Fun Sewing Chair Makeover

sewing chair side view

I’m calling this a sewing chair because the seat lifts up and has a little shallow storage area.  It may be for sewing supplies, or perhaps it is a piano chair.  A friend gave it to me, and I thought the MCM style would be fun in a bright color. 

sewing chair before

I chose Dixie Belle Colonel Mustard, but I was a little stumped on a fabric choice.  What goes with mustard???  So I posted some options on Facebook, and the resounding choice was navy blue.  Then I was off to WalMart where I found this navy and white fabric.  I love this combination!  I think gray would have been adorable too. 

footstool fabric choice

For some reason, this color needed 3 coats.  Usually their dark or bright colors only need 2 coats, and white or light colors require 3 coats.  For that finishing touch I love, I distressed a bit around the edges.  I removed the existing fabric.  You wouldn’t have to remove it, but it helps so you aren’t trying to staple on top of other staples and it also gives you a pattern to cut out the new fabric.  Then I laid the fabric face down, stretched it over the top edge and stapled.  It helps to go back and forth on opposite sides, so you don’t fasten the fabric unevenly and get your pattern off-kilter.  I fold the corners like I’m wrapping a present.

sewing chair side view

A simple pot of flowers, and this little chair really shines.  You could use it at a sewing or craft table, at a piano or in a corner as a little spot of sunshine.  What a great little pop of personality!

sewing chair after

Here’s another look at this makeover, from dark and dated to fun and fresh.  If you haven’t noticed, that’s my favorite part of every project – making a piece new and useful again!

sewing chair before and after

Antique Dresser Refresh

antique dresser after
antique dresser before

Hi Friends!  Today I’ve got a really satisfying project for you. 

My sister-in-law was getting rid of this 3-drawer dresser, and asked me to come pick it up.  It was in really great structural shape, just a bit worn out. 

Age and patina are good in my book, but this was not in a good way.  I was anxious to get started on it, especially after I posted my new acquisition on Facebook, and everyone had comments and suggestions of how to refinish it.

antique dresser unstaged

The Plan

I am not one to pick white as my default color.  I pick bolder colors or layered finishes more than half the time.  But this little piece just seemed to scream white to me.  I may have painted the whole thing white, if not for the Facebook suggestions to stain the top dark. 

antique dresser plan

How to Strip the Top

I started by stripping the top with Citristrip.  I like to brush on a thick layer with a chip brush and cover it with plastic wrap.  I let it sit for a few hours, and then come back with a plastic paint scraper and scrape the top clean.  I keep a little cardboard box nearby to unload the scraper into.  Then I just toss the whole mess in the garbage. 

If there are any little stubborn areas, I rub them off with #0000 steel wool.  I give it all a wipe down with a shop towel, and then sand with 220 grit sand paper.

antique dresser top

Fresh Finishes

For the stain, I used Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain in the color Espresso.  This color has recently become my top favorite over Walnut because of how dark and rich it is.  I also sealed it with two coats of Gator Hide. 

For the paint, I chose Dixie Belle’s whitest white, called Cotton.  I really wanted bright and fresh.  But not too clean, so of course I distressed a bit around the details and edges.

antique dresser detail

I was able to keep the original hardware too. I staged it using some kitchen canisters and plates because I could see it as a coffee station or small buffet, or of course as a dresser.  With its smaller size, it’s such a versatile piece that it could be used in any room of the house.  Or all of them, if you’re someone who likes to rearrange a lot!

antique dresser after

Here’s another look at how this dresser transformed from dark and dated to light and bright, but still kept its old character. 

before & after antique dresser

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Cedar Chest Rescue | Trash to Treasure

cedar chest after
cedar chest before

How do you like this little beauty?  Are you green with envy?  What’s that?  It’s a hot mess?  I know, right?!!!

So here’s the story.  I was picking up a little vintage table that I had purchased off Facebook Marketplace.  When I got there, I realized the lady was selling off an estate.  So I quickly scanned the garage for anything else I might want to buy, and the filthy green cedar chest with peeling veneer seemed like the obvious choice! 

My furniture rescuing heart just wanted to save that piece from the trash heap.  Until I heard that she wanted $250 for it.  Um…have you seen that cedar chest?  No Bueno.  I told her to let me know if she decided to sell it for $50, and lucky for me, I heard from her about a week later.

cedar chest removing veneer

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Removing Veneer

I knew that I would have to remove the water damaged peeling veneer from the top.  Little did I know the blood (yes, actual blood), sweat and tears (no, not real tears) it would take to do so.  After I peeled off what I could with my bare hands, I tried soaking a towel in hot water and leaving it on top overnight.  That seemed to help soften everything up. 

Then it was time to break out the scraper tool and rubber mallet.  I just banged and hacked away until I had won, and the veneer had lost.  It probably took 3 sessions in total.  And since my basement creative time is at 5 a.m, you can believe my kids did not appreciate sleeping right above that racquet!  But, in the end, it was so worth it.

The next order of business was cleaning off the layers of dirt and peeling paint.  I did this with a Scotchbrite pad and a rotary sander with 60-grit sand paper. 

Layering Stains on Top

Due to the water damage which had creeped through the veneer, I needed the final finish to be very dark or weathered to camoflauge it.  First, I stained it with Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain in Espresso.  Then I used a very white glaze. 

It turned out whiter than I wanted, so to counteract that, I decided to use a homemade vinegar and steel wool stain that I had concocted in a mason jar.  The steel wool reacts with the vinegar and basically dissolves, leaving you with a stain.  It was just the ticket to create that timeworn feel I wanted.

cedar chest top

Layering Paint on the Base

For the base, I painted it all in Chocolate Brown.  Then I dry brushed all over with Drop Cloth, a warm white.  I wanted to add in some gray tones, so I used Driftwood Gray mostly around the edges. 

I finished it all up with antiquing wax on top of the gray, applied liberally with a chip brush. 

The one thing I didn’t do, due to laziness, is repair the back leg.  It really doesn’t show much, especially against a wall. But I could have used Bondo and lots of sanding and patience to fix it, if it had been important to me.

cedar chest damage

I absolutely love how the staging turned out.  A bright green wreath against a chalkboard just speaks to me.  And white candle holders and milk bottles.  I waited forever for good daylight, and took dozens of pictures.

cedar chest after

Somewhere along the way, I discovered this little surprise – a 2-level top!  The top level has little dividers, and opens with a button.  I never even knew it was there when I bought it.

cedar chest 2 layer collage

This cedar chest was truly rescued and loved-back-to-life.  Now are you green with envy? (wink, wink)

If you’d like to see more of my recent furniture makeovers, check out my Most Popular Projects of 2018.  And if you like this transformation, please Pin!

cedar chest pinterest

For my 1-page guide on creating farmhouse style in any room, click the picture.  i’d love to hang out more!

Painted Cottage-Style Dining Chairs

cottage chairs before & after
cottage chairs before

Free is my favorite kind of furniture!  As long as I can fix the structural issues (or the ugly issues), I’m in.  These four chairs were given to me by a friend of my mom’s.  She had them in her vacation cottage.  They were super dirty, a little bit damaged and (dare I say) super ugly.  But based on their cute shape and sturdy build, they had tons of potential.  Here they are now.

cottage chairs after

These chairs got a super scrub down and a thorough sanding.  Then my husband repaired some of the cross braces at the bottoms.  I can see that whomever painted those flowers on the chair backs was inspired by the shape routed on the backs that reminds me of a tulip.  But I really question the color choice.  Black flowers?  Don’t those denote death?  I couldn’t wait to cover them up!

I had a paint color on hand called Sea Glass, and thought that would be charming.  Then when I saw how cottage-y the first chair looked, I thought maybe the chairs should be different colors than each other.  Another color I already had on hand was Duck Egg Blue.  It was a great complement to the Sea Glass, and I decided to stop at two colors.  I think it’s a fine line between cottage-y and kindergarten-y if you know what I mean.

cottage chairs collage

I sanded and distressed them quite a bit.  These are the type of pieces I love to distress because it just sets off the details, and gives that aged quality you’d expect from a set of old chairs.  I’d love to see them end up on someone’s covered front porch, or sun room, surrounded by white planked walls. Maybe there’s a chippy table to rest your glass of sweet tea on.  Ahhhhh, my cottage life fantasies.  Do you have them too?  Please tell me I’m not the only one!

These chairs are currently for sale locally in southeast Wisconsin.  I have a potential buyer coming tomorrow, and I may have to let them go.  They are just so charming; it’s hard not to be emotionally attached to them!

cottage chairs before & after

Pink Watercolor MCM Chest of Drawers

MCM dresser before & after

My family took our usual summer vacation at the end of July to a cottage in the Minoqua area in Northern Wisconsin.  But we added a little vacation within a vacation to the Porcupine Mountains in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  I always love to explore new places, especially when there is tons of natural beauty to see, hiking around and taking tons of photos.  So before I get into today’s project, here is just one photo of the fam enjoying some outdoor relaxation time.

Family Pic in the UP

My uncle had a little farm when I was growing up. There were chickens, geese, goats, a couple horses and a pony named Cupcake.  Eventually, the barn had fewer and fewer animals and became a place to store stuff they weren’t using.  They had their 50th wedding anniversary recently, and wanted the barn cleaned out for the party.  They called me over to take any of the furniture I wanted, and there were a few great pieces.  This MCM chest of drawers was one of them.

MCM dresser before

It was in pretty great condition.  The drawers were clean inside and slid well.  The exterior was dirty, and had a burn mark on the top, but I knew Dixie Belle chalk mineral paint would cover that.  Originally, I had a navy blue and sand color palette in mind.  But when I found myself dragging my feet to get this project started, I realized I wasn’t too excited about that choice.  So I did a 180, and decided on pink ombre.  I also wanted to just be creative with blending, and let the final look land where it may.  After a quick sanding and cleaning, I mixed my various shades of pink using Barn Red and Cotton White.  To apply and blend, I used a spray bottle of water, and just went behind with my brush and blended the transition between shades.  Again, I wasn’t going for anything specific, just a pretty watercolor girly look.

MCM dresser side view

To stage this photo, I added a few nursery-themed items.  I think this piece could totally go in an adult room as well, and be very sophisticated with different accessories.  Here is another look at how this MCM chest of drawers went from drab to girly with a little pink paint and blending.  It is pretty much one of a kind now!

MCM dresser before & after

Sky Blue Secretary Desk Before & After

secretary desk before & after

This sturdy little secretary desk belongs to my client, Theresa.  You may have seen some of my previous posts of her furniture; she has kept me busy this summer!  This was a family piece that she wanted freshened up to match her other décor.  And look how fresh it is now!

blue secretary desk

A secretary desk is a little tricky to paint because you really have to remove the inserts and glass from the doors to do a thorough job.  Sometimes you also have the cubbies and drawers inside the drop-down desk portion, but thankfully Theresa wanted to leave the interior unpainted. 

I’ve only done one other secretary desk, and it also included some blue.  This one is from a couple years ago, and went to a young lady setting up her first apartment after college.

Secretary desk years ago

Color & Hardware Choices

I absolutely love Theresa’s color choice on this piece!  I am a fan of most shades of blue, and this one is so subtle that it is still pretty neutral.  At the same time, it makes this desk look a little farmhouse-y, which you know I love as well.  The paint I used is Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral paint in Haint Blue.

secretary desk hardware

Theresa wanted new drawer hardware, but was a little overwhelmed by all the choices.  So I sent her to the D Lawless website to check out these four different styles.  I was rooting for #4, but she selected  #2; once they were on, they really won me over.  Thank you to D Lawless for providing these high quality and affordable pulls!  To match the remaining door hardware and hinges to the new hardware, I spray painted them with Rustoleum oil-rubbed bronze.  It was a perfect match.

I was losing daylight when I staged the “after” photo.  But the dappled sunlight just adds to the charm, right?  I added some white ceramic accessories, along with a couple blue Bell jars to really accentuate the color.

secretary desk after open

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And one last look at how this desk started, and the sky blue transformation it underwent. If you need more ideas, here are some more of my desk projects, and one of them is another shade of blue.

If you like this refresh, please Pin!

secretary desk refresh

To get my free 1-page cheat sheet called “6 Elements of Farmhouse Style”, click this picture: