mixed greens Christmas tree

Last week I shared our front door decor for the holidays which is relatively simple and traditional.  Less seems to be more this year…

holiday door decor-5217 PM

I’ve been utilizing what nature has to offer as winter approaches.  We’re seeing beautiful holly, dried marsh grasses and bushy cedar beginning to take center stage.  A brisk walk in the woods will provide you with enough supplies to make your very own mixed greens tree.

DIY mixed greens tree

If you’ve read the December issue of Better Homes & Gardens, you may know where I am going with this project…

garden Christmas tree

There are two very important tools that you’ll need to construct this tree:  Florist wire and a tomato cage.  An upside down tomato cage creates the perfect cone shape!  You’ll need to find some sort of base for your tree.  I used a vintage enamel pot.  The handles were perfect for the tomato cage to sit on.  Wire the 3 “legs” together on top to create the point of the tree form.

Tomato cage DIY Christmas Tree-141616

I started creating the tree with cedar cuttings first and followed the lateral lines of the cage, wiring each piece on as I went.  Besides the top point, I wired all greens facing down (stems up) so it looked natural.

DIY tomato cage christmas tree-142539

After all lateral lines are wired, it looked kind of hairy.  Perseverance pays off.  Keep going!  I wired greens on the horizontal lines starting with the bottom first, making sure to overlap the enamel pot.  Each subsequent layer covers the stems and mechanics of the previous layer.

Tomato cage DIY Christmas Tree-142901

Finally, fill in your cage so it looks like a nice, full tree.  I stuck holly branches in without even wiring them.  I also “decorated” the tree with dried grasses and a burlap ribbon remnant.

DIY mixed greens Christmas tree

My DIY mixed greens tree is a little bit wild but it was fun and free to make!  It took about 30 minutes to complete.  And what else was I going to do with my tomato cage in December?

believe Christmas sign-5255

I have been back at milk painting holiday themed signs and boards as well…

holly jolly Christmas sign-5250

Oh deer!

oh deer!

 

 

 

bringing out the blues

I’ve got a good old-fashioned ‘before and after’ to share today.  Here is a 1960’s barrel back caned chair.  I love the shape of these chairs and the upholstery is in excellent condition.  The problem was the dark, shiny finish.  It was muting the pretty blue fabric.

chair before

With the addition of lighter paint, the texture and colors of the fabric pop and give this chair a fresh look for 2014.

barrel back caned chair-5033

First, I applied a coat of Artissimo (navy) with bonding agent while carefully getting the paint in all of the crevices of the caning.

barrel back caned chair-

Next, I used the wax puck in a few places around the edges and raised areas to create a resist between layers of paint which is evident in the final distressing.

shutter gray chair leg #mmsmp

I brushed on a coat of shutter gray over the entire chair carefully applying it lightly over the caning so the navy would really peek through.

painted barrel back caned chair-5036

The final steps involved lightly sanding back the wax puck to reveal the navy blue under the gray followed by topcoating with furniture wax.

The upholstered back of this style chair is one of my favorite features.  Such a great shape.

barrel back caned chair-5047

I’m not usually a glitter and gold kind of gal but I’m loving these pinecone branches which are popping up in our holiday displays and juxtapose rustic accents well.  They’re festive and easy to mix into a vase arrangement, mantel or wreath.  What do you think?  Love ‘em?

glitter pinecone branches

Here’s a look at how the Circa Dee holiday window display is evolving at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown along with the barrel back chair.  Speaking of Serendipity, I’ll be conducting a Milk Paint Demonstration there on Sunday at 1 pm.  Be sure to join us as this will most likely be the last one of the year.

holiday window display

The Sleigh Rides sign did not last long so I’m off to paint more!  Hope to see you at the demo this weekend.

glitter and rustic holiday vignette

 

new milk paint display

Recently I completed one of my largest milk paint projects to date.  This armoire is an oldie but goodie.  It dates back to the 1800’s and was built to be easily taken apart for moving purposes.

chippy milk paint antique armoire-4952

It was love at first sight!

armoire before

It is a real stunner composed of beautiful wood.  Fortunately the inside wood was in great shape with minimal damage.  However the exterior finish was faded and worn.  chippy milk paint antique armoire-4954

I painted 2 coats of shutter gray and the door insets were painted in 2 coats of ironstone.  It led to the most authentic chipping paint which fits this particular old piece very well.  It seems like this armoire would be right at home in a centuries old farmhouse.

chippy milk paint antique armoire-4957

Quite reminiscent of chipping lead paint…a look I love so much but one that can be pretty dangerous.  This paint has zero VOCs!

chippy milk paint antique armoire-4958  chippy milk paint antique armoire-4960

The interior raw wood was brought back to life with all natural hemp oil.

chippy milk paint antique armoire-4959

MMS milk paint’s newest topcoat option is tough coat which proved to be the best choice for such a textured and chipping piece.  Tough Coat locks in the chipping paint so it doesn’t continue to flake off.  It leaves a nice durable finish with a little luster. Tough coat is now available.

chippy milk paint antique armoire-4965

One of the original brass drawer pulls was damaged.  I looked for a replacement at the flea market but that was basically like searching for a needle in a hay stack.  Ultimately, the drawer pulls were updated with clear glass handles.  They are also available for sale at both Circa Dee locations.

chippy milk paint antique armoire-4967

The size of this armoire works perfectly as a display for our milk paint at The West End Garage.  Come check it out in person!

chippy milk paint antique armoire-4968

So what do you think?  Is this much chipping paint a look you love or loathe?  You know where I stand already!

chippy milk paint antique armoire-4956

urban legend of milk paint

Milk paint naturally wants to absorb into a porous surface.  When there is a previous “shiny” finish present like poly or latex, the paint may “resist” it causing flaking paint and the chippy look.  I love a good ol’ chippy finish but it is not for everyone and every piece.  If you want to avoid chipping, you should mix bonding agent right into your mixed milk paint.

Every once in a while you get a curve ball though…

For example, this dresser seemed quite porous.  The surface wasn’t very slick and there wasn’t evidence of poly.  I was working on this with a friend and we made the executive decision to apply milk paint without bonding agent expecting absorption and subtle chipping.  (Dry time is much faster without bonding agent added which requires 12-24 hours between coats.)

dresser before

About 30 minutes after application we got chipping. Major chipping.  Paint flaking right off of the top in large patches.  It certainly wasn’t a good look.

milk paint resist-4302

We lightly sanded before applying the 2nd coat to smooth out the texture a bit.  The next coat was applied with bonding agent in the paint mixture so we’d get the adhesion we wanted.  Ultimately we overcame the flaky issue, however an explanation was still needed.

MMSMP Linen Dresser-4597

Alas, the urban legend of milk paint!  You’ll never believe what it is…

Raise your hands if you’ve ever used furniture spray like pledge to dust.  The chemicals left behind on your furniture will resist milk paint when you try to apply it.

Can you believe that?  Really, it makes perfect sense.  It also explains why we saw so much more chipping on the top of the dresser versus the drawer fronts and sides.  When dusting, aren’t you more likely to put more effort into cleaning the horizontal surfaces?

The urban legen of milk paint

When buying used furniture you have no idea how the piece was maintained.  How can you avoid the above scenario when trying to achieve a near perfect finish?  Again, you can use bonding agent for best adhesion.  Additionally when prepping your furniture for milk paint, you can degrease it to eliminate any oil build up.

MMSMP Linen Dresser-4596

If that sounds like too much prep work, you can always roll the dice and see how the milk paint reacts!  This piece, painted in Linen, ended up really pretty with a primitive texture to it.

black & brass

About a month ago I crowd sourced facebook for some feedback on what to do with this little night stand.  I’m not usually a crowd-sourcer.  Typically I just follow my instinct but this one initially had me stumped on what direction I wanted to go.  I really love the shape and style.

vintage chest before

Thank you all for your feedback.  It was very enlightening!  Ultimately I decided on a soft black with light distressing highlighting the brown stain underneath. Typewriter (black) also happens to be the Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint color of the month for October.

I achieved this look in a very controlled way.  Although the top was a little scratched up, the finish on the edges was in great shape so I wanted to highlight it.  Before I even started painting I rubbed the wax puck over those high points to preserve that nice finish.  Normally I use the wax puck to create a resist between layers of different paint colors.  This seemed like a good time to try the same technique on the original finish.

Typewriter night stand-4837

After the wax puck was applied, I painted on 2 coats of typewriter milk paint with bonding agent mixed in.  The finish on the veneer was pretty shiny and I didn’t want to risk major chipping on this mid-century piece.  The bonding agent worked like a charm.

Once the paint was dry, I carefully pulled away where the wax puck had been applied using a putty knife.  There was no need for sanding as that would have scratched the bottom layer.  Also, no dusty mess!

Typewriter night stand-4838

I finished the entire piece with furniture wax for a protective topcoat.  I love the original brass knobs against the soft black.

Typewriter night stand-4840

Pictured are also a pair of apron strings candlesticks finished with lots of antiquing wax for a warm fall look.

Typewriter night stand-4839

The typewriter nightstand is new at The West End Garage.  Check it out!  We’re open everyday through October and move to a shortened week in November.  Typewriter night stand-4875

In the meantime, our Fall Furniture Sale is still going on with mark downs on select pieces!

Fall Furniture Sale

 

the topless table

Flow Blue Gilded Table-4414

Flow Blue Gilded Table

This little side table is so cute and petite and just unique.  I brought it home topless.  I suppose it had a top when I found it though.  The flea market dealer I bought it from had a piece of glass over it that obviously belonged to another long, lost table because it wasn’t the right size or proportion.  I chose to leave the glass behind and knew we’d come up with something all our own for this little transformation.  The ‘before’ shot is pictured below with my new favorite chenille draped over it.

before...

Flow Blue Gilded Table-4419

Ryan cut and secured a wood top to fit the table.  I customized the new top with Maison Blanche’s glacage.  Have you heard of this product?  It is essentially a texturizing embossing cream for wood.  Fellow vendor, Eastcote Lane, sells it at The West End Garage.  I was very excited to give this product a shot and am happy with the one-of-a-kind results.  Better than a wobbly, ill-fitting glass top!

Flow Blue milk paint + glacage

I gave the entire table two coats of milk paint in Flow Blue followed by furniture wax and a bit of antiquing wax on the textured top.  Something about these mid-century pieces always seem to call for a moody blue, navy or black in my opinion.  The finishing touch, though, was in the gilding wax around the edge.  I love how the gold captures the light.

Flow Blue Gilded Table-4417

The formerly topless table is now for sale at The West End Garage along with a selection of gorgeous olive trees in perfectly weathered clay pots.

Flow Blue Gilded Table at West End Garage