Monday, April 27, 2015

The World's Longest Dresser

One of the hardest parts of my job is something I never talk about. It's transporting furniture. I have had to pass on some really great pieces because I knew I wouldn't be able to get them into the car by myself.

This dresser is a story not necessarily about its makeover - but what a pain-in-the-neck it was to get home and maneuver in my shop!

I had to bring this dresser home with me from an estate sale - it was a Thomasville French Provincial piece and screaming at me (am I the only one that hears furniture?) to make it over. This particular estate sale company said in their fine print that if you buy the piece you were responsible for moving it out of the house and loading it yourself.

Forgot to take picture of "before" - but this is a similar dresser

The only problem was that it was six feet long! I'm not exactly sure if it really is the world's longest dresser, but it certainly was the longest one I have ever seen! So, with my devil-may-care attitude, I purchased it and then immediately regretted my decision.

Fortunately, this estate sale was close to my home because transporting this giant was a three trip process and two day ordeal! It had a very large tri-fold mirror attached to it that I had to unscrew and carry it down the stairs, out of the house and into my car all by myself. This was an hour long ordeal followed by a nap that was equal if not longer.

Then I had to bribe my son after I picked him up from school to go back to the sale and help me bring nine drawers down the stairs, out the door and in my car. That was day one.

Day two brought new challenges. I had to put the seats back in my SUV so that I could fold down the second and third rows to lay the dresser on because it would not fit with the seats out. I guess when I returned the next day I must have had this pitiful look on my face because two servicemen who were at the sale took pity on me and put it in my car. I had to drive around all day with this stupid dresser because no one was at home to help me take it out!

For those that are interested in the materials I used: General Finishes Java Gel Stain, a custom mix of General Finishes Antique White and Snow White, and their Satin Top Coat.

Now back to the story. The dresser is complete and needs to go back into my house where I keep my pieces to cure while they're waiting to be sold. We take the drawers out, hubby and son put it on dollies, and while I'm on the phone with a client,  they proceed to roll it into the house and scratch two walls in the process.

The gouges in the walls are still not fixed - but I find a buyer! I warn buyer that it is extremely heavy, so I offer to bring it back out to the garage so it will be easier to put in the moving van she has to rent. Decide to not put it back on dollies to avoid more damage to my walls, so hand carry it out. Drawers out again - son screaming at me to put some muscle in it and stop being such a wimp. Three breaks later - drawers back in - it's ready for pick up.

Client arrives to pick up piece with her brother. And to my complete astonishment, they decline to remove drawers, and easily and effortlessly pick up entire piece, carry it to van and place it inside. And they did this all without whining, breathing heavily, or taking three breaks!

They drive away, and my mouth is still hanging wide open amazed at their Herculean strength. And vow to find out what they ate for breakfast, so I can get in on their secret!

Have a great week and here's hoping your furniture moves easily for you (and without scratching the walls)!

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Monday, April 20, 2015

French Chair Makeover

This post could easily have been named "Nana and the Three Chairs". Because for the past year, I've been looking for the perfect chair to refinish for my mom, or "Nana" as she is known to her grandkids. I bought two chairs for her - and each one was just not right - until the third!

I'm sure you know the story....

This one was too little.


This one didn't have the right lines.


And finally, she found this one on her own.

The seller told her it was an antique - which when I finally got a chance to physically look at it - had Phillips screws! French antique? Not!

But anyway, after all of the old and torn upholstery was removed, along with 5,123,842 staples, I prepped it with a light sanding and a thorough cleaning with TSP and two coats of a water-based primer.

I painted it in General Finishes Antique White and added their Satin Top Coat to seal it. Then I added a little bit of detail in the lovely curves by adding General Finishes Pitch Black Glaze. When I add glaze to just the details, I use a small artist's brush and dab the glaze on a paper towel to control how much glaze is on the brush. A little goes a long way - I'll probably have this can of glaze for a very long time!

And then we took it to our friend, the PROFESSIONAL upholsterer! This was expensive fabric, and I did not want to attempt this project with my novice upholstering skills!

And a little surprise on the back!

And so, this story had a happy ending....the third chair was just right (and I was able to stop bringing home chairs to make over)!

Have a fantastic week and thanks for stopping by!

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Restoring a Vintage Leather Desk

I needed a break from white. If you are a furniture painter, you'll get what I mean. Painting white takes multiple coats of primer, and then who knows how many coats of white you need to get good even coverage. I had just finished a white secretary desk, two chairs, a dresser and two nightstands. For my own sanity, I needed to paint something with color and a finish that didn't need to be perfect.

So when I rescued this vintage leather desk from a garage sale, with the leather vintage top in near-mint condition, I knew immediately that it would not be white! I asked my son if he wanted it for his room, and of course, he said no when he took one look at it in its before condition:

Here's a view from the top. The lady I bought it from said she had a glass top on it which probably accounted for the leather being in such great condition.

I still wasn't convinced my son wouldn't want it for his room, so I painted it in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite as his bed is already painted in this color. And no, you can't see it, because that would require someone actually cleaning his room and making his bed! (Teenagers!)

So how am I able to achieve this finish with a "black" paint such as Graphite? I get this blue hue by almost doing a dry brush technique. I don't load my brush with a lot of paint, keep all of my brush strokes in one direction, and never overlap strokes. This is definitely a one-coat technique because the second coat will definitely be darker.

The goal in this technique is not perfection - but a look that looks like it has been authentically weathered over time. I also gently distressed the drawer edges with a 220-grit sanding block to give it additional character. The original hardware polished up really nicely with some good old-fashioned elbow grease.

This color is one of my favorites!

I sold this really quickly to a lovely young couple about to get married. And wouldn't you know that a few days later, completely oblivious to the fact that I sold it, my son asked if he could put it in his room?

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Monday, April 6, 2015

When a Piece Doesn't Sell...

I couldn't figure out why this secretary desk wasn't selling after three months on the market. I wrote about it back in February here (The Little Red Secretary). As a quick recap, I refinished it in Tuscan Red by General Finishes, with Pitch Black glaze. It's a very unique secretary desk with its curvy fretwork and lovely lines at the base.

Maybe red furniture is difficult to sell because it can be limiting in decor choices in a potential buyer's mindset. But I personally don't think so - I have splashes of red throughout my house! But nevertheless, it wasn't selling, and I really didn't want to repaint it because I thought it was beautiful and destined to be a little red lady. And I wasn't about to reduce the price so much that it would eat into my margin because I paid a lot for it initially, not to mention all of the time, effort, and material I spent into refinishing it.

I decided maybe it needed a new photo shoot to increase its marketability. So I shopped my house for items to style the bookcase. Using sentimental pieces and items I've found during my treasure hunting, it took all of ten minutes to pull together!

The antique stock exchange ticker is special to us because it belonged to my husband's late friend and mentor. The china plates and teacups were a serendipitous find at a garage sale. They were wrapped in a box and marked for $10! I really didn't realize at the time how special they were until I brought them home and unwrapped all of the pieces.  Using a little bit of detective work, I traced the china maker and pattern back to Germany pre-WWII. Needless to say, these are NOT our everyday plates!

The books are some of our old favorites, with a few thrown in good measure because they were the right color! The wreaths are from Decor Steals. And finally, the lion bookmark got a coat of chalk paint as soon as it walked in the door with me from an estate sale.

And guess what? The minute I styled and placed it in our family room...

We fell in love with it, and decided to keep it! Have you ever decided to keep something you've refinished and couldn't bear to part with?

Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!

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