Tuesday, May 15, 2012

DIY Small Rustic Bench

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Have I told you yet today how much I love Ana White?  I built this bench using the free plans for her Small Easy Rustic X Bench.  It really was very easy.  I followed her directions exactly.  I like her plans because they are simple, well written and easy to follow.  She includes step by step diagrams so her plans are easy to follow especially for beginners like me.

Here's a pictures after I built it before I started the finish.  I love it's splayed legs. If you want to find some great plans, check out Ana's website.

I think I'll make the large bench next.  I think it would look awesome on my front porch!


DIY Felt Rosebud Heart Wreath

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A favorite neighbor of mine from childhood (my friend's mom actually) was recently diagnosed with cancer.  She was undergoing chemotherapy and was having a pretty rough time.  I decided I wanted to send her something to let her know I loved her and help raise her spirits.  I didn't want to send flowers because I wanted something different.  Something that would last. It was close to Valentine's Day so I decided to make her a wreath made from felt flowers.

I bought 1 yard of deep red felt (the kind on the bolt - sold at most fabric stores).  I needed to come up with a wreath form but didn't want to pay a lot (if anything) for it.  I was going initially going to draw one freehand on a scrap of plywood and use my jigsaw to cut it out.  I found this heart shaped plate at the 99 Cents Only store while shopping for something else and figured I could very easily make it work.  They usually carry them around Valentine's Day. It's just a plain, heart shaped melamine plate. If you don't have a 99 Cents Only store near you, they always have them at Target around Valentine's Day too.

The plate has a very slight bowl shape to it when its laying flat on its back.  I pulled some stuffing out of an old pillow and laid it into the bowl.  I then hot glued a piece of felt around the entire front wrapping completely around the back and hot glued it down.  I cut another piece of hot glue in the shape of the plate and glued it to the bottom of the plate to cover up the edges of the top piece I had pulled around to the back and hot glued in place.

I then made a MILLION felt rosebuds and hot glued them together very closely until the entire top and sides of the wreath were completely covered with roses.  To make a single rose, cut a felt circle 3-4 inches in diameter.  Don't worry about trying to get a perfect circle.  Its actually better to have it a bit more organicly shaped anyway (it will give more shape to your outer petals).

The next part is a little tricky to explain (but easy to do....don't freak out).  I'll try my best to explain (and use lots of cryptic, hard to understand photos for you to try to figure out -  kinda like Ikea assembly instructions). 

To hang, find a ribbon of your choice and hot glue to the back of the plate.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vintage Dresser Redo

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Let me start by apologizing for the semi-awful pictures of this project.  I lost some files and the few  "before" photos I have were from my cell phone.  Hopefully you get the gist. I found this dresser several months ago at Goodwill.  Its really sturdy, is solid wood and has nice dovetailed drawers.  The only thing that was wrong with it was a small section of trim that had broken off the side and it was missing two knobs. Nothing structural at all.  I decided that it was well worth the $30 price tag and snatched it up. 

The finish on it was terrible.  It was creamy white with brown flecks.  The top layer looked like it was tobacco stained from years in a smokers home but didn't have any smoke smell.  Not sure what it was.  On the top of the dresser, there were several layers of paint.  The very top layer was very strange.  It was almost like a sprayed protective plastic of some sort.  Beneath that was another layer of tan paint and then a layer of mint green.  It had definitely been well loved.

When I started to strip the paint from the top, it began to melt and stretch and I could actually lift it and pull it off in large sheets.  Hopefully I didn't expose myself to some freakish chemical.  I've refinished a lot of furniture and I've never seen anything like it before.  Weird.

A friend of mine thought she may want this dresser for her bedroom. She wanted to do it in a gloss black.  We started with that idea in mind.  She later decided the space she had planned for the dresser was much to narrow and we had to use something else. The dresser sat half painted and looking terrible in my kitchen (storing art supplies) for a while until one day when my friend Kristin called and told me she was looking for a dresser.  

We pulled the half painted beast out into the yard and started to strip her down.  Kristin wanted to learn how to strip furniture (doesn't that sound scandelous hee hee).  Diet Cokes in hand, we got started.

Heres a before shot
We gloved up, put goggles on and got started.  One word of advice, when using chemical strippers, ALWAYS wear chemical resistant rubber gloves (stripper will eat through regular thin rubber gloves)and protective eye wear.  We both got stripper splashed on our glasses.  Stripper burns like CRAZY! Be careful!

Here's the stripper we used
I wouldn't recommend using the black foam brushes. The best thing to use is a cheapo bristled brush.  Stripper melts the foam brushes.I like this stripper because its very thick and tends to stay put better than some of the other strippers out there.

After you remove all hardware, put a piece of tape on the back side of each drawer covering the screw hole from the hardware.  This will prevent the stripper from dripping through the front of the drawer and making a mess on the inside back of your drawer. Its also a really good idea as you remove drawers to grab a pencil and mark the bottom of each drawer with a letter or number denoting which order they go back in so they'll fit back in correctly when your done.

Brush on the stripper covering all painted areas.  I lay it on kind of thick so it doesn't dry too quickly especially in the summer since I live in a very hot climate.  If you lay it on to thin on a hot day it will still loosen the paint but then lay right back down and dry solid.  At this point, be patient.  Let the stripper work.  I usually wait about 15 minutes then try to scrape the paint off in a small section.  If it sticks, wait a while longer.  You should be able to get almost all paint off and have very little to sand if you wait long enough.  Use a putty knife to scrape the paint.  Make sure to use a glass or metal container to put your scraped paint in the stripper will eat right through stryofoam and some types of plastic. You can see the stripper working well after about 10 minutes
The stripper was working well but the temperature outside was rising fast.  We couldn't get all the drawers stripped before the stripper dried and we ended up with this
Not a huge deal if this happens, just reapply stripper, wait a few minutes and scrape again while its still wet. Don't waste your time trying to muscle through it.

Its really pretty easy to remove paint from the flat areas.  The nooks and crannies can be a little tougher.  The easiest way I've found to work with irregular spaces and detail work is to use a scrub brush or even a toothbrush in the smaller areas while the stripper is still wet.  Be very careful to move the brush back and forth VERY slowly so you don't run the risk of flicking stripper up on your skin or in your face.  Once you've loosened the paint from the nooks and crannies, grab a wet washcloth and wipe the paint particles and the stripper paste from the wood.  You should be able to get it very clean. What you can't get off now you can lightly sand off later but its much easier to get it off while its wet.

If you decide you want to use the orginal hardware you can skip this step.  If you want new hardware that won't fit the holes that have already been drilled, you'll need to fill the holes with wood filler at this point. This is the filler I usually use.
Its pretty sticky stuff.  Try to use a putty knife (or even an old credit card) to press it into the hole left from the hardware.  Run over it again with the side of the credit card or putty knife like you would if you were leveling off a cup of flour with the backside of a butter knife.  You want it to be as flush as you can with the surface of the wood.  As the filler dries, it will shrink just a bit.  Add a bit more filler until it is flush or just higher than the surrounding wood.  You will sand it level when you sand the rest of the dresser prior to priming it.
Every once in a while I run into an applique on a piece of furniture I just don't like.  I wasn't really excited about this one and neither was Kristin. Most appliques are made of a mixture or resin and sawdust. They will soften a bit when cover them with stripper and let them sit for a few minutes.  I usually give it about 10 to 15 minutes then very gently try to lift a small area with a putty knife.  This one popped right off after about 10 minutes.

When we started this project, we weren't sure how we wanted to finish it.  We debated completely stripping it and staining it. Once we had it stripped, we stained one of the drawers and immediately changed our minds. This dresser was born to be painted! 

I love finished look of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Its fun to work with, has very few (if any) brush marks and has a unique finish I haven't seen with any other products.  In Tucson, we don't have any Annie Sloan stockits but my parents are driving down from Utah in a few days and have agreed to pick some up for me.  If you don't have it near you and want to give it a try, you can order it online from drab2fabpaint.blogspot.com They'll deliver right to your door.

We decided to paint the dresser in Annie Sloan Chalkpaint in the color "Primer Red."  We should have the paint this weekend and will post pictures as we work.  Thanks for looking!

Thrift Store/Yard Sale Finds

Pin It After 15 years of marriage and a very long stint (I won't embarrass myself by telling you exactly how long) in college, we finally bought our first home 3 years ago.  We'd been poor college students for so long we really didn't have any furniture when we moved in.  When we left grad school in Oregon, we quickly realized the amount the moving company wanted to charge to move our furnishings to Arizona was waaaaay more than our hand me down furniture was worth.  We happily gave it to remaining students and what they didn't want went to the dump.

When we finally got the keys to our new house, I was excited because it was finally ours. The kids loved it because I let them roller skate around the living and dining room with their friends. The floors are all tile (except the bedrooms) and we had no furniture to get in the way. They'd crank up the stereo and had their own roller skating rink.  After a while, my sweet mother-in-law brought down her folding camp chairs so we'd have someplace to sit while watching television.

In the past three years, I've hit every yard sale, thrift store and neighborhood cleanup pile west of the Mississippi and finally have enough furniture to live comfortably and I can proudly say I didn't pay full price for any of it. 

Here are a few of my favorite finds

I found this mid-century modern set at Goodwill.  My heart skipped a beat when I saw it.  Its in near mint condition and is from the super collected Broyhill Sculptra Supriem line.  These are crazy popular right now. It doesn't really go with the rest of my house but I love love love this style.  I'm posting it on Craigslist today.  Any profit will go towards this
World Market Photo

I'm in love with this set.  I think I'd add a different style of chair for the two end chairs though. My kitchen table is terrible.  Its completely falling a part.  Ugh.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thrift Store Headboard Redo

Pin It I've been looking for a headboard forever!  I knew I didn't want to spend a fortune and wanted something a little different than I'd had in the past. I knew I wanted to either build or redo one myself.  I looked through a million plans but didn't really see anything that I thought was worth the time and effort.  There were a couple of headboards from Pottery Barn I thought were nice, but not exactly what I was looking for.  Here are the two I kind of liked:
 Pottery Barn Photo. 
This is the "Gabriella Upholstered Headboard." It would have cost $799 plus tax and shipping for the size I needed (California king).
Pottery Barn Photo
This is the other one I really liked.  Its called the "Lewis Headboard." The headboard itself runs $399. The slipcover is no longer available but when it was, it cost another $299.

I loved the unusual shape of the "Gabriella"  and the contrast between the linen upholstery and the warm wood frame but wasn't super in love with the tufting.  I also really liked the antique french grain sack look of the "Lewis" headboard too. I decided I'd wait until I found what I really liked at a price I could live with. 

Luckily, my favorite Diet Coke stop is RIGHT next door to a thrift shop.  I stop there almost every day after my Diet Coke run but rarely buy anything. The manager there and I have become friends. She thinks I'm a crazy lady because most of the things I buy there are terribly ugly, dated or broken. She even told the man who sorts through donations to decide if they are going on the sales floor or to the dump about me.  She told him to clear "questionable furniture items" with her because I may be willing to buy them.  When she told me that, I couldn't help but laugh.

One morning I stopped in to say hello to my friend at the thrift store and noticed an amazingly ugly headboard stacked behind some other furniture.  I could see the curvy outline of one of the sides so I moved things out of the way and there she was.  One of the most amazingly hideous/awesome headboards ever.  It really was ugly but had loads of potential. And for $30??  SOLD to the crazy lady who will buy anything!

We were actually on our way to help out with a friend's son's Eagle Scout project when we stopped for sodas and ended up with a bed.  My girls were mortified when they realized the headboard had to hang halfway out the back of our minivan (as if the minvan weren't bad enough) at the service project for all of their friends to see.  Can you believe I would do that to them? Geesh!

Here she is in all her seventies glory

I immediately knew what I'd do.  I headed to Lowe's and got a the thinnest sheet of plywood I could find. then I taped up wrapping paper to the outside wood frame and used a pencil to trace the shape of the inside lattice work.

I used my jigsaw and cut the plywood about 1/4 inch inside my pencil traced lines (to leave room for upholstery).  I decided to combine the things I loved about each of the two Pottery Barn headboards into one. 

First I needed to find upholstery.   I really wanted to use a coarse, more rustic natural linen that would resemble antique grain sack cloth.  I quickly realized that was a tall order.  The linen I wanted was really expensive.  I found a cheap version at Home Fabrics in Tucson that was printed on one side with tacky cabbage roses.  I'm pretty sure its the same fabric I chose for my dress to go to the eighth grade dance in 1988.  The background was exactly what I was looking for.  If you flipped the fabric over, you couldn't see any evidence of the print.  The price wasn't marked so I asked someone at the cutting counter how much it was.  Now you'll think I'm lying, but I'm not.  He replied "well, I don't think a single soul has bought that fabric since 1988.  How does $3 a yard sound?" Who was this man??? CREEPY!  I of course bought the rest of the bolt in case ever wanted matching accessories (or maybe another dress). 

I didn't want the headboard to be too fluffy so I stapled two thin layers of batting (leftover from the Raleigh headboard project - not sure of the weight, but thin) over the plywood I'd cut.  I then flipped the fabric wrong side out and stretched and stapled stretched and stapled until it was completely covered.

After the upholstery was as straight and tight as I could get it, I used painters tape to tape off a stripe pattern I liked to mimic grain sack cloth.  I mixed a few acrylic craft paint colors until I had a muted blue/gray color I liked.  I used a cheapo disposable sponge brush (the black kind) to paint the stripes.  The trick to getting aged looking stripes is to use a very very dry brush and dab very lightly.  Don't paint up and down.  You want it to look blotchy and very light.  Sometimes it was actually very hard to tell if I was laying any color down at all.  Compared to the dark blue painters tape pale, faint paint was a bit hard to see.  Go lighter at first and once you remove your tape if you decide want it darker, you can re tape and add another very thin coat.  If you do get it darker than you'd like of if you'd like to make some areas appear a lighter and more worn, you can get a very fine grain sand paper and lightly

Make sure not to get ahead of yourself and try to paint your stripes before you upholster.  It will be next to impossible to keep your lines straight while stretching your upholstery to cover your frame.  This is especially true if the shape you are upholstering isn't a square or has any curves to it at all. Patience will really pay off. 

I didn't do anything to the outside wood frame at all.  I decided I liked the wood color.  Once the stripes were done, I fit the upholstered inset into the frame and used a few wood screws to secure it from the back.  I decided not to use adhesive and used the screws sparingly so I can easily change out upholstery or maybe even someday take the insert out and do something with the original lattice. 

This project would work for many different headboards.  I see cheap headboards that would work at yard sales and on Craigslist all the time.  Just look for beds with inset panels that you could fit a very thin layer of plywood into. The shape of the headboard doesn't really matter, just find one you like.

This was an incredibly easy project and start to finish cost less than $50 including all supplies except the paint and batting I already had on hand.  Here's a photo of it in my room:

I'm in love :)

DIY Pottery Barn Inspired Numbers Painting

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Okay, so if you've looked thru many of my posts, you can probably tell I have a thing for typography.  When I saw this painting from Pottery Barn, I fell in love. 

Let me clarify, I fell in love with the IDEA of the painting.  I did have a few problems with it though.  Obviously, the price was more than I wanted to pay for a wrap around laser print.  It wasn't even a real canvas, just printed to look like one which meant it wouldn't be durable and wouldn't look very real anyway.  The other thing that really bugged me were the random numbers on it.  I decided I'd do my own with numbers significant to me and my family.  I had a giant blank wall in my living room. I knew I needed something on a large scale to look good.  I found a large 36 x 48 canvas at a funny little thrift store down the road for $7.  I knew it would be the perfect size for a large wall in my living room.  I jumped on it.  The great thing about this project is that you could really recycle any canvas you wanted to.

I love hitting thrift stores and picking out the VERY ugliest paintings they have because you'll be covering the image up with your own and you can usually get the really tacky ones for next to nothing.  Last week I found a large canvas at Goodwill that I should have bought.  I really really should have.  I've been wishing I had ever since.  I guess the best way to explain it would have been to show you this:
Now that you have some idea of what I'm talking about, imagine blue and purple make up and a bigger perm all in a graphic-y arts painting kind of form.  If I remember correctly, there were even little rhinestones on her leotard. It really was fantastic. I'm kicking myself for not buying it.  It was almost to amazing to cover up with another project though.  In fact, it would probably have ended up being a Christmas gift for my little brother Ryan.  He would have loved it! Bummer.