Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Romantic Master Bedroom…A Work in Progress

The Romantic Master Bedroom…A Work in Progress

The master bedroom in our home is one of my favorite rooms our house. It has a working fireplace, long windows with big ledges, and its smaller scale gives it a wonderful cozy and romantic feel.

To play up “the romance” even more, after we moved in, we painted the once yellow walls creamy white (Sherwin Williams Shoji White), added layers of white linens and, what I think is most important in a master bedroom, added something personal.

For me, it was the V Day photo I mounted on wood and distressed, sold in my Etsy shop too. It has always been my favorite romantic picture. The sailor, the nurse (actually a dental hygienist, but that just doesn’t sound as good), the way his hand grabs her waist, the dip, the line up her stocking...

To that, I added a small scrap wood sign with our wedding date in gold.

Oh and candles, definitely necessary for a romantic vignette.

Now, while I love the room, it is by no means finished. You see, despite working in art and design, most of the rooms in our home only make it to about 80% decorated. At 80%, I capture most of the look I want and then I inevitably run out of money for the finishing touches. It seems at some point I am forced to choose between throw pillows and highlights for my hair, and well, the highlights win. They simply must.

So, this month, I am determined to move forward with some changes.

I am thinking of changing out the bed. I am tired of the black and I would like a softer look. I am working on designing a headboard, adding a carpet and some other accessories. 

Changes are coming soon and I am looking forward to seeing what you all think!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cream and Gold French Dresser Tutorial

hand painted french transfer
For this post, I searched through my older photos hoping to find a picture of this dresser as she originally looked. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any. 

It would have made a great before and after, because the transformation was remarkable. That is why I love paint. Not that it can make things beautiful, but that it can bring out the beauty that is already there. Hidden, so often behind heavy layers of stain or as was the case for this piece, a dated pale and dingy yellow finish.

french script dresser

There was a lot of labor to bring out the beauty here. The finish had to be removed, there were some odd raised vine appliqu├ęs to remove as well and then lots of sanding. When she was down to her bare bones, I knew I wanted to dress her in something timeless. Something distressed, but sophisticated.  A bit aged, but clean. So, I choose one of my favorite combinations, cream layered over metallic. For me, that look is furniture’s version of jeans and pumps.

For this finish, I choose one of my old favorite products, a Modern Masters Metallic. Modern Masters Metallics are like good Chanel cosmetics, they always add a little glamour. I then paired the metallic with a pretty cream paint, Behr Swiss Coffee.

This dresser was also perfectly suited to an oversized graphic. With fitted drawers and no moldings, a beautiful image could take over, in the best way possible.

Of course, to select my image, I went to the Graphics Fairy website at The Graphics Fairy does this amazing job of curating vintage images and fonts and then she offers them free to use. She also presents projects and tutorials. With a little nudge and advice from her, creativity can take over. 

If you would like to recreate this look, here are the steps, with a product link below.

  • Start off by priming your piece with one coat of primer in the same tone as your metallic. I used a dark warm yellow to give the metallic some good adhesion and a good base that wouldn't fight the gold. 
  • Next, apply two coats of Modern Masters Metallic paint in your choice. I used a color called warm silver.  It is a beautiful opaque metallic and a color I have used for years. Yes, I call it gold and yes it is called silver. But it translates gold to the eye, so I call it as I see it. It is a "gold" that is not garish, but warm and rich. 

  • When your metallic is dry, cover with two coats of white paint. I used Behr Swiss Coffee in a flat finish, which is a white I love and that I always keep in stock. Cover 90 percent and leave some areas to reveal the gold. You will also distress at the end to reveal more of the metallic. 
  • Now the fun part, adding a hand painted element. I use a lot of different techniques to transfer my images and The Graphics Fairy lists all the best here. For this dresser, I selected the Grand Bazar Image, printed it on transfer paper and used an overhead projector.

using overhead projector to transfer image

What I like about using an overhead projector is you can size your image perfectly to your piece and get a real look at the image on it before you actually draw it up.

  • Once you select your image and shine it up, use your water pencil to trace. Don’t worry about mistakes! 

  • Then, color in your design with metallic paint. I did two coats to give make it really opaque. 

french transfer on dresser

  • After two coats of gold, I added lowlights with gray metallic paint, using a small round brush. 

  • Once it is all dry, sand the edges and trim, as well as, the image itself and the overall finish, to age and add depth.
  • Finally, seal your finish. I used Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish . You can read about Dead Flat Varnish in this post here.

hand painted dresser

white and gold hand painted dresser

white and gold painted dresser

Supply links:

Primer, any good quality tinted close to your metallic color to act as a base. I used up some I had and did not record what it was.
Transfer image. from The Graphics Fairy
Accent color, I used a dark gray metallic acrylic paint, I finished off a bottle I had and do not have the specific product, but any similar would work.
Transfer sheets, I buy mine on Amazon. This brand works for both laser and jet printers.

Overhead projector, find inexpensive ones on ebay.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sealing Your Painted Furniture with Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish

Lets talk about topcoats for furniture. I have had a lot of bad experiences with topcoats. Polyurethanes, varnishes, waxes, you name it. I have battled brush strokes and sheen. I have had them bubble and peel. I have found drips and hairs dried in them. Yet, I find them a necessary evil. I want the furniture I sell to be durable for my clients,
so I use them.

 Over the years, I have found some products that I like more than others. I also have become somewhat better at applying them. Yet, I am always looking out for a new product, hoping to discover something that will be easy to use and dry to a beautiful finish. Well, I found it.

supplies for using modern masters dead flat varnish on furniture

Recently, I came upon Dead Flat Varnish by Modern Masters 
and I contacted Modern Masters to try the product.

I thought from the initial information I read about Dead Flat Varnish I would like it. But, I never knew I would like it so much. I love it. Really. I actually love it. Below is my review.

From the Modern Masters website,
Modern Masters Dead Flat varnishes (interior, interior low VOC, exterior, and exterior Low VOC,  These premium quality, water base, non-yellowing Dead Flat Varnishes are a water base clear finish coat formulated to have the optimum level of clarity with the least amount of sheen. They will remove undesirable variations in sheen created by using semi-gloss base coats with Decorative Glazes and allows the finish to maintain that aged effect.        

I used Dead Flat Varnish for my first time on my cream and gold French script dresser. It was easy to apply, dried quickly, and did not drip. One really big difference between the Dead Flat Varnish and previous top coats I have used is that it gives you time to rework it. I was able to go back and brush through some areas during the application to smooth or remove a stray hair. With most polyurethane, if you drag your bush back into an area you will leave brush strokes. When I was finished applying, it dried quickly and left a gorgeous matte smooth finish. I was also able to apply two coats in one day.

Steps to apply Dead Flat Varnish to furniture:

Prepping your piece for a topcoat:
  • Lightly sand with a smooth sanding block to remove anything caught in your paint finish.
  • Brush off sanding dust and any stray particles with a chip brush.
  • Wipe with a damp rag to remove any remaining dust.
  • Let dry.
  • Most importantly, wipe with a tack cloth to remove any last hair or particles.

Applying Dead Flat Varnish:
  • Apply varnish with a good brush. I always keep one brush that is just used for topcoats.
  • Work from the top. Brush the varnish left to right in long even strokes following with a light finish stroke. Work your way down, slightly overlapping strokes. Don’t worry about missed spots too much because you will catch them in your second coat.
  •  This product gives you a little time to go back so I usually check for anything stuck in the finish that I can remove with the bristle of the brush. After completing an area, run your brush along edges to catch any drips.
Video, "How to Apply Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish"

hand painted dresser

Things I loved about Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish
  • Great consistencty, not too watery and not too thick.
  • Applied easily and was not tacky. The brush did not drag in it.
  • You can go back and brush through areas to smooth spots and remove particles.
  • Does not show brush or lap marks.
  • Did not dry with drips.
  • Dried quickly.
  • Two coats covered completely.
  • Leaves a smooth flawless matte finish.

Dead Flat Varnish created a beautiful finish. Honestly, this is now my go to product. It was so easy to work with and to my disbelief, even easier than wax. Interested in trying Dead Flat Varnish? Visit to find Modern Masters products in your area.

The cream and gold dresser was also finished using Modern Masters gold. I will be posting the steps to create this finish next week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Welcoming New Look With Modern Masters Front Door Paint

Just before memorial weekend, I was able to cross a project off our never-ending home improvement list.  I painted our front door.  It was easy, it was inexpensive and in about 2 hours our front door had a fresh and welcoming new look.

black front door
Thanks to Modern Masters.

Several weeks ago, as part of the Modern Masters Front Door Campaign, I received a quart of their new Front Door Paint to try. That beautiful quart of paint was all the motivation I needed to start my front door makeover. 

As soon as I decided to try the new Modern Masters Front Door Paint, I visited the Modern Masters  website (which offers tons of product info, support and ideas) to explore the beautiful 24 color palette. There, I discovered they have created a free app (for iPhone and Android) which lets you take a picture of your front door and then try out all their hand picked front door colors on your actual front door. It's addicting and you will try every color.

So, after trying them all, it was obvious that the color that would work best with our historic home  was Elegant, a classic black.

Now you can't go wrong with black. But, I did find myself wishing I had a white house and could try one of the other gorgeous colors like Fortunate, a cheerful granny smith apple green.

But Elegant it was...

I prepped my door by wiping it down with a solution of water and white vinegar. Then I applied the  Front Door Paint using a two inch angled brush and working by panels on the door. Also, follow the grain of the door along each panel for the smoothest look.

The Front Door Paint went on smoothly, and dried quickly to a glossy finish. I was able to apply 1 more coat and the door was completely painted in two hours.

I had plenty of paint left. The paint comes in a screw top container which I love, because it keeps the paint in good condition for the next year or two when you want to freshen the color.

Front Door Paint is available at selected Lowe’s and Ace Hardwaresas well as online via or the Modern Masters online shop. So easy to find and then easy to transform!

Modern Masters Elegant

black front door

Find beauty in your day!

Monday, May 18, 2015

The White Country Kitchen: The Paint I Chose to Transform my Cabinets

white kitchen

In Febuary, we finished updating the kitchen in our victiorian farm house. With the help of a gallon of primer and white paint, we transformed if from dark and dated to bright and fresh.

For this project, I knew I wanted the look of a traditional country white kitchen. 

I also knew, having worked as a decorative painter and having painted my fair share of kitchens, that painting kitchens is neither fun nor easy.  It is a lot of work. So, you want to make sure that after all that work, it looks professional and will last. How do you do that? By making sure you select good products that are easy to use and durable

Now starting out, I wanted to use chalk paint. you see I am a chalk paint fan. A big chalk paint fan. I use it almost exclusively for my furniture. But, I knew I had to be sure that chalk paint would be the best choice for me. 
As much as I love it, would it be cost effective, easy and durable? 
After a lot of online research, I decided against chalk paint. 

Now if want chalk paint in your kitchen, go for it! 
I actually followed up with a friend who painted her cabinets with chalk paint a year ago to see how they have held up. She said she just used wax and they have held up great. 
For my project, it just wasn't the best choice for me.
Here are the products I chose to paint my kitchen...

Benjamin Moore does offer an ADVANCE primer too, but I used this as it was highly recommended by our contractor. I loved it.

Now don’t skip this step. Not on kitchen cabinets. 
Don't let anyone tell you different. No matter which paint you go with, oil, acrylic, or chalk kitchen cabinets are used and abused so you want to ensure that paint adheres well. Use white for white cabinets or have it tinted as close as you can to the color you choose. This step will also help you get better coverage and use less paint which means less money.

I used Benjamin Moore ADVANCE alkyd paint.

After a lot of internet research and recommendation from painters, I went with Advance paint. Thin and creamy it went on smoothly, self leveled and best of all, it required no top coat. I have easily wiped away spills, even dried on food, since painting my cabinets. Also, if I ever have nicks, I can pop open a can and touch up without worrying about a difference in sheen from a topcoat. 

As I said earlier, I love chalk paint. I really was planning on using it in my kitchen, 
but here is what stopped me...

  • You still need to prime in kitchen..I recommend using primer no matter what so even with chalk there is that extra step.  
  • Your must use a top coat with chalk paint. That costs money and time. You would need two coats to ensure coverage and you have to worry about drips.
  • Now that you have it top coated, if you ever have nicks you need to paint and topcoat again.

To show you how the primer and paint will look. Here is after just one coat of primer. I did two coats on everything so my white paint would cover easily.

Then, using a brush and roller, I applied two coats of paint.

 After two coats of paint.


Find beauty in your day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Grain Sack Striping on Furniture, Quick and Easy

One of my favorite ways to add personality to a piece of furniture is with grain sack striping.
 I know. Grain sack stripes are everywhere, but I have yet to tire of them.
 In fact, I don't think I will tire of them. They are just good ol' clean and simple.

Recently, I finished updating a tired Queen Anne styled drop leaf coffee table. (Didn't everyone have a grandmother with some Queen Anne pieces like this?)  

A fresh coat of chalk paint and some distressing updated it entirely.
 But, it was a simple Paris Gray grain sack stripe that let it make a style statement, ever so simply.

Grain sack striping is definitely not rocket science, 
but I wanted to share how I do quick and easy striping. 
My mostly full proof method for painting grain sack stripes? I let the tape do all the work.
For this process, I used 1 1/2 inch and 1/2 inch painters tape to lay my stripes.  You can find a good assortment of painters tape here

Starting with a table freshly painted with off white chalk paint.

Find your center, and lay out your middle stripe with the 1/2 inch tape

Follow with 3 stripes of 1/4 inch tape on either side of the middle. 

Here are all your taped lines.

Now, pull up the middle stripe and the second in on each side of the thin tape.

 There, perfectly even stripes... without measuring.

Fill in stripes with your color of choice. Here I used Annie Sloan Paris Gray.

Pull your tape up after paint is slightly set. Then add distressing as desired. And when don't we desire distressing?

 xo Debbie

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