Glad You Stopped By

By day I am a marketing professional for small businesses. I love to find and re-purpose forgotten objects, furniture and household items, turning them into usable stuff. I find interesting items at tag sales, flea markets and sometimes even thrown away along the side of the road. If I can find a use for something, I'll pick it up if it's the right price.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Good Bye Pink Tile, Hello Coastal Cottage

My cape cod style home was built in the 1940's and has been a work in progress.  I have always had a love-hate relationship with the downstairs bathroom which was covered with UGLY Pink Tile covering half the walls.  I began researching ways to paint the tile, rather than replace it and started a Pinterest board on some options.  (I know I should have taken some before pics but once I started the project it seemed too late.)   Anyway, here's what I did.

1)  I slipped on a pair of rubber gloves and thoroughly scrubbed the tile down with a mixture of TSP and warm water and let it dry thoroughly.
 2)   Using a 3" foam roller, I applied a coat of Benjamin Moore latex white adhesive primer over the tile, including the built in soap dishes, etc.  I also decided to paint the dark woodwork around the windows and the ugly medicine cabinet using the same adhesive primer to avoid a lot of scraping.

3)  After letting the primer dry thoroughly for a few days, I applied a coat of Benjamin Moore Brilliant White latex paint with my foam roller, being careful to outline the tiles veritically and horizontally before painting the surfaces to make sure I covered the grout well.  Again, I let the paint dry for a couple of days.  (No one was thrilled with having the bathroom off limits AGAIN)

4)  Finally, I applied a coat of latex polyurethane to provide additional strength and let that dry another couple of days, then primed and painted the upper walls with Benjamin Moore Jamaican Blue (kind of a Tiffany Blue color).  

A quick trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond provided the off white cotton shower curtain, and Walmart for a tan runner (kind of looks like beach sand) and lacy white cafe curtains and tan hand towels, my own wicker basket and antique nightstand, plus a few accessories including a sea shell and a little beach print that I had completed the design. 

I felt a little sad about the demise of the Pink Tile, so  I made a wall decoration from three of the leftover tiles we had in the basement to help me remember just how much I hated them. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Telephone Stand or iPhone Charger Station

This little telephone stand is the second piece I purchased on a recent trip to The Trading Post in Amherst, MA.  If you've never seen a telephone stand, imagine the old black dial up phone sitting on top and a stack of phone books stacked in the cubby below. 

The stand was painted brown and it was hard to see what kind of top I'd find after stripping it.  The back side featured a small cut-out in the cubby for cords. After stripping, I discovered that the top was a veneer. Oh well.  That's what makes "picking" fun!

 I decided to apply a light stain, repaint the base and call it a day.

Unfortunately, when my daughter arrived home to see the table, she asked if it would be too much trouble to paint the whole thing glossy white to go with her country cottage look. Sigh.

Here's the finished piece, ready to use as a night stand, perfect for an iPhone/iPad/Kindle charging station. Purchased for $15.00. Not bad.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Shabby Chic End Table

I paid a visit to The Trading Post in Amherst, MA recently looking for end tables.  This cute little pine piece was very sturdy.  It actually looks pretty good in the "before" picture, but was showing signs of its former use.


I applied a little stripper to the top and the drawer to see what condition the wood was in beneath all the paint.

The paint came off easily (only one coat!) revealing a honey-colored top which I decided to retain.
Because I wanted the "shabby chic" look, I did not strip and sand the edges all the way, leaving tell-tale signs of the former white paint exposed.

 A light maple varnish was applied, followed by one coat of polyurethane.

A fresh coat of glossy white paint was applied to the cabinet base and knob - and the table is now ready for its new home!

The end table was purchased for $20.00 - a bit more than I normally would pay, but Louise (The Trading Post proprietress extraordinaire) explained that August is a busy time of year when Five College Area students (Umass, Hampshire College, Smith College, Amherst College and Mt. Holyoke College) descend upon them looking for good apartment furniture. The law of supply and demand applies, making it difficult to negotiate a lower price. I still think this little piece was well worth the price and the fact that it took little time and resources to perk it up was an added benefit.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shabby Chic Cottage Coffee Table

I was looking for a new refinishing project this summer and found this coffee table at a beach association tag sale in Old Saybrook, CT. It had been hauled out of the shed and used to showcase items for the sale.  As I moved things off the top of the table to investigate further, the original owner of the cottage, a small woman in her late 80's, began chatting with me as her grandson ran the tag sale.
She shared the history of the little table, telling me that it had been crafted by her husband out of some leftover floorboards used when the cottage was built back in the 40's.  The top boards were a little loose but the base was solid as a rock.  Covered with gray chipping paint, it was hard to tell what would reveal itself when stripped, but that's half the fun.

The underside of the table showed bare wood, rusted brackets and zig-zag fasteners (brads?).  After a little haggling, I purchased the table for $10.

After applying Citristrip stripping gel and waiting a couple of hours the gray paint began to blister nicely and was easily removed, revealing a glimpse of the red paint and also a layer of creamy yellow paint.

I applied a second coat of stripper to remove the yellow paint which transformed my little table into a very red art project.  The third coat of stripper was somewhat effective, but the red paint had definitely seeped into the grain of the wood.
 The scraper was able to remove more of the paint and I began to see some of the imperfections which added character to the table top.
 I used my sander and 3M stripping paper to remove just enough of the red pain, keeping the scrapes and dings intact.
 I chose a maple stain to enhance the red paint.  I applied two coats. You can see a bit of the before and after here.
 The legs and sides were painted using a white gloss latex and I left the edge of the table kind of rustic, exposing some of each layer of paint.  This gave it the true shabby chic look I was after.

The last step was to apply two coats of Glidden polyurethane for durability as the table will most likely travel with my older daughter who will be moving into her first apartment very soon.  She loves cottage style furniture and decided this would be a great living room coffee table.

The finished project!  Sorry about the picture - don't know why it came out blurry.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Butcher Block Baker's Rack Re-do

Saw this butcher block baker's rack at a tag sale in Southampton, MA and purchased for all of $3.00.  It was in very good shape overall.

It needed a good cleaning to remove some grease build up.  I used Dawn liquid on a wet cloth.  My Craftsman orbital sander w/ 60# paper did a great job sanding the water stains and various marks.

After sanding, a soft rag was used to remove any dust and it was ready to stain. I used Minwax Maple and applied two coats.

 At this point I could have applied polyurethane, but decided to see how it would survive without it.

Here is the completed project in its new home.  It replaced a larger wire baker's rack that was really too big for the space.  Now I even have a place to display my Mom's coffee cup and my daughter's tea cup that she made for me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Baker's Rack Organizer

I bought this small folding baker's rack at a tag sale in Old Saybrook, CT a couple of years ago for $5.00. After bringing it home and painting it white, it followed my daughter to her college dorm.  With college behind her now, the rack found its way home again and I began thinking of ways to give it some new life.


With Pier I as my inspiration, I chose a glossy black metal paint and topped it off with these wicker baskets I found at the Old Hadley Flea Market last Sunday.  I must have spent 15 minutes in this one booth - the seller was Scandinavian and she had a bunch of great stainless kitchen organizers, IKEA accessories and obviously loves baskets as much as I do.  I paid $3.00 for all of them.

I probably should have taken measurements in case they didn't fit, but I figured I could always use a few extra baskets if they didn't work out.  Now the baker's rack has been transformed into a handy bathroom organizer -- perfect for my other daughter's first apartment.

Total cost of project:  $8.00 plus cost of paint.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coffee Table Surprise

I paid a visit to The Trading Post consignment shop in Amherst, MA recently to pick up a rock maple double bed frame for $40.00.  While I was there I couldn't resist looking around.  My advice if you visit? Don't rush.  You're likely to miss something hidden beneath stacked furniture or under a pile of books and dishes.  

I found this contemporary looking coffee table that I thought might work well in my daughter's apartment. She needed something long and narrow. It was painted green, but was light weight (one of my prerequisites for apartment moves).

This was definitely a stripping job as there appeared to be two or more paint layers.  I used an old brush and a non-toxic stripping gel that works really well with little odor.

In about half and hour as the gel bubbled up, I began to notice a red layer of paint appear. I'm not sure which color I liked least! 


The first two layers of paint came off very easily, exposing yet another layer of paint, this time a dull brown shade. 


As I exposed more of the table top I began to think that the quality of the wood wasn't so great and began to rethink my strategy.  It appeared to be a pine veneer over a plywood top and had the appearance of a wood shop project. Oh well,  it's sometimes hard to know what's really in under three coats of paint and that's part of the thrill of the hunt.


The question then was whether it was worth it to continue my original plan of staining the top and more stripping and sanding, or whether I should just give up and paint it again - minus the Christmas tree look.


After removing the brown paint I found a thin coat of polyurethane over the surface. Not to be daunted, I used a #60 sandpaper and gently began sanding it until I reached the original pine veneer. 


The end result wasn't bad and I decided to forge ahead with my original plan of staining the top.


It's hard to see in the picture above, but the first coat of maple MinWax stain was very light and required two more coats to get it dark enough and really bring out a richer patina.


As a last minute change, I decided to strip the table legs too. Under all that ugly green and red paint I got a little surprise - brass end pieces!  I love it when unexpected treasures appear.

Here's the completed project. I painted the legs a glossy black which really brought out the brass leg stands.  It kind of reminds me of Danish modern.  Not bad for a $10.00 investment.

Keep On Truckin'

My husband loves to collect toys from bygone years.  This one found its way into our garden.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Beginning Of The End - Table, That Is

I love going to the Monster Tag Sale held at the Easthampton Congregational Church every spring.  I found this little end table which was painted a lovely shade of green at the time. (Picture is after sanding)

One of the prime considerations for this project was that it be light weight and easy to move as it would accompany my daughter to her first apartment.  The legs even screw off for easy transport, if necessary.

1.  I removed the paint from the top and gave it a light sanding.  2.  After wiping it down with a soft cloth, I applied a coat of maple colored MinWax  polyurethane to the top and glossy black paint to the legs.  3.  After the top dried, a light coat of polyurethane was added to keep it stain-free.  

Cost of project:  Table $2.00  plus stain, paint and polyurethane

Antique Pine Student Desk Take 2

My daughter is moving into her first apartment which gave me the excuse to hunt down some treasures, synonymous with hit the tag sale circuit. My mission? Find a light weight desk and chair in good shape.  It was almost too easy as I spotted this old pine student desk at my very first stop.  I handed over my $4.00 and continued my search.  At the last sale of the day I finally found what I was looking for -- a plain pine desk chair that was not wobbly for $3.00.

The desk was really in good shape and clean. The knobs were mismatched and there was some writing and scratch marks on the top, but other than that, it looked like a great DIY furniture project.  1.  I started by sanding the top and drawer fronts. 2. A light coating of MinWax (maple) was applied to the top and drawer fronts which I left it to dry while turning my attention to the chair.  

3.  Originally I though of sanding the seat of the chair and applying MinWax, but decided in the end to paint the entire chair a glossy black.  4.  Back to the desk, I painted the base, sides and drawer knobs black, kind of Hitchcock style.  5.  The final step was to apply a coat of polyurethane to the desktop to make it easier to keep clean.

Total cost for the project:  $7.00 plus paint, stain and brushes

Backyard Patio That Will Light Up Your Life

After removing an 18' above ground swimming pool, we were left with a rather unattractive, round sandy yet very level hole in our yard.  For a while we thought about putting in a hot tub, but never got around to it.  One day my husband came home with a carload of old 8"x 10" brick pavers that he'd found at a barn sale.  "They were free", he said, as he unloaded his latest find.  The pavers took up residence next to a pile of antique glass blocks that had been rescued while cleaning out the family homestead in Agawam. As I saw the building supplies lying next to each other, they spoke to me and the idea for a patio made perfect sense, the blocks being the inspiration I needed for our backyard patio project.

Patio project with brick pavers and glass blocks

I should mention that neither of us is very handy and we often have difficulty finding the right tools, but this project seemed pretty fool-proof.  1. I started by laying down a roll of mesh screening to hopefully retard weed growth. 2. The next step was to place the pavers in an alternate pattern of two vertical, two horizontal.

When I took a look at the glass blocks, I realized they were two different styles which you can see in the picture above.  3. I selected one of each style and laid the blocks in random patterns throughout the area.  4. The next step was to fill in the spaces between the pavers with some pool sand left over from the former pool.  We didn't have enough, however, and had to buy two more bags. 5. A good spray with the garden hose helped to settle the sand as I used a push broom to spread the material evenly over the area.

6. Once the foundation of the patio was complete, I took some of my newly divided hostas and planted them around the edges.  I also added a few annuals and some mint which really smells good.  7. We topped the project off with these great antique wicker chairs and a wide plank piece of wood which made a perfect tabletop resting on an old sewing machine wrought iron base.

The entire project took a weekend and we've been enjoying our new outdoor space immensely.  At night, the glass blocks give off a soft glow, reminding us of their previous life in the family homestead.  We hope they like their new home.