My latest project was a makeover for a sad little box that I got at the thrift store so long ago and sat in the basement forever.  I think I paid less than $5 for it and it is a good thing because the supplies cost a little more than I would have liked.

But, boy, do I love the results!

ugly-duck-box

Here are some of my inspiration pictures.

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Here is the before.  Sad little duckies…..

img_0943I took the whole thing apart, removing the hardware and peeling off all the lose paper.

img_2717What a mess!  But in that mess was pure French gold!

I applied plain brown kraft paper to the inside of the chip board pieces using a watered down wood glue.

img_2718And added a French script fabric to the outsides and trimmed with a faux leather fabric.  Both of these fabrics were on the clearance rack at the fabric store.

I reused some of the hardware, which I repainted with a faux rusty effect using black and copper spray paint.

Added black upholstery tacks  found at the hardware store to the faux leather strips and Voila!  Ugly duck to French swan!

ugly-duck-collage

 

 

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Doesn’t every kitchen need more storage?  I have this alley way of a galley kitchen that is sorely lacking in the storage department.  So what to do?

I ‘inherited’ this extremely ugly but utilitarian storage cabinet.  Oh, no! There was no place in my renovation plans for something like this!  Here is a cabinet that is exactly the same as the one I had.  No, just no.

old-pantry

So, in shopping for a replacement, this was on  my pin board:

And this one:

No, can’t justify paying those prices for a pantry cupboard, not while we are still in renovation mode.  And we scrounged the thrift/antique places with no luck in finding a suitable replacement, at the right price, without having to do some work on it.  If I had to paint it, might as well paint the one I have.

So, after some chalk paint, some graphics magic from the Graphics Fairy, and some added molding,  voila!  Old store sign fancy pantry!

Old Store Sign Pantry

Old Store Sign Pantry

 

Before and After

Before and After

Still have to add some handles, but so happy with it!

#GraphicsFairy

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My daughter didn’t think I’d want it back.  In her defense, it was a mess. One of the drawer fronts was fallen off, the back was in pieces, it was dark, dirty and scratched up.

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It just had not fared well with a house of kids and cats.

So it took the four hour ride home with me and sat in the dining room for a couple of months before I got to it. And naturally, I didn’t take ‘before’ photos.  Just cuz.

But here are some in progress shots.  After I removed about a hundred nails. And filled in the scratches on the top with wood filler. And sanded the h+++ out of the whole thing.  And replaced two of the drawer bottoms.  And put the whole thing back together with new glue and nails.

IMG_2600We had a whole pile of old maps from National Geographic Magazines.  I glued (mixture of wood glue and water) some inside the drawers to add some character. I guess I have been in a traveling state of mind lately.

IMG_2601I also had removed the brass hardware off the drawers and gave them a cleaning.  I used an internet tip about using mayonnaise to clean the brass.  It sounds weird, but it really worked.  Put it on, let it set for a bit and scrub off.  I left a little of the patina on because I didn’t want it too brassy, shiny.

IMG_2602.JPGPainted the sides of the drawers to match the top using my home made chalk paint recipe with a sample jar of Behr color called Harbor, although I didn’t want a nautical look, I liked that the color matched the maps. (click the link to find my recipe on that post)

IMG_2605I used a compass image from the net and enlarged it using Block Posters, a free site that allows you to enlarge a photo. The image must be in a format that they accept.

I used carbon/transfer paper to trace the design onto the dresser top and then painted in the design.  After the paint was dry, I sanded it lightly to give it a faded look and then added stain because the paint was a little too bright for the look I was going for.  I just put a little stain on a paper towel, rubbed a little on and buffed it in until I got the effect I was looking for.

IMG_2606.JPGLeaving the wood natural, I added a couple of coats of Minwax Polycrylic to the whole thing, and a couple extra coats to the top.

So with the compass, I decided to use the popular saying from Lord of the Rings, but when I looked up the poem for the proper wording, I found the actual first line, and thought it appropriate for the piece. “All that is gold does not glitter.”  It seemed to fit.

IMG_2694I guess my advice is don’t be afraid to put some elbow grease into something that looks like it might be worth the effort.

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(I do not have affiliates.  I provide links so you can see what products I used)

Thanks for reading,

Lisa

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So, in the last post, I painted the chairs and you can see that process here.
French Chair Flat

I did forget to mention that after painting, I waited until the next day for the paint to ‘cure.’ I then waxed the chairs. I applied the wax and waited about 15-20 minutes to buff. By the time I had finished applying the wax to the fourth chair enough time had gone by that started buffing the first chair. This is where a buffing attachment for a drill would be awesome!

It is time consuming, but I so love when the shine comes out! Keeps me going! I use old cut up t-shirts for applying and buffing the wax. One for applying, and a clean one for buffing. Make sure you use a cotton t-shirt! Don’t try to use sweatshirt material! Unless it says it is made of cotton, it will be made of spun plastic (did you know they use recycled soda bottles to make sweatshirts?) and that does not work with the wax!

Now on to the cushions. When I got the chairs, there were no seats on them. Which is a bummer because having the seat to reuse is easier than having to get plywood and cut out new blanks. But, so be it, that’s what I had to do. (really, I made hubby do it)

And wouldn’t you know, I forgot about taking photos of this process. All I did was lay a square of craft paper on the table with some hanging over the edge and put the chair upside down on the craft paper. Remember in grade school when you had to put up your chair before you went home? Maybe they don’t do that anymore? Probably giving away my age.

I traced around the three sides of the seat with a pencil. Cut out the tracing leaving a tail in the back where you couldn’t trace. Line up your cut edges on the chair seat and tape it in place. With a craft knife, cut out the inside edge of the back of the chair seat. Yeah, probably should have gotten those photos. 😦
This is how it looked after I had it cut out.
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Once you have the template cut out make sure it fits the chair. I ended up rounding out where those front legs jut out to make it easier to cut out of the plywood. Trace the template onto the plywood. I could only fit two seats per half sheet of plywood. They were cut out with a jig saw.

So here is where I started taking photos again. I took the plywood blanks my hubby cut out for me and traced them onto my foam. The foam was a curb side find. A couple summers ago, a neighbor had two big rolls of this in their trash. I have used it for several projects and even after this project, I have a little left over for maybe a couple more chairs. Bless their hearts for throwing this out because it has saved me a bit of cash. I haven’t purchased this stuff in a long time so I went to JoAnne’s to price it. I found one comparable here which is 10 feet long, and I can’t seem to find any that is shorter than that. Maybe the store carries smaller. This listing was 50% off and it was under $30 for 10 feet.

Here is a photo of one of the blanks and traced out on the foam. Since my foam isn’t very thick, only about 1 1/2 inches, I am cutting out two for each seat, and doubling them up.
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I also like to use a layer of quilt batting to cover the foam. I think it softens the edges of the foam and gives a smooth surface to the cushion. I bought the twin size to make sure I had enough, and there was some left over. This one was $17.99, but it was 40% off.

In case you haven’t seen this before, I used an awesome source for the fabric to cover my chairs, the hardware store. This beautiful linen colored fabric is a cotton canvas painting drop cloth from Home Depot. You can find them in the paint section and they come in different sizes, different weights, and different shades of tan. You get tons of yardage pretty cheaply, and it is a dense weave so very heavy duty. As you can see from the photo, I got my use out of it as a drop cloth first! Then I washed it and am using the non painted side. I also didn’t get much paint on it, even though I am a pretty messy painter.
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I layered the fabric on the table first with the good side down, then the batting, and then my two layers of foam, then the blank, lining them up as best I could. As you can tell, cutting foam perfectly is not easy. Line them up as best you can. When the fabric is pulled tight it won’t matter that they are a little off.

If your fabric has a pattern, make sure that you line your fabric up the same way for all the chairs. Mine is a solid, but it did have a weave that had some variations and if you look closely enough, some of the threads were colored. So I made sure that the weave was going in the same direction on all four chairs. It’s a small thing, but for larger prints, it would make a big difference.

You will need a heavy duty stapler for this part. This is the one I used and I used 1/2″ staples.
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Now the fun part! I got lots of photos of this process.
With everything in place, push down on your blank on one of the edges in the middle. Pushing down like this will give the edge of your seat a nice curved edge.
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While you have it pushed down, pull the layers of fabric up and keeping it pulled taught, staple in one staple. It takes a little practice, and sometimes I use my elbow!
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Do the opposite side of the cushion.
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Then do the other two sides. It will look like this.
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Now you have it tacked down. Start with one side and push down on the blank and pull the fabric over and staple. At this point, you don’t need a lot of staples, just enough to hold the fabric in place. Staple about 1 to 1 1/2 inch from the edge.
Do not go all the way to the corner yet.
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Make sure when you pull the fabric, you have a nice smooth edge. You don’t want it to bunch up. This is easy on a straight edge, a little more work on rounded seats.
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This is how it looks on the other side with one side done.
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Do all four sides in this way, leaving the corners undone.

For the corners, I start in the center of the corner and pull the fabric tight and staple.
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Then pull in the fabric so that it evenly lines up with the previous stapling. You might find that as you pull and ease the fabric in place, you may have to remove some of the previous staples so the fabric will be nice and smooth along the edge.
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If you have square corners, you would do the same thing. You might have to fold over your fabric on the back more, but the technique is the same.

Now, I trim my excess fabric and batting. I trim about 1 inch from my staple line.
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I can see that I need to add a few more staples.
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And here is an example of that bunching I was talking about.
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If this happens, remove some of your staples and adjust the fabric so it is nice and smoothed out and re-staple. Go around the edge and add more staples where it looks like it is needed. 50 years from now, someone will re-cover this seat and be cursing you for all the staples you put in there! 🙂
Your seat should look like this.
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I take a hammer and make sure all the staples are secure.

Now, for that problem of the area around the front legs. As you can see here
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and here
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not looking so good!

This is where the welting comes in. I purchased the cording at JoAnne’s and it is not very expensive. Cut out strips of the canvas in 1 1/2 inch strips. I don’t measure stuff because I always get it wrong! I don’t care how many times I measure something with a measuring tape, it’s wrong. So I took the cording and wrapped it around the chair and added a few extra inches to make sure I had extra to finish it off. I sewed the welting with a zipper foot. I think the ‘right’ way is to staple the welting on the bottom of the seat cushion as well, but I wanted a good fit so I stapled it to the edge of the chair. Sorry, again, didn’t get photos of this.

I started in the center front with the middle of my welting and worked my way around the edge of the seat until they met in the back. Before finishing the stapling, I had to merge the two ends together. Trim the cording where they meet so they overlap a couple of inches, and undo the sewing on one end where they overlap. Cut the cording on that end so the other end nestles into it. Fold in the outer fabric a half inch so it is not a raw edge and staple in place. Finish stapling the cording so it stays in place. If anyone reading this doesn’t get it, or wants instruction on making the welting, let me know and I will update this post with some photos, or create a separate post with further instructions on doing this.

Here is a close up of the finished welting.
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It still didn’t come out as flush looking as I would have liked, but I may be over critical, which I have been accused of.

Here is the final outcome and overall I am pretty pleased with the results.
French Dining Collage
And here is the before again.
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Please disregard the unfinished floors and the mess. I still use this room as my workspace, and we have yet to finish our floors after pulling up the awful, old, smelly carpets.
My dining room is still a work in progress and I hope to document here how it comes along.

Cheers!

Here was my inspiration. I had an idea of what I wanted for a dining set and had a table I had already painted. I saw these chairs on Craig’s list, FREE, which can be seen here, and they waited in the basement for my inspiration.

This photo is from a French Chateau Hotel in France.
French Chateau Chairs

I also found this dining set created by White Cottage Boutique. So very nice!
Dual-Tone-Dining-Set-
When I found these photos, I thought ‘Yes, that’s it! That’s the look I’m going for.’ Only I really like the grey that is so popular right now. So I began.

I gave the chairs a bath with a regular household cleaner.  These were not real dirty, so didn’t need to scrub, just removed dirt and oil.  Let them dry.  I also removed the grungy pads from the bottom of the legs.  I’ll replace them because these were too icky to leave on, and now is the easiest time to remove them.

These are the products I used for this project.
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I wanted to make sure the ‘carved’ details remained prominent once I was done painting.  I wanted to accentuate the shadows so I used a regular black craft paint for this.  Some people will use black chalk paint or spray paint.  All I can say is there is no wrong way to do this process.  I’m a believer in using what you have and as long as the results are what you like, it isn’t wrong.
French Chairs 1

I used the FolkArt brand in Wrought Iron which is a dark gray rather than a harsh black.  I just used a small artist brush and painted in the crevices and where dirt would normally accumulate.   I’m pretty sloppy with this step because it is going to be painted over. Let that dry.  Another nice thing about the craft paint is it dries quickly.

As far as chalk paint goes, you could use premixed, like Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and Home Depot now carries Americana Décor Chalk Paint if you prefer the convenience of just opening a can and not having to mix.  Chalk paint can be made with tile grout, plaster of Paris, or mineral powders if you are concerned about the dust plaster of Paris causes if you sand it.  To be honest, I haven’t used any of these, because what I use works for me. You can decide what you prefer.

Also, people ask, “Why chalk paint?  What is so great about it?” Here is why I like it. 
-It’s ok to paint in any direction.  You don’t need to be worried about the brush strokes.
-NO prep work. You don’t need to sand before painting unless the surface is really rough. Chalk paint will almost always cover the existing finish without flaking off.
-If you are going to sand the chalk paint to get the distressed look, it comes off looking like worn spots.  If you have ever tried to do this with latex, and the paint gets warm from the friction, it comes off like plastic sheets.  Not pretty. 
-I like the finish that chalk paint and wax makes.  It looks old and worn and glows without being shiny. 
Those are my reasons.

If you Google homemade chalk paint, you will get dozens of links. That’s what I did when I was learning about it. If that is what you did and you found this post, hey, glad you are here, and you know exactly what I mean! After reading several pages on the web, I decided on this simple recipe (and I had plaster of Paris on hand):

-3 parts latex paint  Not the kind that is paint and primer in one,  that doesn’t work  well.  I buy the white ceiling paint, or buy a sample. The samples are a very good choice because they usually aren’t the paint and primer in one, and the color will be the same every time if you should want to use the same color again.

-1 part warm, but not extremely hot, tap water

-1 part plaster of Paris

Mix the plaster of Paris into the warm water.  Don’t do it the other way around! Pouring the water into the plaster is like making mud pies!  It is easier to mix as you pour the powder into the water.  Make sure the plaster is dissolved. If the water is really warm it may start to thicken.  You will want to pour it into the paint quickly if that begins to happen.

I store my paint in an old jar with a screw on lid.  I can easily mix a couple cups of paint with the water and plaster.  I will pour some in a disposable cup or bowl and seal the jar.  Leaving it open can make the paint thicken.  If this happens, mix in a little water. Also, the longer you store the paint, the quicker it will thicken up when you use it.  
Chalk Paint Jar

Brushes:  As you can see in the photo, I use the cheap chip brushes.  Paint in different directions instead of just with the grain.  It’s ok to have brush strokes.  The point of chalk paint is so your furniture looks like it has layers and layers of old paint. So, brush strokes from cheap ol’ brushes are ok.  You’ll find out why later. 🙂

I added some of that same Wrought Iron color to half of my mixed white chalk paint. Yes, I mix the acrylic paint into my latex chalk paint to get the colors I want.  Right or wrong, that’s what I do! I tend not to measure, so if I want the exact same color, I am usually out of luck! Again, as I mentioned above, you could also get a sample paint in the color you want and mix with your plaster of Paris.

I liked the Wrought Iron because it seems to be a brown-based black so the gray was not cold.  Just mix a little at a time until you get a shade you like.  The paint will darken when it dries, too, so keep it on the lighter side.  If you want to know for sure how it is going to look, paint a scrap piece of wood for a test to see if you like it when it dries.   

If you have not used chalk paint before, don’t be discouraged with the first coat.  Chalk paint takes two or three coats to cover.  Consider the first coat as a primer coat.  You are still going to see the wood underneath and it’ll be streaky.
French Chair Leg 

The second coat will provide very good coverage.  Painting in different directions will fill in the streaks better.  I have read to wait at least 4 hours to apply the second coat.  I think it depends on the weather and how dry it is.  By the time I finished the first coat on all four chairs, I started on the next in this dry winter air without any problems. I painted two coats of the grey, being careful to use a nearly dry brush in the areas where I had put on the black in the crevices. If too much does get in, just re-apply the black, let dry, and redo the grey.

When I started out, I thought I was going to do the chairs just in grey and leave it at that.  After they were done, they looked kind of flat.French Chair Flat 
I knew that applying the wax would add some depth, but it just seemed lacking somehow.

I used white chalk paint and dry brushed it over the grey. The first coat didn’t show very much, so I applied a second coat, again dry brushing lightly. I took care not to apply too much over the areas I had painted black, but blended the edges.
French Chair Compare
The leg on the right is with the grey only, the left is dry brushed with white. And yeah, I fixed that spot! I loved the way the dry brushing highlighted the brush strokes, adding some depth and texture. Some areas had more white than others, but blended it with the brush dry.

In the next post, I will show you how to cover the chair seat and reveal how they turned out!

Hi, I grew up on a farm in New England, and now I live close to the beach, still in New England. Because of my upbringing, I hate to see good stuff get thrown away. I love bringing home items from flea markets, thrift stores, and yes, the neighbor’s trash. I love upscaling (that’s making something old useful again), making them into my own personal decor style which I call “down home, country cottage, with class, or salt marsh farm house.” You’ll see.

I will share with you some make overs, how to’s, tips and tricks, and pretty things I find along the way. It’s amazing what a little paint and polish can do.

I’ve tried using Facebook alone(as Nereid Design, now changed to Pewter and Periwinkles as well) , but just doesn’t lend itself to posting the way I want it to, so the blog.