Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Moving Through The Project Pile: Steamer Trunk

I've always liked the look of steamer trunks. They are reminiscent of a bygone era, can add an industrial edge, and are very functional.

via, Houzz.com

via, Popsugar

Nearly two years ago, I brought a pretty sad looking steamer trunk at Value Village. It was only $20 and I knew with a little elbow grease it could be great. Then we sold our house and moved and it sat in the rental house garage with the rest of the project pile.

The lower half of the trunk had some water damage. The black canvass covering the wood on the exterior was flaking off and the interior liner was totally deteriorated. I liked the size of the trunk (its quite tall) and most of the hardware was intact (although it had been repainted with some sort of gold enamel).

When I finally got around to working on the trunk, the first thing I did was remove all of the water damaged canvass. Unfortunately, the nail strips on the bottom sides of the trunk were also quite damaged and also had to be removed. After scraping I used my mouse sander to sand all of the surfaces. While sanding the top I revealed the maker's tag under a layer of black paint/polish. 

This little tag allowed me to do a little research on the history and age of my trunk. A google search led me to a blog called My Old Steamer Trunk where I learned that Henry Likely and Company was the name of the company from 1870 (when Likly became a partner) until 1925 when it simply became Likly's. I was pretty excited to learn that my trunk is at least 90 years old. 

I also learned the trunk company was the largest factory of its time in the state of NY. The company shipped all over the U.S. and even to parts of Europe.  At the height of production, the company used over one million feet of lumber and produced 30,000 trunks annually. 

After scraping as sanding I used wood filler to smooth the transition between the wood and the canvass. This took a couple of coats of filler and lots of sanding. 

In this picture you can see where the trim strip had to be removed. After removing it, I hammered the trim nails in to be flush with the trunk. I also used a few nails to reinforce the bottom panels of the trunk. 

After spotting this picture on Pinterest, I knew this was the look I wanted for my trunk. 

 via, EnjoyIt 

I determined that chalk paint would be the best way to achieve this look and used Annie Sloan brand chalk paint in Old White. The very helpful clerk at On The Purple Couch suggested that I apply a coat of shellac before painting. She said that this would keep old stains from bleeding through. I followed her advice and it worked well.  
I used 3 parts chalk paint and 1 part water to get a smoother texture. I painted everything including the hardware, but not the Likly tag. I used shims to prop the lid open so that it would not be painted shut. After two coats of paint, I hand sanded the edges and hardware to reveal some of the metal hardware.

Finally, I applied the Annie Sloan wax. I had a piece of glass cut to fit the top of the trunk and I placed it against a wall at the bottom of the stairs in the basement.

The trunk is a nice addition to our eclectic mix of furnishings. The lamp is also a new addition.  I like it's mid century vibe - similar to these from West Elm, but was a steal at Home Goods for $35 (shade included).

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Easy Piñata and Cake for a 5th B-day

When my daughter turned 5 a few months ago, she requested an Easter themed party. We had only been in our house for about a month, and I didn't have the time or energy to go all out on the party decor.

One of her party requests was a piñatas! I've made a few over the years - when I couldn't find something store bought that worked. Like this penguin I made when she turned 4.

 On a trip to Target for party supplies I found this simple heart piñata on sale. 

I decided to customize it by adding a 5 both sides. First I sketched a five on construction paper and cut it out. Next, I cut strips of fringe from blue tissue paper. 

I used double sided tape to layer the strips onto another piece of construction paper. When taping the strips, start at the bottom of the paper and work your way up. 

Once I was done covering the paper with fringe, I flipped it over and placed the five I had cut out (upside down) on the back of the fringe sheet and traced it. 

I cut out the fringe five, flipped it over, and use double sided tape to stick it on the piñata. 

The kids loved it and I loved that it took less than 30 min to make two fives. This technique could work well with any silhouette, not just a number. 

I kept the birthday cake pretty simple too. 

I stacked two cake rounds and covered them with pink butter cream icing. The day before, I had rolled and cut fondant peeps (using a cookie cutter). I let the peeps dry over night and simply stuck them to the icing on the sides of the cake. I used my Silhouette Cameo to make the cake topper. I lined the bottom of the cake with pastel m and ms. 

Both were a hit. It also helped that we had an absolutely beautiful day - even the best crafter/party planner can't whip up a beautiful spring day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

House Update: Den

Off our kitchen is a nice den that is semi open to the dining room. When we purchased the house, the only thing you noticed in the den was the dark wood paneling.


We thought about replacing the paneling, but decided to keep it. I love the way it looks painted. It adds texture and character to the room. Most of the furnishings are from our last house. We've had the sofa for more than 10 years and would like to replace it, but can live with it for a bit longer. The sofa color does work really well with the stone work in the fireplace (where my husband hung another giant TV). 

The room is so much brighter now.  I love to sit by the windows and enjoy my morning coffee before anyone else wakes up. The mid-century chair is a new addition. I found it at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for $65. It was missing a cushion and needed to be refinished. The new cushions (which I had professionally made) are covered in a chenille fabric that matches the blue in the curtains.  

The den is next and open to the dining room. I wanted the rooms to have their own color pallets, while "playing nice" together. The green in the dining room has blue undertones that work really well with the orange and the blue in the den. 

I did not love the room divider when we first moved in. The brown glass felt dated and I really wanted to replace it. Unfortunately, that was not in the budget. Now that everything is painted and decorated, I don't mind the glass. It feels intentional not unchangeable. 

If you have any questions about furnishings, paint colors, or other specifics - leaving them in the comments. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

House Update: Basement

We've owned our house for 6 months now and its hard to believe how much progress has been made in such a short period of time. More than anything, the house needed wallpaper removal and painting. Both have helped to lighten up and modernize the house. 

We are by no means done, with any room, but I feel like I'm finally ready to show some progress. The place where we spend the most time is the basement. The basement was one of the primary selling points of the home for us. More than 50% of it is above grade and the main room looks out onto a nice patio.  We didn't like the dark wood trim, paint (beige), or carpet.

Here's the very dark before:

Here's the after:

Paint has really lightened up the space. There is still lots of open space, but now there are three defined areas for people to gather: the bar, the TV area, and the game table. 

We haven't done much to the bar. Before, it was staged with uncomfortable barstools and an oversized lamp. The bar floor was also pretty blah.


Very old red linoleum? 



We added comfortable stools from west elm and updated the lighting. I found the hanging light at a thrift store for $5! As you can see, we also painted the exposed brick wall. I know a lot of people are cringing as they read this, but the brick was sucking soooo much light out of the room. The paint adds a little color and lots of light to the room. Last weekend I tacked the bar floor. I covered it with Flor carpet tiles (sew what chalk). I really like the way it looks and feels. It also coordinates nicely with the greenish brick. We will probably leave the rest of the bar as is, other than the countertop. That we plan to replace with a light quartz.  

The fireplace also got a bit of a makeover. Once again, paint made all the difference. Before it was adorned with an oddly placed mantle. There was no where to put a TV, so a TV stand was crammed in the corner by the window. 
In addition to painting the bookshelves white, we had an electrician install an outlet in the bookcase so that we could plug in a cable box and DVD player. At first, I was against the large TV. Now, I kinda love it. I still need to paint the white moulding that is hiding the wires. 

We decided to place the game table behind the sofa, because there was a light fixture in the ceiling there, and it seemed like the natural place to put a table and chairs. 


We hung a new light over the table and chairs. Both of which were Craigslist's finds. After some minor repairs, I painted the table a Benjamin Moore color called Deep Space. The chairs originally had faded orange covers. I sewed new ones - a first for me. I thought about painting the chairs the same color as the table, but I'm kind of digging the wood. Thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments. 

This little buffet was in our first dining room. I think we got it at World Market. I still like it and its good storage for board games etc. Everything hanging above it was thrifted. 

Here's one last shot of the entire room. The room through the double doors is the playroom. I plan to post it's update next week. If you have questions about any of the furnishings, paint colors, etc. - leave them in the comments. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kitchenette Makeover

I'll be kid free next week (Thanks Mom!) and I plan to finally take pictures of all of the progress we've made on the house. In addition to the big house projects, I've been tackling small projects here and there.

One smallish project is the kitchenette in our guest room. Here's the before shot:

This picture does not adequately capture the off-whiteness of the cabinets or appliances.
We had the walls (Benjamin Moore Pale Vista) and the trim painted before we moved in. The kitchenette was added to the house as part of an addition in the 1980s. The bottom section is a one piece unit made by acme company. I think it was barely used by the previous owners. It includes a stove top, oven, sink and fridge. Acme still makes these tiny kitchens and they retail for ~$2,000.

Many of today's Acme kitchenettes include upper cabinets. Our's has wood cabinets - I'm not sure if they were custom build or manufactured by Acme.

When we moved in, we thought we'd replace the kitchenette with something more modern i.e. quartz counter top and stainless appliances. However, a recent plumbing issue has us reigning in the budget a bit. Also, the little vintage (can something from the 80's be vintage?) kitchenette has gown on me. I challenged myself to to spruce it up for less than $100. It ended up costing $70. I'm very happy with the end result.

Of course this photo doesn't do the bright white paint justice...
I tackled the section housing the appliances first. I did not like the off white color of the oven or the fridge and I really didn't like the black metal surrounding the appliances. I carefully removed the oven door and drawer facing (this took a little guess work and a screw driver, but wasn't hard), cleaned both with Simple Green, then painted them with Rust-oleum white appliance paint. I cleaned the handles (which I also removed) with Bar Keepers Friend. Next, I took off the oven nobs and taped and/or covered everything I did not wanted painted (never underestimate the range of spray paint over spray). I used the same paint for the black surround and the small off-white door (sink access) next to the fridge. Once everything was dry I reattached the oven door and drawer facings. Even though everything was very clean to begin with, the off-white color just made it look dirty. The love the bright white.

I decided to do something fun with the fridge door and covered with with temporary wall paper from Chasing Paper. This stuff isn't very cheap ($35 for a 2x4' roll), but its easy to use, easy to remove, and comes in tons of great patterns and colors. Its also made in the USA.

When choosing my paper, I wanted something turquoise to accent the headboard in the adjoining guest room. It is upholstered with this fabric. Trust me, the blue in the fabric is much more turquoise in person.

I ended up ordering this fun print called Bowtie from Chasing Paper. Its a bit more subdued in person.

The wallpaper was very easy to install. I positioned it so that it was slightly overlapping the metal trim on the fridge, then used an xacto knife and a straight edge to trim it to align perfectly with the metal trim. Once the paper was installed, I cleaned and reattached the handle (I thought about painting it to cover the "ACME", but my husband convinced me to keep it.

Next I turned my attention to the upper section. I painted the vent hood with the same appliance paint, that I used for the oven etc. Before painting I taped and covered everything on it and around it that I didn't want painted, including the underside (I didn't want to mess with getting paint on the filter or mechanical parts). Next I removed all of the cabinet doors (x4) and hardware. I cleaned all of the hardware and painted the doors using a can of Rust-oleum Painters Touch (ultra cover latex) white gloss. I picked this paint primarily based on price (~$10 for a quart). I was pleasantly surprised by the finish. It only required two coats, it dried quickly, and the glossy finish is exactly what I wanted.

This picture really shows just how dirty the old off white looked.

I really liked the shape of the cabinet knobs, just not the color. So I spray painted them with the turquoise paint I had leftover from this project.

I have found this to be the best method for painting knobs. You can easily see which areas are not getting covered and you can hold the stick when painting the underside of the knobs. 
As a final touch, I framed and hung a page from a calendar I bought at Paper Source. Of course now the rest of the room needs decorating.

I'd love to DYI a rug like this one from One Kings Lane, but with white and lavender or turquoise.

Overstock has a nice looking reproduction tulip table (various sizes). I think Ikea does too, but theirs may be too big for the space.
Once I figure out the table I'll start looking at thrift store for a set of chairs. Maybe I'll get lucky and find something like these:

Via Circawho.com
or these:

Via Etsy
I'm going down to South Carolina in August to pick up some furniture I've inherited from my grandmother's recently sold home. There are a couple of pieces that I think will work well in the room too. Stay tuned…


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