Monday, December 5, 2011


Lord knows I need one~ I have family coming in this week from Seattle and San Francisco, my daughters 6th birthday party is this weekend, then I have 2 desks, a table and and an armoir to paint.  Including a little vanity for said birthday girl.  She sees all these pretty pieces come and go and gets a bit angry with me that none get to stay-in her room.  So she's getting what she's coveted most; a vanity with the lift up mirror in the middle~I can't wait to give it to her!!
I'm so excited to have my Mom visit, it's hard being so far away and we've missed her terribly.  We talk almost daily as she's also my own walking Britannica (she's an antiques dealer).  I know we'll be comparing paint sprayers and distressing techniques as much as we'll be shopping and going for coffee ;) LOL

I wanted to share two desk makeovers I did recently that couldn't have been more different.  I didn't use the chalk paint mixture for either of them (this was before I delved into that.)  Just regular old latex.

The first one I picked up from an antique dealer in Austin who was clearing out her garage with her sons help (awww memories) and it was in worse shape than I realized.  When I first saw it I thought "$40 bucks? SCORE!! Oh My Gosh...I am so running out of here before someone else gets it!!  Here's your $, all the best, bye!"  Then I got it home and saw that a huge piece of wood was missing on one of the legs, chipped veneer on all sides, and I went "What the heck were you thinking??  You didn't even check it out first, this is gonna take weeks, @$%&......s-i-g-h."  In fact I don't even have a before pic of it because I was SO sure it wasn't going to work out. But here it is after I stripped it, stained it, repaired all I could and painted it:

You can see the big 'chunk' is still missing out of the right leg.  The only thing I wasn't able to fix.

I then glazed it, sealed the body with minwax and sealed the top with wipe-on poly in satin.  Here she be after her complete make-ovah!  Drum roll please....

I kept her original hardware-so pretty!

I think she was a natural beauty, just needed some serious "spa time" ;)  Well, okay more like plastic surgery I guess. The next desk I picked up from a man who had just finished his PhD here and was selling everything fast as he could so he could go home to France to be with his wife.  I was so taken with his story (and his accent) that I didn't even care about the desk, I just wanted to help him:)  It was sturdy, solid wood and HEAVY...we carried it down from his 3rd floor studio to my van in record time though.  He needed to pack, I needed to pick up my preschooler!

Once I got it home I tried stripping the top for staining, only to find that while yes, it was solid wood, the top was actually made of pressboardCe la vie! ;)

So I painted the whole thing in a matte charcoal black and bought new knobs from Vintage Skye and label pulls from Martha Stewarts collection to help jazz it up.  I gave it a rubbed finish (hard to see in photos-sorry) and sealed with 2 coats minwax.  Au revoir Monsieur!

Interestingly enough, the white desk went to a woman who'd just moved to Austin to begin completing her Masters degree.  And the black one went to a lovely couple ready to 'makeover' their sons bedroom into an office now that he's moved out :)  So cool!  XOXO

Monday, November 14, 2011

Make your own Chalk Paint-Part Deux

So I have some updates on this topic, having just tried it again.  See my previous post on how I tried to make my own Annie Sloan chalk paint :)  This time I tried it on a 1920's french cabriole style vanity that I picked up a lonnnnggg time ago.  It had been sitting in my garage waiting for my attention for probably 6 months...I'd look at it with it's heavily chipped veneer and water stains and think "ugh, I don't have time for that one, what was I thinking?"
It had become a 'counter' in the garage for my stuff.
First there was the veneer issue, and that is a whole other topic...but in short, if you have a clothes iron you are willing to sacrifice, and putty knife it can be done. 

On to the chalk paint.  So my recipe was the same, I used 2 ounces of Calcium Carbonate to one sample size paint jar, which is 8 ounces.  Only THIS time, at the suggestion of Lauren at west furniture revival , I mixed 1/2 ounce of hot water in with the Calcium Carbonate first and stirred until it was completely dissolved and paste like (about 1 minute).  Then I added my sample size paint and blended by hand for a few minutes..super easy.  And here is what it looked like after my first coat:

You can see the bleed through of the water stains, something Annie Sloan's claims won't happen as you don't need a primer or prepping first.  However, this piece was SOOO rough on top that I'm not sure Annie's would have done the trick either...but my version DID do an awesome first coat everywhere else.  It was enough to give it that time-worn, heavily distressed look. There were some little brush strokes here and there but it actually added to it's appeal.  It glided on so much better than latex too, less paint needed and much better coverage with the Calcium Carbonate-I thought.  I decided to give it a coat of primer JUST ON THE TOP to ensure those stains didn't' come through.  Then I put on a second coat of my faux chalk paint.  Here is what that looked like;
I had already applied a glaze here, but you can see the result of two paint coats was more than enough!
I used a clear wax, then followed up with a dark wax around the edges and corners to 'dull' the brightness of the turquoise more.  And here is the finished product:
So having never swallowed the expense of using the real thing, Annie Sloan that is, here is what my recipe definitely accomplished:
*Much better coverage!  I used one jar of sample paint for this with the addition of the calcium carbonate and it was enough to completely cover twice.
*Improved Texture!  The paint glided on, didn't dry as quickly and left less brush strokes then regular latex.  That alone was worth it for me.  I could have stopped at one coat if I wanted to let more wood show through (other than the need for primer on the top!)
*Better adherence.  It removes some of that 'rubbery' feel of latex and therefore seems to cling to the wood differently, better.

So with the exception of Annie's claim to not need primer, this was by far an improvement over regular latex, for me.  I'll be using the calcium carbonate in my paint from now on, and maybe trying some of the other ingredients people have suggested  (ie; unsanded grout, whiting powder, plaster of paris, etc.)   I'd love to hear other people's experiences or suggestions as well.
Till next time! XO

Friday, November 4, 2011

Make your OWN Annie Sloan! aka Chalk Paint

a pic of their opening night party
Happy Weekend Friends!
Before I get to the chalk paint, I have some exciting news I'd like to share with you. I have just been added as a vendor to an amazing new boutique in Austin called "flock."  I am so excited about this, to think my products are finally in a 'brick and mortar' store!  In fact they cleaned out my etsy shop, so I am working at a feverish pace to restock it for some upcoming showcases as well as the holidays. But I'll have lots of new pillows, some refinished vintage desks, consoles, and even a dining set I am working on, (using my recipe for chalk paint ;) Here is a brief write up that was in the Austin paper about 'flock';

Friends flock together for business
Flock, a new addition at South Lamar Boulevard and Oxford Avenue, is a local artists' oasis nestled in a growing area of locally owned business in 78704. Flock was born from the collaboration and friendship between owner Tamara Carlisle and manager Ashley Woodson, whose mutual love and appreciation for the art and talent of their Austin neighbors lead to a business partnership. Flock carries jewelry by Tracy Tenpenny, Mari Andrade and Woodson's line. Other items include home accessories, furniture and d├ęcor, art work, greeting cards and Carlisle's Lights Out candles. The women at Flock officially opened their store in mid-September and search online marketplace Etsy to bring in new local artists each week. Flock is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 2120 Oxford Ave. 707-1093. 

Anyhoo, if you are in the area be sure to check them out.  These gals have a great mix of things that are so artfully displayed you just want to sit and take it all fact they do private parties there were you and your friends can partake in some wine, some shopping and lots of fun!

Now on to chalk paint~chances are that gorgeous piece you saw in the antique mall, the one that had that perfect patina, that time-worn distressed look was the result (and hard work!) of the refinisher and a can of this magical chalk paint.  'Annie Sloan' is the ONLY manufacturer of this stuff and its beyond expensive.  It costs 39.99 per quart to be exact.  That's per QUART, not gallon.  And there are very few distributors so most people have to pay the shipping on top which equals over $50.00 for again, a QUART.   Lately the blogs are a buzz with different recipes/concepts/ideas, etc of how to create some of this yourself.  I just wanted to share my personal experience and what I thought of it with you.  

So chalk paint, by name implies there is a chalk like substance in it right?  I've read various theories on this and here are some of the additives people have used with success: sandless grout, whiting powder, plaster of paris, and calcium carbonate.  I chose to try calcium carbonate because that is what chalk is actually made of, a form of limestone.

I bought a cheap sample size of paint ($2.50) at Home Depot-my home away from home-and purchased some Calcium Carbonate at a local health food store for 7.75, you can also order online from or other places.

One sample pot of paint is 8 oz. and I'd read whatever additive you choose should be a 3:1 mix so I went conservative and added 2 oz. calcium carbonate.
 It definitely maintains a sediment like consistency now matter how much you mix it, in fact these pics are taken a week after I mixed it and it is STILL like that.  

 I tested it on my large picture frame from the previous post. And what I found was that it still went on well, and you can add a tiny bit of water to dilute things too.  The first coat is a little scary, but you have to lightly sand after it is dry, BEFORE you apply your second coat.  Then just a light sanding and whatever distressing you want to do, and all the clumps go away.  Now I have never used Annie Sloan as I just can't swallow the cost, but this to me-is a great alternative and definitely worth experimenting with.  Especially with sample paint pots and a small piece of wood just to get a feel for it, decide on your preferences for the mixture (add more water? more calcium carbonate? etc).  I'd really love to hear from anyone who's tried the plaster of paris or the unsanded grout.  How do they compare?
I hope some have found this at least helpful in attempting to try this.  I definitely think it can be done, and I will be attempting it again and sure to post the results when I do!
Have a great weekend! XO

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chalkboard's and Chalk Paint

Happy Post Halloween!  (or the 'Halloween Hangover')
Hope yours was fun, safe and full of treats.  Our kids gather so much loot in such a short time....I end up passing half of it back out when we get home (kids kept coming until 8:30)! It was kind of a whirlwind of a day for me so this morning, after getting the kids ready and off to school (yeah, go ahead and buy lunch've already snuck candy into your breakfast)  I just wanted to veg on the couch and catch up on some of my favorite blogs.  Check out this AWESOME Halloween display that Sausha over at put up this year:

LOVE the use of old baby dolls ;)  Twisted but fun!
She's my kinda gal, a morbid fun sense of humor and sooo amazingly talented!  Be sure to check out the rest of her post to see all of the decorations. 

So I'm slowly getting back into the blogging after a bit of a hiatus.  I have a back log of desks/vanities I've been working on just to get them out of my garage.  I think I'll lump them all together in another post soon.  But a quick, easy little project that I recently tried, (and is perfect for fall, kids and gifts for the holidays) is making your own Chalkboards!  Here is all you need:
Frame of your choice-any size
Chalkboard paint (found at any hardware store)
Pressboard or even foam project board cut to size

So I found this pretty old frame at a Flea Market here in Austin a few weeks ago-$15.00!  I took it home and gave it a thin coat of blue, with a foam brush so just the details were hit with it.  No sense wasting time and paint on the whole piece for this step.
Once it was dry, I tried making my own Chalk Paint (look out Annie Sloan! :} I'll share this recipe in my next post)  and applied 2 coats with a regular brush.  While that was drying I went to Home Depot and picked out a piece of pressboard in the lumbar section and had them cut it down to the exact size (be sure to measure first!) of the inner groove inside the frame...I'm sure there is a name for that area but I don't know what it is.  They cut any piece you purchase for free, and you can keep the scraps for practice too ;)  I then sprayed it with 3 coats, or basically the whole can, of chalkboard paint.



I did some light distressing around the frame to get the blue underneath to show through and then attached the chalkboard into the 'grooves' and secured it with some wood glue...I know, super technical ;)  You are probably better off using little nails or those frame staples that hold pics in.  I was just being lazy and used what I had on hand.  Here is the final result:

And here is a sneek peak at one of the desks I did recently, same color paint was used on her.  Well I must go pry the candy out of my 3 year old's chocolate covered hands...his siblings just found him hiding under MY desk with his trick or treat bag ;p  I will post about making your own Chalk Paint tomorrow and hopefully get some more before and afters up soon!  XOXO

Friday, September 30, 2011

San Francisco and Big Daddy's Antiques

Hi Y'allzes!
Just got back from a super quick get-a-way to visit my Brother and his wonderful girlfriend, Karen in San Francisco.  Here they are, aren't they cute? ;)

I can't say Thank You enough to both of them!  They hosted my Mom and I for 4 days of jam-packed sightseeing, amazing wineries, restaurants, 2 of the best Flea Markets ever (Petaluma and Treasure Island) and of course lots of shopping!  On my last day there, they took me to see Big Daddy's Antiques.  A place that had reached mythological proportions in my head after I had read and seen a few pics of it, and let me tell ya' it did NOT disappoint.  It's a huge warehouse in the design district, jam packed with large scale artifacts, European antiques, statuary's, leather and linen upholstered furniture, etc.

Karen and I at the entryway (look at the size of that door!)

How about a Giant Ship in..oh, I don't know, your living or family room?

Loved this stone Mantel and all the charcoal grey chairs!

This is what greets you once inside-GORGEOUS.  My pics don't do it justice.

Farmhouse style coffee tables, stacked, vintage leather chair, huge movie reel and that ship.

Doves coo as you shop!

My adorable Mom and Karen. I'm told this is a 'cupola'- I just want it in my living room :)

We also visited a couple Flea Markets and it took all the will power in me not to buy and ship home so many things.  Unbelievable stuff, and we did do some minor damage ;)  But nothing a borrowed suitcase couldn't hold!
Petaluma Antique/Flea Market

Treasure Island Flea Market-this sculpture greets you at the entry.  Originally built for 'Burning Man' back in May, and it is filled with LED lights.  So cool!!

Then we of course had to sample some of the finest wines California has to offer, and 'sample' we did!!

Me, Mom, and Braden

Nooo, we didn't drink all that!

Me and my date, Braden and Karen
We also got to dip our feet in at Point Reyes, such a beautiful drive.  I have truly missed the ocean being here in Northern Texas...
My Mom, Bro and Karen

Mom in her element :)

And just like that, it was over...bye for now San Francisco!  See you again soon-I hope!

Thanks again guys, and give Stella a big ole kiss for me! XOXO

Monday, September 12, 2011

Too Much Time on my Hands...(T-T-T-T-T-Ticking away)

How are you?
Thanks for the awesome color suggestions from my last post (Crystal and Robin :) I am working on finding the perfect pieces to use them on!  I  had to put a temporary halt on painting while I've been redoing my work space in the garage.  I discovered there was a little bit of over-spray making its way past the plastic sheeting.  So I had to order one of these:
Combo Welding Screen
While I am STILL awaiting its arrival (grrr), and the kids are in school I decided (or some sort of a crazy, crafty, mid-life crisis is taking hold) to take up sewing.  I know....what the...??  But I haaave sewn before.  I come from a family of antique-rs and professional upholsterers so somewhere deep within, it's always lurked - waiting for the opportune time...Bwaahaahaaa  ;)  My Grampa had an Upholstery shop in Beverly Hills and did work for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, and Liberace.  (I would have loved to have seen those pieces!)  My Aunt has been an Upholsterer for decades doing work for Calico Corners.  Personally though,  I always became way too frustrated and impatient with it.  I gave up before I finished or the minute I had to install a zipper/button/closure.  That was until I saw this baby:

It was love the moment I set eyes on it...I had been obsessing searching for an affordable type coffee table/ottoman that matched my decor and didn't have sharp corners (kids).  Problem was they are all require such commitment for the $$$, I mean what if I don't want brown faux leather for the rest of my life?  What if my kids jumped on and broke it?  What if they ripped that faux leather, hurt themselves on a corner, what if-what-if??   But this one was kid friendly, washable, portable, cozy and surely couldn't be more than a couple hundred bucks right??  WRONG.

I was in some serious sticker shock when I saw the price tag, really.  Couldn't believe it. I mean-is it filled with diamonds?!  All the sudden my DIY instincts kicked in, how hard could it be to make?  Well...I'll tell you.

It's not.  Although I did make mine slightly smaller, and by using a serger style sewing machine, but you can create a similar effect by using piping, bias tape, etc. with a regular machine.  The serger is an easy way to get that 'French-seam" look which is what I was after.

I filled it with poly beads which you can order online, but you could also use shredded foam, or even old pillows and blankets!  Whatever you liked and all depending on how squishy or firm you wanted it.   My kids love laying on it watching movies.

Here's where it got out of control though.  So while I was still waiting for that darn screen to arrive I kept sewing, in fact no one could stop me!  It was a journey all it's own, I just kept going...and going...and I sewed up these:

swiss cross looks a little crooked here, but it's just overstuffed.

And these,

Robert Allen 'Nautical' fabric line

and then there HAD to be another Pouf to match, right?!  It's called O.C.D  :)

 I was in a Nautical mood I guess....this my version of  'Fall' for the coastal-type style aesthetic.  I don't do orange, but never say never.
Cameo Bliss at
I'm putting these up as inventory in my Etsy shop (Cameo Bliss) I have a feeling I will be adding more items intermittently as I wait for paint to dry.   That or they will all be shipped to the Mutiny Bay Antique Mall in Whidbey Island, WA. soon.
Next week I hope to be back to paint spraying some new furniture pieces! I have an itchy trigger finger.  Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone :)