Thursday, July 26, 2012

Painting Furniture: A Mid-Century Desk Gets a Little Graceful Age

I'm so excited to finally be able to share this project with you and SO appreciative of my client who was kind enough to take the after pictures and send them to me because life got crazy and I never got a chance to take any myself.

This client contacted me several months ago needing a fairly large desk for her new home, so hunting we went.  After several un-returned phone calls on a desk we really liked (why do people post things in the classifieds if they're not going to respond!?) we abandoned all hope of that one and continued our search.  Like me, she's into the old, antique style (I guess that would explain why she hired me) and as many of us have learned in the thrifting world, especially now days, those old charming, just-need-a-facelift pieces are getting harder to come by, especially for what most of us are willing to pay.  


You've probably also noticed though, that pieces like this one below are about a dime a dozen.  And if you look beyond the hardware, you notice that this desk is essentially a flat, blank canvas.



I'm here to tell you, don't discount them so quickly.  Just because something doesn't start out your style, doesn't mean you can't give it a little age and character and make it your own.


These are my keys for giving furniture a little time warp.


1.  Replace the top.  In this case, the top was beyond massive and, I felt, a big contributor to the mid-century-ness of the desk.  So the top came off and in it's place, a piece of high quality plywood (Pine I believe), cut down to just slightly bigger than the desk so I could still mount it to the existing brackets. 


*A little word about Pine:  if you plan on painting rather than staining YOU NEED TO PRIME with Kilz or something similar that has a sealer.  If you simply paint over the wood, any knots will bleed through (it's called tannin bleeding) and you will have ugly yellow spots that show up through your paint.  It doesn't necessarily happen immediately (although I've seen that too), but a couple months or years down the road, you will be regretting not priming--I promise!  It doesn't add age or charm, it's just plain ugly.


2.  Round the edges of the top with a sander.  Rounding the edges just adds more of that worn in, loved feeling.  Sorry, I don't have pictures, but this is a great illustration of what I'm talking about and their tutorial will show you how (just click on link below):





I opted to stain the top, with Minwax Early American (it looks significantly lighter in these pictures than in real life, so if you want an idea of what Early American really looks like, you can see it here).

After a light sanding, hardware removal and filling the holes was the obvious next step.  I've actually gotten into the habit of always filling the original hardware holes, whether I plan on changing out the hardware or not, simply because a lot of times, I finish painting a piece and realize that the original hardware just doesn't do it for me anymore and I want to change it.  It's much easier to just fill the holes and drill back through them if I decide to keep the hardware, than it is to fill the holes after I've painted.


2. One of my favorite ways to add character: wood appliques.  Just FYI, if you go asking for "wood appliques" at your store, that might be a word I made up; I'm not sure what the technical name is, but they're usually with moldings and stuff.






For me, these are a simple way to add a little of that carved effect that I love about antique pieces, and they give the glaze something to grab onto.  They add character!

Glue them on with wood glue and let dry according to the package directions.  If you have clamps to hold them on, that would be preferable, but if you don't, channel your inner kindergartner and just pinch it on there for a bit until it gets good and sticky, let go, and let it dry.

As you can see, I stained mine before gluing them, so when distressed, the dark wood would come through.

Next comes paint.  My client wanted yellow and sent me this picture as a color reference (which actually happened to be one of the first things I ever pinned).  Yellow is a hard one for me because I think there are so many ways you can go wrong with it: too dull, too shocking, too green, too mustard...it goes on and on.  I originally picked out Valspar's Mark Twain House Yellow, but wavered on my choice last minute and ended up buying something lighter.  Once that dried, I found it to be too dull and ended up with the Mark Twain House Yellow anyway--trust your gut because I've found my new go to yellow.  It's definitely a furniture color or exterior color for me, because it is a little bold, but it's my new go-to yellow for furniture.


Painting done and a very light coat of glaze and, I was onto number:

5.  New hardware. There's nothing easier or more effective than hardware for changing the look of furniture.    I used some brassy bail pulls and and pendant pulls from Hobby Lobby.  The small round knobs at the top are original to the desk.


Some distressing along the edges, and there you have a mid-century desk that took a trip back in time and came back with a little graceful age.


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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Baby Shower Wishing Tree Free Printables--3 Colors

Somehow the original post was deleted, so I am reposting with links to the printables.  It's available in red, pink, blue, or yellow.  Tags are in black and white and mine were printed on scrapbook paper from My Mind's Eye, purchased at Hobby Lobby.  The framed print was also printed on My Mind's Eye scrapbook paper.  {Link to download at the end of the post.}






 Free printables are for personal use & MFL followers only, so please take a moment to follow via your method of choice located in the sidebar.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gender Neutral Baby Shower Inspiration

{None of these images are mine, so please be respectful and pin from the ORIGINAL sources listed underneath each image.}

This week I'm SO EXCITED to be off to a baby shower for my sister in law.  My part in this baby shower, which you'll see early next week {and it involves my first printable}, has been very minimal, but it did require some gender neutral color scheming which proved to be slightly difficult for me--why do we tend to want to think SO in the box when it comes to babies?  It's just so easy to cross that line into masculine or feminine when you're trying to go the gender-neutral route.  I'd have yellow and turquoise in my hand and find myself wanting to add something floral, but then it becomes too feminine, so I'd try red and it became too masculine {I know, I'm totally gender stereotyping}.  So today I thought I'd share some of my favorite gender-neutral baby shower ideas found via Pinterest--naturally.

I've said before that Mint is my new favorite neutral and a baby shower is no exception.  I love how clean and bright this is {even if this was meant for a bridal shower}.



One long pennant banner makes the whole setup, with minimal work.  A great presentation doesn't have to mean a lot of fuss.  And the colors make it perfectly gender-neutral.




I love the "shower" theme.  And pink, blue and yellow doesn't get more classically gender-neutral.


I love this "Guess Baby's Stats" game and the primary color scheme.




This is my FAVORITE!  I LOVE a library shower!  These vintage children's books make me drool!


If you haven't heard of a library shower, in the invitation you invite everyone to bring their favorite children's book {make sure they know it's optional, it can be a lot to ask in addition to a gift}.  Like this:...



...and baby starts life with a stocked library.  This one obviously tends to lean pink, but this entire shower is adorable and these are free printables over at Martha Stewart (you can link from the pin).

And I leave you with a few gen-neutral palates to keep those wheels turning.





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Organizing Paint Chips or A Business Tag

I just finished a desk (which I'll share soon) for a client who recently moved into a new home and is in the process of decorating, and it occurred to me that it would probably be helpful to give clients a little paint chip should they ever want to use the color again or coordinate with other items they're purchasing (can't really carry a desk around a fabric store, right?).  But I couldn't just hand someone a paint chip, I wanted to make it a little cuter.  So I give you the new, simple addition to my tags (which will now be a permanent addition):


The swatch should be big enough to be color matched anywhere.  And if you paint a lot like I do, you could put several of these chip tags together for a portable way to carry your favorite colors around so they're always on hand.  If it's a custom mix created by you or you don't have a piece of the chip, just paint a little on the tag (just make sure it's enough that you don't pick up the color of the tag underneath).

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fresh Flowers from the Garden For the Non-Gardner {like me}

I have a black thumb.  I've tried countless varieties of flowers and growing methods in the years since we moved into our house and to no avail.  EVERYTHING. DIES.  I have dreams of having big rose bushes that will provide fragrant, fresh-cut floral arrangements all summer long, but for now, the one "traditional" rose bush I do have produces about three blooms a year, so I have a really hard time cutting them.  Since I still wanted fresh flowers in my house though, and didn't want to pay store prices, I decided to make something out of what little my yard does produce, and it's actually turned out to be a little bright spot on my kitchen table that I love.


I have a bush, and I'm not actually sure what it's called, but as you can see, it's pretty similar to a boxwood.  I've been cutting stems from that for a couple of months (you may have noticed them here) but the green was getting a little blah and boring.  So, in addition to my "boxwood," I have one, sort of tea rose bush that has miraculously thrived, and some Dianthus that I planted this year--given my track record, this will probably be the first and only summer it survives.  I grabbed a couple of assorted containers (the big one is just an old salsa jar wrapped with twine), put in the "boxwood" for filler, and then stuck a few of the bright blooms in and it's a little drop of summer inside the house and a way to add color, when your poor yard doesn't have many flowers to spare.



Saturday, July 7, 2012

How We Travel with a Toddler--WITHOUT Electronics

At the risk of sounding old: When I was a kid {I'm hearing the Grandpa in the Simpsons as I'm writing that} we didn't have all of these fancy dancy DVD players and video games to take on road trips {okay, maybe the first Gameboy had just come out, but my parents being the evil  sensible people they were, wouldn't get us one}.  So we did road trips the "old-fashioned" way, hours in a car of fighting travel games, coloring, snacks, and good old family fun.  


My in-laws live out of state, so we road trip {about nine hours each way} several times a year, and I try really hard to make the drive with no movies, iPhone games, etc. She watches enough TV at home, believe me.  It's not really an option anyway because we don't even own a portable DVD player or an iPod, in fact, I don't even have internet on my phone--I know, I'm practically living in the dark ages.  Anyway, there are lots of activity ideas out there for older kids, but I think entertaining a toddler can be hard, especially on an airplane where activities have to be quiet--something many toddler toys are not.  So through a lot of trial and a little bit of error, this is what we've found to be effective and how we keep our toddler entertained when we travel:


I buy her a new bag almost every time we take a road trip.  At $1 each (on the Target dollar aisle), it's a small thing that adds to the excitement.

There are two keys to the success of our road trip bags: {1.}VARIETY-- as many varied and random things as I can think of/find/shove into one bag, to keep her occupied, and {2} This one is IMPORTANT: she doesn't get the bag, or even get to see what's in the bag until we're on the road--zero peeking

Next comes the "lap desk."  Ours is a dollar store cookie sheet, spray painted pink.  The lip on the tray holds crayons and snacks in place and since it's metal, you can create magnetic games to play (we'll get to that one in a minute).  Another bonus: it stores right between or under the seat because it's flat.

I mostly buy new things and mix in some of her tried and true favorites, so here's what's in a typical bag.  

1.  There are always LOTS of stickers in the bag, along with some form of paper--again, Target $1 aisle or stolen from the printer--to stick them on.  But sometimes, we resort to decorating our faces instead--whatever keeps a girl entertained.

2. Melissa & Doug Magic Dress-Up: This is a new one I picked up, and per the no peeking rule, she hasn't tired it out yet, but I anticipate that it's going to be a hit. All of the clothes are magnetic and it's packed neatly {which will last about five minutes--just keepin' it real} in its own little case. 

3. Crayola Color Wonder coloring pads.  I will admit, I think these are seriously pricey for coloring items, but for me, they're worth it {and I stock up when they're on sale}. Watching the color magically appear keeps her more interested than your run of the mill coloring, and I love that the markers won't color on anything besides the paper.  You want to do something fun?  Take them on an airplane and check out the looks you get when you hand a toddler markers.  The old lady next to us was all but gasping in shock.


Random things like crazy glasses have proven to be entertaining for us as well.

4.  Landmark "I Spy" game found via Pinterest.  This may be a little advanced for a toddler, but cut out two of each of those pictures and you have yourself an educational matching game.  Put magnets on the back and it works perfectly with the cookie sheet lap desk I mentioned earlier.  For a more basic matching game, check out the school aisle at your dollar store.  They have classroom bulletin board borders with shapes, animals, numbers, etc.  There are several strips, so you can cut them up, put magnets on and for a few dollars, you have several matching games.  They also have flash cards which make great matching games, or just buy a matching game (novel idea, I know) and slap magnets on it.  

5. I love this method of keeping the crayons and paper together, also found via Pinterest.

6. I also always include a new sippy cup, just another novelty that keeps her entertained and happy.  And while we're on the subject of sippy cups...I'm sure I'm not the only mom who has seemingly tried Every. Single. Cup under the sun and found out that "leak proof" is a dirty lie.  Or was a dirty lie, until I found these ones.  No joke, they don't leak--at all.  I. LOVE. THEM!  And she thinks they're cool because they look like a coffee cup.

7.  And it's not a road trip without snacks! I take a lot of food, because when all else fails: shove food in their face. I keep some of the snacks with me and funnel them to her throughout the trip, but again, I try to find novel things that she doesn't get all the time {like the Hershey's Cookies and Cream milk O--M--G--it's good}.  I will admit, on a nine hour road trip, the name of the game is keeping her entertained, so I'm not overly concerned with making sure the snacks are healthy.  I do, however, try to limit the sugar.  No one wants a three year old, hyped up on sugar, trying to bust out of her car seat like the Hulk.

And for airplane travel, lots of:

Most of the stuff is still new enough by the time we drive home that she's still entertained and I don't have to do an entirely new bag for the return trip, but I do hold a few things out and add them into the bag for the when we head back home.

My very last piece of advice in this marathon of a post {I really didn't plan on it being this long}:

Let's be honest: a sleeping child on a road trip is a little slice of heaven.  However, experience has taught me that this planning around sleeping thing can be a crap shoot, because sleep is a thing of beauty, but we all know that if they can't sleep, a tired toddler, when confined to a car seat can make every minute pure torture!  This seems to work for us--most of the time--and we always plan the trip so that we drive for a few hours, stop for lunch or dinner somewhere fancy, you know, with a play place {bust out the hand sanitizer} to wear her out, and then by the time we're four or five hours into the trip, we're coming up on her usual nap time.  When she wakes up, we've almost reached our destination.

We have three road trips this month, so I'd LOVE to hear what you do to keep kids entertained on the the road.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

For the Local Folks {Utah Hiking}

If you've read about me, you know that I'm pretty partial to this little place I call home.  I'd say we know our way around pretty well and take full advantage of most of what it has to offer--though I'll admit, I'm not a skiier/snowboarder, I tried to snowboard for a while and, as I've told my husband (although this was in regards to golf): I just don't generally enjoy things that I suck at--which is truly the case with snowboarding. And I really prefer enjoying cold weather from the comfort of my heated home.

Anyway, for my local folks, or perhaps those who chance to visit this place in the future, I thought I'd drop by periodically and share some of our favorite things to do around here.  And since summer is in full swing and a lot of us are looking to escape the heat, I thought I'd start by heading up to the mountains where it's beautiful and cool and share one of our favorite, super easy hikes.


Little Cottonwood Trail

{How to get there: The primary trailhead to Little Cottonwood trail sits at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon just behind the large electric sign. Little Cottonwood Canyon sits four miles up

SR 210 from the intersection in front of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Park in the Park-and-Ride that sits
across the street on the north side of the road. There are two other entry points to the trail farther up
canyon. One is approximately 1.7 miles up canyon at the pull-out next to the big shed. This is also
the entry to the Great White Icicle, an ice climbing favorite. The other is approximately another mile
up canyon and also has a pull-out on the right. There is a sign at this parking area marking the Little
Cottonwood trail off the south side of the road.  --SOURCE}


We usually take the last trail head, walk East a little to find a good spot by the river for lunch and then turn around, head back West and then head back East again to the car.  Does that make sense?



When I say easy, I mean it.  Notice the very flat trail:


A stop for lunch by the water, where there's lots of slow running water and shallow pools for the kids.  Perfect for splashing and rock throwing to their little heart's content.


And one of my favorite things about where I live.  You can drive 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle and escape to this:





So if you're looking for something to do with the family this weekend, pack a lunch and head up the canyon. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Linking At:

Let Birds Fly

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tales of a VERY Sassy {Almost} 3 Year Old


I don't know what it is, but this sweet little thing turned into one sassy little thing in what seems like the blink of an eye.  Tonight was the pinnacle.  I have to admit, I blame it partly on Dr. Pepper.  I  let her have some tonight, and if I'm being honest, it's far from the first time, but Mr. Pepper flipped a switch in that girl tonight and turned on Miss Sassy Pants.  I heard "No!" no less than 30 times. And here's a little piece of advice, when trying to teach your child not to say no, don't ask her, "Do you say 'no' to me?" thus making the child respond with a "No."  When I caught myself, it was something like, "Except in this case...where you can say 'no'...but you don't tell me no when I ask you to do something."  Teaching moment: FAIL!  When I corrected that one and informed her that she "doesn't tell me no" I was met with, "yes I do."  And if I hear the phrase, "I don't care" one more time, I might go crazy.  And for that phrase, I have only myself to blame--you give up on a fight with a 3 year old a couple of times and say, "I don't care, do what you want," and it comes back to haunt--lesson learned.  Then, standing there, picking up her toys she looked at me and said, "Uh, this is not my job."  Yet another of my phrases biting me in the rear.  Except I had news for her, picking up her toys is, in fact her job, she just has a very nice pushover mother who gives in way too often and picks them up for her {something I'm working on for the record}.  So out came the trash bag, with threats of all her toys going in if she didn't pick them up.  After she reluctantly {and with much help and prodding}put them away, came the best part:
"Mom, you're not my favorite."  
"Why am I not your favorite?"
"Because you're a little bit mean." 
{She's hugging me the entire time}
"Well do you know why I'm a little bit mean?  Because you're not obeying.  If you obey, I won't have to be 'mean'." (And with that phrase I officially turned into my mother--a compliment to myself, for sure.)
I don't remember her response, but it's a safe bet it was probably an "I don't care" or "No."  I finally threatened soap for the "I don't cares," which seemed to cure it--for tonight.


Then when bedtime came: 
"This is not my job."
"What's not your job?"
"Uh, going to bed."
I'll admit, I laughed.  That one was funny.  I wish going to bed was my job!



Over the past few weeks, I catch myself laughing at the fact that I'm going toe to toe with a three (going on 30) year old.  People have been warning me that the terrible two's are only preparation for three.  Lord help me, I think it's beginning.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Ballerina Room: A Chalkboard Wall

There's this little corner in my daughter's room, right as you walk in the door, that I thought would be great for a little "creative" space.  So it begins with a chalkboard wall.  I LOVE homemade chalk paint!

Homemade Chalk Paint Recipe:
1 cup FLAT paint
2 Tbsp. unsanded tile grout

I LOVE it!  It works MUCH better than the chalk paint I've bought at the store and it's totally cheap to make (and I LOVE it on furniture).  I use one of the foam touch up rollers to paint it on--they're $1.15 at Lowe's for a little kit that comes with the tray, the roller handle, and two rollers--can't beat that!  The chalk paint can tend to be a little chunky, so the foam rollers work really well to smooth out the lumps as you paint it on.  

Don't forget to treat the chalkboard before you write on it (I almost did), it will keep whatever you write from etching.  You do it simply by rubbing chalk across the entire surface and then erasing it:


A desk of some sort will eventually be going on the wall next to it, so I hung a bulletin board for some of the more permanent art, for the cards she gets from Grandma every week, and to break up the wall a little bit.  I also love this because as she grows, it will be the perfect spot for one of my favorite childhood pastimes: playing school.  Did you love that too? 

I'm told that the current drawing you see is a rocket ship.





I already had the paint and unsanded grout, so this project cost me $1.15 for the roller kit (and you can wash the rollers), well within my $20.00 project budget.  To purchase everything: the grout is about $6.00, and a $2.00 sample can of paint would be plenty for this. So all in, you're at less than a $10.00 project with TONS of the grout left over for your future chalkboard endeavors.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Quick Furniture-Moving Tip

I was working on putting together my office/guest bedroom this weekend, which involved moving some very heavy bookshelves--the weight could have been due partly to the fact that I was too lazy to clean them off before I moved them, but it was heavy nonetheless.  Anyway, I find myself moving a lot of heavy furniture pieces by myself since I usually do my projects while my husband is out.  So here's one of my favorite tricks for moving large pieces (or pieces you're too lazy to clean out first, like me).



Magazines!  Maybe I'm the last one to know about it, but it was a brilliant tip from my aunt that has possibly changed my life.  Furniture that weighs a ton, or what feels like a ton, glides across carpet like it's nothing.  I don't think it would necessarily work on hard surfaces like wood and tile, but when I move stuff across tile, I usually work a towel or sheet under it and then just drag it--probably not a good idea for tall stuff that will tip, obviously. 

The next step for this shelf is obviously painting and organizing--and no, I don't know why there's a tube of toothpaste in my office--but for now, just getting it into place was progress enough for me.

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