27 Mar

DIY Sofa Table

diy sofa table

Most of the furniture pieces I’ve completed lately belonged to other people. Even when the piece comes from my inventory, once it’s selected for a client and we start the design process it moves from the unfinished queue to the commissioned column in my fancy mental tracking system.

So, although I maintain creative control of all projects in the shop it’s been awhile since I’ve worked on something that was 100% my own design.

For a few months a second-hand metal aquarium stand had been in my way in the shop. Intentionally, it took up space in front of my tool table because I knew exactly what to do with it. In my head, it was the first item under the completed column of created items.

In reality, it was just a spot to stack crap on.

metal fish tank stand

But, if I could find the time to get to it I knew how gorgeous it would be! All it needed was some sanding and priming to tackle a few rust spots.

rusty metal primer

And once I touched up the black paint, I’d grab some left over carsiding from the laundry room project, rip it down to remove the tongue and grooving and build a flat table top.

build wood tabletop

With some cross bracing, I would attach it to the metal lip where that fish tank used to sit.

Then, I’d do the same with the bottom shelf, drilling holes through the existing metal cross straps to secure the wood slats.

drill holes in metal

All in all, I figured this would take about a day, at most. But it’d be a good month before I could get around to it. And since no one was waiting for it, there was no rush.

Every time I stubbed my toe on the dang thing I’d imagine it complete. Not once did I deviate from the original design. I just knew what it was supposed to look like. (this doesn’t always happen – actually, it rarely happens)

Once it was all assembled, I’d sand down the wood and prep it for stain. A dark, rustic walnut would look great with the flat black metal. Some added hardware on the ends would tie it all together.

rustic hall table

After it was sealed and waxed I knew it wouldn’t take long to find a new home. Certainly not as long as it had sat waiting for some love in the shop.

wood & metal hall table

I was right. About 10 minutes after I shot this photo, the guy from next door came by to carry it home to his wife.

It was exactly what she didn’t even know she wanted for her dining room.

farm style sofa table

Turns out, she’d been looking for it for a while. Good thing I finally got around to creating it for her.

26 Feb

Dresser to TV Stand Conversion

Convert Dresser to TV Stand

This isn’t the first project I’ve done for Christina but I’m going to tell you about it first because sometimes things make more sense in reverse. A few months ago, as I delivered a pair of painted side tables she told me she wanted to find a large dresser to repurpose as a tv stand in her family room.

Soon after, I came across this dresser on a local rummage sale site.

Dresser to TV Stand

The seller had planned to refinish it before losing a fight with an outdoor swing set. Two shoulder surgeries later, she hung back as Dave and I transferred it from her truck to mine. Back at the house we lugged the dresser into the living room where it sat for a couple of weeks.

I had to wait until I finished a large desk & hutch combo before I could get started on the dresser-to-entertainment-center conversion. Since it was entirely too heavy to move up and down the basement stairs, I used it as a base and painted the other pieces right there in the living room.

Painting furniture

It was kind of nice to watch tv while I worked. I’m sure Dave loved having my crap spread all over the main level of the house.

Once I started, it didn’t take too long to get the cabinet base and drawers painted. Then I got to work removing the finish and stain from the top.

Dresser to TV Stand

Then removed the top drawer guides before measuring / cutting 1/4″ thick plywood shelving.

Dresser to TV Stand

The plan was for their electronics to live on the upper level and use the lower drawers for media storage. I removed the center door completely and painted the space inside. Then I stained up the drawer stretchers and installed the plywood sheets.

Dresser to TV Stand

If you look closely, you’ll see brass bi-fold door hinges on the face frame of the top left drawer hole. While the wood was nice enough to leave the top shelf open, I knew Christina wanted to hide their electronic gadgets. So, I removed the drawer fronts, painted and stenciled them in a pattern she was keen on.

Dresser to TV Stand

To tie into the walnut top, I stained over my stencil darkening the white paint slightly. After it dried, I sanded the paint down a bit to pull the grain out.

Dresser to TV Stand

Then I installed the new shelf and posted this teaser photo on Facebook to prove I was actually getting things done.

Plus, I really wanted to freak her out and let her think I was leaving the hardware gold!

I didn’t have to do anything to the drawers other than swap out the pulls. (how cool is that old paper lining??)

Dresser to TV Stand

Seriously, Christina was such a sport. This project took way longer than planned because I had (5) things going at once. I suppose that’s the downfall of having a second ‘workspace’ upstairs. That and all the crap taking over the place…

Dresser to TV Stand

Check out how fast I moved to get this piece finished and delivered. #warpspeeddiy

Dresser to TV Stand

Dave snapped photos as I finished installing the drop-down door hardware and back slats. Then, we loaded ‘er up and headed over to Christina’s…where I fully expected we’d set the piece up in the family room as planned.

But – sometimes furniture has a mind of its own.

Dresser to TV Stand

It never made it passed the living room.

On the up side, this is the first thing you see when you walk in the front door.

Dresser to TV Stand

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10 Feb

White Vanity Table

Painted Wood Vanity

I got my own room when I was 11. My sister is five years older than me and when she turned 16, convinced my mom to let her move to the basement. I invited my best friend, Jenny, over and we painted the bedroom walls green. It was the first time I had painted anything.

Twenty-seven years later I’m channeling my inner tween with the latest batch of commissioned projects.

My client, Carrianne, wanted to surprise her 11-year-old daughter with a bedroom makeover. She ordered new bedding and picked up a second-hand dressing table. My job was to paint the vanity so it worked with all the elements in the room.

black white pink bedding

Silver Medallion Bedding – Macy’s

 

White Dressing Table

oak vanity – before

 

And quite honestly, I was dreading the task. Not because I didn’t think it wouldn’t look great and not because I didn’t think I could get the job done, no, I’m just not a fan of anything in all one color. Especially, if that color is white (seriously, white isn’t even a color). In the past, I’d use fabric on the seat to pull color into a neutral design. The problem was that the vanity didn’t come with a matching seat.

As I was stalling, milling around in the basement I came across an end table I’d picked up during one of my trash runs. The legs were identical to the vanity and the height worked so I brought it upstairs for further inspection.

White Dressing Table

With the tabletop removed and the base painted white, I fabricated a new seat from plywood and secured it using the existing screws and holes.

Painted Wood Vanity

attach plywood seat base

White Dressing Table

converted seat

Since I knew there was no way I could color match the hot pink in the bedding, I opted for a simple faux black leather seat fabric (and still no color). I thought about stenciling a swirl pattern or floral blooms across the top but couldn’t decide what color (other than bright white or black) to use. I was running out of time when I went digging through my office for last ditch inspiration and found this sheet of scrapbook paper.

foil scrapbook paper

from The Black Currant Stack

 

Now, I have this little game I like to play called “What Would Pinterest Do?” where I imagine how other bloggers / DIYers would complete my projects. Then, I challenge myself to ‘one up’ them and really think outside the box. I was fairly certain that most folks would take the pattern as it was, crop it and attach it to the front of the drawer a la Mod Podge.

So, I didn’t. Instead, I cut out 6 squares, lined them up side by side and created a new pattern. Then I applied the sticky stuff.

White Dressing Table

Yay! I win. Dee – 85, Pinterest – 0.

I just happened to have that single, solitary, random pull in my stash. (I bet you thought it was one of the flowers huh?) And it worked perfectly. I cleaned it up and brushed on some paint to pop the details and voila! It never ceases to amaze me how the little details come together at the end of a project.

I knew I was taking a chance deviating from the client’s instructions but I was willing to risk it. I mean, look at how this piece turned out…

White Dressing Table White Dressing Table

Heck, it was even pretty in the spots you couldn’t see! (that’s black and white polka dot paper. Who knew Carrianne had a thing for polka dots? Details I tell ya…)

White Dressing Table

Turns out, the risk was worth the reward because when Carrianne walked in the door for pick up she made a beeline for the drawer. Kneeling down she said “wow, I just love what you did to it!”

And today, when her daughter saw the painted vanity she loved it too. I’m tickled pink at how well everything coordinates.

White Dressing Table

And that green wall makes my inner 11-year-old smile.

White Dressing Table

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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…

24 Jan

Stop Stealing My Joy

Hello friends! It’s been a while and I’m sorry. I could spend the first few lines here giving you all sorts of excuses about how busy I’ve been, detail the long lists of projects I’m working on and parade my ever-growing To Do List in your face. Or I could publish a new project post and pretend I never skipped a beat. Read More

23 Dec

DIY Lego Table for Her

DIY Lego Table

Just popping in to post some project photos before jumping head-first into a much needed vacation from the workshop. While I realize I have yet to post any of the awesome commissioned projects from last Christmas, I had to get this one up for you to see. Partly because I’m so proud of it but mainly because it’d be poor form to let my client do all the pimping out of my work (even if she is a really good pimp-er!)

Amy tasked me with creating a Lego table for her two daughters. Here’s what I started with (all curb-surfed):

DIY Lego Table

She had her heart set on the Lego table made from a converted dresser that another blogger completed this summer. I {subconsciously} opted to create the exact opposite of Gail’s boy’s table set. (Am I the only one who cringes when a client says “I saw this _____ on Pinterest…??)

After some major refabrication, paint (in official Lego Friends colors) and fabric this is what is patiently awaiting two little girls in the morning:

DIY Lego Table

DIY Lego Table

DIY Lego Table

DIY Lego Table

DIY Lego Table

Think they’ll love it? I sure hope so. As for me, I love that this project is done! Now, to get last year’s projects posted…

27 Nov

A Tale of Thanks Giving

It was the day before Thanksgiving and I was stuck at the office.

Hours after everyone else had gone home, I braved the cold towards the parking garage, hopped in my new Honda Civic and threw it into drive. As I made my way to the grocery store, I gave thanks for great friends willing to open their home to us the following day. Read More

14 Nov

How you doing?

I got an email the other day from a reader asking if I had given up writing blog posts and project tutorials. She’d noticed the website redesign (still in progress) and assumed by my latest Facebook posts that I had gone back to work full-time. After assuring her that the blog was still a go (and realizing I completely missed its second birthday last month) I sat down to whip up a new post. And had no idea where to begin…

See, she wasn’t exactly wrong in thinking the focus of this blog had changed, it has. And she wasn’t wrong in assuming I was working full-time again, I am. And if I’m being honest her “its okay to have nothing to say” felt like the out I’ve wanted to give myself for some time now.

But I won’t because, as I told my sister the other day, I am not a quitter.

I am, however, real enough with myself (and complete internet strangers) to admit when something isn’t working. And I guess not saying anything came through as loudly as spilling my guts (which I was avoiding) would have.

And I have plenty to say. So here goes…

What’s going on with the blog design?

I’m still trying to decide exactly how I want the menus set up but the goal was to make navigating this place easier. For you, for me – it’s total b.s. when I can’t even find something I’m looking for so I can just imagine how annoying it is for you to get around. Nevermind what a train wreck it must have looked like to someone new to the site.

When I first jumped into the blog pool I swam around like everyone else who was blogging. After two years of treading water, I realized I can’t stand the format of most blogs. A homepage that dives right into the latest blog post seems about as welcoming as a house where the front door opens into the bathroom. So, the new design offers a foyer of sorts – giving you the option to decide which areas you want to peek in to (or not).

Am I doing any more DIYs?

I don’t necessarily understand/agree with how bloggers use the term DIY. Sure, it’s an acronym for Do It Yourself, but no one seems to have a clear-cut understanding of what “It” encompasses. Since most of my projects are completed for someone else, I like to think DIY stands for “Do It for You.” In that case, yes! I’m pretty much only working on DIY projects.

But as it pertains to things I’m doing myself around my home, notsomuch. Not because I don’t have projects I’d like to/need to get done but because there are only so many hours in a day.

What’s with all the painted furniture?

Full disclosure – I clearly remember dissing people who paint furniture for painting furniture. “It’s a table. You took a white table and painted it blue and it’s still a table. Big whip.” is pretty much exactly what I said a year ago whilst perusing Pinterest. Color me unimpressed.

I’ve since changed my tune – completely. {I also spend no time on Pinterest.} See, painting furniture isn’t hard but all the other stuff that goes along with it – finding, cleaning, restoring, finishing – fascinates me. Done right, painting and/or refinishing a table (and letting it remain a table) is an art form. Done wrong, well, rewards you another chance to get it done right.

Did I get a job?

Yes. No. Maybe? Okay, let’s first decide what exactly a job is. If you’re asking if I am pulling a 9 to 5 gig, away from home in an office – no. Then again, I wasn’t doing that before I started blogging. Who works 8-hour days in construction?? If, what you’d like to know is am I keeping busy for the majority of the day and getting paid for that effort – kinda.

I’ve officially moved my inventory and shop underground and printed business cards. I have a design ready to go for work shirts but haven’t pulled the trigger.

I know the real question you want to ask is…

Are you making money?

Yes. Somewhere along the line I built up a client base and they are keeping me busy with custom pieces. As I type, I have 6 projects I should be working on – one of which is close to being late and another is due by Thanksgiving. This is why I have slacked severely on the blog posts.

Remember the projects I was working on this time last year? No? That’s because I still haven’t gotten the photos edited and loaded up for posting. I suck. I know. And spending 10 days on-site at a commercial project three counties over didn’t help scheduling matters.  But work is work and cash is cash and it all helps in the long run. Besides, sleep is overrated.

Why don’t you sell out of a shop?

Of all the questions I’m asked this one comes up most often. (I lie, “Is your website on Facebook?” is the most frequently asked question but I can no longer spend time explaining how the internet works.) The short answer is because I don’t have to but the real answer is a tad more complicated.

I’ll probably pull an entire post together about this somewhere down the line but know that there is a great deal of overhead built in to the price tags in co-op retail shops. Better are the savings on upcycled/recycled pieces you’ll find at flea markets and vintage fairs and not just because the vendors don’t want to load up and lug the pieces back home. What this means to you is that if I sold out of a shop my prices would increase – by double.

Aside from the upfront costs, I’ve found the local painted furniture scene to be cliquey. I can’t say I’m surprised since it’s made up primarily of middle-aged women. Since I don’t partake in junior high school antics I’ve opted to steer clear of that scene. Plus, I really don’t align myself with the painted furniture party – my skills and experience are much broader and I can (and do) offer more than the competition. So, it doesn’t make much sense to me to rent booth space along side them.

I do, however, support single artist shops and have my sights set on this business plan for the future. #suchatease #spoileralert

So, what now?

For the immediate future I’m going to work my tail off to clear the books of the pending commissions projects. Then, I’m hoping planning to get the last ‘built in’ project here in the house completed. It hit me a few weeks ago that we’ve got less than 18 months left in this house. That may seem like plenty of time but we still haven’t decided where in Colorado we want to go and since I’m still planning to work out of the house and open a shop – we’d better nail down a location. And soon! Plus, houses in our neighborhood are selling in a day. One day – that terrifies me.

If you’ve taken a gander at the photo gallery of raw inventory you know that the basement and garage are full of pieces to be rehashed. I don’t expect to have it all complete before we head out west and keep telling myself it’ll pack better if I don’t. Dave has his heart set on a going away party complete with massive bonfire.

I think he’s just worried I’m going to die and he’ll have to do something with it all. #paybacksabitch

As far as the blog is concerned, I really want to write more. I’ll still post my projects, before and afters and tutorials but I gotta tell ya, I get pretty bored with all the “I did this, then I did that” posts. And if I’m bored with them you’ve got to be dying over there.

So, you may not see as many pretty pictures. And it’s okay if you want to skip over a post or two but I hope you’ll stick around as the site (and my work) evolves. Because you’re pretty much the reason it exists.

Without you I would totally be vegging on the sofa.

Um, thanks?

30 Sep

Under Construction

…bear with me as I make changes to the site. :) In the meantime, you can find me on Facebook (click here). Feel free to make suggestions or share ideas – things you’d like to see on the site – or give other constructive feedback.

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