Décor & Home

Bedroom Paint Makeover!

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When I was in New York City a few months ago, my aunt and I asked a gangly, bespectacled older man named Ron for directions. What was expected to be a quick conversation and send-off quickly transitioned into a very detailed and impromptu tour of Greenwich Village, commentated with New York accent-laced reports such as "That bar over there has awful service; my friend went there and they barely talked to him" and "If a person dressed like a monk comes at you on this corner, walk away. It's a scam" and "Don't hold your purse like that! What, are ya carryin' solid gold in it? Just relax!"

We were strung along with Ron for about forty-five minutes. Whenever we thought our personal little tour was wrapping up, he'd exclaim, "Okay. TWO THINGS," then proceed onto another indefinite tangent expounding on those two things (for the record, it was never just two things...). He's one of my fondest memories of that trip.

The only reason I recounted that is because I'm starting this post with two things (this is for you, Ron):

  1. Hating how a room looks is a great first step toward progress.

  2. It's really important to not hate how a room looks.

Enter: our bedroom.

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In my defense, the border along the top of the wall was already there and I had no intention of keeping it in my life (you can see a pathetically half-hearted attempt at peeling it off in the upper right corner). But yeah, it was impossible to get a decent looking before shot of this room because THREE THINGS: dark beige, forest green, and dark wood blinds.

I've mentioned before how the bedroom has always been a last-resort for me; I mean, I don't really hang out in it, and it's usually dark anyway when I am in it. Overall feeling? Meh. I pictured Robert DeNiro saying that, if it makes any difference in the connotation.

Then I refurbished this dresserand the contrast between how that thing made me feel and the room I stuck it in made something click: I hated being in the bedroom. Like, you can TELL just by that picture, can't you?? Stuff is just dumped willy-nilly and I'm now feeling a creeping shame in making this public. At least the bed is made...

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Disclaimer: this is not a how-to. I was thinking of showing my process of scraping that border off, but it's tedious and there were too many pictures of my fingers. This is more of a "Look what paint and a little effort can do!"

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Since I put this room off for so long, I'd pretty much developed my personal style into its current plateau by the time I went at it. I knew with utmost confidence that I wanted the walls, trim, and ceiling straight-up WHITE.

Fun factoid: scraping off the border revealed that the walls and ceiling were all painted with the exact same dark beige shade. It kind of felt like being in an enormous cardboard box.

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You wanna know what happened when I painted everything white? The room was (significantly) brighter and already a quite a bit happier, so I started updating other details. I actually felt like investing in this room! For example, I'd never noticed that it gets the most sunlight in our house, so I packed it with plants. We bought that amazing orange chair at an antique market, I moved that bulky wooden desk into my studio, I replaced the blasé comforter with my grandma's cheerful mid-century quilt, and the piles of junk are much less frequent. As a bonus, that bright green dresser (also my grandma's) is so much more of a statement now that it's not languishing in a murky brown corner.

The other day, I went in there just to read and hang out. I have never done that. It's my favorite room now. I legitimately stand in the doorway on sunny days and gaze at it like normal people might look at the Grand Canyon.

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It even encouraged me to paint more so I could fill it with my personality (there's something about brown walls that makes all my colorful paintings look a little washed out). It's a veritable snowball of creativity.

Is there a room in your living space that you were totally indifferent to until you read this? Maybe just a coat of paint is all it needs to start the transformation into your favorite spot! Try it out! I doubt you'll regret it, but if you do, blame Ron.

Quick Inspo: Make Some Art on the Cheap!

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So the reality is that frames can get up there in price, which makes sense since they take artwork to another display level and we like that. If we're being totally honest with ourselves, we must admit that even a meh-diocre piece of art can look SO legit in a swanky frame, and not just because "The Swanky Frames" sounds like an awesome indie band name. I'm going to share with you a super top-secret, confidential method to get some amazingly displayed art in your house for cheap, as long as you're willing to do some DIY painting if needed (and you'll need it. It's fun. Trust me). Are you ready?? "YES, LYNN," you enthusiastically reply.

Step 1: patiently visit thrift shops five hundred times a month until you find the perfectly framed piece of art. I needed a long, framed something-or-other to hang on our wall by the front door. The key is to look past the original artwork. Some things to consider:

  • Is the canvas/paper/whatever material the art is printed or painted on in good condition? Does it have a weird varnish over it that may not take paint or other art media? Is it easily accessible through the back of the frame (some frames are dumb and practically require a jackhammer to get into from the back and you basically destroy it and yourself in the process)?
  • Is the overall thing sturdy? Will it break once you try to get into it?
  • Is the frame - or however it's displayed - to your liking? Squint at it and pretend your favorite painting is in it. Is it working for you? It's so easy to see a decent frame and decide it'll do. No. Get excited. LOVE the frame. BE the frame.
  • Are you going to be morally okay with painting over original artwork if the perfect frame is super custom and would be difficult to dismantle? This post is about that exact scenario.

Step 2: Enter: the perfect frame.

"OMG something new I'm gonna step on it OMG OMG."

This magnificent specimen was only 10 buckaroos and it's PERFECT. I'm using that word so much right now. It has "Hecho en Mexico" stamped on the back and it's perfect. Isn't that design on the wood so good?? It has so much character and home-madeness.

Now, let's discuss the art.

This is one of those stretched velvet paintings that are commonly sold by vendors to tourists. I actually really did like the scene because it's just so innocuous that pretty much anyone would like it (mass appeal: a concept I'm still trying to understand as it applies to me, which is ironic? Maybe? I don't know). It wasn't signed, and probably took the artist very little time to do since these kind of things are produced quickly and frequently, so I had very few reservations about painting over it.

With Parks and Rec playing in the background for the entire evening (Netflix is convinced I literally do nothing all day long), I settled on the living room floor, taped off the frame, and just went to town. Side note: velvet is weird to paint on with acrylics, as it turns out. I'm assuming fabric paint is more appropriate, but the painting that was there served as a decent primer.

After hanging it, I seriously couldn't get over it. I sat on the couch for at least ten minutes looking at it. That frame completes the painting so perfectly and it fits in with our house so beautifully. Ughhhhhh I'm so happy with it. AND IT WAS TEN DOLLARS, PEOPLE.

This frame is obviously very Latin-American flavored, so I looked up Latin American art and used that as a basis for this painting; I strive to stay true to the character of a piece that I'm modifying, whether it be furniture or art, because it otherwise just looks awkward and forced. It's kinda like reasonably tweezing your eyebrows versus shaving them off completely and drawing them back on in a totally different shape that doesn't fit your face.

With that horrifying simile in mind, go forth and get thrifting!!!

Shameless plug: this painting is available as art prints (sans the awesome frame. Sorry), throw blankets, shower curtains, and a bunch of other cool stuff!

Cultivating a Creative Life

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This post's subject is kind of a correlation/causation quandary. How's THAT for an opening sentence? Bahaha.

What I mean is that it's kind of hard to tell if I've been more creative because I changed my environment, or my environment changed because I've been more creative... Regardless, there's no doubt they go hand in hand like two peas in a pod with a big bucket of clichés. My creative journey over the past year has been a practical and, so far, quite affordable one, and I decided now's the time to share a bit of what I've learned and done to improve my artistic flow and general lifestyle.

1. MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD.

Cooking is its own form of art. It requires risks (hopefully none that result in a mad dash to the bathroom...), experimentation, a pinch of passion, and a heaping spoonful of determination. I've subjected the household to some weird, well-intentioned goop, but that's gradually led to, I think, a decent grasp on the culinary. I make practically everything from scratch now and rarely use anything pre-made or canned. Sure, it takes more time, but I've exercised that "Go Forth and Be BOLD" muscle enough in the safety of my own kitchen that it's applying more and more to other aspects of life (like art)! It's also simply more rewarding in the end.

A personal favorite: angel hair pasta with tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh chopped basil. Om to the nom.
A personal favorite: angel hair pasta with tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh chopped basil. Om to the nom.

I highly recommend researching some recipes for the stuff you usually see pre-made, like creamed soups, sauces, and egg noodles. Some are really fun to make on your own! In the long run, it's cheaper and healthier. Win win!

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P.S. Recipes might be an eventual goal for this blog... Just a heads up.

2. ATTACK YOUR WARDROBE.

Hello, I'm Lynn, and I used to be a clothes hoarder. No joke. I would traipse over to any thrift shop/retail store and insist that I had to buy something to actually be accomplished. I distinctly remember these horrific denim and faux wood platform shoes I found at Goodwill when I was 15. I NEVER wear platform shoes or heels in general. But, guys, I bought those shoes. You know that song by Mackelmore? I was the living embodiment of "But {censored}, it was ninety-nine CENTS!!!!" Those shoes sat dolefully in my closet - never worn - until I got rid of them about 5 years later. 90% of my wardrobe was utter rubbish I secretly hated (those shoes are just a vivid example). Then, about two years ago, I discovered how FUN it is to purge my clothes! And, as an added bonus, I've given a ton of my friends my old clothing that they truly like, which makes it significantly easier to say goodbye (to the clothes. Not the friends).

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That's my closet as of 3:00 this afternoon. It's not the most remarkable picture that ever graced Blogdom, but this is the BEST my closet has looked. Ever. I only have things I truly love and make me feel like myself (I'm gazing fondly at you, cream and charcoal chevron knit hoodie down there...). Oh, how that has made my life so much easier and free. I'm also not spending $3.99 about five hundred times throughout the year anymore. #yourewelcomewallet

3. DECORATE YOUR WALLS (WITH YOUR OWN WORK IF YOU CAN!)

There are approximately six million online tutorials on making your own abstract art. If you're not super confident in your artwork, check them out. Get some visual interest in your home!

Cats also offer a certain artistic ambience.
Cats also offer a certain artistic ambience.

Above was a canvas I finger painted on the living room floor while watching Pride and Prejudice. The obvious advantage is that I could make it fit in with the rest of the décor!

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This piece (which is available in the print shop, FYI #shamelessplug) brightens up our rather dull breakfast nook/dining corner.

4. MAKE YOURSELF PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE.

I had to get over my self-consciousness and nervousness and march down to the local coffee shop with my paintings to request they hang them up. I was ridiculously anxious about this! My friend came along for emotional support and decided to secretly take pictures of me talking with the manager. So flattering.

Side note: I need better posture. Shoulders back, Lynn!
Side note: I need better posture. Shoulders back, Lynn!

Spoiler: they hung my stuff. This makes it seem more "real," if that makes sense. I felt like Pinocchio after he gets turned into a real boy. I had to take the initiative to put my work out there and now I feel like I have this new accountability to the community to keep painting. That's motivation.

On an equally scary note, this website, my Facebook page, and my print shop were all steps I forced myself to take. Each one was, technically, very simple and cheap to execute, but the return has been BEYOND what I imagined. I haven't made a living off of these things (yet! Ha!), but the fact that I am now responsible for how I express/promote myself has been an immensely important step toward my goal of full-time painting. Pre-Website Lynn was a lot more adrift than Current Lynn.

5. COMMUNITY!

This is a big one. I'll make it quick, though: if you want to get pumped about your craft/hobby/business, join some Facebook groups. Get on those hashtags and whatnot. I joined some entrepreneur groups on Facebook and followed a ton of artists I admired, then I started commenting on stuff. I've made some connections with people I aspire to be, and that's got me all kinds of jazzed for my own career! I don't know how I functioned before this.

6. INVEST IN YOUR CREATIVE CORNER

My office/studio is the tiny spare bedroom. It's not glamorous, but I've worked to make it into a space I can feel energized in. I need simple and bright to feel focused, as well as a Netflix machine somewhere within eyeshot.

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This room got a huge overhaul a couple months ago. Like my closet, it was full of stuff I just had. Not stuff I liked. It doesn't require much adding to make a space creative; more often than not, it requires subtracting. 

Overall, the takeaway might be that devoting more time to simplicity, finding community, and finding your inner boldness will jump-start your creative life more than you'd expect! I'm so excited for what lies ahead! Maybe an original painting shop? Hmmm... ;)

Happy creating!

How I Use Photoshop to Plan an Accent Wall

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Quick backstory: the master bedroom was painted the same color tan on the walls and ceiling with a border around it. It was one of the last rooms I tackled in this house because a) Everything was just so tan and unmotivating and b) I had very little interest in what the bedroom looked like. I mean, the most I do when giving a home tour is vaguely gesture at the slightly open door and say "That's the bedroom but it's messy and there's nothing in there anyway." Vicious cycle. I finally did something about the tan, which got me motivated to do more, but that's for a later post; right now, I just want to focus on accent wall planning!

original bedroom wall

That magnificently professional picture is the original I took with my iPhone; however, side note: do you realize how hard it is to take a halfway decent bed picture? Pillows are the most rebellious photo subjects and our room is so tiny I had to scrunch up against the wall to get this shot. Rant over.

As you can see, the room is rather plain (save for that bonkers duvet that was my grandma's. I can't get enough of it). I painted the walls and ceiling a simple ultra white so I could have the perfect blank canvas for my wacky exploits.

If you don't have Photoshop/don't want to learn all this, you can still just take separate pics and throw them together for ideas, either on a mood board or Pinterest. This little project is more in depth because if I can, I just will.

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I cropped and adjusted the brightness in the picture first, then cut out the wall behind the bed with the lasso tool (I have a tablet that makes this easier, but the pen tool would work, too). I applied a subtle drop shadow to the original image for more realism (because heaven forbid this look WEIRD).

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Then the fun part! I scoured Hygge & West's wallpaper (my love) and took snippets of a few that popped at me. Now, I plan on actually painting this wall, not using wallpaper, so I had to keep that in mind. I'd prefer something a little more organic so I don't go bananas trying to make anything too perfect (I'm looking at you, bottom middle that I love despite myself...). This is more of a game plan to determine the right look and color palette, not what the final product will look like.

All I did was put the wallpaper on a separate layer under the original picture layer so it peeks out through the big hole I cut, and adjusted as needed. Some have had their hues messed with so they're not exactly what you might see on H & W's website, because I'm a ruthless barbarian when it comes to hue and color selectors.

There's no big reveal here (gasp! Betrayal!), but planning is its own process, and I'm still toiling over which one I like best (I've stared at that lineup until I'm cross-eyed) and I may even go back later and add more patterns. I just hope this helps you make some bold choices you otherwise wouldn't've made, since, you know, shopping photos is pretty low-risk as opposed to actually painting a wall.

Now get planning! Go wild and make some bad choices! What's there to lose here? :)

Why I Have Houseplants

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Houseplants have a somewhat unremarkable reputation; like, your mom had some that you had to water sometimes for chores kind of reputation, but it turns out they're super beneficial! I started collecting and indiscriminately murdering plants about three years ago, and I now feel like I have a decent grasp on what works to keep a plant generally upright and alive and how it really enriches life. SUNLIGHT

I used to not really care if our blinds were closed. I opened them sometimes so I could see what I was doing during the day, but otherwise, meh. Now that I have plants in every room, I'm super conscious of letting as much sunlight into the house as possible! As a result, I've noticed that I have a new appreciation for bright light and happy colors and that my overall mood has been boosted.

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RESPONSIBILITY

In a list of good stuff, you'd hardly expect that word to EVER show up. Bleagh. But here's the thing: plants are basically low-maintenance pets. Their needs and rewards are more subtle, but there's a real satisfaction in keeping even just one alive for years (I have TWO out of COUNTLESS that have made it from the beginning, and I beam with joy at them. #proudmom). Watering used to be annoying to me, but now I see it as affirmation that I'm taking care of something living and dependent on me. It's kinda therapeutic in a way!

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AIR PURIFYING

Plants are a little cheaper than a diffuser (unless you buy a fiddle leaf fig every other day #lifegoals) and are really effective at improving air quality in your house, especially during winter when the windows aren't open as often. NASA itself did an intensive study on this, and recommends at least one plant per 100 square feet of indoor space (nailed it). I can't exactly anecdotally testify that anybody's breathing is significantly better around here, or that it even smells better than three years ago (actually, it does, but that's because I got better at cleaning and we moved out of a run down rental), but just knowing that those plants are pulling their weight around here is nice.

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DECORATION

Plants are the dark wash jeans in the décor world; they are SO versatile. Blank spot on a shelf? Plant. Ugly subwoofer on the floor? Plant. Weird color scheme? Plant. You know how you sometimes feel like a room is just so plain and...boxy? Heck, you might think that right this second if you look around. Plants provide an organic contrast to all our indoor straight lines. Seriously, you cannot go wrong here. And can we talk about POTS??? The above picture was a somewhat unsatisfying gold paint attempt but I'm SO going to play with pots later. The possibilities are endless.

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NATURAL

I mean natural in the sense that plants are "of nature." We humans have an intrinsic need to be connected to nature. Much like the food we eat, the more processed and removed from nature our environment is, the more it harms us. It's way too easy to not even notice after a while. Plants offer a reminder of what's important for our health (this is not a health and wellness blog so I'll stop there lest I rant endlessly).

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CREATIVE BOOST

Ever notice how plants - particularly flowers - have been trending in the art world for the past few centuries? I'm telling you, plants, with their diverse leaf patterns and seemingly random growth methods, are a hive of creative expression. I can honestly say that looking at a plant sparks a little artistic thought that can go so many ways. If you're pursuing your creativity, a plant or two that makes you feel just a little something is SO good for you.

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SUPER BASIC CARE

Let the record show that I acknowledge I am not a plant expert. What I have learned, however, that the most effective methods of not letting plants die is 1) drainage and 2) reading them.

Drainage is a big one, folks. I've seen some fun, cute DIY projects for plant containers, but then they don't proper DRAINAGE! DANK DRAINAGE! This post is out of control. You either need to have a little reservoir for water to pool and evaporate, like the little dishes on the bottom of pots, which have holes drilled into the base, OR about an inch or more of large-ish gravel at the bottom of the pot. Otherwise, root rot. I had a plant that slowly turned brown and died a horrible, slow death. When I pulled it out of the pot, there was half a gallon of dirt water festering at the bottom. Thus, I learned that day. Drainage matters.

Reading plants is a little weird-sounding, like beta fish whisperer (which I'm convinced my husband is), but I've gradually figured out that a drooping plant with sort of wrinkly, soft leaves is thirsty (some are big drama queens about this), a plant losing leaves and color needs more light, and browning at the stem base plus drooping means too much water. There's more to it, surely, but I've managed to keep plants generally sustained by knowing those three things. The key is just to move your plant around the house if it seems to be suffering despite proper watering. It'll tell you when it's happy somewhere!

I do feed the plants once a week with this:

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I've been doing it for a while so I can't exactly compare how they do without it, but it can't hurt, right?

I hope this gave you a little nudge to nab a plant or two or twelve from the store next time you're out. Enjoy your little green friends! :)

I Designed My First Pattern!

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I'm so drawn to patterns, pretty much everything in my wardrobe clashes. How fun is it, though, to study the flow and repetition of a great motif?? It's Stay-In-On-A-Friday-Night kind of fun!

So I like patterns. And I decided to try my hand at a real, live pattern design with the idea in mind that I can eventually get good enough at it to design ALL MY STUFF. We're talking duvets, pillows, shirts, the siding on my house, EVERYTHING. Reality is a big bowl o' peach pits, however, and I've discovered that pattern-designing is not a "Just DO It" kind of task (sorry, Shia. You're wrong on this one) - it involves a lot of technicalities that I never even considered. I'm fine with the outcome, considering it's my first go. In fact, I'm downright pleased with it, but I know my next will be better, and so on. Yay for blind optimism.

Here's how I started:

Pattern Layout

 

That's a magnificently professional shot of my initial layout, pencil on canvas paper. Not pictured is the TV playing Curb Your Enthusiasm in front of me. We keep it serious around here.

To get to that point, I traced around one of my husband's seminary books to create the vertical rectangle (again, serious business here), then roughly sketched a horizontal line through the middle. The point of this is to create essentially six corners to start a design element from (marked in teal dots). So all my leaves, branches, and frog bottoms start from these points.

Pattern Painting

Next I started painting within my pencil guides.

Pattern Outlining

Then I grabbed a fine tip Sharpie and went to town after the paint had completely dried (which takes approximately one episode of Larry David loudly being misunderstood).

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Whoa, okay. I totally get that we just jumped like five steps, but they were kinda boring. Here's the gist: I took a picture of my final rectangle, brought it into Photoshop, enhanced the color, brightened the whites, and duplicated/flipped it a few times, then duplicated and flipped that. Thrilling. A lot of this was just tweaking size and discovering that it looked a little more organic if I rotated the whole pattern a little.

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Then I got Photoshop freaky and played with the "Subtract" adjustment. What a totally different vibe! I really dig the two versions, so I decided to make both available as pillows and various other fun stuffs in the shop.

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Next time, I want to figure out the right layout so that the pattern doesn't look so...boxy. You can kind of tell where each segment is (I'm really selling this, I know). I also want to experiment with more geometric patterns down the road, too. But I LOVE messing with color schemes and patterns are perfect for just that! Aren't you just itching to try a pattern design yourself?? It's okay if the answer is "no" but it is pretty fun. :)

How to be BOLD with DIY Ideas

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Do you ever have little visuals that pop into your head that get you briefly excited, but then you laugh it off? I'm talking stuff like gerbil-sized elephants and holographic carpet (I can't be the only one).

Or maybe it's an idea that's possible in this dimension/century, but it's still a little kooky...  It's really easy to dismiss it with a sensible "harumpf" and move on to more reasonable pursuits. I know there's an invisible arsenal of weird but awesome ideas I've had that I glossed over and missed out on something amazing.

BUT. I actually decided to try one of my weird ideas. And, guess what, I DIG it. I'm not guaranteeing a 100% success rate here - believe me, I know - but who're we trying to impress anyway?

It's a palm leaf patterned side table. Okay, so not as earth-shattering as mini Safari animals.

My inspo:

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That's a gorgeous wallpaper from Hygge and West. I'm not advertising them, just love their stuff big time. And, bonus, this particular design is by Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow. I absolutely CRAVE her blog and style. She does Bohemian right. Check it.

So, funny thing, planning a pattern is SUPER technical. This is not to be taken lightly, people. When I actually sat down to figure out the design, I felt like I was short circuiting.

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Like, what direction do the fronds go?? How does a pattern repeat?? I wanted something more wild than the wallpaper above, but not random. I'm so glad I plotted this project out (for once).

Here's the patient who'll be receiving the bold treatment:

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Aw, she looks so surprised. This is a beautiful antique table I scored at a local thrift shop: it's sturdy, has the beautiful, straight lines I look for, and that 1940s-50s leather top we all know and love. Mostly. This poor thing may have been a rescue from an underground antique table fighting ring, because that leather top was in terrible shape. I don't have the savvy to refurbish it and I'd honestly bet it wouldn't be possible anyway considering the extent of the damage.

Confession: I was actually a little hesitant to post this since it's obviously a high-quality antique table, so painting it may be akin to defacing it in some circles, but here's my reasoning when it comes to making over antiques:

  • There are hoards of antiques stuck in attics and storage rooms and stores that already not being appreciated and may never be because it's "taboo" to alter them.
  • There are certain design elements that make a particular antique truly special (for this one, the gold leaf paint lines on the legs, top, and front drawer). The piece as a whole is just furniture. I chose to stay true to the uniqueness of this table and leave the gold leaf be and design around it.
  • At the end of it all, it was a person who crafted this piece with creativity and love, so what better way to honor that than use your own creativity and love to give it a better life full of appreciation than it would have had huddled in the corner of a vendor booth?

I understand that there are exceptions (like, historic kinds of exceptions) to this...

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SO. You have this intriguing idea and you have no idea if it'll actually work out. Ask yourself: "Is this a priceless 19th century Spanish fresco I'm planning on making over?" No? Then you're good. And hey, if you don't run a DIY and creative blog, you have even less risk here! ;)

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First order of business: tape off anything you don't want any paint lovin'. I'll admit, keeping the gold leaf design on the top was an iffy decision for me... I really had trouble visualizing how that would turn out and hoped I wouldn't regret it; but this is about being BOLD.

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I went the enamel route instead of latex primer and paint. It went on nicely and seems to be pretty durable!

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stems

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After the enamel had dried after two coats, I used a small round brush to paint on the gold stems (the paint is normal acrylic) and get a decent layout of the pattern.

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Then it was just a matter of mixing greens, whites and blues and carefully painting on the branches. Hint: Three colors of similar hue (in this case, green) seem to be the best choice for busy patterns like this. It keeps it interesting but not crazy.

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This was before I peeled the tape up. I'll admit there was some frustration with "wrapping" the branches around the edges and sides (you can see a little of the attempt on the front there), but then realizing it looked awful and trying to paint the entire top edge with green to cover it up and realizing that looked more awful. If I had a mustache, I would've torn it out.

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And done! Wooty woot. I seriously love it more and more every time I look at it. It's the first thing you see when you walk through the door, and I think it's a perfect little welcome wagon that showcases that this is a creative place, and it's got an elegant yet Bohemian vibe that I'm starting to dig big time.

Do you have any wacky, zany, outrageous ideas rattling around? Take it from me, your friendly internet blogger and her pal Shia, and just DO it!

How to Use Fabric to Transform an Old Side Table.

This post is chronicling the aftermath of a personal DIY failure involving painting an unprepped surface (use primer, peeps!). This little end table was an innocent casualty of my madness, and I hope I've somewhat redeemed myself... So I've always kind of contemplated the idea of smearing some cool fabric on something and calling it a day - no painting or stenciling - which is an appealing prospect, and, wouldn't ya know it, it works! And it's SO easy. All it takes is some careful patience depending on how complex the furniture is, an exacto knife, scissors, Modge Podge, a brush, and Polycrylic. I would DEFINITELY recommend only doing this for relatively flat surfaces.

Modge Podge and Fabric

Modge Podge and Fabric

I found some really cool fabric at JoAnn. I also probably was the employees' greatest entertainment of the day because I just have no clue about fabric and have maybe been in a JoAnn once before so I wandered around for a while clutching the big... spool..? of fabric wondering what I was expected to do next before finding the lady who cuts it down for you (and I accidentally told her I needed more than twice as much as I'd actually measured for. I was under a lot of pressure, okay?).

Upside Down

Upside Down

Throw it upside-down-diggity onto the fabric and cut about two inches around the surface that will be covered. For the top shelf (bottom shelf in the pic), you can see that I won't have much room to secure the fabric underneath, so I had a lot of excess that needed to be trimmed. The other two shelves were easier in that department, but they made up for it with the side embellishments getting all up in the way and having to tediously cut around them.

Kitten

Kitten

I had a lot of help with this project. Kittens are known for their dedicated assistance in the use of sharp objects and glue. His name is Vinyl and a week ago he was near death on main street. That sounds like a mystery novel...Near Death on Main Street. Anyway, we're suckers for small, pathetic fluffs.

Once the fabric's cut, turn it right-side-dizzly, glomp on the Modge Podge, and smooooooth it out. Banish every wrinkle. IF THERE ARE ROUNDED CORNERS, do NOT Podge the Modge on them. I am supremely thankful and slightly surprised that my brain realized this from the beginning.

This table has rounded corners on the top (thank the Lord it's only the top), which is tricky, particularly for someone like me who's scared of fabric. After the Modge Podge had mostly dried (which takes almost no time), I turned the table back upside-down, cut the corners of the fabric as pictured, then used a small, flat brush to secure the two flaps on the underside with more Modge Podge. NOTE: you will get glue EVERYWHERE. That is obviously why I am doing this on the carpet in the living room... I need a workshop.

Sleeping Kitten

Sleeping Kitten

Cutting Excess

Cutting Excess

Use an exacto knife to carefully trim excess fabric and thread.

Polycrylic

Polycrylic

Now for the final step! Apply a couple coats of Polycrylic. Wasn't that a breeze??

Corner Done

Corner Done

Finished

Finished

Doesn't it look so happy and unique? And I didn't even have to painstakingly paint any little gray triangles! This would be an awesome method to easily refurbish a table that has really bad blemishes that couldn't simply be covered with paint. Are you thinking of anything you could fabric-ify??

Giving a Clock a Second Look

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After the angst that was the kitchen cabinets, I allowed myself a happy little low-risk project. This Kohl's clock was from my Brown Phase (you know, like Picasso had a Blue Period? Yeah, comparing it to that makes it seem cooler. It wasn't. I know this). Ironically, I now hardly ever incorporate brown or even earthy colors into my art and design anymore, but there are vestiges like this still hanging around. NOTE: All views and opinions on the color brown are mine and mine alone. If you like earth tones, you do earth tones.

So first you remove the hands.

RemovingSecond

I have ZERO clock dissection training but a little Google and a lot of careful dinking around worked. The second hand just popped off (remove the battery for this. I figured that's a given...).

TakingoffHands

Then, using small needle-nosed pliers to hold the base cylinder in place, I carefully turned and lifted the minute and hour hands in the counter-clockwise direction. You can see the brush strokes on the hands from when I painted them because you couldn't tell what time it was when they were black! Major design flaw. Way to be, Kohl's Clock.

HAndsOff

And now it's ready! Removing the whole mechanism was evidently going to be much trickier, so I left that little nut and base to be painted around there in the center. By the way, I looked up at the wall to check the time about five hundred times while I was working on this. I'd never realized how dependent I was on this little guy!

FirstCoat

And really, from there, it was just a matter of figuring out the look I wanted. It started out with this ambitious, colorful, and intricate triangle design that pretty much went derp the second I tried to line anything up, so, in a fit of recklessness I painted every panel a shade of turquoise to form a gradient. HINT: When painting a one-hue gradient like this, start with the darker color on your pallet first (in this case, a mixture of the blue and sea foam green) and add white to that color as you go along. 

NOTE: I haven't regretted a single fit of recklessness while painting. If you're hating something, do NOT do it. Give yourself the satisfaction of obliterating it and use that adrenaline rush to make something awesome.

ANOTHER NOTE: Maybe don't paint on the coffee table you just recently refurbished... I had a few moments of panic. I'll never learn.

FinishedonTable

So after two coats of paint, and a fun gradient on the minute and second hands, I popped everything back into place! I LOVE the clean look of it and it fits so much better with the house's style now, though I still have a moment of shock every time I look at it. Time's are changin.' Buh-dum tssshhhh.

How to Refinish Old Kitchen Cabinets

When we moved into our house almost exactly a year ago, the kitchen had a big Tuscan vibe going for it: burnt orange walls, dark brown floors, and black, old world hardware. While I love dedication to a style, my style this was not. The walls were soon painted all white (except the backsplash, which I am temporarily keeping orange just to test out the pop of color... a simultaneously good and bad decision), but the cabinets and hardware would remain for months to come. Life's busy, yo. Before

What drove me most bananas was how grimy the cabinets and drawers looked. The hardware was worn out and the paint was discolored, chipped and just strangely gunky in places. I would soon discover why... (cue dramatic music).

So I whimsically went about removing the drawers and doors and hardware. Seriously, I thought this would be a Memorial Weekend project. Such innocence. Such optimism.

Here's a schematic of how I removed the cabinets and hardware (always start at the bottom hinge). I used a power drill because a lot of the hardware was one with the paint and VERY stubborn.

HINT: use small containers for all your screws just in case you need them later or you will definitely lose them and your mind.

BowlofScrews

 

Once I had completely bare slabs of painted wood, I took all the drawers and cabinets outside. I've learned from previous projects that sanding is a doozy that tends to leave me cranky and sore, so I went out and bought some paint stripper like I'd used on the coffee table project since scraping is slightly less exhausting (I am literally laughing right now because I just had NO CLUE when I started this, guys).

ScapedDrawerMess

I upgraded to a metal scraper instead of the plastic one that the paint stripper instructions recommended, which is a good lesson about how not following rules can be a good thing. I would still be scraping with a little plastic stub.

So here's why this was The Impossible Project: the cabinets had been painted with latex paint over oil paint. Let me say that again. LATEX (water-based) over OIL. If you ever put latex paint over oil paint, I will find you. And I will give you a stern talking-to. If you're not sure what kind of paint is already on something, rub some rubbing alcohol on it. If the paint wears off, it's water-based. At the very least, cover the oil paint with an oil-based primer if you plan to paint over it with latex.

I could tell that whoever repainted these cabinets was frustrated with how the latex paint was behaving since, you know, it couldn't stick properly to the oil paint, because this stuff was GUNKED on. GUNKED. That's why the cabinets never looked great, and why it took me hours upon hours of mind-numbing scraping and applying layer after layer of stripper.

CabinetComparison

So here is a valuable lesson: when you feel completely trapped in a never ending project that is making you miserable, be kind to you. I was projecting all my frustration onto myself and ended up getting really exhausted and dehydrated outside in the sun, which does not make DIY projects as fun as they should be. Remind yourself that the end result WILL be worth it and be willing to learn along the way. I definitely did, and hopefully this'll help you avoid some trials in your next big project that doesn't go exactly to plan.

Disassembled

Also, the room you're working on will look like this. I painted the cabinet bases without sanding or anything since dust in every crevice of the kitchen didn't seem like a stellar situation. It turned out fine. I can live with it.

DrawerStack

I finished all the drawers first and, after washing them down with some mild soap and water, brought them inside to start the next phase.

First I filled in the old hardware holes with wood filler. Just force it in and sand it smooth once it's dry (this was a welcome easy phase in a blissfully air-conditioned room).

MarkingPulls

The easiest method to measure the new hardware drill holes was just to lay the pulls down and mark with pencil where to drill, using the old hardware holes as a guide (I love using other people's work to make my life a little easier, I will not lie).

DrillingHWHoles

When it came to choosing a drill bit size, I just eyeballed it end-to-end with the hardware screws and tested it before drilling the rest.

PaintingDrawers

Then painting!!! So simple. I put three to four coats of ultra white latex with a roller. They dried sooo nicely. No brush stroke texture, no gunkiness. It was all leading up to this moment.

The cabinets, on the other hand...

DoorGap

NoClose

Buckle up, kids, you're about to take a ride on the rickety carnival roller coaster of hinge education.

I bought new matching hinges since the originals were black and gross. All the screw holes lined up and that's all I thought was needed. NO. NO IT WAS NOT.

HingeComparison

I've tried to illustrate where I went wrong. On the left is an original hinge and the right is what I recklessly bought. As you can see, the offset measurements were totally different, resulting in cabinet doors that were not positioned properly. I went back to the hardware store to find exactly matching ones. No dice. Who knew hinges were so diverse?? There were no courses at the Hinge Academy about this...

So guess what? Spray paint. That's what.

HingeLineup

PaintedHinges

After

The hinges look darker than they really are in the After Picture, but they match the new hardware really well, and since they won't really be handled ever, the spray paint should last. Our wee little kitchen seems so much cleaner and brighter than ever! I'm so glad this project is over and that I have really visible results of my labor. Now I'm going to take a nap because just writing about this wore me out again.

 

 

How to Refresh an Old and Over-Painted Coffee Table

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A few years ago, when I had no interior style beyond "FREE FURNITURE," I saw someone putting this black, oval coffee table by the dumpster on campus, so I snatched it up and it stayed black and scuffed for at least two years after that, moving with me to the rental house senior year and then my parents' basement after graduation and then into another rental house with my brand new husband, and where it became one of my first refurbishing victims. That was a huge run-on sentence about a coffee table. So I primed it, painted the legs white and the top mint green, slathered on a few coats of polycrylic, and, to be honest, it wasn't too shabby. It certainly sparked this passion in me to convert things that aren't making me really happy to things that do!

However, it gradually got really grungy, especially after moving to our current house, and since it had so many layers of paint already, I felt that painting over it would just suffocate it to death and not look all that great anyway. This rule applies: the more layers, the easier it is to chip and deteriorate.

Old Photo

So, here's the thing: I did not have any vision for this when I started. I just knew I had to get all the paint off the top. I figured once the proverbial canvas was blank, I would suddenly get a brilliant idea download. This project took me about three days because my download speed is relatively low, apparently.

02-Bubbly

I used some paint and finish stripper and just followed the instructions on the can. You should know that the tiniest little minuscule dot of this stuff on your skin will BURN. Take note.

03-Scraping

Once it had sat and marinated for the allotted time, I scraped that beast. This is the most satisfying feeling only surpassed by peeling up painters' tape (which is later!! Best project ever). I ended up having to do THREE coats of the stripper because:

04-Scraped

I counted it up, and there was (starting from the bottom): a coat of stain, a layer of white paint with some floral design on it (you can actually see the remnants of it in the above picture), a layer of black paint, my layer of mint green paint, and several layers of polycrylic. LORDY. It's like earth's strata up in here. I probably scraped off a fossilized troglodyte at some point.

05-Sanding06-HandSanding

Then, SANDING. Use a power sander. Really. I'll spare you the details of my body aches, but this was not an easy project! When sanding, go with the grain and just keep moving (think of Dory singing encouragement to you as you struggle through this part). Use a hand sander for anything the power sander has trouble getting (such as the border on this table).

07-Sanded

So. There it is. As I was working on the scraping part, my naive little self thought it might be cool to just leave it wood and stain the top in a cool design, but those dreams were dashed when I realized I just didn't love the wood color or quality. I stopped sanding to ponder it for a while.

08-Inspiration

I brought it inside and left it in that state for a couple days. Part of me was saying, "This is fine. We are now into shabby chic. This is our life now." But the more realistic part said, "This is just shabby and you should eat Ben and Jerry's and figure it out." I listened to the voice that mentioned ice cream and set to work finding inspiration.

You'd probably love for me to show what inspired me... but I can't. I was actually taking a break from Pinterest and Google searching every variation of "quirky oval wood coffee table painted" when the idea came to me. Hopefully this post and this post alone can be your inspiration instead! Ha!

So I wanted the wood to have some sort of say in this design since most of my furniture is painted and I needed some variety. I also felt kinda bad for it because it's been under oppression for who knows how long (yes, one can feel bad for furniture and still be totally normal), but it obviously looked awful...so break out the painter' tape!

09-Taped

Little runners of wood would a) look awesome, and b) make the mottled, splotchy pattern way less pronounced. I did some crude measurements and penciled two straight lines length-wise and width-wise to meet roughly in the middle (I am not precise. Life is short), then set to work taping. HINT: It's worth it (in my opinion) to use different tape widths in a design like this. I actually cut some strips up the center to make more narrow pieces.

10-Painting

I highly HIGHLY recommend using a roller for this. It's so much easier to evenly cover the surface and it also works better with painters' tape than a brush. Since it rolls paint on, there's less of a chance of it seeping underneath the tape. It's important to not load the roller too much; your first coat should look terrible.

11-FirstCoat

Then apply one or two more equally light coats and pretty much immediately start peeling! As always, go slowly and pull in the direction of the pattern.

12-Peeling

13-TopView

14-Final

And THERE! I think this is my favorite refurb to date. It is totally my style and makes me super happy to look at! That unappealing wood is now gorgeous as an accent. Since the paint is only three light layers, it has a FAR less chance of getting scuffed and chipped than it did before, but I will probably apply some polycrylic or some other durable finish later. For now, I'll let the wood breathe some more. It deserves it. :)

 

 

 

 

 

How to Paint with Diverse Colors & Display Your Work

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Going to the effort of finishing off an artwork with a custom frame or painting wrapped edges on a canvas is about the LAST thing I want to do after painting something. I hammer a nail on the wall (or two if it absolutely cannot be avoided), hang it straight, and give myself a gold star. The beauty of that kind lack of work ethic is that it fosters a necessary tendency to find the easiest way to do anything and still make it presentable... Here's a simple project for anyone who can relate with that, or just wants something cute and semi-custom quick. You'll  also get a bonus succulent painting tutorial with some little color secrets thrown in!

All you'll need are:

  • 4 wood slats (these are 12 inches long and found in any craft store)
  • Canvas paper, which is just treated cloth (this one's 9" x 12")
  • Paint supplies (paint, brushes, pallet [ice cream lids accepted], container of water)
  • Twine or yarn
  • Hot glue gun

WH-1

Start out by lightly drawing circles with pencil that roughly outline where your succulents will go. Try to get some variety in diameter and let it be somewhat random. This is a low-risk step so experiment all you need before you like the composition. Remember, the smaller your circles, the more you'll have to paint. smiley

WH-2

Now get painting! I used the same small, angled brush throughout the whole thing; they tend to be the most versatile. I started on the smaller succulents and gave them a nice vibrant color. HINT: Load your brush with two different colors of paint at once. I used peach and magenta for these.

WH-3

I painted with sky blue and medium yellow for the larger succulent. The two colors really add a lot more interest to it!

WH-4

WH-5

As you can see, I painted three different colored succulents in different hues (the purple-ish ones were magenta and sky blue, so I basically only used four colors for the whole first step). Let it dry a bit, then add some shading and highlights! This takes some concentration but really makes it look complete, especially that large green monster blotch. HINT: Don't use black for shading. Use violet or a similar deep purple - it looks more natural and doesn't get as out of control as black does. 

WH-6

Let it completely dry, then you're ready for putting it all together! We are so close..

WH-7

Glue one wood slat to the bottom back edge. Watch your heart rate because working with hot glue requires some coursing river-like swiftness.

WH-8

After the 0.002 seconds it takes to dry, glue the front slat onto the bottom front edge. I actually spilled some wayward molten glue on the painting itself trying to take this picture, but it's a sacrifice I must make.

WH-9

Glue the third wood slat to the top back edge. Then cut about six inches of twine, place it as center as you can at the top, then glue the last slat on top of it. Push down HARD so it all adheres together well. This seriously turned into a workout. Who said artists are lazy?? I guess I indirectly did at the beginning of this, but obviously I meant "resourceful."

Now hang that sucker UP. Drink some water and don't forget to stretch before the next project.

final-new

 

How to Easily Restyle a Thrifty Picture Frame

Frame-Header-Image.jpg

DISCLAIMER: This is a point of no return for you. If you proceed, you will never be able to look at a kitschy thrift shop picture frame the same again. Sufferers of this disorder may find themselves shelling out 99 whole cents for a seemingly innocuous little trinket and turning it into something truly unique and utterly them. You've been warned. 1-original

So this is it. It's cute, but not entirely thrilling or special; however, there's so much potential for transformation! The frame is simple and wooden (both BIG BIG necessities), it already has mounting hardware on the back, and it's a nice little size for a late afternoon project while half-watching that stupid chick flick that Netflix recommended for you for some insane reason...

Overview

Scissors

Depending on the backing, you may have to cut away some paper. This isn't an issue as 1) No one sees the back anyway, and 2) It doesn't affect the support whatsoever.

Brushes

I got a little carried away (and distracted by the aforementioned movie that has its moments but is still totally dumb, why am I even watching this...) and didn't record proper footage of the actual painting of the frame, so here's an apologetic shot of the paint and brushes I used. Since the frame started out as a dark color, it required three coats of white acrylic paint. Then I decided to get a little adventurous and paint a fun triangle pattern with silver acrylic paint using the small, rounded brush you can see there. I think a silver Sharpie would've worked pretty well, too!

Obviously, the frame embellishments are optional and you can totally paint it whatever color suits you - I just know I love a white and/or metallic frame since it goes with just about anything.

Closeup

This next part may seem a little daunting since it involves some painting, but you can do literally ANYTHING with any medium under the sun here. You like crayons? Draw with crayons. Spill coffee on it. Put your kid's drawing in it. Print something off that you love. As long as it makes you happy and brings you a little joy, it's perfect and wonderful. :) All that you're required to do (besides smile) is make sure it fits within the frame.

FramesPainting

I painted a little geometric mountain and sun with the small angled brush. I figured the colorful shape of the mountain would complement the triangles on the frame. The "paper" is actually inexpensive canvas pad that you can find in any craft store. It's thin cloth that's been treated so it's great for painting!

Final

And, seriously, you're done! Reassemble the glass and frame and prop it next to the plant that the cats keep gnawing on (I'll find a place to actually hang it later), then give that movie four stars because, okay, it wasn't THAT bad, I guess...

How to Refurbish a Mid-Century Dresser

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I've gone through pretty much every conceivable furniture era when it comes to refurbishing, with some pretty "meh" results, some of which are in my living room right now begging to be put out of their misery. But let's not dwell. Through that trial and error, I've found that the most rewarding (and easiest! Yay!) refurb projects have been mid-century style furniture. They tend to be very simple and boxy, which makes them an ideal blank canvas!

1-Before

1-Before

So here's our beautiful little fount of potential, twenty bucks straight from the local Goodwill. When you find that perfect piece, give it a little test before totally committing - it's like dating before saying "I do." Test their sturdiness and open their drawers (this metaphor may be working a little TOO well). This one was in pretty decent condition save some cosmetic damage and evidence of a mouse family (turds, people. Turds everywhere...) I definitely don't promise furniture refurb won't get disgusting sometimes!

Here's what you'll need for a happy refurb relationship:

  • Belt sander Link is to what I used

  • 80 grit and around 240 grit sandpaper

  • Wood filler (if needed)

  • Screwdriver for removing drawer hardware

  • New drawer hardware (if you want to change it. I did for this project)

  • Mild cleaner and rags/paper towels

  • Small paint roller and tray

  • High quality synthetic brush

  • Paint of choice (I use high-quality latex paint)

  • Painter's tape

  • Polycrylic

Those are the basics! But the hardest part honestly is DECIDING what to to paint it. In the past I spent more time anguishing over color and stencils than actually doing anything, so I tried to think outside the box on this one. I don't wear dresses often, but I appreciate a good one, so why not take some inspiration from it? It makes a good excuse to online shop anyway.

Dress

Dress

I narrowed it down to this one because the geometric and crisp design still holds true to 50s style with a modern, worldly flair. I also dig white and gold. :)

The very first step is to remove all the drawers and hardware. I HIGHLY recommend doing the first few steps outside since you'll be sanding and spreading out everywhere.

2-Drawers

2-Drawers

Most 50s furniture you'll find will have a coat of veneer, which is basically a very thin strip of finished wood that's adhered to the lower-quality wood that makes up the base. Usually there are problem areas where the veneer is too damaged to salvage, so you'll have to take it off. Some of it peeled off nicely for me while other strips were a bit more stubborn, so I (carefully) beat the crap out of them with a flathead screwdriver.

3-Damage

3-Damage

You can buy new veneer, but I chose to be impatient and just leave the areas where I had to take it all off bare. It was going to be painted anyway so it wouldn't be obvious.

Next, just sand the whole thing with the 80 grit paper. Just sand it. This will make you sore and cranky but it'll be SO WORTH IT. One, you will be able to smooth out smaller imperfections and two, veneer has a smooth, sometimes slightly textured finish that doesn't accept paint well. Just be sure to only sand the finish on the veneer and not the whole veneer itself. Below is a picture illustrating this. The lighter area is the veneer finish that I still had to sand. The darker part is the bare veneer itself.

Sanding

Sanding

Once that's over with, collapse on the couch for a while, then get up and wipe it all down with some mild cleaner and rags/paper towels. This is also a great time to clean out the insides if they need it.

I brought it all inside for painting so it wouldn't dry too quickly in the sun. Before painting, though, I filled in a big scuff at the bottom with wood filler, which was the only place I needed it. Use a small paint roller for the large surfaces like the top and sides and the small brush for the little spots.

4-Brush

4-Brush

Once you have a couple coats of paint applied (or more, if needed), let it dry, then lightly sand it with the 240 grit sandpaper. I used a hand sander instead of a powered one since I didn't want to over-sand the paint. This process will give it a slightly smoother texture. Now you can apply the painter's tape. This is one of my favorite parts! You have a preview of how the finished product will look.

5-Tape

5-Tape

When you're happy with your tape placement, use a soft brush with just a LITTLE paint (gold acrylic in this case) and smear it on. You don't want to overload your brush or paint will seep under the tape and that is no bueno. You can pretty much instantly lift the tape off after painting; just go slowly and savor it. Then you can replace the drawer hardware.

6-Peel

6-Peel

Scramble to assemble the whole thing because you SERIOUSLY HAVE WAITED SO LONG FOR THIS MOMENT. Then sit and gaze upon it for as long as you need. Don't focus on little imperfections, just bask in the thing as a whole.

7-After

7-After

The last step is easy but takes some patient waiting: brush three coats of polycrylic on the top so it's protected from scuffs. Polycrylic is a water-based version of polyurethane that smells much less awful and cleans up with water.

I didn't do anything with the legs. I could, but I honestly don't hate the wood look of them. If that changes down the road and I feel ambitious, I'll give her some nice new shoes.

And that's it! The whole project took pretty much all weekend but didn't cost much more than the $20 for the dresser. It depends on what you already have and what you can bum off people. :)

I hope this gives you some inspiration to bring an old, forgotten, poop-laced furnishing back to its glory!