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A Little Vintage Desk

I know this desk could have been taken in a million different directions, but with Easter coming up I was looking for something that was perhaps in those softer pastel colours. But… you know me… it couldn’t be that simple! I also wanted something with a little bit of whimsy without adding too much over the top colour (for a change!)

The desk started out looking like this…

Pretty cute, right? Before I could get started though, there were actually some repairs that had to be made. The wood was pretty dry and many of the drawer joints had become unglued so… all were cleaned, new wood glue added and all clamped together to allow the glue to dry with nice tight joints.

Then it was ready for painting. I decided on a soft lavender colour but, of course, I didn’t have any on hand so mixed up my own! The whole piece received a base coat and then two coats of lavender and then allowed to dry thoroughly.

When you are looking to do stripes you will need to be taping off areas. Ensuring that your base coats are nice and dry helps ensure that the tape will not be inadvertently lifting off any of that base coat. Stripes were added to the two sides of the desk and to the inner foot well area also.

The checkerboard pattern added to the front face of the drawer fronts was hand painted. I did measure the internal area to decide on the appropriate ‘size’ of the checkerboard squares, cutting a piece of cardstock to the appropriate width. I used this as a guide, drawing the lines on lightly with pencil before hand filling the alternating squares with black. I didn’t worry about getting them perfect and I added small gold dots in each corner of the squares for a little more interest and because it also hides any major flaws.

To get the dots on the desk top and on the drawer fronts I just dipped a flat nail head into paint and pressed it where the dot needed to be. I used two different sizes – each corresponding to the size of dot I needed. Easy! Additional gold paint was used to highlight the existing mouldings and trim to provide a little more contrast but I chose not to overdo it with too much glitz and glam – adding just enough to provide some highlights and interest.

All was waxed and buffed when done. The original hardware was painted black and… done!


The Aging of a Door

Any project you see on this site has multiple steps, steps you often miss when viewing the final product.  This door was no exception!  It started as a beautiful old, solid wood Farmhouse door that, although I loved its chippy look, needed a makeover to be functional in anyone’s home.


So…  the start of any project is to clean the piece thoroughly.  Dirt, grime…  whatever’s on there has got to go!  In this case it also meant the removal of multiple layers of old, chippy paint.  A nice sunny day meant it was the perfect time to haul that sucker out of the garage and get started!  Luckily, all that was needed was a lot of scraping and no actual stripper (of any kind!) was needed.

I knew that I wanted to try two very different looks for the two sides of this door, giving options to its ultimate owner!  This side was going old and rusty so once the last speck of paint was removed it was time to begin adding paint.  Sheesh!

STEP 1.  The first step in the rust process (I used the Modern Masters system) is to apply two coats of their primer.  It’s necessary to use their 20181009_141557primer since it is designed to block any of the metals or rusting agent to penetrate through to your base item.  This is particularly important if you are painting over metal since you don’t want to actually begin rusting that metal out!  All I can say is that it’s a good thing we are going to be painting over this primer colour because beautiful it is not.  It is however, effective and that’s what counts at this stage!

STEP 3.  Once dry two coats of the Iron paint are applied.  20181009_162454This is a black paint that has actual Iron particles in it so care is taken to apply it.  Unlike other times in painting you are not necessarily looking for a smooth application of this.  You can paint in multiple directions, stipple it in areas, use a sea sponge in others…  those variations in the paint will provide some interest and variation in how the ‘rust’ reveals itself.  However, at this point it pretty much looks like a big, black, rather boring old door.  Once this coat is dry though the fun begins!

STEP 3.  This is where the magic happens.  Spray the rust activator over the whole piece.  You may even want to come back after 30 minutes or so to spray again in certain areas.  At this point you want to include some variation in the application.  A light misting will give you one look.  Over misting another.  Using a sea sponge to add texture another.  You could stand your piece up and allow some of the activator to run and create drips or to pool in areas to provide heavier coverage.  Although you’ll see some things start to happen within a half hour or so walk away.  Yep…  leave it alone for at least 24 hours and come back to view the magic…

Just look at all that glorious rust patina!  You can see the areas that were barely misted compared to those that had the activator applied with a heavier hand and those areas where the activator was allowed to pool.  Wonderful!  If you love this as it is you can simply seal it (to stop the activation process from continuing) and you’re done.  I would suggest a spray sealer so that your brush doesn’t move and smear any of the rust pastina.

However, you could go on and add a bit of colour to create an even more patinaed look.

(I think I’m making up the word ‘patinaed’ since spell-checker doesn’t like it, and it does look weird in print, but…  it totally works when you say it out loud in the context of my sentence so I’m leaving it.  I can if I want to!) I watered down paints in shades of green and turquoise and teal roughly 50/50, spattered and spritzed ’em, using paper towels here and there to soak up the excess.

Paint stayed in some of the grooves and crevices around the rust, flowed down through areas, spread and layered creating new shades and blended colours.  So cool!


Finally… I sealed it up!  Though there are seemingly a lot of steps to this – none of them is particularly challenging or difficult.  Honestly, the most work in this piece was the removal of the original paint.  However, given my patented dislike for cleaning…  the prep work on any piece is always my least favourite.  Maybe sanding.  Maybe sanding because it creates dust that needs cleaning…  Yep, there is a definite inter-relationship there.  Don’t get me wrong, I like things to be clean, I would just prefer someone else clean ’em!  However, unfortunately, that is not my life so I get to do the prep and cleaning of pieces too!  Sheesh!

And here’s this ‘rusty’ side of the finished door… Which is far lovelier in person where you get to experience all the variations in shades up close and personal.  The colours also shift with the play of light across them so it looks different in the morning, from the afternoon light or evening shadows.  LOVE it!

Rusty Door Main WM

Planning Your Piece

I often get questions about many of the finished ‘looks’ I create on my pieces.  What is difficult for many to understand is the planning that must take place to achieve a particular layered look.  To achieve it you must be able to work backward, envisioning the finished look you want and then working backward from there ensuring that the layers you want to reveal later are laid on first.

For instance…  to achieve a rustic look like this….

… you have to create layers of colour first!  In this case the piece received a base of black paint and then red, green and yellow over top of that, painted in patches.  It then received a third layer of paint to finish.  I actually used two different tones of the turquoise to create even more variation, and then wet-distressed back to expose the hidden red, yellow and green beneath.

Wet distressing simply means that you take a wet cloth and rub off the top layer(s) of paint to expose painted colours or natural wood beneath.  Less messy than sanding and it leaves a smooth finish!  This is a perfect distressing technique to use with chalk paints or, as in this case, with clay based paints which are reactivated with water until sealed.

Here is the same piece with its base of black and then patches of colour before the turquoise layers.  There are lots of techniques where you have to take the piece to a ‘scary-looking’ place before it all comes together!

TQ Cabinet Mid wayAnyone venturing into the shop at this point will generally turn around and walk out!

Ugly, right?  But it’s a necessary step to have the paint laid down in the places you want to expose it later.  You just need to ensure that you have planned out roughly how and where you plan to distress so that you can have some variation of colours showing through on the finished product, otherwise you end up having laid down multiple colours and only expose the same one!

So… putting them side by side for final comparison….



I know that when I posted the mid-way photo on Facebook people were horrified.  The finish though?  I absolutely love it!


Feeling a little Rusty!

I had been seeing pieces being completed with a rust finish and wanted to give it a try.  I had tried doing some of the oxidized metallic finishes in the past and, I must admit, found them a little challenging.  The spray would created marks and runs in the finish where I didn’t want them, the fact you have to layer the primer, metallic paint and then the oxidizing spray meant it wasn’t actually as ‘organic’ a process as I was after… yada, yada, yada.

All that to say…  I sucked at it!  But… why let that stop you, right?

So, I picked up a Modern Masters metallic rust kit and… set to work.  I had thought that to avoid the overspray on my finished paint I would just base coat the pieces (two side tables) and then do the rust finish, and then final coat around them, wiping back over the rust as needed.

Wrong!  Don’t do this!  The rust looked great but… you can’t wipe paint back off of it, it’s too rough a surface, and painting around the rust is… yes… a PAIN!  I have plans and ideas how I can achieve the original look I was after in the future but…  how to rescue these?

First…  let go of the thought of what I was going for and re-work the plan.  Sticking with the original plan meant I had screwed up – big time!  Re-working the plan meant that the tables had thoughts of their own and I just needed to work to their plan.  So…pull out a little charcoal paint, cover up the layers of turquoise and bronze, heavily distress to reveal the colours and textures below, while leaving the rust exposed.

These pieces have become a happy accident.  I would never have gotten to this look on my own, it needed to have its own convoluted little journey – along with a sleepless night or two mulling over possibilities!  I have to say that I love the organic look and feel of them. There is a lot of texture and movement happening here that is intriguing to experience.

They won’t be for everyone but they will certainly be the perfect fit for someone.  In the meantime, as with all my pieces, I get to call them mine!

Breaking in the Metallics

I have used gold on a number of pieces…  in stripes, in edgings and trim, accenting legs and other decorative items.  I have even used copper.  I don’t know why I have never used silver but that all ended with this piece!

I wasn’t sure what I was really going to do with this Thomasville desk when I first got it Eminence Paintbut I knew that I wanted to use a new colour (and different paint line) that I had just gotten.  It’s called Eminence from Aspire – a Mineral Paint.  Honestly… I had never heard of the paint before but when someone is offering you a major deal on new paints you jump right in!  Okay, so I jump right in but you’d be there with me… right?

Check out this colour!  Looks more blue in the can, goes on more purple on the piece.  However, after a couple of coats of dry-brushed silver over top (I used Rustoleum Metal Accents in Silver) it looked like a rich blue again.  Beyond cool!

2018-03-02 13.18.18I specifically dry brushed the first coat of silver in one direction, let it dry and then dry brushed a second coat of silver in the opposite direction almost in a cross-hatch pattern.  I thought it would add a little more texture and dimension to the piece and…  this time… I was right!  (love that when it happens but I’ve learned to expect anything other than what’s goin’ on in my head!)

I clear waxed everything but then used black wax in strategic spots (think corners, bottom of legs, etc. to add a little more depth.  New silver and crystal knobs for the drawer and…  here you have her!

Right now I’m loving this look and am already envisioning some other possibilities.  Stay tuned for those but tell me what you think of this one…!!



Seeing Green?

The weather here in Ontario Canada has been crazy this winter.  Cold, frozen and snowy SpringFling WMone day and the next it`s almost balmy, feeling like spring.  This piece is an ode to that feeling, short-lived though it has been as winter rears up once again.

This is a two-piece little hutch, a bit on the petite size, standing only 66 inches tall.  It was base coated in a smooth cream before applying two shades of green (DIY Fancy Farmgirl and Mint Chip) with touches of Bohemian Blue for contrast.

I had originally intended adding some additional layers of colour but ending up falling in love with it as it was.  So…  poly added for protection.  The knobs were original to piece, just needed to be updated to black, but the bottom three handles were mismatched (and extra holes added that needed patching originally.  I think that the farmhouse pulls suit this piece perfectly!

And… as a side note, check out the tall pink blossom and artichokes that I picked up from Reclaimed Warehouse on my recent trip to Oklahoma city.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

How are you feeling about adding a little green to your life?


Gettin’ Over the Blues

It seems like everything I’ve been painting lately was in various shades of blue so, to get over the doldrums of yet more snow, I give you this sunny little piece!

YellowBlueCherry Main WM

This is an old farmhouse dresser I purchased from a young woman whose grandfather had it originally.  It was in a little rough shape when I bought it… the bottom two drawers had holes in them from wear on drawer stoppers that had been inserted on the front edge of the cross bars.  This meant that every time the drawers were opened or closed the drawer bottoms would rub on the stopper, wearing away more and more of the wood.  Over time this left big holes that were simply covered over with paper to make the drawers functional.

I am all for leaving things as original as possible but this required a little more intervention and so the drawer bottoms were replaced.  The piece was painted in a cheerful sunny yellow, with blue-grey cherry blossoms (artistic license used here… don’t go looking for blue cherry blossoms in the ‘wild’!) and then white washed for a light, soft, dreamy feel.  Waxed for protection and ’cause I love the feel of it!

Super cute and its now got me wishing for spring!


The Update…

So… you saw the before… I wanted to share with you the after!

I tell you, working on these two big pieces at once is crazy!  I had the buffet in the middle of the living room and the huge wardrobe in my office!  Both of them on the go meant that I was tip-toeing around drawers stacked everywhere, paint brushes out drying, paint containers stacked around with the colours that were ‘in use’…!!!

Now the craziness is finding a place to store them in the house (far too large to simply tuck off into a corner somewhere) while I start work on other items!  Oh to have a workshop!  I’m sure my husband has the same thought as I pull out tarps and start shifting furniture yet again!

However… check them out…  totally worth the aggravation!

Blues Buffet WM


Wardrobe WM

and… the inside of this wardrobe, which is all cedar-lined!

Wardrobe Drs Opn.jpg






Coming Soon…

Here’s a quick sneak peak at two very different pieces I’m currently working on.  Yep… at the same time.  While one’s drying I can work on the other!  Efficient you say?  Crazy you say?  Fun I say!!  What do you envision the finished look should be for each?

This lovely ornate buffet…

Ornate Buffet Start

And this cupboard/closet.  (the inside has drawers down one side and a hanging bar on the other)

Closet Cabinet Start














Blushing Tidepool…

Blush Green Main WMHave you ever started something with a clear vision of where you wanted to take it only Blush Green Stp1to have to scrap that and let it vision lead?  That’s what happened with this piece.  It started life as a somewhat clunky and heavy looking old farmhouse dresser, complete with all the requisite spider-sacs (yuk!) and accumulated grime.  After a thorough scrubbing down we were ready to start.

The first step (after the removal of the hideous mis-matched old hardware and filling and sanding 3 other hardware holes) was to paint it in a base coat.  For this piece I was using Debbie’s Design Diaries DIY clay-based paint because I was interested in creating a blended paint finish.  For the base I used her Cowgirl Coral.  Note that you’re not after Blush Green Stp2full coverage here, just slap some on!

The next phase was to apply more Coral to the center of the drawers and side panels and to paint Mermaid Tail (a luscious turquoisey blue) around the outer edges, blending the two where they overlapped.  Okay, so this is where things started to go a little off-plan.  The blend of the two colours looks kind of muddied and flat. And yes, I know, I should have test blended the two before painting on the furniture but, well, I just don’t really roll that way.

So, to perk things up a little I put Bohemian Blue in touches around the edges, blending it in.  It helped.  I waxed and buffed and… hated it.  It just looked a little flat. No real excitement, no zing!

Blush Green Stp3


Which, of course, that meant I just let it sit for days, okay, a week, staring at it and mulling it over.  It wasn’t all bad. There were

some great sections where the paint did some awesome things, there just weren’t enough of them.

Next steps then were to brighten a few sections up with some Seaglass (a lighter turquoise) and to add green.  Not just any green though, a lovely bluey green that I made by mixing relatively even parts of Bohemian Blue and Queen Bee (a golden yellow). I Blush Green Stp4didn’t want solid swaths of this colour, I wanted it to float across the blues, almost like fronds of seaweed drifting with the current.  Since the piece had been waxed the paint was able to flow more readily across the surface, which was also aided with some judicious spritzing of water from my spray bottle.

The result?  LOVED it!  More waxing, more buffing, new hardware and… call it done! I love the look of this piece. The colours remind me of the blush of colour from dawn hitting the water and highlighting some of the green of the seaweed and lily pads.