The Evolution of a Girl and her Room

My daughter and I just finished making over her room for the fourth and final time (whew!). Her room has had more ideas splashed on its walls than any other room in the house. I swear her room has decreased in square footage from all the plaster and paint we’ve added over the last 12 years. Each makeover reflected her growth and her latest and greatest dreams. I’ve loved trying to bring her ideas to life and it’s been worth every bruise and back spasm to give her a space that’s all hers.

first day homeOur house was a model home, so when we moved in, her room had already been given a theme – butterflies (the caterpillar came with the room as well). I can’t even believe how little she was when we first got there.

butterfly roomThe paint job had been poorly done so we repainted it with a slightly different palette and expanded on the butterfly theme to include all sorts of insects (those butterflies came with the room as well). Dianna was a tomboy and wanted more bugs than beauty so we added ants and spiders to keep it from being too precious. The fun part was having my paint friends come help. We figured out how to do raised stenciling and then we added little jewels to the wings for a little sparkle. So totally fun!

I searched forever for pictures of the raised stenciling and all I’ve figured out is that they’re gone and this computer is refusing to do anything with the pile of negatives I have in a shoe box. I’ve tried cramming them in the disc drive, but my husband says that’s not good for the computer. Negatives! Can you even remember those?

Gryffindor room In 2003 I was fully entrenched in my faux finishing business and had been introduced to a product that created a stone-like finish in two easy steps. That sparked the idea for a Harry Potter themed room. We’re both huge fans (friends will tell you that huge does not describe our obsession accurately) of the books and the movies, and had traveled to Oxford, England just to visit some of the spots where the movies were filmed. I incorporated some of the architectural elements into the room including a carved window looking out toward the Whomping Willow (she has kept this mural through all the other makeovers).

Hogwarts muralThe room reflected Dianna’s love of dragons and magic without going to that girly side where glitter and unicorns usually spring up. Most of her friends were boys at this age so a feminine room would have been less than inviting. Thankfully all the work we put in to this room was rewarded by her loving it for six years……an eternity in kid-time.

graffiti on2009 was the year she decided to move on. She was loving rockers like Hayley Williams, Avril Lavigne and Green Day and the Potter room just wasn’t working any more. She really didn’t know what she was looking for, but she knew she wanted it to be dark. We dove in to that makeover with a gallon of nearly black paint. It was awesome.

metallic foil guitarWe experimented with spray painting through stencils and a lot of metallic foil. The foil guitar image was one of Dianna’s own designs and gave the room a focus wall.

the writing on the wallAfter wallpapering photos, maps and posters everywhere, we decided to let her and her friends fill in the blank spaces. So one afternoon I taught 5 junior high boys how to stencil, gave them paint and brushes and then let them all go. They created a graffiti masterpiece. I think the boys’ mothers thought I was crazy, but that really was one of the funnest things we’ve ever done and I know Dianna will never forget it.

All through high school Dianna’s friends added to the walls whenever they were inspired. It was like living inside a yearbook with all your friends’ comments and inside jokes. I kept the base colors in little cans so she could subtract things like old boyfriends or bad memories….you can paint over almost anything.

This summer Dianna decided she needed a change. Heading in to her senior year was moving a little too quickly. With friends leaving and her trying to figure out what to do after graduation, she was feeling the need for a small refuge from all the changes going on outside. The graffiti and the darkness of her room seemed to be dragging her down and she was searching for calm and light.

The graffiti room had a lot of stuff that had to be removed, patch and plastered. It was definitely a suck job and I’ll tell you all about it some other day, but for now, just know that Dianna finally has some peace, and a quiet place  to slow down in.

peaceful room

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How-To Paint a Ceiling Medallion

painting tutorialI have always wanted to paint one of these decorative ceiling medallions and last week an old client of mine handed me an unfinished one simply asking me to “do my magic.” I was all over it.

unfinished medallionIf you haven’t seen these you can find them almost anywhere that sells lighting. This one came from Home Depot and is made of foam. They come primed and ready to paint.

metallic paintI chose to use Modern Masters metallic paint in the color Brass which coordinates with the other fixtures in the room where this will be installed. The glazing brush I’m using came from Pierre Finkelstein’s collection and is perfect for getting into the nooks and crannies on this piece.

stipplingMetallic paint will show brush marks if you try to simply brush it on, making it look streaky. It’s best to use a stippling, pouncing motion to not only get the paint in the crevices but to also give the paint a more even finish. This paint is a little transparent so it required three coats.

painting finishedWhen the three coats of brass were on I painted the inside and outside rings with two coats of an off white latex paint. The latex was in a satin finish which is important because I planned on glazing it. If I had painted it with craft paints or matte latex the glaze wouldn’t work properly and the piece would end up too dark and splotchy.

painter's tapeThe chandelier that will hang under this medallion is chrome and glass, so I decided to add aluminum leaf on one part of the molding and on a couple small pieces on the inside carving. The first step in applying leaf is applying a liquid size which is very runny so I taped off the ring to prevent the size from dripping where I didn’t want it to go.

Leafing sizeI use Rolco Aquasize because it’s water based and dries faster. Traditional oil-based size takes forever to tack up. I buy the metal leaf from Royal Design Studio, which is really close to my house and has a great selection. You can buy online from them as well.

Apply the size in thin layers with a soft brush. The size is the consistency of water so there’s really no way to put on a thick coat. It takes 25 minutes to dry and get tacky. If after 25 minutes it’s not tacky enough, put on one more thin coat.

A quick note on metal leafing: True metal leafing is an art form that takes years to master and pristine tools and environments. What I’m describing here is what I call Crafter’s Leafing. I’m just gluing on shiny metal. I’m breaking every rule of leafing, and I’m fully aware, so there’s no need to point it out.

aluminum leafMetal leaf comes in square sheets and is lighter than air, so don’t do this outside or near an open window, or while you’re blow drying your hair. Simply lay a piece of leaf over an area with size. It will stick immediately.

small soft brushI used a small soft brush to press the leaf into the crevices. Don’t press it with your fingers because the oil on your hands can discolor the leaf.

sheepskin padWhen all the leaf is on, burnish or rub softly with a sheepskin pad. This will even out the sheen and remove any little flakes lying around.

missing leafIf there are places where the leaf is missing, it just means you missed a spot when you were applying size. That’s easy to do when working with light colors because the size is transparent. Apply more size to the spot and add leaf when it’s tacky. It will blend in when you burnish it.

burnish marksAfter I burnished the leaf I noticed that it had left grey smudges along the edges. I touched it up with the latex paint before moving on to the next step.

glaze applicationI wanted to age the whole piece so I mixed up a very dark glaze and applied it heavily in small sections. Don’t glaze the whole piece at once or the glaze will dry before you can rag it off.

The glaze I use isn’t readily available to DIY people, but if I could give you a recipe I would tell you to  go to an art supply store and pick up Golden’s Acrylic glaze and Van Dyke Brown fluid acrylic. I would mix one part pigment to six parts glaze. Always test it before slopping it on the whole piece.

ragging offOnce you get the glaze on a section, remove it from the high points with a soft rag. Leave the glaze in the crevices.

hake brushI use a soft hake brush to stipple the glaze in the low flat areas. It evens out the glaze, blends it with the adjoining section and gets rid of smears. Work in small sections around the piece, glazing the outside molding last. Acrylic glazes take 24 hours to dry completely and may take even longer where the glaze puddles in the crevices.

finished medallionI love how the glaze settled in the outside molding. It took just enough shine off the aluminum leaf to make it pretty and not garish.

Beautiful medallionSo there it is. I’ll post a picture of it when it gets hung with the chandelier. They’re really happy with it and I had a lot of fun painting it. Now it’s your turn!

A small note: this didn’t end up being the final product thanks to the client’s wanting more metal leafing. Please go to this post to see the real final product.

Creative Wood Repair

Okay, so I haven’t posted anything for two weeks. It’s not because I’ve been lying on the couch, watching General Hospital. Is that even on anymore? Anyway, I’ve been working on a decorative painting job, which is something I don’t do anymore, unless you’re my favorite client, and unless I feel artistically obligated, and I happen to really need some extra cash.

Mystical forces converged and caused a slab leak in my favorite clients home, which caused the kitchen to need removal, which caused damage to all the paintwork I had applied to his walls over 10 years ago, which caused him to ask me to come back and repair the damage to my work. So that’s where I’ve been.

wood replaced with gray stuffThe first job at hand had nothing to do with flood damage. My client is a contractor and he came upon this large, beautiful wood carving in his client’s dumpster. He said it was in many, many pieces as it had been broken by the movers. His client didn’t think it was worth saving. My guy picked up all the pieces and put it back together but there were three pieces missing. I asked him to try to fill the holes as best he could and I would take it from there.

damaged tail carvingSo the grey parts in these pictures were made with a product that’s supposed to work like metal solder. Please forgive the grainy photos, it’s a dark house. His assistant tried to form the missing pieces out of this clay-like substance and then stuck it on. It was pretty rough but I guess the stuff hardens in five minutes so you don’t have much time to perfect it.

after carvingI started by carving and sanding the pieces. Please understand that I had told my client I could faux finish the pieces, not carve them. But when I saw them, they needed a little help. Too bad all I had was an exacto knife and sandpaper. I decided to make lemonade.

Ta Da!Here it is all finished. Can you find the pieces I fixed?

repaired tail tipSo here’s the tip of the tail. The carving was difficult and I definitely could have used other tools. But I think most people won’t be able to pick out the non-wood dragon tail.

repaired carvingThese two repairs were easier and are a little hard to find. I think it turned out pretty well. He’s really happy with it.

I didn’t take pictures of the wall repairs because they’re not interesting. What is interesting is this house and this client. He’s the first person that ever hired me and doing his house was a total blast.

stenciled parrotThere’s only two rooms in the whole house that I didn’t paint and they’re just bathrooms. He gave me free reign so I put birds, lizards and bamboo everywhere. It pretty much looks like Margaritaville, but he loves it.

underwater stair railingWhen he ran out of walls he added a stair railing he had a guy make out of random pieces of metal and then had me paint it.metal fishHow cool is that?! I’m pretty sure this isn’t up to code, and that small children would definitely kill themselves here, but they don’t have any kids so it’s just fun.

stenciled muralI was pleased to see that my work had held up so well, and to be completely honest, surprised that he hadn’t painted all of this out. I’m not saying it’s not good, I’m just saying I can’t believe he isn’t bored with it. I’ve painted my house three times since I did this.

faux finished mahoganyThe other thing I worked on all week was turning this tan painted door into a mahogany door. I’m not great at wood graining, but I’m pretty happy with how this came out. 

So anyway, I’m glad to be getting back to my new, normal life and off the job site. I miss my studio and my dog. How could I not?

belly rub time

 

Nautical Style Mail Organizer

mail organizerThis mail organizer is my latest creation…..and I’m in  love with it! All the pieces of this message center came together over the last few months. Every time I found another nautical piece I put it in a little pile in the corner of my studio (a clean pile, I swear). Last week I found the final piece at the Mattson Co. sale, so I got to finally put all the pieces together. Ta Da!

cork boardThe brass key rack at the top of this message center was the little treasure I found last week. It’s so patriotic and kitschy, it’s awesome. The fabric I used for the bulletin board came from my friend’s house when we cleaned out her grandmother’s fabric stash. It’s got little anchors and ship helms running across it. The pushpins are covered button and are covered in fabric from my late mother’s stash. The notepad holder is upholstered with vintage fabric, again from my friend’s stash (I brought home so much fabric that it will take me years to use it all up). The notepad holder hangs from a hook screwed into a piece of plywood that I added some hand painted details to. It’s adorable. The pad holder itself is refillable, so you can keep it forever.

mail holderThe mail holder is the piece I love most. I found this book at an estate sale months ago. My daughter and I let out a little squeal when we unearthed it. The nautical symbols on the cover are so graphic and cool, I just had to bring it home. It of course hangs from a 3-ring binder spine, making it portable when you open the rings. I decorated it with red and white cording and a silver crab pendant that I picked up at a flea market. The old camping cup sits on an L-bracket and can hold all your pens and scissors.

So that’s my newest listing. Please check out my Etsy shop and pass this post along to anyone you know that needs help getting organized and has a thing for sailors. Have a great Wednesday……..Hump Day!

Inventory used: latex paint, acrylic craft paint, antiquing glaze

New Organization Tools

September is one of those months that I get really motivated. September and January I end up doing Spring Cleaning, which I know doesn’t make any sense, but there it is. I recently made a few new message centers that I’m particularly proud of. They go along with my seasonal organization disorder.

perpetual-calendarThis dark one has what I call a Forever calendar at the top. I’ve also heard them called perpetual calendar. The idea is, you write in the dates for each month with a dry erase marker. I left room around the edges so you have room to write other notes as well. I stenciled a calendar grid on canvas and hand painted the corners in grey and dark mustard colors. I installed it under glass in an old frame I picked up at an estate sale.

message centerThis organizer is pretty basic. It’s a calendar with IN and OUT file holders below. All the salvaged wood moldings are stained the same in a dark walnut finish.

mail holder out-boxThe vintage books I used are big enough to hold standard size file folders. The color palette is different but I think it works.

magnet boardThe other two boards I built are being sold as a set. The thing is, I had a bunch of pieces that I wanted together and I thought it would be too wide, so I split the board up. This gives the owner the flexibility to either hang them side by side or vertically, or in two completely different places.

This first one has a large book that can hold file folders. Beneath it is a magnet board covered in a vintage fabric and sports two magnets made out of antique looking bottle caps. On either side of this are two clothespins attached to the board to hold invitations and reminders.

message centerThis message board has a dry erase board with vintage tablecloth fabric under the glass. There’s a tin for holding pens and pencils right where you need them. Under that is a small mail holder and a hanging frame.

Both boards are painted in high gloss white which is different for me, but I really like how it looks. All of these can be viewed in more detail at my Etsy Shop. Have a great holiday weekend.

Inventory used: latex paint, Stain & Seal

Really Quick Chair Makeover

black toile chairsSeveral months ago my stepmother brought me two chairs she had picked up at an antique shop. She knew I’d love the fabric and thought I could probably fix up the paint and make them better.

She was right, I do love the fabric. Unfortunately the person who had them before me had used a ton of hot glue to stick the trim on, so when I removed the seats to paint them the fabric got kind of trashed. Now what?

I knew my sister needed new chairs and I decided to make them over for her instead.

adorable chairs Aren’t they adorable! I found the fabric at JoAnn’s Fabric and it’s made for the outdoors so it’s really durable. Durability is a must at my sister’s house because they have big dogs running around and they just brought home a new puppy.

very colorful chairsThis makeover only took a couple days. Removing the original fabric was the toughest part. After that was gone, the rest of the work was simple. I used a new Valspar prime + paint spray which covered the black quickly. The new paint is really bright and high gloss so it’s fun and trendy. I added some new padding to the seat before covering it with the new fabric.

My sister loves them and they look adorable in her dining room. Easy peasy.

The Bathroom Remodel is complete

finished remodelThe remodel of my daughter’s bathroom is finally complete. The studio and the downstairs half of my house is clean and I’m finally at peace. Let’s visit the Before shots for a moment shall we……….

BEFOREI shudder just looking at this. This was the starting point of our unplanned bathroom remodel. In our defense, it was this way when we bought it. But at the same time…..it was this way when we bought it……12 years ago.

ugly bathroom BEFOREThat nasty piece of terry cloth has been hanging there for 12 freaking years! Some model home designer stuck it there in a stroke of brilliance and I chose to ignore it for over a decade. Amazing what one can deny exists in our own homes. Now back to the pretty pictures:

beauty centralFirst thing to go was the wallpaper, which sucked to remove because the walls hadn’t be primed and they installed it right on the drywall. The glue really wanted to stay on forever but we washed it over and over and over and then primed. Dianna went with a great shade of blue on the walls and bright white on the cabinets. We raised the height of the vanity and added some new hardware on the drawers and doors which I love.

wood countertopWe removed the old counter top and tile backsplash and replaced it with a solid wood top and a backsplash made from “clear wood” which I think is code for “plastic with a faux wood veneer.” It’s light weight and cheap but I bought it because I thought it would be a good choice considering the risk of water damage.

Both the top and splash were stained with a Faux Effects product called Stain & Seal and three coats of C-500, a urethane product also from Faux Effects.

Lace flowersI know it looks like I put stickers on the backsplash, but this is a painted detail I swear. I used a Martha Stewart silkscreen design to create this border. This is my first time using a silkscreen. What I liked about it was that I could use much thicker paint than with a stencil, creating a more dimensional design, which is why it looks like a sticker. My daughter loves lace and she chose the design. She also has a connection to my mother through daisies, so she loves having these around.

union jack organizerThis jewelry organizer, complete with Union Jack design is one of our favorite additions. I can not take credit for the design. My friend Melanie created this design on an old IKEA door for a photo shoot, but then didn’t need it afterward so I got to take it home. Being huge fans of all things British, we had to incorporate it somehow. Thanks Melanie!

the new Assmaster 2000The new Assmaster 2000 has been installed and is no longer being crowded by 12 year old terry cloth (so nasty). My daughter decided that a door to the shower area was stupid since she’s an only child and no one walks in on her. She opted for a curtain in the doorway instead. Kind of like a dressing room.

The photo above also shows off the new floor. It’s vinyl planks which are really easy to install and extremely cheap. They look really nice and give the look of wood without having to take out a loan.

cool teen bathroomWe removed the giant sheet of mirror and replaced it with two new mirrors. We paid $15 for each of them but they came with ugly dark brown frames. We made them over with high gloss white spray paint. I filled the gap between them with two shelves I made from the scrap piece of MDF left over from the new footer on the cabinet. We also made over the clock and the light fixture with the high gloss white and they look brand new.

remodel on the cheapSo that’s our little project. We did get rid of some paint and stain from The Stash which is always good. Dianna loves her grown up bathroom and I love having my life back.

Inventory Used: latex paint and Stain and Seal