Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hinged-Top Waterfall Dresser

When I see a beautiful piece of unpainted furniture, I am often torn between wanting to keep the original wood, and wanting to paint it. Sometimes I make my decision based on the style of furniture. For example, something that screams 1970s is the worst of ways might look fresh and modern with a clean, glossy coat of paint. Other times, I find pieces that are so hopelessly beat up that only people who enjoy cruel and unusual punishment would attempt to refinish the wood.

That’s what happened when I stumbled upon this waterfall dresser on craigslist. It needed some serious help. Veneer was missing all over the place, the top had something crusted onto it, and a piece of the frame was missing between the top drawer and top of the dresser.

It was actually that missing piece that sold me. Seeing that 2 inch gap between the uppermost drawer and the dresser top made me realize just how much wasted space was in there. “I could do something with that space,” I thought to myself. So I went and picked her up in my trusty little Fiona Fit.

At first I planned to chip off all the veneer from the drawers and the top. That proved to be nearly impossible, even when I used vinegar mixes that were supposed to loosen the adhesive.  I ended up sanding the veneer off the drawers. Underneath the veneer was some kind of porous wood that had holes all over it (not just grain, but real holes). I filled the holes with wood filler, sanded them, and repeated the process. I also used some wood glue and clamps to tighten the drawer joints a bit.

After tackling the drawers, I got to work on the frame. The first thing I did was remove the top by unscrewing all the places it was connected to the frame and using a rubber mallet to gently loosen any areas that were glued down. Because so much of the veneer was left on the top that I couldn’t chip off, I sanded it down with my power sander as much as possible and then used wood filler to level out the places where the veneer was missing. This took a lot of layers of wood filler and sanding to get a good smooth finish. I used a sanding wedge to try and get a level surface.

Once I had tackled the top, I got to work on constructing the replacement piece for the frame. I couldn’t find 2 inch molding in the style I needed, so I glued two pieces of small dental molding and a couple pieces of wood from Home Depot together to make the top piece. Then I drilled a pocket hole with my mini kreg jig on either side so that I could attach the new piece to the frame. I also filled any cracks in my puzzle of molding to make it look like one piece. I used Kregg screws to attach the piece to the frame.

Then came the fancy part. I decided to build a shelf in the top of the dresser to utilize all that dead space at the top.  To do this, I had pieces of wood cut the size of the inside of the frame, drilled pocket holes in the them, and screwed them into the frame. Then I had a piece of higher-quality plywood cut to slightly smaller than the inside of the frame. When I got home, I used my Dremel Multimax saw attachment to cut out corners in the shelf to accommodate the four corners of the frame. To hide the gaps between the frame and the shelf, I cut small pieces of molding and glued them along the frame. It was a process, but it was oh-so-satisfying once I finished. Unfortunately I was so focused on building that I did not take a single picture of the process. Fail.

Once I built the frame, it was finally time to start painting. At first I primed everything with Zinsser Cover Stain, which I had read from various sources was the best primer to use. But the wood grain on the drawers was SO pronounced, and you could see where it was interrupted by the wood filler spots, so I did some research and found that if you really want to seal wood grain, you should use Zinsser BIN, which is shellac-based. So I used two coats of Zinsser BIN primer over the drawers and the whole frame to seal the wood. Shortly after, I purchased my Benjamin Moore Advance paint and read that it should only be painted over oil-based primers, not shellac-based primers or “undercoaters”. Whoops. So I sanded the surfaces with 220-grit sandpaper and applied a final coat of primer, this time using Zinsser Cover Stain. I sanded the surface again when I was done, and then got to the real paint.

Prior to applying the actual paint color, I made sure that the top actually fit on the frame. It’s a good thing I did, because the top wasn’t having it. When I attached the new portion of the frame, I inadvertently narrowed the space at the top of the dresser. No worries! I just sanded the sides of the top quite a bit, recoated with primer, and was ready to paint again.

I used Benjamin Moore Advance Satin paint in “Once Upon a Time”. It took three coats and some touch ups to get this baby covered.

After letting the paint cure for a loooonnnng time, I attached the hardware that would allow the top of the dresser to open up and allow access to the new shelf. I used regular brass hinges on the back of the dresser and a lid support on the inside. As I experienced with my TV cabinetdresser retro-fit, this took a few tries.

To give the dresser a finishing touch, I used Brasso and the rough side of a kitchen sponge to remove some of the tarnish that had built up on the original hardware. The hardware was REALLY tarnished, and I didn’t have the patience to remove all the tarnish, so I got it to a point where it looked a little tarnished but not dirty. I actually think that look works well with this dresser.

So there you have it, the story of rebuilding/enhancing this art deco relic. This girl came to the Lucketts Market with me, got a million compliments, but didn’t leave with a new owner. I think she is pretty taste specific, but I can picture her in a bedroom with her top shelf full of pretty little china saucers and teacups full of earrings and necklaces and bracelets and other pretty things. I also think she’d look really pretty with a mirror on that underside.

Update: I realized that I didn't bother to record that this dresser has a paper label on the back with a that shows that it was manufactured by Johnson Carper Furniture Company in Roanoke, Virginia, and that it was shipped to John Bujewicz in South River, New Jersey. It looks like the company started around 1927 and manufactured furniture through the 1930s, which confirms that this is an authentic art deco piece. Maybe someone will be looking up their family and read this blog and recognize the dresser or know how it ended up in this neck of the woods. Wouldn't that be cool? If you are a Bujewicz and you are around my age, this might have belonged to your great grandfather or uncle, or maybe it belonged to your grandmother. I got it from a family in Alexandria (maybe they are Bujewiczes too?). Anyway, let the powers of the interweb bring us together.


Friday, May 25, 2012

My First Sale

You may have noticed the blue glass insulators that pop up in a lot of my styled pictures:

I brought a bunch of insulators with me to Lucketts, and realized that a lot of people don't know what they are. Never fear, I'm here to throw some knowledge on you. Insulators are placed at the top of electrical or telephone poles, where wires are wrapped around them to prevent the wire from touching the wood. Today you can look at the tops of electrical poles and see stacks of ceramic insulators, but before the 1960s, most of them were made of glass.

I love insulators for many reasons. I'm a sucker for blue translucent glass, they catch light beautifully, and they are great for styling just about any surface, especially if you're going for an eclectic (electric?) look. But insulators are near and dear to my heart for another reason: my grandpa collected them.

My grandpa spent his career as a telephone man. This influenced my family quite a bit. My dad and uncle know how to run wire pretty much anywhere in a house, and the entire family has a propensity for backing into parking spaces. I even grew up playing with old rotary telephones that my grandpa gave us when we were kids.

When the telephone company started converting their insulators to ceramic, my grandpa collected the old glass insulators. When my grandparents downsized, he put most of the insulators on a shelf near his workshop. He and my grandma also scattered them throughout their house, a small symbol of the pride my grandpa had in his work long after he retired. When he died, all of his children and grandchildren acquired portions of the collection.

Insulators make me quite nostalgic, and I always think of my grandpa when I see them. But that's not the only reason I decided to acquire some extras and sell them at Lucketts. My grandpa was an extremely handy guy, and as I've mentioned in past posts, he did amazing work to furniture that looked beyond repair. I still remember how every Tuesday, he would go visit his friend Freddie and repair furniture in Freddie's workshop with some other friends. It wasn't unusual to come across a few broken chairs in the cellar waiting to fixed up or re-caned. My grandpa's appreciation for old, well made furniture, his ability to see beauty in broken, beat up pieces, and his sheer love of tinkering and working with his hands undoubtedly influenced my passion for refurbishing old furniture.

My grandpa died six years ago last week. He lived a long and extremely fulfilling life, the kind that you can't help but use as a benchmark for your own. My only real regret is that I didn't fully embrace my furniture refurbishing hobby until after he died. There's so much that I still wish I could learn from him and work into my craft.

So where am I going with this? Well, as I stood anxiously at my Lucketts booth Saturday morning, not having sold anything right away, I wondered if this whole experience was going to be a big bust. But as the boy likes to remind me, I should have had more faith in myself. As the title of this post would suggest, soon enough, I made my first sale. And it was, quite appropriately, an insulator.

My Grandpa played baseball for the Cooperstown Indians on Doubleday field!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lucketts Favorites: Mid-century Modern Herringbone Tables

Thank you SO much to Becky from Preparing for Peanut for sending me this picture she snapped during the market!
Shortly after I found out I would be selling furniture at Lucketts, I picked up these mid-century modern tables on craigslist.

The finish on both tables was in really bad shape, and had alligatored in a lot of places. The tops both had water rings on them. 

They were very solid and had potential, so I was excited about the acquisition.

To take off the bad finish, I sanded until my hands were about to fall off. I even bought a Dremel Multi-Max with the detail sander attachment to help sand the places where I was struggling and make the process go faster. 

Once the finish was gone, I applied a coat of wood conditioner and then a coat of Minwax Antique Walnut stain. I really didn't like the color I got, which was much closer to black than I wanted, so I put two layers of General Finishes Java gel stain over the Minwax to darken and richen it up a bit. I let the stain dry for a couple days before I got to painting it. 

I knew I wanted to paint a herringbone pattern on these tables in an effort to kind of exaggerate their mid-century, "Mad Men" style. My original plan was to use some of my white Benjamin Moore Advance paint to paint the pattern, but I was coming down to the wire and really didn't have time to wait for the dry time of Advance paint. So instead, I ran off to buy some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White from the Stylish Patina space at Stifel &Capra in Falls Church. 

I chose to use chalk paint mostly because I knew it would dry quickly and cover well. I taped out the row of stripes that faced one direction first and painted the pattern on the table there. Once that was dry, I taped out the rows of strips facing the opposite direction and painted those. 

Here's what the table looked like after I painted the pattern. 

Another advantage of using the chalk paint was that I could sand the pattern very easily without making the paint peel. When the herringbone pattern was dry, I used 220 grit sandpaper to sand the edges of the color and give it a slightly distressed feel. Then I wiped off the dust with a damp cloth. 

To seal the table, I first brushed on a coat of Annie Sloan clear wax. After giving that about an hour to set, I mixed a tiny amount of my Java stain with some wax and brushed that over the entire thing to make the graphic herringbone pattern not quite as severe. I buffed off that wax almost immediately so that it wasn't too dark. 

Side note: Can  you believe this is the only good picture I have of them? Can you believe this is the one I consider "good"? Fail. 

Thank you SO much to Becky from Preparing for Peanut for sending me this picture she snapped during the market!

Unfortunately I didn't take very good pictures of the finished product. They were a hit at Lucketts--so many people stopped by to look at them--but they didn't sell until Sunday. So, note to self: just because something looks really cool doesn't mean that a ton of people will want it in their living room/bedroom. I ended up selling the tables to Amy Theodore of Hunt & Gather, who had some really rockin' mid-century pieces in their tent too. I'm mega flattered that those girls loved these tables as much as I did. 

I know some people came by and took pictures of them, so if you were one of those people can you pleeeeeaaaaase email them to me? You would seriously become my bff. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lucketts Favorites: Blue Rocking Chair

When I was getting ready for Lucketts, a lot of my friends asked me which pieces were my favorite projects. So, I thought I'd do a few posts about my favorites.

I bought this rocking chair at the last minute, about a week before the market. It had a cane back and cane bottom. The cane bottom looked new, but the back looked terrible. I haven't yet learned how to weave cane furniture, so I decided to reupholster this chair. And I was in such a rush to finish projects that I forgot to take a before picture. Bummer.

Using spray primer, I primed it and painted it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence. I mostly primed it because I didn't know what color I wanted to paint it, but I'm glad I did because I didn't want any of the black paint to show through anyway. After the paint dried, I went over it with a coat of wax.

I was actually planning to put different fabric on it, but at the last second I realized how gorgeous the retro flowered fabric looked with the blue, so I decided to use that instead. Once I had upholstered the front and back, I had to figure out what kind of trim to use. I wasn't really wanting to sew double-welt cord, so I looked around my house to see what I had. That's when I saw my big bag of cord that I would ordinarily use to sew double weight cord. The oatmeal color looked perfect against the fabric, so I doubled it up and attached it.

I am so in love with this color fabric combo to the point where I might actually do our unfinished dining chairs in this style. I sold it to a lady who has two little boys and was decorating a nursery for her little girl on the way. I love that this chair will look adorable in a nursery but be able to grow with the little girl too.

So that's my favorite. I'll be back later this week with more info.

P.S. Tonight I'm going to see a lecture by Jonathan Adler at the Corcoran with some blogger friends and I'm so pumped. Anyone else in DC going?

Linked to: Primitive and Proper, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Domestically Speaking, Miss Mustard Seed, Redoux, Shabby Nest, Making Lemonade

Monday, May 21, 2012

Craigslist Scam Alert

I posted a couple of the items that didn't sell at Lucketts on Craigslist yesterday, and got this fun little response:
Thanks for the swift response to my mail inquiry .i completelysatisfied  and comfortable with your advert,hence still available, Iwill send a Bank check to cover the cost of my purchase  as well aspickup logistics.sincerely  i am keen on having  this to be mine .sokindly avail to me the details of whom & where to mail the paymentpackage.It will be delivered by the Fedex courier Service within2-3days of the receipt of your details.Please note Fedex do notdeliver to  P.O.Box addresses.,The below is required:
   1.Name to be on the check   2.Home address   3.Mobile #
In otherwords i presume a sealed transaction so,Kindly delete theadvert on Craig's List as am totally committed to buying from you tosave me cost, My mover will be coming over for the pick up right onlyafter the payment as been delivered and I want you to understand that,I would have love to call but i am hearing impaired and i am alwaysvery preoccupied with work  site inspection all week long , so do me afavor by sending me emails and pictures if available.

Thanks for your warm understanding
Wow, thanks, but I wasn't born yesterday. Also, if you're trying to steal from me, maybe don't send such an obviously sketchy response.  I had heard that there was some serious scamming going around Craigslist, and it finally got to me. I think most of my readers are savvy enough to know that you should never enter into a deal like this, but I wanted to let you all know about it in case you end up with an offer like this. Don't even respond!

Lucketts Recap

This past week has been the most exhausting week that I can remember. In addition to prepping for the Lucketts Spring Market, I spent two days in NYC for my sister's graduation from NYU. I was working on projects up until the last second and got so very little sleep. I don't ever remember working this hard on anything, even during the end of the semester in college.

The market was really cool. I learned SO much and met some neat vendors. I also talked to a few people who read my blog, which was really cool and almost a bit funny to think that there were actually people at the market who had already seen some of my stuff. I sold quite a few pieces but still have a few things left, including the pretty coral table I posted last week. Check out my "shop" page to see what I still have available! I've set up a shop on Etsy too. Items are currently available for pickup locally from Falls Church, and I am looking into reputable delivery services for people who are out of the area.

Big thanks to my roomies who let me turn our house into Sarah's furniture workshop for the past few months (the last two weeks were especially bad) and helped me move things around the house, my family who came out and visited me during the market, and my friend Bobby who helped me load my space Friday when a last minute thing came up for Kyle at work. Which brings me to the boy. A HUGE thanks to Kyle (the boy) who was about the most supportive person in the world throughout this entire effort. He went with me to pick up furniture, helped me move things around the house, and spent his entire weekend hanging out at the market with me. He helped me calm down when I frequently freaked out about the amount of work I had left last week. He moved stuff out of my car while I set up the space each day, got us snacks, charmed customers, and made friends with the vendors around our space. He never complained once, even when allergies were killing him by the end of both days. We really made a great team, and I feel so insanely lucky to be with someone who cares that much about my endeavors and helps me succeed even when I'm doubting myself. Sorry girls, he's a keeper!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Coral and Gold Dipped Table

I have been crazy busy attempting to finish all my projects for the Lucketts market next weekend. So, I don't have time to type out a full tutorial but I wanted to share one of my latest finished pieces!

This is a vintage Henredon end table that I painted with Benjamin Moore Advance satin in Tuscon Coral. I got the "dipped" effect by spray painting the ends of the legs with gold paint first, and then using painters tape to create the crisp line between the coral and gold. This sassy little table will be available next week at the market, along with the brass duck and a bunch of telephone insulators!

The 36th AVENUE  making lemonade blog

Friday, May 4, 2012

Not Helpful

Any Parks and Rec fans out there? Remember the episode when Ron Swanson decides to fix everything in Andy and April's house?

Well, this pretty much sums up how I've felt lately when I walk into a certain home improvement store:

A couple weeks ago, I asked someone if they sold Kreg Jigs. They had no idea what I was talking about. I said, "You know, something that helps you drill pocket holes?" He still had no idea what I was talking about.

A few months ago, I had to ask three people where to find staples for an electric stapler. The first took me to pneumatic staplers. The second just pointed in a direction. Finally, the third took me to the right place.

On another visit, I asked a man where I could find sanding discs for a power sander. He proceeded to educate me on what the different grits were and was asking me what I was doing so he could tell me what I needed. This would've been fine, except every sign I gave him (including a quick response to "hook and loop or adhesive?") pointed to the fact that I knew what I was doing. Then, I watched him help a lady and her husband figure out what power sander to buy. He totally ignored the fact that the woman wanted something that fit in her hand and kept emphasizing warranties. All she wanted to do was scuff up paneling so that she could paint it. I wanted to point out that if she's going to be using it on a wall, she probably won't really hold it in the palm of her hand, so she didn't need to worry about the size so much as the weight. But I didn't want to be a know it all. I spend too much time being one already.

By the way, I ended up buying the Kreg Jig at Woodcraft, which is well-stocked with both woodworking supplies and helpful salesmen.

I'm majorly frustrated with the quality of service at these big box home stores. I read somewhere that Home Depot was trying to make their store more female-friendly by carrying Martha Stewart home items. Some Ace Hardware stores were "brightening up" a couple isles and selling more things like scented candles. Are they going to start selling Tampons too? I can buy patio furniture and scented candles from Target. When I go to a home improvement store or a hardware store, I want to talk to someone who knows how to complete a project from start to finish, and who doesn't treat me like I'm an idiot just because I'm a girl.

Maybe I'll just start wandering the isles of Home Depot looking for a forlorn DIY cohort, and we'll find the stuff we need together.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hide your trees, hide your azalea bushes….

…cause vigilante gardeners are out assaulting shrubbery.

I wish I were kidding.

In early March, our next-door neighbors put their house on the market. Their house has one of the nicest exteriors in the neighborhood, while ours…well…hadn’t been improved in probably 20 years. So the homeowners’ association came down on my landlord and forced him to make a number of improvements to the exterior of our townhouse. Yard maintenance happens to be our responsibility, so we had to give the tiny flowerbed in front of our house a grooming. We were fine with that, because we felt kind of bad for our neighbors at that point.

Stupidly, we decided to do tidy up the front yard on the same Sunday that the neighbors were having an open house. At the time, I hadn’t realized that an open house is really an invitation for all the longtime owners in the neighborhood to come check out your house without a personal invitation. Before we knew it, every old man in the neighborhood was telling us what to do.

We knew they were trying to be helpful, but it still felt patronizing. They didn’t listen to us, and they wouldn’t leave us alone. Instead of actually working on the house, we had to stand there and tell them that we knew what we were doing. We also got weird questions from some of the older neighbors like, “Are you all school teachers?” Um, what?

They did give us one good piece of advice: wait to trim back the azalea bush until after it blooms, but right before the blooms are totally gone. Otherwise, you kill the bloom. So we “boxed out” the holly bush and left the azalea, which was about two feet taller than the holly, for later in the season.

I had a lot of fun with the hedge clippers. Total immediate gratification.

While we were out working, the head of the HOA, who appears to be the male version of an old cat lady, offered to plant some liriope around the base of the flowerbed. “Sure,” we said. Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?

Fast-forward almost two months.  Workers had come and fixed up the house, and almost every day that they were there the HOA man was out in front of our house asking them what our LL instructed them to do, and telling them what they should do. We were getting really sick of coming home to find that the neighborhood was in front of our house evaluating the improvements. It was all we could do to smile and say hello instead of telling them to bug off and return to their own homes.

Then one day last week I was sick and working from home. I looked out my upstairs window and found an old man in my yard with a wheelbarrow, cutting up pieces of….what’s that he’s cutting up? Is that our azalea bush?

Yes, he was cutting up our azalea bush. Upon further investigation, I realized that the azalea bush was pretty much gone, leaving only a pile of dismembered flowers in our front yard.

This is the point where I should’ve gone outside and said, “um, hey, whatcha doin there man?” But instead I stood at my window, jaw dropped, furiously texting my roommates. I chose this route because 1) I had no idea what to say; and 2) I wanted this butcher to clean up his mess before I got mad and made him run out of our yard crying.

At first I assumed it was the nosey head of our HOA, but when my roommate got home and talked to this gentleman, she found that it was someone else in the neighborhood who we don’t even happen to know. How fun. When my roommate filled in for me and said, “uh hey, what are you doing?” He simply told her, “Oh I’m just cutting back this azalea.”

“We were going to do that this weekend,” roomie told him.

“That’s why I did it today. The blooms are 80% gone. It hasn’t been cut in 15 years.”

“Yes, but we were going to shape it up.”

We had a strong suspicion that HOA cat man/king of the neighborhood—note, not the HOA—was involved. But we didn’t even know who this other dude was, so I decided to unleash the fury of our angry old man landlord. I emailed him detailing the situation, and sent him pictures of the azalea assault. He called me immediately and wanted to know who this “bush cutter” (his words, not mine) was, and then proceeded to call/send a nasty email to the head of the HOA. But instead of just drafting his own email, he forwarded the email I sent him and added an angry little note.

Oops! It was a mini moment of panic followed by deep satisfaction that annoying HOA cat man now knows exactly how I feel about him, and that I don’t take shiznit from my neighbors whether I’m a renter or not. Here's a portion of my email:

"Needless to say, we're very annoyed. We know that [HOA cat man] and his friends are trying to be helpful, but we're sick of being treated by the HOA as helpless female renters who don't know how to care for a home. We're also sick of coming home and finding that the neighborhood feels that caring for this house is a communal effort. We know that if we were homeowners, no one would be taking it upon themselves to make modifications to our yard."

A little while later our doorbell rang. Two of my roommates let out a shriek, “It’s him!” and went to hide in the kitchen. I went to the door, ready to throw down.

He explained to me that they were “just trying to help” and that they were going to tell us about their “plans” that night. I told him quite firmly that they are not to make plans for our yard. Period. I also took him around front and showed him just how freaking ridiculous our yard looks now. I mean really. Why did we even do all that other work? Our house looks wayyyyy worse than it did before. He apologized, but I still don’t think he thinks he and his buddy did anything wrong.

Unfortunately we’re not going to get a new azalea. It’s a good thing our neighbors sold their house. We’re thinking about putting up a sign that says, “we did not do this” since people are now giving our house dirty looks. But seriously, wouldn’t you if you lived near us?

I guess on the positive side, there’s now plenty of room for lawn ornaments. Lucky for our HOA friend, whimsical garden accessories are all over Target right now. And we found that pink flamingos are very affordable. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...