Shabby Chic Dresser

I was so pleased when I came across this dresser. It was in perfect condition.

There were no funky smells to get rid of, no wonky drawers to realign, no knobs to replace and no parts to repair.

With its dovetail joints, beautiful lines and amazing vintage handle pulls, it certainly was a dream piece to bring back to life.

Did it need to be redone?

It certainly did.

The pattern in the wood killed me.

IMG_1010“What exactly am I looking at here?”

Maybe I have a vivid imagination, maybe not.

But I certainly don’t think I’m alone in thinking that this dresser has the oddest wood pattern I can ever recall seeing on the front of a dresser.

So I painted right over top of it in a lovely antique white.

The first coat almost always ends with me seriously regretting my paint colour choice. There’s something ugly in a first coat of paint. With this project, I even seriously regretted it after the second coat.

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But by the time the third coat went on, I was so pleased with my decision to go with antique white that taking the paint off to distress it in a vintage shabby chic style was a tad painful.

But I did it anyways and I love the way it turned out.

And so does the lovely lady who gave it a new home in a place I had never thought to put a dresser: an office!

She said that she was surrounded by ugly office furniture and “needed something beautiful to look at all day”.

So this vintage dresser is now fulfilling the role of a filing cabinet and probably gets more attention that it ever would in a bedroom.

After

 

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Is Your Christmas Tree Still Around?

Ours certainly is.

But it’s not too late to do fun and beneficial things with the yet-to-be-disposed-of trees.

Check out some of these ideas:

Some local farms appreciate donated trees. Turns out that goats love them! So find a local goat farm and see if it wants your tree.

Tree trimmings make excellent wreaths so try your hand at making a winter-y themed wreath.

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Make a natural potpourri. Just grab a bunch of clippings, a quarter of an orange, a cinnamon stick and a few whole cloves and mix with water. Turn the stove on low and enjoy the seeping aroma. Do keep an eye on the water level though.

Put it in the backyard and load it up with bird friendly food. It’ll act as a sanctuary for small birds.

Have a bonfire.

I’ll be making another wreath and some potpourri before it’ll go in the backyard laden with treats for the birds.

We’ll bird watch until the snow melts away in the spring, then we’ll have a bonfire.

Happy New Year!

Jill

 

 

Jewelry Box Makeover

I found this very dated jewelry box at a second hand store in the summer and bought it with the intention of giving it a makeover and gifting it to my three year old for Christmas.


Naturally, I didn’t hide if very well and she found it (more than once). Every time she played with it, she told me how much she liked it. It was destined to be a hit.

I thought about reconstructing it to really make it unique but reason won. She’s three and a half and her little sister’s current nickname is “The Destroyer”.

I’ll be happy if the jewelry box makes it through to the end of January.

They will eventually each get an heirloom box but that can wait until they can appreciate, and not tear apart, pretty things.

For those reasons, I kept this makeover simple.

Luckily the itty bitty handle pulls are quite lovely and complement the colour I chose, “sovereign”, quite well.

I used four different but equally pretty pretty crafting paper I had kicking around. I applied Modge Podge to both glue and seal the paper to the glass.



On Christmas morning, it was a hit.

She loved the box and the bracelets I hid inside.

We bonded on a busy Christmas morning when I explained that was a special gift just for me to her. She understood.

Every time someone comes over, she brings them to show them her “special” jewelry box.

Awwww.

This was such a fun project to work on that I can’t wait to work on more custom jewelry boxes.

 

Green Giving 

My husband came up with the best Christmas gifts for his colleagues.

He cut off nearly a dozen baby offshoots from our large and happy spider plant and potted them in some old, unused and chipped mugs.

Since I can’t throw anything out, I’m so pleased that the mugs have been repurposed. 

I also love that our spider plant is going to improve the air quality while brightening up his stuffy workplace.

And, for bonus points, no waste was produced. 

I’m certain his colleagues will appreciate such a sweet and thoughtful gift.

Bravo!! 

Toile-d

I picked up this chest of drawers at a mid-summer garage sale.

Finally in the fall, I painted it antique white.


And it sat for another few weeks.

All the while, I attempted to remove the green dragon – a thick green velvety material stuck to the inside of the drawer with an industrial strength adhesive.

I had to get it off. I used scrappers, scissors, adhesive removers, pliers, box cutters and straight razors. They all helped chip away at the green dragon but nothing was very effective.

I took out my orbital sander and sanded some of it off. Green bits went flying everywhere. It was joyous.

Yet, the green dragon still remained.

It was a shell of its former self, but it was still torturing that drawer.

And I just couldn’t get it off.

This dragon had to be slayed and the white paint needed a lift.

Where was inspiration when I needed her?

Well, wouldn’t you know, she was hiding in my fabric stash.

Luckily I’m a bit of a fabric hoarder and I happen to have two yards of a lovely blue and white toile de Jouy, the classic French textile.


It inspired me to refinish this piece in two tones. I kept the drawers antique white but repainted the rest of the body in intellectual gray.

Antique and intellectual. They complement each other nicely.

What I love about this piece is it’s history. It’s got bumps and bruises that make me wonder where it’s been and how it found its way to me. I did some minor repairs but left the character building flaws intact.

I applied some distressing techniques to give it an aged French provincial mood.

As for the dragon, well, I had no fight left so I decide to take the high road: I painted it.

Then I cut my beautiful toile and modge podged it the drawer. (I made sure to use something that is easy to remove.)


Before & After

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Bye bye green dragon, hello French beauty.

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Look at those curves! She’s stunning indeed.

Where would you put her if she lived at your house?

 

But Sometimes You Need to Buy Things

I’m tired of being told by advertisers and retailers when to shop, what to buy and what I need.

Stores filled with St-Valentine’s hearts in December, St-Patrick’s Day paraphernalia and plastic Easter baskets in mid-February, orange Halloween decorations in the summer, Christmas in September and mega-sales on bonafide holidays have driven me to spend my money elsewhere.

There’s nothing of quality in most the aforementioned holiday stuff. It’s all junk, made overseas, brought here by exhaust producing transport trucks and packaged in plastic. Once broken or used a couple of times, the garbage truck will bring the items to the dump where they won’t decompose or degrade for decades.

That’s a pretty grim reality for most things were buy.

The anti-consumerism movements that have taken off in recent years are amazing. And some are even retailer supported.

Patagonia, the California based outdoor clothing company, is encouraging people who own their clothing to repair and trade amongst themselves rather than buy new. There aren’t many retailers who support and encourage consumers to extend the life of their products.

And the Canadian who started Buy Nothing Day is a prince among thieves, in my opinion.

As a consumer who is aware of my carbon footprint, I buy a lot of pre-loved clothing, toys and wares, I upcycle furniture while maintaining a minimal impact, I don’t buy throw away goods and I reuse as much as I can.

The last few pieces of new clothing I can remember buying were maternity or pre-maternity. Since I only go to playgroups and paint stores now, I’ve mostly gotten away with it.

But when I realized that most of my clothing is ill-fitting, off season or paint stained, I decided it was time to shop for myself. I can’t wear my tight paint stained shorts during a Canadian January.

So we packed up for an outing to the mall today.

And, ouch.

I stood in front of the only retailer that I knew would have a few things that would fit, that I’d like, that would be reasonably price and that would get my kids home in time for lunch: The Gap.

Then I saw the sign: “50% Black Friday Sale”.

Sigh.

I went in anyways because outings with two young children in tow are difficult to manage. I went in because I desperately needed clothing, for myself. I went in because I didn’t go there expecting a sale. I went in because it was the Wednesday before Black Friday.

I bought a few things because I know my track record. I’ll repair them when they rip and the buttons fall off and, once I can’t repair them anymore, I’ll cut them into rags and use them to buff wax from my latest piece of furniture.

Because sometimes we need to buy things.

 

 

 

 

If a Three Year Old Can Do It…..

I had a proud crunchy mama moment the other day.

My three year old was sweeping the remains of her younger sister’s meal from off the floor and putting them in the dustpan.

She starting picking items out and making two piles.

“One is for the outside compost, the other is for the compost under the sink,” she said.

And sure enough, the fruit and vegetables bits were in one pile while the meat and bread with other.

(We compost vegetable, fruit and leaves for the garden but send all the other compostables to municipal composting heaven.)

The next time someone tells me composting is too complicated, I’ll have my daughter explain how it works.

 

Ruby & Walnut

I had been hanging onto to this vintage dresser for months. It wasn’t until someone suggested that it might look good red that I finally started to visual its future look.

It was partially refinished in a heavy mint chalk paint when I picked it up. By heavy, I mean crusted on. By mint, I mean it just needed some chocolate chips.

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I love to eat mint but I can’t stand the colour.

So off it went.

Chalk paint is water soluble so, in theory, it should come off fairly easily with a sponge, water and some elbow grease.

After an hour’s work, and some very sore elbows, I got about a quarter of the paint off one small drawer. My ever clever partner was quick to note that if I was playing a video game, I would at “about four per cent done”.

It wasn’t long before I took out the sander. And thus began my week long journey of spending all my free time getting the mint paint off.

But what I discovered was exciting and it was worth the time investment.

Under the mint paint and heavy original oil finish, lay a beautifully detailed walnut veneer. All four drawers follow the same pattern lines and are stunning.IMG_0325
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Quick change of plans and I was staining the walnut in, you guessed it, walnut stain. I mixed it with a bit of ebony of darken the look.

The detailing of the two top drawers is really fun. The brass keyholes and wave design add so much to this piece.

The frame and the legs went ruby red since the sides were made of far less exciting material. I distressed them just enough to add a bit of old charm.

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The original finish was very heavy and hid the walnut.
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My little fairy helping.
If ever I get ambitious enough to get two cats, I’m going to call them Ruby & Walnut, in honour of this dresser and the lengthy journey we went on together.

Before & After

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As time consuming as this piece was, I’m happy with it. I feel like it was freed from its minty and oily finishes and allowed to let its true colours through.

Thanks for stopping by,

Jill

Ceramic and Iron Inspiration

I was in a barn full of treasures when I spotted the ornate iron and ceramic handle pulls of this dresser.

There was so much potential that I just had to breathe new life into this gorgeous piece.

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I couldn’t wait to get started. Once I got it home, I did the airing-out/removing-of-cobwebs/getting-to-know-the-piece process almost immediately.

I wanted a custom shade of gray or blue so I started playing around with mixing paint. There’s something zen about taking a bit of this and a touch of that to make a colour stand on its head.

And that’s what happened here.

With a little black, a touch of gray and a smudge of white, I created this light shade of blue/gray that adds a whim of feminine that I wasn’t expecting.

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The next colour I mixed was a deep, deep navy. I used it for the top and interior of the cabinet.

As it turns out, it is the strong yang to the soft yin of the blue/gray. The balance and contrast between these two shades of blue is striking.

Another feature I love are the indentations on the top of the dresser. They add so much charm.

IMG_0253It really came together after the whole piece was distressed to give it the living-in-a-barn-look.

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I came across a pretty navy and white quatrefoil paper at a craft store. It now lines the drawers and lends added touch of masculinity.

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I really love this piece. It’s feminine, masculine, bold, soft, strong and sweet.

We thought it might be perfect in our home so we brought it in for a couple of weeks. Sadly, it just doesn’t work with the shades of blue and beige in our living room. I think I’ll regret the decision to sell it but I’m sure it’ll find its forever home soon and be loved again. How could it not…look at these stunning handle pulls!

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Here are the before and after shots.

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Thanks for coming by and checking it out! Leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Jill

Not your grandma’s telephone tables

My neighbour was out walking with her dog one day when she noticed a pile of furniture at the end of a driveway with a “free” sign on it.

The next thing I know, she and her son have helped me fill my garage with a 7 drawer solid wood dresser with detachable mirror, two vintage telephone tables and a magazine rack. All solid wood. All gorgeous. All filled with so much potential.
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I was compelled to work on these tables first since they were a decorating staple when I was young. I couldn’t resist thinking of every home I’d been in the late 70’s and 80’s (and maybe even into the 90’s). Everyone had these. Hello nostalgia!

It’s a shame you don’t see them much anymore because these tables are vintage cool. They just need a little bit of work to shake off the floral couch and dust skirt vibe.

The table tops were so gorgeous once I got the original finish off that I contemplated turning them into charcuterie boards for Christmas presents.

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I painted the legs, leg joiners and spindles in antique white and distressed them for the the shabby chic look.

IMG_9683There’s something unnerving about taking perfectly painted furniture pieces and distressing them with sandpaper. After a glass of red wine though, I really get into it.

Before reassembling, I sealed the pieces with finishing wax and gave them all a good buffing.

I have mad love for how these turned out.


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Although home telephone lines are out of vogue, these tables are the perfect spot for a vintage rotary phone and a pretty notepad. But please, let’s leave the floral couches in the 70’s.