Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thrift Store Find a Vintage Gem

I have been looking for a desk for myself for sometime. Perferably made of a good quality wood, open to refinishing if the size was right. Because this would be going in the family room I really wanted it to look nice & not feel like a place of work. I was dropping off donations at a local thrift store (just outside of Boston) and saw this desk sitting out front, right away I noticed it and knew it had potential. At just $12, I didn't even think twice and bought it. It was an old sewing machine desk.

Not sure if I had to completely refinish this, but I got some advise from an antique dealer: before refinishing see if this works (and it did!). Clean with Gojo hand cleaner and the finest Steel Wool 0000, it cleans and brings out the natural beauty of the wood. These won't scratch or damage the piece so I thought it was worth a try. The 2 items were just $5 at the hardware store.

I took this photo on a sunny day, so it appears much lighter than it actually is. I was relieved I didn't have to refinish it, just put some elbow grease into it and it came out perfect.


Dovetail construction
Gojo, a cream hand cleaner, comes in many varieties. Its important for this to get the non- gritty kind, it contains NO pumice. The Super Fine Steel Wool 0000 will remove spills & most stains without scratching. You don't have to wear gloves, since you are using a hand cleaner, but they will get messy.

After removing the hardware, add just a small amount of Gojo on the steel wool and rub on in a circular motion. I would recommend first doing in an inconspicuous area to make sure it takes it fine.  Using some muscle, cover the whole piece.  Then with a clean soft cloth (lint free cloth) wipe off, this does take some time.

I wasn't sure the material of the hardware but once I started cleaning with steel wool ( I didn't use the Gojo for this) I discovered they were solid brass.  I researched some natural cleaners and found that squeezing a lemon, then rubbing with the steel wool worked great.
After cleaning I realized I forgot to take off this smaller hardware, this button you push to open the top and a sewing machine use to be stored underneath. No sewing machine there but I like that it adds character to the piece. After cleaning these I discovered they were made of copper and had a serial number on it.

I was happy to see made in the U.S.A. by SIMANCO, which stands for Singer Manufacturing Company. After some research, I learned that this contained the Singer Model 640 Sewing machine from 1969.

Before & after, discovering copper

Thanks for looking! I couldn't be happier with my new desk!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Before and After, Living Room and Dining Room, Makeover

My clients, Chris & Natalie, moved into their home, and did a lot of hands on work, such as stripping all the wallpaper. They now had a clean palette. Working with the existing furniture pieces and learning about their style, I was able to assist them in wall colors, window treatments and lighting. As well as the best use of the fireplace. I don't always recommend painting over brick (or stone). It really depends on the condition, the home owner's style, what's going to look best in the space.
Here are some Before and Afters:

To create an accent wall, I choose Alfresco, Benjamin Moore. This blue works well with their existing furniture and is complemented with the now all over color, Hazy Skies, also Benjamin Moore. Similar color window panels from Crate & Barrel are installed close to the ceiling, and reach the floor, to give the illusion of more height. The length was too long so Natalie purchased them and had them hemmed, they came out great.
To create a contemporary space I recommended to paint the brick the same color as the trim, a soft white. The brick was too dark for whitewashing so Chris painted the fireplace then lightly brushed the accent color (on an adjacent wall) on the bricks, which adds warmth. Bronze accents on the fireplace and lighting.

The owners kept their existing wood dining room table, to add some fun & color I picked out this stain glass pendant with bronze finish from Lowes.

I recommended making this wall a feature wall of their own personal photos and/or art work that they loved and represented them.  It personalizes the space and creates a focal point. They picked up this great sideboard on Craig's List, which I love. Natalie did a great job putting it together.

Dark bronze hardware was replaced on all the doors. It helps to make the whole house feel more uniform.  A simple mounted light from Lowes gives a diffused glow (as opposed to the exposed light bulb from the before picture).

Benjamin Moore Paint
Main color throughout: Hazy Skies
Dining room accent wall: Ashley Gray
Living room accent wall: Alfresco
Trim color: Swiss Coffee

Accessories, Pulling a room together

My client has the basics in her neutral living room, room painted, sofa, side chair, but I've been picking out some accessories to complete this space. Colors: blue, gold, bronze, cream, possibly open to other colors!

Adding some texture and blanket storage with Crate & Barrel's Fischer Storage Ottoman

I love the circular brass finish base, combined with a linen soft shade, by Westelm.com

For custom pillows I always shop Etsy.com, this pattern will work beautifully in the room, by Erin Langland

Sophisticated brass accent floor lamp from Overstock.com

Simple, clean lined gold painted base, Threshold Button Tufted Ottoman from Target.com

Soft cream pillow from Wayfair.com
For a punch of color, I am liking this Safavieh Gibbons fuschia bench from Brookstone.com, this would go under a bay window with some accent pillows
I will let you know how it all comes together :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Table Decorating

As I'm planning my Thanksgiving this year, the menu, activities for the kids, setting the table, etc..I'm looking back to ideas from last year.  The kids & I made clay ornaments to be used at the table setting and the guests took them home to use as a Christmas ornament.
I'm always looking for new pieces to use on the table for decoration but I don't want to buy new items every year. I went looking at a thrift shop and got some really great things for almost nothing.

The crystal bowl of cranberries is actually a Tiffany crystal bowl I got for $5 and the brass tea light candle holder was $1. I love bringing in the outdoors by adding gourds, finding pinecones and berries.

Making the clay ornaments, the week before.  Original Sculpey was really easy to work with. I rolled it out like cookie dough until it was 1/4" thick and used a plastic cup to cut out the circle.  The individual letter stamps I purchased at AC Moore for $1. The kids had fun using these and making their own messages.

After you write your names/message, poke a hole where the ribbon will go, then bake them at 275 degrees for about 15 minutes. We let them cool and painted the next day with metallic gold.



 I also put my sons turkey he made in school on the table, it was too cute not to share.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Living Room/Dining Room Paint colors

In my previous post you saw some before pictures of my clients home. After looking at paint colors and window treatments, I apply them to my photos in Photoshop. This is for me, as well as my client, to see how everything will look in the space.  It is important to see the location of an accent color, where is the best place to use it?
Accent paint colors should be used on walls that have something special about them, a focal point. There are 2 focal walls in this open space, the fireplace wall and the wall opposite that anchors the dining table which can be used as a gallery feature wall to display artwork or personal photos. It can really personalize a space to show your personal photos or your favorite style of artwork.
Working in Photoshop I'm able to add the colors and wall art I think will work in this space. Here are some options. First is the fireplace wall with the red brick painted white or whitewashed.


Lighting- I recommend adding two recessed down lights above the fireplace to had some extra light to the room. Currently they have 2 lamps for this space. Opposite from the fireplace is the dining room where I created an accent wall to display art making it a feature wall.  I'm also recommending a fun light pendant

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Accent Walls & Fireplace Painting, what to do?

My client has a new home, newly stripped wall paper and now they are ready to paint.
They asked me to help them in choosing the right paint colors and help them to create a modern and comfortable space. They would like an accent wall, 2-3 colors maybe in this open floor plan consisting of a living room, dining room, hallway to bedrooms and hallway to down stairs. There also in an adjacent kitchen that has a large window opening to the dining room.
And the fireplace. Should they paint it?
Let's see what it looks like now-

Come back to see how I create some images for them with different color options.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Make Lotion Bars, for Soft Skin all Winter!

My hands are very dry in the winter, and start to crack when its really cold.  I'm always reapplying lotion, it doesn't last throughout the day.  My skin is also very sensitive so I don't use anything with scents, etc..Most of the lotions are made with chemicals and the all natural ones are expensive.  So I researched into making my own.  The ingredients are not cheap, but much cheaper than if you bought the products already made. After you make batches it is well worth it! 
You just rub it on your hands and they will be greasy for a few minutes, but it'll go away then they will feel soft, even after you wash them.  I use it twice a day.  This recipe is based from the site The Wellness Mama, she has great recipes & ways to make them. I found this one to be the easiest for me to make. 

If you can find them, buy organic ingredients & unrefined which means raw, not processed to remove impurities or unwanted elements.

Hand Made Lotion Bars Ingredients:
{Equal Parts} I'd start with 1 cup each, will make about 8-10 lotion bars, size shown below
1 Part: 100% Pure Shea Butter (I've switched to unrefined/raw Shea Butter)
1 Part: Beeswax
1 Part: Coconut Oil
If using 1 cup of each ingredient above then:
1 tsp. Vitamin E Oil
30 drops (or more) of Peppermint Essential Oil or you can use lavender, whatever essential oil you like. Peppermint oil is very good for your skin! Read more here.
In a double boiler, add the Shea Butter, Beeswax & Coconut Oil. Place over a pot of water, then turn heat on and stir as it begins to melt. Stir until completely melted.
I bought a double boiler to use just for this, then I don't have to worry about cleaning it after.

When mixture is completely melted take off of heat and stir in tsp. of Vitamin E Oil & 30 drops of Peppermint Oil, this will give it a light scent, add more drops if you like it a little stronger.  Carefully pour into molds. My daughter's requested silicone hearts. I also used paper cupcake liners, place in a cupcake tin before pouring. Let sit over night. They will easily come out of the mold. I store them in a small zip lock bag after. I also bought small tins for gifts.


It is cheapest to buy these ingredients on line. I bought my 1st batch at Whole Foods, and spent a little more than I needed.  Cost at Whole Foods:
7 oz Pure Shea Butter, $9.99 (2 of these)
14 oz Organic Coconut Oil 7.99 (aprox)
Beeswax, there probably is someone in your town or near by that is a bee keeper, go that route 1st to see if they have any.  I found 1 near me who sold it for $10 a pound. You can also buy a block at AC Moore or Micheal's in their candle making area, just make sure its pure beeswax.
.5 oz Vitamin E Oil $5.49
2 oz Peppermint Essential Oil $10.99

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Easy Tackable Wall Surface for Kids Room

This is an easy way to make a tackable surface. After my son has been taping or tacking stuff all over the walls I finally made this for him. The first thing I did was figure out the best place for it. I decided to put it between the door and dresser, a narrow space where he usually is taping pictures on the wall anyway.
I bought (2) 20" x 30" foam core boards, (micheal's 2.99 each) and I bought a piece of black flannel fabric, with a subtle herringbone pattern. I like having a dark background that isn't too busy so you're pictures pop out. Not shown, an exacto knife, ruler and I also bought some felt to do some cut-outs (optional), felt will easily adhere to the flannel so he can move the pieces around.

Foam core comes in different sizes, so figure out what size(s) are best for your space. You want to cut as little as possible, just easier. Butt the pieces together and use duct tape on both sides to attach them.
For mine, I taped the 2 pieces together making it now 20" x 60".
After I laid out my fabic, which is 54" wide, I realized I had to cut back the foam core a few inches so the fabric could wrap around. Its important to use a very sharp blade on your exacto knife & use a cutting board or a large piece of cardboard underneath because you will cut through.  First I drew the line in pencil across. Before you cut, sheer the top layer of paper all the way across, along a ruler's edge. Then go back and cut all the way through.
I used duct tape to adhere the fabric to the foam core. I actually ran out so I used duct tape on 2 of the opposite sides and used a hot glue gun for the other 2, which worked great.
I used small 1" nails to attach it to the wall in the corners and along the side near the duct tape seam.
Using felt, which is super cheap and can make it custom for your child, I cut out a C for my son's name and Pikachu, from Pok√©mon, who he is obsessed with right now.  I printed out a picture of Pikachu and traced it on the felt.  He now wants me to add some more characters...I did the C free hand, it came out ok considering it was late, I did this at night while he was sleeping so he could wake up to it.