Monday, May 1, 2017

The Old School Renovation of the Old Barn Begins...

Well. We are finally settled...

This past year, my husband’s company was unexpectedly sold. Suddenly, our life was filled with a lot of uncertainty. Job security, job satisfaction, advancement was all unknown and many employees began to leave as other companies reached out to them. This included my husband. A lucrative offer came from another company and it was too good to pass up. The catch, it would move us to Florida.  Florida, with the sun and beach and more sun, that was the upside. The downside was we would be moving from the home we had just moved into two years ago, an old Victorian farmhouse that we were slowly updating. 

We prepared ourselves for the change and dove in, but the whirlwind we thought we were in for, with a move and traveling back and forth while our oldest son finished his senior year in high school, never happened. Our home sat on the market for over 9 months with just a ridiculous low-ball offer and lots of hemming and hawing by buyers about what needed to be fixed.

We were so stressed. We would now be losing tons of money if we lowered the price on the house and I was quickly losing my mind from all the showings. I simply cannot maintain that level of clean required to show a house. Not with two labs, a cat and teenage boys.

But then, by the grace of God, another company reached out to my husband. It was a great offer and, we could stay in Maryland, in our home. Thank you God.

So here we are, settled, finally, and the stories and blog can begin again.

The biggest project we had on our list of things to repair in our home was renovating the old barn/carriage house.

The barn, which probably dates to earlier than the 1863 house, was falling apart. Siding was falling off, windows were knocked out and if there had ever been doors on the front they were now gone too. It really looked like we need a bulldozer to come in and knock it down.

 But, if you looked closer, there were things that made it seem worth saving. It had a concrete subfloor put in by a previous owner, a metal roof that still was in good shape, and beautiful had hewn beams throughout that seemed like they would stand forever, given the chance.

It also had beautiful site lines. With the sharp-pitched roof and tall and narrow sides, it created a picture perfect view out our kitchen and sunroom. I had a feeling, if we replaced it with something new, every time I looked out our french doors I would regret it.

But, replacing it seemed an easy solution and letting a salvage company take the good wood, seemed to ease the guilt of knocking her down.

Then we met Buck. I had recently crossed paths with Buck on several occasions not realizing he renovated and salvaged old homes. Long story, short, Buck came out and visited our barn and wanted to restore it. And by that I mean he didn’t simply want the work, he wanted the opportunity to save the barn.

He walked around her and looked her up and down. Salvaging as much as he could, he would bring her back to life. 

And so, the new life for an old barn begins…

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

French Postal Dresser

For the better part of the year, I have latched on to a specific furniture look, cream distressed back to gold undertones. And I am not ready to let go.

The gold peaking out dresses things up, but the simplicity of white slightly roughed up…keeps a lid on too much glitz.

I love design that has good yin and yang in it, dressy, but with practicality. 

So with that in mind, I took to updating this beautiful mid century modern dresser by Dixie furniture. What really stole my heart was the gorgeous hardware…isn’t it awesome? But the dull yellow finish...not so awesome.

I created a new look starting with a primer in a color close to beige or yellow to serve as a base for the metallic gold. Then I went to one of my favorite products of 10 years, modern masters metallic. I applied a shade called warm silver. Really a soft gold. Two coats of this goes on like glass. On top I applied a coat of classic white chalk paint then wet distressed back to the gold.

To make this piece unique, I then added a hand painted element in gold and gray. When a dresser has such an even clean front, I can’t help but look at it as a canvas.

I chose simple vintage french postal ephemera from the Graphics Fairy, here.

To see the step by step process for this finish with a transfer, view my older post, here

A couple tips when painting images on furniture...

  • Don’t be afraid to use artistic license. The original postal image had a flower, which was just too much feminine for me. I took it out. I also added another postage stamp lower to create balance.
  • Always use water color pencil to draw up image and in a color such as gray that can work as a shadow color. Wipe off what you can, but what remains acts as a shadow for depth.
  • Experiments with colors…don’t always use black to paint words etc.

I finished this piece with my hands down favorite topcoat, Modern Masters Dead Flat

It is virtually foolproof..
It does not drip easily.
It does not show lap lines.
It give you time to brush a little back into if you need to.
It gives a smooth flat gorgeous finish.

I have made the mistake of using other polys and waxes I had on hand after running out of Dead Flat. Like I said. Mistake. Order on amazon and get it in two days…don’t kid yourself, you probably wouldn’t have finished the piece before that.

Tweak and Style your world beautiful

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!

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