Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fifty for Fifty

For a special friend's birthday, we were asked to bring a gift of 50 things. I chose pennies, and with the help of a few others, found every year from 1964-2004. Here's the result:

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Before and After

This little bureau has been a lovely accessory over several generations. It's held everything from mittens to light bulbs. At one point provided storage in a powder room but suffered water damage from dripping hands, as the hand towels were just above it. It also has some chipped veneer on the drawers. I decided it was time for a well-earned makeover.

I've been a chalk paint fan since I discovered it about three years ago. I'm loyal to the Annie Sloan brand, but I've been tempted to try some of the newer American-made products that have entered the market recently. I purchased a small jar of  Deco Art Americana Chalky Finish Paint in Vintage, which was the exact color of my duvet cover. I also purchased Serene, as I've had luck in the past with a two-tone effect.

I loved the end result I reached with the Deco Art product, but it was not the original effect I was going for. A few surprises happened along the way. First, the beauty of chalk paint is no priming or prep work. I got right to work, painting the Serene color on all the edges I wanted to distress and then applying a full coat of Vintage on all the surfaces.

What really happened: Sanding removed both coats, and I was unable to get the two-tone look I originally planned. That was a disappointment. On the other hand, the ancient varnish on the piece (which I expected the chalk paint to cover without priming or prepping) created a natural crackle -- better than any faux finish I've achieved with crackle medium. Luckily I had an open mind. I wanted a smooth finish, but I was fine with the crackle surprise.

The final touch was to silver-leaf the drawer fronts. I've played with silver leafing before on a mirror (note: don't try when you've got a ceiling fan running above!). Since this dresser will be in the same room, I thought it would be a nice complement. All you need is  Silver Leaf Sheet and and Metal Leaf Adhesive Size. Paint the size onto the surface and let dry. Apply the silver leaf sheet to the surface (it will only stick to the size), and you're done. The product I used had a paper backing, so the leaf was very easy to handle and press in place.

Here's the finished result:

Friday, October 17, 2014


Face Lift part two.

One of my favorite "rooms" in my little house is a sun porch. Just off the kitchen on the driveway side, it provides our daily in-and-out door as well as a much-needed retreat space for me. When I bought the house, the previous owners had already installed the screens on the windows and they were painted to match the trim. Later that fall, when it was time to install the storms, I was dismayed to find them peeling several colors of previous-owner-paint-schemes (turquoise teal and burgundy pink the most prominent). Glaring against the butter yellow and cream house, they were an eyesore to say the least.

It took me several years, but this fall I resolved to repaint the storms and treat myself to a better view for the long Wisconsin winter (sad to say storms will be installed from October through late May).

A few things made the job easier:

1. Create a workspace: My friend Mike came up with this brilliant solution -- two bar stools and two landscape timbers. It was the perfect height for me to paint without fatigue and I could set up two at a time. Trash bags over the stools and a drop cloth kept spills at bay; I am a messy painter.

2. Invest in the right tools. I found this unusual 1-Inch Square Paint Brush at Home Depot. It made painting the mullions (muntins?) a breeze. I also have been a long-time fan of Behr paint and the Ultra Satin Exterior did not disappoint.

3. Tape or Scrape? I tried the first two with tape. It was tedious to apply, but left a crisp edge. My only problem was that I was covering several coats done by previous "messy" painters -- the tape left some of the old overlaps showing. For the next two windows, I painted at will and when the paint was dry I scraped the glass. The total time spent was about the same, but the second method let me cover the old mistakes with new paint. If you are painting brand new windows, I would say tape them first. If you're going for a second or third update, I recommend scraping with a razor blade.

The final result:

Thursday, October 9, 2014


With a welcome chill in the air it's time to think about scarves. This #TBT post is about a no-knit scarf that remains one of my favorites.

Monday, October 6, 2014


I am pretty particular about my DIY projects. Is it clever? Would I use it? There is just too much clutter out there, and not enough originality. Last week I came across a really great project: this
 "accoutrement" from P.S. I Made This. Part jewelry, part accessory, all genius.