well loved chairs

We had three cast off dining room chairs that had lost their luster long ago.   Their bums were sagging and needed more than just a nip tuck.  An upholstery lift wasn’t going to cut it with these babies. There was nothing worth saving except for the sturdy wooden frames.

chair befor

Good frames that they were, made them quite the perfect candidates to upcycle into an upholstered bench.  I painted each their own happy hue in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (Emilie, Florence & Duck Egg) to complement the recurring aqua blue color scheme in our home.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

We headed straight to Lowe’s for lumber.  This was the easy part. We selected a piece of plywood and had the fine folks at Lowe’s cut it free in store. Did you know Lowe’s offers this service? They’re pretty flexible on how many cuts they’ll do too. We had selected the length and width we wanted the bench to be prior to our trip to the store.

turning chairs into a bench

We based this off of the trio of chairs and their seat width. It was easiest to then take the wood home and measure the notches that needed to be cut between each chair back.  Ryan made these detail cuts and rounded the corners as well.

building a bench out of chairs

Not only does Lowe’s cut lumber but they’ll also cut mini blinds, pipe, rope and chain. And this is news to me, Lowe’s also offers FREE pipe threading and cutting for any size galvanized or black iron pipe. Say what!  A Do It Yourselfer’s dream.  Lowe’s is seriously full of easy solutions for your projects.

Check out this six second Lowe’s video that will pretty much change your life. Trust me.

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Being a visual person, I love the no words simplicity of their new animated video series on Vine.  I definitely learned a few new tricks.  The stripped screw solution is genius!  Lowe’s has several more simple, creative and life changing improvement videos like this on Vine.  Check them out!  I can’t believe I never thought of the coffee filter one.   #lowesfixinsix  Holler!

Yes, I just hollered…back to the bench at hand.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

The seat needed to be firm but plush.  Somewhere to linger longer so we picked up two-inch thick foam cushioning.  Using the neatly cut lumber as a template, I traced the shape.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

Here’s another tip for you that I’ve learned along the way:  Ready for it?  A quick and easy way to cut foam cushion is with none other than your electric knife.  The same knife you carve the turkey with.  So easy.

tip: use an electric knife to cut through foam cushion

Next comes the fluffing.  This is where you wrap the seat cushion with poylfill.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

No more saggy seat.  This bench is looking firm and inviting.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

The final step was the upholstery.  Instead of going with some sparkly new fabric, I obviously opted for two dingy, old seed sacks.  I’ve been holding onto these waiting for just the right project.  Their time had come, my friends.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

The trickiest part of this entire bench building business for us was sewing. Yes, sewing a straight line. Now you stellar seamstresses out there may find this comical but firing up the actual sewing machine was our biggest challenge. No joke.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

But my husband came to the rescue with a triple stitch combining both grain sacks to make one piece of fabric wide enough to cover the entire seat.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

We embraced all the wear and tear in both the fabric and chairs and are pretty excited with how the upcycled bench turned out.  Funny enough the only new materials used are in innards.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

It complements the well-loved and repurposed vibe that is growing in the beach house kitchen.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

This is a view into the eating nook as it is today with our vintage enamel table.  The roman shades are also a new addition.

upcycled chairs turned custom bench

The bench adds lots of extra seating for visitors at our kitchen table.  It faces the galley that we have been working on updating as I posted about last week.


Some other areas I hope to update are the walls, laminate floor and lighting.  I think I got my point across last week about my lack of interest in laminate and desire to resurface all of it within a 30 mile radius.  But all in due time.  We seem to be working on this space upside down or inside out…details first.  It works for us!

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.  However, all opinions and projects are my own.  And we really do think Lowe’s is awesome and their new videos are life changing.

vinyl + chrome = love

We’re just barely back from our honeymoon.  Still organizing life and most importantly all of our Brimfield finds!  However I couldn’t leave you hanging without a little dose of Circa Dee.

I’ve got a before & after for you from the archives.  I can’t hardly believe that I’ve never properly shared this project with you.  It is definitely one of my favorites around here.  In fact, there has been a debate on whether or not we should keep it for ourselves.  We don’t actually need this adorable retro dinette table & chairs however it fits in perfectly at the beach.  And we happen to have an open space for it.  Hmmm…

updated retro dinette  (2 of 23)

Of course I didn’t take a proper before shot. More like an in progress shot after we started taking the chairs apart.  As you can see they were covered in the original vinyl which was in bad shape.  And then there was newer vinyl (not pictured) haphazardly tacked on over the original.



Off it all came!  The chairs got updated with my modern spin on the original vinyl – bright aqua marine grade vinyl.  So fun!

updated retro dinette  (18 of 23)

Don’t you just want to sit down?

updated retro dinette  (10 of 23)

Now for the table… I love the original table.  Nice and solid.  What you can’t really see are all of the dings, filth and general wear & tear.  So ultimately we stripped it with the intent to stain the original wood with a more modern dark color.


But at the end of the day we settled on a couple of coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in graphite.  I think it adds another modern punch that coordinates with the bright chairs very well.  I topped it off with a couple of cots of furniture wax.  It has a nice smooth finish.

updated retro dinette  (12 of 23)

And check out all of those legs!  We cleaned and shined up all of that chrome which really gives off the retro vibe.  All of that gorgeous chrome is the feature that is saving the table from staying in our home.  We have all brass accents so the chrome has to go!  Too bad for us but maybe good for you?

updated retro dinette  (8 of 23)

Wouldn’t you like to have a glass of wine at this table?

updated retro dinette  (20 of 23)

Linking to:  Miss Mustard Seed

making an impact

Celebrate Earth Week at Impact Thrift’s ECOfest Home Show!

On Saturday, April 27, 2013, join Impact Thrift Stores in Feasterville for ECOfest Home Show, a day filled with valuable information, informative and interactive (free!) workshops, and easy ideas you can implement in your home today.


My contribution to ECOfest is this…

pink sideboard

I started this project way back at the Philly Home Show.  Impact sponsored our craft room which allowed us the opportunity to show different paint techniques as well as to upcycle and repurpose items on the fly.  I completed the drawers then and finished up the rest of the piece just last week right in Impact’s processing warehouse which is a playground for someone like me…between all of the treasures plus the ample painting workspace!

Linen milk paint over Henrietta chalk paint

It will be available for sale at ECOfest and will benefit Impact Thrift Store’s charities.  For those readers visiting from Impact who are new to painting, here’s the 411 on the products used…

The pink base color is called Henrietta by Annie Sloan chalk paint.  I applied 2 coats of this.  Chalk paint was sponsored by our friends at  Phantastic Phinds and is available for sale at their shop in Erdenehim, PA.  No priming or prepping necessary.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Henrietta

The drawers had such great details to highlight so I chose to paint a coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Linen (available here).  It did what milk paint does best and produced some subtle crackling around the details.  I added antiquing wax to highlight it.

Linen milk paint over Henrietta chalk paint

I also distressed the lines of the drawers to further highlight the details.

For the inside, I chose to use a wash of Ironstone milk paint to highlight the real wood grain.  This piece was a combination of real wood and veneer.  The top was super shiny veneer actually.

Ironstone milk paint drawers

I used Miss Mustard Seed’s furniture wax on the entire piece.  I love how that wax smells.


I never took a true before pic but this was a classic 1970s dining room buffet.


I had a vision of repurposing it into a changing table/dresser in a nursery.  This piece has some serious storage that would accommodate a nursery just right and it is extremely sturdy!

pink sideboard

How have you made an impact this Earth Day?

our new and improved dining room

We moved into our house almost 2 years ago.  Time really flies.  In fact I remember the first day we set foot in it, it was President’s Day 2011.  Exactly 2 years ago.  We put an offer on the house on the spot.  We loved it and still do!  We’ve had to do very little to really personalize it because this little house had been updated by the previous owners in so many ways that we would have chosen.  They had great taste when renovating the 1949 cape cod.  This is where I say “however”…

Since the day we moved in I wanted a sage green dining room.  Bottom line is, we’re earth tone people.  We like earthy greens, warm browns and cool blues.  We seem to dress that way and sway toward those colors.

So our cranberry red dining room never seemed to match us. Here is a before shot from just after we moved moved in.


The challenge came though because the paint was done well.  Deep red is really hard to get right and I think the previous owners got it right along with the coordinating regal window treatment they left us too.  We got so many complements on those curtains but, again, they never felt like us.  It was hard to let it go and some of you reading will probably like the before better!  It is not like this was a room we sat in and discussed how hideous it was and how badly it needed to be redone.  I moved full speed ahead anyway and took those expensive panels down and exchanged them for my vintage, thrift store toile ones along with some fraying feed sacks for valances.  Ahhh…

vintage toile drapes & feedsack valance - window treatment

What is wrong with me?  This just feels so much better.

vintage toile drapes

Once I started bringing sage accents in the room, I knew it was time to paint.  I decided the walls needed to be Arles alla Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  It is such a warm yellow.  It is perfect!  I attempted to do a wall with chalk paint but to get the coverage I needed over all of that deep red, chalk paint wasn’t going to be cost effective.  Although, I might add, cream chalk paint very easily and successfully covered this same color red paint on my brick fireplace surround last year in just one coat.

So we took Arles to the paint counter and had them color match it in latex.  And when I saw we, I mean Ryan.  While I was on my home show marathon, out of the house for like 10 days straight, he painted the dining room!  He couldn’t bear the one half painted wall anymore and swears I set that up.  If only…what a brilliant idea.

So it is finally ready for a big reveal!

dining room paint inspired by arles

I also added an antique hooked rooster rug.  Maybe a little bit country?

antique hooked rooster area  rug

I painted the base of our table in a custom mixed sage green milk paint.


This was a result of mixing Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in kitchen scale with a bit of linen and a hint of typewriter.  All left over from recent furniture painting projects.

reupholstered linen bentwood chair

In fact, I don’t think I ever shared this table on the blog before.  Here is an in progress shot of the room as it was evolving but still very much cranberry, taken a year ago.


The table was one of my very first furniture projects.  I stripped and sanded the top and stained it in ebony.  Because the dining room is so small, this drop leaf gate leg table is perfect for the space.  There is also another hidden leaf stowed away inside so it accommodates a lot of people when needed.  It’s like a Stretch Armstrong of tables.  Remember him?

drop leaf table custom mixed sage milk paint

Ryan and I recovered the vintage bentwood chairs in linen.  I like how the worn wood is lighter than the rest of the wood in the room.

vintage bentwood chair

Did you notice the new chandelier?  Well it was there last year too.

dining room paint inspired by arles

This was a ReStore find a couple of years ago.  It came with mini shades but I didn’t like them.  I love the simplicity of it without them.

dining room paint inspired by arles

And how the finish coordinates with the hardware on the old aqua door (which I decided to give a permanent home since fostering it out on my mantel).  Funny thing is that this chandelier was in the red room but completely faded into the paint color.  Now it pops.

dining room paint inspired by arles

Although Ryan thought the red was fine and originally wasn’t into this project, he too is thrilled with the new yellow room.  It is so much brighter and airier.  Is that a word?


dining room paint inspired by arles

dining room bentwood chair

And my mixing bowl collection…hello!  Swoon.

built in - mixing bowl collection

vintage vignette

built in display shelf

Now the domino effect has begun in this room.  Next up, stripping and painting the original built in cabinet doors to be re-hung.

And maybe bead board.  And crown molding.  Can’t you just picture it?  This is where Ryan pretends he’s not listening.

Oh and I’m already scheming more of an eclectic cottage style bench too.  Stay tuned!

Have you ever redone a perfectly fine “before” to better suit your tastes?  And where do you find your paint color inspirations?

Happy President’s Day!

Linking to: TwelveOEight, Miss Mustard Seed

Ultimate Upcycle Challenge

Hello there!  I have so many before and after projects to share with you…one at a time.  As I’ve mentioned a zillion times now, I designed and implemented a room at the Philadelphia Home Show which consists of all vintage and repurposed decor.  The show is open through Sunday, February 10th.  I will share details of each project in the next few weeks but first I’d like to start with a project that is not in the room, however it is at the show.

Ultimate Upcycle Challenge

Habitat for Humanity’s Philadelphia ReStore hosted a challenge where each contestant went to the store and chose an item to upcycle or repurpose for another use.


Do you have a ReStore in your area?

I visit frequently to see what kind of building materials have been donated.  Sometimes there is good furniture too.  On my recent visit I found a plain headboard that I selected for my project.

headboard before

I wanted to do a basic project to display at the home show in the hopes that it would inspire new DIYers and upcyclers. On the scale of easy to difficult, this was E-Z.  No power tools required.  Just my good ol’ paint brush.  And chalk.
Upcycled Family Message Board

I painted up the trim in 2 layers for a cottagey look.  Ironstone milk paint and Emile chalk paint.  It gave a nice chippy look.  I waxed the perimeter and than applied 2 coats of chalkboard paint to the flat surface.  Instant message board.  You could hang it in the kitchen with menu items on it.  The uses are endless really.


Ok so I did need a drill after all.  But this step is totally optional.  I added 5 hooks to the chalkboard and labeled them with each family member’s name.  The addition of hooks made this message board double as a coat rack.


This headboard turned family organizer would work great by the door or in a mudroom.  It provides a place to leave messages and jackets and such…a landing area.

So anyway, I’d love to get your vote in the Ultimate Upcycle Challenge!  Just click-through to cast your vote.  You don’t even have to live in the area of visit the show.  Check out the other upcycled projects too.  There’s a lot of inspiration!  You can even bid on them if you want to take one home.  But you’d probably have to live in the area to do that.

Ultimate Upcycle Challenge

And while we’re talking about voting, a kind soul nominated Circa Dee for the Apartment Therapy Homies in the Best Home Design & Inspiration Blog category!  I’m so honored to be on this list.  You’ll see that Style by Emily Henderson is currently in the lead which is fabulous because it is one of my top fave blogs.  However, I wouldn’t mind having a few more votes!  Help me out, will you?  You can vote for more than one blog.


So enough about voting, what’s new with you?

did you ever

Did you ever work on a project that you weren’t sure if you were going to love or not?  You know what I mean.  You’re chipping away, painting, gluing, sewing, (whatever your craft) and just wondering if the outcome is going to be worth it.  Or if you’ll have to scrap it and start all over.

Did you ever?

I did!  And I love it.

Maybe you already caught a glimpse of this ‘after’ on facebook or instagram.  Yes, I finally caught on to the 2012 trend of instagram as the year is closing.  Follow me @circadee!  Better late than never.

french nightstands with milk paint and florence chalk paint

I am glad I pushed through the “awkward” phases of this project because I love the unique outcome in the finish.

french nightstands with milk paint and florence chalk paint

So I started with a pair of French provincial Broyhill nightstands.  We picked up the entire matching bedroom set on Thanksgiving day and these are the first pieces I dove into.  I plan to break up the whole set.  I know, cringe, right?  Oh well.

french nightstands with milk paint and florence chalk paint

I painted the first coat of the exterior in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Florence.  I love this color and probably could have stopped there but decided not to.  I thought the result would be too high glam for what I was going for between the color and curves of the pieces.

french nightstand florence chalk paint

So I pushed forward with my plan.

french nightstands with milk paint and florence chalk paint

And mixed up some Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Typewriter.  This is normally a very true, soft black.  I applied 2 coats over Florence in most places and it absorbed into the chalk paint leaving some blue to peek through.

french nightstands with milk paint and florence chalk paint

The combination of the Typewriter/black milk paint over the Florence/teal chalk paint made a fabulous color that can be called eggplant or grey-ish or a combination of both.

french nightstands with milk paint and florence chalk paint

Maybe even blue-grey in some light. It is very unique.

french nightstands with milk paint and florence chalk paint

I painted the inside shelf in ASCP graphite which coordinates well with the exterior paint finish in an opaque kind of way.  By the way, I’m smitten with this tarnished silver compote full of spools…

vintage tarnished silver compote filled with spools

I finished both night stands (yes, there is a pair although not pictured together) with Miss Mustard Seed’s furniture wax which is hands down my favorite wax on the market now.  It is delish.  And there is free shipping on it now in my online shop for you DIYers.  Shameless plug, I know.

french nightstands with milk paint and florence chalk paint

In case you didn’t see on facebook, I cancelled the Miss Mustard Seed book signing that was scheduled for this Saturday at our Brick & Mortar.  With it being just 3 days prior to Christmas, there seemed to be many conflicts so we hope to reschedule in the new year.  I plan to make it up to you though with some in store sales this weekend!  And free shipping on Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint online through December 24th.  Yay!

Linking to Miss Mustard Seed