Apr 102015
 

I recently spruced up a rustic “stand up” or “standing desk”. 

The update was pretty basic and I am now wondering:

“Should I have been a bit bolder?”

Rustic-standing-desk

I love it but did I play it all too safe?

Rustic Stand-up Desk

I scored this fabulously unique desk on MaxSold, an online auction here in Toronto.  I realized when I went to pick it up, the ad had not included the dimensions because it is BIG and TALL.  It is 47″ wide, 30″ high at the front, 35′ high at the back and 26″ deep

It was also hunter green, with black accents and a maple leaf decal on the front.  The flip top had a leather insert in great condition but a little dull. 

I apologize for the quality of the before pictures, they were from the original posting.

rustic-standing-desk

A very unique design but needing some TLC.  Got to love the maple leaf!

The first thing I did was apply some MMS Hemp Oil to the leather top to soften it and bring out a deeper more uniform black.

I sanded the unpainted wood and applied a darker stain.  After prepping the painted areas by cleaning and lightly sanding, I basically painted it with a few coats of a soft black: SW ?????, Pro Enamel in Satin.

I love how it turned out!  I went with a basic black to match the black leather insert.  I considered distressing it but it was basically “distressed” when I got it.  I guess I really wanted to return it to its former glory!

rustic-standing-desk

Essentially a “spruced up” version of its former self

rustic-standing-desk

With the lid open, you can see how rustic it is with a planked bottom inside the cubby.
I painted over the green side walls with red and added the same colour to the sides of the drawers.         

Question:  What was the purpose of this desk?

If any of you are familiar with stlye of desk, I would love to hear from you!  I did a bit of research and it could have been used by a teacher or a clergyman.  Now, I see it being used in someone’s foyer or in a restaurant at the hostess desk!

Question:  What wood is the top made out of?

I think the top is a type of pine but I am not sure.  What I did notice is the number of rings around the knots which makes me believe the top was made from very mature wood.

Question:  Was I too timid with this re-furbish?

Ah, there are so many options when it comes to up-cycling furniture.  Should I have found some funky new insert for the top instead of leather?  Should the paint be chippy or distressed in one of those “stylish” new colours? 

I don’t know but sometimes, I think unique pieces should perhaps have another few years of their original glory.

BEFORE

rustic-standing-desk

Hunter Green and the Maple Leaf just had to go!

AFTER

rustic-standing-desk

Simple restoration: was it enough?

 

BTW: the desk is for sale if you live in the Toronto area! 

Contact me if you are interested.  Price $200

I am very much looking forward
to your comments and input.

 

Do you think it is “Nicer Than New”
or should I have been bolder?

 

 

Joan

Mar 302015
 

In my very first post on this blog nearly 2 years ago, I shared my dining room update.  I had become tired of the “granny” look of dark wood Duncan Fyfe style and was hoping to replace the look with something more fresh and contemporary.  However, when I tried to sell the set together or individual pieces, I was offered very little.  We were also installing dark hardwood so the dark wood had to go.

Looking at that very first post, I am a bit embarassed at the layout and photos etc.  But what it does tell me is just how much I have learned and grown in these many months.  

In that first post, the dining room was still a work in progress,.  So today, I would like to share the dining room in its now more finished state.

Before:  Dark and Granny-like

dining room update granny fresh paint furniture

I couldn’t sell the pieces for much so why not paint!

 

After:  Bright and Fresh

dining room update granny fresh paint furniture

How it looks from the doorway

I just love the fresh look.  I was worried it might be a bit feminine for my husband but he loves it too.

Note:  This post contains NO affiliated links.  Just the facts.

I love turquoise.  In the original post, the buffet and china cabinet were painted BM Buxton Blue but once they were in the room, we felt there was not enough contrast with the walls so I added one more coat of a darker BM Province Blue.  Sadly, I don’t remember the grey colour’s name.

I not only painted the furniture, I also painted the shiny brass fixtures with Antique Brass from Rustoleum and the valance over the drapes.

All the fabric for drapes and upholstery,  was purchased at Tonic Living, a Toronto based online fabric store.  I made the drapes and had someone upholster the chairs but since then, I have learned a bit more about upholstering and would most likely do it myself.

I picked up the two chairs with the knot fabric on Kijiji for $15 each.  Not bad!

The Eiffel Tower poster started out as a photo I took on our visit in 2011.  I saw a very expensive print on Etsy or somewhere and I decided to try doing something myself.  I uploaded my photo to Photoshop Elements, added a layer with words describing the history of the tower, a layer or two of textures and then just played with it.  I think it is fantastic in this room!

The Roman Numeral clock was in our family room and was purchased at Homesense, the Canadian version of the US Home Goods.

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I love my apple green bird! He brightens up any room

We received the 3 prints over the buffet as a wedding gift.  They all depict skiing scenes and were so appropriate for us because we met in a ski club!  We still love them after nearly 28 years!  They were in the living room but look so great in here.

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The bar cart with crystal and tulips

I still haven’t painted the bar cart I picked up at an estate auction.  I shared it with you in this post where I asked for colour advise.  It is still too cold here in Toronto to do spray painting outside.  But when I do finish it I will be sure to share.

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The china cabinet and my wood “runner”

Originally I thought I wanted to get rid of the china cabinet because I had a mini buffet and mirror on this angled wall.  But once I saw how these pieces looked painted, I knew I wanted to keep it.   The mini buffet and mirror were perfect in the foyer!  See it’s transformation here.

We love the white table because we no longer feel the need to protect the wood with a table clothe.  But we still need to protect it from hot dishes.  One day, I stumbled over an unfinished pine shelf board and decided to stain it with my favourite walnut stain and plop it on the table.  We love it as it ties into the hardwood floors the knotted fabric and it withstands hot plates!

I picked up those cute lotus flower candle holders at one of my rare trips to Target.

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I love the large art piece on the right!

We have a very large family room with a full sized snooker table and I had purchased the large art piece above for that space.  I was looking for something to fill this wall when I had a brilliant moment and brought this huge piece from the family room to this room and was so pleased with how it looked.  To fill the wall again in the family room, I created a “Carry On” poster you can see here.

The other change we made which made a BIG impact is we removed the french doors to the room.  They were awkward and hit the cabinet.  When complaining to my neighbour she looked at me and said “Why don’t you remove them”.  Like why in tarnation did I not think of that.  It was brilliant.  Not only can you see the loveliness of the room, we actually go in there more!

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A colourful vignette lovely dried hydrangeas, citrus and my favourite apple green bird!

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My sweet Chester

My Labradoodle doesn’t photo-bomb, he just hangs out.  But this picture is not just about him, it really shows the lovely detail of the legs in this set.  Personally I think it really makes them pop, much better than natural wood.

Pinnable copy

What a change!

 I am so happy I couldn’t sell these pieces! I L-O-V-E this room.  And I saved us a ton of money!  I also like the fact I was able to “shop my home” for items to decorate in here.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this transformation.
I would love to hear what you think.
Have you ever been this daring?

For me, it is all so much
Nicer Than New!

 

 

Joan

May 032014
 

Have you ever had a client who knew they wanted a piece painted but was just not sure of the colour?  Read on and find out how you can use a photo editor to help them….

For decades, I have dabbled in Photography. Back in the day, I even took a course on developing my own black and white film. Sadly at the time, I was in an apartment and did not really have room for a little lab. Other than that, most of what I know is self taught. You see, I am the kind of person who, when they take up an interest, gets every book I can get my hands on. This is true about PhotoShop Elements too.

As I have previously revealed, my daughter danced competitively from an early age. Competitive dance is darn pricey so when the studio photos came back looking crappy, and you had to pay in advance before you saw them, I decided it was time to do my own thing. Besides, I preferred the “live” shots we could get from the photographers at the dance competitions. Often, several moms would approach them and strike a deal, combining many entries for a lower price. With these digital photos, I would work my “magic” in Photoshop Elements. It was a labour of love because I not only loved the dancers, I loved playing and learning new techniques. As time went on, I learned more and more while Photoshop Elements improved with each version, making it easier.

I must admit my early work was a bit simple but the studio photographer was doing what I was doing and charging a small fortune. Fast forward a couple years and soon, my stuff was pretty nice and unique. Soon parents wanted me to work on their photos. And I did. But I knew I would not want to do it as a long term business, knowing we would leave the dance world in a few years. My daughter and I even dabbled in dance performance photography. She was very good because she can anticipate the moves. For example, she would know when a jump might be happening and catch it perfectly. However we both knew our love dance did not entail photographing dancers for hours on end.

Regardless, we and many of the other dance families now have amazing photos of our dancers. Here are a couple examples…

I did this one for a dance mom and daughter.  I took 4 live performance photos from a contemporary dance number (taken by the competition photographer) and created a collage with a new background.  The bottom photo lets the real floor show through, thereby not losing the lighting and shadows.

room with three frames

One of my favourites “creations” is when I  extracted my daughter from a ballet group.  Once extracted, the resolution was poor so I used a variety of techniques to make it look like a painting. I then had it printed on a  large canvas.  It is not only beautiful, it could become an heirloom (if such things still exist!)

The first photo is the live stage shot we purchased.  My daughter loved her perfect arabesque. (Note our studio was not strong in ballet so ignore the rest!)

ballet group

Group shot

 This is want I did with it.  It may not be evident but in reality, it looks like a painting.
Definitely my favourite Photoshop project!

ballet painting

Extracted and stylized as a painting

Okay, so brag time is over.  What does all this have to do with “ENVISIONING” and painting furniture??

Well, for me, it is a snap to help a client decide on a colour.  I simply upload a picture into Photoshop Elements and “colourize” the piece.

This was certainly true with a desk a client dropped off.  When I saw it, I fell in love with it.  It is very unique and I asked if she was sure she wanted to paint it.  (There will be paint haters out there who will be upset with us… but I DID ask!)  She just wants a brighter look in the room…

Here is the gorgeous piece before:

andrea before

Is this not the cutest desk?? Inside the doors are cubbies!

She had some colour ideas but could not decide.  So being a diplomatic person, I decided to help her. 

  1. I uploaded the file in Photoshop Elements
  2. Using the Quick Selection tool, I selected the desk and de-selected the windows in the doors and the desk top which will remain wood.
  3. I added a layer, reduced the opacity to 70% or so and then filled the selection with colour.

I sent her the following renditions based on her ideas:

blue

Blue

fushia

Fushia

grey

Grey

red

Red

As you can see it is very crude but it only took me 10 minutes!  She loved that she could visualize how it would look after. 

Which one do you like? 
There is a chair and its upholstery in the equation too.

Have you used a photo editor to help you or you client visualize? 

Leave me a comment and tell me about it.  I LOVE COMMENTS!!

Stay tuned and come back to see the result!

Joan

Apr 102014
 

I have replaced damaged caning in both wicker and wood furniture and thought I would share my not so sophisticated method with you.

In all cases, the cane I replaced was a seat, surrounded by a wood frame.   Many people, seeing damaged cane like the photo below will cut a piece of wood and simple cover the seat.  I suppose if it always has a cushion hiding it, it doesn’t matter.  Personally, I love cane and  replacing it is far easier than you may think.

IMG_0408

Original Damaged Seat.

The first step is to remove the old caning.  Depending on the age of the piece, this can be easy or very difficult.  In the case of a wicker chair I refinished, it was easy.  With some coaxing (chiseling) at the spline, which holds the cane in the groove, I was able to pull out the old caning relatively easily.  In the case of the antique rocker above, the glue used in days gone by was like titanium!   I needed to resort to nail polish remover and a drill.  I even broke a couple of bits in the process!  I am sorry I have no pictures of this task.  It was a frustrating adventure where photos were not foremost on my mind 🙂 

Once you remove the old cane, be sure the channel / groove is clean so the cane and new spline can be inserted. 

I purchased both the sheet of pre-woven cane material and the spline at Lee Valley Tools, which, luckily for me is a 10 minute drive from my home.  You can also order it online here.  (Note:  I have no affiliation with Lee Valley Tools.  They are just a great store!)

Before you begin,  the caning and the spline both need to soak in water for a few hours or in my case,  if you get busy, a day or two!  Regardless, it needs to be soft and pliable.

I began by testing that the spline will easily go into the groove and cut the spline to size with an additional 1/2 inch.  In my first attempt at replacing a cane seat, I cut the spline about 1/4 inch too short and I was very annoyed to see the tiny gap.

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Measuring the spline. Add a bit extra and cut the excess once inserted

Once you are ready to work, cut the caned sheet roughly the size of the opening with a good 1.5 t0 2 inch border all around.

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Lay the caning sheet in place, centered.  Begin on the straight sections of the groove and insert the caning into the groove.

THIS IS WHERE WE CAN GET CREATIVE!   There are tools for this.  But I used what I could find at home.  For one project, I used a metal spatula to push the cane into the groove.

For this chair, I happened to have a pack of SHIMS on hand and they definitely fit the bill.  I simply cut the thin ends off to the appropriate width and tapped them in with a hammer.

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Cut the shims to an appropriate with and tapped them into the groove.

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I worked around the opening, making sure the cane was taunt

(BTW:  that hammer was my dad’s and it’s over 70 years old!)

Once you have pushed the cane material securely into the groove, you need to cut away the excess, just below the top of the groove.  This is a daunting step.  You need a VERY SHARP exacto blade or box cutter.  The caning can begin to unravel a bit so it is important to get a nice clean cut.  Try very hard to make sure the cut is just below the top.  The few stragglers still sticking up can be trimmed later.

IMG_0097

Cut the excess cane away, just below the outer lip of the groove.

Now it is time to insert the spline.  Use a wood or all purpose glue, one that dries clear and run a generous bead inside the groove, on top of the cane.

Then begin to insert the spline.  Start at the centre of the back and work your way around.

IMG_0098

Insert the spline, starting at the centre of the back of the opening.

I wrapped a rag around the hammer so I would not damage the wood when I tapped in the spline.

Once you reach the beginning, cut the spline to the correct size.   Be sure to tap all around to ensure the spline is well inserted and then let the glue dry!

That’s it!

IMG_0102

Not counting the terrible time I had removing the old cane seat, I think this job took me just over an hour to complete!

From what I have read, cane is meant be left natural and colour with age.  However, it can be stained but only on the top.  It needs to breathe.  I am thinking of staining this seat since the chair is so dark. 

What do you think:  stain or leave au natural?

Have you ever replaced a cane seat?

If you try it, let me know how it goes for you. 

Why cover the damaged seat with wood when replacing the caning is so easy!

I think this chair is definitely Nicer Than New!

Joan

 

Apr 062014
 

Some pieces are just not meant to be painted.  Or are they?  There are occasions when I  paint a piece of furniture and post it on this blog and someone will comment that I “ruined” the piece.   I too am guilty of this thought.  Just recently, I saw a very unique mid century console on Craigslist where the shop had “ruined” the piece with an ugly shade of brown paint and was still asking an very high, typical MCM price.  Regardless, HEY! it’s furniture and the owner can do as they please.  Life’s too short to worry about someone else’s furniture.

Back in October, before winter hit us hard, I shared with you a lovely rocking chair I had acquired.  It came to me with a damaged cane seat but everything else was in amazing original condition.  There was evidence of a repair on one leg and it was obviously old but very well made and still VERY sturdy.  Not a wobble to be found.  Upon examination, I found a very faded label indicating the chair was manufactured by Heywood Brothers, a prestigious, prominent furniture manufacturer in the US.  A bit of internet research indicated the Baltimore plant operated  from 1897 to 1921 so I believe this chair is a true 100 year old “antique”.

However, it was really dark and dated.  I really like to paint things to bring them to life.  I started out really wanting to paint it but I just could not.  Somehow, it seemed like an easy way out! 

I posted a blog post asking  readers what to do and it was pretty unanimous that I should leave it in original state and get an estimate.  So I did.  The assessment said, if I kept it in an original condition, with a new cane seat, it should sell for $200 to $400 in a good market!  WOW!

I have replaced  cane seats before so that did not faze me.  I began removing the old cane and it was not easy!  I had to resort to nail polish remover to break up the glue which sadly disfigured the wood around the opening. 

Last week, I FINALLY got around to finishing it up.  Before tackling the cane seat, I did some light sanding and stained areas that were worn and needed to be stained.  Then coated the piece with varathane.  In the end, the transformation was way easier than I anticipated and the result is beautiful…

BEFORE
Heywood03

Isn't she beautiful?

Isn’t she beautiful?

Heywood06

AFTER

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I love the richness of the wood finish.

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The pressback design is gorgeous!

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New cane seat

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I feel as if this is how it looked 100 years ago!

I would like to stain the caning but most articles suggest leaving it natural. 
I will let the new owner decide… IF I sell it LOL!

Do you love it! 

What was I thinking when I wanted to paint it!??! 

Yes it may not be to many people’s taste but there is beauty in keeping it original!

 

I still love to paint furniture giving it NEW LIFE  but perhaps sometimes we should consider giving it its OLD LIFE back again!

 

Have you ever changed your mind after being determined to paint something?
Or have you regretted painting something and wished you have restored it instead? 
I’d love to hear from you!

 

This piece gives me goosebumps, as if I “SAVED” it somehow
so it can continue to live a long life! 

 

Is this piece NICER THAN NEW? 
DEFINITELY!

 

Joan

Mar 162014
 

Earlier this week, I shared my “Clamping Adventure” where I used elastic bands to clamp the legs for a tri-legged pedestal table.  As silly as it sounds, it worked! IMG_1593   IMG_1604

I didn’t really have a plan for the tables until last week. While drooling over items on the Joss and Main website, I spotted this cute table and thought AHA!

Jessa+Side+Table

Jessa Side Table Regular Price $152
source

My little pedestal tables would look amazing in ALUMINUM!

I also found this steel table at Overstock

Bailey from Overstock 72

Bailey Table
$110
source

If you follow me, you may recall last December, I experimented with brush on metallic paint on a mirror frame.  I used a rust inhibitor paint in an aluminum  shade and I still had 3/4 of a can left.

Rust Paint in Aluminum

Rust Paint in Aluminum

One coat was all that was needed!

One coat was all that was needed!

I have been waiting for a project to come along so I could try this paint again!

To prepare the tables, the tops needed to be smoothed out.  The finish was bubbling and peeling so I used a stripper on the tops and then gave the tops a good sanding.  For the base, I did some light sanding and applied a de-glosser.

This paint is very thin compared to latex and a little bit of this paint goes a long way!  For the mirror, it went on so smooth, covered well and left no brush strokes but that piece was carved.

However, unlike the mirror frame, the surfaces of the table are smooth.  I found the paint ran easily on the vertical surfaces so I applied a very light coat.  Surprising it still covered well.

After First Coat
IMG_1621    IMG_1622

For the next coat, I developed a technique where I brushed the paint on with one sponge brush and then dry brushed over the paint with another sponge brush.  This really helped to smooth the finish and pick up any extra paint before it dripped.  I ended up doing 3 coats.

The final result was gorgeous!  However, I did note the pieces needed a topcoat because the finish was easily scuffed. 

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This was taken before the topcoat and shows the light scuffs.

The final results are AMAZING!!!

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Soft and subtle finish

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The wood grain is still slightly visible.

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The pedestal detail pops

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BEFORE

IMG_0007

AFTER

Have you used metallic paint on wood?  Was it successful? 

I’d love to hear about your experience or your feedback on my little project.

To recap,  I had the glue, paint and topcoat products and the tables were $20 each! 

Lovely and unique tables for $40!

And So Much Nicer Than New

 Joan

Mar 082014
 

In the furniture lot I recently acquired via an on-line estate auction, there was a very simple pedestal table with a white and grey marble top.  The top had light scratches on it but what bothered me more, was the discolouration and stains. 

So of course I consulted the ever so wise GOOGLE and found I should mix up and apply a POULTICE.   That’s right… kind of like a “mustard plaster” for marble.  Regardless, it made some sense to me.

IMG_1496

Stains in a circular pattern

I mixed Hydrogen Peroxide and Plaster or Paris into a paste with the consistency of peanut butter.  The peroxide is a whitener and the P of P is an absorbent into which the stain is drawn.  This info came from the Marble Institute website.

IMG_1508

Mix up a poultice to the consistency of peanut butter

The poultice is then spread on your marble and it is covered saran wrap.  They suggest it should be left to dry for 24 to 48 hours.  Here is how it looked.

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Spread the poultice out like icing.

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Covering it with saran wrap allowed me to spread the poultice a bit more evenly

After 24 hours, I removed the saran wrap and let it dry for another 24 hours.

IMG_1520

Dried another day without the saran wrap.
(Looks like the surface of the moon LOL)

When I removed the dried poultice, I noticed a slight overall improvement.  The website indicated it could take up to 5 or 6 applications to draw out most of the stain.  I applied THREE poultices and I have to say the stain appeared to be 80% gone and the overall colour of the marble was whiter.

after4

After THREE poultice applications.

Sadly, I was unable to get out the scratches with a baking soda mix or a rub with extra fine steel wool.  When dealing with  vintage furniture, you can only take it so far.  And a few fine scratches show character and age. 

after1

To remove these scratches, I would need a professional polisher.

Even though I could not remove the fine scratches, I did seal the top with a marble sealant I had on hand  for my bathroom vanity.

So now that the top has been dealt with, it is time to look at the base.

I considered going safe with a grey and white finish. 

after2

The top is sealed and shiny.
Here are a couple of “Oops” samples I could try.

But Agh!  Too safe

The table is conservative and needs a new “look”. 
RED?  I wrapped it in red Christmas ribbon and it looked like a Valentine table. 

Then I looked at the can of “Maxi Teal” used on my “Mission: Colour ” foyer table and thought …ah that is more like it!  Or the “Buxton Blue” from my dining room buffet.

I tried a coat of BM’s Buxton Blue and it didn’t impress me so SW Maxi Teal it is!

It is so cute now and the teal adds the pop of colour I was looking for!

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Before … blah

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After … definitely not blah!

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It’s snowing outside but this little vignette makes me think of spring!

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Spring is on it’s way!

table vignette

If you use the table, you can’t see the scratches!

My new squirrel looks happy!

Have you ever tried a Marble Poultice to remove stains?

The technique wasn’t 100% effective but for a $20 table and paint I already owned and love,
I think the little table looks fabulous!

Perhaps even

Nicer Than New!

Joan

 

 

 

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