Thursday, August 3, 2017

Turning Furniture Into Art and My Love of Octopuses

During our “move to Florida that never happened,” 
my husband and I spent a lot of time looking at potential new homes and envisioning our perfect coastal interior. We wanted lots of whites and blues, of course, 
and… a recurring theme of octopuses.

As I looked at coastal home accessories, I became smitten by anything with an octopus on it. I found the twists and turns of an octopus’s arms just so visually cool. And, I loved that they could be so unusual looking and somehow at the same time cute in there own way.

This was the shower curtain I fell in love with for our boys' bathroom from the 
Etsy shop My Silly Pony.

Then, as quick as the opportunity to move south came, it disappeared and we decided to stay put in Maryland. We realized the were blessed to remain in our old Victorian Farmhouse and I embraced again the my clean farm look, 
but my fondness for tentacles remained.

As I thought about my next project, I found myself sketching octopuses and searching for a perfect piece of furniture to make one of the sketches come to life.  I had originally wanted to place the design sideways on a long piece of furniture, but I happened to find a beautiful tall mid century modern piece…so that become my canvas.

I believe every home needs a statement piece of furniture.
Something that is one of a kind and helps set the tone for the space. Furniture can be itself, a great piece of art.

To design my octopus, I looked at images of octopuses and then drew a rough sketch that would fit the piece of furniture I already had. But often, I have an idea or image and then need to find furniture that fits the picture best.

Tip, look for furniture with a mostly flat front, stay away from too many raised drawers and moldings. You want the front to become a smooth canvas.

Now, I am not a trained artist... at all and you don’t need to be.
 Practice drawing a sketch and you may be surprised what you can create. But, if that is not your thing, one of my favorite resources for images is the Graphics Fairy. For one of my favorite pieces, I used a beautiful bird image from there. 
Here are the steps I used to achieve this look.

If have also used countless French ephemera from the Graphics Fairy
which is my signature look! Follow the link here, to see my step by step process for a cream and gold french look.

Once I find an image to my liking, I print the image onto transparency paper (get that here.) For an image I draw, I simply take a picture of it with my phone and then print the picture onto transparency paper.

I like using a transparency, because I can shine up the picture and move the image in and out, making it larger or smaller, 
and find the perfect fit for the piece.

 I like an image to just fit or be larger and slightly off-center, 
creating unsymmetrical symmetry.

 Meaning, a balance of image and negative space which gives interest to a piece. I set my octopus off center slightly but see how it has balance.

hand painted octopus

For the octopus dresser, I based the dresser in Modern Masters warm silver (which is really a gold look) and followed with a white paint. This allows the gold to show through when I sand and distress the piece at the end. 

After drawing the outline of my octopus up, I based the outline in the warm silver and then painted him in a pallet of teals and blues.

Because I like my pieces to have a worn patina, I always sand the image at the end and sometimes I add a wash of white to soften the look when it is on white painted furniture.

When he was all painted, I sent him on his way to some wonderful customers in Florida...Lucky!!

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!

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