Tag Archives: repurpose

A Tale of a Vintage Metal Bistro Set

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A Tale of a Vintage Metal Bistro Set

To say I’ve been obsessed with upholstery is an understatement. Its hard not to get passionate when the universe keeps providing signs that this is what you are supposed to be doing! And I will take the signs of cute, all be it sad and neglected, free pile furniture as a sign.  Dan would be quick to tell you its a sign of a future episode of Hoarders. But I take it as a sign I’m supposed to give life to once grand pieces.

When my neighbor moved out at the end of July and her vintage metal bistro set was up for grabs I knew it was left for me. Dan and I, very ninja like, swiped the table and chairs and carried it up our very steep drive way into the apartment.
The score of the summer PRE me working on it

The score of the summer PRE me working on it

Once in the apartment I examined the project. There are two bistro chairs with cute legs and a matching bistro table, all with a fair amount of surface rust but overall very study. Two very gross, smelly, cushions.  But the cherry of the set was the glass! The round glass top was in perfect condition and in tact! Working in a salvage yard, I have learned that the glass is the most sought after piece because without that the set is worthless. I had the set and the ambition. Now if I only knew how to clean surface rust off metal.
a close up of what lay ahead of me

a close up of what lay ahead of me

Table actually looked worse than the chairs...

Table actually looked worse than the chairs…

After some research I learned to clean surface rust you can either sand the metal OR sandblast the metal. I wanted to sandblast it! I watch the restoration shows all the time and it didn’t look THAT hard.  Sadly to say, it was going to be far too much work to sandblast the chairs and table. I was going to have to do it old school and sand the set.
But I am one smart gal and on my way home from HomeDepot, I had 2 sets of sand paper for metal, steal wool, gloves, and of course face masks.  SAFETY TIP: Do NOT sand metal without a mask! Breathing in the metal particles is bad for the lungs. On my way home I picked up some beer, I had no intentions of sanding the set alone and I knew Dan would need a little persuading, After one movie, a pack of beer, and lot of sandpaper, the set was sanded and ready for painting. I went with Rustoleum Shell White and a clear gloss protective coat.
Perfect for a vintage-y look

Perfect for a vintage-y look

I was at a loss for a cushion fabric.  I knew I wanted it to be a neutral fabric for easy resale but I still wanted it to have personality. While I was home in Eastern Wa visiting my mom, we found ourselves at the fabric store and there on the flat fold table was the perfect fabric: a blueish teal, Sumbrella outdoor fabric! Best part? It was on SALE! I snapped it up and in a day had 2 cute new cushions.
Check out the legs and curves!

Check out the legs and curves!

I ordered new feet for the set and got rubber glass bumpers but the rest was all down hill.   Once it was complete it was ready for sale.  Sadly (or not too sadly as I’m still not sure I want to sell the set) I didn’t finish it in time to sell before the end of the season.  At the moment, it is being stored safely in my storage unit waiting for the promise of warm sunny days ahead.
Secretly want it for my house ;)

Secretly want it for my house 😉

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Upholstery Summer

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Upholstery Summer

Over the past few weeks it went from 90 degree summer weather (Seattle had a HOT summer) to nice fall days.  With this weather change I’m ready to clean the dead plants off my porch, put away the grill (even though Dan is not), start cooking with the oven and crock pot again, dig out the jeans and boots, maybe even a coat, and of course, blog. Its not that I don’t want to blog during the summer or even that I don’t do projects in the summer, I just get busy with, well, summer things. And this summer has been no exception! While we didn’t go on vacation we did travel to Eastern WA several times to visit my family .  At work I was busy helping customers with their projects. I helped customers with everything from how to use salvaged material for small craft type items to giving advice on a bathroom remodel.  But don’t think for one moment I did not take my work home with me, because I would be a liar if I told you otherwise.

When not at work, spending time with family and friends, or enjoying my patio with Dan and cats I spent my days (and nights) learning everything I could about upholstery. With every book I read and every free (or nearly free) project I acquired, the more obsessed I became.

I started the summer with learning how to redo simple dinning chair seats, and gradually progressed to a paying customer and 4 evil box cushions for her amazing mid century chairs. Before I continue, I must say box cushions are not easy as YouTube videos make it out to be! It was at this moment I realized how lucky I was have a have a weekly class to attend for help and a great group of ladies from my class to support me! Otherwise those cushions would never have been finished and I would have given up forever.
The finished "dreaded" box cushions

The finished “dreaded” box cushions

But after that I treated myself to a shopping trip.  While most ladies love to go to the mall for clothes, shoes, and purses, Dan and celebrated the completion of the mid-century chairs with a trip to Harbor Freight.  For those who are unaware of Harbor Freight, its heaven on earth.  Ok maybe not heaven but pretty close! It’s a mid-range priced tool store, which is perfect for a beginner like me! I bought myself my very own upholstery gun, staples, air hoses for the air compressor I scored for a good deal a year ago, and all the fittings.  We ended up with a few more items but everything was about getting me set up!
At the end of July I scored big! A neighbor moved out and left the cutest vintage metal bistro set.  The “flip” of this set became my shinning moment, the moment where I realized that no matter how hard some things can be (I’m talking about you, you stupid box cushion) that this is truly one of my passions. Don’t worry I will be talking more about this set soon!
The score of the summer PRE me working on it

The score of the summer PRE me working on it

I’ve ended my upholstery filled summer with a storage unit. Lame right? But this unit now provides me with the space I need to store finished projects waiting for a good home, and a place for my to keep my unfinished projects! Now they are all cleared out of the living room…dinning room…office…bedroom…and my car. And once again I have the motivation and room to craft, upholster, create, cook, and live happily! Welcome Fall.
We were in the process of moving into the unit and out of my living room

We were in the process of moving into the unit and out of my living room

Feeling the Patriotic Love

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I’m sure you have figured out by now that I have a “thing” for decorating for the holidays and seasons. Recently I became bored with my decorations and began thinking of something different and new.  Dan made the observation I had very few patriotic decorations.  This isn’t due to being unamerican or anti-patriotic.  There just aren’t as many decorations out there to support the love of these holidays. So when I found a picture of a wooden stair spindle turned Uncle Sam on the great wide world of the internet I couldn’t resist. I immediately went shopping in the huge wooden spindle section at work and found the best one for Uncle Sam’s body.  I then trimmed it down to be level on both ends (which also made him shorter). I used the extra wood that was cut off for his hat. I also used 1×4 and 1×6 scrap material for the base and the base of his hat.  With a little bit of painting and a lot of fun playing with star buttons, I created my new favorite decoration.

What a great face!

What a great face!

Supplies:

1 wooden stair spindle

2″ square for hat

Sand paper

Scrap wood for the base and hat base

Blue, Red, White, and Flesh paint

Primer

Patriotic Star Buttons

3 Large wooden hearts

Permanent Marker

Painter’s Tape

Glue

 

Directions:

1) Sand the spindle so the paint will stick.

2) Prime the entire spindle; this makes it easier to paint and you will use less paint in the long run.

3) Paint the mid section of the spindle blue; apply several coats as needed.  This is his body so don’t paint the solid square parts as they are his legs and face.

4) Once the blue paint has dried, paint the lower square section of the spindle white.  Also paint the wood (hat) square white.  Apply several coats as needed.

5) Once the white paint is COMPLETELY dry, tape off stripes in the spindle base and hat.

6) Once the stripes have been taped off, paint over it with white paint; this will “seal” the tape and you will have less bleeding under the tape.

7) When the white paint has dried, paint over it with red paint.  This gives his pants and hat stripes. Remove painters tape once paint has dried.

8) Paint the hat base and wood base solid red.

9) Paint his face flesh colored.

10) Hot glue the base to the spindle, hat base to the top of the spindle, and the square onto the hat base.

11) Use the large wooden hearts to build a mustache. Cut 2 of the hearts in half with a knife (Think of a “ying” shape). Glue the 2 yings to the 3rd heart. They will be the “handle bars” on his beard/mustache.

12) Paint the beard white.

13) Glue the beard on the face of Uncle Sam.

14) Using a small paint brush and white paint make 2 small white lines on face as eye brows.  Then with a permanent marker make 2 round black dots for eyes.

15) Enjoy!

 

 

Wreath Mania

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I like to make wreaths for my door. Remember when I talked about being sad I didnt have a wreath after christmas so I made a valentines wreath? Well this year was worse becuase I had a wreath on my door from October until the end of Febuary. So I made a St Patricks day wreath with green tulle and ribbons.  After that I couldn’t handle Apirl coming and my door being naked! So I made a spring wreath.

St. Patty's Day wreath

St. Patty’s Day wreath

The spring wreath

The spring wreath

THAT’S when it all went downhill! After my spring wreath had been up for a week or two my neighbor catches me one morning on my way out the door  and she starts telling me how she loves my wreaths, they make her so happy, and she can’t wait for the NEXT one. Crap!! I needed a next one for her (or and maybe for me, but I couldn’t let my fans down!!) So I went to Pintrest and found tons and tons of wreath ideas and a bunch for 4th of July/paricotic wreaths.  I found the PERFECT one! A wreath made out of old wooden clothes pins painted like the flag. Easy enough! I got my mom and  sister involved over Memorial day weekend to help me make my wreath.  It was instant love and I couldn’t wait to show it off!!

Showing off the finished goods with my mom and sister

Showing off the finished goods with my mom and sister

It was super easy (a little time consuming) and very festive! Here are the steps to make yours!

Supplies:

54 Wooden Clothes Pins (The Pinching Kind)

Craft Paint in Blue, Red, and White

3 Foam Paint Brushes

Wooden stars (I used foam sparkle star stickers)

A 12″ Wire Wreath Form

 

Directions:

1) Divide the wooden clothes pins into 3 stacks of 18.

2) With the first stack of wooden clothes pins paint all sides blue.  Don’t forget to paint the inside as well since you will be able to see it.

3) Repeat step 2 using red and white paint.

4) Once the clothes pins are dry, start with the blue pins and clip them one to the wreath form.  The first pin clips onto the 3 wire while the second clips onto the 2nd wire. Alternate the clothes pins until all 18 blue pins are on the form.

5) Then starting with the white, fasten 3 white pins in the same fashion as the blue. Then add 3 red pins. Repeat the process until all the remaining clothes pins are attached to the wreath

6) Now attach the stars to the wreath.  If you went with wooden stars, paint them a fun sparkly color and glue onto the blue pins.

7) Hang and enjoy!

 

 

Hanging on my door waiting for my neighbor to walk by.

Hanging on my door waiting for my neighbor to walk by.

Let a little light in

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Let a little light in

As every body knows I kind of have a thing for up cycling and re-purposing.  I also have a thing for decorating my apartment. Recently, while changing my decorations to early spring (pinks in February and greens in March) I needed an easy to change centerpiece for my table.  So I was constantly keeping my eyes out for the “perfect” item.  At work I love the light fixtures known as “bare bulb” lights.  They were  used in the early 1900’s and these beautiful fixtures (also known as pan lights) had decoration in the sides and in the fixtures but no glass shades over the bulbs.  The idea was that if you were lucky enough to have these fixtures in your house you were also lucky enough to have these fancy new things called a light bulb.  And by showing off the light bulb you were showing off your luck. But what strikes me about these light fixtures if how detailed they can be and how most look like flowers.

The bare bulb light mid way through paint removal

The bare bulb light mid way through paint removal

As I was putting away a new stack of these fixtures (all badly broken, heavily painted, and less than perfect) it struck me.  The single light fixtures could be used as candle holders! I grabbed three of my favorite ones and started to strip the paint. I then swapped out the fairly nice light sockets for ones that no longer worked with my lighting lady at work.  Because why do I need to have working sockets hold candles on my table? Once all the paint was removed and sockets placed inside I became kind of sad, the metals of the fixtures weren’t very pretty.  So i bought a very pretty purple can of spray paint (Krylon Rich Plum) and spray painted a nice solid color on the three fixtures.

Just something about "rich plum"that says it all

Just something about “rich plum”that says it all

They were still missing something.  That’s when I took them to work and showed my coworkers.  My lighting lady pointed it out almost immediately flowers aren’t one solid color, they are several colors. So with a lighter lavender and a pink we spray painted the tops at an angel as the paint just glazed the fixtures.  Adding depth and color to my new flower candle holders.

A close up of my candle holder

A close up of my candle holder

My candle holder with Easter decor

My candle holder with Easter decor.

The Age Old Question…

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When refinishing my chair, I not only had to pad and reupholster it but I had to do something with the wood itself. The chair and wood weren’t too terrible just really worn and dull. Which, if I was a 70 year old chair I would probably be dull too. Since I had everything off the chair and it was just a wood base/legs I figured now would be the time to do something about it.  So I spent two nights hand sanding the frame down to the bare wood.  It is important to note, IF one is staining wood a darker color than what it currently is, it does NOT need to be sanded perfectly down to the wood; just the top coat needs to be sanded off. Since I was unsure of the end wood color, I did a complete sand.

Once it was sanded, I stopped by Home Depot to pick out a stain.  Since it is a mid century chair, and mid century is known for dark, rich woods (especially mahogany) I decided to go with Varathane “Red Mahogany” stain.  I got home and was all ready to stain.

The Stain

The Stain

Do I stain my chair with a brush or with a rag? You ask anybody who has worked with stain and they will both tell you it depends on your comfort and the size of the project. I did my research and found that since my chair was round and had smaller work areas, I went with a rag. I dipped my rag in the stain and started slowly working in a downward motion (so I would always been wiping up drips and the drips wouldn’t ruin my work). I did the first coat alone.

My "excited to start" look

My “excited to start” look

Dan was worried that the color in the jar was too dark but after the first coat, he was shocked and impressed.  I ended with three coats of stain, to make it look like mahogany.  I then added a clear coat for protection and to give it that nice finished look.

Working hard

Working hard

 

Getting all the little spaces

Getting all the little spaces

 

I would quickly realize its better to move than to reach over wet stain

I would quickly realize its better to move than to reach over wet stain

I then added the clean brass feet, and took it to class to finish the upholstery.  Everybody kept oooohing and ahhing over it. Now Dan wants to refinish all the wood in the house mahogany……

Ketchup Isn’t Just for Fries

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The brass, vintage feet from a mid century chair, was in desperate need of polishing. Now I’m sure everybody is thinking, ummm she is going to write a whole blog post about how to use brasso?! And my response is simply no. Brasso is great, don’t get me wrong.  It will polish brass quickly and remove the grime, the patina….and the look of 70 year old brass.  So I used my own advise I give customers…polish them with Ketchup.

What I started with

What I started with

Sounds gross I know, but the acid in Ketchup works wonders on cleaning the tarnish off brass (and silver).  Having never used the ketchup method on anything but faceplates (and didnt want to stain my carpet) I went about it a little differently.  Poor Dan watched in both awe and horror.

Step 1: Using warm soapy water, gently clean the brass.  It might be that you like the look of the piece once the dirt layer is removed.

Step 2: Lay the dry brass on a rag (I would use a dark colored one since the ketchup will stain) and goop on the ketchup.

Step 3: Practice the P-word (patience) and let the brass and ketchup sit and “marinate”.  The longer it sits, the more the acid will break down the patina (my feet which probably had never been cleaned/polished/loved took over being soaked over night, but I’ve seen it work in as little as 10 minutes)

Step 4: After the ketchup has sat on the brass and helped break down the dirty, tarnished patina,  rinse it. Grab a clean lint free rag and start polishing.

Polishing took a while; even if i’d used Brasso, polishing would have taken awhile.  They were REALLY bad!! But the end result was great!

Check out those legs

Check out those legs

Create your very OWN wood Nativity Scene

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Directions:

1 2″x 2″x 2′ piece of lumber

1 1″x 2″ x 4′ piece of lumber

2 1.5″ round wood doll heads (found at the craft store)

1 3/4″ round wood disk (found in the same aisle as the doll heads)

1 wood star (about 1″across)

3 colors of paint (I used blue, Green, and white but fought the urge for lavender and teal)

1 Piece of burlap roughly 4″ x 6″

Twine long enough to wrap the people twice

Hot Glue Gun

a few nails and a hammer

 

1) Cut lumber into following pieces 1 @ 2″ x 2″x 6″ (Josephs body) 1 @ 2″ x 2″ x 5.25″ (Mary’s body) 1 @ 1″x 2″x 3″ (baby Jesus’s body) 2 @ 1″x 2″ x 9″ with 1 end having a 45degree angle cut (this is the barn sides, the angles will help the roof connect) 1 @ 1″x 2″x 6″ and 1 @ 1″x 2″ x 5.25″

2) Paint Peoples Bodies and star.  I used a paint brush and was super streaky to give it a more rustic/vintage look

3) Once paint drys hot glue heads onto bodies

4) Lay “Mary” down on top of the burlap bring the top two corners into her middle (it will cover her head slightly like a hood) glue… a picture is best to explain how the back looks. Mostly because I can’t explain it with hand motions in a blog

 

See what I mean its easier to see the back then try and explain it?

See what I mean its easier to see the back then try and explain it?

5) Hot glue Mary and Joesph together AND then glue Jesus’s body angled on top.

6) “Tie” the family together with twine.

Look how cute!! All most finished

Look how cute!! All most finished

7) Now to build the barn: Nail the two shorter 1 x 2 pieces together at a 90 degree angle making the shorter piece the “bottom”so both will equal 6” long

8) Pre-drill pilot holes into angled roof where the 2 sides will connect. Line the angled sides up to match the roof so it will all be 90 degrees. hammer nails through the roof and into the sides. (you could also use wood glue if that’s easier just make sure to let it full dry before standing it up)

waiting for the glue to dry (I also nailed it)

waiting for the glue to dry (I also nailed it)

9) Paint or stain the Barn if you wish. I left mine plain because again it looked more vintage/rustic

10) Hot glue yellow star to the top of the roof

11) Set up and enjoy!

TaDa!!

TaDa!!

My love for Nativity Scenes

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When I was a little girl I loved to help set up my family’s nativity scene. The Nativity Scene was a gift from my Dad to my Mom and every year he would give her a new piece to add to the scene, which in turn gave me another piece to play with…I mean set up.  I was so into “setting up the Nativity scene”that it changed daily and mom had to rubber band baby Jesus into the manger so he wouldn’t get lost….

Fast forward a few years its safe to say I still love the nativity scene and I still secretly love playing with it. I now have several, a hand made one from Mexico, a recycled paper one from Africa, and one that every year my Grandparents add to.

My growing set from my grandparents

My growing set from my grandparents

Each year I get just as excited as I did when I was a little girl about setting up my Nativity Scenes.  I arrange them all several times until they are perfect! And every time I see a cool set in a store, magazine, or at somebody’s house I have to stop and admire the beauty (and secretly wish I had a spot for another set).

This set was a birthday present and it was made in Africa

This set was a birthday present and it was made in Africa

The other night while I was laying in bed cruising Pintrest I came across a board with tons of pins for nativity scenes.  I instantly became wide awake as I drooled over each and every one plotting my next move! And then I found it, the cutest handmade, wood nativity people ever! So what did I do? I went to work the next day dug through the lumber rack, found me some materials and made me one (and a barn because I can’t have baby Jesus getting wet and sick).

 

The newest Nativity

The newest Nativity

What once looked like a coffin..

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A  little over a year and a half ago Dan and I had the conversation about him moving in with me.  It just made sense, I had a big enough apartment and he basically already lived with me. While I have never doubted that it was the right decision (after all we did get married) at the time, it scared me.  Having lived with a boyfriend before and it not ending well, I was nervous; scared shitless would be a better way to describe it.  Plus I had been living solo for 5 years, I’m not the easiest person to live with and now Dan was wanting to move into MY SPACE!! Every reason I could think of for keeping him out was debunked until I found the perfect reason: “but where will your clothes live? You don’t have a dresser and I don’t have room for another one. No room for clothes! No room for you!” That worked for a few weeks until “The Coffin” came into my possession.

“The Coffin” is a 1930’s art deco, wood locker that was heavily painted a DARK DARK DARK brownish purple black color.  It has the beautiful straight lines of a vintage locker and really funky deco hardware.  This amazing piece of furniture was brought into my bedroom where there was NO room and smashed against the wall.  That one piece took an open feeling room and made it wall to wall furniture. I was not happy.

check out this amazing hardware

check out this amazing hardware

Before I could begin to strip this piece (or even find a good spot for it) I had a nightmare from watching scary movies and I woke up to this HUGE DARK MASS looming over me, much like a coffin with a vampire in it would. THEN out of nowhere the door creaks opens and out pops one of the cats. Can you say scared?! Needless to say that was the moment it went from being a cool wood locker to the “coffin”.

I took the door off to make it visually lighter. Then I rearranged the bedroom so the “coffin” would fit better. I used bleach to wash the inside because it had a wonderful smell of rotting flesh….I mean mildew…in it. Once it was clean (ish) Dan put his clothes in it and that was that.

I have been slowly stripping the the paint from the coffin…I mean locker…with the idea we would repaint it, making it look clean and new again. Dan’s request was green (something manly) and I had the idea it needed to be a classic gray. Once it was stripped I realized under all the layers of paint as beautiful clear vertical grain fir.  So we thought about staining it and being done. Sadly the wood had been damaged by the paint and it needed to be repainted.
We decided seahawks green (I do live in Seattle afterall) and a mid level gray. We painted it over a long weekend, added the gray chevron shelf paper while watching a movie. Dan’s clothes went back in about 4 days after we started painting it.  I love that this once dark coffin esk piece is now a bright happy (but still kind of adultish) piece.  I guess Dan can now move in 🙂
The finished Piece....I lost the "Before" pics when the computer died

The finished Piece….I lost the “Before” pics when the computer died

look how nice his clothes look NOT on the floor

look how nice his clothes look NOT on the floor