my big sister.

If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning then you already know that my sister moved to New Jersey shortly after getting married and having her first baby.  At the time our family lived in south Florida and I was only 18.  That was 37 years ago.

I have to say, my sister and I were very different growing up.  I was a total girly-girl.  I liked Barbie’s, makeup and dresses.  My sister was a total tom-boy.  She liked climbing trees, playing sports and … well … I don’t even know what else because we pretty much ignored each other most of the time.

I’m the blonde, she’s the brunette.

Even as adults we are pretty different.  My sister loves cooking & camping and she still wears absolutely no makeup.  I dislike cooking, much prefer a hotel and wouldn’t be caught dead in public without makeup.

You might be inclined to think that spending 30+ years living far apart combined with our rather different personalities might mean we don’t get along, or that we aren’t very close.

But despite those differences and the distance between us, we’ve always managed to get together at least one or two times a year (it definitely helped that our mom is a travel agent).

Then four years ago today my sister moved from New Jersey to Minnesota (her daughter moved here a month or two later as well).

I got to celebrate two things that year, my sister’s birthday and that we finally live within 10 miles of each other.

Now here it is four years later and I continue to be overwhelmed with gratitude at having my sister nearby.  Although it no longer seems unbelievable that we can get together and do things on a whim, like go shopping or out to eat, I don’t take her for granted for one second.

My sister is always incredibly supportive of everything I do.  She’s constantly up for pretty much anything I suggest.  She even sat through an hour long bra fitting at Soma with me recently (and FYI, that was amazing and if you haven’t had an official bra fitting in a while I totally recommend Soma for that).  I know that I can always call on her for anything at all and she will be there for me.

Lately we’ve been spending time planning our upcoming trip to Disney World.  It’s not until October, but we love to plan, plan, plan.  The planning is half the fun for us.  This time it’s just the two of us going and we’re going to focus on trying some new restaurants like O’Hana (which we already have reserved) and we’ll be taking another tour, the Marceline to Magic Kingdom tour, which includes some ‘behind the scenes’ looks at a couple of classic attractions.  We’ll also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of our first trip to a Disney park (yep, it was in 1969).

Why am I bringing all of this up today?  Well, not only is today the four year anniversary of my sister’s move to Minnesota, it’s also her birthday.  So I hope you will all join me in wishing her a happy birthday!  And if any of you are lucky enough to have a sister, take just a moment today to appreciate her.

the broken flower washstand.

The craziest thing happened last week when I went to pick up some furniture I was purchasing via Facebook Marketplace.

When Mr. Q and I arrived at the seller’s home I was mainly focused on taking a look at the pieces I was planning to buy.  The seller led us back to the bedroom and I looked over the set, which included a gorgeous spoon carved bed, washstand and dresser.  I checked the pieces over, handed the seller my cash, and then Mr. Q and I each grabbed an end of the headboard and headed back out to our van.

It wasn’t until we were almost out the door that I looked over, and what did I see?

Yep, that bench!  I swear my brain took a couple of seconds to register what I was looking at.  It was kind of surreal seeing a piece of my furniture in an expected place.  Then I thought, ‘no wonder this woman seems familiar!’  I’d sold her this bench last summer.

How crazy!  What are the chances?  Sometimes it really is just a small world.

I was happy to hear that she still loves the bench, she gets tons of compliments on it and all of her friends want to know where she got it.

The rest of the story is that after I got over my amazement at seeing one of my own pieces, Mr. Q and I finished hauling the headboard out to our van only to find that it wouldn’t fit.  It was just a couple of inches too big.  Argh.  So we hauled it back into the seller’s house and made arrangements to come back another day with a truck to get the headboard.  We were able to load up the washstand, dresser and foot board though.

All of this by way of saying that I never got an opportunity to take a ‘before’ photo of the complete set, but here is the first piece I worked on …

I love these washstand sized pieces, they are perfect to use as a bedside table, and the spoon carving on this one is totally charming.  See how each bunch of flowers has one stem that is broken?  That’s why I’m calling this the broken flower washstand.

I did my usual prep, a light sanding followed by a good cleaning.  As soon as I touched the sandpaper to this finish I could see that it was very old and dried out.  Sometimes when you start sanding an old finish like this it simply turns to dust at the lightest touch.

Although I immediately knew I wanted to use milk paint on this piece, I debated the color.  I really wanted to try a gorgeous custom mixed color that Jane Dawson recently shared on the Move Mountains with Miss Mustard Seed’s Milkpaint Facebook page.  Part of me felt like I should stick with a more neutral color that would help the piece sell faster though.

But I threw caution to the wind and used Jane’s recipe, 1/3 Boxwood to 2/3 Kitchen Scale.

As is often the case, the color looks entirely different on my piece than it did on Jane’s piece.  I think there are a few reasons for that.  For one thing, the beginning color of my piece was probably a bit different.  Second, I waxed my piece and Jane used a poly top coat on her piece.  Different topcoats can really change the color of milk paint.  And finally, as per the MMS website, there can be as much as a 15% variation in the color of milk paint from one batch to the next. If you are expecting to get exactly the same look every time with a particular color you might be surprised by this, so fair warning.

In the end, even though this wasn’t exactly the color I was going for, I think my piece turned out beautifully.  I got just the right amount of chipping.  Not too much, not too little.

I had mixed up 1/4 c of Boxwood, 1/2 c of Kitchen Scale and 3/4 c of water to make my paint. In case you’re wondering approximately how far 1.5 cups of mixed milk paint will go, I did two coats on this piece and had about 1/3 c of mixed paint left over.

I painted this bucket with some of the extra paint and then added a transfer from the Prima Marketing Everyday Farmhouse set.

There is a city near me that has a Trash to Treasure clean up each spring.  Residents put anything they want to get rid of at the curb and people can drive around and snatch things up.  This year it was slim pickings, but I did get both the bucket and the chair that it’s sitting on.

I love the sort of scalloped edge on the piece at the back of the washstand.

I always end up calling that piece a ‘back splash’ although I don’t know if that’s the right name for it.  I suppose since this was originally a washstand with a bowl and pitcher for washing on it, maybe back splash is the right name.

All three of the pieces in this set have the most fabulous metal casters.

I scrubbed the drawer pulls with soap and a toothbrush to clean them up a bit and then put them back on.

I didn’t polish them with metal cleaner because I wanted to retain that aged patina.

I lined drawers of the washstand with some really pretty wrapping paper that I picked up last year at a shop in St. Paul.

I forgot to mention that I finished this piece with Miss Mustard Seed’s clear furniture wax.  The thing about spoon carving is that it tends to create drips.  Paint or a more liquid topcoat like the MMS Tough Coat pools in the carved areas and then drips down after you’ve walked away.  Since I struggle with drips anyway, I decided wax was a better bet for me on this piece.

So.  There you have it.  The broken flower washstand painted in a color I think I’ll call Dawson Green.  Or should it be Dawson Blue?  What do you think?

Thank you to Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint for providing the paint and wax, and to Prima Marketing for providing the transfer for the bucket.

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

If you’re wondering where to buy Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint or wax, here is where you can ‘buy online.’

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

outdoor photo shoots.

With Spring officially here (and possibly even actually here, I do have a few things starting to come up in my gardens), I’m realizing that I’m really looking forward to returning to outdoor photo shoots this year.

Last year around this time I was feeling really insecure about my outdoor photos.  I had read something online that was critical of the idea of taking your furniture photos outside.  The writer suggested that you should always stage your furniture in spots that show how it could actually be used and that outdoor photos were ‘unprofessional.’

I immediately thought to myself ‘oh man, I’ve been doing it wrong all this time’, ‘I need to change what I’m doing to meet professional standards’ … which led to those inevitable feelings of ‘my work is inferior’ and ‘I don’t measure up.’

I started trying to think of ways I could set up better indoor photos year round.

I do have my photo cottage for summer photo shoots …

But it is in dire need of a fresh paint job, plus I can never quite get the lighting right in there.  Also, it’s small, so I have limited ability to shoot the piece from different angles other than straight on.

I also have the one blank wall in my house that I can stage for furniture photos …

It works great in the winter.  However, we have a lot of trees in our yard and in summer when they leaf out this spot is no longer filled with natural light.

I’d even thought about setting up a spot in my carriage house for summer ‘indoor’ photo shoots.

This spot seemed like it would be ideal because it has an authentic ship-lap style wall, and that concrete floor has a cool industrial vibe.  The lighting all comes from the side, but maybe I could work with that.  But in the end, the one thing that drove me crazy was the fact that the ship-lap is not level with the floor.  So my photos all end up looking crooked.  I can either make the furniture level or the ship-lap level, not both.

Finally I simply came to the conclusion that maybe outdoor photos were OK after all.  I mean seriously you guys, when am I going to learn to follow my own instincts and ignore the naysayers?

There really is something about outside photos that appeals to me.  Maybe it’s that unexpected juxtaposition of an outside setting with some inside furniture.

Or maybe it’s just that I enjoy working outside in any capacity when I have the chance.  Our summer season is so darn short here in Minnesota, so I like to enjoy it while I can.

I do realize that I’m lucky to have an awesome leafy, green background to take advantage of, not to mention a giant Limelight hydrangea to use as a backdrop.

In the end, outdoor photos work great for me.  So I thought I’d share a few q-tips with all of you on how to get the best outdoor photos.

Early morning or late evening light is best.  Photographers call the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset the ‘golden hour’, the light is softer than at other times of day and you can get a beautiful glow on your subject, whatever it might be.

You can shoot outside at mid-day if you’re in full shade, or if it’s an overcast day.

However, you should avoid direct sunlight which creates harsh shadows.

Dappled shade can be a problem too.

 If shooting in dappled shade try to make sure that your piece itself is mostly in shade.  Or ask your neighbor to come over and hold up a large golf umbrella just out of frame to throw some shade on your piece (nnK comes in really handy for this).

By the way, all of these tips work great for portrait photography too.  So the next time you want to get a good family photograph keep them in mind.

I’m looking forward to embracing ‘outdoor photo shoot season’ again this year.

How about you?

porous on purpose.

Gardening season isn’t quite here yet in Minnesota, but it’s just around the corner.  It’s definitely time to start prepping your supplies and getting ready to plant.

Today I have a sort of mixed bag of successes and failures to share with you.  It all started when I saw a YouTube video on how to whitewash terracotta pots using Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint by Karla from Vintage Hip Decor.

I immediately thought it would be fun to take it one step further and add graphics to my pots using Fusion’s transfer gel.

So, let’s start at the beginning.  I pulled out a bunch of clay pots from my workshop.  Some were newer looking than others, and some still had dirt in them.  So my first step was to clean out the pots.

I purchased this awesome pot brush at a garage sale last summer.

It works great for removing crusty dirt from inside your pot.  Once that was done, I also scrubbed any dirt off the outside of my pots using plain hot water.  Keep in mind that clay pots can absorb soap or other cleaning products that you might use on them and that isn’t good if you’re going to actually put plants in them.

Next I followed Karla’s technique and I whitewashed all of the pots with Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Farmhouse White.

I’m not going to give step by step instructions for this, but instead I’ll encourage you to take a look at Karla’s video (here).  It was super simple and I love the results.

Next I printed out some reverse image graphics to use on my pots.

I’ve done transfers using Fusion’s Transfer Gel before.  You can find more info on that plus a printable version of instructions in this post.

I’ve even had success putting them on clay pots before.  That “Grains” pot shown above is one I did a couple of years ago.  But for some reason, most of mine did not turn out this time.  If I scrubbed hard enough to remove the paper, it also removed the design itself.  Out of about 10 pots, only three worked out well enough for me to keep them.  FYI – on the rejects I was easily able to scrub off the entire mess using a plastic scrubby.

I was on the fence about calling the one shown above a ‘keeper’.  It’s on the border line, but I do love a distressed look.

This next one is my favorite …

I went a little heavier with the paint on that pot, and the transfer worked fairly well.  I don’t necessarily think it was the extra paint that caused the transfer to work better, but maybe?

Since I had such a fail with the gel transfers, I thought I’d give you another option for decorating clay pots and that’s to use the Prima Marketing French Pots transfers instead.

That lower pot on the left has a French Pot transfer on it.

They are gorgeous, and they go on much easier and more quickly than a gel transfer.  However, they are not as cost effective since you have to buy each one.  They come in sets of three and I’ve seen them for around $12 on amazon with free shipping, so around $4 per pot (just google ‘Prima Marketing French Pots transfers’ to find them online).  It’s not going to break the bank to purchase them, and it might save you a lot of frustration.

One last caution for you.  I consider all of these pots to be ‘decorative’.  In other words, I doubt they would hold up well outdoors or with a live plant inside.  Clay pots are porous on purpose.  Using a porous pot for your plants helps prevent over watering because excess water will leach through the pot.  However, that moisture coming from behind will compromise the paint and both styles of transfer.

If you do want to use the pots for real plants, I suggest keeping your plant in a plastic liner pot.

Take the liner pot and plant out of your clay pot to water it.  Let it drain, and then put it back in the clay pot.

The pots would look amazing just stacked on a bench or in a cupboard too.  You could also mingle them with some plain pots that have plants in them.

Do you have any tips about using painted clay pots to share?  If so, be sure to leave a comment.

the industrial mechanics tables.

Don’t let the green grass in this ‘before’ photo fool you.  No, it has not suddenly become summer here.  Last weekend while I was writing this post we had a solid layer of white (well, sort of white, and sort of brown from that Texas dust that blew in) snow on the ground, although it has melted again now.  The snow may be gone again, but things are only just starting to look green.

But I purchased this pair of tables at a garage sale last summer and I took a quick ‘before’ photo of them when I got them home.

I then put them in the photo cottage last fall along with a few other smaller pieces thinking I’d get to them over the winter.  Then they got snowed in.  I had a 4′ snow drift in front of the cottage and neither Mr. Q or I had any intention of shoveling that out just to get to some furniture to paint.

I’ll be honest, I only purchased the tables because they were ridiculously cheap.  I think I paid $10 each, or maybe it was $10 total.  I don’t remember for sure.  I considered it a bit of a gamble though, because I wasn’t sure if I could change them up enough to make them marketable.

Initially I was going to go for a feminine look.  Paint them white and add a floral transfer to the tops.  But as I was going through my stash of transfers I came across Prima Marketing’s Industrial Mechanics transfer.

This transfer comes on three sheets.  I had used just part of one of them on a metal roller skate case …

So I had two full sheets plus part of a 3rd left.  Each full sheet fit the top of a table pretty well.  They didn’t go all the way to the edge, but I thought I could make that work by painting the tables a dark color.

I wasn’t sure how the transfer would look over dark paint though, so I was glad I had that scrap of the 3rd sheet to use in an experiment.

I pulled out some Dixie Belle paint in Gravel Road which is a deep, rich grey.  Then I grabbed an old board out of the workshop and painted it.  Once dry I added a section of transfer, sanded it lightly to distress and then finished it with The Real Milk Paint Co’s Finishing Cream.

I wanted to make sure that the transfer would look good over the Gravel Road, and also that it would look good with a durable, washable topcoat over it since they would be on a table top.  The sample board turned out great, so I knew I was good to go with this more masculine look for the tables.

I followed my usual m.o.   Light sanding, followed by cleaning and then painting.  I used two watered down coats of the Gravel Road.  Next I sanded the tops lightly with 220 grit just to smooth them out a little.  I vacuumed away the dust and wiped them with a dry microfiber cloth to be sure they were mostly dust free.  Then I applied the transfer.  Both went on easily and once they were down I even burnished them lightly with the same microfiber cloth to make sure I removed any air bubbles.

So far, so good.  Everything looked great.

But then I decided to sand the transfers lightly to distress the edges a little, again with the 220 grit paper.  Sure enough, I pulled up a chunk of one of the transfers.  See it there on the right toward the lower corner?


This is the second time this has happened to me with one of the full image transfers (a full image transfer is one where the transfer is one solid sheet).  Both times I was applying the transfer over unsealed chalk style paint.  I have not had this happen when using a full image transfer over Fusion Mineral Paint.  I touched on this briefly in Monday’s post about the different kinds of paint that I use.  I recently heard someone recommend sealing chalk paint with a water based topcoat before adding a transfer to improve adhesion (just be sure not to use wax, you can’t add a transfer over a freshly waxed surface).

The more I thought about it, the more that made sense to me.  The Fusion paint has a built in top coat.  If you’ve ever worked with these paints, you’ll know that when freshly dry the Fusion feels a bit more tacky.  Not tacky in a bad way, but it has more gripping power than freshly sanded chalk paint, which feels sort of chalky and dry.

I haven’t tried this yet myself, but I wanted to pass on this tip in case any of you have had similar problems using a full image transfer over chalk paint.

Luckily the background paint under my transfer was very close to the background color of the transfer, so my boo boo isn’t a glaring problem.  In addition, the overall distressed looks of the tables helps it blend in as well.

I think these transfers would look amazing over black, but I like them over the dark grey.

This would be a fun look for bedside tables in a boy’s room.

I set the tables up in my living room to stage some photos of them.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that they were the perfect size to pair with my sectional.

Plus the Gravel Road worked perfectly with my new wall color.  So now I’m thinking I might just keep them.

It’s funny since I purchased them long before I had this sectional, and I certainly never thought I would be keeping them.  But for $10, why not?

Thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co and Prima Marketing for sponsoring this post with free product.

what kind of paint should I use on furniture?

Every once in a while someone asks me that question.  I imagine that they expect a simple one or two sentence answer.  But no, there isn’t a simple one product fits all answer.  There are so many things to consider such as what sort of surface are you painting?  How much money do you want to spend?  What look do you want to achieve?  How durable does it need to be?  How much experience do you have?  Is environmental safety important to you?  How about protecting yourself and your family from harmful toxins?  All of these factors and more go into choosing which paint or other finishes to use, and the answer is not going to be the same for every project or every painter.

If you’ve read my blog for long, you’ll have noticed that I am not totally loyal to just one brand or type of paint.  I love to use milk paint, but I also use chalk paint all the time.  I often use Fusion’s acrylic paint too.  And sometimes I even use spray paint, but shhhh, let’s let that one be our little secret.  In the spirit of full disclosure, several different brands provide me with free product including Fusion Mineral Paint, Dixie Belle Paint Co, Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint, Homestead House Milk Paint and the Real Milk Paint Co.  However, I make no promises to any of these paint brands other than that I will try their product and I will blog about my experience and opinions.  Good or bad.  None of them pay me to promote their product, and I also don’t make any money from sales of any of these products.

I like it that way.  I don’t want to feel obligated to promote a product just because they pay me.  And more importantly, I don’t want to be limited to using just one paint line.

So, let’s compare, shall we?

Milk paint.  There are multiple milk paint lines out there, Miss Mustard Seeds, Homestead House, The Real Milk Paint Co and Sweet Pickins just to name a few.  When I say ‘milk paint’ I am referring to the casein (the protein found in milk) based milk paint that comes in powder form and you mix it with water yourself.  Milk paint is safe for both you and the environment.  It is a non-toxic, zero VOC product.

When I use it:  I use milk paint when I want to get a chippy, vintage farmhouse style finish.  It gives that ‘aged in a barn for 80 years’ sort of look.  In my opinion, a good chippy milk paint finish looks more authentic than a distressed chalk paint or acrylic paint job.  This is my personal favorite ‘look’ for furniture.  I have 17 pieces of furniture in my own home that are painted with milk paint, so it’s safe to say that I really love this stuff.

Prep required:  It really pays to do at least some minimal prep on all of your pieces, but it’s especially important when using milk paint.  By minimal prep I mean a light scuff sanding followed by cleaning with a degreaser such as TSP Substitute or Krud Kutter kitchen degreaser.  This prep will just take 15 to 20 minutes and is a great investment of your time.  Specifically with milk paint, proper prep will help control how much chipping you get.  Milk paint will chip when the surface you are painting ‘resists’ the paint.  A waxy/oily/shiny surface will resist the paint.  The amount of prep you do can give you some control over that.  Then again, if you’re OK with a massively chippy look, go ahead and roll the dice by skipping the prep (as I did with the chair shown above which is painted in Miss Mustard Seeds Aviary).

Topcoat options:  Technically you don’t have to put a topcoat over milk paint.  Several of my pieces painted in milk paint do not have one including my Specimens Cupboard.  I painted this piece two years ago and it still looks fantastic.

 I especially like the look of the lighter milk paint colors without a topcoat (although I prefer the look of the darker colors with a topcoat).  Over time the milk paint will harden making it fairly durable, however, milk paint without a topcoat is not water resistant or washable.  To achieve that you have to add a topcoat.  Recommended topcoats include hemp oil, wax or poly.  I love using The Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat finishing cream over milk paint when I want a washable surface.

It barely changes the color of the milk paint, adds just the tiniest bit of sheen, is washable after 3 days and is easy to apply.

Cons:  Milk paint can be tricky to use.  It has a higher learning curve than other paints.  You have to mix it yourself and it takes a little practice to get the right consistency.  Making sure the pigments are well blended can also be dicey.  The color can be inconsistent, not only just from package to package, but even within one mixed cup of paint, especially with the green shades.  You have to pay attention and keep your paint well mixed as you are using it because some pigments are heavier than others and will settle to the bottom of your paint container.  Whether or not you get a chippy finish can also be difficult to control and/or predict.

Pros: When it works right, milk paint can’t be beat for providing an authentic looking chippy finish!  I also find this to be one of the easiest paints to apply from a purely physical stand point.  It’s thinner than other paints and it just takes less hand strength to actually paint it on.  I’m having a little trouble explaining this the way I want to, but there is a noticeable difference when you switch from painting something in chalk paint to painting with milk paint.  The brush feels lighter in your hand and you don’t have to work so hard to apply it.  Does that make sense?  In addition, the thin consistency of this paint pretty much eliminates brush strokes and allows you to add multiple layers of paint without adding unwanted texture.  I also enjoy creating my own custom colors with this paint.  True, you can do that with other paints too, but somehow it’s more fun adding various powders to water and watching it turn into paint.  Another plus to milk paint is that although the mixed paint has a limited shelf life, the powder itself has an indefinite shelf life if kept dry in an air tighter container (I keep my opened bags of milk paint in a Rubbermaid container).

Find Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint retailers here.

Chalk style paint.

I think we all know that the list of paint manufacturers who have jumped on the chalk paint bandwagon is long.  Actually I think I read somewhere that Annie Sloan has trademarked the term “chalk paint” so all of the others tend to call themselves things like “chalky paint” or “chalk mineral paint”, but I don’t know for sure if that is true.  I’ve been using the Dixie Belle brand of chalk mineral paint for a couple of years now and I really love it.  This brand of chalk paint is non-toxic and has zero VOC’s.

When I use it: I use chalk paint when I want a matte distressed finish, and I don’t want to worry about chipping or adhesion issues.  If I’m going to paint vinyl, such as a chair or a suitcase, I get the best results with chalk style paint.  Also, when painting something black my top choice is Dixie Belle’s Caviar or Midnight Sky with a wax top coat.  This combo just creates the most delicious looking finish with minimal brush strokes.  Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky was perfect for my baby grand piano.

Prep required: You know what?  I’m going to say the same thing for every kind of paint.  It really pays to do minimal prep on your pieces.  By minimal prep I mean that light scuff sanding following by cleaning with a degreaser.  Many brands of chalk paint (including Dixie Belle) say that no prep is required, but I beg to differ.  If you run into a particularly waxy or oily surface you will wish you had taken the time to do minimal prep.

Topcoat options:  The Dixie Belle chalk paint does not require a topcoat.  However, the finish will be very flat and chalky looking without a topcoat, so if you want even just a little bit of sheen you’ll need to topcoat it.  For that reason I sometimes avoid using chalk paint on large pieces and also on areas that are more difficult to wax (like the inside of a cupboard for example).

Cons:  Um.  Yeah.  I can’t really think of any except what I mentioned above about topcoats.  You’ll need that extra step (and expense) of a topcoat if you want some sheen to your piece.

Pros:  This stuff is kind of a no-brainer.  Once you know the basics, you really shouldn’t run into to many problems using chalk paint.  Therefore, this is a great choice for a beginner painter.  The color will generally be consistent.  It’s easy to distress.  You can even just use a damp paper towel to distress chalk paint.  It adheres well to almost any surface including metal and fabric.  It is self-leveling and if you water it down a little you won’t have any issues with brush strokes.

Find Dixie Belle paint retailers here.

Acrylic paint.

Fusion Mineral Paint and General Finishes Milk Paint (a misnomer) are both acrylic paints.  I’ve been using Fusion paint for years.  I’m super impressed with this company’s commitment to providing products that are safe for both the painter and the environment.  Their Tones for Tots line underwent rigorous testing to be sure it was suitable for use on children’s furniture.  Needless to say, this paint also has zero VOC’s and is non-toxic.

When I use it: First and foremost, I use Fusion when I’m feeling kind of lazy.  It is hands down the easiest of these products to use.  Here are the instructions; open jar, paint, let dry.  OK, that may be a little bit of an exaggeration.  You should do the same minimal prep that I recommend for every paint job when using Fusion paint, a light sanding and cleaning of your piece will do.  But from there it really is that simple. I tend to choose Fusion for large pieces that I don’t want to have to wax.  It’s perfect for the insides of cabinets, and I also like to use it on surfaces that need to be especially durable like the shelving in my living room. I also love to use Fusion on mid-century pieces that I am not going to distress.  Their Park Bench (the green shown below) is perfect for mid-mod pieces.

Cons:  The finish with Fusion is just a tad shinier than a waxed (or oiled) milk or chalk paint finish.  I hate to even use that word ‘shinier’ because it’s still not shiny by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s just not as matte as the other two.  So if you’re looking for a really matte finish, you might not like the sheen. Fusion is also a little more challenging to distress.  It can be done, but it takes a little more elbow grease.  Distressed acrylic paint looks a bit like distressed latex.  The paint sort of peels away rather than coming away as a powder like chalk or milk paint.  This really is a fine distinction though and won’t matter to most painters.

Pros: Fusion can definitely be the cheapest way to go, mainly because you don’t need to also purchase a topcoat.  Not requiring a topcoat also saves you some time/labor since you can skip that step.  Fusion is also fully washable once cured.  That makes it a great choice for items going to a home with small children.  Fusion also provides an ideal surface for transfers.  Of course, you can put transfers over chalk paint and milk paint too, but in my experience they adhere best over Fusion.  I have heard some transfer retailers recommend sealing a milk or chalk painted piece with a water based sealer first, then add the transfer in order to improve the adhesion of the transfer.  Fusion is water resistant, so it’s also a great choice for pieces that might be exposed to water on a regular basis like a bathroom vanity or a metal toolbox that you might use as a planter.

Find Fusion retailers here.

Spray paint.

All of my previous selections are environmentally sound, non-toxic, zero VOC products.  In general I stick with that type of product.  I do a lot of painting, so I try to be cognizant of what I’m exposing myself and Mr. Q to on a regular basis.  I also do a lot of indoor painting in the winter, so I need products that are safe and relatively odor free.  But I do have a confession to make.  Every once in a while I pull out the spray paint.  I will only spray outside though, so this is definitely not a winter friendly choice for me.  But if I’m going to paint wicker, cane, or something like a basket, I’ll spray paint it simply to save time and effort.

One of my favorite tricks is to spray paint the cane on a piece first and then go over that with the paint I’ll be using on the rest of the item so that it matches.  I used this approach with my cane dining room chairs.

So, yes, spray paint does have its place.

I hope this post gave you some good information on the different types of paint available.  Be sure to pin it for future reference!

But now I’m curious, what kind of paint will you be using on your next project and why?  Be sure to leave a comment!


cumulus & thunder.

You know how they say April showers bring May flowers?  Well, how about April snow, sleet and freezing rain?  That’s what we had here yesterday and I felt so sorry for the vendors at Junk Bonanza.  I hope they still had a great showing!

Last Saturday we also had a few of those April showers, but it was too warm for snow or ice.  That made it the ideal weather for a visit to the American Swedish Institute with Mr. Q, my sister and my niece.

The American Swedish Institute is housed in the Turnblad Mansion which was built between 1904 and 1908 for Swan and Christina Turnblad.  Swan Turblad made his fortune in the newspaper business and by making good investments.  Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, ‘The family moved into their new home in 1908.  While it was their official residence, they spent most of their time living in an apartment across the street after 1915.  After Turnblad’s wife died in 1929, he and his daughter moved into the apartment full-time and turned their former home into a museum.’

That kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Swan was descended from generations of Swedish farmers.  Perhaps having come from such humble beginnings he felt out of place in such a massive home.  Or maybe the house was simply too large to heat well during cold Minnesota winters.  I don’t know, I couldn’t find an explanation as to why they didn’t live in the mansion much.

 It definitely has a foreboding appearance in the gloom though, don’t you think?  It reminds me a bit of the Haunted Mansion in Disney World …

Maybe that’s the real reason the Turnblad’s didn’t inhabit it for long, it’s haunted!

Currently (through April 28) the ASI is exhibiting surreal photography by Swedish photographer/visual artist Erik Johansson.  If you are local you really should try to get there to see this exhibit.  There are some amazing, thought-provoking pieces like this one called The Cover-Up.

Actually, pretty much every piece is amazing.  I loved this one called Leap of Faith.

If you look closely at the yellow diamond sign on the staircase, it says ‘one balloon p.p.’.  Don’t we all feel a little bit like that some days as we head off to work with our briefcase in hand and our one allotted balloon?  Or is it just me?

My sister really liked a piece called Impact.

They were showing a short video explaining how Johannson creates his art (here’s a link if you’d like to watch the video for this piece).  There is far more work behind these images than I realized.

As we were wandering around the exhibit there were moments when I couldn’t decide what I should be looking at, the photography or the mansion itself.

I was torn between looking up at the beautiful ceilings …

or checking out some of the 11 tile stoves imported from Sweden …

But in the end it was definitely the thought-provoking art that drew my eye.

 I was totally fascinated by a piece called Demand & Supply.

Take a closer look at what is happening in that photo.  Those backhoes are digging away at the very precarious structure that is holding up that entire city above.  It definitely makes you pause for a moment to consider the implications.

I’ll leave you with this charming photo called Cumulus & Thunder.

I guess this explains where all of those clouds came from last weekend!

I’m sure glad they were there though because we had a really enjoyable time at the ASI.  I’m not sure we would have chosen to go there had it been a gorgeous, sunny, spring day.

Be sure to check out Erik Johansson’s website to see more of his work (and definitely some better images of his photos than that ones I took above).  And if you are local and you’re looking for something to do while the snow melts this weekend, I highly recommend checking out this exhibit before it closes at the end of the month.