26 Nov

What Great Bones You Have

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.

victrola cabinet

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…”

damaged 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.

vintage victrola

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

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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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…

05 Sep

When Bold is Beautiful

update table & chairs

You know that cliché “go big or go home”? I’ve been in restaurants with tables smaller than the one Misty commissioned me to update for her busy family. She and her husband, a local church Pastor, entertain often and loved the size of their second-hand dining room set but knew it was in need of an overhaul. So when she asked, I was happy to see what I could do to help.

Because theirs is a home full of activity – with three young children and a constant flow of visitors – their tabletop had seen better days. The clear finish had gummed up and worn away in several spots. Misty gave up trying to get it clean and opted for a large tablecloth instead.

dirty table

the infamous ‘before’ picture

The chairs were in pretty good condition. A bit of glue to tack down the splat veneer, lots of paint and new upholstery would freshen them right up. They felt solid and were heavy. And once I’d stripped them of fabric and foam I knew why.

veneer chair

guess what the seat is made from…

I guess over in Malaysia it’s common to repurpose laminate countertops into seat bases. It must also be standard practice to secure fabric with 108 staples per chair. Have you ever tried to pry staples out of MDF? I don’t recommend it. Especially not eight times over.

Another lesson learned on this project was that attempts to spot-bleach wood will fail. Miserably. And since the top was composed of thin sheets of veneer an all-over-bleaching would soak through and compromise the substrate glue. That meant my plan to restore the natural blonde wood tone was out the window.

wood bleach

spot bleaching is bad!

See, originally Misty and I both assumed the filmstrip-like border was a sticker or paint and would easily remove when the table was stripped. I was surprised to find the checks were built into the tabletop itself and couldn’t bring myself to paint over the gorgeous ebony wood inlay.

black dining table

color: caviar & paint minerals

So, I taped it off and painted over. Three times.

ebony wood inlay

salvaged ebony wood inlay

Stunning right? I love how the skirting’s dentil molding pops against the checkered pattern that ties fabulously with the polka dots on the chair seat fabric (that is on sale right now.) Seriously, I love when project pieces just fall together.

Speaking of chair seat fabric, the very day I planned to haul these puppies out of the garage for delivery I had an unexpected challenge to overcome.

reupholstered chair pad

Why is there a gap under the chair pad?

The original screws seemed to have grown a 1/4″ causing the space between the chair base and seat. Apparently, eliminating the fabric-wrapped piping from the finished design meant I’d need (32) shorter screws (and a fancy new screwdriver) to complete the project.

painted veneer chair

paint: caviar black / fabric: wizard graffiti

But look at that chair. And those chairs down there! Gorgeous.

painted chairs

paint: lime rickey

Personally, I wasn’t sure if it would all come together. See, when we first discussed paint the plan was to finish the chairs in pairs with (4) different colors (red, green, black, cream) to tie in the bold fabric. Along the way, Misty decided to streamline the palette.

modern dining set

the glorious ‘after’ shot

And it works. Now the fabric takes center stage. Removing the captain’s chairs all together changes up the look too.

black kitchen table

not bad in all black

Now Misty doesn’t have to cover up when guests come over. Her fun, inviting table will no doubt make everyone feel right at home.

painted dining room table

back at home 

black kitchen table

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29 Aug

Mission Complete – Barn Red End Tables

mission style painted tables

When I first picked up these mission style end tables the plan was to paint and sell them as bedside tables. I had envisioned them in a creamy antique white with a French-inspired ink transfer or postmark or something romantic and swoony on top.

mission style painted tables

But after I got the primer and two coats of paint on I was out of steam and didn’t feel like working on them anymore. So, I set them aside and moved on to other projects.

mission style painted tables

A few weeks months later my girlfriend, April, asked if I had any small living room tables. AHA! So that’s why I’d lost my mojo on those suckers. We agreed they were a perfect compliment to her glass-topped coffee table.

mission style painted tables

So, the white was replaced with thirty-two coats of barn red. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that many coats but it sure felt like it.

mission style painted tables

At one point, I snapped a pic of the table top and texted it over to April. It was just about then that I decided ‘progress photos’ were not my friend. The next time we got together she cautiously asked if the tables had turned out orange. Apparently, the flash on my cell phone didn’t do the paint color much justice. I reassured her that the tables were, absolutely, positively, barn red just as she’d requested. I think she believed me…

mission style painted tables

What I didn’t tell her was that I’d taken some design liberty and added matte black around the lip of the table top and antiqued the sides with stain and dark wax.

mission style painted tables

mission style painted tables

The tops got the full poly-plus-wax treatment and now these tables are sitting pretty in April’s living room – where her coffee table awaits a similar paint job.

mission style painted tables

I don’t know why I ever thought they belonged in a bedroom.  (shrug) What do I know?

mission style painted tables

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