Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hard Work and Great Memories

On Sunday afternoon, my two kids and I piled onto a borrowed couch and posed for this picture, snapped by my son's awesome girlfriend Ashleigh with her cell phone:

Behind us are walls that we painted and underneath us is a floor that was hiding under dirty tan carpeting that we pulled up.  Off to our right is a beautiful bathroom, which used to be a study in 1950s robin's egg blue but now--with a new medicine cabinet, vanity, and toilet and a painted bathtub--has just enough blue to be eye catching:

With my son, Alex, as the project manager, we just finished a three-month rehab of my kids' grandparents 1950s brick rancher.

It has a cool old kitchen in the basement, which we cleaned up and polished:

And we used our Union Jack table to stage the dining area at the end of the living room as a mini office space:

We didn't take nearly enough before-and-after pictures, but I think the memories of working on this project will stay with me forever:
  • Alex spending hours on his stomach on a skateboard rolling around the house pulling hundreds of staples and nails out of the beautiful hardwood floors.
  • Ashleigh's yellow lab, Honey, stealing hunks of dry wall to chew on.
  • Christine using a drill to install knobs on the new doors--her first experience with power tools:
  • All of us rolling gallons of white paint on old paneling.
  • Listening to Billy Joel radio on Pandora.
  • Cleaning off the porch, rolling up the old blue felted carpet, and painting the floor grey:
  • Sitting on the floor and eating sandwiches out of brown paper bags from the local sub shop and WaWa.
  • Wearing masks while Alex used a nasty-smelling epoxy paint on the tub.
  • Cleaning out the fridge until there was nothing left but a bottle of ketchup--to squirt onto the next round of sandwiches:

We filled a Dumpster, shared old metal scrap with a local recycler, and took countless loads of stuff to Good Will.

We saved some vintage items--from old blue mason jars and cameras to potato chip tins and the Cosco cart that Doug rehabbed for me for Christmas:

But the best part of all was the time I spent with my family--painting and laughing with Alex, Ashleigh, and Christine.  Watching Doug help Alex take off cabinet doors so they could be carefully painted and reinstalled.  Seeing Alex learn how to replace light switches, refinish a floor, demo a wall, install trim.  We made countless trips to Home Depot, washed brushes and roller covers, scrubbed floors, and cleaned out closets.  Alex and his friends ripped out old landscaping, planted new plants, and spread fresh mulch.

We finished the project on Sunday afternoon, and I'm happy and sad all at the same time. As we sat in the living room at about 5:00, Christine said, "The sad thing is that we'll never be able to show anyone what we did once it's sold."

I'm so proud of my kids and Ashleigh for how hard they worked and all they accomplished.  And I will miss seeing them every weekend....

But spring is almost here, so I guess it's time to start thinking about rehabbing the OUTSIDE of our beach cottage.

I can't wait to get started....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Experimenting with Annie Sloan

I've been reading about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) on a lot of DIY blogs, but until this weekend, I was still "Spray Can Diane."

However, last weekend, Doug and I bought a small pine farmhouse table for our kitchen (our 5th table in as many years, but that's a subject for another post).

The table looked great in the kitchen, but I wasn't so crazy about our chairs.  They're from Target, and they're sturdy and a nice design, but I really wanted to do something different with them.  Here is what the chairs looked like before:

It was time for Annie Sloan.

An Internet search turned up a "stockist" (their term for a store that sells their products) just 15 miles from our house in Kennett Square, Pa., at Consign-it Furniture.

The store turned out to be a gem in itself--they have a great selection of furniture, some of it redone in ASCP, and lots of smalls too.  They also had the latest issue of Flea Market Style magazine and several varieties of Girl Scout cookies.  And the woman who helped me with the paint (I didn't get her name) was amazingly friendly and helpful.

I chose four colors of paint in the small (100 ml) jars, a can of clear wax and one of dark wax, a brush to apply the wax, and a brush to buff the chairs afterwards.

The process was easy, and I got all four chairs done in one morning.  The new look is exactly what I wanted--I love color, and the chairs pick up all of the colors in our kitchen:

The paint isn't cheap, and neither are the "accessories."  I spent more than $150 for everything.  But the paint goes a long way--I probably could have painted all four chairs with one of the little pots if I had wanted them all the same color.

The brushes were also worth the money.  I used a regular paint brush from Home Depot to apply the paint, but on the advice of the nice woman at the store I bought the wax applicator and buffing brushes and was glad I did.  She told me that you can buff with a soft rag, but it's a lot of work.  She was right--I tried it just to see, and the buffing brush definitely did a much better job in less time.

I have enough paint left over for lots of other projects, and I can mix colors if I want something different--I didn't buy a green, but the Aries (yellow) and Aubusson Blue would mix well together to make green.  You can also coat with just clear wax for a completely different look from what you get with the dark wax.

The best part--I have four chairs that look exactly the way I want them to look, so it was worth it.  And this paint is so easy to use--no sanding, no priming, just brush it on.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bun Foot Transplant

If Doug had a barn, he would fill it with what other people call junk and he calls "stock." Stock is anything that has a remote chance of being used for a future project.

Well, Doug doesn't have a barn and we have a pretty small house, but we still manage to save stuff like small pieces of scrap wood, cabinet pulls, knobs, hinges, tiles, trim, etc.

This weekend, one of our more unusual saves turned out to be pretty useful.

On Saturday, we went to an estate sale in our neighborhood, hoping mostly to find "smalls" like picnic tins, signs, hand tools, and cameras, but most of what was left was furniture.  We did find a small wood cabinet that was only $15, so we bought it thinking it might work on the porch of the beach cottage as a bar or sideboard for serving food at a barbecue.

When we got home, I realized that it would be perfect in our guest bedroom now that I've banished the exercise bike to the basement.

I wanted something low that wouldn't obscure my gallery of Alex and Christine's sports photos (this isn't really a before picture, as the cabinet is already in place below the pictures):

The one odd thing about the little piece of furniture was that it was almost too low and it sat kind of flat on the floor (sorry, there is no before picture--some people just never learn).  

Then I remembered that when we bought a blanket chest to use as a coffee table in our living room last year, we had to remove the feet because the chest sat too high.  When we cut them off, Doug said, "Save these--we may want to put them back on someday."  Anyway, here is the blanket chest with its feet amputated:

It's a small miracle, but I actually remembered where those feet were, and Doug agreed that they would work perfectly on the little cabinet we had just bought.  Here's a closeup of it with the feet screwed in--you would never know that it came without them:

And here's how it looks in place. Pax thought the photo shoot was all about him:

He really adds to the decor:

I just hope we never decide that those feet should go back on the blanket chest.

Friday, February 1, 2013

You Had Me at Ticking

Two years ago, I didn't have a blog, and I was even worse than I am now at remembering to take "before" pictures of our found treasures.

In the summer of 2010, we spent a week on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia at a vacation cottage owned by a neighbor.  There wasn't a lot to do down there, but of course we managed to find a wonderful hospice thrift store on Rt. 13 right near the turnoff to the house.

The first day we were there, we spotted a cool vintage rocker priced at $25.  Here you'll have to use your imagination because, no, I don't have a before picture.  It was upholstered in a dark green and pink granny print, and the fabric had seen better days.

The biggest argument against buying it, though, wasn't the stained fabric or our lack of reupholstering skills--the problem was our car.

We drove down there with two bikes and two kayaks on a Honda Civic.

And we drove home looking like the Clampetts with two bikes, two kayaks, and a chair on that Honda Civic:

It actually took us all week to decide to buy the chair.  Doug is always game to buy something if I express an interest, but I was reluctant... until he said, "You know, that chair would look really nice upholstered in ticking."

We picked up the chair on our way home and started taking it apart right away.

It wasn't pretty. The inside looked as though it had housed generations of small creatures:

But we finally got it down to just wood, springs, and strapping:

I know there are people who think it's breaking the laws of antique-ology to paint a piece like this, but we tend to just go with what we like, and we saw blue and white for this chair.  So after buying foam, batting, tacks, cotton duck for the base layer, and blue ticking for the upholstery, we attacked the project.

Here is the finished chair, and I have spent many happy hours reading in it in our renovated attic--where we also failed to take before pictures :-(

Doug really did have me at ticking.