Thursday, March 29, 2012

Antique Map Dresser

A while back, I stumbled upon this old dresser in a barn.  I had actually gone to see some other furniture for sale which needed a LOT of work - the kind of work I just wasn’t sure that I wanted to take on.  I was about to back out of the deal and then the seller showed me this old piece, hoping I would take it as well.  After closer inspection, it turned out to be the only piece I really wanted so the seller offered me a “package deal,” and I ended up with the whole shebang. 

Here’s background on the dresser:    It’s ooooold!

Since I’m pretty sure the dresser had already been refinished at some point thereby decreasing it’s value, I decided to put my own spin on it and came up with this great idea!  I had been wanting to decoupage a piece of furniture for some time, but was waiting to find the right piece.  When I saw this old piece and saw the flat front (perfect for decoupage), I immediately thought of decoupaging an old antique map to the front.  

The hardest part of this whole project was finding just the right map!  I knew what I wanted, and was determined to find it.  Not only was the look of the map important to me (antique world map), but the size was as well.  I found a couple that I liked the look of, but they were either too big or too small.  And when I finally found just the right thing, it was way too expensive.  I kept searching though and finally found a wholesale company in Canada that sold  EXACTLY what I was looking for, and I got it without the 50% mark-up of a retailer!!  YEAH, BABY!  It was still more than I had planned on spending, but it was perfect!!!  I loved the coloring of this map, I loved the big center globe, and I love how the top and bottom knobs fit perfectly into the four corner globes. 

So I started by sanding the dresser down.



I wanted to give this piece a darker, richer color than before.  I chose Dark Walnut Danish Oil for this project, instead of a typical stain.  I was introduced to this product by my Danish in-laws and I think it’s great.  This oil soaks into the wood, instead of sitting on the surface so it doesn’t chip off if it gets nicked.  It does have to be re-coated from time to time as the wood dries out, but I like the more primitive look of this finish – especially for this particular piece.


I used rubber gloves and a soft rag to apply this oil and just rubbed it in.  You can see on the bottom part of the leg in the photo above how dark just one coat was, but I did end up giving it three coats because the wood was so dry that it kept soaking it up.


I had to make some minor repairs – chipping out the old putty over the nail heads because it wouldn’t take stain or the Danish Oil, and replacing it with dark walnut wood putty.  Also, three of the glides were missing and I just happened to have a strip of wood that was just the right size, which left over from a woodworking class that I took once.  I had just enough to cut the three strips I needed and screwed them into place.



When I received the map, it had a border on it that I didn’t want so I removed it.

I then laid the map on the front of the dresser and taped it into place with painters tape. I made tiny marks with my blade on each side of the map, at the top and bottom of each drawer, so I would know where to cut.



Since my straight edge square wasn’t long enough, I used a long piece of scrap molding to line up the marks I had made, and also as a cutting guide.

After cutting all the pieces, I laid it out and realized each piece needed to be slightly trimmed to to allow for the spaces between the drawers. 



Using this wonderful product, I glued each piece into place.

I also painted the Mod Podge on the top of the map to seal it.  This particular Mod Podge is a sealer too, but there are many types available for all sorts of projects.  I used three coats for this project.

NOTE:  I did not apply the Mod Podge with the drawers inside the dresser as shown in the photo below.  Otherwise, the drawers would get glued shut!!!!  I removed them for the applications so that I could wipe off the excess around the sides of the drawers with a wet rag as I went.  When the final coat was almost dry, I got so anxious to see what it looked like that I had to put the drawers in before it was dry.  But I removed them again after taking the photo until they were completely dry.


This dresser did not come with knobs, but I had some antique wooden knobs left over from another dresser that was missing a few knobs when I got it.  I used Dark Walnut Danish Oil on the knobs as well and they match perfectly!!!!

Although I did not refinish this dresser for my own use, after it was completed, I realized it would look perfect in our office which is filled with maps, globes,  family antiques (guns, chandelier, desk, chairs) and many other souvenirs  from our travels around the World!   Somehow I got emotionally attached to this neat little old dresser so, for now, it will live in our office. :-)

I'm already on the hunt for my next decapouge project!!!
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012



The other day I was treasure hunting at a couple of my favorite places, Goodwill and St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store, when I had this idea. I’m always seeing old metal candle holders that are missing their candles. As a frequent shopper to these establishments, I found myself noticing the same metal pieces laying on the shelf, visit after visit. Obviously, at one time, these candle holders had some sort of glass insert to hold a tea light or candle, but along the way had been separated. So, in an attempt to help one find its mate so that it might be sold some day (like I had nothing better to do), I picked up one of these metal forms and began the search – to no avail.IMG_3147 

Then it hit me! 

Over the years, I’ve been de-cluttering my sitting around stuff - which was probably exactly how these candle holders ended up at a second hand store.  (I’m sure my minimalist husband is laughing reading this statement,  but it IS true!  I DO de-clutter.)  I declare that I de-clutter!   So, these candle holders that “sit around” weren’t appealing to me since I’m trying to limit the sitting around stuff.  But I started thinking about the candle holders that are hanging in my dining room windows which I love.  I got them when we lived in Europe and I noticed a lot of European families hung candles in or near their windows, or had them sitting in their windowsill.  Maybe this is because of the lack of daylight in the winter, and the candles help to bring a little bit of light in and mimic the sun.   But they also look cozy and romantic at night.  At any rate, when I turned the candle holders upside down, all of the sudden I envisioned a candelier.  I’m not sure if that’s a real word since spell check wants to replace it, but if it’s not, I think it should be.  When turned upside down, the legs of the candle holders made a perfect place to attach chain for hanging them.  There is also an abundance of glassware at these second hand stores so after digging around a bit, I found several random pieces that weren’t necessarily candle holders, but that fit perfectly into the metal frames.  Some of the glassware pieces are even crystal which I think will be really sparkly with a candle in them.  After bringing them home and adding some bling, I think they look sweet and I really love that they have a new use.  And they aren’t just sitting around anymore destined for a landfill.  These are just a couple of examples of my candeliers!   I think they would be great hanging indoors, but they would really cool in an outdoor space as well.

As always, thanks for stopping by! 
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sexy Bench


I made this bench to sell, but I ended up loving it so much that I decided to keep it.  I tend to love things more that are unique and one-of-a-kind, like this. 
Believe it or not, I found this little diamond in the rough at one of my favorite little hot spots for $3.00!  Yes, $3.00!  When I found it though, it looked like this.  This coffee table from the Triune Collection by Drexel (before Drexel Heritage) was a nice one in it’s day, which was in the early 1960's.  But it certainly had some wear.


It was missing a few trim pieces, 7 to be exact.


And I think somebody might have thought this was a delicious bone at some point?

When I initially saw it though, I didn’t see a coffee table, I saw a very long, firm bench!  When benches (and chairs, etc.) are made, they are usually made by attaching straps across a frame.  This works just fine for a typical bench or chair, but if you constantly use it to stand on to change a light bulb or to dust the ceiling fan, or maybe if your wild kids lovely children jump on it, the fabric will eventually rip from being pushed down further than it would from it’s intended purpose – sitting.  I figured this out the hard way.   So when I saw this table, I thought it would make a solid, indestructible bench.

Since I hate throwing stuff away that might have a use one day, I already had some trim that was just the right size, or close enough anyway.  Like my grandmother use to say, “Nobody would notice on a galloping horse!”  I knew that it was going to be painted so it didn’t matter what type of wood I used.  I removed a piece of trim to use as a template, and cut 7 trim pieces with mitered corners.  Applying wood glue first, I attached the trim pieces with the handy dandy staple gun, but with baby nails instead of staples.



Before painting, I taped off the burl wood overlay with painter’s tape.  I thought it was too pretty to paint over, and thought it might give a great contrast to the piece.  When this piece was originally made, the burl overlay was a nice part of the design, and I didn’t want to destroy that.

Isn’t this burl wood pretty?



I gave the frame a couple of coats of glossy black paint to give it a modern vibe.  And I painted the brass feet with a few coats of silver as well.

Then I painted the burl wood overlay with some stain to darken it up and make it shine again.

On to the cushion.  I thought about using 2” foam, or even doubling it up to get 4”, but then I decided to go all out and go for the really comfy, luxurious 4” foam since it was on sale.  Oh, I was in heaven just thinking about it!  So there I was at JoAnn Fabrics, in line to pay for my comfy, luxurious foam, when I almost had a heart attack right there at the register.  The foam was $150!!!!!  Yes, that’s right, $150!  Now I know that foam is expensive, which is why I carefully weighed all of my options first.  But when I saw this big SALE sign, I misread it.  Luckily, the nice ladies at JoAnn’s helped me out, as usual!  Using my JoAnn App for I-phone, the cashier quickly helped me use a 50% off foam coupon!   I didn’t use all of that foam for this project, and will hopefully be able to make two more stools with the scraps.


Nice looking foam, huh?  Sometimes it’s the small things………

I covered the table top with spray glue and set the foam in place, having already cut the foam to size, and then covered the foam with a layer of batting.  After the glue was dry and the foam was attached, I turned it over on top of the fabric that I used to cover the bench, and stapled it on. 

TIP:  When stapling fabric to the back of a surface of a chair, bench, etc., draw a line on the surface you will be stapling to, to use as a guide when stapling.  In this case, before removing the top from the table frame, I used a pencil to trace around the inside of the frame underneath, so that I would know how far in to staple.  I hate it when you turn a bench or chair over that someone has recovered and you can see all the rough edges of the fabric hanging out.   It just looks like sloppy work to me.  Of course no one would ever know unless they flipped the piece over to look at it, but I always look.   Doesn’t this look like a neat job?


The fabric I used for this bench is faux mink fur.  And it is OH-SO-SOFT!  And I think this is what makes this bench look sexy to me.  It just feels luxurious.  This bench is actually more comfortable than our bed!


I ended up placing this bench at the foot of our king size bed just to see what it would look like. The other bench that was there looked okay, but after replacing it with this one, the size of this just fits better with a king bed because it's almost two feet longer than the other bench.   It’s funny that I never realized the other bench was too short until I made the sexy bench.

I used the same stain on the burl overlay as I did on this recent headboard project:  You can barely see the headboard in the photo below, but don’t they look good together?


The final touch on this project was supposed to be some shiny silver upholstery tacks along the edge of the fabric, to go along with the silver feet at the bottom.  But after nailing in the first tack, I realized it was a waste of time because the tack became lost in the fur and barely visible. 

Thanks for checking out my sexy bench, homies!  Do you like it as much as I do? Pin It

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Backlit Headboard

I finally got around to designing and building a headboard for our master bedroom a few months back. I LOVE how it turned out so I thought I would share how I constructed it. For two or three years, I had this fabric attached to the wall above the bed with pushpins, so it was very exciting to finally have a REAL headboard.  I feel like we’re actually grown ups now!  Nah, just kidding!!
Lights off.
Lights on!  Romantic, huh?

One advantage to having the fabric hanging on the wall with pushpins for so long was that, although I liked the fabric very much, I realized that this side of the room needed more wood to balance the dresser and chest of drawers that are on opposite walls from the bed.  The only wood on this side of the room was from the small nightstands – which wasn’t enough to balance the other large wood pieces.  Since the other furniture in the room is very straight-lined, I decided that a wooden frame around the headboard, with very straight lines, was the answer!!!

I found this fabric at IKEA. I love Scandinavian fabrics for their whimsical, colorful, and modern characteristics. Also, the fact that I’m married to a Dane, and that we used to live in Sweden, probably have something to do with my affinity for these types of fabrics. At any rate, I knew that I wanted the fabric to make the statement in this room, not the paint.  For this reason, I chose to paint the walls (most of them anyway) a neutral sandy color, and also chose a sandy color carpet.  There is a lot-o-fabric up in here. This room has four windows, all of which are also covered in this same fabric.  By the way, this fabric is still available at IKEA for only $7.99/yard.   It’s called “Patricia” and you can’t beat the price!!

I initially wanted the height of the headboard to be taller than the windows, about a foot taller than it is now.  But after measuring  and sketching, I realized the fabric wasn’t wide enough so I decided to bring the height of the headboard down to the same height as the windows because I didn’t want to have a seam in the fabric.  And when we were carrying this massive thing up the winding staircase, I was so very happy the plan got altered because I’m pretty sure that, if the headboard was 1/2 inch taller, we would not have been able to bring it up the stairs!  Whew!  Disaster averted once again!

Now, typically, to make a headboard, I would stretch the fabric around to the back of the plywood and just staple it, but since I wanted a frame around the headboard so I came up with this idea. I cut the foam about four inches smaller than the plywood so that I would have adequate wood to attach the frame to. Instead of stretching the fabric around to the back of the plywood, I stapled it to plywood just under the foam. Once I trimmed the excess fabric away, I was able to attach the boards directly to the plywood, allowing the boards to have a four inch overhang - so that I would have room to conceal the rope lighting.


I chose poplar wood for this project. It’s not the best wood for woodworking, but after pricing out some of the other hardwoods, poplar all of the sudden seemed beautiful to me. I think it was the cheapest!  I fell in love with the piece that I used on the top of the headboard and decided that, once it was all stained, it would look B-beautiful.  Don’t ya think?  And a coat of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax really made it shine.


Ain’t it purty? 

Once the frame was attached to the plywood, my trusty assistant and I flipped it over to attach the 2x4’s.  I wanted the headboard to be a couple of inches off of the wall to make a channel for rope lighting.  I thought it would look cool at night – as if it were glowing.  And, it does!  The 2x4’s also give support and keep the headboard from be so flimsy.  So here’s how we did it.


We attached 2x4’s to the plywood and frame legs.  As you can see in the photo above, we had to use a filler piece of plywood behind the 2x4s  at the bottom of the legs.   NOTE:  The 2x4’s don’t go all the way to the bottom of the leg – allowing room for the floor trim once the  headboard is installed.  Of course, I could have just designed the headboard without the legs, but I wanted this headboard to have legs to cover the space between the bed and nightstands, to hide the lamp cords, alarm clock cords and extension cord which were visible before.  Then I painted the 2x4’s black so they would visibly disappear.


At the top of the headboard, we attached a 2x4  that we ripped at an angle, making a two-piece cleat hanging system.  This allows for the headboard to be attached to the wall, without making holes in the front of the wood.  We attached the first cleat to the top of the headboard…………….


………and the second cleat to the wall.  So the headboard is actually just hanging from the cleat, and is just barely touching the floor.  Getting the height of the cleat right can be a little bit tricky because, when measuring from the floor up, you must take into consideration that the headboard is heavy and therefore sinks down into the carpet and padding a bit.  We made this mistake and the cleat did not fit tight, allowing the headboard to wobble a bit.  So we just raised the cleat on the wall about 1/4 inch and it was perfect.


Once the headboard was attached to the wall, I added the rope lighting. It sits about 4 inches behind the frame so you can’t see it unless you place your cheek to the wall.  Here's a side view of the headboard.  The rope lighting really should have been attached to the headboard before we put it up because it comes with hooks to attach it with.   Since the headboard is already installed, I can’t get the hammer in that little space to nail the hooks in. So for now, the rope lighting is just hanging there, which works just fine.

Pretty simple construction.  And I’m pretty sure nobody else has a headboard that looks like this!
So, what do you think?  You like? Pin It

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A True Antique? Or Not?

Really fancy, schmancy antique dealers determine a piece to be antique if it’s 150 years old.  But some antique dealers use the 50 year mark to label antiques.  And I’ve also heard 100 years is the magic number.  Hmm, can’t we just get together and decide what it’s going to be, people?


I happened upon this dresser last week by mistake and I am giddy with excitement!  At first glance, it just looks like a plain, old dresser.  Nothing special.  I discovered it in someone’s barn in rural Morrow, OH.  A craigslist ad listed a dresser/chest of drawer/mirror that needed work for only $30, but a picture was not listed so I didn’t waste another second on the ad.  The next day, however, I decided to take another look at the ad because for some reason I had been thinking about it all night.  If I think about something all night, I think that means I'm supposed to buy it.  My husband disagrees with this theory.  To my surprise, pictures had been uploaded to the ad and the pieces looked like something I could maybe work with.  I was warned they needed quite a bit of work but decided to take a quick look since they were nearby.
The pieces DO need lots of work, for sure!!!  But while I was looking at the pieces, and hem-hawing around as to whether or not I wanted to take on the job of making them pretty again, the gentleman selling the pieces said he had another dresser that I could have too, if interested.  I did a quick inspection and here’s what I found.

IMG_3010First, I noticed the dove-tailed drawers.  These are hand-cut dovetailed joints.  You can tell this because they are not perfectly even, the sizes are different and they are not perfectly spaced.  Now, I’m not an expert, but I believe we started using machine cut dovetails around the 1880’s, so I’m just assuming this piece pre-dated that time.    But again, I’m certainly not an expert!

The next think I looked at was the wood. I’m terrible at determining wood type, so I have no idea about this wood. But what I did look at was the rough wood on the back. The cut lines in this rough wood are straight, not circular, which supposedly means it was cut before 1860. Circular saws weren’t used until then – which made round cut marks. I don’t know this for sure, but that’s what I heard.

The top board on the back was overlapping the bottom panel so, once I got it home, I gently removed the nails for a quick repair, repositioned the board, and re-nailed the top panel.

Repair complete!  It took about 2 minutes, tops!

So, this is the most exciting part of the whole dresser!  The square nails!!!!!!!!  I noticed them in when I was looking at the piece back at the barn, and when I removed that panel on the back to repair it, I got a closer inspection of the nails.  Now, supposedly, these nails were used until the late 1800’s / early 1900’s.  Here’s a pretty good picture of one.  Notice how the entire shaft is squared.  The head is also very thin along the edges.  I can’t tell if this is really a hand made nail or not but an expert certainly could.  And the entire dresser is put together with these nails.  Some of the wood filler covering the nails is gone, making the nails visible.   Now, just so nobody gets confused here, the old nail I’m talking about is that long metal thingy, not the dried up ugly looking one holding the long metal thingy.  Looks like somebody could use a manicure!  Badly!!!!

Lastly, I love how this dresser has rounded corners.  When I see this, it makes me think somebody took the extra time to do this.  It’s much easier to give it regular old squared off corners.  And the top is rounded to match.  AND the legs are cute too!

After researching this dresser a little, it may be that it should have just been cleaned up and left alone.  BUT, there are no knobs with it and I could see signs of green paint so I believe this dresser was refinished before.  Also, I have a great plan for it so I decided to sand it down and go for it.  I hope it wasn’t a mistake, but I think it will love it’s new makeover.

So, how much would you pay for this dresser?  I bought this dresser and the antique dresser/chest of drawers/mirror that I originally called about for only $25.  That's what I'm talking about!  Yeah, baby! (Those of you who know me know that I was just talking in my Austin Powers voice again.)  Pretty good deal, huh?

By the way, if you have any input about dating this dresser, type of wood, etc., I would love to hear about it!!!  Please leave me a comment.

Thanks!!! Pin It

Friday, March 2, 2012

Check out this Ceiling Fan!


Hey Homies!  Isn’t it cute!?!?  I was walking through Lowe’s yesterday and this little beauty caught my eye.  Now, I know that there are a LOT of designers out there that dislike ceiling fans and want to rip them out of every home they can get their hands on.  But let’s be realistic, they aren’t just there for looks.  They do actually perform a function that many people want or need in their space.  I will however admit that, if I see one hanging over a dining room or kitchen table, I have to hold myself  back from ripping it out of the ceiling with my bare hands.
The look of this fan just might appeal to those who typically don’t like the look of ceiling fans since the blades aren’t as visible, and it’s not screaming “Hello, I’m a ceiling fan!”  But the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw it was that it appeared to be so much safer than typical ceiling fans.  I know, I know, how can a ceiling fan be UNSAFE.

Well, let me tell you, with  so many people using loft beds these days, a ceiling fan CAN be a potential hazard.  Loft beds are typically used in smaller spaces, allowing the space under the bed to be utilized for a desk area, sofa area, play area, etc.  But if you think about it, when you put a loft bed in a small room that has a ceiling fan, you can literally reach out (even accidentally) and touch the fan  which can be very dangerous – even for adults.  I know this for a fact!  LOL!  If you check out my Tween Spy Room post, you can see that I came up with another solution to prevent any decapitations or amputations – the "bullet proof shield."  This solution worked in the spy room, but it certainly wouldn’t work in most room designs.  This fan, however, I think would be the perfect solution for small rooms with loft beds, that pose a potential hazard from fan blades.

Another space that I thought might be perfect for one of these babies is in a basement – particularly if the ceilings are low.  Most basements probably don’t have a need for a ceiling fan since they typically stay cool, but ours does because it has a pellet stove that we use quite often to heat the basement in the winter.   The pellet stove is on an outside wall though, for venting reasons, so the ceiling fan nearby helps to distribute the heat throughout the entire basement.  Although my plan was to replace the ugly, plain, white fan that is currently in our basement with a fan that had more of an oil rubbed bronze finish, I’m going to consider this particular brushed nickel fan for a while to see if it will work with the design.  But not for too long!  It has happened more than once that I had to think about a product for a while before purchasing, only to go back and learn that it had been discontinued and I had to go back to Square One! 

If only this ceiling fan had been in my first house back in 1992.  My little hand-fed, white parakeet met her demise by the ceiling fan when she escaped from her cage while I was at work one day.  Poor Snowball!  It’s a little humorous now, but back then it crushed me (no pun intended).

The fan is by Allen & Roth and is called Dexter, Item #331102.  It’s  a little costly in my book at $299, but unique enough that I would pay the price.  Here is the link if interested:
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