Category Archives: Furniture

Portable Potables

I wanted to make a portable, compact bar unit to help my son entertain in his small apartment. The designs I came across reminded me of the media cabinets my generation used to organize VCR tapes. And I found one.

Outdated storage units tend to be inexpensive. I like inexpensive.

The cardboard back needed to be replaced with sturdier particle board, and for ease of painting, I took the doors off too.

It was so much easier to paint everything separately. If I had nailed the panel to the back and then painted, I would have had a lot more pesky corners to deal with.

The colors of choice were Annie Sloan Emperor’s Silk and Graphite.

For the bottom and exterior I wanted a deeper black. For this I used Artisan Enhancements Scumble and General Finishes Glaze Effects in Pitch Black, making long even strokes over the paint with a chip brush.  Scumble keeps the glaze wet longer so there’s more time to “play” with it. (You can read more about this glazing technique in Backgammon Anyone?)

Exterior of the cabinet doors. One door with black glaze and the other without.

To give the interior some shine, I sealed the red paint with Satin-finish General Finishes Topcoat.

After letting the black glaze dry overnight, I was pleased with the dark, textured look.

Fortunately I was able to put the whole thing back together again.

Two additions I made were casters and handles. The handles (large cabinet pulls) help maneuver the rolling bar, and they also make a convenient place to drape a towel.

I included a fifth caster in the front to keep the unit from tipping forward when the doors are open. To keep the glasses from sliding around, I cut up some gray rubber shelf liner to fit the shelves on the doors.

A fun addition was motion sensor lights.  Double-sided tape adheres a metal strip to the surface (one under the top and one under the shelf). The metal attracts and holds the magnetized light. The lights can easily be taken out and put back in. Instead of batteries, they recharge with a USB port.

Setting the lights to motion-activation means the lights will go on when the doors were opened. Fun!

I’m sure my (very) responsible son will enjoy the storage and versatility of his rolling bar cart. And I know exactly what he’s going to ask when he reads this. The answer is, “Sorry, David, the liquor is not included.” (He’ll get a chuckle out of that.)

Cheers!

(P. S. Not that I wouldn’t mind, but I’m not paid to endorse any of the products.)

www.karenraelevine.com

Backgammon Anyone?

Thrift store find, $16.99!

The top told me it needed to be a backgammon table. (Furniture talks to me. Don’t ask.)

My backgammon idea challenged me for quite a while. I’d run through all kinds of color and design options in my head but none of them seemed right. It wasn’t until I took a General Finishes class at Suite Pieces that I knew glazing was the answer.

First, two coats of Annie Sloan Country Grey.

With a light distressing and some clear wax, I could have stopped there, but of course I didn’t.

For a two-tone look, I taped the edges of the top and the sides to get them ready for a glaze finish. The first step was a coat of Artisan Enhancements Scumble. Scumble is a water-based extender. It keeps the glaze wet longer so the glaze goes on smooth and there’s more time to “play” with it.

The Scumble has a sheen when it goes on. I tilted the table in the light to find the sheen and make sure it covered the entire surface that would be glazed.

I brushed on the glaze, a 1:1 mixture of General Finishes Water Based Glaze Effect colors Van Dyke Brown and Winter White. I used a chip brush to move the glaze in straight(ish) lines along the top …

… and across the drawer, and the sides.

I let the glaze dry overnight, then taped off the glaze I’d already applied. On went the Scumble and the glaze in Van Dyke Brown. Again, I used a chip brush to move the glaze in the direction I wanted. On the top, I followed the shape of the rim. On the bottom, I brushed downward and followed the line of the legs.

I changed the drawer pull and could have stopped then, but of course I didn’t.

I mapped out the backgammon triangles in Photoshop. I had a few different options to apply them. I could decoupage paper triangles, transfer images that had a triangle shape, make my own triangle stencil, or tape and glaze. I decided to tape and glaze.

I taped the table top and used graphite paper, pencil and ruler to trace my triangles onto the tape.

(I should buy stock in FrogTape Brand painter’s tape. I think I’m keeping them in business.)

I used a ruler and exacto knife to cut the tape around every other triangle.

I applied Scumble and Van Dyke Brown glaze. This time I brushed a cross hatch pattern, stroking the glaze first along the triangles and then across them.

In the photo above, you can see a little smudge on the bottom where I forgot to tape. I caught it while it was still wet, and wiped it off with a damp paper towel. The advantage to glaze is that it leaves a nonporous topcoat. Bare chalk paint would have absorbed that little goof and I would have had to paint over it.

The following day, I used my ruler and exacto knife to cut out the triangles that would receive a lighter glaze. I applied a fairly heavy coat of Winter White and with a damp paper towel, carefully wiped the glaze from each dark triangle.

Photo bomb by my “helper,” Charlie

Because the coat of white glaze was heavier, I removed the tape right away so that I could catch and wipe away any glaze that had seeped through the tape.

There were a few times during the process I could have stopped and still had a nice looking table, but I’m glad I kept going.

Backgammon anyone?

www.karenraelevine.com

From New York to London

I’d been on a suitcase kick and I wanted to try a trunk. As it happened, there was one waiting for me at a thrift store! I decided on a fantasy excursion to the birthplace of the Beatles.

I gave the whole trunk a light sanding and filled in some nicks with spackle.

I used a foam brush to apply black gel stain to the trim and hardware, and while I was at it, I went ahead and coated the whole exterior. Gel stain doesn’t cover metal completely. It leaves a bit of a distressed finished that I like. The trick always, when using gel stain, is to give it plenty of time to dry.

On Pinterest, I found a guide to painting the Union Jack.

To prevent painting over my treated trim and hardware, I had to tape it. I used an exacto knife to trim the tape so that the tape only covered the metal. This had to be done in two steps: once for the lid, and then again for the base.

I started with a coat of Annie Sloan Napoleonic Blue on the lid. For the red and white stripes, I chose Emperor’s Silk and Old Ochre.

It sure was easier pulling the tape off the trim than it had been applying it. And that was just for the lid. I still had to tape up the trim before I painted the base!

When the trim on the base had been taped, I continued the stripes down the front, back and sides, even painting the front handle.

I decided on bun feet for my British box. I purchased the mounting plates and the feet at a home improvement store. The mounting plates are designed to be used with different styles of “quick mount” feet or table legs.

Since the wood bottom of the trunk wasn’t thick enough to hold the mounting plates, I cut triangles of scrap wood and glued them to the corners with wood glue. (The paint cans pressed the wood together while the glue dried.)

From the bottom, I screwed the mounting plates into the trunk and through the wood triangles glued inside the bottom.

I gave the bun feet two coats of Emperor’s silk and screwed them into the plates.

I coated all of the painted surfaces on the outside with clear wax. The Emperor’s Silk on the interior pressboard didn’t need a sealer.

Closed, the trunk is a fun coffee table or linen chest.

Open, it’s a display and storage piece for an entryway or mudroom. Either way, it’s a treat for anyone who loves Great Britain or the Beatles!

From New York to London, “With Love From Me to You.”

www.karenraelevine.com

Love Grows Here

This chair needed some love. And maybe some flowers. I imagined an outdoor planter for a certain house already filled with love.

I brightened it with Annie Sloan Burgundy. During the month I purchased the paint, Suite Pieces donated a portion to breast cancer research. I was already off to a loving start.

Because this chair would spread the love outdoors, I added two coats of polyurethane to the paint and the cane, sanding between coats. With all that detail, these steps took some patience. I knew that polyurethane could yellow, but even if it did, I decided it wouldn’t diminish the integrity of the color.

Dressing up the cane back was easy with pieces of a cranberry garland glued inside a twist-tie burlap bow.

My plan had been to cut a hole in the seat and insert a flower pot, but the cane was so sturdy I hated to break it. Because this could end up being used as a chair, I tightened some creaks with Krazy Glue. Letting drops of this glue seep into the joints isn’t the most professional finish, but it works for minor creaking, and I felt a quick fix was adequate for this chair.

I didn’t give up on the planter idea. I broke up a drawer ottoman I wasn’t using…

…and painted the drawer to match the chair. I drilled holes in the bottom of the polyurethaned drawer for drainage and glued strips of rubber shelf liner to the bottom so the planter wouldn’t scrape the seat.

The front section is a chalkboard created with three coats of Graphite with a light sanding between coats. I wrote a message that truly describes the home of my youngest brother and his family.

The chair and the planter could be used together or separately.

It was a gift from the heart and I loved my sister-in-law’s reaction when, during the big hug she always greeted me with, she spied the chair over my shoulder. Her jaw dropped and her eyes lit up. My brother’s reaction was just as positive but, as usual, more low-key. I knew they both loved it.

Lynda has changed the flowers with the seasons but she’s never changed the original message. Love really does grow there.

www.karenraelevine.com

Travel Buddy

What’s better than having a travel buddy who shares a love of history, antiques, flea markets, and four-legged friends?

Camilla and I live 400 miles apart, which means there’s a good deal of traveling that has to happen before we get together and shake up some dust. A great surprise for my BFF would be a funky update to a vintage train case I’d bought on one of our jaunts.

Out came the insides, including the mirror.

The fabric inspired the paint colors: Annie Sloan Florence and a pink concoction left over from Just In Case.

At first, I cut the fabric in the shape of the old liner, but I lost patience trying to glue a lightweight fabric into a cramped space. I took a different route.

I painted the interior, then cut pieces of fabric and thin foam to fit the bottom. (I thought it would be nice to have a little bit of cushion, especially if the case might hold a fragile flea market find.) I sandwiched the layers with spray adhesive.

I measured a length of fabric to wrap around the inside walls and cut the top of the strip in a wave, leaving only whole, jumping dogs at the top.

Honestly, because it didn’t have to line it up with top edge, the wavy cut made it a whole lot easier to position the strip and adhere it with Mod Podge.

Painted clothesline, also left over from Just in Case, neatened up the inside. I coated the whole interior with Heirloom Traditions 1Gel. [A note about 1Gel: It’s expensive. I only choose it over Mod Podge when I want a tougher topcoat. It’s also a good transfer medium.]

I created paper versions of the dogs by scanning and printing the fabric. I decoupaged the doggies with 1Gel and let it dry. To seal the paint and and create a uniform sheen, I gave the whole exterior a coat of (you guessed it) 1Gel.

I stuck on an oval mirror from Michaels with thick, double-sided tape. The clips in the corners are Gorilla-glued clothespins disguised by decoupaged doggies.

For reasons too silly to explain, I sometimes call Camilla, “Rosie.”  Behold a doggie train case a la Rosie the Riveter. The whole mish-mash kind of says it all.

Love ya, Rosie! Where are we going next?

www.karenraelevine.com

 

 

 

 

I Can Top That

Thrift store. Ten dollars. Need I say more?

First it got a good cleaning.

Then I took the top off…

and popped out the particle board insert. It took a little elbow grease to scrape off some of the glue it left behind.

I painted just the table top and the ball feet with Provence, and the rest with 1:1 mixture of Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue and Provence. I tried Old White on the insert but decided to toss it all altogether. I had an idea for that gaping hole in the table top.

But first the wax. As usual, every surface got a coat of clear.  I wanted to highlight the details with dark wax but didn’t want the stark streaks it often produced. ***Before I brushed on the dark wax, I directed a hair dryer on the can, which gave me a little puddle of melted wax in the middle.***  DO NOT DO THIS! THE WAX IS FLAMMIBLE!!!

Brushing on a warmer, wetter wax helped provided a smoother effect. You can see my progress in the photo below. All but the leg on the right have a coat of dark.

Notice that I didn’t screw the top back on the base. I reimagined the tabletop as a removable tray.

I bought two of these handles on Ebay from a seller who had six of them. (I loved them so much, I went back on Ebay and ordered the remaining four, for future projects.)

Now to take care of that big hole in the tabletop:

I took the top to Cooper’s Glass and Mirror, and for forty dollars, the enthusiastic owner of the local shop had the glass cut and siliconed inside the grove. He even had it ready for me the same day! More often than not, artisans are happy, and sometimes even excited, to be a part of the creative process.

I glued felt pads (normally used for chair feet) to the bottom corners of the tray. These keep the tray from slipping around on the legs and it also protects the surfaces wherever else the tray might rest.

I love the subtle difference in the two paint colors and I also love the functionality of this table.

Imagine bringing drinks or snacks from the kitchen and having a handy place to rest the tray. Even if the tray stays put, it’s a pretty great side table. It’s hard to top that!

www.karenraelevine.com

Wood It Work?

I’m an empty-nester now and I have more time to devote to my new obsession with chalk paint. But even before chalk paint, when my nest was still full, I managed to find time for faux finishing. I had a happy reminder of those times when I came across a wood-graining tool I hadn’t used in I don’t know how long.

About the same time I had to decide what to do with an old Bombay table I’d moved from room to room over the course of three houses.

  

I started with two coats of Annie Sloan Burgundy, leaving the top for an experiment with my new old tool.

On the top, I used two coats of Annie Sloan Old Ochre for the base and let it dry.

Then I got together my other browns, Honfleur and Coco.

I made semi-haphazard strokes of Honfleur and Cocoa across the top with a chip brush, coming back with Old Ochre to tone it down when any of the spots felt blotchy.

I worked fast because the paint had to be wet for the next step.

The wood graining tool works by dragging and rocking it in horizontal lines across the wet paint. The graining will change by how much you drag or rock. For each pass, I started with a different spot on the rocker so the lines of grain it created wouldn’t line up.

I found myself holding my breath each time I made a pass with the graining tool!

When it dried, it looked too stark.

A wash of Old Ochre softened the faux grain.

Then the “wood” and the Burgandy got a coat of clear wax. I added a new knob and lined the drawer with a wallpaper remnant I bought at a garage sale for a dollar.

This beauty now has a prominent and permanent place in the living room. It’s gotten some oo’s and ah’s and I have to admit, I have fun showing off a bit by revealing that the top is actually painted.

Would you think it’s wood?

www.karenraelevine.com

The Golden Touch

My King Charles Cavalier didn’t seem impressed with the royal treatment the middle child of this nesting table family received in If at First You Don’t Succeed, so I decided to dress the eldest for a coronation.

With gold spray paint.

It looked as if King Midas had come for tea.

King Midas and the Golden Touch by Al Perkins, Pictures by Haig and Regina Shekerjian, Scholastic, 1973

To tone down the gold, I experimented with a wash of Annie Sloan Old White. The paint beaded on the glossy surface and I let it dry like that. It was an interesting effect but still left too much of a Midas touch.

Out came the Black Gel Stain. I applied it to the surfaces as if it were paint. Gel stain is oil-based and thick. I doesn’t behave exactly like paint but if you’re patient and let it cure between coats (in this case, two days), it leaves a rich and solid finish. It’s blacker than Annie Sloan’s Graphite chalk paint and it doesn’t need wax or varnish.

I learned from A Cup of Joe to Go to wear gloves and use a foam brush.

I wouldn’t take all the gold away from this rich little table. The metal base and pull, as well as the inside of the drawer, stayed golden.

The random raised pattern left by the beaded white wash gave this little prince some depth.

Quite regal.

www.karenraelevine.com

Just in Case

Be still my heart! Two wooden suitcases at Goodwill for six dollars each!

Fumigation not included.

I had a big idea for this small suitcase: A table when it’s closed and a vanity when it’s open. You know, “just in case” I need to freshen up.

I paired the suitcase with a table waiting for the perfect partner.

Stripping the inside of the suitcase involved experimenting with a few cleaning products. Goo-gone won first place in glue removal BUT it soaked through in some spots and darkened the exterior. Decision made. Paint!

Magic Eraser did such a good job cleaning up the trim and handle that I decided to leave it as is. Before painting, I taped the trim and the hardware.

The suitcase and table were graced with two coats of Annie Sloan Cream. In this “case,” I didn’t need the tabletop. I removed it and saved it for a future project.

I taped off stripes on the suitcase and added pink and peach highlights to the table. The pink is a combination of Emperor’s Silk and Cream and the peach is a combination of Barcelona Orange and Pure White. I don’t know the proportions. I just mixed until I liked the color.

It looked a little stark so I did some distressing and added images. Thank you to the Graphics Fairy and Diana Dreams Factory for the “Shabby French Roses Furniture Transfer.” The complete transfer is on the bottom shelf. I enlarged some of the elements for the top of the suitcase. Heirloom Traditions 1gel is a great transfer medium.

On to the “Just in Case” vanity…

I had some beautiful fabric and used a craft paper template to cut it to fit the back of the lid. I brushed the fabric with Mod Podge before the final cut. That made it easier to get a true cut without loose threads and it also helped align and decoupage the fabric to the surface

Before I glued the fabric to the suitcase, I cut an oval in the center about half an inch smaller than the mirror.

For more secure adhesion, I wanted to be able to glue the mirror directly to the the bare wood (and granite-like cardboard residue). To avoid sharp edges, I’d purchased an inexpensive mirror with a beveled edge

After the Mod Podge dried, I sealed the fabric with 1gel. 1gel is much more expensive but I find it leaves a harder, more protective top coat.

Gorilla Glue gel held the mirror beautifully.

To attach the suitcase to the table base, I needed a sturdy piece of plywood that fit inside the bottom. I was excited to break open my brand new jigsaw but I waited until my brother Jim was available for some lessons and guidance.

(I asked to borrow a sweatshirt. Apparently he only owns NY Giants sweatshirts. Worked for me.)

A perfect fit!

I rested the board on a smaller table and flipped the open suitcase on top of it. I screwed the table base through the bottom of the suitcase and the board at the same time. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture. I was on a roll.

This is the flip-side after the operation was complete.

The interior came to life with another piece of fabric decoupaged to the board on the bottom and sealed with 1gel.

I used the same method for the trim that I used for the Pretty as a Peacock Chair. I soaked clothesline in water, then soaked it in paint, and hung it up to dry. No wax if you’re going to glue it!

I felt like Willie Wonka on the cusp of inventing bubble gum licorice.

“I am the maker of music, the dreamer of dreams!” – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

With a little extra help from Beacon Fabri-Tac, pink trim!

With repurposed clothesline, repurposed clothespins seemed the right choice for some handy hooks.

A suitcase side table…

with a surprise inside.

Just in case.

www.karenraelevine.com

Pretty as a Peacock

Call me crazy, but look what I picked up on the side of the road, in the pouring rain, wading ankle deep in a curbside torrent.

There were a few times in the course of this transformation that I thought my skill set would run a sorry second to my imagination, but I managed to pull it off.

Phase 1, The Frame:

The vinyl upholstery had to go, which left a problematic hole in the back (to be tackled in Phase 3).

I cleaned my “new” barley chair and because some of the wood was flakey, sanded it too. I took my fabric to Suite Pieces, my favorite place for inspiration, where I received many ooh and ahhs and some great advice: Annie Sloan Giverny and Provence.

Highlighting with Modern Masters Olympic Gold popped the details on the top.

I treated the whole frame to a soothing coat of clear wax.

Phase 2, The Seat:

As for the seat, all I can say is, Yuck!

The wooden base had obviously been a patch-up job.

The cushion was originally meant to sit inside the frame. My handy, helpful brother cut the board down to size.

I covered the board and two inches of foam with fabric, then pulled and stapled the fabric to the back of the board.

The fabric had been slated for a different project but this chair had “peacock” written all over it.

Phase 3, The Back:

Get ready for a long and sometimes painful operation.

Two generations of staples and some residual vinyl had to be pulled and pried from the annoyingly deep crevice. I did this before I painted.

Post-painting, using craft paper for an initial template, I cut a form of heavy cardboard to fit inside the gaping hole.

To make it easier to find the right section of fabric, I made a silhouette by tracing the form onto another piece of craft paper. I cut two pieces of fabric, about four inches wider than the opening, one for the front of the chair and one for the back.

I made a diagram of the next step because I didn’t dare lose my concentration by taking pictures. I basically sandwiched the board and some batting between the two pieces of fabric, attaching each layer with spray adhesive. I made sure the fabric stayed nice and smooth on both sides.

From the front, I pushed the fabric-covered board into the opening far enough so that the front-facing fabric was even with the front of the chair. This created a nice flat fabric-covered surface on the back.

A double layer of fabric, from both the front and the back pieces, poked out in front. I pulled both layers taught and pushed them tight into the crevice.

I used brads to nail the fabric to the chair because that pesky crevice was too deep for staples. The brads, I soon discovered, were too long to nail straight in — the first three poked out of the back. With that lesson learned, I nailed the brads in about a quarter of the way and used an awl and a hammer to bend them over.

Next, I trimmed away the excess fabric. I only poked my fingers with the utility knife twice. (There’s a reason I stay current on my tetanus shots.) If you try this at home, please be careful.

I needed trim to cover the raggedy edges. After a series of internet searches, I couldn’t find anything I liked. Necessity is the mother of invention. I bought a clothesline.

I soaked a section of the clothesline in water and then in a bowl of slightly watered down Giverney paint. I let it dry on paper towels until it wasn’t dripping and then hung it over a chrome shower curtain rod to dry thoroughly. (Don’t do this on a decorative rod because the damp cord will leave some paint.)

The cord was a bit stiff, but pliable. I didn’t wax it because wax and glue are never a good combination. I ran a bead of fabric glue and pressed the trim into place on top of it.

Inexpensive and a perfect match. I love a successful experiment!

Phase 4, Enjoy my chair!

After some touch-up painting on the back where the nails had poked through, my pretty peacock chair was finally finished. Paint me proud.

www.karenraelevine.com