Tag Archives: pure white

Peace, Love and a Volkswagen Bus

My son always harbored the romantic notion of driving across the country in a Volkswagen bus. The trip never happened, at least not yet, but I never discouraged his dreams and imagination. At the advanced age of 22, I wasn’t sure Andrew would want it, but I decided to go ahead and create “mom’s version” of a VW bus.

It was a Pinterest post that sparked the idea and then, as fate would have it, I found the perfect little dresser.

I knew this project would require a good deal of measuring and planning. Between finding and ordering the right size accessories (like the lights and the VW decal), deciding where to paint and drill, and then the actual painting, it took about three months. Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of pit stops on this road trip. I worked on other projects while waiting for supplies to come in and ideas to pop up.

A coat of Annie Sloan Pure White gave me a blank canvas.

My plan included changing and rearranging the pulls so that they were functioning design elements. I laid these out before I drilled the new holes: windshield wiper pulls on the top drawer, reflectors (wood knobs I painted orange) in the middle, and something resembling a grill on the bottom. I filled in the existing holes of the drawer pulls with spackle and sanded them smooth.

I drilled new holes for the updated hardware. Tip: Because I wanted the middle and bottom drawer pulls as low as possible, I drilled the holes from the inside of the drawer.

The top drawer had a double raised bevel, making it easy to tape and paint a Paris Grey windshield.

On the Paris Grey base, I painted rectangles in Graphite to resemble tires.

I’d left room on the bottom drawer for the headlights I’d ordered. The extra planning paid off because, although it wasn’t time to attach them, they were just the right size.

  

The biggest design challenge was creating the curved lines that defined the front of a two-tone VW bus. I taped a piece of posterboard on the front and made a freehand swoop with a pencil to draw a curve from the top corner to the bottom. It actually looked good on the first try. I cut the posterboard along my mark with an exacto knife.

I’d saved  the waxy paper remnant of peelable contact paper. The tape I’d apply would come off of it without losing its stickiness. I taped my template to the shiny side and traced the curve onto the paper.

I lifted the template, applied strips of painter’s tape over the penciled line, then put the template back down and traced the same curve onto the the tape. I cut the tape and paper together along the curved line.

After pulling the tape from the paper, I stuck it to the face of the dresser. It took some trial and error to position the somewhat wiggly strand of tape.

I flipped the template and I used the same method for the opposite side. I taped both the drawers and the frame in the area between the two curves.

I cut the tape through the slits between the drawers with an exacto knife, removed the drawers, and with Napoleonic blue, painted the base and the drawers separately.

 

***

There’s a reason I chose blue for Andrew’s bus. He’s colorblind. Blues and yellows are the most vibrant colors he sees. When Andrew was young, I was surprised to learn how many teachers knew little or nothing about a condition that would surely impact a child’s experience in the color-oriented world of early education. Because of Andrew and so many others who are colorblind (1 out of 12 boys and 1 out of 200 girls), I made it my mission to help parents, teachers and children understand and cope with color blindness. One result was the publication of my first book, All About Color Blindness: A Guide to Color Vision Deficiency for Kids (and Grown-ups Too!). It won a five national book awards, including Mom’s Choice.

***

Meanwhile…

I’d found the perfect peel-and-stick VW decal from Ebay and centered it on the center drawer. The decal and the stick-on lights answered the “wax or varnish?” question. Wax would loosen the adhesive and they’d all slide right off.

I chose a satin finish because a real VW bus has a little shine. I’ve had success with Polyvine wax finishes before and it’s my go-to for varnishing.

 

I positioned the headlights using the paper that covered the adhesive. The stickiness of the stick-on lights would have been good enough for use in a closet or drawer, but I imagined the front of this dresser would get a lot more action. I rolled off the adhesive pad with my thumb and attached the lights to the drawer with Gorilla Glue.

Because I wanted the lights to last as long as the dresser, the ability to change the batteries was important. A little twist freed the body from the backing and exposed the battery compartment. The lights turn on and off by pressing the front.

I’d spent a good deal of energy on this little dresser and it looked like it was ready to roll.

But does anyone love a car just because it looks good on the outside? This baby had to be good-looking on the inside too.

I ordered a US road map that was three feet long, just the right length to cut and line three 12-inch deep drawers. Mod Podge on the bottom was all the glossy paper needed.

I painted the sides of the drawers Pure White. When they were dry I added thin strips of painter’s tape and covered paint and tape with two coats of Graphite. When I pulled up the tape it had the look of white-lined roads. These pretend highways got a coat of varnish too.

And at last it was good to go.

Since Andrew is a college graduate with a grown up job and his own apartment, I thought he might consider this a bit too childish. I included a photo in a text, assuring Andrew that I wouldn’t be insulted if he didn’t want it. His low-key response made me smile. “I can take that off your hands.” My man-child was like me. He hadn’t lost his sense of humor or his sense of whimsy. Good news for both of us, I think.

www.karenraelevine.com

 

 

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Betty and I had both grown up in the same Long Island town and stayed to raise our kids there too. Betty was as settled as a flower in her backyard garden. I almost fell off my chair when she told me she and her husband were going to empty-nest in an apartment in DC. That was a whole lifestyle away.  I wanted to add a little bit of garden to her terrace.

Because every garden needs a picket fence, I started with a wall hanging I wasn’t using.

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It was cute but not used, so off came the birds and the hooks, to be saved for a future project…

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…and on when two coats of Annie Sloan Pure White and two coats of clear matte polyurethane.

I’ve always been a fan of Mary Engelbreit and I knew it was Betty’s style too. I ordered fabric from Ebay adorned with Engelbreit’s artwork.

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I cut designs from the fabric and decoupaged them onto the “garden fence.” The fabric worked very well on the uneven surface of the wood. Ann Estelle, one of Engelbreit’s recurring characters, reminded me of Betty.

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The quote I chose suited the situation perfectly: “Bloom where you’re planted.”

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But there was more to my wish for Betty to bloom where she was planted. I wanted her to plant where she bloomed! I wasn’t “hung up” on a solution for long.

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I purchased a wall planter, spray-painted it white, and add some touches of Antibes Green.

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I screwed the planter onto the faux fence. It was removable so that, if need be, the planter and the fence could be used (or not used) separately.

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I had in mind that her gift should be compact, not only for use on a terrace but, as Betty downsized a house full of memories, easy to pack. I hope this mini hanging garden will help Betty grow new roots, and also remind her that she’ll never lose her hometown friends.

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What I learned:

  • Fabric works well for decoupage on uneven surfaces
  • Bloom where you’re planted!

Pure White, Pure Love

I was sitting on my living room couch one day, looking up and back between my computer and the TV console. After we painted the walls and trim, the country console didn’t match anymore, and I was shopping online for a new one.

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Funny thing was, all the consoles I liked were pretty much the same as the one I had, only in white. What was I thinking? All the console needed was a coat or two of white paint: Annie Sloan Pure White, of course.

My husband kept careful watch because his sound system was involved. I wasn’t allowed to touch it.

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I gave it two coats of white, buffed on coat of clear wax, and stuck to the the original hardware.

This is my dog, Charlie, not caring.

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The final touch was fresh family photos in white frames. Even though the frames didn’t match , they looked more uniform in the same color. Any frame I had that wasn’t white to begin with, was white by the time I finished.

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What a difference.

I didn’t love the wires and speakers but, as I said, I wasn’t allowed to touch them. A small price to pay for family harmony.

I think Charlie was on to something. He cared more about snuggling up with us when we watched a  movie than he did about the color of the furniture. I loved my white console but it wasn’t nearly the kind of love I felt for my family.

What I learned:

  • Reimagine your furniture before you shop for more.
  • Paint a collection of picture frames the same color to make to make a uniform arrangement.
  • Love is more important than furniture.

www.karenraelevine.com

A Harlequin Romance

I spotted him by the side of the road. He was worn and weary but what a physique! It was crazy, I know, but I took him in and let him stay in the basement. He kept to himself for a long time until one day, as I carried a basket of laundry to the washing machine, our eyes met…

Okay, enough of this gushy stuff. You know I’m talking about a table, right? Annie Sloan Coco. That’s his color, not his name. I don’t name my furniture and if I do, I guess I should keep it to myself.

For the sake of discretion, a photo of my forlorn and naked companion is not included. (In other words, I forgot to take a “before” picture.) I adorned Coco—I mean, the table—with two coats of his namesake, intending to shower him—I mean, it—with diamonds.

No, not real diamonds, diamond shapes, aka Harlequin. I laid the pattern out on my computer. Hate me for loving geometry? Don’t worry. You’ll have the last laugh.

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I used one quarter inch painters tape so it would come out just like the picture. But it didn’t. I turned to my trusty T-square and marked out rectangles with a watercolor pencil.

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I still didn’t get exactly what I wanted. My frustration was growing as big as the ball of discarded painters tape. I won’t go into details because the next time I do this I’ll position the diamonds with templates and trace them across the table top.

At last the Coco table had its diamonds. I marked the ones that wouldn’t be painted. Notice all the lines I had drawn with the watercolor pencil? Mostly mistakes.

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Unmarked diamonds got one coat of a mixture of two parts Coco and one part Pure white. Because the tape was so thin, I had to be very careful painting the lighter color.

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When I was finished I had a heck of a time washing the pencil off and sometimes had to paint over it.

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By lightly sanding the top in the same direction, point to point, I muffled the imperfect lines and made the lighter diamonds look like my uneven paint job was by design.

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I applied white wax to highlight those sexy legs.

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If you’ve been fortunate enough to shop for real diamonds, you’ll know that the fewer the imperfections, the higher the price. My find and me, we cared more about pretty than perfect. True love!

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Happy was the heroine.

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The end.

What I learned:

  • Don’t overthink it.
  • Make a template of a repeating shape and map it out before you begin.
  • A harlequin diamond is about twice as high as it is wide, but you don’t have to use that exact ratio.
  • Use a light touch when marking with watercolor pencils.
  • Pretty is more important than perfect.