Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bookshelf Redo - Final Day

Today is the third day of my three bookshelves, three-day project. The first day I primed all three and painted the small wooden one in the hall bath. The second day I waxed and styled the bathroom bookcase and did most of the painting on the two white laminate cases. Because I'd used a roller on these, the paint was spread pretty thin, so today I touched up some thin spots - they really could use another coat, but I'm almost out of paint and didn't want to go buy more at this point. Putting the shelves back in resulted in some scrapes to the inside of my newly painted surface, so I touched these up too. Because I am planning to do a final coat at some point, I cheated and did not wax these yet. So I cleaned up, moved the shelves back to where they belonged and put stuff back on them. For now I just pretty much did a tidied up version of what was already on them - I need to do major cleaning out and organizing in the coming months and may change things around then, but today was devoted to putting away Christmas and I just didn't want to drag more stuff out.

So here they are, all three sets of completed shelves:

Bathroom shelves

Bedroom shelves

Dining Room shelves

And here is what they looked like when I started:

Wooden bookshelf before

Bedroom bookcase

Dining room bookcase

So not bad for three free sets of shelves, a free quart of green paint, and leftover white and tan paint. My only real expenses were the Zinsser primer, roller set and roller covers which were under $20.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bookshelf Redo - Day 2

So, today is day two of my project to make over 3 small sets of bookcases. Yesterday I primed everything and painted one of the cases with Glidden's Soothing Green Tea, a light yellowish green. Today I worked on the two laminate sets. They are being painted to match my trim, which is Valspar's Woodlawn Lace, from their National Trust Collection. Most of the colors in this collection are based on historic properties - this one being Woodlawn, which was once part of George Washington's Mount Vernon. I am in love with this color - it looks fabulous in every light: crisp and clean during the day, soft and warm at night, and if I wake up during the night it absolutely glows from the light outside.

White bookcases in progress

The backs of the bookcases were done in Valspar's Antique, which is part of their Waverly collection. This is the color of all of my walls except the kitchen and laundry/pantry. I was planning on saving this for wall touchups and using an old can of Martha Stewart's Light Cocoa, which is very similar, but I couldn't get the can open.

White bookcases with tan backs

While the roller was an easy way to paint the outsides and shelves of the bookcases, I did find I had to do about three coats to really get coverage, and I still have a few spots to touch up. It did also require some sanding in between coats. I did the backs with a brush and it was much faster, if not as smooth of a finish.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry on these, I applied the paste wax to the green bookcase which was painted yesterday. I like to use what is sometimes called Bowling Alley Wax (for reasons I can guess) or Butcher's Wax (for reasons I have no idea) which gives a nice hard, water resistant finish and a pretty sheen.

Minwax Paste Wax

To apply it, I just use a paper towel (cheese cloth actually works well too) to scoop some out and smear it on the piece. It is stinky, so ideally (i.e. do as I say, not as I do) you should do this in a well-ventilated place, and the can warns harmful or fatal if swallowed, so don't eat it or let your kid or pet near it. After smearing on a light layer, let it dry for awhile and then buff it off with an old towel or t-shirt. If it seems sticky while you're wiping it off, you need to let it dry a little longer. Once it is buffed off, your piece will have a nice smooth feel and sheen.

Since I wasn't planning to do much different in styling this piece, I went ahead and put the stuff back on it. So here it is again before:

Wooden bookshelf before

And after:

Wooden bookshelf after

Wooden bookshelf after

Monday, December 27, 2010

3 Bookshelves, 3 Days

I decided to take advantage of some much needed time off of work to tackle a few projects I've been putting off forever, namely painting up the three trash picked bookshelves I have hanging around here. My three day timeline includes two days of priming and painting and the third day to wax the cured paint and style the shelves. Luckily the day-after-Christmas snowstorm we got hit with played perfectly into my plans - I'm not going out in that no way, no how.

So today is day one. Let me introduce you to my victims shelves:

Small wooden bookcase

This first cutie set is actually made from real wood. It's quite scratched on top and an ugly reddish/orangish brown color, but otherwise a nice compact size. It lives in the cats' hall bathroom and is perect for storing extra towels, toilet paper, books on cats, cat toys, and random cat decor (I plan on becoming a crazy cat lady, complete with theme sweaters, about 20 years from now.)

Scratched top on wooden bookcase

The next two shelves are a matched pair of laminate complete with cardboard backing. They're also perfectly sized for where they live, one in the dining room in the space between the kitchen door and the wall, which is used to hold barware, dishes, and decorative items, and the other in the master bedroom between the bathroom and closet doors, where it holds a few books, my tax files, and some decorative items.

Bedroom bookcase

Dining room bookcase

First I gathered my supplies: A 4" cabinet and door roller set, a canvas dropcloth, foamy brush, angled paint brush, wood glue (to repair the trim on the front of one of the shelves), paint, sanding sponge, and primer. On the recommendation of Kate from Centsational Girl I picked up the Zinsser oil based primer for the laminate bookcases since it is supposed to stick to anything, and it does.

Painting supplies

I sanded the top of the wooden bookcase pretty well since it had some scratches. My wood filler was dried out, so I used a very, very thin coat of plaster spackle to fill in the last little bit and it seems to have worked pretty well. The primer says "no sanding necessary" so I did not sand the rest of the wooden piece, but did go over the laminate ones very lightly (I hate sanding. Detest.). The roller worked really well on the outsides of the bookcases, was a little more difficult on the insides, especially the wooden one whose shelves were not removeable. I used an old foamy brush to get into the corners. I was also working in a really small space which didn't help matters any. The primer dried really quickly (can says an hour, I took a lunch break in there so left it a bit longer).

Primed laminate bookcases

Primed wooden bookcase

I tossed the roller after finishing with the primer because I hate cleaning them did not have the mineral spirits to clean oil paint. Since it was windy as heck and the roads were snow covered, a trip to Home Depot, which is literally across the street, was not in the cards for additional rollers. The interior of the wooden case I decided was more easily tackled with the brush anyway, so I broke out my can of Glidden Soothing Green Tea that I had gotten free about 2 years ago when they did a website promotion. The can was sealed with a plastic ring called a NormLock Seal to keep it from leaking when shipped. I didn't know what it was for or how to get it off, so I started with a websearch. I nearly got a virus, and could have learned how to hack my husband's cell phone or "adult" websites if I'd wanted (I swear my search terms were "opening normlock seal"), but no instructions for getting this plastic ring off my paint can. I found directions for removing a different brand of seal with pliers, so I started there and added a screwdriver when I'd pryed it up enough. Don't worry about destroying it, you're not going to reuse it. This was my main question when starting out - I wasn't sure if it was supposed to go back on the can to scrape the brush against to keep from gooping paint all over the can or what, but no, it is just to seal it for shipping.

Opening a NormLock Seal
Opening a NormLock Seal

So with my paint can open I could finally begin painting! I had planned to do just the inside, and wait until I could get out for rollers to finish up the outside, but once I started I just kept going and did the whole thing. So here is the result.

Painted green bookcase

Scratches are nearly gone

I'll tackle the laminate shelves tomorrow when I can get out for more rollers. They will both be painted white to match my trim with the back panels in tan to match (or close to match) the walls.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pink and Gold Holiday Table

Pink and Gold Tablescape

I've been on a pink and gold kick this holiday season. If I had done a tree, I was planning on this color scheme, but alas, there was no time or space for a tree this year, so I decided to unleash my glittery, glamorous ambitions on my tablescape. You may remember the "Angel in a Jar" decoration from my Thrifty Finds post last month. I was unsuccessful in freeing her from her prison, so I used her as is, with just the addition of a faux pearl necklace (I have yards of faux pearl garland around somewhere, but since I couldn't find it, just raided my jewelry box). I placed her on a small square beveled glass mirror with a gold frame (thrifted, $3.35), pulled out my Duralex Piccardy glasses in three different sizes to add to the centerpiece, along with some ornaments and more faux pearls from the jewelry box.

Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting

My place settlings are gold leaf chargers topped with ironstone plates (I'm obsessed with white dishes) and pink glass rim soup plates. On top of these I've added another Duralex glass (I pick these up in the thrifts whenever I can find them) with a pink ornament inside and a glittery white snowflake off to the side. Under it all I've used a green tablecloth and a natural runner, which I think keeps the whole from being too precious. I've staggered silver candlesticks and two frosted hurricanes with glitter snowflakes on them down the runner. After I took the photo, I also added two glittery reindeer from Dollar Tree.

[caption id="attachment_278" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="I like to match my decor to my cat!"]Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting[/caption]

As you can see, Quincy, who has green eyes, and a pink nose and pads on his feet, matches the decor perfectly. Maybe next year I'll get him some angel wings and a pedestal and he can be the centerpiece. You know, kinda like when stores have "live" mannequins in their windows sometimes.

Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting

With the exception of the runner, which I think I got at Marshall's years ago, one set of the candlesticks, which were my grandmothers, and the hurricanes which were a gift, everything else on the table was thrifted and probably less than $20 all together, with many of the elements being things I can use at other times of the year and in different color schemes. So I hope you've enjoyed my table, and in case you were wondering, no I don't ever actually eat at it. And the cats aren't really ever allowed up there.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stylishly Simple Solutions: Business Card Holder

Sometimes you just need a quick, easy, functional solution to something, but that doesn't mean it can't have style. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Martha Stewart dishwashing detergent bottle

which she showed years ago and I copied until I moved to a place with a dishwasher, at which point my nearly never used dishwashing detergent went back under the sink.

Anyway, I was looking for a cute, stylish way to hold business cards on my desk and remembered the little Pyrex refrigerator box I picked up at a thrift because I loved the color but never really had any use for. The size and shape is perfect for storing the cards, and I've even put some in the lid for easier access.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Iconic Style: The LBD

It is something nearly every woman has in her wardrobe (or should), the Little Black Dress is that go-to item that can be dressed up or down for many occasions. It is easy to wear, simple enough that it can be transformed with accessories, timeless, and seasonless.


A 1926 issue of Vogue published a picture of a calf length simple black dress designed by Coco Chanel, which they called “Chanel’s Ford,” meaning it was basic and accessible to women of all social classes. They also said it would become “a sort of uniform for women of all taste.”


Prior to the 1920s black was often reserved for mourning. During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, a widow wore several stages of mourning dress over a period of at least two years. The first year she was in deep, or full, mourning and her dress was plain black with no ornamentation. In the second year she could wear black silk and toward the end of the year embellish with black ribbon, lace, embroidery, or jet jewelry. The final six months, or “half mourning” period, allowed for muted or neutral colors with shades of purple being common. Because deaths were common in the early 20th century as a result of WWI and the Spanish flu, it became more common for women to be seen in public wearing black, leading the way to Chanel’s design and the use of black dresses in Hollywood movies, which interesting were preferred with the introduction of Technicolor because bright colors looked distorted on screen.

The LBD remained popular through the Depression because it was economical and elegant, and during WWII when textiles were rationed it became part of a standard business uniform, conservatively accessorized, for women entering the workforce for the first time.


The post-war era and conservatism of the 1950s brought the LBD around to the look of the femme fatale who was contrasted with the more wholesome housewife character by Hollywood. The introduction of synthetic fibers in this time also broadened the affordability of the dress and widened its appeal.
In the 1960s, the younger, mod generation pushed the fashion envelope with shorter versions of the dress, often with cutouts, slits, sheer fabrics and tulle. Other women of this time preferred more elegant and classic designs, such as the iconic dress designed by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Currently the LBD runs the gamut from wrinkle-resistant knits that can be tossed in a suitcase for travel and dressed up or down, simple sheaths that can take the wearer from the boardroom to a dinner date with a simple change of accessories, and more elaborate cocktail dresses that are only trotted out after dark. While most are black, charcoal gray, chocolate brown, and nudes also work equally well and deliver the same results with a more modern twist.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finding Your Inspiration

Inspiration can come from many places – magazines and catalogs, other peoples’ homes, a favorite motif, pattern or color, nature, architecture. Lately for me it has been a specific object. For my master bedroom it was this lamp, picked up at Marshall’s for $30-$40.

It is not at all my typical style – more modern than my Shabby-Chic-Meets-Pottery-Barn-in-the-90s look (which I'm slowly trying to update and modernize), and it's blue when I’ve always favored greens. Anyway, once the lamp was purchased, the Target melamine plates and Dwell Studio for Target bedding and striped 100% no-iron cotton sheets from Target joined our household.

Mirror Arrangement

I’m in the process of painting my old dressers dark brown to coordinate with the new dresser and the vanity in the adjoining master bath. For the bed, I’m thinking of an aqua blue palette something like this one from Pottery Barn’s teen collection (even though I am far from my teenhood). It is hard for me to commit to color because I do like to change out linens and such with the seasons.


The time has also come to tackle the mess of an office-guest-room-storage-space (it's too messy to even show you a picture. Really) and fortunately I recently scored a pair of vintage Loewenstein cane backed chairs from the thrift and some killer yellowish-green lattice print upholstery fabric that have me swooning and very inspired.


I see lots of great furniture cast-offs on my thrifting trips, and mostly I think “yeah, that would be great if I felt like doing a project, but I don’t” so these chairs must be really special to have inspired me so and they were only $11/pair – go look at what Loewensteins charges for similar chairs in their catalog. Yes, that is $670+ per chair! Score! The plan is to paint the chairs white and redo the seats with the fabric, which was only $3 for 3 yards, get a mattress for the antique brass bed I’ve been storing for years (still on the fence on what to do about the finish – it was painted brown at one time, kind of shabby chic now) and use it as a day bed with some of the extra fabric from the chairs as pillows. I shopped long and hard many years ago for a library table to use for the computer, but I wish there was a way to hide all the electronics junk without getting rid of my desk (I have an idea for that that might work involving my “just hide it all behind a curtain” strategy below – stay tuned).

The one drawback to this room is that it has no closet. I have a cheap shelving unit and dresser that are functional and in good condition, just not very inspiring, and a vanity that I’ve had basically all of my life that I’m not willing to part with and that will serve well for a sewing table, so the plan for right now is to line all of those up along the wall with the “big ugly mirror I haven’t been able to work around” attached to it and then use IKEA’s Kvartal track system and panels to just hide it all. Eventually I’d love to do a built-in custom system. I’ve physically rearranged the room 2 or 3 times in the past year and finally sat down and drew out a measured floor plan with furniture cut-outs so I could rearrange on paper and I think I’m going to do one more rearrange and hopefully be done. Fortunately I don’t think I have to move and rewire computer equipment this time. Anyway, stay tuned, maybe in a year I’ll have this done. I’m hoping the mood board below helps speed me along though, ‘cause I really am sick of this mess.

Caned Toboggan Arm Chair
Caned Toboggan Arm Chair from

Gandia Blasco Modern Flower Rug Pistachio Green, Item id:7610_flowerrugpistachiogreen (Medium Image)
Gandia Blasco Modern Flower Rug Pistachio Green from Modern Rugs

Farmer's Leg Table
Farmer's Leg Table from

Waldorf Bed
Waldorf Bed from Kids Furniture Mart

Sliding Window and Door Treatment in Java Natural Finish - Panel Track
Sliding Window & Door Treatment in Java Natural Finish - Panel Track from ivgStores

Retro Accent Lamp - Guacamole
Retro Accent Lamp - Guacamole from Desk Lamps

Urban Stripe Fabric
Urban Stripe Fabric from

Camea Lidded Storage Baskets - Small Lidded Storage Basket
Camea Lidded Storage Baskets - Small Lidded Storage Basket from Crate and Barrel

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