Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Punisher! (It's another armoire, yo.)

Well, folks.  I finally finished the armoire that I had initially picked up for my mom for Christmas (but then realized it wasn't the "right kind"  she was wanting, and ended up going with this one instead).  I'm calling this piece "The Punisher" since it punished me, right to the end!  This is one of those pieces that you sit and think a few times about throwing it out in the alley...but in the end, you're pretty glad you didn't.

(Harsh, eh?)

I told in you the post about my mom's armoire that I picked this up in early October.  It popped up on my local CL (which usually NEVER has good stuff!) listed as a dresser, and was so reasonably priced, I was pretty sure it'd be gone when I wrote an hour after it was posted.  Surprisingly, it was not, and I was the lucky buyer.  It was a pretty good buy too, because I found out the family was moving and they also had two buffets that came home with me that day.  I'll share those with you eventually.

Anyhow, this thing was a beast.  Luckily the home owner's husband and neighbor were nice enough to carry it out to the trailer for me (despite my attempts to help).  When I got it home, I had to try and get it off the trailer myself since my DH was up north for the weekend, and my neighbors had gone MIA.  I got it off the ramped trailer, and went to stand it up.  Genius here forgot the owner had told me the front foot was off and in one of the drawers, so I stood it up from behind and had one of those slow motion "Noooooooo!" moments as it slowly fell forward, away from me, where I couldn't grab anything to prevent it's fall- and it smashed on it's face.  The door broke off, the support where the door attached to the armoire itself busted off, and the wood scuffed along the entire top and front of the piece.  

Can we all just say, "Auuuughh!" please?  Isn't that like the most disappointing feeling in the world?

At least it's wood.  And if it's wood, it can be fixed.  I pulled it down to my paint room and glued, clamped, pin nailed, filled, sanded, and gave it a thorough wipe down with Krud Kutter.

Okay- enough talk.  Time for pictures.  You haven't even seen the beast yet.  The green beast.

Yes.  She's big.  She's heavy.  And she's green.  I don't know why the previous owners went this route, but they painted EVERYTHING on the exterior green...and not neatly either.

I pulled all the hardware off and stripped it, gave it a good dose of ORB, and then sanded it lightly to bring the details out.  I bought a new piece of backer and attached, and repaired and re-affixed her leg so she'd be a solid piece.  Then I gave the entire thing a light sanding to degloss the paint, and went to painting it.

Since I had already planned on it being gray and white, I painted it in the same paints as I did Mom's armoire, only I lightened the gray a bit with some of the cream.  I started out by painting the entire exterior gray, and then I spent a small eternity taping and trimming the piece in cream.

(sorry- phone pic for the next two!)

I didn't distress this piece because I didn't want the green to show through, so I went straight to glazing it with a burnt umber glaze.  I loved the way it deepened the gray, but not so much how it made the cream look dingy.

I went over those parts with a sanding sponge lightly to try and bring some of the light back through.  I did end up with a tiny bit of green here and there, but in a nice way.  I waxed it, painted the metal wire front with gray, and reattached it.  I used clear wax to seal the piece, and reattached all the original hardware to the lower drawers.  I had to find replacements for the doors though, since one was missing.  Let me tell you, it's hard to find something that looks "right" on those types of doors!  I ended up using some mini knobs I'd previously taken off a dresser.  

I still have to finish some panels for the doors, and have a shelf cut for the top (even though it's the PERFECT size for up to a 32" flat screen), but I moved her into the shop anyhow, and she's getting rave reviews!

I think she's much happier in her "gray life," don't you?

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

French chair redo, and DIY chalk paint

Well, I did it.  I moved into the new shop over the weekend, and I realized one main thing-- I really have to work in the next few weeks to put more pieces out.  I don't have enough!

This little reproduction French chair is one piece I refinished recently to move into the shop.

As you can see, it really wasn't in bad shape, it just needed a little dose of fun.  I started out by painting it with homemade chalk paint.  I told you I'd share the mixture this post, and so I will break in the before and after to tell you about it.  It's nothing new, but it's not widely spread around blog land as an option yet, so I hope it's new to you!

Let me start out by saying that I love Annie Sloan chalk paint, but don't love the prices and that you basically need a full supply of stock to be able to mix and achieve the color you're looking for.  Anyhow, late one night I was searching blogland, and came across Villabarnes blog.  She had some beautiful furniture redos, and as I read in them, I learned about her DIY chalk paint.  She uses a 50/50 mixture of gesso primer to latex paint, and then add a little water to make it the consistency of paint (gesso is thick!).

That's it.  Big secret, eh?  I was a bit skeptical and did more research at first.  I entered "gesso chalk paint" in google to see if anyone else had discovered this revelation, and the first site that popped up was this:

Yes.  A site that spells out using gesso chalk paint for furniture!  It also has a recipe to make your own gesso if you want to buy all the supplies to do it yourself.  Personally, I just purchased my gesso primer in the artists paint section at Hobby Lobby.  With a 40% off coupon, I came away with 84 1/2 ounces of primer for $9...pre-made.

But just what is gesso?  Well, it's an artist primer sometimes used to prime canvases.  It prevents paint from soaking into the piece, and gives the surface a little more texture so the paint sticks better.  Originally it was made with calcium (like chalk) and animal glue, but nowadays it's a mixture of calcium carbonate, a pigment, and an acrylic polymer medium.  You can buy it in black, grey, and white to better match to the color you're trying to achieve.  

I've been really happy with this mixture, and have found a few others out there in blog land who use it with great results too like Liz from The Midwest Cottage (she might actually make her own gesso?) who has some BEAUTIFUL pieces under her belt using this type of paint, as well as a variety of others.

Unlike the unsanded grout/latex paint combo, this mixes and goes on smoothly since the gesso is already a creamy, paint like mixture.  It also stores perfectly well if you mix up more than you need at one time, unlike unsanded grout, which will harden or stink like crazy if you try to store it pre-mixed.  It dries just as quickly as ASCP, and distresses just as well in a fine, chalky powder.  You still need to seal it with a wax (I use Fiddes and Sons), just like ASCP.

So that's it!  I hope you all try it, and please come back to let me know how you liked it!

Okay- onto the after.  I tightened the frame, replaces some screws, and painted it with my gesso chalk paint mixture with a gallon of oops paint I bought from Lowes that mimics ASCP Old White or Creamy from Sherwin Williams in color.  I distressed it with a sanding sponge, and sealed it with clear wax.

I reupholstered the chair in Dwell Studio's New Peony Canary (indoor/outdoor fabric).

That's it!  I also added some padding and upholstered the little armrests that were all wood before, and finished the piece with piping/double welt.  The end result is much more bright, fun, and modern.

She's now for sale at Flea Market to Fabulous in the yellow/gray corner, and looks cute as could be!

Hope you enjoyed!

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Beauty and the Beast...a tale of two pieces (and some exciting news!)...

Hello, friends.  It's been too long.  I'm sorry I've missed you to tell you Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.  I was so busy with projects for my family, and actually spending time with them, that I couldn't find the time...and afterall, I think that's the way it should be.

Onto the story...

I grew up (mostly) in an older house in a small town.  Today, my mom and younger brothers still live in that little old house, and I've moved on with my family in my own little old house.  If you live in an old house, you know that storage is usually an issue.  For my mom, it's no exception.  She has lived with the smallest closet in the world for my entire life-- first sharing it with my dad, and now having it completely to herself, and it's still too small to fit her clothes (and not because of an over-abundance of clothes either!).

This fall, she started hinting at wanting an armoire. Hinting became telling, and soon I found emails filled with antique armoires coming to my inbox.  I knew that's what I would end up getting her for Christmas.  I picked up one armoire early on, but as the emails progressed, I realized it wasn't really what she was wanting.  She needed something with room to hang clothes, and the one I found just didn't have ample space in the top to let a shirt hang.  I had to keep looking...

On another trip shopping with Mom, she stopped to look at a French nightstand.  She liked it, and told me about how she wanted to redo her bedroom, and she would like the distressed French look.  A few weeks later, I found this little beauty at a Salvation Army for $25 (more than I usually like to spend, but these seem so rare to find around this area!), and picked it up for her.

The week before Christmas came, and my hunt for the right armoire was still ongoing.  I couldn't find a thing...not in my price range at least.  Then, three days before we were to have Christmas together, a Thomasville armoire popped up on CL for $75.  It was big.  Big enough to be it's own closet and to have a hanger bar, but it wasn't an antique.  Still, it coordinated well with the little nightstand, and the price was right.

With it getting as late in the game as it was, I took the chance on it.  Afterall, if she hated it, at least I had a place to sell it.  My little brother ("the muscle") and I picked up a trailer and headed to St. Louis for it.  I'm so glad he was with me.  There's no way it would have made it home with me without him.  It took four people, and a lot of maneuvering and straps to finally get it in the 5x8 trailer on it's side, because it wouldn't fit on it's back.  It was, in every sense of the word, a beast.

I went to work on both pieces.  I used Miss Mustard Seed's French armoire, as well as And George's French armoire as inspiration.  I love the grey and cream color combo.  It would go perfectly in my moms room, and I loved how And George's piece was careful to use the cream only on the outer curve of the grooved details.


I painted the pieces with a homemade chalk paint (and not what you think!  I'll share more on my next post!), and added a decorative piece to the bottom of the armoire.  I thought it was a bit plain without it, and it needed another pop of cream.  Unfortunately, I didn't finish the entire piece before we had Christmas, but it was far enough along to show.  I wrapped them up, and gave them to my mom and let her tell me how much distressing she wanted on them.

Later that week, I distressed them and went over them with clear and dark wax.  I sprayed the hardware with oil rubbed bronze spray paint, and sanded them lightly to bring the brass through a bit.  Finally, I added the much-needed hanger bar.  They were finished and it was time to move them.  Three of my brothers came over and we loaded them up to go to their new home.  After a bit of moving, her new pieces were where she liked.  She loved them, and moved her clothes right in to the armoire, and kicked her old nightstand right out.

Without further adieu...


and The Beast

They work perfectly in my moms room.  While I was there, I distressed and glazed an old mirror of hers that we had previously sprayed white.  It's now hanging above her mom and dad's old dresser that's adorned with pictures of her mom in her youth, and a family portrait of my aunts and uncles.

Mom's room is pretty close to finished now, and I have to say, it looks great.  Aside from some new curtains, the only big furniture piece to still be replaced is the headboard, and we'll get to that someday.

And finally- for a little blurb of exciting news-- I'm moving!  Yes, it's not been long since I moved into the antique shop, but wouldn't you know that opportunity knocked, and I answered.  I'm moving into a specialty shop in town for furniture and re-purposed goods called Flea Market to Fabulous this weekend.  I couldn't be more excited, and can't wait to share more with you about this exciting new step!

Until next time,

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