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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas is over but it's still winter!

So how do we do a winter window that doesn't look like Christmas? Are snowmen and sleds allowed? Skis and snowflakes ?

Next week we will be making the switch and thinking about what best represents the coziness of winter and the leftover warmth of a holiday home.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, August 28, 2014

a woodsy get-away

We are getting ready to take a vacation. No weddings, no events, no plans other than five nights of camping in our beloved Adirondack mountains.  And boy, do we need it. Since opening the shop in February, JR and I have had precious few days off, and those were thanks to our girls for taking over while we were away. These days, we are feeling overwhelmed, overworked and ready for a change of scenery.

5 nights camping in the mountains in a tent. And I don't' even care if it rains. We'll take a puzzle, books and Scrabble. I will have a knitting project. To me, that's the most ideal way we can spend our time.

I'm a little obsessed with that whole vintage camp thing. We redid our front window several weeks ago with a camp fact, lots of people invited themselves to just sleep in the window for the summer!

Right now, it's all about campy, woodsy colors, and paint by numbers.


plaid,  and outdoorsy.

Well, someone bought the bed this week, and a few other elements from the window. So while we are away, we'll be dreaming up a fall dispay while we sit in front of a campfire, eating s'mores.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

inspiration abounds

Someone painted this bed:

which inspired Miss Mustard Seed to paint this bed:

which inspired me to paint this bed:

It's not the usual furniture makeover I do, but this one was special. It was a custom order for a cute couple that is furnishing their new home. Rather than buy new stuff (or even our restyled stuff) I encouraged Callin and Camille to use what they had and let me give the pieces a new look.

After a total makeover of their bed and dressers for the master bedroom,  we did their guest room furniture. They had an old bed and night stand which really, really, REALLY  needed freshening up.

I suggested to Camille that I do some hand painting on the bed and showed her some inspiration photos. She was completely on board with the symbolism and special meaning for them personally.

After chalking on the design, I went to work with my artist brushes, and did a very rustic rendering. Then the whole shebang got sanded for an even more rustic look. Sanding and a dark wax mix completed the look.

They  were so happy with the result.

 It has just the re-purposed and personal look that they wanted for their new home. I'm sure their guests will feel love, comfort and inspiration when they share life with Callin and Camille.

"In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Our Dining Room Table

The first Home DIY Project is complete!
I'd like you to meet...

Our dining room table.

Remember my inspiration photo?  The Restoration Hardware table that had those chunky angular lines?And while I wasn't looking for an exact match, I was inspired by those legs and the washed out layers of paint over wood.

My table came from a thrift store for $24.99.  I had JR bring it straight into the house and I started painting it. Layers of paint...shades of beige and greige and ivory and brown.

As I layered the paint, I imagined, as I always do, what years of wear and love may look like. How it may have started as one thing, but over time, was worn down and freshened up with whatever was on hand. That means layers of paint then sanded off in strategic places,  washes of paint to replicate darkening from use, dry brushing of paint to bring highlights and low lights to create yet more interest and layers.

Then more sanding, washes, and dry brushing.

I left the legs darker than the top, and when it was all layered up with paint to my satisfaction, I gave it a good sound waxing.

Let me tell you something about the process we use to paint.  When a piece comes to us, first it must be structurally sound. JR does his thing...fixing drawers, replacing veneer and sometimes even rebuilding parts. Then, I literally channel those years of use...I know I can't fully explain it, but after deciding on an appropriate color ( I swear, the furniture speaks to me what it wants to be!) I try to think of how that piece may have aged over time.

Were there other colors under the final coat of paint? Oftentimes, yes.
Where does the piece naturally show wear? Edges? Around handles? Carved details?
Would the paint have changed in texture or appearance? Crackling? Grunge? Thicker buildup?

All of these questions go through my mind as I lovingly revive an old brown  dresser. Or a painted washstand. Or a boring table.

When it's completed, it's not really complete until it's protected with hand waxing...and I don't know if you feel it, but there is something deep and beautiful about the process of waxing a piece of furniture. I am connected to it with my hands. It's a process that melds paint and wax into a lustrous yet subtle finish.

You see the difference between a piece that is lovingly finished with layers of paint and hand waxing and say, a piece of furniture with a coat or two of latex room paint...not that there's anything wrong with latex room paint...we use it on certain pieces, too!

I'm just saying there's a difference, that's all. That's there's a lot more invested in thought and process and I believe it shows, and it elevates.

It reflects a love for history, the passion for repurposing and the joy of painting from the heart.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Amazing Adventures in Upholstery Painting.

You know when you just feel something in your gut and no matter how many tortilla chips and black bean/corn salsa you eat, you just can't get rid of it?

That's how it was when I started thinking about painting an upholstered chair. I've done small pieces before, and was quite smitten with the results. But wanting to do an entire chair, with wood legs and trim was the carrot dangling in front of me. Actually, it was more the challenge of how to paint the upholstery AND paint the wood in a contrasting color and do it so that it the transition between wood and upholstery made sense and didn't look, well, painted.

I researched. I read. I pondered and percolated. And then I found a chair.

I think I paid about $10 for it. The springs and upholstery were pretty spectacular...meaning, no sags, no tears, no snags, intact. There were a few stains. No big deal.
Day 1:  After removing all the braid trim and brass tacks,  I gave it a good vacuuming and cleaning.

The first layer of diluted chalk paint was brushed on... dampening the upholstery first so that the paint would absorb, but not too much. This does not look very pretty. I said goodnight to the chair and let it dry for 24 hours.

Day 2:  A second layer of paint was applied. This was a chalk paint special blend color that I created. Again, I dampened the upholstery just  touch so that the paint would glide on. Dip the brush ends in water, dip the brush in paint and apply, repeat. It's hard to give more specific details as to "how much" because I'm such an intuitive painter and finisher. Just enough water and paint to feel right to me....not too wet.
At this point, I also slapped some of the paint on the wood, because I knew I wanted some cohesion between the upholstery and the wood trim with the final result. Meaning...some layers of paint color from the chair would be revealed in the painted wood. I said goodnight to my chair and let it dry for 24 hours.

Day 3:  The final color...deepened the original mix and applied over the upholstery. I used the same technique as above...dampen the upholstery and wet the paint. I said goodnight to my chair and let it dry for 24 hours.

Day 4: A final coat of paint to the upholstery and  painting the wood trim and legs.  After the paint had dried on the wood, I aged it with a sanding block. This is when I started to get really, really excited. There were little crackles showing in the finish! Be still my heart! Goodnight chair. See you tomorrow.
Day 5:  A good waxing to seal the entire chair. Yup, it feels like leather.  I also applied a dark wax mix to some areas to reinforce the aging. This chair is now shining and fabulous and waxed and beautiful.

Absolutely gorgeous.

See that pretty braid trim? See the layers of paint?

Loving this result. 

I think I need more painted upholstery chairs in my shop. No, I KNOW I need more painted upholstery chairs in my shop! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Three looks, three projects, three hundred dollars.

Let 's face it. Most of us who love decorating and love vintage style also spend a good amount of time browsing catalogs and store websites for inspiration, We amass collections of images from magazines in our mind, dreaming of a redesign, inspired by those lovely rooms that are so artfully displayed. And typically WAAAY outside our budgets.

We love DIY. We love finding a way to have that coveted look on a budget. So, today, I'm excited to share that after all these months of preparing for the shop, we are finally getting to do some DIY projects for our own home!. Hopefully, you can will also be inspired to begin to transform your home and do it within your own budget.
Here are three looks that I had pinned for future reference, for our own home:

restoration hardware table  $2,495
williams sonoma $1350

mr beasley's antique american furniture $1495
1. Back in April, I sold my dining room table the week before Easter. Truth be told, I never liked that dining room table. It was a thrift store find, a good and sturdy table, which I just could not pass up at the time. I did some paint treatments to it, but never really loved it's subtle Moroccan lines. But Molly DID love it and I let her take it home while my family ate Easter Dinner around a slab of counter-top perched upon two sawbucks! Which was fine with all of us!!!

Well, last week, I found the best farm table. It has sturdy legs and a hefty composition, and exactly the personality which will compliment our mission style hutch and buffet. It cost $24.99. AND it's pretty beat up. The top is blotchy and stained, the legs dented and scratched, which is just the way I like it.  Because mission can be pretty dark and heavy. And we want to lighten up our space. Now keep in mind, my Restoration Hardware pictures tables are inspiration only...I'm looking at the color, the angular chunky legs. While my table will never be a perfect match, I think I can get the sense of style that I want with some creative paint finishing.

2. I have a friend named Lu. Lu had two slipper chairs in her dining room that I have coveted for years. Lu never really wanted to part with them, which I can completely understand. I always wanted slipper chairs for our living room. They have a slimmer profile without being too delicate...which would be perfect for our small space. Last week, on my lunch hour thrift run, I scored two slipper chairs. Lucky find...they had been custom made, the framework and structure is solid and sturdy, the fabric is faded, and well, it's navy blue plaid. I paid $22.00 each for them  So, at home in my stash, I have ten yards of natural twill that is dying to become slipcovers for those chairs.That fabric has been hanging around for years. I bought it at $6.00 a yard, with an additional discount of 20%. See, I was willing to jump on that bargain and hold on to it because...a. it's a neutral, and b. it's decorator weight and c. there were ten yards of it. I'm pretty sure I can create a similar Williams Sonoma look for my chairs.

3. A few weeks ago, we went camping at Allegany State Park. One day, we took a drive to Bradford, PA and while browsing around some local vintage and antique shops, I spotted the MOST gorgeous 1800's early Victorian dresser. Not Victorian in a fussy and precious way, but chunky, hand carved and solid. The price was right. Very right. But we had our Volvo.  For two days, I obsessed about that dresser. And JR even knew it was a good piece. So, would you believe, he drove two hours all the way back to Bradford, after we got back home two days get that dresser. What a guy. What a great guy. It just needs some cleaning up and liners in the drawers, but it's going in our bedroom to become part of a larger makeover project. The dresser was about $200.

So the transformations will begin. We will try to get a $6690 designer/magazine/retail/blogworthy look with an investment of just over $300 and our time. We love a challenge!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The $200 Chest of Drawers

I am ever perplexed about our willingness to spend hard earned money without comparing value.
Here's something to think about:

We sell vintage furniture. Yes, because we love vintage furniture, but also because:

1. It has such lasting value over its lifetime, dollar for dollar.
2. It has a history...a story to tell.
3. It embraces the repurposing, saving stuff from the landfill goodness that we believe in. Vintage is the           ultimate in eco-friendly!

And, we know, we know. Not everyone likes vintage furniture. Some people like a more contemporary style (Mid-Century Modern would be my choice if contemporary is your thing).

But no matter what your design style, I can't imagine spending money on a product that doesn't have a durable life. And good quality furniture is getting very hard to find. Especially within our budgets. The trend in the furniture industry is increasing sales at big box stores and mass merchants while sales are declining at local furniture retailers. Those mass merchants are using a low cost/ low quality strategy to sell furniture. Throw away furniture. Like throw away clothes. Our grandparents would roll over in their well made caskets at such a thought!

Let's do a few comparisons...WITH the disclaimer that we don't hate Target, IKEA, Pier One, Ashley's or any other place that sells furniture.

Monterey 5 drawer dresser from Target $199

Constructed from high-quality wood composites and foil laminates, assembly is required
Features: Easy Glide Drawers, Metal Glides, Built-in Safety Stops
Frame Material: Wood Composite
Hardware Material: Metal
Wood Finish: Painted
Surface Material: Laminate
Finish: Painted
Assembly Details: assembly required

The SVEIO Chest of Drawers from IKEA $249

Product description: Top panel/ Side panel/ Drawer front/ Drawer bottom: Fiberboard, Acrylic paint
Bottom panel: Particleboard, Melamine foil, ABS plastic
Leg: Solid beech or birch, Acrylic paint
Back panel: Fiberboard
Assembly required.

People & Planet
We have clear requirements for all wood used in IKEA products, including a ban on illegally harvested wood. IKEA is also increasing the amount of wood sourced from well-managed forests and recycled wood, from a third to 50% by 2017.
Renewable material (wood).

Sauder Harbor Sauder Harbor 5 drawer dresser from Walmart  $256

Sauder Harbor View 5-Drawer chest:
Solid wood knobs and turned feet
Engineered wood with laminate finish
Assembly required

Actually, I have a little more respect for the Target and Walmart products in that they don't try to appeal to your eco-friendly heartstrings. Let's face it...these dressers are NOT eco-friendly when they have such a short durable lifespan. They are going to end up in the dump within a few years' time.

Let's think about this. All three, in the same price range and not one of them is made from solid wood (other than a few drawer pulls and legs). And they all require assembly. How much is your time worth to you? And their projected lifespan? Maybe 3-5 years before things start to loosen up, get the shimmies, or otherwise deteriorate with everyday use.

So how do you get good quality, long lifespan at and affordable price? Buy vintage!

This is an American Empire chest of drawers that we repainted and sold for $185.Our dressers typically sell for less than $300. And that's after they've had a thorough going over to be sure the joints are secure and the drawers functioning properly.

It dates to about 1910-1920. That means it's been around for about a hundred years. It's sturdy, strong, and is every inch made from solid wood with dovetail drawers. That's right, 100% solid wood. from the drawer bottoms to the back. And you know what that means? It will be around for about another hundred years given the appropriate care.

Just saying, think before you spend your decorating dollars. Consider updated vintage. Consider something unique, made and later restored with careful hands that can be custom finished to your specifications...and within your budget!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

the kitchen makover

Last night, we had a lovely dinner with friends at their home. Friends who trusted us enough to be a part of their kitchen and family room renovation.
It's safe to say we all parted last night feeling excited and inspired!

It started as an idea, just a little kitchen makeover, and as these things go, it soon turned into a much bigger project. We are just so proud, as ellen j goods, and as friends, to be a part of the consultation and design...not to mention some of the contracting work. 

So how does this process work?
We met early on, and talked about the overall plan, the construction and hard structural changes and how we could put the finishing touches on the contractor's work.  Rhonda had some clear ideas of what she wanted as far as the finished look. Clean, fresh, and representative of their personalities...well, mostly hers, since it's her kitchen! I know her, and it's safe to say that she needed some help to have her ideas and vision become a reality. We gathered paint swatches, back splash and trim tiles and conferred. What do you like? What don't you like? We shared pictures of finished kitchens with these colors and tiles from sites  like Houzz. and Pinterest. (by the way, two of my FAVORITE decorating resources!)

We discussed color and while Rhonda had already decided on black, white and gray, we talked about needing some warmth and injecting some color focal points. And that it would be okay. What we find is that with a new renovation project, it can sometimes be a little scary to go beyond that fresh, newly constructed look and add layers of personality. But it's okay. See, most times, people really do know what they want and what they like. It just takes encouragement to draw that out.

First we talked about wall and ceiling colors. And yes, we encouraged a darker ceiling. Your ceiling does not have to be white. especially in a room that has so much white. The decision was a shade of gray on the walls, darker gray on the ceiling, white cabinets and trim, and selected areas of a favorite color...aqua/turquoise. Where would be put such a bold color choice in a kitchen that was fifty shades of gray? Strategic areas began to reveal themselves...under the island, the wainscot trim above the island and above the sink. It was just enough to provide interest.

The question of the door color was a big one. Deep gray? black? No, too much of a sunken hole. White? boring. What is Rhonda's favorite color? Red.  We showed them some samples and in the end, our friends were willing to take the risk. But to me, it wasn't a risk at all. Red is her favorite color, it's warm, it's opposite the color wheel from aqua.  And what's not to love about white, black aqua and red?

One thing I'd like to add here...well, actually two things.

1. It's only paint. If you don't like it, change it.
2. We often only see in our minds, or in actuality, one part of the whole. If we think of just a red door in an unfinished kitchen, it's like a woman just putting on her lipstick. That's all you see. But when you add the other elements to the design, the red doesn't stand out the way it did on it's own. When that woman puts on foundation, does her eye makeup and blush, suddenly you see the whole face in balance, and not just her lips. See what I'm saying?

The budget prohibited new cabinets. That's where we came in. With a custom paint job and finish, Jipp and Rhonda had a completely different look for a fraction of the cost. We transformed those outdated 80s solid cabinets into something fresh and updated! There is a very slight reveal to the edges, which adds an element of warmth and softness.

Now that the whole kitchen is complete, there is a balance and personality to it. With added accessories, it will be even more personal and representative of Jipp and Rhonda. But the scary part is over!

We started with sketches. We talked about wants and desires. We encouraged a little risk taking with color. And with gentle guidance and a vision for the whole picture, Jipp and Rhonda have the kitchen of their dreams that fits their budget.

Back to last night... we sketched and talked and dreamed and encouraged some more for the family room area...stay tuned for THAT exciting reveal!