June 30, 2014

Our WWI Army cot

By Chelsea

Hi guys! My favorite part of this blog, hands down, is sharing ideas. Ideas that I hope will inspire you to put your own creative touch on your home. Whether we share the same style or not, my wish for this little corner of the great wide web is to inspire you to fling the door to freedom and creativity within your own home wide open. You are one of a kind and completely unique, and so should be your home!

Today I'm really excited to be sharing a fairly unique idea. This one seemed kind of far-fetched a few months ago, mostly because I wasn't sure Matt would be on board. I really need to give him more credit! My guy, (usually), has a pretty open mind, and with his 'thumbs-up' I moved forward. I can't believe the day is here that it's a finished, functional, loved-on project! 

If you follow along on Facebook, you may have seen this photo a while back:

I asked if anyone knew what it was and wasn't surprised when, within minutes, one of my history buff uncles posted the correct answer: An old army cot! During a typical Craigslist search for some furniture to refinish, I stumbled on a listing for a handful of WWI Army cots. WWI, people! I was completely lost in curiosity. I drove out to take a look in person. It was love and intrigue at first site. The criss-crossing legs, the faded color of the wood, the old metal brackets...it was an easy purchase, (and for $40 nonetheless)! The seller, who had a handful of these, said they belonged to his grandfather who was a doctor during the war. 

Since my cot was used by a WWI doctor, (and you don't have to have a great imagination to guess what happened on these cots during those days), I really wanted to replace the original cover with something...cleaner. Vintage Army cot canvas covers are not quite a popular search, so the first company I found, Hoggan's, was basically my only source. I wouldn't imagine that WWI Army cot canvas cover replacements are in high demand, but for some reason it took almost two months for my cover to arrive from when I placed the order. But, the price was great and the quality is superb; worth the wait in my mind.

With the new canvas cover on, (an easy replacement that Matt and I took care of in 10 minutes), our WWI Army cot is being given a less eventful second life as a comfy reading, (or napping), spot in our living room!

I topped it with a pile of pillows that I made from mismatched placemats, ( how-to here), and a felt zipper pouch, all from World Market's clearance section. The whole lot of pillows cost under $15!

It's an honor to get to reinvent something with such deep history.

And it's quite enjoyed these days.

If you are local and interested in getting your hands on a WWI Army cot, please contact me! I've kept in touch with the seller and told him I'd refer any interest his way. I'd be happy to put you in touch; he's got quite a stash!

Thank you so much for stopping by!


June 27, 2014

Pink trunk

By Chelsea

Hi friends! I thought it fitting to ring in the weekend here by sharing this cheerful piece:

Isn't it delicious?! A friend brought this trunk over last week to have refinished for her little girl, Molly. She'd found it at a yard sale, and although the outside was in shabby shape, the inside is cedar lined; what a score!

Here it is before, in all it's stenciled, shiny veneer glory, (and this was after I peeled off all the matchbox car stickers):

The wish for this trunk is that it grows with Molly and that they have a long history together, (one which her future husband may or may not be grateful for; my trunk, which I was given on my 13th birthday, weighs a thousand pounds now and Matt absolutely loves loading it every time we move...). Since the vision for this piece was not just for the present time but for Molly's grown up life as well, I wanted to give this trunk a bit more depth. Sometimes children's furniture is very flat and one dimensional. But there are tricks to avoid that, even on the flattest, smoothest of pieces!

To start, I painted all the edges and corners in French Linen by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Since the plan was to gently distress this piece, we wanted something a bit richer coming through underneath the pink. French Linen is a beautiful, warm, taupe-y grey; very sophisticated and a lovely contrast to most colors by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. It's almost always one of the two colors I choose when applying a layered color finish.

For this piece I painted 4 coats of Scandinavian Pink by ASCP. 4 coats is more than I usually use; chalk paint provides wonderfully thick coverage and usually two coats will suffice, (or one plus touch ups). There are many factors that go into how to refinish a piece through paint, but the first that I always consider is what kind of surface I'm starting with. There are many very talented furniture refinishers that have flat out said they do not work with veneer or laminate pieces; solid wood only. I understand completely. Any surface other than solid wood gets a little tricky. But, I believe that any surface can be properly covered and turned into something deeper and richer than it started. It's all about technique, folks.

So, for the first two coats on this trunk I painted like my 3yr old - brushing every which way and creating a hot mess of brush strokes. I even loaded the paint on thick in certain areas, letting it dry in ridges and peaks. Hang with me here, it's all for good reason!

Then for the final two coats I brushed the paint on in fairly smooth, back and forth strokes, right over the dried hot mess. It's very subtle but this technique created slight texture on the piece, creating a more sophisticated and richer look on what was once a flat and simple child's piece.

See what I'm talking about? I tried to capture the texture up close:

Finally, I used a thick brush and cloth and started clear waxing to seal the piece. When I wax, I dip the brush into the can and apply the wax in a circular motion across one section of the piece at a time. Then I follow with a back and forth motion. Wipe excess wax off with cloth. 

Using a fine sanding sponge, I gently rubbed the corners and edges where I wanted to reveal the French Linen underneath.

What a smart pink trunk she is now! Scandinavian Pink is a great answer for anyone looking to make a fresh, feminine statement without looking too girly or young. A cheerful color, indeed!

Have a piece you'd like to refresh and love again? Email me at chelseasgarage@gmail.com about a custom order! 

And on that happy note, have yourselves a splendid weekend!


June 25, 2014

Geometric Lamp Copycat

By Cate

Remember when I converted this guy into a lovely terrarium in this post? Well, when it comes to plants I promise you I really do have the best intentions.  But without fail, they seem to always die on me.  So after I neglected to water my plant {oops} I once again had a gutted chandelier to play with.

And then I saw this... and a plan began to hatch
Inspiration Source: Land of Nod

I sketched some ideas and took some measurements and started by spray painting the glass gold in my makeshift spray tent/ bin.  Painting the chandelier glass really brought out beveled angles and played up the geometric design.

Next on the agenda was a trip to Home Depot to buy my supplies.  My shopping list consisted of 3 items: 8ft lamp cord, a socket kit, and a threaded steel nipple smaller than the base hole diameter with a hex nut.  I've included a close up of the threaded steel nipple since it's so small in picture {and so you know I'm not talking about something gross}. 

Start by unscrewing the hex nut from the threaded nipple and slide the split end of the lamp cord through it.  Then thread the cord through the base {since the chandelier already came with a convenient hole at the top this part was easy}.  Then I followed the instructions to assemble electrical wiring of the lamp.  Now I am not an electrician so I highly advise that you do your research before you begin and don't just take my word for it.  If you need a tutorial, I found this one to be helpful and was able to follow along/ adapt where needed.

1. Disassemble the socket according to instructions 
2. Screw the socket base onto the threaded nipple 
3. Thread the cord through the nipple and the socket base and tie the two ends into a underwriters knot {the tutorial has a great illustration to help} 
4. One of the cords ends is called the hot {smooth} wire and the other the neutral {ribbed} wire.  Wrap the hot wire around the loosened brass screw on the socket and the neutral wire around the steel screw on the socket and tighten the screws until the wires are secure
5. Place the brass cover back over the socket top 
6. Gently pull the cord taught until the socket top can snap into place on the bottom of the socket

7. Pull the cord through the base to get the socket in place 
8. The socket should sit flush on the base with the cord hanging through the threaded nipple and dangling down inside the center of the base.
9. This last step is a little tricky to explain: turn the base over and look inside to where the bottom of the threaded nipple is sticking through the hole at the top of the base.  Slide the hex nut up the cord to the threaded nipple and screw back on.  Tighten the hex nut until it secures the socket to the base.  

WHEW.  That was a lot of electrical jargon.  Hope you could follow along with me there.  Let's move along so we can get to the reveal.

I was originally hoping for a tall drum shade, but when I saw this hexagon shade at Target, I thought can it get any better than this?

The gold base looks so glamorous.

I am so excited with how it turned out.  And for a LOT less than the inspiration's sticker price of $79!  Hope this will inspire an affordable copycat of your own.

Happy Wednesday,

~ Cate

June 24, 2014

UN-refinished table

By Chelsea

Hi All! This warmer weather has had me reminiscing the days when Matt and I used to live at the beach. They were good days, indeed, but we also love where we live now near our home city, Washington D.C. Although we don't live at the beach anymore there's no reason we can't pull off a bit of beachy vibe in our home now! My interpretation of beachy is casual and laid back, use of natural elements, loads of sunlight, and snaps of happy color.

I had a beachy vision for a particular table in my living room. Funny thing is, this table was painted white already with distressed and weathered grey cabana stripes. It was super beachy! However, it's also smack in between two pieces of white seating in our living room and I wanted something to break up all the white.

I've had this table since my junior year of college when my Mom handed it down. I can't even think about the mice that likely lived inside when we had an infestation my Senior year in the M.A.C.K shack, (Hi, Margaret, Andrea, and Katherine)!

But I digress. Here is how I refinished this table the first time around: 
I used Old White by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, and dry-brushed stripes in Paris Grey, also by ASCP. Then I sanded everything down for a time-worn, weathered finish.

And here's my second round with this piece! I went to town with my sander, removing the paint from most of the surfaces, and then gave it a light wash with equal parts Old White and water.

My favorite part of this make'under' is the leftover bits of white paint stuck in the cracks and crevices of the table! Wasn't expecting that but it certainly adds a sweet dose of age and history. I love seeing traces of a pieces' past, in one form or another; it's why I always aim to maintain the integrity and character of any piece I'm refinishing.

The rope pull was an impromptu DIY made from leftover sisal rope I had on hand. I had to drill the hole from the previous knob a bit bigger to fit the two ends of rope inside. Once the two ends were stuck inside I tied them in a knot to keep the rope pull secure.

Doing a light wash over almost any piece will make it appear bleached and sun faded. Very beachy. I'm working on this exact type of finish with a larger piece right now, and let me tell you, all that sanding to remove the original stain is not for the faint of heart!!! Which I totally am. So I'm taking it slow. :) But I sure am excited to show you! Progress pics will be posted on Instagram if you're interested in following projects along that way.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by!!


June 23, 2014

Ricky. {And some more birthday loot}

By Chelsea

Hi guys! I wanted to introduce you really quick to the newest member of our family, Ricky. He was on clearance at Home Goods and I had a birthday gift card to use, (thanks, Mom and Dad), so I snatched him up without a second thought!

Love his warm, not-too-shiny metal finish. He ties together the other various metals in our living room, so I can definitely say he's functional...

Not gonna lie, it's invigorating to sit on the living room sofa right under Ricky. I hung him myself, so it's on me if anyone gets speared!

On a separate trip out, this time to World Market, (thanks to another birthday gift card from Cate and my brother), I picked up some mismatched placemats and zip-around wool pouches from the clearance section. Almost ready to share what these turned into soon. 

Any guesses? (I ended up coming home with a slightly different assortment than the picture I took above)

There are some fun DIY projects and reveals coming up this week; if you follow on Instagram or Facebook you've already seen a little peek!

Thanks for stopping by!


June 20, 2014

DIY Mid-century modern chairs {Full tutorial of an IKEA hack}

By Chelsea

Psst - like this project? Find more inspiration and ideas at our new site, StyleMutt, coming soon!

Happy Friday, guys! Kicking off what I hope is a beautiful, well spent weekend for all of you, I've got an exciting transformation to share today! Take a look at our original IKEA Jennylund armchairs, (after I added the pom-pom trim to the bottom)

And after some brainstorming, praying, and diving into DIY:

To be honest, this DIY was a last-ditch effort. I've been longing to add a bit of clean-lined mid-century modern flair to our living room, and over a year ago I began browsing Craigslist looking for MCM, (mid-century modern), armchairs. I wanted to replace our IKEA Jennylund chairs, (which we bought used off of Craigslist as soon as we moved into our home almost 4 years ago), with something cleaner lined. Love the Jennylund chairs, but the pair side by side, across from our IKEA Ektorp sofa, all looked a little slouchy to me. Slip-covered furniture is wonderful, especially when you've got a small army of toddlers, but after lots of cycles of heavy use and washing, the fit is just never the same. The slipcovers on all three pieces, (2 Jennylund chairs + 1 Ektorp sofa), were getting baggier and looser, resulting in an all around slouchy looking living room. I wanted to clean things up a bit. 

So, I had been searching on Craigslist for a pair of MCM armchairs and wasn't having any luck finding anything remotely affordable for us. Then I started thinking about having the Jennylund chair frames upholstered. They weren't bad looking chairs underneath those slouchy slipcovers! So, after 3 or 4 calls to local upholsterers who quoted me between $600-$1500/chair, (what the what?!?), this little seedling of an idea to take matters into my own hands began to sprout. My plan: Use a grey slipcover, attach the skirt underneath the chair, and replace the legs.

At first, I wanted to order two slipcovers from Bemz in Silver Grey Panama Cotton. But the total for the two slipcovers plus shipping was still out of reach. So, I took my Silver Grey fabric swatch, (Bemz will send 5 fabric swatches for free), to JoAnn Fabrics and found the closest match with Rit fabric dye, (which appeared to be Pearl Grey).

The Pearl Grey fabric dye was a major disappointment. At this point I had two blue-ish, purple-ish slipcovers and I followed every instruction for dying in a front loader washer exactly.

I went back to JoAnns for round two, (and they graciously gave me two more boxes of dye free of charge), this time with a better plan. I mixed an entire packet of Rit Tan with 3/4 of a packet of Rit Pearl Grey for more of a 'greige' color.

Check it out! The two dyes mixed perfectly to match the Silver Grey fabric swatch from Bemz!

Like-new grey slipcovers! Hard part = OVER!

The rest of this DIY was pretty easy and straight forward. I turned the chairs on their backs and unscrewed their legs. 

Pulled the fabric somewhat tight, (you don't want it too tight or too loose), and used a staple-gun to attach the 'skirt' of the slipcover underneath the bottom edge of the chair.

Trimmed off the excess fabric.

And attached these legs using these top plates, found at Do It Best.com. I stained the legs using Hickory wood stain by Minwax before attaching. (Photo is of the legs before staining)

Finished product!

Obviously, these chairs are not perfect. With all the hot water dying and washing the slipcovers shrank just a wee bit. As you can see, the piping does not reach the bottom edge of the chair. But for me, personally, the slight imperfections are completely worth the money we saved. We have the chairs that I envisioned over a year ago, and for only $30/chair, (the expense came from the legs). 

This DIY project sure challenged my fearless DIY limits! I definitely feel encouraged that all worked out in the end, especially after several bumps in the road. It's invigorating to try something brand new, even if it is just giving a couple of chairs a makeover...

Have yourselves a splendid weekend and thank you so much for stopping by!