Thursday, 29 May 2014

5 Tips for Perfect Paint Lines . . . Every Time

When we moved into our house, the second bedroom was . . . a little . . . bright.

It was painted lime green and bubblegum pink - including the closet doors! It's a fun choice for a little girl, but it really wasn't our style and was much too bright for me. 

It quickly became a dumping ground for unpacked boxes, our daughter's crib when she outgrew it, and random things we just didn't know where else to store. I think partly because it was an empty room we didn't have a need for, and partly because we always kept the door closed anyway due to the blinding paint colors, so we felt it was ok to pile up things we didn't want people to see either.

It wasn't until our second daughter was on the way that we finally decided to clear out the room and tackle the paint job. I chose one of my all-time favorite colors - Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. It's a soft grey, but in this room it reads much warmer, almost a tan.

I was inspired by the Sweet Lambie nursery from Pottery Barn, to try adding a stripe horizontally around the room. While I like the stitched detail on the inspiration photo, I wanted to keep mine simple both because of time and because I just like things simple. I felt like a wide stripe running around the room would be "busy" enough for me without adding any more detail to it.

My husband patiently did all of the calculating, measuring, and marking out where the stripe needed to be, and we worked together to apply the painter's tape. 

I have worked with painter's tape several times in the past and  I was determined to get a nice sharp line so I wouldn't have to go back with an artist's brush and do touch ups. I've learned a few tips and tricks that help with getting that crisp line over the years, and I thought I would share them.

5 Tips For Getting A Perfectly Crisp Tape Line

1. Make sure the paint you are applying tape over is cured. Not dry, cured. Paint feels dry to the touch very quickly, but it's not fully cured. It may feel dry, but it won't hold up to hard scrubbing, bumps, or applying painter's tape very well. Every source seems to have a different number of days they recommend to allow paint to cure - anywhere from 5 to 30 days. I usually allow about a week to ten days, mostly because I'm impatient and because that seems to be plenty of time as long as the room is well ventilated and warm.

2. After applying the tape, go over it with a credit card or a rubber scraper. Very gently, just to remove any air bubbles, wrinkles and to get it nicely adhered.

3. Apply a thin coat of the base color over top of the tape. In my case, it was the Revere Pewter. 
This seals off the tape and ensures that any bleedthough that happens is the wall color anyway . . . so, eliminating bleedthrough altogether!

It looks lighter in the photo above because it's wet paint, but here you can see I applied a layer of the wall color over the tape to help seal it off before applying the white.

4. Apply your second paint color ( in my case it was Decorator's White from Benjamin Moore) and while the second coat is still wet, remove the tape. Don't wait for it to dry! 

5. When pulling the tape, pull toward the wet paint and not away from it. When removing the tape below the stripe, I pulled in an upward motion. When pulling the tape on top of the stripe, I made sure to pull in a downward motion, toward the wet painted stripe and NOT toward the dry wall color.

All of these little tips help to give you the crisp, straight lines that painter's tape is supposed to give. So often people complain that tape doesn't work, or that it bleeds through, when really it was their lack of prep work or not following these steps that gave them a bad result and had nothing to do with the tape itself.

When I removed the tape, sure enough I had perfectly crisp lines with zero bleedthrough! I did a little happy dance surrounded by giant balls of wadded up painter's tape when it came off so perfectly!

I finished off the room by adding some homemade artwork and a DIY crystal mobile, the directions for which I found here.

I love how it turned out; I think aside from her DIY name art, the stripe is my favorite part of Emma's room. And the best part is that all it cost me was a quart of paint!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Vintage Glam Bathroom Makeover - Phase 1

When we purchased our home two years ago, it definitely was NOT for it's beauty!

We actually fell in love with the location, the huge lot with the fenced yard, the layout, and the fact that it had a second kitchen on the lower level making it perfect for my home daycare. We loved the huge paved driveway, the garage, the neighborhood. The size was perfect for our needs and it had a large laundry room and a master ensuite which were two of the biggest things on my "dream home" list.

But beautiful? Updated? My style? This house is none of those things.

It didnt scare us because we are seasoned DIY'ers and home renovators. We actually enjoy the hard work that comes along with transforming a house and I love having the ability to make all the choices myself when it comes to finishes, rather than buying something that was someone else's taste and not being able to change it because it's perfectly good, just not my taste.

This is how the bathroom looked the day we moved in. Not TERRIBLE, but definitely not our style. And we lived with it like that for a while.

We did really enjoy having double sinks for the first time, but that was about all we enjoyed. The walls were painted that 90's country blue that was popular when people decorated with geese and wooden hearts. All the 80's golden oak has aged into an orangey toned, greasy looking finish and the floors were bubbling up around the toilet.

Did I mention it also has a blue tub? Oh yes. Yes it does.

One night after the girls were in bed we were discussing what we wanted to do to the bathroom. We planned out a 2 phase renovation hastily scribbled on some notebook paper.

Phase 1
-Replace the sinks and countertop. Remove the oak "tower" on the counter as well
-Scrape and paint the ceiling
-Remove the medicine cabinet and replace with two inset ones
-Move the outlet to be centered , replace the switchplates, get a new fan control and fan cover
-Paint the cabinet and get new hardware
-Paint the walls
-Hang art, build a shelf with hooks for towels 

This would leave us with a very pretty looking bathroom, as long as the shower curtain was closed. It would be a huge facelift that would help us to enjoy the room a lot more until we could afford to do the more expensive projects.

Phase 2
-Remove the blue tub, tile the walls and install a new bathtub
-Tile the floors (possibly also adding heated floors)
-Replace the window
-Replace the toilet
-Replace light fixtures

And suddenly, we went from dreaming on paper to ripping down a medicine cabinet and getting out the sledgehammer! Did I mention this was at midnight? 

The next morning when I got out of the shower and had no mirror to help me get ready, I made the comment that maybe we didn't think this through and should have waited to start demolition. I mean, we hadn't even ordered new medicine cabinets and I had no idea what I wanted to use for countertops! My search for square sinks had not turned up a single one that fit in our budget. I felt a big case of renovator's remorse in the cold light of day, standing there wrapped in a towel looking at a blank spot on my wall and a countertop littered with tools.

My wonderful husband listened to my stressed-out ranting, and then calmly helped me tote my blowdryer and all my makeup into our other bathroom where we did still have a mirror. He assured me that we would have new medicine cabinets in no time, and it would all be worth it in the end. 

That evening I came upstairs and burst out laughing.

After he taped out where we needed to make cuts for the inset medicine cabinets, my husband thought he'd make me some temporary ones to keep me happy! 

I spent all my spare time researching the best price for the faucets I wanted, trying to find hardware I liked, and ordered medicine cabinets that were super expensive but we both decided were worth the splurge.

 It took us longer than anticipated because of a pretty big health scare with my husband that occured shortly after we started, but we did get phase one finished! 

Ok, almost finished. I still haven't found the perfect artwork and the shelf with towel hooks still hasn't been made yet . . . 

We are thrilled to finally be proud of our bathroom and not cringe whenever a guest asks us the dreaded "Can I use your bathroom?". It really feels more like US and less like where the trends of the early 90's came to die. 

Juuuust as long as you don't peek behind the shower curtain!

Friday, 23 May 2014

My Favorite Local Shop

I can't believe it's already been a year since I took a leap of faith and emailed a local shop owner asking if she would take a chance on me.

For some crazy reason she said yes, and I've been selling things from, and working in, Goat River Folk Art ever since.

It's a beautiful, creative store filled with one of a kind items that have been rescued from a landfill, repurposed, reinvented, or created from scratch by one of the amazing ladies who work there. Each one of us have a distinct style and our own "look" but blended together, it makes for a fun shopping experience and there is always something for everyone.

It's full of antiques, vintage finds, and lovingly refinished furniture. All at amazing prices that anyone can afford. That's what I love most about the store and it's owner - they believe in having a store that is for the "Everywoman" - the single mom on one income, the stay-at-home mom, the single person just starting out . . . those are our biggest clients and all of them come to us because they know they are getting a good product at a GREAT price.

The store is always changing, ever evolving. Always beautiful. Always affordable!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Antique Cabinet

This beautiful piece has been sitting in my garage for a very long time, and it's next up on the list to be painted. I kept putting it off because it's a piece for me, and custom pieces for clients or for the shop kept taking first priority.

It's hard to take valuable (and rare) work time to do something for myself, but I need the space that this piece is taking up in my garage, and sometimes it's just so good to finish a piece for yourself and get to enjoy it without any pressure or deadlines.

It needs to have a top built. As you can see, it has a very odd top - I am assuming that originally this was the top half of a hutch and there was a closed cabinet that this would have sat on, so the builder never felt the need to create a "finished" top as it would have been above eye level anyway. I don't like to alter or add to antiques, but in order for this piece to be functional for us it needs to be done. And I have no plans to resell, so I'm not worried about hurting it's value.

It was purchased by my husband's aunt and used as a display case I believe in her store. When she was ready to get rid of it, she thought of me and sent it home with my husband's parents the last time they visited. She had painted the interior but the outside was still raw wood and the moment I saw it, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

It still has the original hardware and from what I can tell, the original glass as well. I am not even sure where I am going to find room to put this beauty once I finish her, but this is one piece that I won't be letting go of, even if it means another piece of mine has to find a new home.

I will be working on transforming this piece and will share photos of the finished product as soon as the paint is dry!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A Pink Ombre Dresser

Last year, my sister called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted an old dresser that she no longer had any use for. It had been in her son's bedroom but he didn't have room for it anymore. I said yes, thinking I could use it in my daughter's room as she was outgrowing her nursery furniture and we had a baby on the way that would soon be needing it anyway.

When she dropped it off, my sister explained that the dresser had been hers growing up and I remembered it being in her room. At that time it was painted a light blue with some pink and white flowered knobs. She said she had memories of it being a "dress up" storage piece in our basement before that, and it had been painted bright crazy colors and was filled with our old halloween costumes and kept under the stairs next to our deep freeze. I only vaguely remember it but by the time I was very old, it had been repainted and put into my brother's bedroom, and then later, into my sister's with yet another new paint job.

I thought that was a nice piece full of memories and it would be special to have in my daughter's room, seeing as at one time it had been in the bedrooms of all 3 of my siblings and also my nephew.

It sat in the garage for about six months before I finally got around to painting it. When I began working on it I mentioned it to my mom. She told me that the dresser had been purchased by my grandparents when my mom was born for HER nursery. She said that it had been her dresser all her life growing up and had come with her when she got married. It was shifted around the house over the years, each time with a new coat of paint . . . in my brother's room, then in the basement as the makeshift "Tickle Trunk", then into my sister's room who also took it with her when she got married.

I was so thrilled that it came back around to me - how special that the same dresser that housed my mom's baby clothes is now the dresser where my daughter keeps her socks and Cinderella pyjamas. I think about it almost every time I open the drawers.

I can't even imagine how many coats of paint have been layered on it over the years. It's not a fancy piece, but it's sturdy and solid and in great condition. And full of memories. I have a feeling that one day my daughter will be lugging it out the front door, probably painted a totally different color and moving it into a house of her own.

And when she does, I can tell her "Did you know this dresser was your Grandma's when she was born?"
And that's something you can't buy at a furniture store.

I painted the dresser white, and did a pink ombre on the drawers. It's definitely not my usual style, but I had been wanting to try the ombre look for a while and I have also been trying very hard to let my daughter's room be her own space. She loves pink, and I wanted her room to be bright and fun, not feel like an extension of my own personal decorating style. I feel like it's important to let both my girls express their personality and have some say in the decorating decisions in their rooms.

Does that mean I would be ok with hot pink walls or My Little Pony bedding? No. I'm just not ready to let go of that much control and I readily admit it. But I try to allow her to make the decisions, even if I am limiting her choices somewhat or guiding her toward a general idea of what I am "Ok" with.

She asked for pink, and pink it is. Having a bright pink dresser would make me feel agitated and panicky every time I stepped into the room, so painting it out white to match the rest of her furniture and limiting the bright color to the drawers makes it more palatable for me. And the cute glass knobs don't hurt either!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

No.3 Chair

Numbered furniture. Either you "get it" and love it, or you don't understand it and think painted numbers ruin an otherwise great piece.

I'm in the former camp. I think painted numbers are adorable, and a fun way to personalize your home in a subtle way. Here are some of my favorite examples of numbers painted on furniture . . .

It's a fun way to bring in a bit of whimsy, and fits perfectly in a cottage, beachy, country, schoolhouse-inspired room, or with any style that incorporates vintage pieces. I like to call my personal style "Refined Cottage" and pieces like this make my heart sing.

I tried my hand at a numbered piece last summer. Sadly I didn't take a before photo, but it was your run-of-the-mill honey colored oak chair with a stain that had gone orange over the years and was in need of some freshening up.

I painted it my favorite shade of blue and then stenciled on a big number 3. I had fun distressing it to create the look of a well worn, old chair by focusing on the areas that naturally see wear; the seat, corners, fronts of the legs and the center of the back.

It turned out so beautifully and was fun to bring in to the shop because everyone had an opinion on it. Most people would gasp and say "Aw!" Or "I love that, how cute!" but a few people were puzzled and made comments like "Now why would you put a number on a chair?" "I thought it was perfectly nice until I noticed the number on the seat. That just ruins it for me."

Well, that's the fun of decor/design. Not everyone is going to like what you do, so just DO YOU. I love the look and I had so much fun creating this piece. It's not a style that is everyone's cup of tea, but that's not what I strive to do.

If I wanted to create pieces that everyone would like, all my things would be plain white. Or black. Adding personality to pieces like this is a risk, sure. It means less people will find it appealing. But for the ones who DO like it, it makes that piece irresistable and extra special.

So for all my numeral-loving clients out there, keep on the look out for more numbered pieces coming soon! And for those who just don't get this trend, don't worry. There's always something for everyone!

Custom Barnboard Sign

At a craft fair this winter, I had a customer who really liked my barnboard signs but wanted something custom.

She wanted a piece to hang over her fireplace, but had a pesky thermostat to deal with which made it hard for her to hang anything without blocking access to the thermostat. She came up with a clever idea and asked me to build it for her.

Well, I'm not much of a builder so my husband actually did most of the "building." We both had fun working together on this project and I loved how it turned out!

I handpainted their last name in black, and added several coats of poly on top to give it durability and a nice satin finish. The client found some beautiful hooks at Benjamin Moore so I added those for her; I think she plans to hang stockings from them at Christmas!

What makes this piece so clever is the back! A thin box was added to the back, also made out of barnwood and attached with hinges. It lifts up so that once the sign is hung over the thermostat, she can still have easy access to it whenever she needs. A brilliant idea from a creative customer! I hope she likes it as much as I do!

Nautical Nightstands

This pair of nightstands has got to be one of the ugliest "Before" items I have worked on. The tops were covered in Peel-and-Stick floor tiles and they had been painted in a hideous shade of pinky tan that reminded me of skin.

I couldn't contain my imatience and ripped off the floor tiles before I got a photo, but here they are after washing and sanding, ready for primer.

I knew they had potential - I liked the style of them and they were in excellent condition, aside from needing a going-over with a palm sander and some elbow grease.

I painted them a creamy white, and after it cured a few days I got to work with my favorite painter's tool - Frogtape! I taped off some stripes on the top, pulled out two of my favorite shades of blue paint and got to work.

The results were better than I was hoping for! I added some blue on the raised drawer fronts; I wanted these to be fun and I loved the little bit of added color. I'm a neutral girl at heart, so keeping these mostly white with just some details in blue made it fun while still feeling like my style. 

I thought they had a bit of a nautical feel, so I chose hardware that had a little braided detail that reminded me of rope.

I finished them off with two coats of clear wax. They looked so cute together in the shop, and they sold very quickly! It's always exciting to me when someone takes home one of my pieces. It never gets old; that feeling of gratification when someone else sees your vision for a piece and loves it enough to take it home!