The Little Red Chair That Could

When I alley-snagged this chair, I saw several angles of potential appeal. First of all, with a fresh paint-job, this sucker could be ALL RED. That in itself is cool. Secondly, with the curvature and angles of the back, it could be positioned as mid century modern (mcm) to appeal to those who like that hot furniture trend. Even if it’s not actually an mcm chair (how do i know, i found the fucker in an alley after all), it could be worded to at least give a nod to the style.  It also had “soda shop chair” coolness going on with its wrought iron shapely base.  Lastly, I sensed this would appeal to just the right hipster (which it ultimately did).


red chair before3

Now this wasn’t a chair in trouble, but it wasn’t a chair that was at its most awesome potential. The wood of the seat was a bit weird, kind of like a pile of wood verses a solid block, and not particularly akin to sanding.  Plus there were some decorative holes in it. So I didn’t really think about what to do, I just primed.  Not only that, I primed like a moron. I put tape on the chair’s base to protect it, when in fact, i didn’t realize i could take the damn seat off with the wee use of a screwdriver.

red chair before 2

Taking off the base made painting the chair’s base a helluva lot easier!
I had a nice shade of red that i picked up at, one of my former employers actually, and i just basically reapplied to the entire base, and vadda bing, shines like a fire engine!

red chair before1

To really pull off this chair, something needed to be done with the seat, and that something is called “antiquing” or “distressing.” There are many different ways to achieve this look, but I chose to follow Better Homes & Garden’s Tips. The only deviation was that while they started with a wood surface, I started with a primed surface. Although, I did somewhat sand it to allow some wood exposure.

So using the BHG method, which was really quite simple, and bonus, I had all the materials in the house, I antiqued away. And my friends, this is what you call a chair.


SOLD FOR $35. (not too shabby, pun intended)


The Pink Princess

So I’m driving along (in an alley, of course) when a young-looking guy (approximately 21) emerges from behind a fence carrying what I knew could become a beautiful nightstand. It had one of my favorite features, which is that the drawer was on the bottom, not the top. There’s no name for this type of drawer placement, btw, at least not per the research that I conducted. He was quite nice, and even helped me secure the piece in the back of my vehicle.

“Are you sure you don’t want it?” I said.

He replied, “Yeah, it’s time for it to move on to someone else.”


I wasn’t sure what to do with the piece at first (I never am) and then the idea struck. You will see this idea in the finished photo below. I think inspiration came from various sources, but in particular I was inspired by this site, found randomly during one of my net-surfing extravaganzas.

I had bought some pretty pink paint from The Home Depot, but at the time I didn’t have any particular use for it at the time of purchase, and I have a huge can of alley-FOUND linen white paint that has been rocking my world. So I decided to do a sweet combination utilizing both colors, that was totally not in my personal taste, or at least not meant for my current home decor, but bound to be perfect for someone else’s.

And it was. I posted it in two sections on Craigslist because I thought it would be perfect for a child’s room (which is ultimately where it went) and threw in some bemusing SEO buzz words like shabby chic and cottage chic, which the piece really was. What befuddles me sometimes is when I read descriptions of other postings that end with something like this: Perfect for your cottage beach home/romantic Parisian apartment…. etc. Who actually has these homes, and wouldn’t they be living off the beach or in Paris, and why would they be on Craigslist? But I digress. It could be more of an Etsy thing, and i don’t play in that space – not yet anyway.

My buyer might have had a cow if she saw the piece before i had done the work. it needed sanding, oh did it need sanding, but luckily I had my favorite toy, this Black & Decker Sander. I also primed the piece to make sure the paint went on as beautifully and smoothly as possible, using this good ole primer. If you ever wonder about what primer you should use, here’s a quote from one of the great employees at Home Depot: “Primer is Primer.” Sound advice, simply stated.

Then on with the paint! I had to decide where to place the linen white so that it didn’t overpower, but rather accented the piece. I think I hit the nail on the head, or the paint on the primer, so to speak.


refurbished nightstand


Now folks, readers, and fans alike, I swear this piece was not commissioned. Here is a photo of it in the child’s room. Could there be a more perfect fit?? 🙂

pink princess


This was a lot of work for such a little guy! Many angles to paint from, and much old paint to remove! The new color scheme was inspired by the SKOW desk.


before brown stool2



Some Kind Of Wonderful: The Saga

I was commissioned to do this piece by someone from Craigslist. She had contacted me originally about a TV stand I was a-sellin’ that ended up not living to see the light of day, due to a Gorilla Glue mishap. Suffice it to say, the would-have-been-tv-stand-buyer and I remained in email contact, and as it turns out, she needed a desk. She sent me a picture of one that she liked, here it is:

desk inspiration

Just days later, while I was doing some errands, in a not-so-good neighborhood in Chicago known as K-town (for Kill town) I found it. The desk that would become hers.

When I found this desk, its striking resemblance to the one my buyer, Sonya, had sent me stopped me in my tracks. I had to acquire it no matter what. It was in an alley, in someone’s backyard with a bunch of junk, so I don’t know if I was technically trespassing or if it was the garbage area, but some of it was gated. The desk was behind the gate (i guess that would mean I trespassed), and I got out of the car in this ghetto hood in my fancy dress with tights on, and thought about climbing the fence. Then I noticed that the neighbors had pitbulls – and not the friendly ones. In essence, I had to work fast, and I was at risk. Gunfire could transpire at anytime. I grabbed that desk, grabbed three of the four drawers, and figured i’d come up with a solution for the missing drawer. It was just too far and the gate was locked. I tried driving around front to trespass from that angle, but the gate was locked there too.

I got the desk home, and had to figure out what to do with it.
SKOW desk before
Happily, I realized I needed to use.. the saw. I sawed the crap right out of that place on the right where a little drawer would have been, pulled/unscrewed any remainder pieces, and immediately created more leg room. Nobody would ever know that a drawer had once been there.

Then I simply had to clean all that crap on top of it. I wanted to retain the neutral ivory-tone of the desk, and Sonya had told me she loves metallics, so I thought I’d keep the gold trim too. She also told me she wanted something with pastels, particularly coral, as that would match the room she was putting it in.

So I got out some Benjamin Moore paints that I already had in the house, that industriously, I had found in an alley as well, and sent her the color palette for approval, which I received. I then decided each drawer would be painted a different color, and the top drawer would be coral to pronounce its presence. I also repainted the entire base with a very neutral beige-gray paint from Behr (which I also found – crazy huh?). I’d like to take this opportunity to say that paint brand/quality does indeed make a difference. These paints looked beautiful, and went on smoothly. By comparison, some of the Rust-oleum paint I use, which is cheap, doesn’t look-a so good. Although I suppose it sometimes depends on its purpose.

After painting the base and the drawers, I then repainted the trim with a metallic gold (WHICH I ALSO FOUND), let everything dry, and put a protective top coat on (which I bought). Note: I had been making a mistake in the past, putting top coat for stain over paint. So I asked at Home Depot what to use over paint, and they gave me actually a Rust-oleum Paint Cover. Shit takes some time to dry, but is definitely worth it both for the protection it provides and the polished look achieved.

The final touch would be the knobs. This required an emergency trip to Anthropologie, as Sonya was on her way, because I discovered that the knobs I planned to use had broken. This desk would be all about the shabby chic differing knobs on each drawer. The top and bottom drawers have Anthropologie knobs, and the middle drawer has one of the antique original knobs that came with the desk when I found it. Looks very cool, methinks!

Sonya was so happy with her beautiful desk, she decided to take a glamour shot on it.

sonya on desk

Sonya was also kind enough to send me a picture of the desk in its new home.


So, I am now available for commissions. woot!


What’s this Worth?

Congratulations, you’re the next contestant on The Price of the Dresser Is Right!! What should I charge for this beaut?

the jenna1


    My Market: I am selling this on Craigslist.
    My “Studio” Space: I do not have a lot of room, so I may go lower just to get this out of my house. Landlord thinks the back porch might cave in. Boyfriend asked when I’m going to talk to my therapist about my “hoarding.”
    My Labor: I put a lot into this one, although ’twas labor of love, and besides I’m not sure that correlates to market worth.

Thank you all for your help in todyay’s game of The Price of The Dresser Is Right!


The Power of a Word

I had her at “elegant sofa.” Ok, technically that’s two words. 😉

Here is the description I posted on Craigslist:

Invite the warm ambiance of a wilderness lodge into your home with this rustic and distressed Bear Claw Coffee Table. It’s sure to be a nice addition to your living room. An oval shaped top sits above a beautifully beveled lower shelf (for extra storage space). All held together by bear claw feet, making the table ruggedly sophisticated. Estimated to be from the 1960s, this piece would look stunning in front of an elegant sofa. The natural grains of the wood remain exposed on the surfaces of this greyish-brown warm natural finish, and the top has been lacquered for durability. All hardware has been recently adjusted to ensure the table is stable and sturdy. Measures 17″h x 40″w.

note: cute puppy not included.

While chatting with my buyer, I asked her if she was replacing an old coffee table or simply had no coffee table. She told me she simply had no coffee table, and had an “elegant sofa” and that when she my description, she knew this piece would be the perfect complement for it. Yes, she gravitated towards this table because it’s beautiful and different. But in the end, the sale was likely closed by two words: “elegant sofa.”

It’s affirming to know that the copy I write isn’t always for naught, as I wonder if sometimes sales are closed by a photo alone.

I’d be remiss not to post about some of the learning I gained while working on this table – both about fixing old school hardware and how to stain correctly.

As for the hardware, the main take-away is that Home Depot was wrong, and that fiddling with tools and nails and nuts and bolts through trial and error is sometimes ultimately the best way to fix something that isn’t clear-cut. In this case, I had to disassemble the bottom panel, and go into the stumps that held the two layers of the table together, where I discovered that two bolts had come off the nails that affixed the legs, thus the wobble factor. I was then able to put them back on and tighten, and now the table is sturdy as a rock.

Also, a huge learning about staining! This one, I do have to credit the Home Depot employees for. They told me to leave the stain on for 4-6 hours before wiping it away, even though the instructions on the can of Miniwax® Wood Finish read verbatim: “allow the stain to penetrate 5-15 minutes to achieve desired color.” Amazing what a difference the 4-6 hour time-frame makes! I had nearly given up on staining because it seemed as though it had no effect – that when I applied stain, it just came right off and changed nothing. So to all those who have thought that staining was too hard or who got frustrated with the process, do not give up! Sometimes, instructions are not meant to be followed – give the 4-6 hour wait-time a chance and perhaps you will see beautiful results.




Rugs Sell Like Hotcakes

The following is a series of Found Rugs that I carried home from the alleys, vacuumed, photographed, and wrote some awesome copy about. These rugs then were put on Craigslist, where they were hit fast and furiously with requests for purchase. All sold within 3 days of being posted.


Geometric Area Rug (Blacks, Browns, Greys)
 area rug - geometric


Red & White Area Rug
2 -stampel


Festive Print Rug
print rug


Black & White Pinstripe Area Rug
4 - area rug


Gorgeous Green Taj Mahal Rug
 oriental rug, taj mahal rug

Sold for $35

In conclusion, people will throw away perfectly good rugs. I will nab them and I will sell them. The buyer just needs to hear a story from me, including that it’s from a pet-free, smoke-free home, about why I’m getting rid of it (I’ve been saying because we got a new puppy and don’t want her to ruin the rug), and it’s theirs! My observation, from researching the initial value of these rugs, and no matter how good of condition they are in, if it’s a Craigslist buyer, the price must be between 10-40 for a rug. Those cheapskates just refuse to spend any more than that on a rug. But, like I said the nice thing about finding rugs is they aren’t heavy, they’re easy to transport, and, as I’ve said, they sell like hotcakes!

cute puppy

Lessons Learned From A Broken Mirror

After a week of joyful, challenging labor spent turning what had been a disintegrated shield mirror into a beautiful piece of artwork, I finally perfected it. I did not realize I would transform the object into such a beautiful item, and didn’t think to take a “before” photo. I had created beyond what I had imagined I could create, and I was excited to sell my mirror for $50. It wouldn’t take up that much storage space in the apartment, so there was no reason not to hold out for my asking price, and furthermore, my friend bought a mirror at a church rummage sale for $90, so my price was still on the low end.

The mirror originally had four protrusions, but two were damaged, and the third created imbalance when standing alone, so I was able to remove the three aforementioned eyesores, and leave just one which added an ornamental element to the mirror. This process left holes in the wood frame, which required some wood filler to conceal. Plus, the wood was imperfect, it needed sanding and staining, and it was the perfect wood to use my Miniwax® PolyShades® One-Step Stain and Finish, Bombay Mahogany, as this dark rich color both covers and protects. There were two spots where the wood got so light from sanding that i had to use some brown paint to give it a base beneath, but then I went over it with the stain.

Suffice it to say, it was a labor of love and pride, and this morning, I went to perform the very final step, which was to hang it up and photograph it, when it happened. CRASH! the mirror fell to the ground and the glass shattered. It was not salvageable. Ironically, it was the very first thing I did that caused this crash, which was to hook the twine in the back into what I had thought was a secure position, and it was me not listening to my gut, which said “hell no this nail isn’t strong enough to support the weight of this mirror!” … and so it was lost.




  1. Always photograph a project before starting it, as you never know the direction it will take
  2. Never let laziness creep in at the 11th hour, it could undermine everything
  3. Mineral Spirits will clean your paintbrush in a New York minute when it’s coated with stain (v. using paint remover)
  4. Being a perfectionist is imperative when you want to sell something. For this project, it meant making sure I used paint tape when I stained, and going over the edges again upon removing the tape with a very thin brush
  5. If you learn from your work, it’s not money lost, but knowledge gained


Within three days of being put up on Craigslist, within two weeks of finding it, which included a trip to Scottsdale, AZ at The Sanctuary for my brother’s wedding. There are no words. There’s also no before photo.

I was likely influenced in the color by my love for Arizona. I’m glad the flower design is still visible. I’m glad my buyer didn’t mind that i didn’t paint it perfectly in one spot before i decided to use Menard’s painting tape!

Behold, “The Bench:”