we took the plunge

The Ardex plunge, that is. This product has taken the DIY world by storm lately. For those of you that don’t know, Ardex- Feather Finish is a concrete substrate traditionally used in subflooring.  It has been getting increasingly popular as a low-cost way to resurface laminate counter tops.  In my continued quest to update our 80’s kitchen on a tight budget, I thought it was worth a try.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

The über fake looking wood grain formica counter never jived well with the true wood backsplash we installed a couple of years back.

Pallet Wood Backsplash
Counters Before Ardex

Last you saw the space we installed chrome hardware, about a year ago.  At that time, I had searched for Ardex- Feather Finish planning to move right into the counter project. The product is difficult to find although I tracked it down at a local tile shop and now it is readily available on Amazon.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

I delayed the counter installation because I couldn’t make a decision on what sealer to use.  It is very much personal preference however you must choose a food safe sealer considering this is a kitchen counter after all.    Some concrete sealers have a fungicide in them which make sense in a shower or on a patio but on a counter I prefer not to have any pesticides as food may come in direct contact.  You also have the aesthetic choice of sealers with a matte finish, more of a sheen and even stains.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

We went with a sealer we had all along…Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil.  It stained and sealed the concrete, plus it is food safe.  I applied three coats back to back because the porous surface kept soaking it up.  I plan to apply another coat or two this week until it reaches total saturation.
hemp oil

Mixing Ardex is very similar to mixing milk paint.  It comes in a powder form and mixes easily with water.  (1 part Ardex to 1/2 part water)  To prep, we first sanded the countertop to rough it up a bit for best adhesion.  Then we carefully and quickly applied one thin coat right over the formica using a trowel.  It was much like icing a cake.  Ardex dries very quickly and turns to a clay like consistency.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

Twenty four hours later, it was dry and ready to be sanded down to a smooth finish.  I used 60 grit sandpaper and then 150.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

After vacuuming up the dust, I applied another slightly thicker coat. And then repeated the above steps again the following day to make for a third coat.  As you can see, we did not remove the sink.  We simply took the Ardex right up to the edge.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

On the third and final coat, I was more deliberate in my application and trowel marks as I realized these would be seen on the finished surface.

From laminate kitchen counters to concrete on a budget

The process went pretty quickly.  Actual application only took about 30 minutes each time as we didn’t have much counter space to cover.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen

The final step was sealing the concrete finish.  As I mentioned, we chose hemp oil since it is all natural and food safe. I simply brushed on the hemp oil.  This will need to be applied annually as will most sealers on a porous counter.  I am also considering applying a coat of furniture wax for a little luster.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

It soaked into the surface right before our eyes and we continued on with the next coat.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

Overall I love the final finish.  It has a natural rustic feel vs. the fake plastic look we had previously.  I am not convinced that it has the look of a poured concrete counter but I am happy with this low-budget transformation.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

Here’s where this space started and where it has progressed over the past few years.  You can review the transformation starting with painting laminate cabinets, installing a wood backsplash, adding hardware and now resurfacing the counters…

From 80's Laminate to Rustic Kitchen

Next up, the floors!  Then maybe a fancy range hood?

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

 

 

chairs for all seasons

This funny thing happened the other day. It seems to occur to a lot of us in the vintage and furniture flipping industry. I finished refreshing a pair of chairs with milk paint, wax and fabric.  I posed them at either end of our breakfast table just for a mini before and after shoot before bringing them to the shop.  For sale.

grainsack milk paint dining chairs

Well…I think you know where this is headed.  As I snapped pictures to share with you here of the “new” chairs, I was growing more and more fond of them there at the table.

grainsack milk paint & ticking fabric dining chairs

…in our eclectic little nook.  Still a work in progress.  Always a work in progress really.  That is the fun of it naturally because you never know what treasures will find you next.

eclectic breakast nook

The grainsack milk painted chairs just seemed so much lighter and brighter in the space than the others we had in there.  And yes they match the table anyway!

grainsack milk paint dining chairs

The streamlined back is pretty comfortable.  And the caning allows more light to pass through.  It just feels summer-y.  We can change out chairs seasonally, right?

grainsack milk paint dining chairs

For the seats, I used Waverly ticking stripes which plays well off of the grainsack upholstered bench and linen bentwood chairs too.

ticking fabric upholstery

The walnut & mohair Ward Bennett chairs were looking winter-y there at the table.  However, they are my favorite and aren’t leaving the house.

Eclectic Flea Market Style Breakfast Nook

In fact, I carved out a little sitting area in the living room just for these chairs.  More pictures on that soon but for now an instagram shot preview…

vintage walnut & mohair ward bennet chairs

I certainly have a vintage chair fetish.  How about you?

vintage dining chairs
In other vintage chair related news, we’ll be at Clover Market on Sunday in Ardmore, PA.

Clover Market Spring 2014

And on Saturday at 11 am, I’ll be hosting another free Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint demonstration at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.

Milk Paint Demo

Perhaps I’ll run into you this weekend!

 

upcycled lighting

Hey guys! I’m still in the spirit of Earth Day/Week here so I’d like to share how we turned this galvanized piece of junk into a one of a kind chandelier in our dining nook. And of course, I do mean junque.

Flea Market Style Industrial Galvanized Light Chandelier

The question still remains: What the heck is it?

Galvanized Light

We really don’t know but it seems like some sort of farm machinery.  Someone suggested that it may be for cotton picking.  I have no idea.  Do you?  It’s probably for manure…

It was not originally a funnel.  Ryan cut the hole to replicate a funnel so we could wire the light fixture through.

galvanized light

Galvanized Pendant Chandelier Light

This light transformation was easier than you might think because we had all of the parts already.  Do you remember the kitchen from when we first moved in?  Check out that 80’s light fixture.

kitchen before

Look a little closer because the innards for it are what made up our new light.

before

Breakfast Nook

We carefully took it apart saving all of the pieces.  A few tweaks were made to the innards – new light sleeves plus I sprayed the old shiny brass antique white and hemp oiled the wood.

making a light

Ryan wired the light using our new-to-us “shade” with all of the old light’s parts.  We also switched out the gold chain for a reasonably rusty galvanized chain to complete the look.

Breakfast Nook

We love turning random objects into lights and shades.  Here are a few of other favorites from the archives…

Galvanized Funnel Pendant Lights Galvanized Funnel Lights-3206

Mason Jar Pendant

Mason Jar Pendant

 Vintage Birdcage Light

Vintage Birdcage Light

Shell Fan/Chandelier

Shell Bathroom Fan/Chandelier

What have you upcycled or repurposed lately?

trail mix cookies

spring. Spring. SPRING!  I think it is really here.  The sun is pouring through the windows.  The trees are starting to bud.  It’s amazing!

Over the weekend, I made trail mix cookies.  This is the third or fourth time I’ve made these and they never last long.  I thought I’d share the recipe with you all because they’re pretty tasty, vegan and the trail mix ingredients pack a lot of energy. There’s not a ton of sugar either so they’re not overly sweet.  The cookies have a crunchy exterior and are soft inside almost like a granola bar.  Yum!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

I’ve dubbed them Trail Mix Cookies because there is 3/4 cup of trail mix ingredients that you can choose – seeds, nuts, dried fruit.  I haven’t made these the same way twice.  Stay tuned and I’ll explain…

Trail Mix Cookies – makes about 2 dozen

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 apple sauced
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup seeds (1/8 c sunflower kernel + 1/8 c flaxseed)

Trail Mix Cookies recipe - 1 cup of granola

Pre-heat your oven to 275 degrees and grease 2 cookie sheets.

I like to sauce a fresh apple.  Core and peel an apple.  While measuring the other ingredients, allow the apple to boil.  Using an immersion blender, blend the apple into sauce.  (A work around for this step is to just add 1/2 cup of jarred apple sauce.)

Combine coconut oil, brown sugar, apple and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  This will make a nice adhesive for your trail mix.

Combine flours and baking soda and add to your mix.

Now for the fun part…and in the “trail mix” of your choice – 1 cup of granola + 1/2 cup of dried fruit (like cranberries, peaches or raisins) + 1/4 cup total of seeds and/or nuts.  I usually use 1/8 cup of sunflower kernels and 1/8 cup of flaxseed.  I have also used cashews.  The possibilities are endless.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

Spoon cookies about 2 inches apart on your baking sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe (5 of 10)

Enjoy!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

For the brown sugar, we have been using Turbinado sugar which is essentially raw “brown sugar”.  We have been avoiding processed white sugar where we can.  Most brown sugars are just processed white sugar with the addition of molasses.  Turbinado is raw sugar with molasses.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe - Turbindao sugar

There are other modifications you can make to this recipe for it to work for your pantry choices.  For example, you can substitute the coconut oil for canola oil.

And while we’re in the kitchen, I don’t believe I shared you with you my two cents about oiling cast iron.  I posted last week over on Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint blog about the wonders of hemp oil and cast iron.  Check it out here.

Hemp Oil + Cast Iron

In fact, I’ve been all over the web lately.  I’m excited to share that our bathroom renovation was featured on Apartment Therapy and Hometalk over the weekend.  So if you’re new here, welcome!  Please enjoy our Trail Mix Cookies!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

 

the valencia cocktail

Get excited because I have a fantastic cocktail recipe to share with you today.  Fortunately, I was able to book America’s next top model and canine for this very profesh photo shoot…

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

We have been juicing frequently here.  And when the mood strikes us we make cocktails using the fresh juice as a mixer.  The Drunken Botanist has had quite the influence on me.  I am in love with this book and all of the garden-to-cocktail concoctions it describes.  I have been considering which edible plants I want to grow this year based on the recipes and knowledge in this book.

Our new favorite cocktail is refreshing and fruity and sparkly.  Yum!  Plus it warms you up during these remaining winter days.  It’s called The Valencia.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

Have you ever heard of it?  It’s an old time-y cocktail that has been around for ages.  Apparently there are different versions out there.  We use Apricot brandy and bitters combined with freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

1 1/2 ounces apricot liqueur

3/4 ounce orange juice

4 dashes Citrus Medica bitters

 Shake all of the ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Top with champagne and garnish.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

We now carry an assortment of bitters at The West End Garage including Citrus Medica.  For those of you who are not familiar with bitters, they are essentially herbs with a bitter flavor processed into a liquid.  Bitters are traditionally used in both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks like tea.  Less traditionally, bitters can be used to add flavor to salad dressings, soups and more.  They have therapeutic qualities and can help with digestion.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe and NJ state cutting board

The New Jersey cutting board pictured was a wedding shower gift that we just love.  When we’re not using it, we display it on the wall. You may have caught that in an earlier kitchen post.

Flea Market Style Eat-In Kitchen - Vintage Serve letters, Blueprint Wallpaper, Galvanized Pendant Light

It inspired us to stock the Made in the USA bamboo New Jersey cutting boards at West End Garage too.  On each one, Cape May is highlighted with a heart, star or home.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm around our shop news at The West End Garage!  Now, who is shaking up The Valencia tonight?

Or today?  No judgement here!

a copper top table

Last week I shared the updates we made in the kitchen, specifically in the dining nook. You may have caught a glimpse of our vintage dining table.  It’s a one-of-a-kind find that seems to infuse French legs with a copper top.  And rumor has it that copper is big for 2014.

Flea Market Style Dining Nook

I’d say that the top was a DIY update added to the table by the previous owners.  Most likely copper infused vinyl.  But surely it is real copper because occasionally we get the telltale green copper tarnish.

Copper Top Dining Table

I love when copper tarnishes to beautiful aqua…but not where I am eating.

tarnished copper lid

You may have spied the copper table in the background of some of my recipe posts.  The copper captures the light in such a beautiful way that morphs throughout the day.  It provides such a fabulous backdrop for the pictures too.

apple butternut squash soup

(Butternut Squash Soup)

Spicy Tortilla Soup Recipe

(Spicy Tortilla Soup)

So you want to know where we found such a rare gem?  Well, Ryan and I shopped the very chic marketplace known as the curb for this find.  It also came with a large leaf and 4 upholstered French caned back chairs.  Yes, you read that right.  A full dining room set for nothing!  The chairs are “on deck” for a serious makeover of their own and a different table to pair them with.  They have high backs so they didn’t work with the mix of low back chairs we have in this space now.

Flea Market Style Dining Nook

Ryan and I definitely have different styles when it comes to architecture and decorating.  He sways toward natural and craftsman style – those doors.  I like eclectic, collected and vintage.  This table seemed to meet both of our aesthetic needs and we agreed on it right away.  You can picture us standing at the curb with the tailgate open gushing about how truly perfect it is.  Because that’s exactly what happened.

Eat in Kitchen

The light legs and apron seemed to have been an updated too. They needed a refresh so after scrubbing the table I applied a coat of Miss Mustard Seed’s milk paint in grain sack with bonding agent.  That’s all they needed – one coat.  Can I tell you a secret?  I didn’t wax or put a top coat on either since it is just table legs.  A twenty-minute paint job and they were good as new.  And don’t you love the simple blue and yellow braided rug that anchors the space?

Grain sack painted legs

What’s your best curbside find?

P.S.  We’re still completely stumped as to what our upcycled galvanized hanging light above the table used to be.  Please share any insight you may have!  I’m thinking it was on a farm…

eating in

The eat-in portion of our kitchen was an addition on the original house put on by a previous owner.  Rumor has it that the addition was redone three times because the lady of the house was not satisfied with it.  (And my husband thought I was high maintenance with home projects.)  They finally got it just right making for a cozy dining nook aside from the kitchen galley.

Flea Market Style Eat-In Kitchen

However, the time was long overdue to erase their style (read: lots of wallpaper) and put our own twist on the space.

I’m thankful the previous owners expanded this room because otherwise it must have been so cramped.  Like most homes, our kitchen seems to be the center of the house.  This is where the cooking and eating occurs followed by hours of lingering and occasionally we work in here too. With that said, it was important to me that this space be comfortable.  And definitely full of personality and many eclectic finds.

Flea Market Style Eat-In Kitchen

Cookbook Collection

Ryan and I spent the last two weekends bringing that vision to light with a little sweat equity, paint and flea market finds.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember the blueprint wallpaper I installed at the 2013 Philly Home Show.  We carefully removed them after the show.  Now they’re permanently on display in our kitchen.  The vintage blueprints are all original to Ryan’s father.  Each one tells a story.  Some we know.  Some we make up!

Blueprint Wallpaper & Industrial Galvanized Pendant Light

We got a head start with kitchen updates a few months back when turned the trio of chairs into an upholstered grainsack bench.  And before that we updated the laminate cabinets and installed a pallet wood backsplash.

Pallet Wood Kitchen Wall Backsplash

But now it is all about the eat-in nook.  We do not have a formal dining room.  This is it.  With that said, we decided we wanted all upholstered chairs.  The head chairs are one of my best scores to date.  They are original walnut & mohair Ward Bennett chairs that fit nicely with the new-to-us copper top table.  More about the table here.

Ward Bennett Vintage Mohair & Walnut Chair

But the game changer for me was the industrial pendant light.  Does anyone know what this is?  I found the galvanized, cloche-like piece at the flea market and we upcycled it into a light.  The seller was unsure of its provenance too.  I’d love to hear your opinion.  I am guessing some sort of farm equipment.

Industrial Galvanized Pendant Light

At the same market, I bought the SERVE letters.  One of my favorite finds for sure.  We can only assume that they were part of a SERVICE sign at some point.  Perhaps from a gas station.

Salvaged Kitchen Style - Blueprint Wallpaper & Serve Service sign

The rest of the room got updated with a coat of buttercream yellow paint.  Thank goodness the wallpaper and border are gone along with the matching valances.  Were matching borders over wallpaper really necessary?  This picture is from when we first saw the house.

kitchen before

There is something about a yellow kitchen that just injects energy.

Vintage Font/Text - Serve Service Sign in Kitchen

What’s your favorite flea market find?

Flea Market Style Eat-In Kitchen - Vintage Serve letters, Blueprint Wallpaper, Galvanized Pendant Light

Linking to: Funky Junk Interiors, Jennifer Rizzo, Be Bold Challenge

hemp oil in the kitchen

A few weeks (maybe months) ago, I vowed to oil some of my well used kitchen utensils with hemp oil.  Well. I finally did and shared the before and after over on Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint blog.

I am thrilled with the results!  Go check out the details.

hemp oil in the kitchen

Even if you’re not into paint, hemp oil is a very handy tool to have around the house.  If you are interested in trying it, I have it available for sale online and in the shop.

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.

kitchen

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.