Painting

Dressin’ Up

When you find a dresser on Craigslist for $10, you buy it.  Well, I do.  Especially when it’s solid wood with dove-tailed drawers and clean lines.  Yes. 

But you also get what you pay for.  This guy was in need of serious work.  And he reeked of curry.  Don’t be fooled into thinking he was all cute and chipper…

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To eliminate the odor and give myself some time to figure out what in the world I was going to do with him, I left him in our garage for several months.  I didn’t really intend for his time out to last so long, but that’s kind of the way it goes for me anymore.  Can you relate? 

Lately I’ve really been into the two-toned look of paint paired with stain.  Ummhmm.  It’s a bit of a cottagey look, which I also love.  This photo ended up being my inspiration from LizMarieBlog

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It was basically the kick in the pants I needed in order to get started—which was pretty daunting since it required some steps that I’ve never done before, like stripping and staining. 

Although painting is the most rewarding part of the refinishing process for me—since you see such a major change in such a short amount of time—I knew that in order to bring this dresser fully back to life, I needed to strip it down to the bare bones.  To do this, I used paint stripper (a first for me), and then I sanded it with 60 grit and finally 220 grit paper.  I wasn’t sure that the 220 grit was necessary, but it brought such a lovely smooth finish to the wood that I will definitely use it on future projects. 

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As usual, things got worse before they got better…

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Then I gave everything a coat of primer and several coats of paint (one coat of Minwax Jacobean stain on the drawer fronts—I let it sit for about 10 minutes before wiping it off), plus some polyurethane on the top, as it tends to be the most heavily used part of the dresser.  Then I painted the inside of the drawers and added some hex-like contact paper that I snagged at HomeGoods.  Glass knobs from Hobby Lobby were the final touch. 

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Love!

Sadly, even though I tried multiple times to find the perfect spot for him in our home, it was a lost cause.  Our house is small and cramming it just emphasizes that fact.  I tried selling him at our yard sale last weekend, and while lots of people expressed interest, only one guy was willing to pay more than the usual $5 yard sale price, but he never came back for it.  So I put the dresser on Craigslist and got loads of interest!  I was so happy to send him off with a sweet young mom and her son tonight—and I was really glad that the semi-creepy guy didn’t end up with it at our yard sale.  I think our dresser found his rightful home.  *Happy sigh.*

Projects like this are about getting my hands dirty and enjoying the process of redeeming a piece.  If I kept every knick and knack that I redid, our house would be overflowing with stuff, so it’s really fun for me to find ways to give and sell it to others.  In case you’re wondering, this project took me several months of on and off work, as I had to squeeze it in during Liam’s naps.  It could definitely be done in less time, but if you’re a mom like me, it’s at least nice to know that it can be done—just take your time.  : )

*ACE Hardware occasionally gives away free quarts of their Clark & Kensington paint, so I snagged Colonial Blue and used it on this dresser.  Although it’s a flat paint, it actually has the quality of a satin finish.*

A final before and after…

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Something Old, Something Blue

Every time I glance at our backyard, the peeling paint of the garage rears its ugly head and glares back at me.  Check out this photo from when we first  bought the house.

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While we’ve trimmed the tree and cleaned up the junk in the yard, the garage itself looks much the same.  I’ve tried to ignore it.  I mean, it took living here for well over two years before I finally cleaned the dirt and bird poop off the window of the garage door! 

And then I sold something on Craigslist.

The buyer needed to get into our garage to see the item…and I was totally mortified.  That’s when I snapped and decided a little facelift was in order.  Since school was starting and a baby was growing, this normally quick project took almost a month to complete with all the prep work, priming, and painting between Liam’s naps.  But she’s finally done—yay! 

I’d really love to paint the entire garage, but to be perfectly honest (hmmm…that rings of Eugene from good old Adventures in Odyssey—anyone?), that’s just a little more bite than I can chew right now.  So I tackled the next best thing—the door.  I have a slight obsession with old doors.  They have all these great features, but sometimes they are so old that their lovely attributes get lost beneath the wrinkles.  Thank goodness for power sanders and paint!  While it took some serious elbow grease to get beyond the grime of this door, it was worth it. 

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She’s definitely a far cry from perfect, but she’s cleaner and brighter, giving the entire garage a much needed lift.  In addition to painting her blue to match our front door, we spray painted the hardware oil-rubbed bronze

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and replaced several of the wood slats on the inside of the door.  See how they’re all rotted out? 

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We scraped them clean with a chisel and then picked up some thin plywood from Home Depot (I think it was 1/4 inch).  We had them make some cuts in the store and then finished off the rest of them at home with a circular saw, since HD won’t make rip cuts.  Then we used wood glue to lock them in place, finishing off the edges with caulk.  After a coat of Zinsser’s oil-based primer and two coats of paint, we had a new-to-us door on our hands. 

Maybe someday we’ll replace our garage door with something new—or maybe we’ll snag a good replacement at the Restore.  Until then, it feels good to have restored a bit of life into our garage without spending much moolah.  In fact, I think we only bought the wood and the glue, as we had everything else on hand.  It works for us.

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Nursery Furniture

Happy Wednesday morning!  I just finished grading my last online discussion posts of the year—whoohoo!  Final exams…well, those will have to wait until next week.  The end is in sight, ladies and gents!  Although I’m not sure if any gents actually read this blog…maybe my dad?  Little bro?  If so, welcome!

Blogging has clearly been at the bottom of my list lately, but I thought I should update y’all on the nursery.  It’s done enough that if a baby came tonight—gulp—we would be okay.  In all honesty, we would have been fine if the nursery was mismatched and chaotic, so maybe I should say that I would be okay.  Haha.  Perhaps it’s more about the mom feeling prepared…

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We definitely made our biggest strides when my mom and aunt came out, as they painted walls and furniture, bedazzled curtains, and decked out the room with frames for art.  My mom was a whiz at painting the room!  I’m pretty sure she did it all within about four hours, and that included two coats of paint, plus painting the inside of the closet.  But this post is about furniture, so let me get back to the point.  Our nursery consists of used furniture, which we were extremely happy to receive, in addition to making a few Craigslist purchases.  Buying a new set just wasn’t in the budget for us, and when it comes down to it, I thoroughly enjoy the process of making used pieces feel cohesive and new.  Plus, I love it when a room evolves over time.  Take a peek into our progress…

Remember how I bought this rocker off of Craigslist awhile back? (I was air-drying the cushions after washing them…)

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As it turns out, the cover was much harder to…cover…than I originally thought it would be.  My kind neighbor was willing to help tackle the project, but in the end I decided that it wasn’t worth the headache, nor the extra cost of upholstery fabric.  Thankfully, I was able to resell the rocker for the same price I paid for it, and then a few days later I bought another rocker for $30 off Craigslist.  This time, the rocker was pretty much everything I wanted.  The owners took extra good care of it, and they even had it recovered recently in a fabric that I was happy with.  To top it off, they were super nice people and we spent about 30 minutes chatting before I actually paid them for the rocker.  It felt right. 

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All I did was prime and paint the rocker white (actually, my aunt did it for me—thanks, AJ!).  Tadaa! 

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The other piece of furniture that needed some TLC was a table given to us by some good friends.  Apparently they swiped the table off of www.freecycle.org when they first got married, so I didn’t feel bad taking it off their hands for nothing. 

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My original idea was to paint the table white in order to match the rocker and changing table dresser, but it looked pretty washed out.  Mom suggested painting the top a darker color, so we just wrapped a garbage bag around the white base, gave the top a few coats of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, by Rustoleum, and then a few coats of polyurethane to keep it from getting scratched and beat up.  I love the final result! 

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The dark top really helps to ground the table and ties it in nicely with the other dark brown accents in the room.  It makes me want to find more free tables…they have so much potential!  Actually, some friends called us the other night to tell us about a free desk that was on the side of the road.  I sooo wanted to pick it up and give it a second life, but I said no.  It’s getting harder to maneuver myself into the positions needed to paint, I probably shouldn’t paint right now, and with a baby coming soon, I need to allow myself a little time to relax.  I hope someone else decided to redeem that desk! 

In other baby related news, my sweet 7th grade students and their parents threw us a surprise baby shower at school yesterday!  They went all out on food, décor, thoughtful notes of encouragement, and gifts galore!  It was a blast, and we were so blessed by their efforts.  They even gave us a huge lawn sign that we can apparently stick in our yard when the baby comes.  It has a place to write the name, weight, etc.  I guess it’s an easy way to let the neighbors in on the action! 

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I know that the love of money is the root of all evil, but I have to be honest.  In the world of home decorating, it wouldn’t hurt to have just a little more.  There.  I said it.  Sometimes it’s hard being on a budget, especially when Pinterest offers so many tempting images of posh baby nurseries.  All that said, I know it’s good for me to have to think outside the box when it comes to decorating.  If it came too easy, it would be boring and I’m sure I’d take it for granted.  Obviously it’s a treat to have a cute room—not a right.  Can you tell I have to keep myself in line?  We all need some checks and balances in our lives, true?

When we first moved into our little bungalow, the soon-to-be nursery looked like this…

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I know…those curtains seriously give me the creeps.  Then we converted it to a guest room, and it took on a slightly country look that I was never totally satisfied with, although it was a major step up from its humble beginnings (somehow we managed to paint the walls the same color as the original shag carpet…not our best move). 

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It currently looks like this…

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Several weeks ago, our friends moved into a new house chock full of bedrooms, and since they needed some furniture to fill the empty space, and we needed to clear out for Baby Braham, we loaned them all the furniture that resided in the guest room.  It was great to empty out the room so we could start fresh, but it was also a tad overwhelming.  It really didn’t take long to begin filling the space though, as some friends from church gave us this great changing table/dresser.  I’m considering either painting or changing the knobs, and I’ve also thought it might be fun to paint the top a bold contrasting color.

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and a few days later we snagged this $20 glider on Craigslist. Pardon the wonky cushions—they’re air drying after a good sanitizing wash.

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Yep, that chair is ugly as sin.  I have plans to paint it and recover the cushions (I’m hoping my talented neighbor will help me out, since she sews—which, by the way, is one skill I sew so totally wish I had under my belt).  At $20, it’s hard to go wrong, folks.  I’d love to add some sort of ottoman eventually—maybe one with storage inside. 

I’ve also been debating color schemes for the room.  Here are few of my favorites from the always inspiring Design Seeds website.

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The neutral lover in me is struggling a bit over whether or not to paint the walls a color.  I’m currently on the lookout for some fabric, a rug, or a lamp shade that will inspire me one way or the other.  I really think every room needs something that pulls it all together, and I’m holding off on any major decisions until I find that something.  Ultimately, though, I really want this room to be gender neutral.  While I’d love to go all out, it’s really more prudent for us to make this a space that two kiddos could eventually share, and that means it has to be somewhat versatile. 

Since there is not much storage in our house, we’re hoping to add it via a bookcase, a crib with a pull-out drawer underneath, and some floating shelves.  Here’s what we’ve been eyeing.

EXPEDIT Shelving unit, white Width: 31 1/8 " Depth: 15 3/8 " Height: 58 5/8 " Max load/shelf: 29 lb  Width: 79 cm Depth: 39 cm Height: 149 cm Max load/shelf: 13 kg

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LACK Wall shelf, white Length: 43 1/4

Next time Matt drives to Denver, he plans to stop at IKEA to purchase the Expedit bookcase and Lack floating shelves.  By the way, IKEA definitely has the best deal on these shelves that I’ve seen so far.  They are white (although they offer several other color options), chunky, and only $15!  Woot!  The bookcase is more of a splurge, so of course I’ve been seeking used alternatives at local thrift store and Craigslist, but so far I’m loving this guy, especially since he fits perfectly into a little nook in the room. 

Now that I’ve rambled on about random aspects of the nursery with very little to actually show for it, I thought I’d give you some real news.  On Tuesday we had our 20 week ultrasound, and it turns out that Baby Braham is…

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a healthy BOY!!  We are so thankful and excited that our future kiddos will have an older brother to look out for them—here’s praying that he’s a great role model!  During the ultrasound, our wonderful technician said, “I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and even though I can’t tell if it’s a boy or girl quite yet, its hand is between its legs, which almost always means it’s a boy.”  We laughed so hard we almost cried.  A few minutes later she confirmed that our very active baby was indeed male.  And for the record, this kid can kick!  Oh, the adventures that lie ahead…

While we’re on the topic of boys, we’re all ears when it comes to parenting wisdom.  Any thoughts on bringing up boys? 

A Match Made In…Spray Paint!

Before dashifying our front door with a bit of paint, I was anxious to update our door handle and lock.  Unfortunately, one of the bummers of owning an older home is that often our hardware is a strange size—as in, what was standard back in 1947 is no longer…standard.  After quickly nixing the purchase of a brand new door and much searching for a door handle that would fit our current door—nope, nada, not even online—we opted to work with the original handle while adding a new deadbolt lock.  This is the worst best picture I have of the original door handle set—yeah, the one squeezed into the left side of the photo.

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Note: Do not buy a door handle from Home Depot over a year before you plan to install it…only to find that when you do try to install it, it’s the wrong size.  And you’ve already taken it out of the packaging and thrown away the box.  Don’t ask where our heads were at that moment well over a year ago.  This is where we give Home Depot HUGE props, because when we dragged ourselves back to the store to return the hardware—heads hung low with shame—they took everything back without batting an eye, since they still had the same piece in stock—and told us it happens all the time!  Oh, the life lessons learned in the DIY process.

Let’s start with the lock.  Our old lock was not exactly bombproof.  You could actually turn the lock for the deadbolt before closing the door and then pull the door shut on your way out.  Not. safe. at. all.  Thankfully, we live in a great neighborhood, so we didn’t lose too much sleep over it, but still.  So recently Matt took a good chunk out of his Saturday to deal with this rebellious lock of ours.  Once again, because of our un-standard original lock, we had to go the complicated route of drilling a larger hole in our door and adding depth to the deadbolt hole in order to install a new lock that would actually hold against some force.  To spare you hours of painful detail—yes, that’s how long this took—we ended up buying a hole saw and drilling into our wood door to make room for our new lock (talk about nerve-wracking).  Sadly, we didn’t realize we needed to drill about halfway and then switch the saw to the other side of the door, so we drilled all the way through from one side…and the wood on the front of the door splintered.  It was somewhat traumatic, but this story ends well.

Matt finished installing the new lock and then applied DAP wood filler to the splintered section (it was about six inches long, but we were able to refit the splintered pieces back into the door and putty over it with the wood filler). 

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The wood filler worked beautifully and after several coats and some light sanding, it was hardly noticeable, plus we knew were going to paint over it.  And yes, I totally should have taken pictures, but things were pretty hairy for awhile, so snapping photos wasn’t exactly on the brain.  Clearly this isn’t my day job.

The next dilemma was figuring out how to match our new lock with our original door handle.  Since I’m a huge believer in spray paint, and since I’ve actually seen several other bloggers paint their door hardware recently, I felt we had nothing to lose by giving our handle several coats of Rustoleum’s oil rubbed bronze spray paint to match the oil rubbed bronze lock we had just installed.

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It worked like a charm!  Virtually no one would be able to tell the difference if I wasn’t announcing it to the world via the web (although some of you might be thinking that the difference in texture is pretty obvious, but we hardly even notice it, and it definitely doesn’t detract from the look of the door). 

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It definitely looks more cohesive than the old black chippy handle, and we feel way better about the safeness of our house having a lock that actually works.

Ahh…one of the joys of updating things is that it always makes something else look dingy…like our railings.  They are quite the eyesore and not even close to safe, considering they are completely rusted out at the bottom, but they’re just going to have to wait.

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When I get hung up on minor details like railings, It’s helpful for me to go back to the beginning…

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Oh, how easy it is to forget the great strides that have been made—which is also a good reminder to count your blessings!

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What do y’all do when you realize something isn’t a standard size in your house?  Do you drop bucko bucks buying custom made items, or do you turn to spray paint to solve all your problems?  Have you stopped to count your blessings lately? 

Something Blue

It’s no secret that I’m a neutral gal when it comes to house décor, but I do like to play things up with interesting accessories from time to time.  Enter the exterior of our house.  (Is that an oxymoron?)  Clearly we played it neutral with our new stucco…

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We also stuck with white trim—although we love how fresh white trim pops in such a clean and crisp way.

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But doors present a whole new world of possibilities—hmm…that could get very philosophical.  The door within…the door to your heart….  The point is that doors can be punchy and fun, or they can be handsome and stately.  Since our house is small and doesn’t offer much in the way of interesting architecture—unless you just happen to love boxes—we figured that dressing up our front door would add a bit of splash to our otherwise plain Jane exterior. 

Choosing paint colors can be overwhelming, which is why I started pinning my favorites on Pinterest.  Check out my inspiration.

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Honestly, I love love love the deep earthy tones of the last door (not to mention the awesome and super functional entryway—is anyone else drooling over those brick floors and plank walls?).  It just look so sleek!  But I also have been swooning over blue-grey tones.  Maybe it’s because they evoke nautical themes, or maybe it’s because they are so playful and pretty at the same time.  Whatever the case, I printed a few inspirational doors off the color printer at work (shhh…) and then tried to find close matches at Sherwin-Williams, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace.  The good news is that blue-grey tones are super popular right now (at least that’s what I tell myself), so there are a myriad to choose from.  The hard part was narrowing down our options. 

For about two weeks, twenty or so paint swatches graced our doorway.  In the end, we went with Slate Tile, by Sherwin-Williams.  I actually had Lowe’s color-match it to their Duramax paint in semi-gloss, which allowed us to use quality exterior paint for only $15 buckaroos. 

Right before we painted, I began wondering if we should stick with a clean white door, but my mom encouraged me to try something different—and I don’t regret it!

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We feel like it gives the front of our house a bit of distinction and helps to ground the neutrals.  Doesn’t our door look dapper?!  (Unfortunately, it looks a bit cold and stark in these pictures, as all the leaves have fallen and everything is beginning to look wintery.)

By the way, I’ve been listening to Christmas music for about a month now.  Yep, I’m one of those rebels who doesn’t believe in waiting until after Thanksgiving to break out the Christmas spirit—one month is simply not enough time!  Is anyone else out there a closet Christmas music listener?  Please tell me I’m not alone!

Exterior Facelift

We all say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but let’s be honest. 

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External first impressions do leave a mark.  It’s true, even if we don’t want to admit it, which is why I’m so happy to report that our house finally got an exterior facelift.  Woot!  Our main summer goal was to refinish the stucco on our house—yes, we know it’s practically winter—but the process has taken quite a bit longer than we expected.  You would think we’d know better by now… 

Initially, we planned to paint over the old stucco ourselves using quality paint made for rough exteriors, like Duramax from Lowe’s.  But in the midst of making that decision, we had our stucco repaired in a few spots by a local stucco handyman named Antonio…and come to think of it, I actually have no idea what his last name is.  Anyway, good ole’ Tony was recommended to us by our neighbors, and since their house is lovely and they had nothing but glowing comments regarding his work, we called him up to work on our house.  You can see one of his repairs on the basement window.

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After he finished the small repair jobs, he asked us if we planned to repaint.  We said yes, that was the plan.  Then he threw us a sales pitch saying that he could put a stucco paste—tinted a color of our choice—over our entire house for a very reasonable amount of money.  We kind of stammered around for a second and then told him we’d let him know if decided to go that route.  I’m pretty sure both of us were rolling our eyes though, because even though he quoted us a low price, paint was certain to be much, much cheaper.  Right?  That’s when we realized that while paint may normally be a cheap and quick fix, it might be a different story when the exterior is involved. 

As it turns out, quality paint that is designed for stucco would have cost us only a few hundred dollars less, since we would need to do two coats (which would eventually need to be repainted, unlike tinted stucco paste), plus hours of our own labor.  Not long after actually calculating the cost of painting the house ourselves, we happily called Antonio to see when he could get a crew over to our house.  *I’m not gonna lie.  Contractors can be a pain to get ahold of, and while we loved his work, Antonio was no exception.  Thankfully, it was worth the wait.*

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The color is slightly grayer than I envisioned, but overall we love it—especially the fact that they were able to update the texture to a more modern look that hides previous imperfections.  It’s just nice having a cohesive exterior; everything looks so much cleaner.  Clearly the neighbors feel the same way, because we’ve received lots of compliments—even from folks just meandering by on a walk with the dog.

My favorite part might actually be the back stoop.  Check it out…

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If you’re wondering about the white trim, we painted it ourselves before the stucco guys arrived.  Despite having a small house, it took us a full weekend and a half to put on one coat of primer and two coats of Sherwin Williams exterior paint.

We’re not done quite yet though.  I’m itching to paint the front door, and we need to add some lights and house numbers.  Hopefully we’ll make some headway on those things this weekend.  Eventually I plan to spray paint our mailbox (which is happily sitting the planter at the moment…), and when the weather warms back up, we’ll add the adirondack chair we picked up at ACE for a song, along with some plants.

Ultimately, I’m just glad I no longer have to tell people coming to our house for the first time, “Yeah, it’s the pink and yellow house.  You can’t miss it—it’s the ugliest house on the street.”  What do you think? 

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Another Thrifty Find

Our kitchen has an odd corner that used to baffle me.  It’s not very large, and it’s near a window, which limits the kind of furniture that might fit there.  But one evening when I was making dinner, the proverbial light bulb clicked on.  A chair.  A cute little chair for the odd corner of our kitchen.  A place for friends to sit and chat.  A surface for bags laden with groceries.  A dash of texture (and–gasp–possibly even some color) for our kitchen.  A chair!

Of course, I wasn’t about to spend lots of money on an expensive chair, so I turned to a girl’s best friend–Craigslist.  Within a few days I spotted this beauty for a mere $25.

According to the seller, this chair once graced the halls of The Broadmoor, which is an absolutely fabulous (and outrageously expensive) resort in Colorado Springs.  If you live in the area, The Broadmoor makes for a great date with your special someone.  You can go high class and enjoy their delectable Sunday brunch, or you can meander around the lake and play a game by the fire in one of their lounges.  If you’re lucky, there might be free entertainment in the black box theater.  And don’t miss out on the ice sculptures and gingerbread village around Christmas!  Don’t even get me started on the a.mazing decor…  Okay, I digress.  I’m starting to sound like a travel agent…

Aside from the fact that this chair is solidly built and boasts a smidgen of detail that I love…

it also has the perfect seat and back for reupholstering, which is something I’ve been dying to try ever since I fell head over heels for staple guns while covering our DIY headboard.

I plan to strip the peacock blue velvet from the chair and recover the base with upholstery from The Mill Fabric Outlet, which is my favorite fabric store in town.  I’ll definitely repaint the wood as well, although I’m not sure if I’ll stick with a distressed white (similar to my desk makeover) or a color of some sort.  Although I’m a teensy bit nervous to get down to the bones of this chair, I feel pretty confident that it can be done, as there are a ton of reupholstering tutorials online.  It’s also comforting to know that I only spent $25, so it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t turn out quite as I’m envisioning.  You know I’ll keep you posted on the details–the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Have you guys found any great furniture deals lately?  It’s addicting, isn’t it?   I’d love to hear about them if you have a minute to leave me a comment or link to a photo.  Cheers!