change the color just now.

dining table 2

I’m choosing the live with the colors for now and see how they grow on me.  I’ll be honest, this table still isn’t going to make it to the top of my favorite furniture list, but is is vastly improved.  And Mr. Q is happy with it too!

There is still one more big project that I’ll be tackling in the dining room, plus a few smaller tweaks here and there.  But I’m checking things off one by one, and before you know it, I’ll have this project completed!

 

linen times 2.

Up until last winter, I had this black waterfall buffet in my dining room.

waterfall buffet painted black

I really liked this piece, and I loved the suitcases stacked in the center section.  But I was struggling with how dark the room was.  And that back wall was especially dark, so the big black buffet sort of created a decorating black hole.

When I made the decision to spruce up the dining room, I thought bringing in white furniture would help lighten up the room.  I wanted to use the hutch that I painted way back in December 2013.

jonas hutch

I originally took this hutch to the Round Barn to sell, and it never sold.  So when Lori decided to close up shop, I brought it back home.  I didn’t mind that it hadn’t sold, because I really love it.  I thought it was a sign that I should keep it.  So I sold the black waterfall buffet and put this one in its place.

Can you see the problem though?  Here, this picture makes it more obvious …

hutch lost

That poor thing was just lost on that wall.  The scale was all wrong.  I tried to add some visual size with the plates, which did help a little.  I also debated adding old doors leaning against the wall on either side of it.  Maybe adding some sconces to the doors, and hanging some art on them.  That might have worked.

But ultimately I just decided that I needed a bigger piece!  I had a mental image of what I wanted. An open hutch where I could display my ironstone without it being behind glass.  I wanted it to be LARGE to fill up that wall and so that when I painted it white it would bring a lot of light into the room.  So I went to craigslist and I searched “large hutch” and this one came up.

pine cupboard before

It was priced at $425 which was a bit high for me.  It was also way out in Ham Lake, about a 40 minute drive from here.  However, it was exactly what I was looking for.  I loved the detailing at the top, the size, the boards at the back.  So I contacted the seller and negotiated a price of $375 and headed to Ham Lake the same day!

In person, this hutch ended up being another ‘faux-tique’ just like the Rooster cupboard that I painted for my Q Branch.  It has the same exact hinges (which are hard to describe, but kind of weird in that they twist and come apart) and the same faux-old skeleton key that is required for opening the doors on either side.  Both of these pieces have no labels on them, so I don’t know if there was a particular manufacturer making them or what.  But since I’d had great success with the earlier cupboard, I knew I would love this one too.  So I brought it home and painted it the next day!

And voila!

hutch 1

I think this piece is scaled much more appropriately for this room at 6′ wide and 7′ tall.

hutch 2

Here are the details.  The inside is painted in Fusion’s Linen.  I chose to use Fusion paint on the inside because I didn’t want to have to wax all of that!  Especially those boards in the back.  The outside is painted in Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen.  You know what’s funny, I didn’t realize until writing this post that these paint colors had the same name.  It’s Linen times 2, or Linen squared!  The MMS Linen is a warm white, while the Fusion Linen is a greige with a little bit of a green undertone.  Oh, and the reason I chose MMS on the outside is because I wanted chipping.  The more the better.  I was willing to pay the price of waxing to get that chippy-ness!

hutch stencil

And I got it!

Although not at first.  I had to resort to my new trick of using tape to pull the paint off.  But that worked beautifully.

You can see that I also added a little bitty stencil to the top, just to give it a little something unique.

hutch chipping

The “1918” doesn’t signify anything special, I just liked the way it looked!  Stacking some vintage suitcases on the top also adds a fun touch.

hutch top

This thing is huge, by the way.  It’s going to take a lot of ironstone to fill it up properly.

hutch ironstone

I’ve made a good start, but clearly I’ll be on the lookout for more!

As much as I liked using the French Market wood tote on the table, it turned out that it worked even more perfectly on the hutch.

dining french market

So for now I have some hydrangeas in an ironstone soup tureen as a centerpiece instead.  The hydrangeas are starting to show their fall colors.

dining room hydrangeas

If you’re keeping track, here is what I’ve checked off on the dining room make-over to-do list so far:  new chairs, new light fixture, new hutch.

dining room south

Here’s what’s left:  paint the window trim white, find new light kit for ceiling fan, a change for the table (you’ll have to wait and see), come up with something for the large wall that was formerly full of mirrors (the mirrors have already been removed and now the wall is a blank canvas).

 So stay tuned!

P.S.  The smaller hutch is for sale if anyone local has a smaller wall to fill!  If interested, leave me a comment and I will email you with details.