September 6, 2011

All the King's Horses and all the King's Men... SNORE NO MORE... and ME

Far be it for me to rest idle on a holiday weekend...

Flowery Branch Antique Market is the first full weekend of each month and now that I have a large booth there I spend a great deal of time refurbing, repurposing, and cosmetically reworking furniture and accessories. I absolutely LOVE making junk into useful and beautiful treasures!! The down side I've found is that it feeds my furniture addiction, but that might not be such a bad thing. :-)

Here are some of the latest "creations" of mine, more Before & Afters:

These end tables had plenty of potential and had obviously had a rough life. I think someone didn't have any coasters...

Lots of sanding, good primer, and fresh paint made a world of difference. And I just noticed that I took a picture before the hardware was all installed. hmmmm... 

I'm particularly excited about the result of work on some baroque style bedroom furniture. It was a COMPLETE disaster when I got it. I've had to do a lot of work on furniture before, but I've NEVER.SEEN.ANYTHING.LIKE.THESE.PIECES. NONE of the drawers worked properly and one drawer was missing all its pieces but the front. It looked as though the top of this furniture had been used for wet drinks, ashtrays, and possibly deep frying (guessing on that from the amount of grease that was caked on and under the drawers). This certainly seemed like a Humpty Dumpty case to me and there were times when I wondered if I really COULD put all the pieces back together again, OR if I should even bother.

See that BLOB of goo toward the right front of the bottom drawer area, and the BLOB about halfway back closer to the middle of the same drawer area? That was TAR. Or some substance with qualities very similar to tar.

Here is an in-progress closeup of one of the drawers. You can see how much TSP I had to use along with my wire brush. I actually used my garden hose INSIDE the drawer casements along the back, sides, and dust covers, and scrapers & screwdrivers to remove some sort of tar-like goo that was in clumps inside. EWW.

The sea of drawers that have been cleaned, awaiting the next step. A key piece of this gigantic furniture puzzle was LABELING each of the pieces as I removed them, INCLUDING the hardware. Because each drawer front was shaped, it really did matter where they went back in and how. I used a sharpie marker and labeled in the under side of each drawer as I went along, repairing both the tracks and reassembling the drawers themselves with wood glue. 

Already it looks much better, having been repaired, sanded, primed, sanded again, and painted. I only used one coat of paint since I planned to glaze.

Here you can REALLY see the difference glaze makes! I used Martha Stewart's "Black Coffee" metallic glaze over "Cinnamon Cake" color Sherwin Williams satin finish paint. "Cinnamon Cake" is a Behr color but they can formula match it at SW and it is my go-to cream color- I LOVE the undertones of this paint; it's the perfect cream and even works alongside Heirloom White spray paint. The glaze doesn't look as starkly BLACK in person as it does in the above picture; it's really closer to the color in the picture below. "Black Coffee" is the perfect name for this glaze and it is GORGEOUS; having an indefinable "is it black or is it dark brown?" look, and in the sunlight the SLIGHT metallic shimmer is stunning.

One piece down, a gazillion more to go... this is one project that threatened to overwhelm me, but I just took my time and did one painfully slow step at a time. Daubing the glaze on with my paintbrush and using cheesecloth to wipe most of it off, around and in all those crevices took FOREVAH but the effect is definitely worth it.

I didn't get a picture of the mirrors before I removed the backing and glass. Here they are about to be assaulted with TSP and a wire brush. :-)

Mirror frame on the left has been coated with automotive primer (spray), and the one on the right has one coat of paint on it. Same process was used on the mirrors as the other pieces- cleaning, priming, painting, glaze, and cheesecloth. I was unsure how the glaze would work with spray paint, since the glaze is water-base and spray paint is of course oil based. It worked really well; although I wouldn't do that on a horizontal surface that might see some wear & tear, on a mirror frame it was perfect.

All dressed up and ready to go home with someone...

detail view- top of one mirror

detail view- corner of one mirror

The finished chest. It is 63" tall, 35" wide, and 21" deep. That's large. I had to stand on a ladder to sand, prime, paint, and glaze the top because it's exactly the same height as I. :-)

Detail view of chest, drawers slightly open to show the English dovetail construction.

I painted all the brass hardware "dark bronze" after cleaning and priming each piece.

OH the difference working on something 4 hrs a day/5 days a week for 2-3 weeks can make!
Here's a side-by-side comparison of before & after of the nightstand:

These pieces are not my personal "style," but I have to admit that I did think about keeping the nightstands and mirrors. They would be SOO lovely with the mirrors hung each over a mirror,  flanking a bed. Very dramatic. 

I made cosmetic-only changes to a china cabinet using some UBER BRIGHT red paint (fire engine RED, baby!), called "Sweet Tomato" and the leftover glaze from the baroque furniture project:
SNORE! to say the least, but...

Sweet Tomato spray paint applied...

 glaze applied, and...

That china cabinet is STACKED!



Exterior/landscaping design uses the same principles as interior and graphics design- they're all about SCALE, RHYTHM, BALANCE, UNITY/HARMONY, COLOR, TEXTURE, and DETAILS. These basic principles are what create beautiful interiors and exteriors. Check out this front porch:

A really nice house with pretty furnishings on the porch, but the color of the cushions are the same as the brick and the light fixtures completely disappear in the large space. Not to mention the lack of accessories such as flowers and/or live plants. It's nice, but rather bland.

Virtually the same view and you can immediately see the difference- a ceiling fan has been added above the seating area, re-purposed from the breakfast nook, and the entry light fixture is now an appropriate style and SCALE for the house. SCALE.

An indoor/outdoor rug is on order for the seating area, to break up the expanse of brick, not just in color but also the "busy-ness" of all the lines, hard edges of the brick, and to further delineate the seating area from the entry. The addition of the live plants and accessories has made a HUGE difference in the look and feel of the porch- it is now welcoming and cozy; a nice place to sit under the ceiling fan and have a glass of iced tea.

More B&A's:
before: overgrown shrubs at the end of the driveway, under the windows, and around the mailbox; pear tree needed pruning. All areas needed COLOR, not just shades of green, and the front door didn't stand out at ALL. Around the sea of concrete that overpowers the entry, there was only green. 

After: new paint colors REALLY make the entry stand out, painted (paisley) mailbox, cleared out the overgrown shrubs, pruned the pear tree, added a little seating (the seating area under the tree is another TO DO project). Areas of bright red REALLY breathe life into what was previously ho-hum.

GONE BABY GONE are the overgrown and scraggly shrubs. Hardy pink knock-out roses will grow to about 4x4', so they'll be taller than the iris within a couple of years. Mailbox has been painted (paisley), and velvety-silver lamb's ear is a nice color and texture against the black mulch, which should have been swept more neatly before taking the picture. AHEM. Natural stones edge the area (enough have been added since this picture was taken to finish the edges.)

BEFORE: Outdated and unimaginative, this space lacked any sort of personality and there was nothing to accentuate the fireplace. As you look across this image from right to left, everything is along the same visual plane, as the entertainment center and mantel are the same height, and the windows aren't much taller. Instead of a feature worth accentuating, the angles of the vaulted ceiling look awkward and accidental. There is just nothing of interest here.

Painted a deep chocolaty taupe, the fireplace wall is definitely noticeable now! Because the parts of the vignette extend up the wall, it draws the eye to this area and keeps it there. Window treatments extend beyond the window moldings to add height and continued visual interest. 

A mid-century console holds the flat-screen and it is surrounded by a collection of old wood crates containing family photos, crystal, and glassware. Because the crates extend up the wall far past the level of the mantel, which is now home to a sunburst mirror and an antique window. Don't be afraid of mixing eras and styles- some of these crates date to the turn of the 20th Century and the console is from the 1960s. Because the crates themselves are similar in color to each other and most of the pieces displayed in the crates have a similar color (whites and creams), that creates the repetition (or, rhythm) and the crates help balance the visual weight of the flat screen on the tall wall, it all works together for a cohesive vignette. In essence, this area can "stand alone" as a "unit," but it works within the space because it complements the other areas without overpowering anything. Cream and white, along with beiges and natural textures (wood of the crates, stone of the fireplace) is repeated across the visual plane. RHYTHM.

As I've said before, everything is in a constant state of PROGRESSION, and as far as I've experienced, nothing is EVER totally finished. And that's okay. As long as you're building on the fundamentals, you're heading in the right direction and what you're working on will look and feel ever better along the way.