Sunday, March 18, 2012

Another Cinderella.

Please forgive me for two "before and afters" in a row. Sometimes I just can't resist telling a good Cinderella story (the kind where Cinderella does NOT have to watch her coach turn back into a pumpkin and go back to scrubbing floors for a few days until the prince gets his head on straight). So blame it on the early spring weather, or my new found infatuation with babies (particularly my baby love Mae Elizabeth), but new beginnings are enticing to me right now so here we go!

This story is about a desk chair. There are some items that not a single person wants. Even my mom whose taste and vision I trust implicitly turned her nose up at this little beauty. Rusted and covered in torn vinyl, this little gem called to me from under a shade tree at an estate auction. 

My mom and I were on a mission, we were not deterred even when we had to break out my dad's super detailed atlas to find the farm where this auction was taking place down miles of gravel field roads. It was worth the drive, obviously too many people were hoping their GPS would get them there and thus lost hope after the first turn off of the blacktop.

What we discovered upon our arrival was a massive collection of furniture that I can only assume apparated into this little farm house from some magical world (no furniture truck could have possibly made a delivery!). Behind the throngs of beautiful things in a forgotten pile of lawn ornaments and random crap out of the barn was this desk chair.

I was drawn to its swivel base (I am a sucker for a good swivel chair) and the clean and modern lines. I was not drawn to the linoleum like substance covering it, gross!

Unfortunately, I did not take a good "before" picture. I was so excited to get going on the project I had already started taking it apart before I got out the camera. None-the-less, you can get an idea of the sad sad state our little Cinderella arrived in.

In this fairy tale I think of myself as the awesome fairy godmother, seeing the happy ending for this downtrodden little chair and taking it upon myself to step in and help out! Unfortunately I had to toss aside my beautiful magic wand in favor of pliers, steel wool, some spray adhesive, a sewing machine and a remnant of Amy Butler fabric (thank you again Needle Shop). 


Magic wand or not, I feel the results are fairly impressive. I see this chair in my office every day. It is a sturdy, swively wonderful chair. I love it and am so glad that I was able to step in and give it a second lifetime to live. 

This desk chair is available at my etsy store.  Mansion House Road. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Zebra. Is. Good?

It is time for me to tell you one of my favorite stories.  This story began with an idea.....

"I really want a zebra chair" my dear friend Halli said to me one day.  "I think that would really complete my living room".

I was skeptical (zebra??  really?? hmmm....), but as I am not a girl who backs down from a challenge I said "ok, what kind of chair are we looking for".

"I don't know, but I'll know it when I see it" she answered.  

And so began our epic journey of zebra chair hunting.  We hunted everywhere, salvation armies to antique stores.  We even looked at new chairs at furniture stores, we considered chairs from every era in the history of chairmaking until finally...

One fine day at the Thrift and Dollar in Aurora IL we discovered this lost, abandoned, and hideously ugly speckled wood and gold crushed velvet hunk of a chair.

A few things about this chair stood out through the disgusting hideousness that encompasses many 1970s era items.  First, it was perfectly sturdy, no structural problems at all.  I was impressed with the general shape, it had presence but was not overbearing.  I also really liked the X details in the arms.  Finally, I was pretty sure that the chair was walnut and thus would have good staining potential.

Now, the Thrift and Dollar is not always true to its name and sometimes I find it to be slightly overpriced (lets be serious this was an ugly chair).  So my friend Halli had to do a little talking (luckily she is a frequent buyer and has made some friends) and we managed to walk away with the chair for $25.

A few weeks before the fateful trip to thrift and dollar I had discovered a remnant of perfect zebra fabric at The Needle Shop in Chicago

The fabric is by Alexander Henry and can be purchased here if you are interested.  

Before the "fun with zebra fabric" could begin, I had to strip the chair down to nothing.  The horrible speckled finish on the solid walnut frame was absolutely depressing.  In order acheive the final look I mixed two minwax stains (Walnut and Ebony) before rubbing on a few coats.  The walnut wood of the chair took the stain very well and the color is perfect with the fabric.

We decided to scratch the deeply button tufted seat back in favor of a more modern softly tufted design.

The end product is proof that two wrongs:
1. decorating with zebra.
2. crushed velvet anything
Truly can make a right!!

This chair is everything a zebra chair should be! timeless, classic, and gorgeous.

See more of my work at Mansion House Road on Etsy. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Couch Update

It has been a while since I mentioned my old friend.... The Couch.  This corner trash pile find is starting to look like it has been given a new chance at life. 

It took a long time to find the fabric.  Eventually I chose a light blue with a very heavy weave.  I think the solid color and helps keep the focus on the fantastic shape of the couch while the heavy texture adds richness to the otherwise plain fabric.   

I am having a mental block about what to do with the trim.  I want a contrasting trim to highlight the shape and wood and also to keep the couch looking young and fresh.  I have been toying with a few ideas but nothing has really popped yet.  The picture to the left shows my most recent first place pattern.  

It is leftover fabric from a pair of these chairs which I recovered a few years ago.  Pretty amazing! 

Still, I am not convinced it is the right idea for the couch.  If I learned anything from the red chair that I recently featured, inspiration is worth waiting for if you want a really incredible final product. 

I feel like the right trim will really make this couch a unique showpiece and I can't wait to show you the final product when it happens.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Imperfection: In RED

This gorgeous little chair cried out to me in a piled up thrift store a long time ago.  I don't have a before picture, but it was a sad sad little chair.  The fabric on the cushion would have been best suited for indoor/outdoor carpeting and the finish on the wood had long since seen better days.  Possibly the most traumatic though, was the missing leg support.  I did not even notice the giant flaw until I was giving it its initial scrub down and it really stumped me at first.

What came out of this project was an even greeater appreciation for imperfections.  This chair stares its flaws in the face.  It wears red to the prom even though it has love handles.  It rubs tanning oil all over its pregnant belly on the beach.  I think embracing flaws is the epitome of living for the day and I think this chair is one of my best items yet.

Just a quick run down of the project.  First I sanded the whole thing smooth and filled in holes with putty.  Then I primed it with zissner spray oil base primer.  The whole thing got two coats of the REDDEST red in my paint cabinet (yes at one point it was my living room and I loved it).  I finished it with two coats of rub on poly for durability.  I wanted to keep it monochromatic so I used a dark red brocade to cover the seat.

And now the best part! What to do with the missing leg support (how do those get knocked out anyway???).  I considered trying to replace it with something that would match and blend in, but I hate trying to make things blend.  It either matches or it does not, there is no in between.  So I was tinkering around in my workshop and I found a ball of jute twine.  Such a great raw material.  I love the way it looks with the red an brocade, it is such a clash of colors and textures.  What do you think?

This chair is the very first listing on my etsy store!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


New Years Eve is my favorite holiday of the year.  The fresh excitement of a whole new year at my fingertips combined with the champagne and the chance to wear sequins in vast quantity without any shame or embarrassment.  This year I am going to do something that I have been wanting to do for several years now and never have.  I am going to write a list of goals.  Just a list of general life goals, some near term and some long term and some dreams.  Common sense (and plenty of websites) tells us that people who write down goals are more likely to accomplish them.  Although my love of statistics makes me question whether that is because people who write down goals are more motivated to begin with.  Never the less, it cant hurt.  I am going to write my list of goals, frame it and hang it somewhere that I will see it regularly so that I am always reminded of these goals.  That place will of course be in my bathroom :)  I have always thought this would be a great thing to do as a couple but for some reason my husband does not really like new years or resolutions or goal setting apparently.... he will however, have to stare at my goals every time he uses the bathroom at home so maybe that will motivate him to contribute next year.....
Jackson Square- New Orleans

First goal: Make a list of goals

Be a good Mom

Run a Marathon

Travel at every opportunity

Oak Alley Plantation- River Road LA

Focus on today

Sell more furniture than I buy

Stop using the Lord's name in vain

Get rid of everything I don't need

Etsy Store

Live in the south
Mae Elizabeth

Make every day happy and fun

So, now my list is done and written quickly onto a decorated piece of cardstock.  I dug up a round frame that I have been saving for something and whala! list of goals is complete and in place.

Now all i have to do is read it and hopefully complete a thing or two!  I also need to report that my maternity leave ends tomorrow and while I have made great progress on the couch, it is not yet complete.  I will continue working on it though and will keep you posted on its progress!