Black Sofa Table

This was one short and sweet project:

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Scuffed and missing a top when we brought it home, we spray painted it black and had our friends at Ace Hardware cut mirrored glass for the top.  The whole project cost $25.

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Above it, you see the beginnings of my next project–a gallery wall featuring treasured family and ancestral photos. I’ve been collecting gold frames and hope to have a posting for the reveal very soon.

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Midcentury Modern White Dresser

Another midcentury modern dresser we upcycled!

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This is definitely becoming our favorite style of furniture–and I especially love to dip the legs in gold.

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This time, we painted it white and finished it with a high gloss polyacrylic which won’t yellow over time as polyurethane tends to do.

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Maybe one reason I love these pieces, with their simple gold accents and sleek lines, is that they remind me of vintage Chanel.  Like this:

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Nothing competes–only compliments.

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The subtle, yet seductive curve of the top drawer:

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I feel like these pieces can stand either alone–perhaps paired with one or two special art pieces.  I am currently on the look out for art and accessories that do not distract from the silhouette of midcentury modern.  I am struggling a little with this, but—well.  It’s a journey.

DSC_1212 (2) Simple. Sophisticated.  Understated elegance.



Gray Buffet with Antique Brass Hardware

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

This is especially true when it comes to recycling old, cast off furniture. This buffet wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world when we found it, sans some hardware and properly closing drawers:


Somebody had deposited it on the curb in Minneapolis and walked away; that’s okay because as soon as we saw it, visions of an epic upcycle danced through our heads.

It had some scratches and dings which we filled with wood putty and then sanded until smooth. B put his carpentry skills to work, fixing the drawers and doors so they operated smoothly. We sanded the entire buffet, actually—not crazily, but enough to scuff up the surface. Then came the bonding primer followed by two coats of Benjamin Moore gray paint and two coats of polyurethane. We also painted the inside for a nice, clean finish:

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The hardware was unique—so unique, it was unlikely we could find replacements for the missing handles. We weren’t crazy about the original matching white knobs, and so those were ditched altogether. We decided to use the handles only on the middle drawers and to look for something complimentary for the doors and the top drawers:


We looked no further than the website for Lee Valley. This company is amazing—it is literally a mecca for seekers of beautiful and yet affordable hardware. A jewelry store for furniture, as it were.

The original hardware on the buffet was antique brass, and the finish on the newbies needed to match this. These antique ring pulls came in a variety of sizes—we ordered the smaller size for the top drawers and the larger size for the doors. One must keep scale in mind when accessorizing!


My own dining room is too small for much more than hungry children and a beautiful banquette bench B made to compliment the farmhouse table we made together. I DO indulge in daydreams of a future dining room that will be an enormous hall with plenty of room for a piece like this AND the hungry kids.

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Rustic Blue

This antique chest of drawers was one of our Valentine’s Day thrift-store treasures. We love prowling around Minneapolis during our dates—and finding this reminded us why!


She was just so cute, with those glass knobs and petite profile—and we got her for $10 at the Salvation Army.


I knew I wanted to refinish her into something rustic and French Country; but by then, I was bored to death of chalk paint and dark wax. Also, I wanted a layered look, and I wanted a pop of color. Blue, to be exact—and I was quite stubborn in this decision. Our other pieces have been done in gray, black and white–so safe! I had it in my head that I wanted Mediterranean blue, period!


I started this project by lightly sanding the surface, and then wiping it clean. I then dry brushed a very thin layer of white paint over the entire surface. After this dried, I then dry brushed the blue all over the piece in very thin strokes. (This layer also had to dry—doing a layered look DOES require a certain amount of patience and time!). After this dried, I distressed the corners and highpoints with sandpaper, knocking the paint down to the original wood just in these areas. I wanted it to look even more old, weathered and dimensional, and so I tried a technique I’ve been dying to try—staining over paint.


I used Minwax Jacobean stain, applying it in sections, and then wiping it off with a rag. The slight patina it added to the piece was exactly what I was looking for.


I let this piece dry for a few days before applying a Minwax clear wax for a nice, protective seal.


She has a different look than the other pieces we have done, but I really do love how it turned out.

Midcentury Modern Dresser–Soft Black with Gold

I didn’t know I liked midcentury modern furniture—until we redid this piece.

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Now, I am crazy for the sleek, tailored lines, and we are always on the lookout for these kind of pieces. I like them in their original stained state—they don’t need to be painted to be gorgeous. Generally, however, the pieces that come to us for restoration have such gaping wounds, paint is the only way to conceal the surgical scars of B’s workshop.

I am also sort of crazy for gold right now. Maybe too much so, but it is so fun, I’ll consider later if I need to cease and desist with the gold spray paint. Lately, I have been loving Krylon Bright Metallic in Bright Gold, and used it on the hardware and the base of this dresser:


B and I joke about needing to hear a piece “speak” before we do anything with it. We’re only half joking, however; weeks and even months will go by if we are not certain what direction to take. The “ah-ha!” moment always comes, though—and when it does, it feels like some sort of epiphany.

Apparently, there is a learning curve to painting furniture—who knew? I wish I could say it always turns out.

Not true.

We thought this dresser would be a simple flip.

Also not true.

When we first painted her, we used a chalk paint. And hated how it turned out. We were really looking for something more sleek and shiny than chalk paint.

And not seeing any reason why we shouldn’t, we blithely painted over the chalk paint with Benjamin Moore’s Ebony King in satin and gloated over the result.

We also spray painted the base with the gold, for an unexpected touch of bling.


It looked really good, and so we finished the whole thing off with polyurethane.

She looked gorgeous.

For a few days. Then, something curious happened—a chalky film had crept up THROUGH the polyurethane. And she didn’t looked gorgeous anymore—she was hideous, cloudy and dirty looking.

There was nothing to do but haul her back out to the workshop, strip off all the layers of paint and poly, and—

Start ALL OVER. Minus the villainous first layer of chalk paint, of course.

The dark, but necessary side to refinishing furniture. Mistakes must be rectified, lessons learned. It’s always a process, a journey, as we learn techniques, what works, and what doesn’t—and one must be patient. Oh. So. Patient.


In spite the ridiculous amount of labor and time this piece demanded, I can’t help gloat over her with an indulgent sort of adoration.  The contrast of soft black and gold, the concave curve of the drawers.  Spoiled and exacting, yet so pretty to look at.

Brass Button Up-cycle

This baby was brown, chipped and sad when B hauled it home one day.

I wish I had a “before” picture (it’s harder to remember to take the unglamorous shots—I’m always in such a hurry to get to the good stuff.  But I will get better at it—I WILL!)

After a little precursory work of patching, sanding and priming, it was coated in a shade of soft black and protected with clear polyurethane.


I love the brass buttons and hardy brass hardware–they lend a clean, militant look to the piece and contrast crisply again the dark paint.  My sons both have dressers they are fond of, and no room for another, much to my regret.  This piece belongs in a boys room or a swanky bachelor pad.


Which is exactly where she went.

I can’t keep every piece we meet, restore and fall in love with. But I always sigh in contentment when they end up in the sort of place I envisioned all along.