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.”

ME!!!!!!

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.

BEFORE

refurbished nightstand

AFTER
pink1

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

Advertisements

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:

INSPIRATION
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.
BEFORE:
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.

AFTER
sonya on desk

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

DESK IN SONYA’S HOME
IMAG1116

So, I am now available for commissions. woot!


Share

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.

BEFORE

AFTER

SOLD FOR $120

To Paint, Perchance to Repaint

By the third time it happened… well i still wasn’t quite used to it! I have painted something beautifully, and in some cases painstakingly, and the buyer plans to repaint it a different color. What is this phenomenon? Perhaps I am sensitive because I was once a housepainter for the highly recommended Complete Home Care, and thus I have some professional experience. What the f do these girls know? Yes, they were all girls. Why would they buy an item that is the wrong color? Are they gonna die when they see the actual original surfaces, lol, or are they gonna just go over my smooth paint job? I know I told at least one customer about Klean Strip paint remover and even showed her my scraper and gave her some instructions for how to remove the paint.

Here is the first of three: “I painted it, now they plan to repaint it” incidents:

1. Now this one is scary. I had managed to conceal that underneath lie a piece of crap. My customer was a mother with her son, who wasn’t all that much younger than me, buying stuff for his new apartment. The mom said she just needed it to be a different color to match the room it would be in.

BEFORE
IMG_0644

AFTER
green cart

SOLD FOR $25

STAY TUNED FOR UPCOMING POSTS INVOLVING BACK-TO-BACK DRESSER REPAINTS!

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.

BROKEN MIRROR

mirror

TOP FIVE LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BROKEM MIRROR

  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

Perfect for a Contemporary or Vintage Home

This is the second piece I’ve made where I’ve stood back and looked at it and said “wow” (meaning, i thought it looked purty good). That happened to me with this table as well. And taking this book shelf from zero to hero was super easy!

I met a kind man in the aisle of Home Depot, and described to him the color and the scratched up state of affairs of my bookcase, and he picked out the perfect product for me. Made by Minwax PolyShades, this product is a stain and polyurethane in one step. So easy! I used the Bombay Mahogany, with a satin finish. Satin finish = shinnnnny! Note: wear gloves when using, this stuff makes your hands super sticky.

The beautiful thing about taking this piece from zero to hero is that I was able to circumvent any sanding. Because the stain was so dark, it covered the scratches right up, in just two coats, while allowing the antique beauty of the wood’s grain to still be exposed.

BEFORE

repurposed furniture wood stain
AFTER

wood stain two-in-one finish

SOLD FOR $30

Question: Do you think bookcases are becoming obsolete in this era where bookstores are closing and people are reading on Kindles and iPads?

 

i’ve been in advertising too long when…

my description of an item on Craigslist for $20 reads as follows:

“Experience the rustic warmth of this small and oval-shaped dark wood copper-colored table. Versatile in function – perfect next to a bed, as an accent piece in a living room, or to hold a plant. Fits in just about any spot you need a little table!”

This was actually one of the most delightful experiences selling an item that I’ve ever had. After having been turned down because a woman’s husband “didn’t like the style” of this table, I was mildly bummed, but it wasn’t long before I had another interested customer; however, it was much to my surprise that she was 12 years old.

Her mom was letting her redecorate her room, and she just fell in love with this cute little table! Even cuter is that she paid for it with her own money. Way to go girl!

This table started off in almost perfect condition. Except.For.One.Thing. That i could not live with. A chip.

This led to my first project using wood filler. I went to Home Depot and bought some Elmer’s Wood Filler. I filled in the hole, and sanded to a smooth finish. But I still had a problem. The wood filler was a different color than the table. This is when I knew it was time to paint this bad boy.

I decided to use a color that was close to the shade of the wood. I used Rust-Oleeum Metallic Accents Warm Copper, from Menards. I had been wanting to use something with a metallic shimmer in it ever since I saw Martha Stewart’s metallic paints. This is probably why an adult man rejected this table while a 12 year old girl loved it.

BEFORE

AFTER

SOLD FOR $20.

The Two-Year Table

When my boyfriend and I first moved into our apartment, we had no coffee table, and I found one outside our artsy Ukranian Village neighborhood. However, we went on Craigslist furniture and quickly upgraded to someone’s Crate & Barrel coffee table, as ours was legitimately not in the greatest condition.

Paul thought it was hopeless. He thought that because one of the legs was falling off and that because it was chipped, we should ditch it. But I saw the beauty in it, the potential for what it could be. And my friend Melanie Lewis, who happens to be incredibly rad and seasoned in theatrical set design, came over and iterated to me that I do indeed have the power to fix and construct things. Sometimes all it takes is a screwdriver. This may also be the moment when I realized that I, not my boyfriend, am the “handyman” of the relationship.

So this table was my first experience with paint remover, and I used this one.  Oh, the blessed toxicity that I love to inhale and burn my body with! Ok, I try to wear gloves and keep windows open… but to every joke there is some truth!

I actually remember that I didn’t even know that paint remover existed, and I was just trying to scrape the old black paint off this table.  boy that was slow and painstaking. Thank you Home Depot.

I worked on stripping this table to perfection during the summer, and it had some crevices in the legs that took some time. By the time I was done, the season had changed and it was cold, and my work room is not insulated! So I let it sit for a while, until recently, when I decided the time had come to move on this table. I went to Blick Art Materials, bought myself some Blick Artists’s Acrylics, and started painting the table a light blue/violet. I knew that this shade would speak only to a few people, but those whom it worked for would love it. To accentuate the piece, or to just add a final touch, I added an Anthropologie knob to give it some character.

I sold it to the third person who responded to my post for it on Craigslist. The first person was rude.  I was actually going to go out of my way and deliver it to him, and he never got back to me to confirm his time and address. Maybe he thought I was a psycho killer who hides behind painted tables. The second person was waiting to measure her space once her new furniture arrived, and then it happened. One afternoon, a girl wrote to me that she LOVED the table. And I LOVED her right back, because she is exactly who I made it for. I told her that someone else might be interested in it next week (the dimension-waiting woman), and suffice it to say, she was over within hours to take it home with her so nobody else got it.

I hope it’s happy in its new home. 🙂

SOLD FOR $75

Who Wouldn’t Want This?

When I found this piece, I thought “oh hell yeah,” while simultaneously thinking “what monkey-brain would throw this away??” I thought it was a rad looking piece of furniture, and it was super lightweight. Plus there was so little work needed to restore it to glory. There was basically a nail that needed to be re-hammered, and an easy refinish to be done to remove some scratches. Ultimately, I also recoated the surface with a semi-gloss polish to liven it up a bit.

The buyer of this piece told me she was redecorating her office, and thought this would be perfect for it. It was also just the right height to fit aside an armchair she had.

Good eye, woman.

I showed her some alternate knobs, but we both felt the white one looked the best and gave the piece a little pop.

SOLD FOR $40.