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Campaign Dresser Nightstands – The good, the bad, and the ugly

Campaign Dresser Nightstands – The good, the bad, and the ugly

I got these campaign dressers ages ago. Actually, my awesome fiance ran around like a crazy person to pick these up, driving to hell and gone, playing an intense game of Tetris to get them to fit into his car. Thanks, babe! I love them.

They were in rough shape to begin with. Here is one, I think it was $35.IMG_0288

Here is the other, that I think was $25.

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Amazingly, these were both listed on craigslist on the same day or one day apart (i can’t remember), by different sellers. They don’t match exactly, but they were the same height and depth, so I figured that was close enough.

Both were a combo of wood and particle board, so I didn’t feel bad painting them.

I wanted to have a super shiny high lacquer finish like this one from Little Green Notebook.  I didn’t follow the instructions she gives properly and had to repaint these three times. They still aren’t perfect, but I finally gave up.

First, I thought I could use a water based paint that claimed to be super high gloss. This paint left INSANE brush marks. Then I went and bought oil paint as recommended, but the brush marks of the previous paint showed through the oil paint. Also, I think I should have waited longer for the crappy water based paint to dry before doing the oil paint. Then I had to apply another coat of the oil based paint to try and get a smoother finish, but by this time, I had spent hours painting and sanding and fixing parts of the drawers, and still wasn’t happy with the finish.

That’s when some unknown person in my building became my worst enemy.

When I was applying the last coat I wanted to apply (EVER), the neighbor in our building watered her plants on her balcony above our patio (without looking) and got water all over my wet oil based paint and ruined the finish.  I may have cried. I was so upset and so tired of working on these dressers. This is when I gave up.

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You can see that the finish is not glass-like. It’s got tons of brush strokes, and then weird marks and wrinkles where the water sat on the wet paint. I said “enough,” let them dry for another few days outside, and eventually brought them inside My job was starting a few days later (this was last August when I had first moved to DC), and I did not have the time necessary to continue stripping and painting these guys.

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And you know what? They look OK once in the room. I may at some point strip them down and repaint them, but for now, this works for me.  Most people don’t even notice the wonky finish. Or at least they are nice enough to lie to me about it. (Thanks, Victor!)

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I took off the handles when I was painting it, but I couldn’t get the corner pieces off without bending them, so I just painted around them. If I do repaint these, I will trying to get the proper tools to get the corners off so I can strip this baby down and start all over again. I used Bar Keepers Friends to polish the brass – it works really well and is super cheap.

I love how the brass and navy look together, and I love the combination of the brass on the campaign dress with the silver on the headboard. And this whole project cost me less than $100 for two custom night stands, so that’s pretty awesome also.

That is all.

Love,
Rachel

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Being Happy with Where I Am

Being Happy with Where I Am

January is definitely the month of self-improvement, or at least affirmations of self-improvement. I guess I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. This post will, therefore, be rather self-indulgent and fairly meander-y (because after a long day at work fighting bad guys, the last thing I want to do is write up an outline for a blog post).

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Something that I’ve been struggling with lately is feeling dissatisfied with what my apartment looks like, and letting that make me really depressed.  Yeah, it doesn’t look like a picture out of HGTV. And yeah, it’s a work in progress. And no, I still don’t have art for over the TV.  But what I want to focus on is not what is wrong with my apartment or what I want to change. Rather, I want to focus on what is working and try to find more ways to make moments that are working.

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On step I am taking in this direction is participating in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  So far, I am really digging it. It’s a realistic way for me to make progress on getting my apartment in shape, but not in a picture perfect way. Just in a normal people, with normal lives, trying to make their homes a little more beautiful.  After just scrubbing the crap out of my floors and vacuuming behind and underneath furniture I don’t usually move, plus adding fresh flowers, my apartment already feels a million times better. Who’d have thunk?

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Sort of in the vein of being happy with what I’ve done instead of focusing on what I want to do, I am sharing pictures of my bar area. I’m happy with how this “moment” in my apartment looks.  Everything in it was either thrifted, DIY, or is an heirloom.

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My GREAT GRANDMOTHER made that charcoal horse drawing. I’m obsessed. It’s still in the frame I got it in, because I’m scared that if I change the frame, the picture will disintegrate. This came into my life just at a time when I was really wanting more horse art, and the fact that it’s an heirloom (I have only one other real heirlooms), well that was awesome.

I painted the little owl painting, and blogged about it here.

I found the small deer antlers at Brooklyn Flea for $20.

I MADE both the deer and moose taxidermy. It’s papier mache, and I’m pretty stoked with how it came out. I will try to post a tutorial soon.

I got the dresser for $35 on craigslist and the distressing you see is REAL distressing because that’s exactly how the paint chipped just from being old. No faux distressing for me. I’m currently debating repainting it, but part of me loves the original paint finish.

Here’s this area all dolled up for the holidays, with a garland of pom poms and bells that I made (tutorial from A Beautiful Mess). IMG_0519

So I guess what I am trying to say is this: I’m going to be proud of myself when I am awesome, and go easier on myself for things that aren’t perfect. And keep my floors clean. 😉

Happy New Year, my dear readers! I am so glad you are on this journey with me.

Love,

Rachel

Gold Leaf Lamp (How to Gold Leaf Awesome)

Gold Leaf Lamp (How to Gold Leaf Awesome)

I have been wanting to gold leaf something for a while. It just always seemed so awesome.

I really love the idea of mixing gold leaf with matte finishes.

This old lamp was FREE because some guy was just cleaning out his garage. I thought it was a garage sale, so I made my boyfriend pull over (he LOVES it when I do that).

This is what the free lamp looked like.

This is what the free lamp looked like.

First, I sprayed it yellow. I always meant to change the lampshade, but never got around to it.

That is, until I decide to gold leaf this thing! Then, I went to Walmart and got this lamp shade for just $13.

This is the lamp after I first sprayed it yellow. Ugly lamp shade, but it was free... so yeah...

This is the lamp after I first sprayed it yellow. Ugly lamp shade, but it was free… so yeah…

I bought the gold leaf kit for around $10 on Amazon. It includes the gold leaf, the adhesive, and also the sealer.

First, I sprayed the lamp a matte white (after taping off the cord and the electrical socket). I love the look of matte finishes with metallics. The contrast is great.

Second, I taped off the stripes that I wanted. I used two different widths of painter’s tape (which is why some stripes are beige and some stripes are blue).

Use tape to mark off the parts you don't want painted.

Use tape to mark off the parts you don’t want painted.

Then, I applied the adhesive lightly with a sponge applicator. Let it dry for about 15 minutes, and start applying the gold leaf. If you miss any spots, it’s OK. You can come back and fill it in by adding more adhesive and more gold leaf.  You basically just put the gold leaf directly on the adhesive and rub it with a brush or your finger to make sure it’s stuck down well.

The lines aren't perfect, but that's OK.

The lines aren’t perfect, but that’s OK.

Finished! The light isn't great, but the lamp came out awesome.

Finished! The light in the photo isn’t great, but the lamp came out awesome.

The stripes are not perfect. Gold leaf is not really a tidy adventure, but from a far, you cannot really see the less-than-perfect parts.

The gold leaf instructions say that you should seal it, but I figure the lamp won’t get man-handled too much, so I skipped that step. If I was doing something that would get more touching, I would definitely seal it.

I love how it all turned out. It only cost me a lamp shade and a gold leaf kit (I have most of the kit left too, so I am like Midas – constantly looking for more things to turn gold).

Gold stripes and matte white finish.

Gold stripes and matte white finish.

What else can I gold leaf?

What else can I gold leaf?

What do you think? Do you guys freaking love gold as much as this girl?

Golden love,

Rachel

I’m Back. I missed you.

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I’m Back. I missed you.

Hello Blogland,

I am back from the dead. I guess being dead in blog land is actually being alive, as in living real life, interacting with flesh and blood people instead of internet people. Weird though. And like any resurrected zombie, I am HUNGRY! Not for brains and flesh or anything like that, because, let’s be honest, ewwwwwwww. But hungry to resume blogging and to resume creating.

It has been a crazy six weeks since my last post (ewwwwwww). Shameful. But wanna know something cool? Even without creating new content, I have had a pretty steady stream of visitors! Neat, huh! I guess I must be slightly relevant or something. Or people just really want to see one of these things.

A lot has happened in the last six weeks. For one thing, I finished my first year at Princeton! This means I only have one more year of grad school to go. Four is a lot of years of grad school. In fact, if you don’t count the thumb, you almost cannot count to four on the fingers on one hand. I mean, I know how to count to four on one hand, since I am in grad school and everything, but it’s cutting it kinda close.

Second thing, Pinterest! I mean, I know that sounds old and trite, but I was way behind the bloggers in getting into Pinterest. What a great way to spend 3 hours 10 minutes on a study break. I think the reason why I like Pinterest so much is because it’s like watching a BUNCH of HGTV episodes really quickly, where you can skip straight to the reveal. And, while there is a lot of cool stuff on Pinterest, there is also a lot that I don’t like on it, like HGTV, so it’s really helping me hone my style.

Third thing, I am moving out of my apartment next week.

Fourth thing, I am MOVING TO VIENNA. AUSTRIA. In case you didn’t realize, Austria is a whole other country. I am moving there for the summer, but whatever, it’s still moving there. And I am pretty sure I will move there when I graduate anyway. I cannot WAIT to take Suits and Aprons there! Vienna is a great antiquing place. Plus, I am going to try to find an Austria cooking class and then will share my creations with you! Seriously guys, Europe.

Fifth thing: No. I am not having a baby anytime soon. But I had a friend who had a baby back in January. A sweet little girl. I said I would make the baby a high chair. It is now May. I am finally presenting high chair to mother and baby this weekend. I’m a little slow. But it’s cool, because I think babies don’t sit in high chairs until they are around 5 or 6 months anyway. And this high chair might even be for a slightly older kid. Not sure. Not a mom.  But either way.

I got this high chair at a giant rummage sale. I painted it with this awesome yellow homemade chalk paint. I sanded and distressed it. Then I applied a coat of antiquing glaze. Then I stopped and thought long and hard. A high chair is something a baby sits in. The baby might chew on it. (Why? Because babies put pretty much everything in their mouths, and since this chair is so awesome and looks like a gumdrop, it’s definitely getting mauled). The baby will be eating food stuff off of it. And what kind of friend would I be if I used some unsafe substance to seal it?

Also, babies are messy and will spill and maybe draw on things with markers as they turn into toddlers. So I wanted a strong finish.

I just didn’t think furniture wax was up to the challenge, and it might be soft enough to come off when the child chews on it. So instead of waxing, I applied many heavy coats of Krylon’s Crystal glaze. It’s durable so I figured it wouldn’t get chewed off easily, and it would be less likely than wax to transmit any chemicals or what-have-you.

Sixth, all this talk about toxic painting products reminds me of things that have been ticking me off on Pinterest: STOP PAINTING THINGS YOU EAT OFF OF. Most paints are not food safe. That chalk board cheese plate that has been pinned like a million times? Probably causes cancer. I’m not saying that if food comes into contact with a painted surface for a minute that you will get sick, but if it’s going to sit there for a bit, really think about whether you want to put those chemicals in your food. I haven’t ranted about this on Pinterest because that would be an annoying thing to do. But that’s my 2 cents.

OK, I will come up with other things to share. But now I’m going back to bed, and then I’m hanging out with some flesh and blood peeps while I get my summertime on.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Blogland, I missed you. It feels good to be wrapped once more in your sweet, megapixel embrace. We’ve had many good memories, and we will make many more in the future. And I, for one, am freaking excited!

Love,

Rachel

Another French Bulletin Board

I have been sitting on posting this project for a bit, because I was waiting until it arrived at my best friend’s place. It was a birthday gift. Her birthday was in January, but better late than never, you know? You can see my other French bulletin board here.

I bought an ugly old French bulletin board at Salvation Army. Then I recovered it with this awesome Suzani print that I bought online at fabric.com. Have you been to that website? It has SO many different awesome patterns at very reasonable prices. (*They are not paying me to say this, I just really like their website.*)

Once recovered, I added some ribbon. A super easy project that makes a lovely present.

Seriously – how freaking awesome is this suzani print? With the adorable little seahorses? The yellow and brown and pink? I am freaking obsessed with this fabric.

That’s all I got for today, folks. I will try to be more on top of blogging, but like, only if I feel like it. Because I am not going to let blogging become another obligation on my time. I just want it to be funny happy time.

For the love of seahorses!

Rachel

More Thrifty Finds: Meet Chloe

School has been a little insane, which has impacted my blogging and my crafting/DIYing.

But, I did get a chance to do some fun thrifting. I found this adorable owl plate for $0.79 at Salvation Army. Her name is Chloe.

Chloe was a major score!

Chloe goes perfectly with my decor too.

And I found this lovely green pitcher for $1.50, I think:

I am loving these two ceramic horse heads. I am not sure what they are. I think they might make really cool book-ends. They aren’t quite heavy enough, but I can fill them with sands.

What color should I paint them? I am thinking gold. Thoughts?

I am loving these ceramic horses. Cannot wait to paint them. They were only $1 each.

This darling little plate was only $0.49. I have nothing else like it, but I hope to someday.

Check out this sweet rhinoceros! $2! I may also spray paint, but I am not sure yet. It’s just so interesting and adorable.

And the last great thing I found was this little cloche. The plate is heinous, but cloches are lovely no matter what. I may just get rid of the plate and keep the cloche itself. $3.

Well, that’s all folks.

Maybe I will have something more interesting in the future. Also, let me know what color you think I should paint the horse heads.

Love,

Rachel

I’m Linking Up (To the tune of “I’m Coming Out”)

No Minimalist Here

Gold and Brass and Plastic: Thrift Store Scores!

Gold and Brass and Plastic: Thrift Store Scores!

I went to Baltimore a few weekends ago to hang with my BFF. We did some MAJOR thrift store trips, including stopping by an incredible non-profit salvage yard called Second Chance that hires ex-convicts and trains them on how to remove architectural features from buildings facing demolition so that the pieces can be salvaged. It seems like a great program, and they had AMAZING stuff ranging from antique furniture to old wood ovens to giant mantlepieces. If you are in Baltimore or anywhere near, I recommend stopping by. They have 5 or 6 warehouses. FIVE OR SIX WAREHOUSES. You read that right.

It's hard to photograph hallways and stairways. No good angles.

Since I wasn’t looking to install a whole mantleplace in my apartment, I didn’t get anything at Second Chance. However, a few of the many thrift stores we hit up that day (three or four?) had some great stuff.

I have been looked for thrifted owl stuff for ages to no avail. On our second swing through the houseware/chotsky section, BFF found this guy (moral: always go through each section twice). She didn’t see the potential, but I had told her that if she saw ANY owls that I had dibs. It is plastic, about 12 inches tall, and has a wall-hangy thing on the back already. How much? $2.99. Maybe a little steep, but owls are hard to come by.

I know you don't see the potential, but just wait!

Well, first thing I did was spray paint my new friend gold.

After spray paint, before antiquing glaze. Starting to see it, huh?

Then to make it look like, well, an antique, I coated it with Valspar antiquing glaze, making sure to get the glaze into all the little nooks and crannies.

He looks so regal sitting on the wall, at the top of the stairs now, doesn’t he? He needs a name…. Hmm….Suggestions? What about Philbert? Eugene? Ooooh…. I am liking Eugene. I will let it ruminate for a little bit before I make it official, but I am liking Eugene.

Standing guard at the top of the stairs - always vigilant and always welcoming me home!

So now you are probably thinking that the painting below Eugene is a little weird. And you would be right. It’s a little weird. But the frame is awesome. I got the painting for the frame at another Baltimore thriftstore for $8. I almost passed it up, but so glad that I didn’t.

Nice size, lovely patina. Ignore the bizarre painting - you can change that.

I am actually planning to switch out the oil painting with one of my own. Guess what I’m going to paint!? Guess!

AN OWL!!! I’m gonna paint a little owl friend for Eugene and it will be awesome. Boyfriend may have called me the weird girl with lots of owls earlier today. But I only have two now. You haven’t met the other one yet (you will). But two owls does not a “crazy oil lady” make. Just saying.

Didn't need to do anything to this. Perfect as it is.

I got this mirror at the same thrift store as the picture frame. I think the mirror was $20. Which is WAY more than I like spending on thrifted good. But it was awesome. And I knew I would regret it. So I bought it. Super good decision.

Because now, the gold owl and frame, and this brassy mirror all hang at the top of my stairwell, making an interesting statement. Not sure what that statement is yet, but it’s interesting at least. 🙂

I dig it. You may or may not. But that’s OK. I have fun new pieces to talk about, and my new friend, Eugene.

Another shot of my new triptic of thrifted finds.

It’s really hard to get a good photograph in my stairwell. The light is terrible and the angles are impossible. Apologies.

I hope I have inspired you to get thrifting. But just remember, if you find something awesome, you should buy it. Because if you don’t, I will. And then you will see it on my blog all awesomized and you will kick yourself for letting it get away.

You have fair warning. Ready, set, thrift!

Love,

Rachel

I’m Partying Here:

French Country Cottage

Common Ground

Happy Hour Projects

Tater Tots and Jello

Funky Junk Interiors

Be Different, Act Normal

The Tablescaper

Between Naps on the Porch

House of Grace

Coastal Charm

A Diamond in the Stuff

Not Just a Housewife

Type A Decorating

Giggles Glitz and Glam

My Uncommon Slice of Surburbia

Domestically Speaking

Saavy Southern Style

DIY by Design

A Beach Cottage (Though their linky party is a little glitchy today, and poor Mrs. Beach suffered a terrible bug bite. Get well soon!)

No Minimalist Here

Somewhat Simple

The Shabby Creek Cottage