RSS Feed

It Runs in the Family – Desk Makeover Tutorial From My Niece!

Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

I’m on a brief vacation to Ohio visiting the family.

In the meantime I thought I’d share a great letter I got from my niece which also serves as a terrific step by step furniture makeover tutorial!

You may recall Maggie is the one who, with no previous experience in upholstery took this chair and made this chairThereby proving that she is a show-off just like my dad wonderfully gifted, generous and talented!

So I’m not sure why she thought she needed advice from me but…….

Dearest Uncle,

I am extremely happy to report on the completion of a project I asked you about almost a year ago.

As you may recall, I had taken it into my head last September to paint my desk.  I swiftly contacted you and, after receiving excellent advice, delighted in the endorphin rush that comes from deciding to do a project… and promptly filed it at the back of my to-do list.

Well, procrastination can only take you so far, especially when the item you are procrastinating about is the one piece of furniture you use on a daily basis – stupid utility value.  So I embarked on the adventure!

Step One: convince husband to help move heavy piece of furniture to the garage (grudging success) – and bang it on every available door jam you encounter (epic fail.)

Step Two: discover that Mom (Phebe) had a piece of furniture she’d like to paint and pencil in several dates to have a “painting party.”

Step Two Point Five: Actually settle on the date and have it arrive.  Set up the garage.

Step Three: settle on color – I went with an Antique White since my newly reupholstered chair has an off-white background and I wanted them to somewhat match.  Mom chose with a Bright White for a charming little sewing machine table which she’s not going to use for sewing at all.  Ever.

Step Four: sanding.  I had a couple of thoughts at this stage… primarily: “Thanks for bringing your electric sander over, Mom!”   and “Why didn’t I buy face masks until I was three quarters finished with this stage? Step Five:  cleaning using TSP

Step Six:  prime everything -followed nearly immediately by realizing that we didn’t have enough primer.  

Step Seven: fine-grit sanding of first layer of primer and re-application of primer.

Step Eight: watch an episode of “The Tudors” so we don’t go out and try to put the first layer of paint on before the primer coats dry.

Step Nine: put first layer of actual paint on.  Curse occasionally due to drips.

Step Ten: More “Tudors” – same purpose.

Step Eleven: put second layer of paint on.  Acknowledge that it’ll be at least a week before I can do anything else.  Ugh!  This waiting thing sucks.

Now I’ll take a mini break from the steps because what happens next was not at all in the plan… but it was pretty inevitable.  I realized that I’d chosen “Antique White” for the purposes of matching my chair… but that my dang office was painted Bright White and my “new” desk wasn’t gonna look great against that wall color. So I decided to find a color I could use for an accent wall, settled on “mis-mixed” leftover at the paint store and ended up with lovely salmon-y color  that was definitely within the realm of matching my chair

Step Twelve: convince husband to help carry desk back inside… AND BASH IT AGAINST EVERY %$*&@ DOOR FRAME WE ENCOUNTERED!!!! (there were a few painting touch-ups needed)

Step Thirteen: hand-paint accent design on the front.  This was a Pinterest idea I saw and loved so I chose a bright green and practiced some tree branches on a large sheet of paper Step Fourteen: realize that I’m really happy with the way my desk came out… but that I have absolutely no way of sitting at it (the piece never had a chair and I’ve been improvising with leftover/extra furniture for years – not my best interior design moment, that’s for sure.)

Dash to the awesome Habitat for Humanity ReStore, find a sturdy little chair of the appropriate dimensions with just a bit of carpentry flare (is that a thing?  it is now…) to match my desk pop  out its seat and painted it and reupholstered it in a nice bright green.  Put them all together and whaddya got?  A sewing desk I’m not ashamed to show off!   The only remaining problem: how to get the primer out of my dog’s tail fur… (she was a little overzealous in her attempts to help me out in the garage…)

Thanks for the great advice Uncle David!  Everything worked out wonderfully!



PS: Mom reminded me to tell you a bit about my 2-drawer index file cabinets that were a minor part of this painting initiative – they just happened to be the exact width of the bags Mom and I store our DMC Embroidery Floss in so I grabbed three from the pile of stuff they were getting rid of at work, painted the drawers and frames in alternating colors (green & white) and stacked them on top of my filing cabinet with a small swatches of the upholstery fabric slid into the label slot – they came out pretty cute, too! 

About cheltenhamroad

I’ve been surrounded by amazingly creative people my whole life. My mom can, and does, make anything. The family has on occasion speculated that she just whipped up my dad one day when she discovered some left over fabric and stuffing. My three sisters have mad skills ranging from needlework to cooking to out and out ART. My father’s desk when I was growing up had a model train set going around it, oh, and he made that desk-from scratch. I’m the youngest and, as you can imagine, it’s a hard series of acts to follow. Truth be told, I’ve spent many, many years suppressing the creative instincts I learned at home. But I realized (rather late in life) that few things bring me more joy than making and creating. For the longest time when I went to stores I didn’t think, “I want that” I thought, “I can make that.” And, with a deep breath and a leap, I’ve started on a very new, kinda scary path. I’ve given up my steady, dependable (dull!) corporate life to spend my days happily humming away in my garage designing, creating, painting, decoupaging and sawing and, since this blog will be an honest take on things, there is also a fair amount of tripping, spilling and swearing. Through this blog I hope to share with you the struggles and (hopefully) triumphs of a very non-businessy business person. I also hope to make this blog a resource for people who like to work with their hands and who are, like me, always looking at things and thinking “I could make that!” I’ve lived many places since I left Cheltenham Road; I currently live in Los Angeles California. So, with this preamble- Welcome to Cheltenham Road! Please come on over and make yourself comfortable – the place is always open.

10 responses »

  1. Clearly the family talent didn’t miss your niece, in writing and in design. Great job!

  2. Looks good! I love how it came out, Great job! matches the chair really well. Did you use a sprayer or paint by hand? I wish I had a garage…. jealous!

    • Thanks Jesse!

      At my Uncle’s recommendation, I tried spray painting furniture for the first time – came out pretty well – I’m certainly pleased with it.

  3. As Donna already pointed out, it’s very obvious that DYI talent is definitely not the only the only thing that runs in your family. Maggie’s post had me rolling on the floor laughing. Great job Maggie! On the make over as well as your post.

  4. I think you folk are part wood nymph. The love of Green seems to run in the family. Everything looks beautiful, though.


    • You are so right Karla… you should see the rest of my house; you’d crack up! I think just about every room has some green element! Thanks for the kind words!

  5. Love the reupholstered chair, love, love the desk transformation and all the rest. And such a fun post/tutorial. Nice way to start my morning: a cup of coffee and reading the “funnies.” I have a large cug-ly chair that needs reupholstering. How did she do it?

    • Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed it – Uncle David gave some really excellent and detailed advice…

      Regarding the upholstery project: I actually ended up reverse engineering the whole darn thing! I like to say about this chair that “it taught me what I’m not going to do the next time”! I took all the pieces apart, and laid them out flat on my new fabric to make patterns and then stapled them all back on. (UGH, getting heartburn just thinking about it again… 🙂

  6. Wow, Uncle David, Maggie might just take over your blog… I wouldn’t invite her to guest post any more!
    (great work, Maggie, and I’m glad to hear it’s not just me that hits every door jam)

  7. She’s got the family skills for sure, even down to the writing!! 🙂 The desk and chair are adorable!! I love how she had to decide how not to mess with it while it dried…I so get that “planned distraction”!!! Tom Petty’s song about waiting rings through my head on most projects!! 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: