The Big Back Breaker Project!

Yes, you read that right....the big back breaker project!  It has indeed been a back breaker.  Let me catch you up....Before we moved into our current home we sold just about all our master bedroom furniture.  We'd had it a long time and it needed to go to a new home.  That meant when we moved we were down a dresser and nightstands.  After scouring pages and pages of magazines and searching online for something I liked, I decided to buy some older furniture and give it new life.  We found a dresser at our favorite little antique store for $100.  The dresser was in decent shape, but needed some love.  The top made me nervous because there were some pretty large scratches in the wood, but I figured it would be OK with some sanding and some paint. 

I had this great idea (cue the sarcasm) to move the dresser upstairs so I could use it until the weather turned nice.  That's what we did.  It was easy getting it upstairs and in place and of course filled with clothes :-)  I'd been enjoying using the dresser when the weather drastically changed.  So, I decided it was time to drag the old girl (not me, the dresser) downstairs to the garage so I could get to work.   As Hubby and I were taking this large thing down the narrow stairs I hurt my back.  Immediately it hurt, but it wasn't until 2 hours later that I realized how bad it was.  I couldn't get up on my own or do anything without excruciating pain.  On the bright side, I was able to get a ton done in 2 hours!

This is what the dresser looked like in the master bedroom.  I had better pictures, but my computer got a case of the forgets and lost them.  You can see it's a nice piece, but has a lot of wear and some damage.

This was after I sanded the top and gave it the first coat of Minwax Dark Walnut stain.  I used a rag to wipe it on with the grain then wiped the excess off.  This thing is old and thirsty and sucked every ounce of stain I put on it!

I gave it a couple of coats of stain then tried to figure out what was better...wax or poly finish?  So I did some research and went with the wax.   Let me explain why I waxed and didn't poly....This is my dresser, not a kid's dresser so I'm going to be gentle with it.  I'm not going to put drinks on the top, etc.  If this was a side table then I would probably poly the top or have a piece of glass cut to protect the top.  There are 3 coats of clear paste wax and 2 coats of dark paste wax on there, but not in this picture :-)

I decided to go with my favorite paint,  Annie Sloan chalk paint for the rest of the dresser.  The reason being...NO PREP!  If I'd have sanded the entire dresser it would have taken me a lot longer than 2 hours.

Here you can see some of the damage on one of the drawer fronts.   One thing that made me really happy about this dresser was all the hardware is original and none of it was missing!  Bonus!  This was as far as I got the first day.  Paint had to wait another couple of days...which is hard for this instant gratification girl :-)

After a week of sitting around and 'resting' I decided to go out and give the dresser some attention.  Not the smartest idea, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!  This is how the drawers looked after two coats of Old White paint.

At this point I was in love!  I love the contrast between the dark stained top with the painted body!  It was worth all the pain....well yeah maybe not the pain part :-)

After 2 coats of paint, a coat of clear paste wax, a good sanding with a sanding block, a coat of dark wax and lastly a coat of clear wax (I'm getting tired just typing this!).   She was done!!!   I have to mention here that I had to do this all sitting down on a chair without twisting my body...not an easy task!  One thing I forgot to mention was the hardware wasn't in the best condition so I painted it with Antique Bronze by Rustoleum.  They looked fantastic when they were done!

Then the dresser sat in the garage covered in a blankie.  Every time I walked by it I was bummed!  I just wanted my back to get better so Hubby and I could move that thing back upstairs!  Well, today my Hubby had a great idea on how to get it up by himself.  He wrapped the dresser up in cardboard and blankets and moved it on his own!  While I stood there saying over and over, "Please don't hurt yourself!"  I don't think I have to tell you how happy I was or how lucky I am to have such an incredible man in my life :-)

I quickly gathered some things together to stage the dresser for the pictures.  I still have a mirror that I want to hang over the dresser, but it's still in a box somewhere and needs some paint and love.  That's another post.  

Here it back breaker!

You might recognize the lamp and the candlesticks from another post.  They were waiting for a home!

This is a narrow space between the master bedroom, the walk-in closet and the master bath.  It's more like a hallway actually so it was hard to get a perfect straight-on picture.

I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how the hardware looks, not to mention the stained top!  I also like how all the little details like the X's and the florets show up now.  

I truly adore this little back breaker.  I'm not going to lie, it's been a VERY tough 10 days for me.  I don't like sitting around and being a sad lump.  I miss being able to do all the things I love like going to the gym with my girls, transforming furniture and doing projects.  I know in time (they say 4-6 weeks) I'll be able to go back to all the things I love.  In the meantime, I'm on the lookout for more projects.  I couldn't be happier with how the dresser turned out and I know I'll be able to enjoy it for years to come.

LINKING this to a look at her site!

A Very Special Recipe Holder

This is a VERY special post for me.  On February 18, 2004 an incredible woman passed away after a very long and courageous battle with cancer.  My Mom, Anita, was a wonderful woman who loved her church, her family and cooking.  No don't worry, this isn't going to be depressing so keep reading...I promise!  Before my Mom passed away she gave me a book of handwritten recipes.  I will cherish this book for the rest of my life.  The funny part of her giving me this book is, my Mom truly hoped that I would become an incredible cook and baker like her.  Mom won awards for her cooking and enjoyed entering her food into the local county fair as well.  She found great joy in cooking...I do NOT.  We were very opposite in our hobbies for sure, but to this day I can remember my Mom cooking away and loving changing recipes to suit her taste.  Better yet was when we would go to her favorite restaurant and she would say, "I can taste nutmeg, cinnamon and butter" as she tried to figure out how to make what she was eating when she got home.  I am not a great cook, NOR do I enjoy cooking.  I do like to bake, but nothing complicated like a cake from scratch, which my Mom loved doing.  She loved the challenge of it all, kinda like how I love the challenge of transforming items into something new.  It was a sad day when she left us to go to a better place, but we are left with wonderful memories of her cooking and her RECIPES!  

I'm the keeper of the recipes for the family.  The recipes were a mess because somehow after she passed away the recipes ended up all over the floor when they fell out of their holder.  I knew that one day I would find a great place to put the recipes, but never found just the right thing.  That is until last week :-)  I went to  Goodwill, which I now do once a week, and happened upon an old card holder like they have at the library...or had at the library.  Sorry it's been awhile since I've been at the library looking through the dewey decimal system...LOL  Anyway, the card holder was a whopping $2 and gray.  It had a bit of rust on it and some scratches, but I immediately fell in love with it and knew it had to be mine.  I had no idea what I was doing with this thing until I started driving home.  The idea hit me and I had to smile!!  I decided to put Mom's recipes in the card holder and put it on the kitchen counter. I'm hoping over time I will add more recipes to this holder and then pass them on to my Son some day.  A family legacy so to speak.  I know to some people these are just recipes, but when I opened up the old card holder and saw my Mom's writing and her notes on the recipes, it brought tears to my eyes and memories of her came flooding back.  These little pieces of paper are memories and memories need to be cherished and put in a place of respect and honor.  That's what I hope I'm doing with them now :-)   

So here's the card holder before I did anything to it.  Not exactly pretty, huh?

With a can of spray paint and a bit of tape I was able to transform this little card holder into something pretty that sits on my counter by the fridge.  

I sprayed over the metal handle at the front because it was too rusty.   I'm going to make a label as soon as my Silhouette machine arrives.  I just have to figure out what I want it to say...something more than just RECIPES :-)

This project means a lot to me.  The recipes are easy to get to now and they're in a nice, safe place where they won't end up on the floor again.  People might leave our lives when they pass away, but their memories stay with us forever.  I will always have the memory of Mom making her 'Pake' for the first time.  'Pake' is a cake on top of a pecan pie, which she made in a heart shaped pan no less!  It was way too sweet on the tongue and a bit crazy, but what a fun memory I have of Mom's excitement over making this recipe for the first time.  Priceless!

From A Schoolhouse To A Guest Bedroom?

One day last week I was driving by an antique store in town.  This store is interesting because it's filled to the rafters with furniture and I have no idea what's in there because its so cluttered.  The man who owns the store knows exactly what's in every nook and cranny though.  I went in the store looking for a coffee table and hoping to find a steamer trunk on this particular day.  When the owner of the store came to help me he tried to sell me everything, but what I was there for.  After 20 minutes I was ready to go.  On my way out the door something in the bushes, yes the bushes, caught my eye!  It was an old desk from a school.  I asked the man about it and he was shocked that I'd even be interested in this neglected little desk.  The poor little thing was calling out to me to take it home!  Remember, I have a soft spot for scarred, ugly, unloved pieces :-)  After he told me it was $10 I took a closer look and realized I had JUST the spot for my little orphan!  I wiped the dirt and leaves off my new baby and popper her in the car.

Here's what the desk looked like once I got it home.  I wish I'd had my camera with me so I could have shown you where it was and how much dirt was on it before I put it in the car!

This is what I loved about this piece...the patina on the top. 

Yep, if you look on the leg and crossbar you can see a bit of green mold!

I had to put some wood glue, well a lot of wood glue, all along the middle as the desk was coming apart.  I clamped it for a few hours and it's as good as new!

I gave the desk a nice sanding, but not too much on the top.  I really wanted to keep some of that cool patina, but needed to smooth it down a bit after all the neglect it had a lot of warts on top not to mention dirt and dried on bugs :-)

I knew exactly where I wanted to put this little desk...the guest bedroom.  I had stolen the guest bedroom nightstand to go by a chair in my master bedroom so I needed something to put a lamp on in the guest bedroom.   I knew it would be perfect for that space, especially because there's a shelf on the desk for magazines or books, etc.

After my quick sanding, I went to my old standby Annie Sloan chalk paint.  I wanted to use the Cocoa color more prominently this time.  The guest bedroom is blue and brown so I figured this would be the perfect look for that room.  I used the Old White color again, but in a wash on the top.  I used one part water and one part paint then simply painted it on and wiped it off with a cloth right after.  I loved the way it looked.  it still showed all that cool patina, but sealed the wood nicely.

A quick coat of clear wax, then another coat of dark wax, finished by a coat of wax and I was done!  From start to finish this piece took me about 3 hours.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day out and I enjoyed every minute!

Here it much prettier now!  Still has some patina, but the wood is nicely sealed now and won't be sitting outside anytime soon :-)  Makes me feel like sitting down with my pencil and taking a quiz...LOL

I had to ask the hubby to take the nightstand upstairs to the guest bedroom because this thing is SOLID wood and heavy!  Even he was surprised at how much this thing weighed!  Well worth my $10.

And here it is in it's new home!!!  It fits perfectly in the space and offers a lot of storage.  The mirror leaning on top, I had and gave it a coat of paint and a bit of wax.  I love mirrors in a room because of how much light they reflect!   Everything on the nightstand I already owned as well!

Now all the room needs is a guest or two!  OH and it also needs a few pictures....all in good time!  I'm quite happy with how my schoolhouse desk turned nightstand turned out.  I took a little, neglected, orphan desk and gave it some love and a warm place to stay :-)  I go into the guest bedroom and peak at it every day to make sure it's happy.

A Place To Put The Pillows....The Master Bedroom Bench

After my last blog post about the nightstand redo, a friend of mine asked me about all the pillows on our bed and how long it takes to make the bed each day.  I had to laugh because yes there are a lot of pillows on the bed!  I have to admit though, most times they are sitting on the bench at the end of the bed and the bed isn't even made.  GASP!  Did I just write that I don't make the bed every day????  YES I did!  Guess what?  The world didn't collapse!  Anyway......The bench isn't in any of the nightstand redo pictures because when those pictures were taken I was in the middle of redoing the bench.

We've had the bench for a very long time.  We purchased it at a store in Canada and it was very inexpensive.  I've never loved it, but it always served a purpose...holding the pillows from the bed of course!  The poor bench even had some puncture wounds in the 'pleather' from Hunter poking it with a screw driver when he was 2.  It was time to do something to this poor, dark and damaged pleather bench.  I took my cues from the nightstands and the amazing Annie Sloan chalk paint.  I knew I needed to reupholster the bench as well so the first thing I had to do was find a fabric.  I went to Calico Corners thinking I'd find inspiration there, but I was wrong.  The big problem I was running into was I love our duvet cover and our area rug so whatever I found had to work with both of these.  Nothing seemed to work until I found a quilt for the end of the bed.  Then everything started to make sense.  After a trip to Pottery Barn to buy new pillow covers I knew what I wanted to do.  I love it when everything falls into place and the ideas all work together!

This is a picture of the bench.  You can see the lovely pleather top.  I always liked the 'bone's of the piece, especially the slats along the bottom.

In this picture you can see the puncture wounds from Hunter poking a screw driver into the bench.  

Once I found my fabric at Joann's I was ready to get started.  The finish on the wood was a bit shiny so I wanted to scuff it up a bit to make sure the paint adhered nicely.  So I got out my trusty orbital sander and went to work.  I don't know what it is, but I love sanding with that thing!  

In these pictures you can see I've taken the bench apart and sanded all the pieces down a bit.

Next step was painting.  I wanted the bench to coordinate with the nightstands, but not be too 'matchy' so I used the Annie Sloan paint again in Old White.  This stuff is so amazing!!!  One coat of paint and I was ready for my next step!  

Here you can see how well the paint went on in one coat!

While the paint dried I got to the bench top.  I was REALLY nervous about this part.  I had heard horror stories about reupholstering in striped fabric and of course I picked STRIPES!  I figured the worst that could happen would be I'd have to redo it.  No big deal because the fabric was only $16 for 2 yards.  I just had to take the plunge so to speak :-)  First thing I did was staple the batting down with my trusty electric staple gun (LOVE THAT THING!!).

Then I laid the fabric out and lined the stripes up and put my first staple in.  I then pulled it tightly and did the opposite side and so on until I was completely done.  Guess what?  The stripes all lined up and it was so PURTY!!  :-)


Next step was to scuff up the paint on the bench a bit and then give it a coat of clear wax, a coat of dark wax and then a coat of clear wax.  Trust me, it was time consuming, but I was thrilled with the outcome!

Here you can see up close how the legs and the bench turned out!

Last step was to put the bench back together!

Then move the bench back upstairs to it's place of glory at the end of our bed.  

I missed the bench while it was living in the garage.  It was nice having it back in our master bedroom, but what was even better was not tripping over all the pillows on the floor in the middle of the night!  I'm quite happy with how it turned out.  It was so easy to reupholster the bench I'm on the hunt for a coffee table I can turn into an ottoman for our family room!

Nightstand Redo...The Fun Of The Change

I love to treasure hunt!  No I'm not a pirate, but I do love going to thrift stores and antique stores looking for things I can transform.  I absolutely love to look at something that is ugly, scarred and has lived a long hard life and see the beauty through it all.  I love to look at something with the hubby and he says, "That's a piece of junk!" and in my mind I'm thinking about what a beauty it can be.  With that said, I've been doing a lot of treasure hunting lately!  We'd been looking for nightstands for a couple of months and hadn't had any luck.  Everything was either too wide or too short.  We had something very specific in mind.  They needed to be high as our bed is very high, but they needed to be narrow too since we had limited space on either side.  Not an easy find!  We have a lot of dark furniture, curtains and a dark rug so I needed to figure out how to lighten the whole room up.  I knew one way would be to find some night stands and paint them in a lighter shade.  

One day we decided to go to an antique store where we found our dresser for our master bedroom (that is another treasure and another blog post!).  We went in looking for a steamer trunk, never thinking we would find night stands at an antique store.  We came out with something totally different.  I saw some tables or nightstands and asked the owner about them.  He's the sweetest older man who says every time we buy something from him, no matter what the condition, "All that needs is a bit of Old English."  He told me these 'tables' had been ends of a 1920's desk.  There had been a top and then a shelf which went along the bottom and both shelves were ruined.   All that was left were these 2 sides of a mahogany desk.  They were the PERFECT size and height and I fell in love.  The hubby wasn't as sure as I was.  There were layers of wall paper or contact paper on the tops and I knew I could get them off, but they definitely needed some serious work.   They were priced at $48 each, but my great negotiating hubby was able to get the price down to $75 for the pair....SOLD! 

This is how the top of one nightstand looked.  This particular side had a burn spot that looked like someone put a burning ciagretee on the desk.  I guess they used to smoke at work back in the day!   Needless to say it was burned down pretty far, but I knew it would be OK!  At least I hoped it would be :-)

We brought home our new additions and after a stop at Home Depot to get a wallpaper scorer I got to work!  I watch a lot of HGTV and read a lot of home improvement and decor magazines so I knew a few ways to remove this paper.   I decided to remove the wallpaper/contact paper by spraying it with a mixture of warm water and dish soap after scoring the paper.  I was amazed because it worked brilliantly. 

This is what I found underneath the first layer of lovely paper. More paper, but floral this time!  What you can see in the picture on the bottom is this table has a lot of personality and great bones....sounds like I'm trying to sell you on a blind date! She's got a great personality!  LOL

This is how the top looked on one of the night stands once I was done scraping the paper off.  It  only took me about a half an hour to do both. I knew once I saw the tops (bad me didn't get a picture of the one with the burn hole...take my word for it, it was bad!) they would both need to be painted, which was fine with me because this was my plan all along.

In this picture you can see the hardware was missing on the top drawer of one of the nightstands.

I knew all along I wanted to use some Annie Sloan chalk paint on these nightstands.  If you don't know anything about chalk paint, let me give you a quick rocks!  One of the best things about it is there's no prep!  

This is from the Annie Sloan website

1. It's the BEST paint for painting furniture by a long way
                                                         2. No need to prime or prepare
3.Extremely low VOCs so it is good for the environment
4. You can use it on any surface, indoors and out ( the outside of our shop was painted in it- perfect!) 
5. You can use the paint by diluting it with water to make a wash to show the wood grain
6. The colours are mixed intelligently and the web site shows how you can adapt your colours for your use
7. It's a girls' paint, but boys can use it too. 
8. It's flexible so you can be creative and change your mind
 9. It allows your walls to breathe so it is perfect for cottage walls
10. You can use it as an impasto ( thickly) - leave the lid off to thicken 
11. We've been making it since 1990 so it's tried and tested

The only downfall in using this paint was the fact there are no stores that sell the paint in Connecticut.  I found a store in New Jersey that sells the paint online and within 3 days I had my paint kit!

I know I just got done touting the fact that you don't have to do any prep and here is a picture of the piece sanded!  Let me explain...the nightstands had a ton of gunky old, beaded up varnish that would have left a terrible texture had I painted over it.  So I decided to take my orbital sand to it and see what happened.  I kept some of the texture, but took most of it off.  

Another fun thing we found in one of the nightstands was this writing on the top drawer.  This desk had obviously lived some life in a school and had been signed by lots of different people. Before I started painting, we all had a turn signing the drawer.  The insides of the drawers are in great condition so I didn't need to paint them.

This is where I apologize to you, the reader for not having more pictures of the steps I took a long the way.  Long story short, my computer decided to have an attack of the forgets and lost the pictures I took along the way.  I had a really cute picture of my Son, Hunter, signing the drawer and lots of progress pictures.  I will have to explain and you'll need to use your imagination for a minute here :-)

After sanding, I painted 2 coats of Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White.  I love this color!  It's a nice off white.  On the tops of the nightstands I painted one coat of Old White then a coat of Coco.  Coco is a darker taupey brown (yes I made up a word!).  Once this was done I put a coat of Annie Sloan's clear wax using a brush.  Then after this I wiped off any excess wax with a soft cloth.  This is the cool part about this paint...Next step was to distress it with some medium grade sand paper.  This paint is a DREAM to sand!  It comes off in a chalk consistency and it sands down so easily!  I started lightly sanding on the high points and anywhere I wanted to accentuate details like on the top drawer.  Then after I saw what would happen I sanded a bit harder where I wanted more wood to show through. Since I had painted a coat of Old White on top underneath the Coco I had places where the Old White showed through and I could go a bit harder to show the wood.  Next step was a coat of Annie Sloan' dark wax.  Same process....brush on and use a soft cloth to wipe off.  I made sure I worked in small sections to insure the wax didn't harden before I could decide how much darkness I wanted.   Then wiped off the excess wax with a soft cloth.  LAST step was to put one more coat of clear wax with a brush and wipe off the excess again.  24 hours later I buffed it again with a soft, clean cloth to get a nice sheen.

SOOOO here they are!!!!

Here you can see the top is the darker Coco color.  I also put a bit of the coco color in the grooves between the drawers.

The hardware is all original, except the top drawer.  One of the pulls was missing so I bought 2 I liked at Home Depot and then sprayed all the hardware with Antique Bronze spray paint.  

In this picture you can see the groove in the side where the shelf used to be.  Best part is you can't see this because they are up against the bed :-)

This is a view of the top of the dresser that had the burn spot....ALL GONE!  

This is my nightstand.....the hubby says I have owls on my side because I'm a night owl...LOL

This is hubby's night stand.  He says he has morning bird on his because he's a morning person...LOL  I didn't really put that much thought into it, but sounds good to me!

This is a straight on shot.  As you can see there is a shelf that runs along the tops of the bed and 2 columns that run along both sides.  This is why we needed to make sure the nightstands were narrow.  With the king bed there wasn't a ton of space, but these babies fit just right!

I just love the legs :-)

The master bedroom is still a work in progress.  Next project is to reupholster and paint the bench that goes at the end of the bed.  It's currently in the garage all sanded and waiting for some love.  Then the next project will be to paint the dresser we bought from our sweet, older Antique store older.  Even after a bit of Old English the dresser needs some love....LOL  The very best part of redoing all this old furniture is I'm pretty sure no one else will have the same pieces done in the same way.  Plus who else could have a desk turned nightstand with Vito and Hughie's autographs?