a little aqua cabinet

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I’ve had this little cabinet for a few years now and its been through a few incarnations. When I got it it had an awful, damaged, laminate top which I replaced with beadboard to start with. Then I painted it white with a crackle effect and used it as my bedside table for a while.

When we moved to the farm it ended up in the shed gathering dust.

Firstly, I disliked the crackle effect – it just wasn’t quite right. Then I disliked the legs I’d put on it – they were the wrong style but they were all I had at the time.

A little while ago I decided it was time for a makeover. I love the retro glass door and even the original liner, but I decided it needed new legs, a new handle and a new colour to make it pop.

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First I looked for legs among my collection of junk handy things and found these lightly tapered 60’s style legs. I painted them black to go with the silver and black handle I chose.

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I mixed paint using what I had on hand, making my own chalk paint by adding fine unsanded grout. I find this works great and gives a lovely finish. It also allows for a chippy look with use, giving it a natural worn look rather than a purposefully distressed one.

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The paper inside is a bit ripped, but its clean and has been glued down – plus it has touches of the aqua which ties it in nicely.

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I love the contrast between the aqua and the black. No one can accuse this of being a boring little cabinet any more!

Oh, and please excuse the filthy floor. It was raining and the only place I could take these photos at the time was the grooming room between customers.

z

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chunky pine chairs makeover

I love our kitchen. Its my best makeover ever. Its everything I wanted it to be.

But the kitchen chairs have been an ongoing thing… I started with 4 mismatched vintage chairs, all painted white. I loved them. Till Wayne broke one of them. Oops. Vintage chairs aren’t the sturdiest things.

So I bought these chairs off Gumtree. Matching, newer chairs. They’re sturdy and nice. I planned to paint them. That was about a year ago and they’re still unpainted.

before1

before2

While sorting and cleaning out our sheds I rediscovered these solid, chunky pine chairs which Wayne brought with him when we moved here. I didn’t get before photos. Sorry. I think I didn’t want to cause I really disliked those chairs. They’re too chunky. Too country colonial. But they were strong and well made.

chairs1

The painted chairs and a gratuitous poodle.

I hate painting chairs. All those spindles and legs! ugh. I decided to try out the new Rust-Oleum spray chalk paint. I gave them a spray of undercoat first, then used Linen White on one chair and Serenity Blue on the other. Love the look and love the colours. And I’m not being paid to say that (though I’m not opposed to the idea… hint hint).

after1

The kitchen chairs aren’t perfect, YET, but I’m liking these two in their new colours. I’m now thinking of the two shades of grey in the chalked Rust-Oleum paint: Aged Grey and Country Grey. Or maybe Blush Pink…

after2

OR I could use the same colours, then we’ll have two chairs in each colour.

Eh. We’ll see when I feel like painting more chairs. Took me a year to do the first two… wonder how long it’ll take me to do the other two?

I spent some time in the garden today, massacring some plants. Not sure if I did it right, but I figured its winter, I should cut things back so they grow well in spring. Time will tell if I did right or killed everything.

z

more on that embarassing desk makeover

Once upon a time I decided to make a new/bigger desk for Wayne – who’s office is in the living room. I had been through two desks up till that point (three if you count the original desk in the office he never used!) and Wayne was sort of over it.

Anyway, the desk I decided to remake was one he’d had in the garage since we moved here – a big, heavy solid piece with a ruined top due to it being used to hold chainsaws. The thing with these old desks is that you have to have the legs of a Monster High doll to fit into it without banging your knees at each turn. So, I decided that since I had to replace the top, I may as well separate it into two drawer units and put an old door across as a top… cause don’t old doors make the best tops? They’re huge and the ones I had were gorgeous.

This is the first attempt at the desk… ugh. In a nutshell, it started like this…

Step one: paint it white. With chalk paint. Obviously!
Put castors on it, stencil on it, top it with a shed door. Obviously.
It didn’t look right. So repaint it. Just the drawer fronts. Chalk paint. Dark grey.

Okay… not quite right… Still wrong somehow.

Wait till Wayne’s away for a few days and sand it back, then lacquer it in gloss… hm. I like it better.

I may have left a bit too much paint on the drawers, you can see the grey, the white and even some of the stencils… I like it. Its so me.
Yes, its not my desk… I know that. But its in my living room. I have to look at it all day, so I wanted something I didn’t dislike. This blends in much better with the room divider I created so I’m happier.
Won’t Wayne be happy when he comes home and finds I’ve changed something again? 
hehehe.
He hates it. In fact, every time he’s going to be away for more than a day his last words to me as he waves goodbye are: “Don’t knock down any walls.”
He didn’t say I couldn’t rip up floors though… hmmm…
z
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an embarrassing desk makeover

This is an embarrassing post… But in the interest of reality, here goes…
I’ll start at the beginning: 
Those of you who know me know that I like rearranging furniture. I also like re-assigning furniture and making it over. And over. Then moving it again.
It keeps me busy and Wayne confused.
When we first moved into our home I created an office for both myself and Wayne. He got an extra large desk and I got a cupboard door on filing cabinets. He never used his desk, preferring to work in the kitchen, so I created an office space in the living room for him using my original corner office desk. 
There was nothing wrong with that desk… It was large. It was practical.  But it didn’t have drawers and it was made of melamine.
I dislike melamine.
So, I replaced it with something more my style.* I had this old office desk with metal legs and a crappy top. I put weathered timber on top and all was well with my soul.
Wayne lost his corner desk and had to adjust to less desk acreage.
*Cause it might be his desk, but its my style!
This new improved desk had the same issue as the corner melamine desk. No drawers. Wayne ended up with about 54 odds and ends to hold all his stuff. When you don’t have drawers you have a small filing cabinet, an el cheapo metal and plastic drawer unit whose drawers fall out every time you pull them out, and a couple of bookcases… 
No so pretty. Not the style I was going for.
Just before Christmas I decided it was time to move Wayne’s office space. 
Again.
(No, he has no say in this.)
I put a divider in the middle of the living room for the TV and moved Wayne to the other side so the first thing you see when you walk into the living room isn’t his messy office desk.
Then, just to keep things interesting, I decided to change his desk. 
Again.
We had this old desk in the garage since we’d moved here. I got Wayne to remove the top cause it was beyond repair – he’d been sitting his chainsaws on it. As you do. It was covered in oil. 

The main issue with this desk was that the leg space was so narrow. Just imagine all the times you’d knock your knees on this!
I took the saw to it and cut it apart (in a really messy way), leaving me with two drawer units. The plan was to paint these units, put them on castors and plonk a large shed door on top.
It all started well enough. I gave them a light sand, then mixed up my own chalk paint – in white. Of course.

I added castors.

I painted some random numbers on it, cause I have stencils you know.

And yes, I know I put it on upside down.

This is the door I had earmarked for the top. Its half of a huge hinged garage door.

I love the chippy cream paint. 
I didn’t put a top on the units, just plonked this baby down on top of them. I mean, why bother, right? No one would see it.
I got all the pieces up to the living room (that is one heavy door!) and put it all together. Wayne began moving his stuff in…
I hated it. Not just cause of the upside down stencil either. It just didn’t look right.
Then, while I was wondering what I should do to fix it, Wayne broke it. One of the bottom drawers got stuck on a castor lock and he heaved and broke it.
I thought about repainting it. I mean, I had to fix it anyway… but what colour?
I thought about black, but I didn’t have any black. I did have dark grey… Same colour as our feature wall… I thought ok… how about I paint it dark grey? 
I painted the drawer fronts first. Not sure I liked that either so I didn’t paint the units.
I used offcuts of plywood, which I had planned to use to finish the TV unit, to put a top and bottom on the units. The plan this time was no castors, just a flat bottom. For the extra height needed, I put a little shelf on top. This provides a handy place for Wayne’s large sketchbooks.

Its still not right. Its messy looking, but given that its a door with Z braces on the back, not much I can do about that part.

The one thing I did do to the door is attach a small piece of pine along the back to stop things rolling off behind the desk. You can just see it below, behind the lamp base.

For now its more or less finished, and I can pull it apart easily any time.

The dressmakers model and the cream Ikea trolley are mine. In case you’re wondering. I’m working on a wearable art piece on the model and the trolley holds my pastels.

This is how the desk area looks now. Cosy.
But I’m still not happy with the desk. I’m thinking all black drawer units and natural timber on top would be the best way to go. I haven’t painting anything black since my student days…
I need to buy black paint.
Wayne won’t be happy if I pull his desk apart and start over…
z

the divider – stage 1 & 2 finished

Remember the room divider post a little while back? I was using these two images below as my inspiration and starting point:

I had a CD cabinet similar to the one above, though much smaller… and I have metal poles in my living room like below (only uglier)…

My thought was that since it was too much work (and expense) to remove the poles, I’d embrace them and make myself a room divider which included them in a kind of farmhouse industrial style.
Now prepare your eyeballs for something really, really horrible… the view of our living room in mid-chaos a couple of years back. Not sure what I was up to then, but somewhere in between I decided to take these photos…
From the kitchen side:

From the front door side:

Beautiful poles, dividing the room in half, totally limiting what you can do with it, making it hard to decorate, ugly… what can I say? Not to mention the three different ceiling heights in our living room as different rooms were opened up or added to create the big living room (before our time).

Below you can see the CD cabinet, in amongst all the crap bits of odd furniture we were using as part of Wayne’s office in the living room.

I started with the CD cabinet as my base. I’m not good at making furniture from scatch (how do I know? I’ve never tried it, but given my problems with measuring I’d say it was a fair bet!

… I found that the drawers were square and would fit in it either upright or on its side. I considered recycled timber but I decided to go with plywood. You can get it in large sheets so I wouldn’t have to join a million pieces. I used 12mm construction ply. Plenty strong enough for what I needed. I gave the guys at the hardware store the measurements I needed and they cut it for me using their wizbang saw.

I built a box around the cabinet with open shelves on either side to extend the cabinet to totally fill the space between the poles. I actually measured that really well. Its a really tight fit but it fits!

We won’t be moving this in a hurry…

I had planned to use some 60’s legs on it, but they were too spindly. This sucker is heavy. In the end I found some chunky round metal legs at Bunnings which were almost a perfect match for the poles (I got the slightly taller ones than the ones pictured. I bought 6 of them to make sure there’d be no sag, not that I expected any, but to appease Wayne who was concerned about the weight on just four legs.

I painted the poles satin black to match the legs and it looks like the poles were part of the design.

I build the unit/divider in two stages. First I made the base box around the CD cabinet, put legs on it, moved it in and gave it three coats of polyurethane.
I put the TV on it so we could use it while I built the top section to hold the PVR, DVD player, etc.

I made the top shelf as a separate box with dividers and back, but no bottom. I measured the PVR and DVD player and built cubbies to fit them, leaving one middle one free and two end ones open. Once that was finished I brought it in and just put it on top of the base. It wasn’t connected to anything at that stage.

Of course, you always need a back on a TV unit so the TV doesn’t go flying. Especially when you have a poodle like Romeo who not only watches TV, but likes to protect us from all the scary animals living in it!

I built the back out of ply offcuts. The two uprights go all the way to the ground for more stability and the top section (with air holes) sits on top of the upper shelf. I attached this to the base at the back with screws. I used mostly black screws for this job as I wanted the contrast between light ply and black metal. When I ran out of black screws I used regular ones (way cheaper) and just coloured their tops in using a permanent marker.

Now the back side of the unit is a small sitting area and you don’t have to look at the back of the TV.

This is what it looks like from the side. The living room area is now closest to the kitchen and you can watch TV from the kitchen through the opening, the office area is now on the far side of the living room and much less visible when its a mess!
At the last minute I decided to put backs on the side shelves of the bottom unit to hide the electric cables. Since the power points are on the wall, there was no power in the middle of the room.  I had to get the electrician to come put a power point in the floor just next to the pole, you can see it in the photo above. 
Stupid me – forgot to ask him to bring the antenna cable up too… sigh. Now I’ll have to do it myself or find a willing sucker friend to do it for me.

I used leftover bits of peg board from my linen cupboard makeover for that. I put the white sides to the front and the brown to the back but sprayed them gloss black – they look mat cause its a rough surface and they kind look like the stuff old speakers were made of.
I had my painting of Dancer framed and have hung it on the back side of the unit to give it a cosier feel. My first aid box sewing basket acts as a side table.
The divider/unit isn’t finished. There will be either one or two shelves above it taking it up to the beam, and the back bit needs to be polyurethaned. I just ran out of time before Christmas. I can easily polyurethane it a couple of evenings after work.
So what were the boo-boos in this project:
Well, of course there was the failure to bring the antenna cable over so now it has to sit under a rug and its visible.
There was the original plan to use galvanised iron for both the legs and between the shelves – I don’t know how all those bloggers in the USA build gorgeous shelving units out of that stuff… here its SO expensive! I paid over $60 for 6 legs and it would have cost MORE if I went with galvanised pipe!
The dividers between the PVR and DVD players aren’t totally straight… it was hard to attach them so it was a bit of a hit and miss process.
And best of all, with all the movement and weight, the bottom drawers of the CD cabinet no longer fit in their place! I’ll have to plane them off a bit. So till I do that I have the CDs just sitting in there like its a bookcase. 
Eh. 
It works.
And I love it!
z
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wardrobe makeover

I had mentioned in a previous post somewhere that our bedroom has a split personality. Today I’ll share how I’ve frenchified a plain (ugly) pine wardrobe to contribute to the french provincial/white/shabby half of the bedroom’s personality.
This is what the ugly wardrobe looked like before.

So, I found these fancy appliques on ebay.

I did the usual:  removed the doors, sanded back them back a bit, glued the appliques on the doors and undercoated them.

I painted the entire wardrobe a creamy white (same colour I used on the dressers I updated here and here). I scrounged through my collection of knobs and handles and found some cute little rusty ring pulls…
That’s when things started going downhill.
Did I mention I started this makeover before Christmas?

So… after putting the doors back on the wardrobe, and the handles on the doors, I did a little extra sanding and then rubbed spots of the wardrobe with watered down burnt sienna paint to give it that old patina.
I hated it.
So I repainted it.
And re-sanded it, just enough to show a tiny bit of the grimy-ness left by the burnt sienna. 
Then I waxed it with clear wax, just cause I like the satiny feel.
But there was more to do. It still looked plain and ugly, like someone had just stuck a couple of decorative bits on an ugly old pine wardrobe and painted it white.
Which is pretty much what it was, really.
I wanted a more “armoire” look, so I designed a top for it. I did this by measuring the top of the wardrobe, re-measuring it, then drawing half of my design on a folded piece of paper, cutting it out, unfolding it and tracing it on a piece of pine.
I used my new, more controlled skills on the jigsaw, to cut it out. I only stuffed up a little bit on the top middle bit… the most important bit… but hey, I won’t point it out and maybe you won’t notice it…

I used my mini router to give the edges a bit of curve. I had to brace the corners to join it together, and I had to provide extra little bits (you can see those on the sides) to screw onto the wardrobe top.
Hey, I make this stuff up as I go along! If you’re after professional how-to’s you’re on the wrong blog!
Here it is on top of the wardrobe (minus the doors. Again.).

Yup. You noticed.
I sure did. 
After I put it on the wardrobe.
The top was too long.
Not by a smidge… by a whole lotta smidges.
And I measured it more than once!
This is why I’m not a carpenter. And why I make wierd things, cause I have to. I have to find ways to fix my mistakes!

I bought some concave trim. Naturally, my overhang was too big for the smaller trim, too small for the next one up.
I opted for the bigger one, cut to length (almost length… I cut them a bit short… it never ends).

I was left with gaps. No problem. I know how to fill gaps!

Ok, so its not perfect, but its still a lot prettier to look at than what I’d been looking at for the last 4.5 years.

I also changed the handles. The rusty rings weren’t working for me. I found these old bronze handles in my collection and they’re perfect.

So here is that side of the bedroom, with the bin chandelier and the wardrobe. The mirror sits on the floor behind the door cause its just too heavy and I don’t want to put it inside a wardrobe door and stuff up the hinges. I think I may have done that already with all the doors on and off so many times…

At least I can now cross ‘finish the wardrobe’ off my To Do List. It was becoming a permanent fixture there.
z