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.

[unrulysponsored code=138606190 align=center]

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

the perfect pairing

It feels like it has been awhile since I shared a furniture before and after on the blog that I’ve been this excited about!  I found the perfect pairing of chalk paint and milk paint.  The combinations of these products could be endless!

So here is the result of combining Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Aubusson Blue with Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in Shutter Gray with a dash of Egyptian gold gilding and an Ironstone wash.  All finished in clear wax.

Did you get all that?

First, the before.  We picked this sideboard/buffet up locally and very carefully brought it home.  Other than these shots, this is all I have for before pictures.  But I am sure you’ve seen these French pieces before so you have an idea.

She’s been with us a while!  Dating back to July.  Heard to believe.  Right away I painted the piece ASCP Aubusson Blue.  I love the color but I was very uninspired by all blue.  I knew I wanted to highlight the curves and give it more oomph.

Sometimes I just have to wait for the piece to talk to me and inspiration to flow.  Other times I know exactly what I want to do with it.   So it sat.  And sat.

Then the milk paint shipment came.  I used Shutter Gray on a console table and was surprised to see how bluish gray it was.  The now blue French piece continued to sit until a light bulb went off.  Shutter gray was the answer!

I mixed up the milk paint powder and added a fine/watery solution of the crackle medium to the gray. The gray seemed to settle into the blue and softened it a bit while also adding some dimension.  In some areas it gave a wash effect but in others a fine crackle effect due to the consistency of the crackle medium solution.  A thicker solution should yield a larger, more obvious crackle.

I let it sit a little while longer.  This time just a few days!  I decided to accent the curves of the doors in MMS milk paint in Ironstone.

Finally I went over those curves as well as the bottom detail in ASCP Egyptian gold gilding.

The inside received a simple Ironstone wash treatment to lighten up the cabinets.  Miss Mustard Seed’s furniture wax was applied.

And the original hardware went right back on to finish off the French look.

Boom!  Finally.  I love it!

I hope someone else does too because after being with me for so long, she needs a new home.  You can view her in the shop this weekend.  We’ll be celebrating Small Business Saturday in a BIG way!  Special discounts and details will be posted this week on Facebook so tune in and if you’re not local, be sure to shop small in your community.  It makes a big difference!

Have a happy turkey week!

P.S.  Shutter Gray, Ironstone, Crackle medium & wax are available in my online milk paint shop if you want to give this look a try yourself!

kitchen scale is here

We had some damp and nasty weather that kept me in the house on Sunday afternoon.  It was the perfect afternoon for a roaring fire, sweats, football and apple cider with my boys.

And paint.

I had this little half moon table stashed away for some time in the garage waiting for my shipment of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint.

I couldn’t sit still long so I started painting that thing right in the middle of the living room in front of the game.  (Eagles lost. Waa.)  Please tell me someone else does this too.  Any room at any time can become a workshop for me with a little paint and a few drop cloths.  I’m very careful and the paint does not smell.  It contains no VOC’s, is environmentally friendly and all natural.

So I mixed up Kitchen Scale by Miss Mustard Seed and went to town.

I kept the milk paint a little bit watery to achieve an uneven washed look on the table.

So many people have asked about milk paint and chalk paint differences and I want to take this opportunity to point out how the products can be very complementary.  Here I used Annie Sloan gold leaf to accent Miss Mustard Seed’s Kitchen Scale and I love the results!

The fancy gold really highlights the curves of the table while the milk paint keeps things toned down and approachable.  I waxed the entire table in the milk paint companion furniture wax.  It goes on like body lotion.  It is so smoothy and creamy.

So it’s official, the much anticipated milk paint is HERE!  Stop by the shop when we are open next weekend (Oct 20th & 21st) to pick up your own and see samples in person.  If you are not local, check out our online milk paint shop to order!

Linking to Funky Junk Interiors, Mod Vintage Life, Miss Mustard Seed, Coastal Charm, Vintage on a Dime, Primitive & Proper


Today I have a little upcycled project to share with you.  We had a request to create a bench out of a vintage crib.

Ok I’m totally lying this wasn’t a little project as I like to play it off.  This is one of several projects that took the better part of our summer to complete.  We worked on bits and pieces over the weeks and finally we had the honor of returning this crib turned bench to its owner last weekend.

And she loved it! Whew!  (I always get really anxious just before presenting a custom project.  What if they hate it?  What if we didn’t have the same vision?  As a result, I just keep nervously buffing at the furniture.  Could be worse, right?)

Now we’re certainly not the first to make a bench out of a crib but I think this one is different than most that I’ve seen out there.  In most other cases, the side rails have created the bench back.  In our case, the side rails were used as, well, side rails for the bench.

And the back was the featured attraction, if you will. Basically we had a late 1940s crib with adorable graphics on the headboard.  Those graphics were to be the main attraction.

Did I mention that this crib was our friend and client’s crib as a baby?  How cool is that?  Oh, hopefully she doesn’t notice that I just revealed her age.  We’re all friends here, right?!

Anyway, Ryan cut the headboard into 2 equal size pieces leaving the graphic teddy bears to face each other.

We pulled some old but never before used trim molding together to frame out the bench back.  Both the molding and the backing were attached to a piece of plywood.  It appears that I didn’t take a single during shot of that process.  Sorry.

And as you can see the side rails were cut to size with the original lever reattached to call back to its days as a crib.  That was actually the last step.

Here are the side rails before.  There’s a lot left to make a matching towel rack or book rack or fabric rack (I could go on) out of…

Once we knew the exact size of the bench back, we measured out the seat.  The seat is the only part of the bench that used new wood.  All of the other parts utilized reclaimed wood.  So basically 2 2×6’s side by side created the bench seat with a 2×4 apron around the bottom of the seat.

Insert legs.  Literally.  We had an end table sitting around that I was not a fan of however it had great legs!

We removed them from the table, cut them down to appropriate bench size height and attached them.  By the way an appropriate height is 18-20 inches for a bench seat

Once all of the construction was complete, I got to painting.  We went with a little bit of a distressed look.  I haphazardly painted a little Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Antibes Green and a custom mixed pink on first.  Just enough so it would peak out in areas under ASCP Versailles.  The green and pink seem to call back to the colors in the graphic teddy bears.  Once that was all complete, I covered with a clear wax and, as I said, buffed.

There you have it!  Our summer vacation.  Kidding.  It didn’t take that long.

Per the usual around here, I masterminded some crazy concoction.  There are even horrific sketches to prove it.  Then Ryan came in an made sense of it with proper measurements and right angles and other mathematical stuff that honestly bores me.  We make a great team.  I dream and he measures.

Sorry for the on-the-fly photoshoot on this one.  I had a vision of styling it really cute for a child’s room but time wasn’t on my side so I snapped these after photos in the shop before the bench was transported to it’s new home!

Linking to Home Stories A to Z & Shades of Amber