winter blues

I’ve got the winter blues, my friends.  Not so much in spirit.  I’m actually really enjoying this stretch of dark, dreary winter this year surprising even myself.  In year’s past, I would typically be very disappointed when it came time to put away the Christmas decorations and accept the stillness of January.  This year is different though.  I’ve found solitude knowing this period is brief which has led to productivity and organization on the project front.  You’re in for a real treat around here as I share all of the details of each project as they unfold!

french enamel table-5551

As for the blues, that’s all in the paint colors I’ve been gravitating toward.  I’m in the midst of completing a large cedar closet in moody artissimo – a deep midnight blue. Today though, I’m sharing a French enamel end table – more of a cheerful beachy blue.

french enamel table-5559

This table is solid oak and isn’t too old.  It feels very 90’s which reminds me that the 1990’s can technically be classified as vintage already!  Shocking to think that my high school era is basically vintage.  As if!

90s end table before

The decidedly 90’s table has great lines, subtle curves and an inlaid oak grain on the top.

french enamel table-5565

I painted the 1st coat with lucketts green with bonding agent because the table was very shiny to start.  The 2nd coat was painted French enamel without bonding agent.

french enamel table-5568

I often get asked whether you need to use bonding agent in both coats or not.  Here is the correct answer:  For best adhesion, it is recommended that you use bonding agent in all coats.  With that said, I like to walk on the wild side and experiment a bit therefore chose not to use bonding agent in the 2nd coat.  Also, I’m not a perfectionist.  The 2nd coat lifted the paint in some areas creating a distressed, chipping look.

french enamel table-5556

I decided to accent the chipping grain by using white wax liberally.  First I sanded it smooth using a fine grit sandpaper. I blended the white wax with furniture wax and buffed.

french enamel table-5561

This table is the perfect addition for someone’s beach cottage!  Now available at The West End Garage.

french enamel table-5552

shuffling furniture

The first furniture makeover of the year is here!

trophy mmsmp chest + jewel toned wingback

I love how this little vignette came together.  Alone the gray chest of drawers is neutral.  It is painted with 2 coats of MMSMP trophy with bonding agent.  It is a warm gray lightened and sealed with white wax.  It is also a little lighter because the base of this chest was ivory when it started.

trophy mmsmp chest + garnet lamp

This is a newer chest of drawers that was sporting a factory finish.  It wasn’t bad, just uninspiring and of course I wanted to add milk paint.

trophy mmsmp chest + jewel tones

I lightly distressed the edges of the drawers to reveal the ivory underneath.

trophy mmsmp chest

It is just so fun with the addition of the garnet chair, lamp and other jewel tones proving the gray really is the go-to neutral right now.

trophy mmsmp chest + marsala wingback chair

Funny story about that wingback chair…we have an ongoing joke in my family about the furniture shuffle that occurs.  We actually have dubbed it the Marston Shuffle.  It’s not quite a hand-me-down or even a prized family heirloom but more of a shuffle of furniture from home to home.  This chair has been shuffled 3 or 4 times now.

We started noticing this trend when we were buying our first and second homes respectively.  One family would be moving or upgrading furniture and no longer need a chair/table/dresser, etc. while another was trying to outfit a particular space where chair/table/dresser, etc. would work.  And the Marston Shuffle was born!

A piece can come back to the original owner if need-be, although I am pretty sure that hasn’t ever occurred.  Not yet anyway.  Bottom line, if it is sturdy and well-made, then there’s always someone there to scoop up a cast-off piece of furniture when one sibling is no longer interested.  I suppose that is actually the definition of a hand-me-down though, isn’t it?  Well, we prefer to shuffle furniture.

We all have some hoarding tendencies around here I guess.  That lamp by the way was originally mine.  Now it’s my mom’s.  Exhibit B.

trophy mmsmp chest + jewel tones

As for the fete of the chair, it is likely to end up with a light slip cover and maybe even some painted legs but I do love how the vintage, velvet garnet photographed here.

Do I dare say that it is close to Marsala, the color of the year?

trophy mmsmp chest + garnet wingback

At any rate, the trophy chest of drawers is now for sale at The West End Garage which is open Friday-Sunday in January.  The chair though, that will never leave the shuffle!

trophy mmsmp chest + jewel tones-5580

Do you shuffle furniture around your family?

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.