Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The cabin kitchen re-do

We bought this great little cabin up in the mountains a while back and ultimately, we hope to live here full time in our Golden years. Well, there and Italy, but that's just a dream. I mean wouldn't want to hear someone say "ciao bella" every time you leave a shop or trattoria? (insert sigh here), Anyway.....we bought this cabin and the kitchen was so circa 1980s! Truly, the only things missing were shoulder pads and Aquanet! It had builders grade stock oak cabinets in a golden oak finish and teal laminate counter tops. Teal, people? Really? What were you thinking? I suppose not every choice I made in the 80's was great should see my Brooke Shields uni-brow I was sporting and man, did I have some shoulder pads.

Here is the dilemma No money for a costly kitchen renovation, and big desire to bring the kitchen into at least something that looks not so dated and hideous. So, I did some research. I looked high and low and far and wide for any product I could use to upcycle what we already had. Rustoleum makes some great products to re-face your cabinets and counters, but at a cost of over $200 per kit, I figured my makeover would cost about $1,200. And that, my friends, was not in the budget! Secretly, I am hoping if I save my pennies I can totally redo a few things in the house anyway and didn't want to spend too much at this point in time.

What is a girl to do? Why grab her can of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint of course! I removed the hinges and laid the cabinet doors on drop cloth on the floor. Be careful to leave them in the order they were hung, or you will regret it when trying to re-hang them. I did three layers of ASCP in Old Ochre and two layers of clear wax. You could experimenter with the dark wax, or even use different colors for upper and lower cabinets. My original plan was to use Old Ochre on the uppers and Coco on the lowers, but when I got there, it made the kitchen too dark, so went with all Old Ochre.

How much better does this look? This photo was taken at night and the place looks tons brighter, don't you think?New aged bronze hinges! This entire project took two days, and most of that was waiting for the paint and wax to dry. To help the waxing go faster, I bought an orbital buffer. What an arm saver!

Now, anyone who knows me knows projects are never truly finished and merely works in progress, so up next I had to tackle the elephant in the room..or rather the shoulder pads...aka...the counter tops. 

The four younger folks who I spawned will tell you that I talk to anyone, um, and everyone....and so......

I went to pick up my totally awesome Thomasville Georgian style sofas off Craigslist and I spy a can of ASCP in the lady's garage. So I had to talk about it! We talked at length and she invited me into her lovely home to see her latest project; she had painted the tile surround on her fireplace, and it looked great! But, the real prize was seeing her kitchen, which she had chalk painted! Then, this amazing woman, went on to tell me about Giani Granite! Oh lady from Craigslist, how I love thee! (Insert cautionary warning here...please be careful when shopping Craigslist, there are some truly weird and bad people out there).

I researched Giani Granite ( and it had really good reviews! The best part? It costs about $65 and one kit is enough to do a small kitchen! Yippee ki yay!!!! If you can use tape and a roller brush, you can use this stuff! You can order it online, but I found a local place that stocked check it out!

This entire project took me less than two hours. In fact, since I was alone at the cabin, I put on the movie Jerry Maguire and paused it every time I was done with a step and it took me to the line, "You had me at hello",  to finish the entire thing!

Step one, tape anything you don't want to get black primer on. Especially your appliances!

Step two, roll the primer on and let is sit several hours.

Step three, four and five. Take the three colors and apply one at a time, with the enclosed sponge. It looks pretty bad at first, but you can see the colors starting to meld together. 
Giani Granite chocolate brown, primed with first color.
all three colors added
close up of the three colors. 

Then you put on the enclosed sealer, which really and truly makes it look like granite! I am not kidding you! It is a bit tricky to apply the top coat. Just watch the Giani videos and it will be a snap!

And here, my friends, is the final look. The entire project cost me roughly $200! So, what are you waiting for?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Where to score the good deals?

I am asked, quite frequently, where do I get furniture to upcycle? I look in a multitude of places and I look frequently. 

1. Craigslist. Craigslist is  like going to a potluck, you never know what you'll find, or where you'll find it. And, if you are looking for something specific, you need to look often. If I am in search of something specific like the funky buffet I am working on, I might look two or three times a day. It helps to also expand your search. For instance, I like to take old, broken down antiques and fix them up but if I search "antiques" on CL, I usually find higher end things. So, I might look under the furniture tab, but type in "antique" or "old" in the search engine. That tactic usually brings more hits. 
Also, when shopping CL, you have to go with an open mind, cash on hand and an adventurous state of mind. Once, I was looking for an antique sled (see older post). When I get to the address, every stick of furniture that is normally INSIDE the house was now OUTSIDE the house, sitting on the lawn...and it looked like it had been there for quite a while. I was a little scared I might get bit by a rat, so I called the person and asked them to bring the sled out. I was quite surprised when the seller steps out of his RV (parked in the drive way) and brings me the sled. That was an interesting day to say the least!

I have scored off Craigslist" Two BRAND NEW Thomasville sofas (in my living room) for $100 each. They were used to stage a million dollar home. Ethan Allen sofa and side tables, lots of antiques and a few pieces of junk. 

2. Thrift stores. Shop frequently! If I am in the neighborhood of my local Goodwill or Salvation Army (or whatever local place), I'll pop in. I bypass all the clothing (um...usually, but there is a really good one that I go to that I always at least peruse the clothing because it is pretty high end...shhhhh, don't tell the kids) and head straight to the furniture. In the last couple of months I have found a full 9 piece mid-century modern dining room set for $125. I painted it in Arles from Annie Sloan and it is currently in Vail. I also found a beautiful Drexel Heritage easy chair for $25. Mint condition. Not sure what to do with it, so it is sitting in my garage...probably becoming a mouse nest.

3. Garage/Tag sales. Look online through your local newspaper or even the garage sale listings on Craigslist. Usually people will tell you what pieces of furniture they are selling. If you are super interested in something, get there a few minutes before advertised opening time and make an offer. If you are just our perusing for furniture, go later and haggle over price. Most people just want to get rid of stuff at that point.

Here is a photo montage of a few scores of Craigslist.

What are your favorite places for scoring good deals?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The $50 pillowcase

Since it is a new year and most people have some sort of resolution, who am I to go against the grain?

I really want to learn to upholster furniture, but am aware some modicum of sewing skills might be required. And, since I didn't even know what a seam ripper was, I figured I  better learn. Baby steps Holly, baby steps.

A couple of weeks ago there was a Groupon for two hours of beginning sewing classes for two people, so I signed me and the youngest Quinn up for the class. She'll thank me for it later, I am we tote our newly purchased machine and our bobbins, whatever they are, off to the sewing shop. We were pleased to find two other moms and daughters in attendance. Oh, what fun we were going to have! The anticipation of newly sewn projects were dancing in my head. 

In reality, after two hours of class, I had no more skills than when I went in as the instructor spent most of the time trying to figure out one of the other students sewing machine. But, girl child and I had fun learning(?) together and we went away with mostly completed tote bags, and directions on how to complete them on our own.

What is an inspired gal to do? All this creative energy surging through my veins and still no mad sewing skills. Sigh. I put on my big girl pants and went to one of the places that intimidates me the most....Joann Fabrics. I looked for the most senior employee in the store, justifying that surely if you are the oldest employee in a fabric/craft store you must have years and years of experience...and I was not disappointed! The lovely 70 something year old lady took me (literally) by the hand, showed me what projects beginners should work on (pajama pants, pillow cases and aprons), helped me pick out fabric (and a seam ripper), and then told me about classes! Oh Kate, how I love you! 

I immediately went and signed up for four classes (go big or go home) because they were all half off! Today Miss Ann (also 70 something years young) taught us how to thread a sewing machine, the importance of perfection and she made me rip out one seam and redo it three times. But the results were amazing! I have the most beautiful pillowcase ever! And it only cost me $50 including class and materials, but it is priceless!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back to the grind

The two older kids have gone back to their homes, the husband is back to work after 17 days (and we are still married!). The two younger ones have two more days of break and then it's just me and the dogs at home. Sigh. What is a girl to do with so many hours to herself during the day? I have so many project ideas going on in my brain, it's hard to decide what to do first.

I need to finish my teal blue, funky buffet to get to Cashmere and Coco in Vail, CO.( for my furniture there. I mean, do I really need much encouragement to go hang out with Ann and Jesse (former Bachelor and Bachelorette show contestants) Who are, quite possibly one of the coolest couples I know. Hanging out with them makes me feel cool by association. Them, and my friend Reyne  (that's Reyne as in owner, jewelry designer, Tiffany Glass dealer, author and as seen on TV multiple seasons of Antique Roadshow), coolest people I know. I told you, I am cool by association! 

The other furniture projects I need to get started/finished or whatever are: the way, way cool antique Asian rice bin that I am going to re-purpose into a ski holder for the cabin, finish the French, antique dresser, start the next dining room table, re-cover the dining room chairs, make new curtains for the homestead house (am thinking of using Miss Mustard Seed's idea of using drop cloth), and finally teach myself how to reupholster so I can re-cover the two Thomasville sofas I scored off Craigslist for $100.  

I am feeling a bit ADD today and can't quite figure out what project to do first. I mean after I finish the commissioned piece. I'll give myself tomorrow to get the Christmas decorations put away and start on Friday...or the day after.....