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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Bedside Table Makeoever

My usual pattern is that I come up with an idea, execute it and then see if anybody wants to buy it.   

But every once in a while someone sees my work, likes it and “commissions” me to make something for them. 

 I dig the idea of having “clients” – it feels very grown up and professional – but it also totally stresses me out.  

 If someone comes to my Etsy store or my booth at the Rose Bowl Market and sees something they like that’s great – very straightforward.  But being asked to design something for someone, to listen to what they say they want and then try to create that….that’s a whole different skill set.

 So, when a very nice woman asked me to take some bedside tables she had and make them suitable for her little girl’s room I leapt and the chance (income!) and then worried for two weeks. 

 She wanted something feminine but not too “little girly” – they definitely needed to grow with her daughter and not have to be replaced anytime soon.  

 They looked like this:

 They were nice, solid pine but seemed a little clunky to me – typical “unfinished furniture store” kind of things.

 Whenever I work on something that’s leaning more toward the feminine side I always try to picture things that would make one of my sisters exclaim “that’s so cute!”

 So, channeling my sisters, I decided the tables needed to be a lighter color and have some kind of decorative pattern.  Unfortunately my decorative pattern painting skills are sorely lacking (except for stripes! I’m good at stripes!)

 

But stripes weren’t going to cut it this time around.

 I found some pretty wrapping paper at The Container Store and some kind of lacy looking molding at Michaels that I thought might work and got going with the sanding and the painting and the decoupaging and came up with this: 

  It turned out to be pretty easy and my “client” liked it (and all the times I was “stuck” shopping with my sisters paid off*)! 

 Here’s hoping her little girl doesn’t go through a Goth stage anytime soon.

Thanks for stopping by,

David

 * I just want to be very clear (especially since they read this blog and I don’t want family get togethers to turn ugly) that, since adulthood, I have always very much enjoyed shopping with my sisters.  It was only as a child that fabric stores and “cute little shops” felt like some kind of punishment.

 

 

 

Mod Podge Rocks Table Tutorial

For those of you dropping by via Mod Podge Rocks –Welcome! and  thank you so much for checking out my (newbie) blog!

 For those of you wondering why I’m greeting people from someplace called Mod Podge Rocks I’ll explain.

 The lovely Amy – Mistress of Mod Podge – has invited me to create some tutorials to share with her readers and my first one has just been posted. 

 It’s an easy step by step on how to create this little table using parts you can pick up from any big box retailer.You can check out the full tutorial here and be sure to check out all the other cool projects Amy generously shares via her blog

 Thanks,

 David

Restoration Hardware Inspiration

This may not be the best way to follow up my “I stole from the Salvation Army” post because now I seem to have done a similar thing at Goodwill and you’re going to start wondering about my moral center.  But I swear (again) it wasn’t intentional!

 A friend tipped me off that there was a Goodwill outlet nearby.  I had no idea that Goodwill had “outlet stores” and I must confess the idea of a place filled with items that are so bad that they didn’t sell in a regular Goodwill didn’t sound all that promising but I had to check it out.

 It turned out to be a warehouse  filled with unsorted piles of clothes with  a small area of housewares and random furniture.  And I saw this:

 

Bad paint job, lots of dings and scratches and whoever had owned it was a big fan of chewing gum (previously chewed and “saved” portions were in every drawer and under the top edge).  They were also waaaaay into the Little Mermaid with stickers of Ariel and friends everywhere.

 But there was lots of potential!  It was solid wood with dovetailed drawer joints.

 However, there was no price on it or, in fact, on anything in the store.

 It turns out that, at the outlet, the check-out people call the price based on some secret rubric that only they know.

 A woman ahead of me in line held up a chair and was told “three dollars!”  The next woman’s basket of mis-matched glassware went for “two dollars!”

 It was my turn and I pointed at the desk and the cashier said “twenty five dollars!” 

 It seemed like a good deal to me but I’m a little math-challenged and I had to take a second to calculate if, in the end, that price plus the work it needed would work for me. 

 But the cashier confused my “math-challenged” face for my “that’s too expensive” face” (totally understandable as both involve brow-furrowing and a general appearance of unhappiness) and she immediately countered her own offer by saying “ten dollars!” 

 Startled, I tried to explain that I wasn’t actually trying to haggle with Goodwill (which seemed like it would be another bad-karma move) but she just repeated “ten dollars”  in a kind of adamant way so I paid and hightailed home.

 I had first imagined the desk covered with maps or maybe Hardy Boys book covers but the more I worked on it the more I came to feel it was more of a little girl’s desk.  And after seeing this in a Restoration Hardware catalogue

 

I decided to go with a classic pink, white and brown scheme. 

 I thought the drawers needed a little more dimension so I added some wooden plaques from Michaels to the fronts along with some pink crystal knobs.

 And it came out like this: 

 

 I thought it would look good in some little girls room but, surprisingly, I sold it to a grown (albeit tiny) woman whose only real concern was if her computer monitor would fit.  You just never know….

Family History and an Easy Gift!

 My family used to refer to me as “the caboose.”  I was totally into model trains at the time so I thought that was cool.  Only later did I realize that “caboose” was just a polite way of saying “total accident.”

However, my end-of-the-train, perspective has given me an appreciation of my family’s history.  I loved stories about my mom’s life growing up on a farm inKansas. And I was seriously jealous of my sister’s tales of sledding in the backyard of the house they lived in before I was born. 

 I wanted to create a handmade gift I could give eveone and thought I could combine my love of making coasters and my family’s history. 

 The original idea was just that I’d make a coaster depicting the floor plan of the Cheltenham Road house.  But then I thought it would be fun to do all of our former homes –  and for that I realized I needed to call in backup. 

 So my parents were roped into the idea and spent months diligently arguing racking their brains to re-create buildings that I had never set foot in and they hadn’t seen for years.

 Eventually they sent me some sketches like this:

 

And I got busy in Photoshop (but you could do the exact same thing in MSWord or any drawing program you have handy – you could even draw them by hand and then scan them into your computer). 

 

 

 

I used Mod Podge to attach the floor plans to shower tiles from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (a terrific resource for pretty much everything).  I sealed them with multiple coats of polycrylic to make them waterproof, added some cork to the back and viola – gifts for all!

 

 

 Working on these brought up terrific memories for me (and my folks).

 And they were a hit! 

 When the gifts were opened my sister cried!  As a little brother you know you’ve done well when you make your sister cry and you haven’t kicked her or read her diary.

Sofa Table Makeover – and petty crime

“It’s $1.99.”

 “Are you sure it’s not supposed to be $19.99?”

 “The tag says $1.99 – do you want it or not?” said the understandably fatigued, slightly belligerent, Salvation Army lady.

 The store was crowded.  The line was long.  There was no air conditioning and she clearly wasn’t in the mood for a pricing debate with some overgrown Boy Scout who wanted to pay extra.

 So, although technically it wasn’t my fault and I tried to do the right thing, I feel like I stole something from the Salvation Army (which seems like a really bad move Karma-wise).   

Because I got this for $1.99

The top was in seriously bad shape and, as you can see it was, um,… missing something there in the front.  But look at those awesome legs!  And I was convinced I could create a replacement part for that front piece.  Or maybe replace the entire front with a useful drawer!

 So I forked over my $2.00 (I put the penny change in the “need a penny?” basket which didn’t make me feel as unguilty as I’d hoped it would) stuffed it in my Honda Civic and took it home – - -

where it sat for quite a while because, unfortunately, my imaginary carpentry skills far outpace my actual carpentry skills. 

 I lack that key element of patience (“measure twice?!! But that would slow me down!!!). 

 After a couple of tries I had to admit that I couldn’t duplicate the missing part and that I would just need to create a whole new front.

 I decided to make this piece my homage to Miss Mustard Seed  and her amazing and awesome work.  So, after cutting a new front out, I painted the bottom, did a little distressing, stained the top and added a couple of doo-dads to make it fancy.

I’m totally pleased with how it came out. 

I do still wish it had a drawer but…..  Patience….patience…..

 

Awesome Shelf Painting Tip

As promised I rushed home and got to work painting shelves using the genius tip from This Old House Magazine.

I cut a scrap piece of 2×4 into 3″ sections.

I then screwed each 3″ piece onto the corner of the shelf (drill pilot holes to prevent the wood from splitting):

 

 

 Painted one side and then flipped it over and painted the other! 

No waiting for one side to dry!

 

 

 

I did the same thing with a second shelf – then simply stacked them to dry.

 

It couldn’t be easier and it’s a huge time and space saver!  I have about a billion shelves to paint and this is going to make it so much easier.

Thank you This Old House!

 

Work Room Makeover

I live in Los Angeles and I do a lot of my work in the garage but weather isn’t always my friend and the garage isn’t a great place to spend a lot of time due to certain factors:

1) Bad lighting

2) No heat or cooling

3) Lots and lots of dust

4) Lots and lots of spiders. I’m serious! Black Widows. It’s like a science fiction movie out there. Mostly we get along ok but it’s still unnerving.

As my business has grown I’ve needed more inside, spider- free space (the thrill of finishing a project is severely undermined when you come back to find that an errant arachnid has wandered into the not-yet-dry finish and perished).

So, my dining room ended up looking like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And all the supplies are squirreled away in other rooms and closets.

In short, inefficient, annoying and truly putting a crimp in my dinner party plans.

So, the Great Guest Bedroom Makeover has begun. The goal is to create the ultimate work room, get everything contained in one spider-free(ish – lets be honest, they’re everywhere) space and live happily ever after.

The dream would be to have it look like this amazing space from spaceplanner.com (click on the picture to be taken to their site – its great)

 

But, here is the room as it stands now. 

 

 

 

Lots of work to do.  And lots and lots of shelving needed.

 Luckily I had another Craig’s List score! 

 I found a lovely couple who are moving from Van Nuys to open a Bed and Breakfast. 

 In France!

 No, seriously, I’m very happy for them (is there a sarcasm font?  I need one.)

 Happily, the Francophiles had a lot of shelving that wasn’t going to go with their rustic, new “we live in France” lifestyle.  But it’s in pretty bad shape and needs sanding and painting so Project Paint a Billion Shelves will now commence.

 And I came across this brilliant idea from the latest issue of This Old House Magazine about how to paint shelves or doors more quickly and using less space.

 Screw four spacer blocks (made from scrap wood) to each corner of the door or shelf .

 You can then paint one side, flip it over and paint the other (huge time savings) AND you can stack them up to dry (huge space savings).  Forgive this crude drawing – I will post an actual picture this evening:

 It’s time to get painting!

Wish me luck.

David

 

 

 

Paint sticks and Pottery Barn

First off, welcome  to all the nice folks who found me via Mod Podge Rocks and the amazing Amy!  Thank you very much for checking out my in- it’s- infancy- blog and your kind comments.

And now onto my latest.

I never know what to do with leftover paint sticks.   Even if I turn them around and use both ends (no I wasn’t born during the Depression – I’m just thrifty that way) that still leaves the middle…. 

 Anyway, due to Hoarding Syndrome a desire to be as green as possible they were starting to pile up.  I was about to throw them out when I came across these planters in a Pottery Barn catalogue and my mind started to percolate.

.

I had this sitting on a shelf –

which I’d taken to referring to as That Thing I Don’t Know What To Do With.  Nor, honestly, do I know why, where or when I acquired it.  I’m like that sometimes.  But, perhaps, this  was it’s calling.

So, using my miter saw I got to work cutting the paint sticks to size and then painting them with leftover paint.

After some sanding and the application of a little antiquing glaze I used Gorilla Glue to attach them to the sides of That Thing I Don’t Know What to Do With.

And it came out looking like this.

I have to be honest.  I’m still not quite sure what it is.  I’m not particularly into flowers but I put little votives with flowers in it because A) they were blooming in my backyard (see aforementioned Depression style thrifty tendencies) and B) it was based on that Pottery Barn planter so I just went with the flow. 

 But I’m thinking it could also work for holding pens and pencils and such in my new work room (I’ll start sharing that project next week).

 Any other ideas?  I’m open to all suggestions.

Best,

David

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Amazing Bargain!

I find my furniture anyplace I can – Goodwill, yard sales, friends….occasionally the side of the road …… and sometimes Craig’s List. 

But Craig’s List is always a gamble for me.  People can be a bit flakey inLos Angeles (have you heard?) and I always have to weigh the pros and cons of dealing with traffic and parking vs the potential of a new piece. 

The other day I came across an unassuming post that showed two end tables for $15 each.  I decided to give it a shot,  drove out to Encino and walked into End Table Nirvana (hereinafter referred to as ETN)

ETN was presided over by a charming woman who, for reasons I’m not clear on, had a huge room in her apartment building filled with random furniture.  There were far more than the two tables she’d put in the ad and she seemed kind of stunned when I said I’d take all of them (“you must have a lot of sofas” she said suspiciously).    But somehow, in the course of things, the price came down, she tossed in one for free and I ended up with these six beauties for……wait for it……..

 

$50!

I can’t wait to get to work!

Going from tragic to rustic

I have an amazing and supportive collection of friends.  When I started this whole endeavor every on of them was on-board offering to help or just cheer.  I will always be grateful.

However, I know that when a friend calls and says “I just found a great piece for you!” it can lead to awesome finds or frightening “what am I gonna do with that?!” moments.  (I’ll share my “umm, did you want to keep this bag of marijuana that was in the drawer?” story for another time)

So when my buddy Donaco called I was cautiously enthusiastic.  I headed over to his friend’s house and was confronted with this:

running around without it’s drawers

It’s awesome, right?  No doubt about it.  But there is “charmingly distressed” and “the paint falls off when you look at this thing.”  This dresser fell into the latter category.

And it had drawers – they were just in pieces…..in a pile….to the left…..

BUT it’s awesome (see above) AND it was 100% free so who could argue?

First up.  Sanding.

Isn’t it odd how some of the paint can’t stay on for the car ride home but the rest of it requires a nuclear device to remove?

Next.  Drawer repair.  Yes, that’s my entire clamp collection on one drawer.  The veneer was either missing or peeling and I discovered that the “neat little pile” lacked two drawer bottoms.

I’d decided I wanted this piece to have a rustic barn red finish.  So after a coat of primer I got to work.  Except I forgot that when you buy red paint you want to prime with grey paint in order to get the red to be the color the paint chip shows.  Oops.  So my first few coats were not as rustic as I’d hoped but rather a kind of a festive fuchsia – not the vibe I was going for.  But, fear not, in just one, two, FOUR MORE COATS I got to my deep barn red.

Then I sanded for that distressed look.

Except sanding just took off the last two layers of red paint and I ended up back at festive fuchsia.

My apologies – at this point I quit taking pictures because I was really busy, focused embarrassed….and out of paint.

But happily I discovered that when I added my favorite antiquing glaze all the paint went back to that perfect Barn Red.

You can see the difference in this photo

So with a little more rubbing, and a good coat of wax I ended up with this:

I realize I took something that was already shabby, fixed it up and then made it shabby again but such is the nature of my imagination.

Thanks for looking

David

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