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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Turns out, she’d been looking for it for a while. Good thing I finally got around to creating it for her.
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.
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.
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.
Then removed the top drawer guides before measuring / cutting 1/4″ thick plywood shelving.
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.
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.
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.
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??)
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…
Check out how fast I moved to get this piece finished and delivered. #warpspeeddiy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…)
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.
And that green wall makes my inner 11-year-old smile.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just look at how much larger the dining area is! (all of the chairs are around the table)
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.
Then the 7″ shallow sink was replaced with a deeper 9″ version.
…and it was bye-bye to that cookie cutter kitchen.
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
Wishing you and yours the merriest of Christmases today! Right now, I’m enjoying a latte at the top of Mount Werner in Steamboat, Colorado.
The ride up was beautiful. I wasn’t even afraid of falling out and breaking my legs (gondolas are the way to go).
It wasn’t super busy since most people were still celebrating the holiday.
And as I explored I came across the sweetest little snowman.
I also caught a glimpse of someone very important enjoying his day off.
I caught up with Dave on one of his trips up and down the hill.
He said the powder was the best he’d skied to date. I’ll have to take his word for it. Tomorrow, I’ve got a snowshoe tour planned complete with gourmet lunch and wine.
That’s my kind of winter sport.
A couple more days of r & r then it’s back to the shop to work on client projects.
Until then Merry Christmas everyone!