a sweet petite bench.

You’ll remember that recently I mentioned how much I procrastinate when it comes to upholstered pieces.  Apparently that’s even true of pieces that just require simple upholstery, like this one.

 My friend/picker Sue found this bench quite some time ago.  And actually, she was going to give this one a makeover herself.  Her husband had already cut a sheet of plywood to make a new base for the seat.  But for whatever reason, she gave up on it and offered it to me.

As you can tell by the ‘before’ photo, that was some time ago.

I painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Farmhouse White way back last summer.

I was hoping to get a little chipping out of it, but I really didn’t.  I did distress the edges though, and am very happy with the end result.

I top coated the paint with some clear wax, and then … well … I ignored it for the next 7 months.

I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to make it comfy enough to sit on without spending a fortune on upholstery foam (that stuff can be weirdly pricey).  I kept thinking I’d run across some sort of over-sized cushion while out garage saling that I could re-purpose for this bench, but I never did.

But then I got inspired by a piece I saw on Instagram and decided I could just use a king-sized pillow.  And while out shopping with Mr. Q one day, I found a cheap one at Target for just $10.

All I had to do was ask Sue to sew me a cover for it out of drop cloth fabric, and ta da!

Well, technically there were a few more steps in there.  First of all, I covered the plywood base with some batting followed by drop cloth fabric.  Then Sue sewed the drop cloth pillow cover.  Once I had that back, I added a stencil to it using Dixie Belle paint in Gravel Road.

Then I stuffed the pillow in and tried it out.  It was way too puffy.  So I pulled it back out, ripped open a seam and removed about half of the pillow stuffing.  That helped a lot.

It was about this point that I realized I didn’t like seeing the uncovered pillow inside the drop cloth cover.  So I sent it back over to Sue’s house and she sewed a ticking stripe cover for it.

Ahhh, much better.

This bench is quite petite at 36″ tall x 40″ wide x 24″ deep, so it wouldn’t work well at a table.  However, it would be adorable in a small foyer or maybe at the foot of a bed.

If you’re local and have the perfect spot for it, be sure to check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page to see if it’s still available.


a chair with some british flair.

You may notice a bit of a theme to my posts over the next couple of weeks … or at least I hope so.  I’m really working on clearing out that pile of stuff up in the carriage house and today’s piece also came from there.

I picked up this chair at a garage sale many, many moons ago.  I loved the shape of the front two legs, and that union jack design of the chair back.

Somehow it got stashed upstairs in the carriage house and I forgot all about it though.

So last week I pulled it out and took that quick ‘before’ photo on our deck.  FYI, since then all of that snow on the deck has melted, and you can even see patches of brown grass out in the yard.  I think spring is coming early this year.

Anyway, I cleaned the chair with some spray cleaner and then painted it with two coats of Dixie Belle’s Sawmill Gravy.  I’m really loving this color.  So much so that I just ordered the large size jar.  It really is just a barely-there grey.

I generally tend to avoid buying things to paint that have already been painted, but you know my motto, ‘never say never’.  If I really like something and the price is right, I will make exceptions to that rule.

So, here are a couple of tips for painting over pre-existing paint (without stripping it, because that is a nasty, messy job).  First, keep in mind that the durability of your paint will be dependent upon the durability of that pre-existing paint.  If it’s peeling, your new paint will just stick to the peeling paint, not to the surface under it.  Also, if there are lots of drips, you need to sand those down before you paint or you will still see them.  I always prep pre-painted pieces a little more carefully before painting over them.  Sand it well, preferably using a mask just in case the old paint has lead in it.  Then clean it well before you begin painting using a product like TSP.

And finally, remember that if you are going to distress your piece, the old color is inevitably going to show in layers.  So if you’re not OK with that, either don’t distress at all or paint a base color first, then use a wet distress technique to allow only your base color to show through.

I ended up really liking the layering of colors on this chair.

To play off that union jack design on the back, I added just a snippet from the re.design with prima Everyday Farmhouse transfer just under the seat of the chair.

Perfect, right?

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co and re.design with prima for providing the supplies used in this project.

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

If you’re looking for re.design with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

And if you’re local, and you need a chair with some British flair, check out my ‘available for local sale‘ page to see if this one is still available.

the statute of limitations.

I think I’ve already mentioned that over the last year or so I’ve been trying to work my way through my stashes of stuff out in the carriage house.  For any of you who might be new to my blog, this is the carriage house …

It has a 2nd floor that we use for storage.  It sounds like an amazing set up for someone like me who does furniture makeovers, but the stairway to get upstairs is steep and has a turn in it and as a result we never haul any of the larger/heavier pieces of furniture up there.  I do have a few smaller things in a pile up there though.  A couple of chairs, small tables, and other random stuff.

One of the random bits of stuff was a fun half-chair shelf that a friend of mine made.  Way back when I hosted an occasional sale out of the carriage house she had brought this chair/shelf over to sell.  It didn’t sell, but she never came back for it.  I reminded her a few times that I still had it.  That was nearly five years ago.  We’ve since lost touch.  Meanwhile, the chair/shelf has been sitting there taking up space and collecting dust for all of that time.

So I figure the statute of limitations is up.  This piece is now mine to do with as I please.  So I gave it a little makeover last weekend.

I neglected to get a ‘before’ photo, but it was painted in a glossy-ish black.  Too shiny for my taste.  It also had book pages glued to the seat, but they were mostly falling off, so it was easy to remove them completely.  Once that was done, I decided to just work with the black so I painted over it with Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky to give it a flat finish.

But then I decided that black just wasn’t going to cut it.  It’s such a funky piece, it needed more of a statement color.  So I mixed up some Sweet Pickens milk paint in my favorite of their colors, In a Pickle.

I added two coats of the milk paint over the Midnight Sky.  I was surprised to find that I got quite a lot of chipping.  I didn’t think the fresh Dixie Belle paint would resist the milk paint this much.  And much more so in some areas than others.

In hindsight, I wish I’d put a different color under the green.  Had I predicted this level of chipping, I definitely would have.  I’m not really loving the black and green combo, but I decided to work with it, instead of against it.  So, I added a section of black wording from re.design with prima’s Everyday Farmhouse transfer to help tie in the black.

Once I had that in place, I added a top coat of Dixie Belle’s Howdy Do Hemp Oil.

My q tip of the day;  always apply a transfer before you apply wax or hemp oil.  You will struggle to get a transfer to adhere over freshly applied wax or hemp oil.  If you have a piece with a wax or hemp oil finish already on it and you badly want to add a transfer, you should wait until the finish has cured a full 30 days.

It wasn’t until I actually tried to hang the shelf for a photo shoot that I realized that it wasn’t going to be very structurally sound using the hardware that was already on it (three strategically placed saw tooth hangers).  I was able to hang it long enough to get some photos, but I wouldn’t have wanted to put anything breakable on it, just in case.  So now I’m going to add a couple of ‘L’ brackets to it before taking it in to the shop to sell.  I want it to be functional as well as pretty.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for supplying the Howdy Do Hemp Oil and to re.design with prima for supply the transfer.

sow’s ears and silk purses.

I sent Mr. Q to pick up a dresser from someone selling on Craigslist a few weeks ago, and while there he texted me to ask if I wanted a second dresser that the guy had for sale.  There was a bit of miscommunication and after some texting back and forth, he ended up buying the 2nd dresser without my having seen a photo of it.

On the plus side, he only paid an additional $15 or so for it because that was all the cash he had on hand.  On the minus side, it’s a fairly cheaply constructed piece of furniture.  It also needed a few repairs before I could paint it, and it’s fairly nondescript.  Definitely not my usual style.

But, what the heck, Mr. Q bought it, so I may as well do what I can with it, right?

First I called up my favorite handyman/neighbor, Ken.  He was busy counting his hockey pucks (no lie, he collects hockey pucks and has been working on rearranging them in his custom made display rack lately), but he was willing to take a break from the pucks and help me out with this dresser.  We worked together on shoring up the drawers that were falling apart, replacing missing drawer stops, grinding down stops that were rubbing on the drawer bottoms and adding some glides that were missing.

The rest was easy.  I sanded it lightly, vacuumed away the dust and wiped it down with a damp rag.  Then I painted it in two coats of Dixie Belle’s French Linen.

French Linen is one of those chameleon like colors that totally changes depending on the lighting and the colors around it.  It’s a muddy grey-brown with a tiny hint of a lavender undertone.  I didn’t see the lavender while painting the piece in the artificial lighting of my piano room after dark, but once I pulled the piece in front of my white wall on a bright, sunny day I could see it.

Once the paint dried, I added re.design with prima’s Carte Postale transfer.

It was the perfect fit for the front of this dresser, and I also love how it looks over the French Linen.

As for the knobs … well, I thought about replacing them with glass knobs.  That certainly would have been pretty.  But I would have needed to order them (I usually order them by the dozen from D Lawless Hardware).  Plus, there are 10 knobs on this dresser and I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest any more money in it.

So instead I cleaned up the original wood knobs using Dixie Belle’s No Pain Gel Stain in Walnut because that didn’t cost anything.

After I took that photo above, I made a small mistake.  I started to wax the knobs before they were fully dry.  The wax ending up taking off some of the stain giving me a lighter color as you’ll see in a minute.  I rather liked the result, so I went with it.  But this is something to keep in mind.  This is an oil based product and takes longer to dry than the typical products I work with (6 to 8 hours according to the label).

The wooden knobs give this piece a totally different look than glass knobs would have, don’t you think?

I suspect this decision will have a polarizing effect on you guys.  Some of you will love it, some of you will hate it, but there probably won’t be many in between.

So, here’s the thing about this dresser.  Although it has been repaired to make it as functional as possible, and I have done what I can to improve the look of it, in the end you know what they say, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

No matter what I do to it, it won’t become a high quality, well constructed piece of furniture.  I can’t charge top dollar for this piece no matter how pretty it is.

But it definitely is pretty.

So is it worthwhile to spend 6 or 7 hours on repairs and finishing, add a $30 transfer, plus another $15 or so worth of paint and wax on a piece like this?

Well, it can be.  In this case it will work out because I only paid $15 for the dresser.  My handyman Ken works for wine and some occasional profit sharing, and I have nothing more important to do with my time (although Ken could have been counting hockey pucks instead).  In addition, both Dixie Belle Paint Co and re.design with prima send me their product for free.  So yes, for me this piece was totally worthwhile.

But for you that might not be the case.  My advice is to always try to find higher quality pieces of furniture to work on.  They are out there, and you may pay a little more than $15 for them, but they will be more worthy of your time.  In the end you’ll have a beautiful piece of furniture that is also well constructed.

Then again, if you’re on a budget and just want something pretty for the kid’s room, or the laundry room, or the potting shed … this dresser might be perfect for you!

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co and re.design with prima for providing the supplies used in the attempt to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

If you’re looking for re.design with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

wet distressing.

A few weeks ago I had a few extra minutes during my lunch hour so I stopped off at a local Goodwill store.  I didn’t find much, but I did pick up a couple of gold frames.

I thought both of these would make good candidates for using a wet distress technique.

I started by removing the glass and the floral prints from each frame.  Then I painted the larger one using two coats of Dixie Belle’s Midnight Sky and the smaller one using two coats of Fluff.

As soon as the paint was dry I used a dampened terry cloth rag (a nubby cloth will work best for this) and simply rubbed paint off the raised surfaces.

It’s that easy.

Here are a couple of tips on wet distressing.

First, it works best on surfaces like this that have a raised design that you want to highlight.

Second, it’s a great choice when you want to distress down to another layer (in this case, the original gold of the frames) without going down to the wood underneath.  You’ll have a bit more control over that with wet distressing as opposed to sandpaper.

Third, it works best on paint that has just dried.  The longer you give the paint to cure, the harder it will be to wet distress.

Finally, it works best with a chalk style paint like Dixie Belle because this kind of paint is ‘reactivated’ with water (again, before it has had too much time to cure).

Another great benefit of wet distressing is that it doesn’t create any dust, which makes it perfect for winter indoor work (especially if you work in your living room like I do).

You can reveal as little or as much of the base color as you like.  And if you remove too much paint, just put more paint back on over it and try again.

When you achieve the look you were going for, simply add a coat of clear wax for protection and call it good.

I kept the original floral print in the smaller frame.

But I changed out the print in the larger frame.  I didn’t care for the red floral that came with it, so I went with this Eiffel Tower print instead.

What do you think?  An improvement?

Have you tried wet distressing?  Or do you have any other techniques that you are partial to?  If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle for providing the paint used on these frames.

You can find Dixie Belle products here.

the beast.

When I was searching out pieces for my Chippy Barn collaboration, I found this empire piece.

In the end I decided to paint this one dark, and instead used the taller empire dresser that I shared last Friday for that project.

I paid top dollar for this piece at $100.  I don’t usually spend that much, but this one really appealed to me.  Plus, it’s a good sized dresser.  Plus, it was in relatively good condition.  Plus, it’s a solid, well constructed sturdy piece of furniture.  So I splurged.

I suspected right away that those drawer pulls were not original to the piece, they just aren’t the right style.  And did any of you notice that just one of them is on upside down?  Go back to the ‘before’ shot and see if you can find it.  Or maybe 7 of them are upside down and only one of them is right side up, I’m really not sure.

Anyway, when I removed them I found that there were original holes behind them for a knob.  Yep, they definitely weren’t original.

So I filled the two newer holes that had been drilled for the pulls before painting.

Here are my tips for filling holes like these.  First, place some painters tape behind the hole.  This keeps the fill you use from squeezing out the backside of the hole.  Next, fill the hole as full as you can with Dixie Belle’s Mud.  Let that set up overnight.  Once dry, add a layer of spackle over the Mud.  The spackle is not sturdy enough for the entire job, but will give a smoother result for the final coat.  Once dry, sand smooth and paint.

I challenge you to find those filled holes now!

Once the holes were filled in, I sanded the dresser lightly and then cleaned it with TSP Substitute.  I was planning on going with Dixie Belle’s Bunker Hill Blue on this one, but when I pulled it out I realized I didn’t have quite enough paint for this large piece.  So I decided to stretch my paint by adding some In the Navy.

Here’s a comparison of the two colors for you.

The Bunker Hill Blue is more cobalt, while the In the Navy is a very dark navy almost bordering on black (here is one of my fave pieces I painted with In the Navy).  The combination of the two is a gorgeous, rich navy blue.  It ended up being the perfect color for this piece.

Oh, hey, did you notice anything else about how I changed up this piece?

I removed the trim pieces that were on either side of the drawers.

That was totally just a personally preference kind of thing.  I didn’t like how ‘colonial-ish’ they looked.  I feel like the dresser has a much more current feel without them.  I know some of you are going to wish I’d left them on, but I’m making all of the decisions here so they came off along with those classic colonial drawer pulls.

By the way, I replaced those pulls with some simple wooden knobs that I had in my stash.

Also, I finished this dresser with a coat of clear wax.  You can see a couple of streaky spots on the top edge of the dresser in that photo above.  Those are spots that I missed with the wax and didn’t notice it until looking at the photo.  Ooops.  That’s an easy fix though, just go over it with more wax.

I got the idea for staging this piece from Flea Market Finds magazine … or maybe it was Country Living … uh oh, I can’t remember.  Well, regardless, a recent issue showed a room with shelves that housed the set of classic books that I found in my attic last December.  I got these books from my parents and had entirely forgotten about them.

I must confess, I never saw myself doing anything with these books other than donating them to the Goodwill eventually.  But there they were in the magazine, and they looked pretty fabulous in a color-blocking sort of way.  So I pulled them out of the attic once again.

You might be wondering why I titled this post ‘the beast’ and really it’s just because this dresser is quite a bit larger than it looks in photos.  It is 46.25″ tall x 41″ wide x 22″ deep.

I think this dresser is a great example of how much you can change the look of a piece with just some paint and a hardware change.

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint, as well as the Mud, used for this project.  Thank you to Fusion Mineral Paint for supplying the clear wax (once again I used their new Hills of Tuscany scented wax).

You can find Dixie Belle products here.

And here is a link to info on where to buy Fusion Mineral Paint products.

If you’re looking for a beast of a dresser in a rich navy blue, check out my ‘available for local‘ sale page.

cottage white and toile.

As most of you know, I am on the re.design with prima design team.

A while back Prima asked if any of us would like to collaborate on a project using Amulent Paint from The Chippy Barn.  Since I love trying out new products and sharing them with you guys here on my blog, I jumped at the chance.

Amulent Paint is not a chalk paint or a milk paint, instead it is a ceramic paint.  I have to say, I don’t know much about the science behind ceramic paint so I googled it.  I found an article online about ceramic paint that lists its benefits (you can find the article here):

    • A smoother, more continuous paint film that resists cracking.
    • Superior stain resistance—stains don’t get absorbed, so they can be wiped off.
    • The ceramics produce a less tacky paint surface, which reduces dirt accumulation.
    • Round spheres roll past each other in the paint, greatly enhancing flow and leveling.
  • And microspheres help hide the underlying substrate and reduce the luster of the paint.

It all sounds good to me.

So, I started searching online for just the right piece to use for this collaboration and found this empire style dresser.

I knew I could deal with the mismatched knobs.  This piece also had quite a bit of loose veneer, but that was remedied with some gluing and clamping.  And FYI, this is another faux wood grain piece.  Those stripes are fake, so I didn’t feel one bit of guilt painting over them.

After gluing, clamping, sanding lightly and cleaning thoroughly (this dresser was also disgustingly dirty when I got it) with TSP substitute, I added a coat of Cottage White.

I always prep my pieces with a light scuff sanding followed by vacuuming inside and out.  When you’re working with used vintage furniture I think it’s just good common sense to give them a good clean before you move on to painting.  Generally I use TSP Substitute which is less harsh than TSP but does a good job of removing any greasy residues.

I was quite impressed by the coverage of this paint after just the first coat.  I stopped there and let the paint dry for a good 24 hours mainly because I wanted to be sure I wasn’t getting any bleed-thru from that orange-y looking stain before moving on to a second coat of paint.

I was in luck, no bleed-thru on this one.  So I added a 2nd coat of the Cottage White.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t need a 3rd coat, especially since this is a white paint.

I also found that the Amulent Paint distressed beautifully.  I sanded the edges of the dresser using 220 grit paper to add a little ‘age’ to my finish.

Next I pulled out re.design with prima’s Simplicity transfer which is a lovely black toile print.

I considered using it for all of the drawer fronts, but to fully cover them all from side to side would have required three sets of the transfer.  The drawers are around 26.5″ wide by 36″ tall,  the transfer is 22″ wide x 30″ tall, so just a hair short both ways.  So instead I decided to just do the top two drawers.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the graphic punch of black and white, and this transfer was perfect over the Cottage White paint.

For a final finish on this piece I used The Chippy Barn’s Specialty Clear Wax in the Lemongrass scent.  If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I LOVE using products that smell good.  If you like lemongrass scent, you will love this wax!  If you’re not a fan of lemongrass, it also comes in four other scents; Lavender, Lilac, Peppermint and Spearmint.  Or you can get it unscented, and in white, brown or black.

This dresser was short 3 glass knobs when Mr. Q brought it home.  Not only that, but the knobs were filthy dirty and the metal screws were quite rusted (and not in a good way).  So I found three matching (or mostly matching) knobs in my stash, soaked the originals in soapy water to get them clean and then replaced just the screws with new ones.  Did you know that you can buy these screws in chrome or brass at D Lawless Hardware for just 20 cents each?  Good to know if you ever run into a piece like this.

In the end, all of the knobs look brand new.

As a final touch, I lined just the top two drawers with some scrapbook paper.  The drawer bottoms were a bit stained so I opted to cover that up.

I think this one turned out lovely.  It would be perfect for someone’s cottage style decor, and with six drawers total it would provide great storage.

Thank you to re.design with prima for setting up this collaboration and for providing the Simplicity transfer.  And thank you to The Chippy Barn for providing the Amulent paint and the lemongrass scented wax.

If you’re looking for re.design with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

If you’d like to check out The Chippy Barn, you can find them here.

And if you are local and need a sweet, cottage style dresser visit my ‘available for local sale‘ page to find out if this one is still available.