Monday, April 21, 2014

Second Time's the Charm

Spring always gets me excited.  The warmer weather hails the start of one of my favorite pastimes... the yard sale.  Don't get me wrong, I definitely do my fair share of rummaging through thrift shops and Craigslist during the colder months, but there is something to be said about the ability to drag something outside and spray paint it on a whim.  I also tend to have a backlog of projects by spring that are just too large or stinky to finish indoors, so my fix-it-up mojo is in high gear these days.  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some practical repair tips for salvaging used furniture as well as some tips on how to know if your find is a keeper.  

 I found this little table on the curb for free.  It had great lines, was very sturdy and actually looked very similar to a side table I already had.  It also had a bunch of defects which made it a perfect candidate for this post.  So lets get right to the fixing part!

This baby was going to need some serious TLC.  I headed to True Value and grabbed some medium and fine grit sandpaper, wood putty and wood glue.  

 I gave the entire piece a good sanding to rough up the laminate and loosen all the peeling paint.   There was quite a bit of that.

 As I sanded, I noticed the bamboo trim along the edge was loose, so I re-glued it and tacked it in place with some small brad nails.
 The veneer on the drawer front had to go.  I thought about replacing it with a piece of grasscloth wallpaper, but in the end I opted for plain.  I carefully cut along the edge of the veneer with a sharp utility knife...
 and peeled it off.
I then sanded the wood underneath and wood puttied along the edges to hide any deep cut marks I made. 
 I also used wood putty to patch the chipped edges, gouges, open seams and nail holes.
 Once the putty dried I sanded it smooth with a fine sandpaper and wiped away all the dust with a tack cloth.
 Now for the fun part... paint.  
I am loving this Stix primer.   
It adheres to almost anything- great for laminate surfaces. You really need to wear gloves when using it or else it will be on you for weeks!

 After two coats I gave the entire piece a fine sanding and wiped it down.
At this point you are ready for your finish coat of paint.  I chose to go with a white Krylon spray paint here.  The bamboo style details on this piece tend to collect drip and brush marks, so the spray creates a more even finish.
 As my paint dried I tackled cleaning the hardware.  In most cases when you revamp old furniture you usually swap out the old dated hardware for something newer.  In this case I adored the bamboo pulls, so I gave them a quick shine with a Brill-o pad.  I normally use brass cleaner or extra fine steel wool, but I was out of both.  Brill-o was a little trick I learned online.

For the finishing touch I lined the draw with some leftover wrapping paper.
Once it was dry it went into my living room as my new end table! 
 I'm so happy with my little curbside makeover...

Now for the tough part.  How you decide what's a keeper when looking at second hand furniture and not become a hoarder in the process?  I am completely guilty for having way too many "future projects" littering my basement, and have gotten better at recognizing  what I want vs. what I actually will use.  Here are a couple of tips when deciding on that next "great find".

Have a budget & ask the right questions.
Lets start with your wallet.  This usually helps to make the decision much faster.  We need to estimate how much work will be involved.  Even if it's free there is most likely going to be some repairs and materials needed to make it your own.   You might even have a lot of the materials on hand.  I usually ask myself "What's the most I'd pay if this were in a store?"  Quite often I realize that I wouldn't buy it if it was, it's just the free or $5 price tag that is intriguing- so I walk away.
Now ask yourself a) do you have a place for it and b) do you have the time to do the work.  If you answered no, it very well might go into the "project abyss" (mine is in my basement) to be forgotten and add to clutter.  And a good final question is "Do I love it?"  If you answer yes, well than take it home.

Old vs. New/ Wood vs. Particle Board
Is it hardwood or a big box knock off made of particle board?  Real wood will be easier to makeover or fix, a damaged laminate or pressed board will be tough.  Also, older vintage pieces are generally of better quality.  I prefer older dressers and tables to the newer inexpensive pieces manufactured today for this reason.  Joints are usually dovetailed, not nailed or stapled and the wood is usually a hardwood that will hold up much longer than softer pine or pressed board.  
Don't be afraid of veneer.  If it's in good shape a little elbow grease is all you need to bring it back to life.  I found these mid-century dressers for a song and shined them up by rubbing on a little Restore-A-Finish with some fine steel wool, and then wiping the excess off with a clean cloth:

Good as new!

If the veneer is damaged beyond repair you can sometimes peel it off and then sand and paint the wood below.  If the piece has a laminate top, don't worry that can be changed.  You  just need a good primer that is made to cover laminate and you can turn that into a painted surface.
Are there big chips or scratches?  You will be amazed what can be filled or fixed with a little wood putty and paint.   If the scratches are small you can usuallly lightly sand them and restain.  If they run deep you can fill, sand and then paint.   If there are big chunks or corners missing, I say walk away.  Know your skill level and limits.  

What lies beneath?
This is where things can get gross.  First question- is the piece upholstered? I recommend doing a smell test if possible.  Upholstery can be funky... from pet stains to mystery odors to creepy crawlies like bed bugs.   You want no part.  Don't get me wrong.  I have dragged home my fair share of bad choices, but you have to be careful.  With the rise of bedbugs I have been very conservative about what I choose.   Even so, I once brought a chair home that I found down the street from my house.  It looked safe enough until I opened it up to upholster.  No bugs, but just as scary... mold!  

The worse part is that I brought it to an upholstery class, and when I opened it my teacher made me keep it to prove a point anything could be save.  It turned out fine in the end, but I definitely shed some tears in that class!

Do the stress test.
Lean on it, bounce, wiggle... any action it may undergo in your home.  If it seems a bit rickety, buyer beware... you are in for some work.  Look under the hood.  Has there been previous repairs made?  I once grabbed a set of dining chairs at a flea market  because they looked great and there was the pressure of two other people stalking them.  I didn't test them all out and I paid full price.  I got them home and realized two of the four chairs were a bit wobbly.  Upon further inspection I noticed a leg had been broken off and repaired using a staple gun!  
Most loose joints that are not cracked and missing pieces can be repaired with wood glue and a clamp to hold in place until dry.  I learned this from the aforementioned upholstery class.  That little chair was beyond rickety, but after a serious gluing/clamping session it is still sitting pretty today!

and lastly...
be realistic
Know your comfort and skill level.  The more you are able to do yourself, the bigger the savings.  Are you OK with a little sanding and painting but intimidated by upholstering?  I use the "University of Google & YouTube" to feel out tutorials before jumping in head first.  It's so empowering to gain a new skill, and I can't tell you how much I've learned.  I really should have a degree from them by know!  

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Hey folks!  I've had my face shoved in a computer screen the past couple days finishing up the edits for a new fabric collection on Spoonflower.  
The Splat Collection is now done and live!
 So far 15 colors- "single" and "multi-color" variations, 
as well as one reverse on a blue background...

This is the scale for wallpaper...
Spoonflower, you need to get a better table/chair scenario!

What a 54" width yard would look like...
Just to give you a better sense, here is the fabric sampler I've been adjusting. 
(real life sized)
  The big yellow swatch is actually a wallpaper sample of the pattern in Citron...
 I'm loving the Citron color way and I'm tempted to do my office ceiling since I had this epic fail when I tried hanging wrapping paper on it...
do not recommend, what a mess! 

So if you need a special color /scale, shoot me an email and I can adjust the pattern...
Happy splats y'all!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Basket Shade- via IKEA

My daily equation works something likes this...

A.M.- caffeine + iTunes + work/internet
P.M.- wine + iTunes+ work/internet...

and somewhere in that mix I can be found  
making some shit or having "mind dancing awesomeness" delusions. 
(I have no moves due to my short mental capacity and 5'11" frame but in my head I'm awesome)

Today we'll continue stick to the making...
Available in 12 5/8" and 19 5/8" diameter & a couple color flavors for the cheapness of  $4.99 & $9.99 respectively...

I saw this and felt brilliant (and not brilliant since I'm not the first to think this up)...

but just in case I'm the only blog you read, here it is..

snip snap...
wooo wee a hole...
stick a a pendant light or something like that in it...
and attach...
(or a big ole' lamp for you design pervs)...

 and BONUS, the shadows look pretty...

now go have a glass of wine and pretend you can dance.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's Your Style Series: The Bedroom

Welcome back for the last round of the What's Your Style Series! 
 So far we have covered the living area and the kitchen, and we wrap it up with the bedroom.  I have been struggling with this space for years, but my bedroom is about as finished as it will ever get.  
So what is my style here?
I'd have to say Preppy / Eclectic...
I painted the walls Brittany Blue by Ben Moore for a calm backdrop,
and then added a lot more blue and navy.  We recently upgraded to a king size bed and got the navy linen headboard is from Home Decorator's Collection.  I will never go back to a hard wooden headboard after having an upholstered one... I'm a klutz and would always sit back and bang my head, so I consider this an investment in my brain cells.
I just scored these mid-century dressers at an estate sale.  They were suppose to go in my office, but I liked how they toned this room down.  I use to have white Malms in their place, but it looked almost too polished and sterile.  I feel like these throw off the preppy vibe and add interest.

I covered my lampshades in a John Robshaw fabric.
Lots of patterns going on, but they are all in the same color family to keep it more restful.
I also painted my old white Ikea drapes a la Wearstler...
I have been trying to add more color since that is what I always do and I just can't help myself.
Restraint isn't my friend.
I have been sneaking it in with art work...

and I have tested out a zillion pillow combos... 
magenta lavender...
and I've been moving art around...
but while I liked it in vignettes, the whole picture got tooooo busy.
Not restful, and that was my initial goal for this room....
so I went back to square one for calm...
Oh, and I can't forget this new addition... 
Scored this baby at Homegoods of all places!  
I never find ceiling fixtures there, so I grabbed it.

I also just found these little birds at Crate & Barrel's Outlet store for $1.99 each.
Love them!

And just to keep it real and let you know that my room NEVER looks like this, 
here is a reality shot of the wall across from my bed... 
That poor chair rarely sees the light of day!

Thanks so much for stopping over, please be sure to check out the rest of the fab blogger's homes on this tour and enter the giveaway for a $100 gift card to Online Fabric Store!

 Tuesday, March 25th

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