Simplicity

I had a big delivery yesterday.  Two chairs, a large shelf and two cabinets.  I pretty much knew exactly what I was going to do with each piece.  Except one.  I was a bit stumped on this piece.

Honestly I bought it because the price was pretty cheap.  I didn’t particularly like the styling of it- it is really clunky looking and boxy- but it is solid oak and quite substantial- so I played around with a few options for its new look.

I was thinking about some sort of stencil on the raised panel and also toying with the idea of a few different colours….I had a bunch of ideas rolling around in my head- but nothing felt right.  I came to the conclusion that had I “primped” it – it probably wouldn’t work.

I decided to paint it first- then wait for further inspiration.  I painted the body with Annie Sloan’s Country Grey and the top with Old White.

It looked pretty good with the paint.

So then I gave it a good distressing.  The panels and all the squares on the door actually really looked good.  Then I applied a bronzing wax to the wrought iron hinges to lessen the contrast from the black…..much better.

I then gave it a wax and buff treatment (like a spa for furniture!)

This is the result:

Here are close ups:

A close up of the wrought iron with the bronze wax – works much better with the Country Grey.

I am really happy with how it turned out.  It has sort of an Amish or Shaker feel to it- which would make sense seeing as it came from Germany.

Just proves that simplicity is often the best choice and sometimes letting shape of the furniture shine through the paint is the best option.

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Cute little cabinet

This piece of furniture comes from the 20’s.  It is quite common in this part of the world.  It is oak with raised panels- very square shaped- I come across a lot of furniture in this style while on my searches.

I am a bit stumped as to what it may have been used for.  There are two doors on the front and a door on either side- four doors for such a small piece.  It doesn’t have any signs that may indicate that it was part of a larger piece- and there is a hole on the side.

I painted using Annie Sloan’s Grey Linen- great colour.  This colour seems to change slightly depending on what is under it.  I painted a table with this same colour and the table is a slightly lighter shade.

I painted the inset frame Old White and gave it a good distressing followed by wax and buffing.

I kept the little knobs- they are so cute!  I just wiped some bronze antiquing wax over them and the hinges as well.  I decoupaged decorative paper inside- it is not dry in these photos so it looks a little sloppy.

Here is the side with the hole in it….makes me wonder!

I have got five more pieces being sent to me and two of them are chairs that have upholstery….I should be busy for a while!

Another sheet music piece….

I am really not obsessed with this- there is method to my madness.

I have been putting some of my pieces on the Polish version of Ebay which is called Allegro.  It is a country wide shopping mall- there seems to be more new stuff than used stuff on there and it is a great way to reach a large population with one click.  I have been getting an amazing response with the sideboard that had sheet music on the door fronts- this is how I received a request to do my first commissioned piece.

My store has only been open for close to three weeks and I have sold quite a few things, there is a lot of interest in what I am doing- particularly in the furniture with sheet music- so….I figured doing another piece is a good way to attract clients to the store.  If many people are interested in it, perhaps some might make the trip to the store to see what else I have here.

I bought this piece on Allegro.  It is the upper half of a hutch.  Here is the before:

It is smaller than I originally thought it was.  The measurements were listed when I bought it but for some reason I had it in my head that it was larger.  The wood is in good shape- but the back and shelves are different than the front and sides.  I was originally going to paint the interior a different colour….then I came back to the sheet music- for the reason I explained.

This is what I decided:

I painted it with Annie Sloan’s Country Grey and gave it a good distressing.  I put the sheet music on the back which, of course, is visible through the glass.

I think it came out great- I showed the before and after to my carpenter to which he replied,  “it is not possible!!”

I could really see this hanging in a bathroom displaying antique perfume bottles, pretty soaps a big glass jar with cotton balls.

(once again I must thank Miss Mustard Seed for bringing this idea to my world)

Mustard?

I am not one for following trends when it comes to decorating.  That is the easiest way to date a room and many of us don’t have the time, energy or money to redecorate every year.

However, I am seeing the colour mustard in everything from sweaters and jackets to sofas and carpets- it seems to be quite new and fresh which makes me think that this colour will probably be “on trend” for quite some time.  Even my favourite Canadian magazine Canadian House and Home has many pages dedicated to mustard.  I read my issues via iPad – I have always loved this magazine and I get to see what is current in Canada and compare it to what is happening in Poland.

Maybe you are not as adventurous as painting your kitchen something like this:

Link

Or this:

Link

But it is still possible to bring this sunny rich colour into your life.  If you are a sewer you could make your own pillows, chair slipcovers or even curtain panels in a fabric like this:

Source

Just think how refreshed a room would be with the addition of any of these fabrics!

Can’t sew?

Yellow pillows are pretty easy to find.  photo

Even a small lampshade will have impact when the colour is as vibrant as mustard. photo

And a sure fire way to brighten your entire space is by painting the walls in a fresh rich yellow or by laying down an area rug.

I have a feeling mustard yellow is going to be around for quite a while.  It is bold and fresh and really brings to life a room.  It also works well with many different colours- I don’t think I am daring enough to wear a mustard yellow jacket but I could definitely see myself with that carpet and those fabrics and perhaps Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Aries might make its way on to a few pieces of furniture in the store!

Mood board test run.

I am having fun with the Olioboard website that I came across yesterday.  Just for fun I thought it would be a good idea to show how one sofa can work in many spaces.

I have chosen a sofa from Ikea- their standard long, square, black sofa–easily recognizable as Ikea, and I have used it to create three very different looks.

The thought process behind this is that it is a possibility to fuse different styles and with accessories and other furnishings- and achieve a look that is your style.

Look number one:

I would consider this look quite eclectic.  It has a very warm feeling to it and the carpet really creates a bit of spice.

Look number two:

This look is more of a classic monochromatic look but the sofa still works in this concept.

Look number three:

This look is clearly  more bright, vibrant and modern- and the sofa with its simple lines works well in this concept.

I can’t stress enough how much I love this program.  Try it for yourself http://www.olioboard.com  it is really fun to use and will give you a good idea of how your furniture and other accessories will work in your space.

What a great tool!!

This is my second post of the day…I just had to get this up, I am so thrilled with this website!!

I came across this super useful tool while linking up to another website today and had to try it out.  Basically it is a tool that allows you to create your own mood board.  I have been looking for something like this for quite some time.  There is an app  that I have downloaded for iPad- but it has its limitations because of course the developers of the program want to to buy it- fair enough.

This one is free.  It is really great and I have just started to use it so I don’t know all of its capabilities- but seriously- this is a great tool for professionals as well as diy’ers.

Here it is!!

http://olioboard.com/

You can view other peoples mood boards, save your own, upload your own photos or copy and paste from photos online.

Here is my first one…..I am sure there will be more!

Just think how useful this could be for somebody who wants to do a little redecorating but doesn’t know where to start.  Collect samples, group them together and you can see for yourself if the pieces work, what you like or don’t like in relation to the walls, floor and other things like lamps and accessories.

I have a feeling this a lot of time will be well wasted with this program!!

What to paint?

As I sit and wait for four pieces of furniture to arrive….any day now, fingers crossed….I thought it might be interesting and useful to mention a bit about different styles of furniture and painting them.

As much as I love Poland- it is behind with regards to design and decorating.  People in this country are stuck in a theme or a specific style- there is no mixing.  Of course, I am generalizing but this has been my experience-chocolate brown and white are overly used colours and a lot of furniture in dark woods in very square shapes.  There is nothing wrong with it- but everybody has this and for some reason many Polish designers are nervous about changing it up a bit.

For example:

http://zakopane.olx.pl/aranzacja-wnetrz-zakopane-dekorator-wnetrz-nowy-targ-architekt-i-projektant-wnetrz-iid-79462959

The above design is really quite lovely- but when all designers do the exact same thing than there is nothing special about it.

I like to paint furniture- this is the concept of my store.  I like to paint country or cottage style- particularly French.  The funny thing is that my own house doesn’t have of this style of furniture- it has more of an eclectic mix but for some reason I get real joy out of giving life to an old piece of furniture.  This is where the name “design disorder” comes from- my love of many styles.

I studied history of furniture in school.  It is unbelievable how many styles of furniture there are (particularly when trying to study them).  I really enjoyed the course and learned so much- but the average person doesn’t want or need to know this information when they only want to paint an armoire.

But- if you want to paint country or cottage style furniture- it is important to note what you can or cannot paint in this style.  For example, if you have an Art Deco chest of drawers- there is no way you can distress it, add some wax and call it “French country”.

Just to illustrate my point:

The person that painted this (and is trying to sell it) is advertising this as French country style (prowansja in Polish).      http://allegro.pl/okazja-komodka-prowansja-i1814574508.html

This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  The style of the furniture is Art Deco and the painter has thought by simply painting the furniture and distressing it then it will become French country.  Clearly not so.  The boxy shape, design and legs all still read as Art Deco.  But somebody may like it so I wish the seller good luck with it.

This is pretty standard with all modern furniture too.  If you have a square, flat, simple piece of furniture- you can’t distress it and call it French country.

French country particularly but most other country style of furniture have some curving but very simple lines- door fronts with curves and cabriole legs.  There are carvings and inlays and even basic pediments but very simple details because it was known as peasant furniture- the city folk had much shinier and more detailed furniture styles.  If you have ever had a look at any of the Renaissance periods you will know what I mean.

So what to paint and how to paint it?

If you have a strong desire to paint something in a French country or rustic style- the starting point is to be certain the piece will read as French or rustic after it is painted.  There should be decorative elements and ornamentation but very simple such as carvings or turnings.

The above piece with all of its carving details would really come to life once painted and distressed.

http://allegro.pl/a-c-wspanialy-ozdobny-barek-ludwikowski-polecamy-i1819517825.html

The turned legs of these chairs would look exceptional once painted and distressed.

http://allegro.pl/a-c-wytworny-zestaw-6-krzesel-ozdobnych-zapraszamy-i1819519483.html

This is when thrift store and yard sale shopping is fun.  Looking for a diamond in the rough.  Weeding through the garbage and finding a piece of furniture that is otherwise ugly but once painted they would take on an entirely new life.

Painting furniture is fun and rewarding- it is a way to bring new life to old furniture and create a whole new look.  It is cheap and relatively simple to do.  You can paint almost anything- the important part is that the piece of furniture dictates the style of painting.

The make or break of a good blog….

When I made the jump into blog land–I made a commitment to myself to finally learn how to use my camera to the best of its and my ability.

I honestly thought that I if I had a good camera then I would be able to take really good pictures. (silly me)  I also thought that because my Dad was a photographer then I was genetically predisposed to taking good pictures. (silly me again)

My Dad was a photographer in the Canadian Air Force.  The majority of his work was taking portraits of the big whigs, parades, ceremonies and other military related stuff- like hanging him out the back of a plane with his camera strapped to his body so he could get some arial photos….(we’ve come a long way, baby!)

Photography was also my Dad’s hobby.  I remember countless nature walks, sitting for family portraits and doing all the things a teen age daughter would love to do. (seriously no)  I only wish I had more time on earth with my Dad- he died when I was 21- he was quite young at 46.  Regret is a terrible feeling- oh how I would love to be able to learn from him at this point in my life and be able to have somebody teach me the art of photography.

So, now I have a blog- and I am really trying to make an effort at making this thing work- primarily for me but maybe along the way somebody will learn something from what I have written.

A blog without good photos is like mashed potatoes without the gravy.  The photos are what entices a viewer to want to read your blog and ultimately follow along on your journey.  The photos give you the “wow factor” when blogging.

See what I mean:

http://heatherbullard.typepad.com/

http://funkyjunkinteriors.blogspot.com/

http://missmustardseed.blogspot.com/

There are loads more that have great photography  -these are some of my favourites.

Photos are also meant to illustrate the particular post from start to finish.  A visual step by step that allows the reader to fully comprehend the post.

The hardest part about blogging is remembering to think like a blogger.  It is necessary to take photos from beginning to end of whatever it is you are blogging about.  It seems necessary to have my camera on me at all times….a really good excuse to buy a new bag (legitimate excuse ;))

So, you will notice that my photos are not that great- they are not that bad either- but they don’t have “wow factor”.  It is ok- I can take it.  But I hope to change this.  I am learning.  What is funny is that I worked as a freelance stager for a Polish decorating magazine.  I did the staging and the photographer would look through his lens and explain how things needed to be for a photo shoot and I would change or move things- it was great being able to bounce ideas off of another person- but now I am flying solo- I am going it alone!

So- I am learning about aperture, f-stop, depth of field and a whole bunch of other stuff that will ultimately lead me to my goal of being able to take a good photo without using the full automatic mode on my camera.

And just to illustrate my journey I have attached a few photos of the same thing to show how different they are when in a different mode.

The above is A-DEP or automatic depth of field- it automatically calculates the depth of field.

The above is in manual mode where it is necessary to set both aperture and shutter speed.

The above is in Av mode- the aperture needs to be set but the camera controls the shutter speed.

The above is Tv mode which allows you to set the shutter speed.

The above is in the P mode where you can change the shutter speed or aperture.

This last one is in the fully automatic mode- point and shoot and the camera does the work for you.

So why have I posted these photos??  Well, I simply wanted to illustrate how a photo changes by changing what mode it is shot in.  The lighting conditions and item are all the same but the outcome of each photo is different.

So now I am trying to grasp all of the technical concepts necessary to make a great photo and maybe, just maybe, if I have an angel watching me who knows how to take really good photos- he will be proud.

Lucky unlucky

In the Polish language there is a term which literally means “lucky unlucky”.  It basically means that when you are in the middle of an unlucky situation you find some luck.  For example, a few years ago I was driving and had stopped at a red light- only to have my car die when I attempted to drive forward after the light had turned green.  However, across from the exact spot where my car died was a repair shop with towing service.  Lucky unlucky.

I have also experienced a “lucky unlucky” with a table refinishing.

I bought a round pedestal table of which I thought was solid wood.  The pedestal portion definitely is- however it is not one solid piece but rather smaller pieces that have been stacked on a metal rod and glued together- this is no big deal, quite standard for todays construction and only if you got down on your hands and knees and did an inspection could you tell.

After sanding the finish off the table top did I figure out it was veneer.  I have to say whoever constructed this table did a good job.  Even with the many scratches and gauges in the top, the underside and the edges- i couldn’t see the particle board underneath.

So….I began taking the lacquered finish off the top.  My original idea was that I was going to do a lime finish on the wood to bring out the grain- so thinking that the table top was solid I was quite heavy handed with the orbital sander…..only to reveal in a spot a piece of the particle board sandwiched between the layers of veneer.

Crap! Crap! Crap!  There goes the liming technique- and the existing grain was pretty nice since the wood (veneer) is Ash.

So- I went with it.  After I finished removing the lacquer  I watered down Annie Sloan’s Amsterdam Green(I love this colour) and did two coats on the top.  It took longer to dry because it really seeped into the veneer.  After this dried I did one coat of a very watered down Country Grey and left it to dry overnight.

It is hard to describe what it looked like this morning- kind of a like it was left in the rain.  It was also quite rough to the touch- the water had really raised the grain.

So…I sanded.  I sanded with 80 grit to start to lift some of the paint and smooth out the rough spots and to distress the edges- then I finished with 240 grit to make it really smooth.  It came out a greyish bluish kind of colour.  Sort of like slate.

So then I waxed.  I did a very fine coat of wax and brushed and brushed it until it was even- so much so that I didn’t need to buff it- and it really brought out the variations in the paint finish- deepened the colours.   I plan to do another fine coat of wax but my arm is a little bit wobbly at the moment.

I also painted the pedestal Grey Linen and gave it a good distressing followed by the clear wax.

This is the result:

The wardrobe in the background was also painted with Amsterdam Green- I have used this picture because I wanted to show the difference in the colour after the technique I used.

A close up of the finish:

I am really happy with the result of this table.  It kind of looks like slate or a well aged table even slightly metallic- it doesn’t at all look like a faux finish.

However….I have a feeling I just set myself up for another “lucky unlucky” situation–if somebody ever asks me to re create this finish–I may just have a hard time getting it to look like this!!

Tempted to try this at home?

If you are a lover of design and decorating you have probably been on loads of websites and blogs and wished you could muster up the courage to try and revamp an old piece of furniture.  Believe me, it isn’t hard – it is lots of fun, pretty inexpensive and the results can be spectacular!

Where to start?  If you have never painted or sanded or waxed or even touched a hammer–you can still do this!  For a first project I would suggest a chair.  Something like this:

Maybe you are ambitious enough to try six from the “get go”, but if you have an extra chair somewhere or you happen to see a single one in a second hand shop or yard sale that would look good at a desk- give it a try.

Look for something that has some interesting carvings and turned legs and spindles and a removable padded seat- these features really highlight paint and distressing very well and often the finished product looks nothing like its original state.

So once you have made your decision- time to get to work!  Take off the seat and set it aside for later.

Time to prep or paint.  If you are using Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint (I highly recommend this paint- it is a dream paint because no prep is needed for the furniture)…just start painting.

If you are using regular latex paint you will either need to sand first with a medium grain sandpaper(so the paint will stick) or prime it with a high adhesion primer.   After using Annie Sloan’s paint it is very hard to go back to regular latex and these extra steps.

Give it two coats of paint and make sure the first coat is completely dry before you apply the second coat otherwise your brush will take off the paint and it gets all bumpy and gloopy.

While your chair is drying- time to deal with the seat.

You will need some tools:

Fabric scissors, some sort of plyers, a staple gun and most importantly a tack/staple lifter–often found around the house and the tack lifter is pretty inexpensive at most diy stores.

Remove the existing fabric with the tack/staple remover and plyers.  Try to keep the old fabric in one piece, if possible, so you can use it as the template to cut the new fabric.  If your not able to use the old fabric as a template- simply trace on paper the shape of the seat, add to it the depth of the sides then a few more centimetres/inches so that you can staple the fabric to the bottom of the seat.

If the existing foam is in good shape than simply re use it, if not you will need to buy the foam and cut it so that it is slightly larger than the edge of the seat base- not much longer just enough to round out the edges of the wood but not enough to fold under- it will cause lumps and bumps and will not fit properly into the chair.

After you have cut your fabric from the template the next step is to start stapling your new fabric. I fold under the edge to make it neater and I start in the centre of one side and work my way outwards leaving about two centimetres/one inch from the corner.  Next I do the opposite side of the first one, again living space at the corners and turning it to the right side every so often to make sure it is centred and even with no puckers- the fabric should also be pulled taut.  After I have completed all four sides I do the corners.  These need to be gathered,  folded or pleated with the staples and the excess cut off- this is a personal preference- I like to pleat mine- they come out neater.

If you have a pattern on the fabric that needs to be centred it is wise to lay your fabric and staple it in the centre of the bottom of each side so that it doesn’t shift while you are fixing it to the base.  It is a good idea to check every so often that nothing shifts –it would be so frustrating to have to repeat this process because the pattern is slightly off.

So after the paint has dried (again I highly recommend Annie Sloan’s chalk paint- the drying time is really quick and no priming or sanding is necessary) it is time to distress.

Simply sand lightly over the edges of the legs, spindles any carvings or turnings revealing the wood underneath.  I like to use an 80 grit sandpaper- this is my preference, but some people will use a 60 or even a 120 grit.  The higher the grit the finer the paper.  I find 80 is in the middle- it is course enough to distress the paint without making major scratches in the finish.

How much you distress is up to you.  I like to highlight carvings and spindles with distressing as well as all edges and legs- particularly if they are nicely turned.

After the distressing process is finished, brush off the dust or remove with a tack cloth.  Now it is time to seal the deal.  If you are using Annie Sloan’s paint- it is recommended to seal the paint with wax.  Simply apply with a wax brush and buff when dry.  You can add some extra dimension to your carvings and decorative details by adding some dark wax in places.

If you are using regular latex paint you can seal this with a clear coat of polyurethane or regular paste wax.

Finally place your newly upholstered seat into the chair!  You are done.

Easy peasy and often with a dramatic change.

Just to compare the before and after…..

The fun thing about this type of chair is that you can change up your fabric on the seat with little time and money and with great impact.