Friday, March 29, 2013

__________ Down the Bunny Trail!

Main Entry: bound
Part of Speech: verb
Definition: jump, bounce
Synonyms: bob, caper, frisk, gambol, hop , hurdle, leap, pounce, prance, recoil, ricochet, saltate, skip, spring, vault

I thought a fill in the blank would be fun! 
How about this; Saltating down the Bunny Trail?  Doesn't have the same ring, does it?  Pounce is a good one.  All in all, though, hop is best!

I have been busy trying to catch up.  Have any of you ever caught up or is it just a perpetual goal?
We are hosting Easter Brunch and I am really nervous!  We are also having an Easter Egg hunt (leave your weapons at the door) Sunday morning for the neighborhood kids! I really love this time of year!




Wishing all my dear Blog friends and your loved ones a wonderful Easter Sunday!

Here's a little glimpse of what I have been up to with the new (Craigslist) Secretary...
I painted it.  You all knew I would.  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is like crack!  Annie Sloan Crack Paint!  

Sorry about the watermark was the only copyable image I could find online!


Hoppity!  Hoppity! Hoppity!




Friday, March 22, 2013


"His high endeavors are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright."

~William Wordsworth

When the light peeks in through the window glass I must rush outdoors to greet it before it runs away!

I'll be in the garden if you need me!



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gustavian Armoire Tutorial

Here is the tutorial I promised for the Gustavian Grey Armoire!  I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the process of its metamorphosis!  I learned so much and I am excited to share it with you!

I love working with hand crafted pieces like this.  Every detail was created by a human being...and it shows.  Unfortunately, these pine Mexican Armoires are outdated, having seen popularity in the mid to late 90's, they are a trend whose time has come.  It is evident by the sheer volume of pieces like this on Craigslist.  This particular armoire is a bit different in that it has a domed top with  a carved cutout in front.
There were some challenges with this armoire.  I wanted to change the vernacular, which meant I had to remove the old hardware.  That was no small feat, because the pulls on these Made In Mexico pieces are not screwed in, they are hammered in!  Lots of effort but it was worth it! I ended up using a hammer and a flat head screwdriver.  Be careful and patient so you don't cut yourself with the screwdriver, like I did!

Pixlr Editor allowed me to envision the piece without the hinges and black hardware and to see what it would look like painted...

A bit about hinges...  I now know everything there is to know about hinges, including their origin and entire history.  There are more than 20 different types.  Three of those types made their way into my home and had to be returned because they would not work on this piece.  The doors are very thick! I ended up using plain old butt hinges.
I chose 2 inch hinges and merely placed them under each existing strap hinge and drilled small pilot holes, then attached them all and finally removed all the existing strap hinges.  I then filled the holes with wood putty and let it dry overnight.

I also filled the knotholes with wood putty.  It required two applications, allowing the putty to dry thoroughly between applications.

I then sanded the putty with a fine grit sandpaper.

Painting came next...

1).  Before
2).  One Coat Annie Sloan Old White
3).  (Not Shown) Second Coat Annie Sloan Old White
4).  One Coat French Linen
5).  Sand with Medium grit sandpaper.

When I create a piece I keep several factors in mind.  First, the history.  I wanted this to resemble a Gustavian antique so I researched the history of Gustavian furniture as well as hardware.  

In 1771, the future Gustav III returned to his native Sweden from the French court of Versailles to ascend the throne as king after his father’s untimely death. The young monarch had been inspired by French architecture and decorative arts and saught to create the "Paris of the North" within the borders of Sweden. Trips to France and later to Italy gave further impetus to Gustav’s passion for the classical. During his reign (1772-1792), the king transformed this once removed European country into a cultural  forerunner within Europe.  Though the introduction of the Gustavian style actually predates Gustav III's reign, it was the young King that was responsible for disseminating the new style throughout the country.

 Early Gustavian decoration was clearly inspired by the French Rococo and later the Neo-classical movements, but the Late Gustavian style was more closely identified with Italy, after engravings from the excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii began to circulate in Sweden, ushering in the transition between the more romantic Early Gustavianstyle and the stricter lines associated with the furniture of the Late Gustavian period.

 Following these foreign impulses the Swedes created a more restrained or austere style of decoration more suitable for Sweden than the over embellished continental Baroque and Rococo styles.

Original 18th century finishes were achieved by multiple layers of a pigment such as black Iron Oxide, mixed with linseed oil.

The typical Gustavian grey was reached by mixing these two ingredients and the depth of the color depended upon how much iron oxide was used. A high sheen is not common among Gustavian painted piece

Historical artisans used gesso as a primer sealer for filling open-grained woods and as a wood putty to correct natural faults, imperfections and defects in the various substrates they worked on.

Gesso was a do-it-yourself material. It was made by combining plaster of Paris, or gypsum, with liquid hide glues.

The white "primer" coat mimics this finish.  

When I paint a piece I peruse hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs, as well as old paintings.  I look to see how the piece withstood the ages, where the paint is worn away and the patina of time and use.

With this piece I imagined it came from a large home that had only fireplaces for heat and candles for light.  I was heavy handed with the Annie Sloan Dark Wax to mimic the acrid, clinging smoke that no amount of cleaning could erase.  Then I sanded the corners, where busy hands may have grabbed the doors through the centuries, taking bits of paint and depositing oils.  I then sanded around the hardware to mimic the efforts of the housekeeping staff to keep the hardware clean.  I imagined a servant buffing in the same pattern each time she was assigned the task of cleaning this armoire. Up and down...side to side...year after year... until the pattern became engraved upon the surface.  The mops they used sometimes nicked the base of the piece and removed paint.  I can envision them bustling around the armoire in my mind's eye.  Can you?  

One coat of Annie Sloan Clear Wax, followed by a coat of Dark Wax.  I HIGHLY recommend using a wax brush.  It is easier to control and it uses FAR less product than any other method.

Remember to have clean t-shirts or terry towels on hand to rub the wax in after it is applied.

Escutcheon keyhole cover...a little more ornate than I wanted but I could not find the perfect one!  I placed on on the upper right hand cabinet door and the lower right hand cabinet door and used a mock key pull to mimic a key.

I placed one of these laurel, torch keyhole escutcheons on each drawer and used mock key pulls as well.

The escutcheon was antique so I didn't have to age it.  I found two on ebay.  They aren't precisely what I was looking for but close enough.

The mock key pulls had a shiny brass finish.  I first soaked them in acetone to remove the clear sealer, wiped them off , rinsed in hot water, then boiled them in a mixture of salt and white vinegar. I used a ratio of one cup to one cup.
After you boil them for 10 minutes, remove them from the vinegar and salt solution and place them on a baking sheet in the oven at 450 degrees for ten minutes. Please be cautious when working with chemicals and high temperatures!

It is difficult to tell but the finish had a lovely patina.  The photo does not do it justice!  See how the paint is worn away, as if years and years of use and cleaning abraded it?

The piece still needed something, so I found these large finials on ebay.  I think they were probably from an old pair of fireplace andirons.

Perfect!  You can also see how the white peeks through the grey.

I even played around with Pixlr to see if I wanted to paint the trim white.  Though I did like it, I chose not to.  If I did I would use simple drawer pulls (handle type). 

I bought these bun feet on ebay to add to the bottom.  I never did so because Handsome Husband's arm injury meant I had no helper to turn this extraordinarily heavy piece on its side.  They would have looked nice, however.  At five inches, they would have also added some much needed height.

I actually loved it with just one coat of Annie Sloan Old White (2nd photo)!  The pine finish was really easy to work with! The pine showing under the paint had an authentic aged feel.

I absolutely love Before and After collages!

This piece took a bit longer than most but the paint, itself, took fewer than two hours total.
I chose not to paint the interior because I love the pine finish.

I hope I covered everything!  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
As of this moment, there are five Mexican Pine armoires on my local Craigslist.  Some even have lovely curved doors!  Every time I come across one I can envision what it could be!  This finish and hardware would be beautiful on Kitchen cabinets, Bathroom cabinets or even small wooden boxes!



I am participating in Sherry's Open House Party at No Minimalist Here
Yvonne, at Stone Gable, Tutorials, Tips and Tidbits
Marion, at Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Feature Friday
Courtney, at French Country Cottage, Feathered Nest Friday

Monday, March 18, 2013

Never-Ending Story...

I have not forgotten the tutorial for the Gustavian armoire.  My fever addled brain hadn't allowed much leeway for cognizant thinking, so I have a massive amount of catching up to do!  I won't even know what I have forgotten until I remember it!
I have missed you so very much, my friends!   I really have.  Come to think of it, I have missed myself!  LOL! That pneumonia knocked me on my keister!  After my last post I thought I was getting better but it was actually the calm before the storm!
Handsome Husband's arm is healing too.  That is the last time he arrests someone at the top of a long flight of stairs!  Gravity is such a harsh mistress!  I guess there's probably a reason they call them a flight of stairs?

  The thing is, the armoire didn't work in the Breakfast Room.  It was too big.  I had to say goodbye.  Gosh, I loved that armoire. Moved it into every room downstairs to no avail. It couldn't stay.  I learned another Craigslist lesson, however; Don't assume the seller measured correctly!  Bring your own measuring tape!  The armoire was just too wide for the wall.  As you may know, I have a sickness for armoires.  There is no known cure.  Alas, I endure, (as does Handsome Husband.  Boy Oh Boy, does he endure! ).

I would like to introduce to you, a piece of furniture that is NOT an armoire!  You will never guess where I found it!  Um.  Yes you will.  Craigslist!

Handsome Husband says it looks like an armoire.  You think he'd understand the difference by now.  My chandeliers are still patiently waiting to be hung.The Breakfast Room chandelier is Venetian, with lots and lots of crystals!  
*GASP* The wall above the clock looks so bare!  Blank spaces make me hyperventilate!  Open expanses are for Modernists...and livestock.  I must remedy this.  We actually have so few walls in this "open concept" home that I really tend to overdo it with the walls we do have.  I am trying to work with the house.  It can be a challenge, however.  
Listening to me complain, one might get the idea that I am not as grateful for my many blessings as I should be.  I agree. Thanks for reminding me.  I am so very blessed and I LOVE this house!

 The hall lights will all be replaced with Moravian star chandeliers.  There are eight!  It will be so stunning to have them all in a sparkling row through the hallways! My animal friends take precedence over things like electricians, though...  :)

I'm not even going to paint this!  I can't move it on my own, anyhow.  I think it is made of  white dwarf star matter!  So very heavy!

But, if I were to paint it, it may resemble something like this.  I said IF!  
I'll probably paint it.   We all know this.  *nods head* We do.

I bought this swan keyhole escutcheon on ebay. It's from France!  (In my best Pepe La Pew voice)...I think I will add it to the front with a faux key pull...No?

...and these laurel escutcheon keyhole covers for the drawers...

The only addition I made so far was the finials.  They were a gift from a dear friend years ago. The piece is 95" tall and the finials make it almost as high as the ceiling! The spot it is in had a builder's desk and cabinets that matched the kitchen cabinets. I removed them the second day after we moved in.  It isn't a large space and it's awkward.  So awkward...and lopsided looking, because of the hallway on one side and the railing on the other...there is no sense of balance.


Do you love it as much as I do?

 See the papier mache shoes that my friend Anita, from the blog Castles, Crowns and Cottages created?  Dearest Anita!  I have not forgotten you!

This corner was quasi-difficult to fill!  I had a cabinet and a mirror there, originally.  However, with a mirror and a table around the corner, it looked like  a furniture warehouse.  Then the Gustavian armoire, too big.  Now, I think I finally have a happy ending to this story!

Here is a view of the Sunroom, which is on the other side of the Breakfast Room table...the urn is where we put our Christmas Tree! That way the cats (I'm looking at YOU, McGillicuddy!) cannot climb up and knock the tree over! It has a plastic five gallon bucket and a dozen bricks in it, waiting for Christmas!  The ginormous birdcage behind the settee was a Craigslist find.  Betsy, I know I am not supposed to block the window but this house has no walls and I really like stuff around me.  I think I mentioned that already.

Wait until you guys see what I am doing with the opening between the Family Room and Music Room!  It consists of a dozen panel doors from Lowe's, half a dozen closet doors and trim!  I got the idea from Greet, at Belgian Pearls Blog!  I am saving $4,800 with this plan!
Now, I am off to visit your blogs!



Friday, March 8, 2013

Image Editing and the Real World

Hello Friends!

I have been stuck in bed recovering from pneumonia!  It finally snowed here in Illinois and I can't go out and play in it yet!  I have been praying that it stays cold enough so that I can share a few toboggan rides with my family!  Handsome Husband and Gracie have kept the backyard snow pristine so we can all build a snowman together; hopefully tomorrow!

I watched the bunnies play outside in the snow last night.  One little guy hopped over to the Sunroom door, placed his little paws on the glass and peered inside.  My heart melted in a thousand different directions!  His footprints remain.  I think I will photograph them before they...and the memory..melt away!

I have been fussing with Pixlr, a free online photo editing tool.  

In the Before shot, you can see the orangey railing that the tapestry hangs on. I never really liked that railing.  I know you have heard me complain about it often enough.  I will be painting it but, still, this railing is like a balcony to nowhere. I edited the photo to make it look as if the tapestry were hanging on a wall.  It looks better but I would then have a half wall leading to nowhere.  I really love the tapestry here but it had to go.  *cue violins*

Goodbye tapestry!

This architectural fragment was in the basement.  I dragged it up when Handsome Husband was running errands (he would have killed me himself if he caught me)!  It just barely fit above the desk and beneath the railing. 
He cannot lift it because he injured his shoulder at work when he fell down a flight of stairs (!)

 We make a lovely pair, no?

Here is the same image as above with the Hagrid effect and the Soft Vignette overlay.

Then there is the issue of the gap.  I cannot edit that out.  I had to move the Breakfast Room rug when I put the new armoire in because the room was all cattywampus...asymmetry as far as the eye could see...more on that another day!

Here is the same vignette as directly above, but with the Hagrid effect and a Bronze Vignette overlay.

This is the first piece of furniture I painted when we moved in...craft paint rubbed with aluminum foil.  For those of you who don’t know about my aluminum foil technique, it is found in my Rags to Riches post.  I added the gilt onlay to the front drawer.  I wish I had a before photo of this desk!
In case you cannot tell, there are feathers under the cloches.  I found the tall jar at the Grocery Store!

Here is the same image as above, but with the pixlr Hagrid effect.

Here is a photo showing the railing above the desk.  In case you noticed, yes, that is a cat toy to the right of the desk!  One of thousands!

Stefan, of  the always fascinating Architect Design Blog , suggested I paint the railings high gloss white and the rail high gloss black.  It will be stunning when complete!

The image editor is an awesome tool to show you how your ideas will look without actually having to move a thing. However, not all of those ideas can be conveyed into the real world!  Well, they can be, of course, but at great expense.  Sometimes we just have to work with what we have!



Friday, March 1, 2013


Noun 1. harbinger - something that precedes and indicates the approach of something or someone...

Remember this?

Do you want to learn how it became this?

Stay tuned...



Sharing with Savvy Southern Style's, Wow Us Wednesdays!


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