Friday, November 13, 2015


The world would be a better place if we all had a neighbor like I do. We call each other before we toss out anything, just in case one of us need it.  Such is the case with the old fence they were tearing out.  It had been there forever and weathered just perfectly!  Originally, I just wanted a section for some crafts.

Eventually I ended up going back for a lot more!

Ava was all on board and took it upon herself to haul the first section over.  

A client brought me this dresser. It that had the worst "professional" finish I have ever seen, complete with many drips and a horrible spray job.  Granted, this was in the middle of me prepping it but it needed a complete overhaul.  

My clients were very open to anything and said "do whatever you think will look good" which is fun and terrifying all at the same time.

Knowing now, how well the fence posts cleaned up after pressure washing, I decided to use them for the top. 

Construction adhesive and a few brad nails is all it took.

 After trimming out the edges with ripped down pieces, I added a few clear coats to bring out the natural color of the wood and it looks beautiful giving the perfect rustic modern look I was hoping for.

I also decided to use the same wood on another dresser. A lot more work actually went into this makeover but the herringbone wood pattern on top was definitely the best part.

The before photo

I wanted to add feet and in this case, to do it right meant I had to cut off the base of the dresser.

Naturally, it was a huge process as I had to rebuild the base to make it sturdy enough for the leg brackets to be added.  I then trimmed it out with MDF.

The trickiest part was finding the center line so that it would be even.  I cut the boards on my skills saw at a 45 with just a little overhang. After glueing and a few brad nails, I let sit overnight and cut edges with a skills saw (and guard for a straight line).
I also added the trim to edges after wards.

A few clear coats makes a huge difference!!  I really love how it turned out!

 We also found a few other fun things to do with the wood:)

Sunday, July 26, 2015


In case you missed it, I goofed and accidentally painted the top of this dresser when my client wanted it stained...oops!  But like I always say, anything can be changed and although maybe a little more work, it's really not the end of the world. 

I also decided it was a good opportunity to share this staining tip with you.

 After I stripped the top I added one coat of General Finishes Java Gel Stain.  Photo below is after that one coat. 
It stained nicely after one coat but had a little blotchiness going on.  I was going to do another 2 or 3 coats but decided to do what I have done a few times before...add a dye stain mixed with clear coat. 

Here is the result after I used one coat of the mixture and 2 more clear coats added over top of that for protection.

This is a pretty cool product.  It can be used alone but is VERY pigmented and like it says, is a dye.  so yeah, I personally wouldn't put it on alone.  I add it to a water base clear coat. I personally feel you can add to any water base clear coat but it's probably smartest to add to a GF clear just to be safe

I have experimented with different ratios but find that 1:4 (ish) ratio is usually good for the projects I have done.  
It basically evens out and darkens the overall color of a stained piece.  For me, this has allowed me to NOT have to do many extra coats of stain to get the depth I want on many pieces. 

Another recent example is how I used it on these barstool seats.  I wish I had a good before photo but naturally, I don't.  They were in decent, but not perfect condition.  I added a coat of this mixture after lightly sanded them, to create a nice, even, new finish.  As always, I also add a few coats of clear afterwards too.

You can spray or do by hand.  I have done both and both work well.  
Because I had a batch mixed already I sprayed the seat but did the dresser by hand.

There are many different color dye stains but seem to usually reach for the dark brown. 

Hope this helps someone and good luck!

Sunday, June 21, 2015


First let me say, and I can't believe I am saying this because of the serious painintheassness involved (and yes that is a word, now anyway) …I am sooooo glad that the designer who picked this piece wanted to do a super high gloss, modern finish in a fun color!  That gorgeous gold hardware didn't hurt at all either.

Really just makes all of the hard work a little more worth it when I am in love with the finish too:)

I've had this idea of adding bamboo trim to a dresser in my head forever, but never found time. Actually, I have a LOT of ideas in my head that I don't have time for, just as I'm sure we all do.

I have always been a huge fan of Bali Hai furniture and really, anything with bamboo or rattan.  Maybe it's the combination of modern, boho, glam, vintage and funky with a touch of elegancy that makes me love it so much!   Whatever it is, because I am eclectic with my own personal design, it's always been a favorite.

Finding the moulding proved to be more way difficult than I thought it SHOULD be.  I mean, was I the only person in the world looking for this stuff?? Evidently I was.

Half round moulding would have obviously been a lot more easier to work with but that was even more difficult to find.   I finally found a website called Beacon Hill. They did have half round but either only "1 left" or "not in stock" every time I checked or called, so I just went ahead and order the full round moulding fully aware that I had extra work ahead of me.

I needed a flat surface for the bamboo so that it would sit on the flat drawer. Because of the uneven nature of this  trim, I could not get a straight cut with either my table saw or chop saw and really, these were not safe options anyway.  Although an orbital sander would work just fine, I have a large belt sander that came if very handy.  I do not use this tool often but when I do need it, I am always so glad to have it on hand.

Trying to cut 45's on my chop saw with this "bumpy" trim was a not working and truthfully, I wanted to quit after a few test cuts.
I ended up creating a 45 degree angle template using a clamp and a piece of wood after measuring with true a 45 degree angle.

I used this as my guide for the trim and because it was a soft wood and small piece, it took no time at all to sand it down.

In photo below you can see I set up one for each angle/side.  Watch your little fingers!!

I nailed the trim in place.  The angled corners were tricky but they all turned out pretty good.  Nothing that a little filler couldn't take care of.

You will notice that the old hardware is still on here.  At this point, I had no plans for the piece and was potentially going to use the old hardware.  If I were to do it over again, I would have sanded and filled in the hardware holes, making it a little easier down the road.

I filled in brad nail holes, large hardware holes and did a bead of caulk around the moulding to give it a very polished and finished look.

For fun, here is the "before" picture.

This is probably one of my favorite makeovers and so proud of how it turned out.

I can't believe I am saying this but I'd would really like to do this again and have another piece in mind:)

Thursday, April 30, 2015


This has to be one of my favorite projects!  You probably know by know how much I love the metallic finishes I have been doing lately, and then to be able to do it on a big, fat daddy piece like this…awesome!!

Here is how it all began…My new BFF David contacted me and told me that he is moving into a newly renovated studio condo downtown on the fifth floor (delivery details later).  He said he had just purchased this monster of a piece and wanted it to serve not only as an island in his little kitchen, but also as the statement piece in the space.

We brainstormed a bit on how we could add height to this guy.  Because it already had legs, my fancy 'add legs idea' was not an option.  I happened to have some really cool, old and large casters laying around that I thought would be a pretty and easy option…David was quickly on board.  I LOVE the industrial look it give this piece and not to mention, totally practical in this space where he will potentially be moving it around a bit.

Because it was going to be exposed, I replaced the old and cheap backing with a new piece of ply.  I was originally planning on doing a LOT of filling in to make it look seamless but after I got going, I decided I didn't like the look.  It just looked like I added a piece of ply to the back…not what I, or David was going for.  
After stepping back and thinking, "If this was going in my kitchen, what would I want".  I decided that trimming it out would give it the nice, 'finished' look we wanted. 

Adding trim

softening up the edges 

Ready to be primed

After many clear coats of lacquer, it was ready to be delivered.  In the middle of Downtown. With a big fat trailer.  On a one way street.  With 6 kids tagging along. In the middle of Art Prize on a Saturday!  

I am sure it looked like we were doing something completely illegal by the way we were parking and yelling and moving fast and running around…well, the parking job WAS completely illegal, but that's how we roll!

This had to get up to the 5th floor.  So after Marc pulled completely up on the sidewalk to get the trailer out of the middle of the busy street, we unloaded this sucker in record speed time and then he pulled away.  I really have no idea where he went…he just had to move the truck and trailer before we pissed more people off.  David and I had a good ways to roll the piece down the sidewalk to even get to the building door.  Each one of the kids grabbed a drawer.  Did I mention how crazy HEAVY this thing is?!?! After some debate about how to make it fit into the elevator, we worked it in and up she went!

Because I think David has incredible taste, I wanted (with his permission) to show off the space a little bit:)

This is the smallest and most beautiful studio I have ever seen. I love how he has put everything together to make the space feel warm and cozy, but still simple and elegant.

 He actually used leather spray paint to change this chesterfield sofa from blue to black!  I saw it on CL and liked it, but not the color…so mad I didn't think of doing that!  Looks gorgeous!

Lovin the lamp!

Monday, March 30, 2015

DRIFTWOOD FINSH OVER A LAMINATE OR VENEER TOP and the issues I had along the way

In this post I am going to not only explain how I did this driftwood or maybe some like to call, weathered-wood look, but will also mention lessons I learned along the way. I am always learning something and that something is usually that I need to listen to my intuition!

My table started like this, a plain old ugly table.  At first I was thinking is was a laminate top but while  working on it, realized it was not laminate but a veneer that had a very laminate look to it (because of the finish), so I believe that this faux finish would work with any sort of top.

Step 1 - 
I sanded it just like I would with any other piece.  Because of the laminate like finish, I did have to be careful and use a higher grit (220) paper to make sure there were no swirlies. Nobody likes Swirlies.

Step 2 - 
I knew the base coat was going to be white so I decided to use a white primer as that base coat thinking it would help with following coats bonding.  I was correct.

I watered the primer down a bit so I could get a thin, translucent coat. Any quality primer will do.

Being the professional that I am, I my husbands old dirty sock on my hand to smeared it around, ending it with long, even strokes before it dried.

Here is a video of that action. 


This is what it looks like after the water down primer was applies on one side with the sock.

Step 3 -
After the main, all over coat of watered down primer, I let is dry and then added a little more of the white primer with my brush in heavier, more random strokes.

Not looking very pretty at this point, is it?  And it's here you can notice my first issue….the leaves were a shade darker than the table.

I see this a lot with tables, the leaves are a shade different because they have been hiding under a bed for much of their lives. Give your leaves some light people!
But I get it. I have 2 leaves and only 1 in on a daily basis and the other is under my sons bed.  I make sure the leaves get a little bit of equal family (and sunlight) time and alternate which leaf goes back under the bed.  I am nice like that.

Step 4 - I would have stopped here and jumped straight to clear coating but….
I used a watered down shade of pale gray for the 2nd coat.

It is here that you can see my 2nd (big, fat) issue…the chip!  Grrrrr!

Because this was going to be a distressed, imperfect, faux finished top, I that just maybe, JUST MAAAYBE the chip would not really matter.

Well, it did.  It actually stood out more with the paint because of the graining going in the opposite direction. I was in denial for a while and kept going.

Still in denial.

Here it's a good time to tell you about my favorite "feathering" brush.

I have a pile of these old brushes that I pick up at garage sales.  You see, when I stop at a garage or estate sale, I head straight for the garage or the basement to check out the tools. I love old, strange random tools and old brushes which I use all the time for glazing and faux finishes.  

After I applied each coat of paint, I feathered it out with this brush to blend in the lines.  

Step 5 - the step that should have never happened
Back to the chip.

So long story short, after reality set in I sanded back not just that spot, but that entire section of that half of the table.  Ironically and sometimes annoyingly,  it's easier to blend in the entire SECTION than just one small SPOT.

I cut a piece of veneer (I have a few chunks saved) to fit the spot.  I filled in the tiny gaps with wood filler and added gel stain to that spot to match the original finish bestest I could.

I then did steps 2-4 all over again to this section of the table with a big fat smile on my face!

Like I mentioned in step 4, in a perfect world, this is where I would have stopped.

Step 6 - 
Because I needed to blend things in a little bit more (leaves and chip issues), I added one more coat of the watered down white (AKA whitewash).

Don't forget about the edges of the table!

Finally, everything blended in beautifully and it was a perfect finish for this table!

After a few clear coats, it was complete!

The skirting of the table, legs and the chairs were refinished in a creamy white lacquered finish.