Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Afternoon

 It's much too hot to write anything coherent. Pictures, however, I can do pictures. It all looks so pretty when you can't feel the blinding heat and drowning humidity.

 Favorite place for beewatching. And noticing how many weeds need to be pulled....

What's summer without a power outage? The porch was lit up better than the house.

Evening light in the bedroom. This is so much nicer than a television.

I LOVE simplicity. Summer flowers in jars are the ultimate.

Blackberry heaven.

Pears, pears, and more pears...

 The critters are extra hot with the temp reaching triple digits today, but the vote was unanimous about the coolest spot in the house. Kitchen floor under the ceiling fan. Plus they get to supervise whatever I'm up to. They like that a lot.

Yarrow, butterfly bush, gardenia, and hydrangea. Okay, maybe summer isn't ALL bad.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time to Update a Table

 I had this round table in our school room for several years. I much prefer a large table for studying to a small desk where there isn't room to spread out. When it (and I) retired from home schooling it made its way to the back porch where I painted it black, but didn't like it. Then I tried red but the red was a horrible shade. I hid it under a vintage table cloth for the last couple of years but it couldn't stay out year round.

I figured Restoration Spring seemed like a good time to tackle this project. I decided to paint the face of a clock on the top. The round piece detaches from the base, so if I ever wanted to use it as a working clock I could remove it, drill a hole in the center and add a clock kit. 

 Step one was finding the center of the table and using a yard stick to mark off where the numbers should go. I then used the adhesive numbers that came in the letter set from my travel poster project.

Once all the numbers were stuck on I painted the entire thing with some leftover white paint. My husband loves it when he gets to throw an empty paint can away.

You can see the number 6 here with the paint all dried and the sticker ready to be removed.

The red paint isn't wretched in small doses. I like the crisp numbers.

I wanted an interesting painted center so I used two different sized flower pot saucers to make perfect circles. Then painted them different colors.

It needed some kind of detail. When I researched clock faces and antique clocks I saw lots of names of clock companies and interesting designs.

I decided to create a fictitious clock company after Royale Street in New Orleans. Fleur di lis details seemed to be an appropriate touch. Sanded, of course, to imply age.

After stenciling the name of the made up clock company and all the other details, I sanded some areas and then added a slight coat of stain for an aged effect. This took longer than anything else! Adding and then subtracting stain by sanding until I got the look I wanted.

Around here it's always time for Change! ;)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hay, What's in That Chair?

I've had this chair in my home for over 20 years. It's one of those things that has just been "around" without much attention being paid to it except at Thanksgiving when we might need an extra chair. But in the midst of Restoration Spring, nothing is safe.

The tired old brocade material and outdated brass tacks just had to go. I decided to reupholster it. I was of course, emboldened by my success with an arm chair, so this seemed like a piece of cake.

Sometimes I amuse myself.

I didn't know enough to be intimidated by this dainty bit of wood and cloth.

Then I took it apart and you would have thought I'd released the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I was unprepared for what I would find, though the little puffs of ancient dust that were released with each tack I pulled out should have been a clue.

The chair was stuffed with hay.

Now in the nether regions of my brain I knew about this. Mattresses and furniture were stuffed with straw or horsehair, basically whatever was available out of necessity. This photo is a perfect example of what we, in the south, like to call a "hot mess."

Life before Hobby Lobby was hard.

While I was doing some research I found that a few upholsterers are trying to preserve this practice, and while that is admirable in some respects, I think carpet is germy so you can bet that this chair remained outside during this entire process. I'm no expert at this (or anything in case you haven't figured that out by now) so here are the pics to show the process.

My first step was so apply a coat of Minwax stain in a matching color to hide any scratches, though this chair has only received minimal use and was in great shape for its age. I didn't even bother with a complete sanding job. The stain covered the few imperfections perfectly.

 After painstakingly removing the old fabric,webbing, orange foam that disintegrated into dust with every touch, and straw I rewebbed it with fresh new webbing that was identical to the old. I guess some things never change. 

I cut a couple of pieces of batting to get the thickness I wanted and covered them with (yes, more) painter's drop cloth canvas.

During this part of the process while I was hammering in the tacks on the front of the chair, it broke. I had not noticed how far the front came out in front of the legs, I then had to stop recovering and move on to repairing with wood glue and waiting overnight for it to dry. When I resumed hammering I created a little base for the front of the chair to rest on for support. I certainly hammered less aggressively after that. 

 I used upholstery tacks to secure it around the edges BEFORE cutting. A lesson I learned by cutting the first piece too small.

 I cut off the excess fabric and applied the trim replacing the tired old brass tacks with shiny new nickel ones.
In the end, it didn't turn out too badly considering the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. But, HAY, when did that ever stop me?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Finally! Last Bit of Bedroom Finished!

Careful readers and observers will have noticed when I posted about my completed Scandinavian bedroom makeover that I only showed you 3 walls. It was because of this:

The TV issue still had not been resolved. There it sat, big and ugly. Dusty. Ruining my design.

Even painting and adding a pop of color with a mirror didn't work. In fact I think it made it worse! But today was the day my husband finished the game he'd been playing on it for (which was rather touchy and made him reluctant to move it). When I came home from shopping the TV was gone and he was dusting the dresser! Just yesterday I'd found the perfect lantern which turned out to work so much better than the collection of glass candle holders I'd planned on using. The $14.00 price marked down from $89 made me even happier with it. I also snagged a black basket to replace my husband's green plastic container for TWO dollars!

Something about the color of the metal and shape of the lantern top reminded me of the rooftops we'd seen on our trip. This was a street in Copenhagen.

I snagged a picture from the bathroom because the orange detail (this was actually a birthday card) and black frame were perfect with the lantern and frame. The suitcases, train, and dogs suited the space perfectly.

 I love grouping things together to see what works...

Okay, I know you LOVE a before and after. Remember where we started? Remember this was an especially messy day!

I love change, don't you?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

5 Quick Weekend Projects

1. Recovering a lamp shade. I bought this lamp on clearance and have never liked the shade that came on it. Not to worry. It's an easy fix.

 Start by removing the fabric from the frame. This shade had an inner cover which I left in tact.

 Lay the shade down on your fabric and trace the shape of the side for a square shade. Round shades require rolling the shade and tracing the top and bottom as you go.

Cut out your fabric pieces and stitch right sides together until you get to the last piece.

For finishing just whip stitch the first and last pieces together.

Fold the top and bottom inside the frame and cover the rough edges with some kind of trim.

2. If you have a wall with a hodgepodge of artwork or family photos in frames that don't match, but spray paint them all the same color for a unifying effect with punch.

I had to hang a black frame around the thermostat which is smack dab in the middle of the wall compliments of whatever man built this house. No woman would have put it in the exact spot for a large piece of artwork or mirror. This arrangement is a result of forced creativity.

3. Place a small picture inside a bigger empty frame to give it a larger scale. (See above left.)

4. Place a collection of beloved objects in a bowl for display. A child's collection of favorite rocks would suffice.

5. Paint that outdated brass fireplace screen with heat resistant paint for barbecue grills. I did this 3 years ago and it has held up beautifully.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Restoration Spring Continues: The Spiritual Take Away

There's always a point in my decorating endeavors when I look at what I've done and think that I've ruined it and all is lost. "What was I thinking? I should have just left it alone."

There are sometimes tears shed while sitting in the floor amid the destruction I've wrought. 

The sanding, uncovering, cutting, painting, ripping apart seem drastic. Painful. More than I'll be able to fix when the time comes for restoration. I look at the mess I've created and wonder if I'll ever be able to put it back together again. Why wasn't I satisfied? It was good enough the way it was. The chipped paint, scratches, ugly color or fabric weren't really all that bad. It was functional if not beautiful.

But I want beautiful. Restored. A treasure.

I want the beautiful lines of the original design to be revealed. There is a work of craftsmanship under the ugly fabric and worn surfaces. The deep gashes left by previous encounters can be sanded away. In the end all can be made new.

But the process...the process is painful.

God often reminds me during these projects that he is up to much the same thing. The original design is under there somewhere if only I could be less resistant to the uncovering, sanding, oiling.

Revealing. Forgiving. Anointing.

I recently upholstered a chair and chose to cover over the original ugly fabric because I was afraid. The cushion was beyond salvation however, with broken down springs and ancient cigar burns. I replaced it with a new piece of foam. Then covered it with a bold new print.

New. Clean. Cheerful. Brave. Beautiful from the inside out. Sometimes the best course of action is to take things down to the core and start over.

A frequent prayer of mine is for God to make me the woman he made me to be. Every time I pray it I think it sounds dangerous. New. Clean. Cheerful. Brave. Imprinted with boldness. How much pain might be involved in getting there is something I've learned after years of walking with him. But when the lesson is learned and I'm another step closer to full restoration I'm glad of all the sanding and scraping. It always looks disastrous at the time while pieces of what I once was lie about waiting to be cleaned up. Remnant dust of the old me.

The process sometimes feels like taking away, removing, dissolving. How much of this can I endure? And then age old cracks get filled in, gouges buffed smooth, the residue of the past is blown away. When I'm bare he stains with his blood, covers with his grace, fills with his love. He never leaves us bare and vulnerable, but this is no cosmetic restoration. It's cosmic. Vast and deep. He cares little about how things look.

He cares what is. With him the depth of the restoration is the thing.

He is interested in nothing but full. Complete. Whole. Reclaimed. Cured. Remade.

There is an intimacy in the bareness and exposure. For all the pain involved, I am thankful that The Restorer isn't satisfied with window dressing. That for the treasure he's working on he will not be satisfied with less than complete restoration. We may want him to haphazardly slap paint on so we can look whole to the outside world quickly as possible. Those coverings quickly chip away to expose shoddy work. That is the kind of work we do on ourselves. Covering. Glossing. Hiding.

We are too happy with the good enough. The good enough life, marriage, parenting, work, friendships, spiritual life. We gladly spot clean and slipcover. We sell ourselves short.

God, however, is about refined beauty and strength. He's more than happy to adorn and decorate a life in order for it to look beautiful from the outside. But before he does that he is looking to reclaim his original design. Unlike me he is the restorer who never thinks things would have been better off in their original state. He never fears he may not be able to complete the task or restore the hidden promise in his project. He is the Master Craftsman from beginning to end.

“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.~ Hosea 6:1