26 Nov

You’ve Got Great Bones! Only Minor Adjustments Are Needed

painted victrola

victrola cabinet

I knew when I saw this vintage Victrola that it was going to be something special. How and to whom I hadn’t a clue but I just knew. It was missing a few key elements but it’s bones – I don’t come across pieces this old in such good shape often.

damaged victrola

Now, you might wonder what I’ve been drinking as you think “What is she talking about? That thing is fugly! No way would I bring that into my house…”

vintage victrola

The ornamental detail, veneer and original wooden wheels were all in tact. So what if it was missing a record player, door and lid? Do you see those louvered doors that actually work? Special I tell ya.

So when my chiropractor told me he was switching things up at the office, moving his exam room into a new space, I heard “I am going to need some furniture” and paid attention.

I’d already completed a Lego table that would go in there and didn’t have enough matching chairs to help him out. But when he said something about needing a place to stand at his laptop to update patient records I knew I had just the thing.

added plywood door top

Immediately, I got to work fabricating a top and door from quality plywood. Since the exam room was painted a vibrant blue the only logical color choice was black. Initially, I didn’t think I would like it but as it came together I changed my tune.

rebuilt victrola

I reinforced the bottom and added a second shelf. Before painting the new pieces, I made sure everything fit and functioned properly. Then I gave it an all over of a new favorite – Minwax Antique Oil Finish.

The matte luster wipes on easily but dries hard without that shiny, plastic appearance or typical polyurethane.

painted victrola

Since little ones might be tempted to open the door, I added a catch just inside the door.

added shelving

And if Doc wants to grab something quick, he can reach right through the shutters without moving his laptop from the top.

revamped victrola

I didn’t want to cover up the original wood inside so I recommended he install a basket or something if he wanted. Otherwise, it’s painted and sealed so tossing his supplies right in works too.

repurposed record player

I just love the detail of those side floral motifs. I’m still surprised that not a single one was missing or damaged.

louvered doors

Like I said, this one is a special project. I’m so pleased it found a home with one of my favorite people – in a space where many others will also appreciate it’s great bones.

rebuilt stereo cabinet

25 Nov

How to Frame Mosaic Art

frame mosaic art

DIY Mosaic Art

This gorgeous mosaic floral piece of art was created by my friend Arlene. After hours of cutting and gluing (and drinking and cursing no doubt) it hung proudly on her lower level bathroom wall. When she and her husband, Paul, decided to sell nearly everything in their home to move out West, they asked me to come help.

As we prepped for the estate sale,  a few private sales were conducted and another friend quickly claimed the one-of-a-kind piece.

Tina wanted it to hang just inside her guest bathroom off of the garage. She was worried about doors slamming causing the heavy artwork to vibrate against the wall. Already, areas of grout had broken away from the frame and she didn’t want to risk ruining it entirely. So, she asked if I could reinforce the original frame.

When I got it home I realized that Arlene had mosaic’d right over the original sheet of glass abutting the frame. A quick web search revealed DIY versions of stained glass mosaics. Unfortunately, none of them called for removing the glass from the frame prior to grouting in place. To remove the glass art from the frame I had to break the grout seam – without damaging the piece or cracking the glass.

As usual, what should have been a simple project had gotten hairy.

add hangers to plywood backing

I measured and cut a 1/4″ thick piece of plywood to serve as the new backer board. Thinking ahead, I preinstalled D-ring hangers. And selected a decorative chair rail for the new frame.

Since there was a 1/4″ portion of un-mosaic’d glass hiding under the original frame I’d removed, I had to get creative with the router. I notched the back of the chair rail enough to fit the raw glass and some of the uneven grout lines.

route chair rail edges

Then I measured and mitered the corners at 45 degrees. Because each cut was specific to the side of the glass I was working on, I made sure to mark both trim pieces as I went along. This made final assembly much easier to complete.

miter & label corners

A quick dry-fit to confirm measurement accuracy and I was ready to attach the glass to the backer board.

dry fit frame

But I noticed that some of the plywood grain was visible through the mosaic glass chips. So, I put some black and white paper under the glass to see if it made a difference.

choose mosaic base color

Can you see the color differences? Straight down the center I noticed a complete change in the way the green glass looked. The white on the left seemed to wash the colored glass pieces out. But the black made them pop.

black painted plywood

So, I rolled on a coat of black paint leaving enough raw wood surface for later. When that dried, I squiggled on some epoxy to affix the glass to the wood surface.

apply epoxy

After setting the glass on the glue, I painted the frame white.

Apparently, I was in such a hurry to get upstairs for TGIT that I forgot to take a photo of the glass drying on the backer board so you’ll have to use your imagination. I let everything dry overnight before gluing the underside edges of the picture frame to that unpainted edge of the backer board. You’ll get much better adhesion by allowing direct wood to wood contact when using wood glue.

band clamp corners

A band clamp works well to tighten up and hold square project pieces in place as the glue sets. I had to raise the piece up to get the metal corner clamps positioned correctly. When it was dry, I sanded the joints, filling in with putty as needed.

spackle & paint

And then I added a metallic white glaze coat before waxing for the final finish.

frame mosaic art

After we got it up on her wall, Tina added some felt bumpers under the lower frame backing. That way, if someone does slam the door, she doesn’t have to worry about any damage to the wall or Arlene’s lovely artwork.

how to reframe art

If you’d like to see other awesome pieces Arlene has created take a look here.

24 Nov

Missing Parts & Perfect Mates

black entertainment stand

Yesterday I went to see Brian for an individual session. Last week, he wrapped up our ‘chat’ by asking me to make a list of what I wanted in a husband. The assignment was odd because, hello, I already have one of those. It’s a tad late to create The Husband List don’t you think?

And what good would it do to pen a wish list of attributes that may or may not apply to a guy I’m already hitched to? Unless I only jot down traits and qualities Dave already possesses I’m pretty sure the areas he falls short on would stick out like a sore thumb.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that if I write it down the universe will somehow make it so. If, in his professional opinion, the shrink feels I should shitcan this relationship and start over well there’s no guarantee anyone new would check all the boxes on the list either.

So, I opted not to open that can of worms. Instead, I found myself comparing my husband to discarded furniture.

I spend most of my time in the shop. It’s in our basement and the whole space is home to tons of furniture that has been around the block a time or two. Most pieces are on their last leg. I rarely rescue stuff that has much life left according to society’s standards. When most folks look around the space all they see is junk.

The pieces hanging around my shop are usually missing something – a leg, an arm, one or more drawers, shelves, doors – but are still in salvageable condition. Some truing up here, gluing up there, swapping this part out for that one and structurally they’re as good as new. Sure, it takes a little more work to uncover their beauty but once I do I’m certain they’ve never looked better.

And then I send them out to live purposeful lives again.

You know what I don’t do during the course of any of my furniture reinventions?

Never have I written a list of what qualities I wished a dresser possessed. Nope, I haven’t ever rattled off all the things that would make a dining set ideal. I just take the pieces as they come and listen to what they have to say. What hurts? What needs fixing? Which part should be the focal point? What areas should be obscured?

I don’t waste time thinking about what isn’t there.

The art is in working with what I’ve been given. Besides, working around those missing pieces usually sparks ideas for reimagining new uses for those old items.

Let me ask you this – aside from product labeling what makes a buffet different from a tv stand?

Is it in the wood that’s used or how the wood is used? Technically, both provide a large flat surface to display things and each has ample storage to stow stuff out of sight. Either can be painted or stained to suit the décor so what is it exactly that differentiates one from the other?

Because the way I see it, I’ve got a finished buffet I have no use for.

black buffet

And I’ve got a lame tv stand taking center stage in my living room. Schematically speaking, I see no reason why the former couldn’t be modified a bit to replace the latter. Would it mean a little more work? Sure. Could mistakes be made? Certainly. Might I be happier in the end?

There’s something about spending time surrounded by the fruits of your own labor that make all the effort worthwhile.

black entertainment stand

I guess that’s why it seems more productive to see Dave like the furniture in the basement. Sure, he’s got some wear and tear and might be missing a few parts. But he has a lot of potential. With a little work and some reimagineering I’m sure he can find renewed purpose.

17 Nov

Same Trailer, Different Park

mountain trailer

Tonight, I was planning to post an update on some recently completed projects but as I was gathering my thoughts I came across a post I published just over a year ago (you can find that original post here).

Sadly, it doesn’t seem that I’ve gotten very far in the last 365 days. I’m still trying to figure out where I want this blog-thing to go. I really want to spend more time writing but my days are consumed with projects. I’ve slowed down considerably on commissioned pieces but have 17 dressers, 35 end tables, 8 dining room sets and so much more to knock out before packing the house up to get it on the market. The alternative is to liquidate my treasures or lug them to Colorado.

In some ways things are much different today than they were last November. For starters, the move is right around the corner. For 17 years I’ve said “some day I’ll live here” every time I hiked through the Garden of the Gods. Lately, all I’ve found myself saying is “Crap! I need to get that finished/started before we move”. This will be the first Christmas in a long time that I’m not somewhere in the mountains out West. It’ll be the last one we spend as a family under the same roof.

It’s crazy when I stop to think about it. Technically, we’ll be empty-nesters before I’m even 40 years old. About a month ago we started seeing a Christian counselor. Dave and I have been having issues and it was time to get some professional help. Although I always knew we’d find ourselves at this crossroad, I couldn’t have imagined how up in the air everything would be once we arrived.

Brian (the counselor) had Tyler put together a 6-month plan to prepare for his transition out of the house into the real world. He asked me to do the same. The problem is that my plan is completely dependent upon whatever happens with Dave and his job, Dave and our marriage, Tyler and his graduation, Tyler and his enlistment – I don’t have the time nor energy to come up with 12 different short-term what if scenarios. I’d also rather not focus on the precarious situation I’ve found myself in.

Against all of my mother’s wisdom I find myself at the mercy of a man. I’m sure she’s thrilled to know that I don’t have a real job. I don’t make my own money. My car isn’t even in my name. Besides, I’m not sure if I want to leave the house for the real world.

And seriously, I know that even if I had a plan it wouldn’t work out the way I envisioned anyway so I see no point forcing decisions for productivity’s sake. I’ve played that game before and where did it get me? I know I wouldn’t be any less frustrated than I’m tempted to be now. I would be no less busy and I doubt I’d be any more content with what the future held. So, I think I’ll forgo the planning process a bit longer.

I trust that when I look back six months from now I’ll find things worked themselves out. Maybe, I’ll even manage to get a few project updates posted too.

23 Oct

Estate Sale – October 24 & 25

Date(s) of sale: Saturday, October 24 & Sunday, October 25

Time: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm both days

Items for sale: Collectibles, salt & pepper shaker sets, Denim Days figurines, hundreds of cookbooks, household items: decor, furniture, kitchen dishes, glassware, Tupperware, utensils, small and large appliances, electronics and media, landscape equipment, garden decor, tools, holiday decorations, medical devices & aides, vintage camera(s) & equipment

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04 Feb

Bye Bye Cookie Cutter Kitchen

final finishes

I know this is going to come as a shock to you but I don’t cook. So when we walked through this house the modest size of the kitchen wasn’t really an issue for me. For the most part, it serves its purpose and we have all the appliances we need. And though I’m not really keen on them being black they were pretty new so there was no incentive to spend the money to swap ’em out.

builder grade kitchen

Instead, I splurged on backsplash tiles that pulled the space together. The black and grey glass worked well with the appliances and the variations in the slate pulled in the orange tone of the wood cabinets and trim.

glass backsplash tiles

The laminate countertops were in great shape so instead of replacing them I created a spice shelf to physically and visually break up the surfaces. It extends about 4″ – just enough room for the salt and pepper (or sample jar of paint). Once that was complete, I installed upgraded lighting fixtures.

diy spice shelf

So, it always bugged me that the countertop around the sink was a bit ‘overgrown’. It wasn’t wide enough for a true breakfast bar and you couldn’t sit there and not back up into the dining chairs. Since we didn’t have another eating space I had to find a way to make this one seem larger.

eat in kitchen area

Now listen, even if I wasn’t a DIY’er or interior designer I have watched enough HGTV to know that never, in the hundreds of hours of real estate shows aired has there ever been a buyer who loved everything about a home except for the fact that it lacked an overgrown countertop.

I have, however, heard plenty a property virgin whine about where all of her friends and family will sit during their housewarming party. So, the decision to cut the countertop was an easy one to make – for resale value obviously.

cut laminate countertop

See? Once I trimmed it out and stained it to match the other wood, you couldn’t even tell it hadn’t always been that way.

wood trim on counter

Just look at how much larger the dining area is! (all of the chairs are around the table)

extended dining space

After adding brushed nickel hardware to the cabinets and drawers (to tie in with the stainless steel on the stove) I cut and installed wooden crown molding above and swapped the builder grade hollow core pantry door for something a little more fun-ctional.

cabinet crown molding

Then the 7″ shallow sink was replaced with a deeper 9″ version.

shallow sink deep stainless sink

…and it was bye-bye to that cookie cutter kitchen.

final finishes

Want to see what is going on behind that pantry door? Check it out here. Or are you wondering where I stashed the trash can? It’s under here…