Sunday, April 28, 2013

Refurbishing a Desk

A few months ago, i bought this old desk that i thought would be the perfect size to fit in the little corner of the living room. That would be where I work when I have to work from home until my office is ready upstairs (which could be a while since it's on the low priority list).  
I love the curvy design of the legs and it was structurally sound, so for $30 bucks, it was a good deal in my books! Here is the original posting from the seller

when I brought it home and put in the chair, it was a bit too short to fit my legs under.  
Fast forward about four months and a lot of uncomfortable sitting before we finally had time to squeeze this project into our renovating schedule. 
First I wanted to take the bars on the bottom off and extend the legs from there but after taking off one bar, the hubby convinced me it would be easier for him to just attach something to the bars instead.  

So I came up with this design

As you can see the stain was faded and dull and there was chipping.  I gave it a light sanding before adding the new stain.  I had Cabot stains on hand from staining the doors, so i mixed Red Mahogany and Brown Walnut together to get a reddish brown.

After two coats

The circles are for a project i'll post later, just killing two birds with one stone :)

I wanted to add some pazazz to it, so i decided to use gold leaf paint and highlight some of the details.
For the surface I taped off to get clean lines but for the legs and drawer fronts, i just a drew free hand.

(the color here looks orange due to the light)

I applied the gold with a small brush

I am impatient so i did not wait long before peeling off the tape (one hour at most).

Now some After photos of it in its little corner :)

I paired it with the bamboo chair that I upholstered in the same faux leather as the coffee table.  I love how the curves on the legs mimic the ones on the desk's legs.  Of course only I appreciate this, i pointed the similarity out to the hubby and got the "whatever you said, honey" look. 

I haven't decided if I will keep it here or move it to my office later on.
What do you think? I love fast refurbishing jobs like this one, so much gratification for not a lot of work!

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Coffee Table

I have been in search of a new coffee table for the living room for a while now.  I wanted something brass with glass (storage on the bottom would be a bonus!) to open up the room a bit.  
Dmagazine  (i am so in love with this penthouse! *drool*)

The problem was that I also wanted one with an upholstered top (Yes, we are the put-your-legs-on-the-table-while-watching-TV type of family).   I searched and searched but nothing came close to what i had in mind.  So i figured it would have to be a DIY, our current table is a DIY so why not this one.
I really like this table but the microfiber was hard to keep free of lints and crumbs.  I also wanted to change the rug to a darker color so having a dark table would not work.
I also replaced the matching side table a few weeks before.

One night searching through Craigslist, I found this table from Crate and Barrel on sale, which I ended paying $50 for.  It had some scratches to the finish but I didn’t care, I was going to paint it anyway.
And here it is after I sprayed it with Rustoleum Gold Metallic. 

The upholstered top was a really simple and quick task.  It’s just a piece of MDF topped by 4 inch foam and covered in faux leather I got from Fabric.com.  I didn’t want to take out the sewing machine, so I just did folded flap corners. 

Drop the finished top in and that was it.  

And here it is all finished on top of the new area rug.  The faux leather is super easy to clean and has hold up good so far.

Monday, April 15, 2013


For bedrooms, whenever possible, I like to place the bed facing the doorway to make a good first impression when entering since the bed is the most prominent and probably beautiful piece in the room.  I love the idea of a wallpapered focal wall but good quality wallpapers are expensive, plus we have never put on wallpaper, so I didn’t want to risk messing it up.  
Came plan B – Stenciling.  We have never stenciled neither (heck, everything about this house and experience is a first time for us!) but at least with stenciling we can just paint it over if we messed up.  Also one big stencil costs less than $100 and I have the flexibility of choosing my own colors. 
Took me a while to choose the pattern because I had so many questions!
-do I want it be modern, damask or flowery?
-What colors and one color or a few? There was nothing in the room yet, so there was nothing to grow from. 
 -Should I fork over more money for a bigger stencil (more repeats) so the job would get done faster?
-What tools do I need?

After some researching, I finally settled on a large Turkish inspired damask pattern called Jaipur Damask from Stencil Ease. 
The base paint color is Classic Berry from Behr; i chose metallic gold and silver paints from Martha Stewart line (also at Home Depot) for the damask.

I ended up using 1 can of silver and 1.5 cans of gold. 
Even though each corner of the stencil had a tiny triangle for you to align as you move, i used a level for the first column just to be sure and also once in a while for self checking. I used painter's tape and two small rollers (one for each color) and paper towels to blot off the excess paint.  Make sure you dont have alot of paint on the roller for clearner lines and also faster trying time.  The paint dried pretty fast, so i only had to wait less than a minute between each applications. 

I started from one end of the wall and move by columns.  I did a rough measurement to see where did i want to begin the stencil.  I wanted it to look like wallpaper so i needed the pattern to competely cover the wall. Hoever, it was too hard to bend the stencil over the molder (the tape would not stay put!), so after one try, I decided to leave the last row for last.
since the bottom would be blockedy the bed and dressers, i left some blanks.
(sorry for the low quality photos,  i  usually do these tasks in the evening after work, so the light isn't the best)
At the end, even with the hubby helping, it was impossible to bend the stencil to do the top roll, we decided it was best to cut up the stencil.

When we were done,  I used a fine artist's brush to fix some minor paint seepages and also to get rid of all the marker triangles.

see the lighter paint? it will dry darker o match.
Final result! i love how the metallic simmers from different angles. I am really happy with the result and everyone thinks it's wallpaper!

Say Hi to Mango!

oh and those chairs are one of my best scores ever!, $175 for the pair, almost brand new!
alot of stuff in this room i got from Ebay/Craigslist such as the $25 dresser and FREE table.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our Story

We are newlywed (well newish, anyway).  When we started looking for a house two years ago (about same time we got engaged) we were very particular on what we wanted- house with character, decent backyard, garage and lots of light, near to public transportation for easy commute to Manhattan (since I work in the city) and in a nice (safe and with trees) neighborhood…. all within our limited budget.   We decided since we were computer- savvy youngsters, we didn’t need an agent and will make do with online search engines such as Zillow.   But after we went to a few open houses, a few agents tagged onto us and offered to show us some of their listings, without success of course.  Many houses later, with a house taken from us by a cash offer within a few days before signing the contract, and an agent whom after hearing our must haves of backyard and garage, told us what we described was a house in a the suburbs!  But WE PROVED her WRONG! All we needed were patience and imagination.  Our house i would say met 90% of our wish list.  It is two blocks from Prospect Park/Botanical Gardens, on a tree-lined street, backyard AND front yard, detached two-car garage, walking distance to 7 subway lines (20 mins on train to work).  I love that it has a front porch and balcony, HOWEVER, they do block light coming into the house, so although the front faces South, the house is not that bright.  Also, since we had to do a gut renovation, we could not save any of the period details.
We actually looked at our house before, but after the house tour, we decided with the asking price and the amount of renovation needed, it was out of our price range.  HOWEVER, faith had it, one late night searching, I somehow ended up clicking on the link for the house again, and saw…….the the asking price had been significantly lowered!!!!  To a point where we could maybeee afford the gut renovation it needed!  We quickly put in an offer and after our offer was accepted we thought the hard part was over.  But it was half a year later until the keys were handed to us due to bank refusing our mortgage after they saw the state of the house and slowwwww sellers who needed weeks to complete every simple task!

And when we finally were in, within a month, the house was like this: 
Yes we didn’t waste no time, our wedding was in October and it was already July! I was really hoping to keep some of the details on the ceiling but was no luck, the only thing we left were the brick walls and roof.
What about the before photos you asked?
I didnt take any photos of the before because it was just reallllyyy bad.  And i am nice so i dont want to horrify you..well i am not THAT nice, so here are some from the appraisal, so you would appreciate the AFTER so much more :) 

Just imagine: garbage in the front and back yards, cracked windows, walls covered in mold, stains and peeling, collapsed and concaved floors, a basement full of JUNKS that took four.full.truck loads to empty out, the list went on.   YUPP,  we were no average first time home buyers (pat self on the back).  Gotta give it to our parents for sticking behind us too, they were probably overwhelmed but kept it to themselves mostly.
Now for some peeks of the AFTERs! the house is still a work in progress, we are only two people after all, there only so much we can do in our spare time.
Back yard was one of the first areas we completed.  Alot of sweat, cursing and some blood and aches but here is our oasis from the chaos inside!

We finished the yard mid-spring and these photos were taken early summer.  The grapes have reached the roof and crossing fingers for some grapes this year!

And this is where the masters crash sleep at night.
I started the stencil on the wall last spring and after a year, i finally got back on it to finish!
(A post on stencilling to come)

Well, this first post ended up being rather long, don't you think? thank you for STILL reading and please come back for more detailed posts on our renovation progress and DIY tips
(please bear with me while I try to figure this blog thing out)