Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Trunk Tray Wall Organizer Step-By-Step

Over the years, I've enjoyed projects using old trunks.  Often my project doesn't require using the tray or sometimes I find old trays without the trunk at a junk shop or yard sale.  Here I've created a pretty and practical wall organizer.

Vintage trunk tray
Vintage trunk tray divider (from a different trunk)
Three glass knobs with short screws
Recycled picture frame moulding
Interesting recycled hardware or hinges to use for hanging
Rubber Cement
Wood glue
Finish nails

1.  The first step is to assess the condition of the old paper covering the tray.  If it's not in great shape or you just want to prolong it's life, go over the whole thing with a coat of Mod Podge.  The main tray of this project is a faded red plaid and was in pretty good shape so a simple coat over the whole thing was all it needed.  The bottom divider was a tan and blue plaid and had a few tears so I used the Mod Podge to glue down all the loose bits and then did a final coat on both sides of the divider.

2.  Next, screw the knobs onto the divider before attaching it to the main tray so that the screws can be tightened with a screwdriver (tough to do this after it's attached).

3.  Cut a piece of left over cork to fit in the top section and use rubber cement to affix the cork to the tray.  I have found rubber cement to work best for cork projects.  Simply brush a thin layer on both the cork and the material you are adhering to and let both piece set up for just a minute or so before putting them together.  Work out any bubbles and use a heavy book on top until the project is dry.

4.  To give the cork board a finished look, use quarter round moulding or cut up a recycled picture frame with mitered corners and attach with wood glue.  If the pieces are cut to a tight fit, this should be sufficient to hold the trim into the tray.

Note:  Depending on what you are using for a wall hanger, you might want to attach the hanger to the tray before installing the cork board so that you hide any screws that might otherwise be visible.

5.  Attach the lower tray divider using wood glue and small finish nails.  Pre-drilling small holes will help to keep the wood from splitting.   This will give you a sturdy pocket for mail, magazines, file folders, etc.

On a difficulty scale from 1 to 10, this project is about a 2.  It's quick and easy and every one is unique, pretty, and practical.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Don't Pass Up An Ugly Door....It's A Real Beauty

I'm often asked where I find such great doors for projects.  I'll share a little secret; they don't start out that way.

It's the ugliest door that has the most potential.  Believe it or not, they usually start out like this simple single panel door.  I prefer a door that has been painted several times over the years in different colors.  If you want a lot of character look for peeling paint.             

Start by scraping off the loose paint.  Then sand the door feathering the scraped edges to prevent further chipping.

I use Fiddes Supreme Wax (my favorite color is Rugger Brown) to finish the door giving it an antiqued look highlighting the layers of paint, accentuating any naturally occurring crackling, and warming up an otherwise less than appealing color.  If you're happy with the original color, use Fiddes Supreme Wax in Light which is actually clear.  You'll get the soft finish without changing the color.

There are many types of old paneled doors.  A four panel door like the gold one is a perfect candidate to be cut in half down the center for a corner shelf unit.  Simply refinish the old door as described above.

Before putting the two halves together, I added the shelf supports to each side of the door while I had them lying side by side so they would be in perfect alignment.  

Then, using a piece of square stock the thickness of the door, screw the two pieces together from the back.

Finally, starting from the bottom, screw the shelves to the supports.  It's a simple way to make a unique corner bookcase using a reclaimed door.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gotta Love A Freebie

 When I said I "adopted junk" from family and friends, and even the occasional stranger, I wasn't kidding....but how could I turn down this challenge...it just looked so sad :(

The first step in my "creative process" is to clean. Believe it or not, this photo was taken after a good cleaning.

Next, I decide if a piece can be transformed or does it need to be dismantled.  I do a sort of junk triage.  Although rusty, the frame was in tact and all the wheels still turned.  That's a good start!

 The fabric had disintegrated so basically all I had was a frame.  A carriage without the "bassinet" is really just a cart.  So, I looked around the workshop for a "tray" for my new cart.  And we have a WINNER!  The lid from an old trunk just happens to be the perfect size.  This is why it is important to collect junk and hang on to it.  You never know when you might need it.

After removing the buggy hood and all the fabric, a coat of clear paste wax maintains the metal frame's patina and gives it a finished look.

Because this was a bouncy baby buggy, the weight of the trunk lid lowered and bounced the buggy which is not a good idea for a tea cart.  A couple of pieces of wood cut to the proper length provided support for the buggy frame and locked it at the perfect height for a tea cart.

My standard protocol for sprucing up an old trunk while maintaining its patina is to wax the outside with Fiddes Supreme Wax in Rugger Brown. 

I love the vintage paper liners in trunks; but since I'm usually in the possession of rather junky trunks, the paper is usually in poor condition.  I use Mod Podge to reglue any loose bits and then go over the whole inside with a coat of the Mod Podge as a sealer.

This repurposed little buggy now resides in a good home with my dear friend Jeanne D....so I guess I didn't really adopt; I just fostered.

Sometimes You Find Something Dreamy

My intention with this blog was to create a sort of journal of projects I've done over the years.  I wasn't always good about taking pictures and looking back I'm surprised by the volume I've produced over the years.

I found a photo of this sweet little antique bed dated April 2007.  I don't remember where this bed came from....I'm guessing a garage sale.

When I find something in good condition I can't bring myself to alter it.

For an easy pick-me-up, I use a product from right here in Paso Robles called Howard's Restore-A-Finish.  It's an oil that comes in a can like a teak oil.  It's available in colors depending on wood type.  You simply apply with a soft lint free cloth and it will beautify the existing finish making minor scratches and watermarks disappear.

In addition to junking, reinventing, refurbishing.... I also love to sew home decor items.

I wanted to play with the scale of this small bed by foregoing the usual bedskirt and duvet cover and instead make a coverlet with a long ruffle.  I love texture and tend to use a lot of burlap....it's inexpensive and I love the natural color.   I've paired the burlap with a soft floral linen and repeated the long burlap ruffle on the back pillow.    Using burlap as a home decor fabric has become quite popular in the last few years and can be found in a variety of fabric widths and colors.

Tip:  If you plan to use burlap for soft furnishings like bedding or pillows, you can wash the fabric and throw it in the dryer with lots of fabric softener sheets to soften and age the fabric.  I use hot water to get it to shrink up a bit  and do this several times before sewing my project.  Make sure to empty the lint trap often during each drying cycle....you'll be amazed at the amount of lint.

Depending on volume of fabric, it's a good idea to cut the yardage into manageable pieces for washing and drying.  Just be sure to cut them larger than you need for your project because there will definitely be fraying on the unfinished edges.

I do not recommend washing burlap for window treatments.  Window treatments look better with a bit of structure.  Washing and drying will remove that structure.  It is also difficult to wash and dry that volume of fabric without ending up with wrinkles that are extremely difficult to remove completely.

Vintage Door Marries Vanity Bench

I happen to be one of those people who absolutely love old doors.  I especially like odd sized ones that have been painted many colors over the years and now have lots of chippy paint... or shall we say, patina.

A few years ago, I purchased eight old doors from a local antiques store that had been salvaged out of the first motel in California located in San Luis Obispo.  This skinny minty green door was one of those doors.  I also had a vintage vanity bench that was just a bit wider than the door.  One day, they were sitting together in my workshop and at a glance looked like an oddly proportioned chair....another fetish of mine...  I had a lightbulb moment and decided to marry the two creating a functional hall tree narrow enough to fit just about anywhere.

Giving an old door a "furniture finish" is accomplished by scraping off any loose paint and sanding the whole thing feathering the edges between the paint and raw wood to prevent further chipping.  Apply a coat of Minwax Gel Stain in Aged Oak to warm up the color and highlight all the distressed details.  I love working with Gel Stain because it allows plenty of working time to soften all the brush marks and gives the door a beautiful lasting finish.

Turning the door upside down allowed me to use oversized cast iron hooks which required the larger  bottom panel of the door to mount the top hook.  

The vanity bench just needed a good sanding and a coat of the same Aged Oak Gel Stain which resulted in a nice driftwood finish.

A gorgeous piece of fabric left over from a custom bedding ensemble project (see inset) was used to reupholster the bench seat (which happened to be removable offering a little extra hidden storage).  The chocolate browns and minty green in the fabric were the perfect compliment to the "enhanced" patina of the door.

The bench was screwed to the door from underneath for safety and stability.

And there you have it....a truly shabby chic hall tree that can function just about anywhere.  And yes, those are Santa's cowboy boots.....

Vintage Vanity

I found this little treasure in pretty good condition but felt it needed a little pick-me-up.  It was already painted white but had a little wear and tear.

In cases where a piece has been around the block a few times and may show a little "less than chic" shabbiness, I like to keep it shabby chic but clean it up a bit so that it looks like it should be inside the house and not out in a shed.

If there are scuff marks or scratches, I like to sand those out a bit, feathering the edges.  This gives the piece an all over worn look without looking damaged.  I scrape off any chippy paint and sand those edges as well to stop further chipping.  In this case, I went ahead and sanded the top and then gave the whole piece a coat of Minwax Gel Stain in Aged Oak.  The result is a more a more durable top and the white is now a more vintage white.

For a little added surprise, I painted the inside of the cabinet and drawer a robin's egg blue, then decoupaged a bird and nest motif tissue paper inside the drawer.

Tip: When a piece has cupboards instead of drawers, adding baskets not only helps to organize storage but adds an interesting textural element.

Idea:  This vintage piece may have once been a vanity but now it has unlimited potential.  It could be used as a desk, sewing table, craft station, buffet, bar, media console (the baskets are perfect for cd's and dvd's)....

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bifold Screen Saver

Back in October of 2006 I came upon a set of old bifold doors.  You know, the kind with half of the upper louvers missing....

I wanted to make a screen that would have a more functional side with a chalkboard and a pretty side with fabric.  The screen could then be used as a divider in a large living area creating an office or playroom side using the chalkboard and the fabric would create interest on the living room side.

The first step is to remove any remaining louvers and sand the whole piece.  I wanted an old world look and a punch of color so I decided on a medium green.  My doors were originally white and I like the look of multiple layers of paint so I only lightly sanded leaving most of the white.  Apply a good coat of green and let it dry.

While the paint was drying, I cut new upper panels from 1/4" fiberboard.  For the chalkboard side I like to spray at least two or three thin coats of chalkboard paint, changing the direction I spray with each coat.  I had a beautiful piece of upholstery fabric for the other side which I adhered with a spray adhesive.  Use a brayer to roll out any wrinkles or bubbles, just like you would when wallpapering.

Now that the green paint is dry, I sand off a little here and there to create a distressed look.  Finish off the frame with a coat of Minwax Gel Stain in Aged Oak to give the whole piece that extra layer of depth and an aged look.  This also gives the white under layer a warmer tone.

To insert the panels into the screen, I cut quarter round trim using a miter saw and stained the pieces with the Gel Stain.  Attach the pieces to one side using a small finish nail gun and insert the panels like you would a picture in a picture frame.  Then nail the remaining quarter round trim pieces on the other side.

Pretty and practical!

Tip:  Always cure a new chalkboard!  Have you ever bought a new chalkboard, written on it and the first time you go to erase it you find that whatever you wrote on it is now permanently visible?  It's because the chalkboard was not properly "cured".  To cure a chalkboard simply take a piece of chalk on it's side and rub it over the whole board.  Sometimes chalk is a little waxy and it's hard to get started so I use a little sandpaper to get the side of the chalk rough enough to work.  Once you've covered the whole board, simply erase.  This leaves the board with a light dusting of chalk which serves a little protective  layer between the board and the chalk.  Sort of like using that wallpaper primer so that when you go to remove wallpaper it comes right off.

Idea:  Make one side a bulletin board using cork which can be exposed or under the fabric.  Burlap or grain sacks are really hot right now and would look great.  Or try vintage wallpaper.....the list could go on and on and on.....

Gilded Chair....Fit For A Queen

 I've been going through old photos trying to find projects I have done over the years and found this gilded chair I did back in November of 2006.   Back then I didn't take "before" pictures or photograph step-by-step instructions so I will have to rely on my memory......like I said, this blog is intended to be a record of my projects.  Let's face it, memories fade.  

 I don't recall where the chair came from but I remember it was originally dark wood.  Because of the style of the back, I thought it would look "regal" if I gave it a gilded finish.  I wanted a richer look than metallic paint so I actually used silver leaf all over the chair.  This was my first time using any leafing product but I found it to be pretty basic.  Just follow the instructions on the leafing package.  

I decided on silver leaf because I wanted sort of a vintage  looking finish and felt that gold leaf would have been too gold for me.  After the leafing process, I simply went over the whole thing with a coat of Minwax Gel Stain in Aged Oak.  The Gel Stain really warms up the silver leaf and settles in the crevices, highlighting the chairs carved detail.  Gel Stain is a great way to give anything an aged patina in one easy step because it stains and seals in one coat and the product's consistency gives you plenty of working time to remove brush marks, etc.  

The beautiful chenille fabric was some I picked up out of the clearance remnant bin.  I finished it off with a coordinating gimp to hide the staples.  

Tip:  I often find chairs with layers and layers of fabric and the original horsehair and cotton, lumps included.  I recommend removing all the old stuff and starting over with new foam and Dacron batting. This will remove decades of old smells and who knows what else.  If you are putting forth the effort to refinish a chair, you might as well make it like new and enjoy it for decades to come.

Idea:  This finish would also be perfect for picture frames, boxes, candlesticks....you are only limited by your own imagination.  Happy Gilding!