Thrifty and Original Light Features

Whenever the time changes and it starts to get dark earlier in the evening, I start trying to add additional light to my home. I just love lights and the warmth they give off. They provide excellent ambiance during the holiday season and create a cozy and homey feeling.

This year, I have 2 light features I’m especially thrilled with. Both are created from secondhand items and they provide a unique look.

Light Fixture, Vintage, Birdcage, Bird Cage, Pendant Light, Crystal, Light Bulb

Vintage metal birdcage with pendant light and antique-style light bulb.

This is a vintage metal birdcage that I’ve hung a decorative pendant light in. I chose one with a crystal-like shade because I wanted the light to reflect in all different directions, like a chandelier. Originally I wanted to use a small chandelier but I couldn’t find one that would fit inside nicely. I think I still achieved the same effect though. Although they are kind of pricey, I splurged and purchased one of the antique-style light bulbs from Lowes. I really love the way it turned out and how warm the light is.


Light Fixture, Vintage, Birdcage, Bird Cage, Pendant Light, Crystal, Light Bulb

Vintage metal birdcage with pendant light and antique-style light bulb.

birdcage2The second light feature I recently made, was really simple. I found a wooden case of an old clock from the early 1900’s at the Goodwill. The clock pieces weren’t all there anymore, but the case itself and the woodwork was beautiful, so I had to get it!

DIY Old Clock Case Light Feature

Antique germanic clock case, turned upside to set on a mantel. Secondhand mason jar with bulb lights inside.

Look at the beautiful domed and beveled glass! They wanted $30 for this solid piece and I thought it was totally worth it. I added a secondhand mason jar that I got for .29 cents and put battery operated bulb lights inside (Big Lots). I love that you see the glowing jar centered through the antique domed glass. So pretty!

oldclocklight2Both of these projects were relatively simple but add so much character to my antique buffet and family room mantel. And best of all? They are the only ones of their kind. Mission accomplished!



My first experience with Annie Sloan’s Chalkpaint (and Furniture Refinisher)

I’d heard a lot about Chalk Paint and seen tons of things on Pinterest related to painting old furniture with this “miracle” paint, so I decided it was time for me to take the plunge and try it out. To be honest, I was nervous. I guess the special brushes and the pricey-ness of the paint itself along with the whole wax thing made me feel a little intimidated.

What really encouraged me in this direction is when I found a Chippendale-style dining set at my local thrift store for only $75. The finish was not good though. The top was majorly scratched and dinged and the chairs were covered with a dingy old fabric. But, the table was a nice size, with a leaf included, and there were 5 chairs.

Thrift store Chippendale-style dining set. $75.

Thrift store Chippendale-style dining set. $75.

I wanted the top to be durable, so I googled a bunch of different ideas. The one I liked best, suggested using an antique furniture refinisher to rub off the old stain on top with steel wool. I ended up using Fromby’s Furniture Refinisher:

Awesome stuff, but plan on using multiple cans of it if you're stripping a large surface!

Awesome stuff, but plan on using multiple cans of it if you’re stripping a large surface!

I found this YouTube tutorial that I mainly followed:

Here are a few things that I learned from this process.

1) DO NOT BUY LATEX GLOVES. Don’t even buy just regular rubber gloves. You need to buy the gloves that say they are made for working with strong chemicals. And even when I used those, eventually they would eat through after enough use. You may have to buy several pairs of gloves (2-3)

2) You will most likely end up going through a lot of refinisher if you’re stripping a large area. I ended up having to buy 3 jugs of refinisher.

3) I think I used an entire package of the steel wool when all was said and done.

4) You also need a metal bucket to put the refinisher in. I found using 2 metal buckets was best, because each time you dip your steel wool back in to get more refinisher on it, you end up dirtying the rest of the refinisher. It was best to have refinisher in 2 buckets. One for rinsing and squeezing out as much old stain as I could, and the other for getting some cleaner refinisher to go back to the table with. If the second bucket started getting too gross I would add it to the first bucket and add some clean refinisher to the 2nd again.

Once I finished this process, this beautiful underlying wood was revealed:

The stain had darkened so much and was so dinged and scratched that I didn't even know the wood had a pattern in it until I stripped it!

The stain had darkened so much and was so dinged and scratched that I didn’t even know the wood had a pattern in it until I stripped it!

I used Minwax Polyshades to stain the top of the table. I chose Bombay Mahogany in the gloss for the shade.

There is a dark cherry quality to this stain. I love the way it classed up the top of the table.

There is a dark cherry quality to this stain. I love the way it classed up the top of the table.

The YouTube tutorial above does a good job explaining the kind of brush you need. Usually you’ll only need one coat of this since the protective agent is mixed into the stain. We only used one coat and were happy with it. If you want it darker you can add another coat after 6 hours. Make sure to lightly sand between coats.

After taking care of the stain, I tackled the chairs, and base of the table with my Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I chose the white color since all of our molding is true white. The nice thing about it is you don’t have to do any prep work whatsoever. I lightly dusted all of the chairs and the table legs, but no sanding is necessary. This makes the process a lot quicker and easier.

chaircloseupdetailBecause I chose the only paint that doesn’t have any pigmentation to it, it required 2 coats of paint to get the chairs how I wanted them. But since I wanted them to look distressed, I was satisfied with the results. If I had wanted them to be more opaque and smooth, I would’ve probably done a 3rd coat. Here are a few things I learned in the process:

1) The paint dries super quickly. That means that once you finish your first coat, you can usually start immediately on a second coat.

2) You don’t have to purchase the special brushes. You’ll want a good quality brush, but it doesn’t have to be an Annie Sloan one. I used a nice Purdy brush and it worked beautifully.

3) The chalk paint washes easily out of the brushes. Even after having a blonde moment and forgetting to wash my brush one evening, I was able to easily wash it out almost completely in the morning.

4) You can pretty much finish a painting project within 30-40 minutes since the paint dries fast and as soon as you sand/distress (if you desire), you can start the waxing process immeditately.

5) You can use an old t-shirt to rub the wax into the piece.

6) The paint goes a long way. With pieces that I’ve painted that have more pigmentation, I’ve only had to use 1 coat.

7) There are TONS of tutorials on using Annie Sloan wax on YouTube, so take advantage of this! I watched several before starting this project and I recommend you do too.

To recover the chairs, I used some fabric and plastic covering for the seats along with a staple gun, just like I did with my pub set. My goal with this table was to have a very elegant looking table to was also practical for having children.

I utilized the fabric in a way that I could get 2 seats covered from one yard. If it hadn't been so darn economical, I would've probably turned the pattern 90 degrees CCW. But frugal-ness won... again.

I utilized the fabric in a way that I could get 2 seats covered from one yard. If it hadn’t been so darn economical, I would’ve probably turned the pattern 90 degrees CCW. But frugal-ness won… again.

I also opted for the distressed look because it is sure to be dinged up and damaged by my 3 year old and our soon-to-be adopted daughter.

So I have to admit, I haven’t quite finished this set yet, because I have to work within my monthly budget and I can’t buy more fabric until the 10th, but it’s a good start:

You'll notice that I've included that antique chair I repainted and recovered for now, until I sell it (or don't).

You’ll notice that I’ve included that antique chair I repainted and recovered for now, until I sell it (or don’t).

And since this project I’ve done several more, but all with the intention of selling them to make money for our adoption. It will be hard to part with these pieces, because they were so fun to make!

Adorable curio cabinet with antique key. Painted Duck Egg Blue.

Charming curio cabinet with original antique key. Painted Duck Egg Blue. I love the patina on all the brass hardware!

Adorable antique Dixie night stand/end table. Painted Duck Egg Blue.

Adorable antique Dixie night stand/end table. Painted Duck Egg Blue.

Chalkboard created from a thrift store mirror. Painted with Annie Sloan's White chalk paint.

Chalkboard created from a thrift store mirror. Painted with Annie Sloan’s White chalk paint.

More refinished pieces

So, it’s been awhile since I last posted, but I have a good reason! My husband and I just began a new and exciting journey. A few weeks ago we met with an adoption agency in Colorado, and we are hoping to adopt a little girl off the waiting list in China within the next year.  We have always had a heart for adoption, but recently we’ve felt like this is the time to start the process and we are excited!

Immediately my brain starting reeling trying to think of ways I could raise some extra money for adoption costs. I figured the best thing to do would be to stick with my talents/skills and try to make some money that way. So last weekend when Salvation Army had their 50%-off-everything-in-the-store sale, I was in search of some pieces I could purchase and refinish to try to sell on Craigslist for a profit.

The first item I found was this adorable vintage chair:

Vintage Chair

Small vanity chair for $25 at Salvation Army

The picture doesn’t show it all, but it wasn’t in great shape. The wood was pretty scratched and cushion fabric was stained and dingy. I wanted to make a cute shabby chic chair out of it. I already had white paint (from zillions of other painting projects) and I had left over fabric I’d used to make a roman shade for our dining room with. All I needed to buy was some black braiding.

Here is how it turned out:


DIY Refinished Shabby Chic Chair

The left-over fabric I had was perfect for the look I was going for.

Refinished Shabby Chic Chair

I distressed the edges with some sandpaper.

The second piece I found was a yellowish, scratched, wood end table with brass hardware. I am upset that I don’t have a before picture, but it was a pretty hideous sight. You know it’s ugly if it’s still left after a 3 day 50% off sale! I got this end table for $10 and thought it would be perfect in red with aged bronze hardware.

DIY Refinished End Table

I loved the bone structure of the piece. The red makes it really “pop”.

DIY Refinished Red End TableI’m sure there will be a lot more to blog about in the next few months as I continue to try to refinish pieces to sell. I will eventually start an etsy shop to sell items that are easily “shipable”. Didn’t want to hassle with it for furniture though. My vision for my etsy shop is to make unique pieces from thrift store items, combined with a few sewing projects. We will see how it goes!


Thrift store sheets for fabric

I promised to eventually post a little about some sewing projects that I have completed. I received my sewing machine in late January. Since then I have done some self teaching but I have also had my mother and a couple of dear friends of mine guide me through pattern reading and the basics of sewing. I think it’s safe to say that I’m obsessed.

My husband often has to work late, but can bring his work home. So while he’s on his laptop, I’m next to him at a card table with my sewing machine hooked up working on various projects.

I recently started to try to sew some clothes for myself. That has always been a dream of mine. I’ve heard before that it is often more expensive to make your clothes than to buy them because fabric can be so pricey. Well, my friends, NOT if the fabric you’re using comes from the thrift store in bed sheet form. Not convinced?

Here is my latest project.

Wal-Mart Pattern

97 cent pattern from Wal-Mart.

Thrift Store Sheet

Wrinkly $1 bed sheet from the thrift store. Equivalent to at least 3 yards of fabric.

Finished dress

Finished dress.

Just call me Fraulein Maria.

I also found a cute white and gray pinstripe sheet that I will make into some other article of clothing.

More to come.

Anthropolgie-like repainted thrift store candelabra

Wow, that was a mouthful, wasn’t it?

I swooned over this candelabra when I saw it on Anthropologie’s website:

Anthropologie Candelabra

Anthropologie Antiquity Candelabra.

The swooning was quickly followed by a mild heart attack when I read the price. $345. I know that their prices run high, but I just didn’t see this one coming.

Over the last few months I’ve made it my mission to find a candelabra at a thrift store because any decent candelabra seems to run between $50-$100 (from my extensive research on… ha!).

In all honesty, I thought it would be easier to score one of these. But in reality, it took awhile to come across one. And you better believe that the moment I did, I snagged it.

Again, in my haste I forgot to take a picture of the before. It was a dark wood and wrought iron candelabra. It wasn’t awful, but it didn’t fit in with my decor style. And you know me, I paint everything. It’s kind of becoming an issue.

Here is a picture of it primed before I painted it white:

Anthropologie-like DIY Candelabra

Don’t be fooled by the bluish tint in this photo. It’s a true grey matte primer.

I chose grey because the distressed areas on the Anthro Candelabra are grey, and I didn’t want both wood and wrought iron showing through.

Anthropologie-like DIY Candelabra

Here’s my knock off after using Vaseline and white satin spray paint.

I realize this isn’t super similar to the Anthropologie Candelabra. I still like the Anthro one better and my chipped paint doesn’t have the same look either, but I still really like the way it looks on my mantel. I think for $12, I am more than satisfied.

Anthropologie-like DIY Candelabra

Now I just need some candles!

Chalkboard Clock

Check out this beauty:

DIY Chalkboard Clock

$3.50 thrift store clock.

I saw it in Salvation Army about a week ago and my mind was turning trying to figure out what I could do with it. I liked the woodwork on it and thought it would be awesome to paint and distress but I had to think of a way to hide the nasty brass clock plate.

So I decided to try something different and use chalkboard paint for the plate since I still have tons left from previous projects.

This is what I came up with:

DIY Chalkboard Clock

Chalkboard clock after a makeover.

I probably don’t really need to go through all the steps because I’ve covered many of these techniques in previous posts but I’ll give you a quick summary of how I did it.

DIY Chalkboard clock

First I removed the plate. It was really easy to do. I basically just twisted off the back piece and unscrewed the front. Thankfully there was no glue to deal with so it came off easily and cleanly.

The next part is pretty self explanatory. I cleaned the clock and all the pieces and then sprayed each of them with spray paint. I used the Vaseline technique again on the wood part and used a satin white spray paint with primer. I also sprayed the clock hands and screws with white paint so it would contrast against the chalkboard. Then I sprayed the brass metal plate with the chalkboard paint. (Make sure you always read the full instructions on the back of your spray can. I have made some dumb mistakes before because I wasn’t paying attention!).

DIY Chalkboard clock

Here it is after the paint dried and I put all of the pieces back together. Chalkboard paint still had to dry for 24 hours before the first use!

After everything dried, I measured the chalkboard plate. Mine was 7×7 so I created a file in Illustrator (you can use other programs too if you don’t have that one) that was 7×7 and using some guidelines to make sure the positions were accurate, I put a 12, 3, 6, and 9 at their appropriate spots, printed it and then chalked the backs of the numbers. I cut a hole in the center so I could stick the hands through it when I traced the numbers.

DIY Chalkboard Clock

Turn the paper over and chalk the back behind all the numbers you will be tracing.

DIY Chalkboard Clock

I used a crayon to trace the numbers so that it wouldn’t scratch the surface of the chalkboard.

After I transferred the chalk numbers I went back with a white paint pen and filled them in with that. Since the numbers are permanent I didn’t want them to accidentally be rubbed off. Plus the paint pen made it still look like chalk only brighter and more crisp!

DIY Chalkboard clock

I used a paint pen to trace the chalkboard numbers.

DIY Chalkboard Clock

Chalkboard clock after a makeover.

And here is the final product again. Not bad for $4?






Favorite Finds

Although I haven’t posted much lately, I have many projects that I have completed and hope to write about them within the coming week. There are a couple of sewing tutorials off of Pinterest that I want to share my experiences with. And we are finally starting to tackle our master bedroom after almost seven years of living in this house! We found some real wood dressers for an incredible deal at the thrift store so i am hoping to post more as we make progress there.It is spring break this week and with my daughter home all day it has been a challenge! Last week she was really sick with croup (for the millionth time) so that took up most of my time.

But just to recap a little, I wanted to show you a couple of new additions to my family room, which continues to be a work in progress.

Birdcage FindI am going for more of a vintage look in there, so I was in search of a birdcage. Hobby lobby has some amazing ones, but even on sale they were more than I was hoping to pay. I was hoping to find one at a thrift store but no such luck. Then one day I went to Ross with my mom in search of something entirely different and came across a brass birdcage. I wish I had taken a picture first, but the color was not desirable at all. However, the structure was good and so was the price! 6.99. So I purchased it and spray painted it a flat dark brown color. I am super happy with it and I saved at least $20. It is the perfect size for the mantel.

DIY Repainted Birdcage

The dark brown flat paint made the birdcage look old and rusted.

Then yesterday, I found this lamp for $6 at the Salvation Army complete with nice shade that I may cover with fabric. Haven’t decided yet.

Thrift Store Lamp

Our previous lamp was far too modern looking. I also like how the white pops against the darker table.

Remember my side table scores for the living room. They replaced some folding tables from World Market that are about 9 years old and have been well used. Since they are already distressed from use, I decided to add a splash of color to one of them using the Vaseline and spray paint technique to antique it and found that with this addition they make a lovely Long table and the other two don’t look out of place with their scuffs and worn areas.

Repainted Folding Table

Loving the splash of color in the family room. It ties in nicely with the mantel.

I am a little obsessed with candle holders, and when I went to Arizona to visit family I came across the most charming little shop. It is located in downtown Casa Grande and is called “In a Pear Tree”. The lady who owns it is a friend of the family and she has several contributors that make the most adorable things and sell them in the store. She is actually living my dream. She goes to thrift stores, estate sales, and what not, and repaints or repurposes items to sell. I fell in love!

Pillar Candle Holders

I found a set of 5 pillar candle holders for only $19. They all vary in size and design. The white one in this picture is one of 5. I still have to paint the rest!

Just yesterday I found some at the Salvation army that are a bright kelly green color. I’m planning to repaint those as well. I have an idea of how to use them all and I’m hoping to share it with you soon.

And finally, I found this vintage-looking patterned sheet from the thrift store that I plan to use as fabric to make my daughter a bubble dress for summer. I will let you know how that goes!

Vintage Sheet

Only .99 cents for several yards of this! I might make myself something as well!

Thank you for bearing with me through this random post!