Saturday, November 8, 2014

My new retail space!!

Guys, this might be one of the most exciting things I'll ever post about.

I have a retail space!!

I've been dreaming of this for years, and it is happening!

What's most awesome about this is I didn't even feel like I was trying to make it happen. I was just doing what I love, and everything just kind of "happened!" It hasn't felt hard or strained at all, and I'll give plenty of credit to God for that!

While all year I've been asking God for a baby, I've gotten lost in that yearning and pushed away my deep desire for growth in my furniture business. I have never actually sat down and prayed "Lord, I want a retail space," even though I've dreamed of this for years. But I have prayed for a big change in my life this year, something that will give me a bigger sense of self-worth-- something I could be good at and devote my energy to and be proud of. Since January, I sensed this game-changer was coming in October. Really, I thought this meant we'd get pregnant in October, but God had different plans. On October 30th I woke up and decided to call and ask about retail space (not sure what got into me!), and an hour after calling, I put down a deposit!

I love my job as a personal trainer, and I LOVE my clients, but I only do that part-time for a reason. Over the years, furniture and home revivals has become a deeper part of who I am and what makes me move. God knows me so well. He knows the deepest desires of mine, and has chosen to give me a chance at building my career dreams-- something I know I wouldn't have done if I'd been pregnant right now.

Sure, we're still praying every day for a baby, but that's just not in our cards right now. I'm thrilled I get to pursue this other dream of mine in the meantime!!! This is one of those things that if I never did it, I know in 20 years I'd wake up and heavily regret it!

So without further ado, my space will open up THIS WEEK (exact date TBD, it keeps changing!), at Unlisted, an upscale indoor marketplace less than two miles from my house! (If you're in the Denver area, this is in Centennial at University and County Line, by Guiry's)

I've been running around picking up lots of furniture to finish and home items to decorate and stage it all, and I'm seriously in heaven doing all this!! I mean, I get to SHOP for work now!!!

Here's my car with 7 new pieces in it. They are small! I needed smaller things to stack up and fill my space.

My booth is 5' x 10', which feels small considering how big furniture can be, but I'm hoping to expand to a 10' x 10' space soon.

How darling is this little vanity? It's gonna be white! With a matching chair!

Hard at work in my garage spray-booth! 

And back to work I go!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stanley Dresser Set

I've been wanting a new paint sprayer for a while now. The one I have is an airless one, meaning it doesn't connect to an air compressor, it just plugs in to the wall, and it uses a lot of paint and sprays it on very thick. That sprayer has been great for projects like painting balusters and my patio beams, and my mudroom etc, but it just won't cut it for giving a professional finish on a piece of furniture.

So a few months back I went hunting for a new sprayer that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg, and I found one at Harbor Freight on sale for $10! To my huge disappointment, I needed a really large air compressor for this unit, and I hadn't anticipated that kind of investment. Craigslist to the rescue, and I had myself a 30 gallon air compressor for less than the cost of selling a newly painted dresser.

Now I have a spray booth set up in our garage and am loving the finish this thing gives. Spraying is quick, the cleanup is easy, and the finish is smooth as glass. I was elated when I finished my first dresser set with the sprayer! I couldn't believe how professional it looked!

I was commissioned to refinish this set for a nice couple who bought my hutch and were impressed with my work. I can't even express what an incredible feeling that was! The day after buying the hutch they dropped off 7 pieces of their furniture into my already full garage and told me they'd be back in a month to pick it up. EEKS (!!!!). I was so overwhelmed, yet also totally elated that someone was trusting me whole-heartedly to refinish that much furniture for them.

And this wasn't just any old dresser set. This was a Stanley dresser set. With beautiful curves and perfect craftsmanship. This is the kind that people spend thousands of dollars on. But really, the appearance is quite out-dated now so my clients wanted something new and modern. Plus, the tops of all three pieces had water damage on them.

My first step was to strip the current finish off the tops. I used Citristrip Safer Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel and lemme tell you this stuff is awesome. It was quick and easy, and didn't have that harmful "you will die if you breathe me or touch me" thing about it that most varnish strippers do.

After that, the tops were fresh and clean and ready to go. No sanding required.

I finished the dresser tops with 4 coats of General Finishes Java Gel Stain and sealed it with 3 coats of GF Gel Topcoat in Satin.

Then, I taped and covered the tops, sprayed the bodies with Benjamin Moore's Linen White in their Advance paint, and used a medium-dark brown glaze to highlight all the details. (oh, and I always ALWAYS clean and lightly sand every piece before I paint it)

The finished product was stunning!!

It was exactly what my clients wanted! They loved it! 

What a difference!

The other day I even got to see it set up in their bedroom. I delivered their last piece of furniture (a single nightstand which I'll write about later!) and I got to see the bookshelves, the hutch, and these dressers displayed and in use. It was SUCH a treat to see my work in their new environment!! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Little black dresser

I bought this dresser earlier this year from a guy on Craigslist. I basically was looking for a cheap, solid wood piece that I could practice on. It was plain with straight boring lines, so I didn't think I could make it look like much.

Though, somewhere deep down in me I must have had high hopes and expectations for this dresser because I refinished it 3 times until I was in love with it.

The first time I painted it I tried a DIY chalk paint recipe in a super light pink. I loved the final result, but just not enough. It then sat in my garage for at least 6 months.

When I got my new paint sprayer (more on that next post), I tried practicing with it on this dresser using a gray I had laying around, right over the pink chalk paint finish. Needless to say, I learned that regular latex paint does not adhere to chalk paint and wax very well. By looks it was fine, but by touch it was not durable. The paint was scratching off too easily.

I decided that if I was gonna salvage this dresser to be anything sellable, I needed to completely strip down both layers of paint and start over.

Since I already had black paint in the sprayer to finish a table top, I moved the dresser into the spray booth and just sprayed it black as well.

After a quick and light sand down, I was obsessed with how this dresser was turning out!

Cheap-o me though, I didn't wanna spend money on new hardware because I'd already invested too much in this piece. I remembered some cabinet pulls that my mom found in her new house that she was putting in my garage sale. She had five, I needed four, and they were PERFECT for this dresser!!

Benjamin Moore Onyx, distressed

I'm seriously obsessed with this dresser. Why don't I have a place to put it in my house?!

Benjamin Moore Onyx, distressed

I'm hoping someone else will see this and love it just as much. It always makes me so happy when my furniture finds new loving homes :).

Benjamin Moore Onyx, distressed

Another look at the before/after 

Benjamin Moore Onyx, distressed

Thursday, October 9, 2014

General Finishes Gel Stained Bookcases

If you're a DIYer and have browsed through Pinterest, chances are you've seen this pin by Monica at about refinishing oak cabinets to an espresso finish with General Finishes Java gel stain.

Like many of you, I had to try this. 

When we moved into our house two years ago, I finished our bathroom cabinets with this method. A few months later, I finished some bookshelves for my living room that I'd bought from a garage sale.

 THEN, I refinished a Goodwill dresser to use as our sideboard/ buffet.

The stain is not complicated to apply, though it is time-consuming. It's definitely worth the work involved because the finish is extremely durable, easy to clean, and the color is coveted in modern decor. Stuff redone with this really does look sharp and dramatic! 

It was no surprise to me, then, when I was asked to finish a set of bookcases in this manner for clients who saw my own bookcases. Here they are before and after! 

Big difference right?! 

For details on how to do this yourself, check out the original blog post by Monica and read her answers to all your FAQ's here. 

Also: if you have a local General Finishes supplier, call ahead to make sure they have the Java in stock before you make the drive! My guy told me that because of this pin, their stock is flying off the shelves!! Monica should be making commission! :)

Lemme know if you've tried this and what you think! 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Antique "shaker" dresser

I'm calling this the "shaker" dresser for two reasons: 1) When I got this thing, it was shaky as all heck and needed some serious stabilizing and 2) I used Benjamin Moore Shaker Beige on the body of it. So why not call it the shaker dresser to distinguish it from other antique dressers I have done or will do?

Right, great logic! 

One of my training clients texted me months back with this picture, telling me it was a free curb-side piece and asking if I wanted it. Um YES! When I didn't respond to her in time, she correctly assumed I would want it and loaded it into her SUV. God bless her for knowing me all too well! 

This picture makes the dresser look incredible for what it was. When I saw it in person, it was a complete mess. As I mentioned before, the whole thing was shaky to even a slight touch. Additionally, the drawers didn't slide well, one drawer-front had a large crack, the top had major water damage, some of the keyholes were missing, and someone had tried to fill in large a hole in that middle dresser with some gloopy globby stuff that was hard as wood and was not flush with the drawer-front. I had my work cut out for me if I was gonna salvage this piece.

Honestly, these makeovers are my favorite because I get to turn this totally useless dresser into something beautiful and functional! 

Luckily, I was able to sand down that gloopy mess on the middle drawer so that the front was smooth. I also sanded the top and re-stained it.

I ordered two new keyholes to replace the missing ones. 

I hammered the sides back into place to minimize the shakiness, and added a piece of 1/8" plywood to the back to completely stabilize it's structure. 

The drawers all needed new sliders, which helped tremendously. 

And lastly, the body got a paint job! I had a gallon of Benjamin Moore Shaker Beige in eggshell hanging out in my garage (I think I got it for free at a garage sale!), so I hand sanded the surfaces and slapped on a messy 3 coats! 

I sanded the edges for a distressed look and the flat surfaces for a smoother finish. To top it all off, I brushed stain over the whole body for an aged look. I simply used the same Minwax Walnut stain that I used on the top! 

Voila! Isn't she gorgeous?

I love how the crack on the middle drawer is emphasized and gives it more character! This dresser has lived a good life! 

One more look at the transformation: 

Hopefully we can find a new loving home for it :) 

Friday, September 26, 2014

$100 Painted Countertops

Yup, you read that right. Painted countertops. It sounds atrocious and cheap (well, it IS inexpensive!), but it's the best dang option there is if you can't afford granite (or any other stone for that matter).

I did a lot of research on options for refinishing my countertops, because let's be honest, in the middle of our home renovations there was no way we were affording stone countertops, so refinishing them was my only option. Rustoleum has some kits, as do other companies I can't remember, but I didn't like any of them. I didn't want something just as ugly to cover up my already ugly pink laminate counters. I wanted something that looked like stone-- glossy, smooth, unique, and multi-colored.

Let's take a look at that awful before shot of my kitchen!

Pink counters. Ew.

Enter Pinterest, thank you.

I don't know how it happened, but I came across a post about painting laminate and I was instantly curious. Here's what my kitchen and counters look like now! (Read here about how I painted my cabinets)

See how glossy and smooth they are?

I ended up blending two techniques to achieve a look and feel that mimicks stone, and lemme tell ya-- people are genuinely fooled by my counters when they see them! (either that, or they're really good liars and I thank them for that!)

Here are the two blog sites I used to create my look. Gotta give credit where credit is due! Go read these posts!!

Painting technique from here by The Shanks, est 2009, One Life to Love

Resin sealant technique from here by So Lovely Creations

This project only cost me $100, which covered the cost of the resin sealant I poured over the paint. I already had the paint and other materials on hand, but it didn't require much paint, so at most you might spend $30 on other materials.

Here's your material list:

  • 4-6 different paint colors (A sample size of any paint is enough. I only bought one new paint color. I have a lot of neutrals laying around already, so I just used those: black, brown, and 3 lighter beiges, one of which was the color on my cabinets)
  • Plastic grocery sacks
  • Latex or vinyl gloves from the Dollar Store
  • 4-6 Paper plates or bowls (one for each color of paint)
  • Portable surface to work from (I used a cheap little side table)
  • Envirotex Lite-- measure your counters, order enough for your square footage, plus a little extra just to be safe! You can buy this at most craft stores, but I found it MUCH cheaper from this website
  • Large tupperware from the Dollar Store, used for mixing the Envirotex Lite in bulk
  • Vinyl tape (DO NOT USE REGULAR PAINTING TAPE!) The vinyl tape will pull up properly after the resin starts to cure, leaving a crisp line! Here is an example to use. 
  • Brown paper rolls or plastic sheeting (garbage bags also work!) to cover up anything and everything you don't want resin curing on. The stuff is seriously permanent! 
  • Blow torch (have a friend or neighbor you can borrow this from?)
  • 2 foam brushes
  • A friend-- the resin sealant gets tricky to do by yourself!! 
  • Box cutter/ razor/ exacto knife (for help when removing the tape)
This photo isn't a complete display of the materials, but you get the idea. The area is prepped and ready for paint! Make sure to cover your floors too!  

Okay, so this project is scary for a few reasons: You can't use your kitchen for several days while you do it (Chipotle, anyone??), the resin sealant is permanent (that is, until you rip out your counters for real stone), you have to use FIRE (it's not a big flame, chill out, you won't burn your kitchen down), and what if your paint job looks crappy, then what?!

The last reason is why it's SO important to first practice the look you want on a sample board! Many sample boards, really. And even then, it's kinda hard to get stuck with a paint job you hate. After perfecting my look on a sample board, I finally got brave enough to paint my counters and I totally hated it! So I scraped off the paint (which was easy) and started over! Voila, problem solved. Try, try again :)

Other secrets: Work in sections of the counters, layering the paint with separate baggies before each layer has time to dry-- that's what gives the best "stone" look so it was blended well enough. If you put each paint color on the entire counter one at a time and go in rounds, it'll dry before you get around to the next paint color. Basically, it'll look too choppy and fake and yuck. You'll want to work with wet paint layers! The order in which you layer your colors is totally up to you. That's where the sample board comes in-- play around with it. Again, check out this blog for her full tutorial on this technique. 

This picture was taken before the counters were sealed. If you look closely, you can see that the surface isn't totally smooth. The paint globs up because of the technique used. Don't worry, this will all become perfectly smooth after the resin is poured! 

When the paint dried, I mixed and poured the Envirotex Lite in sections, following the product directions and tips from this blog. This is where you need a friend! She mixed the resin (it comes in two parts and must be used immediately after mixing) while I poured, smoothed, and torched the bubbles. You'll also need her to help keep it from dripping off the sides of the counters. Use your foam brushes to smooth the surface and to dab the drips off the edges. Keep dabbing under those edges until they no longer drip. Patience, my friend. 

After the resin has set for 24 hours, I pulled up the tape using the box cutter when necessary. The Envirotex Lite will cure in about 72 hours, so you'll need to pull up the tape after it has set a bit but BEFORE it completely cures. 

See how smooth and glossy it is?! I love how reflective it is. What do you think?

I think I'll never need granite!

I've had these counters for over a year now, and they are still good as the day they cured! I use them just like I would any other counter. They clean up easily with Clorox wipes, and they are super durable.

I will give you this disclaimer though: the resin is still (somehow) slightly (ever so so slightly) malleable at high temperatures even after it cures. This means that in the heat of summer, things like vases and cups are likely to stick to my counters (not enough for me to care-- just enough to know its not real stone!). This year we got our AC fixed, so I didn't notice this to be a problem like I did last year.

If you've been holding back, take the risk and just DO IT!! And then tell me about it! :) If anything, it'll at least be better than the colored or boring laminate you have while you save for something "real!"

Happy painting! xox