Bringing Home Some Jamaican Sea

I took advantage of some lovely fall weather this last week to do one last painting project before it gets too cold to paint outside. No Jamaican beaches for me, alas. Keep reading to find the reference to the title. In my haste to get started on this dresser rehab I completely forgot to take any before pictures. Darn! But here is the after picture of the made over dresser. I was so anxious to get photos that I took them while it was still sitting in the garage.  

Isn't she a beauty? I was looking for just this sort of piece with carved drawer detail and nice hardware. When I spotted it in the thrift store I knew it was the perfect thing for a makeover and I was already picturing it done over in a bright popping color. It had a dinged up and ugly brown stain finish, some of the veneer was coming loose and one of the drawer pulls was in need of repair. But it was heavy and solid, had dovetail drawers, and nice detail. So I quickly threw down my money and schlepped it home. 

Unfortunately there were a few glitches along the way to getting it all pretty. After I had cleaned, applied Zinsser paint deglosser (no sanding!), and spray primed I started in with my first coat of spray paint, Valspar gloss enamel in the color "exotic sea". The first can went on fine and got me halfway through the second coat. Then disaster. The second can did not match the first color!! It was much darker and more vivid! I rechecked to be sure both cans were labeled the same and they were. Sorry Valspar, you won't be getting my business again. I also wasn't loving the gloss finish but it was the only paint I could find in the color I wanted. On top of everything else it was going on very blotchy. By that point I was nearly in tears. It looked like a 5-year old had tried to tackle this project. Time to shut the garage door and retreat before any more damage was done. 

A couple glasses of wine later I came to the conclusion that I would have to ditch the spray paint and use a brush and roller to complete the project. That would entail sanding down the glossy finish already on there and going out in search of a compatible paint color. Luckily I found a perfect match with Pittsburgh Paints' "Jamaican Sea".  (By the way I love that Pittsburgh's website gives you the name and number of other brand's paints that match their colors. Give it a try.) I bought a satin finish this time instead of gloss. Luckily the carved detail on the drawers had already been done with two coats in the original first can of spray paint so I didn't have to try to redo those with a brush which would not have been easy. I used a foam roller on all the flat surfaces and across the top of the carved detail. Two coats later I ended up with a beautiful durable smooth finish. Then I gave it three coats of Minwax wipe-on polyurethane. Oh my stars!! How has this product eluded me all this time? I've had so many frustrating experiences with regular brush on poly leaving hideous brush marks. This stuff is the cats pajamas! The bees knees! It takes mere minutes to wipe on with a lint free cloth and leaves a nice smooth finish when dry. A very light sanding between coats with a fine grain finishing pad took about two minutes.

I thought about doing some antique finishing on the dresser with a bit of strategic sanding and glazing but time was running out (in regards to workable weather) so I decided to leave it as is for now. Finally I spray painted the dark brass hardware with some ORB (oil rubbed bronze) and lined the drawers with a black and white print cotton fabric applied with spray adhesive.

I'm really happy with how it all turned out in the end. I hope to get some pictures of the dresser once it's at home in my daughter's apartment and after some pretty styling. Until then enjoy a few more detail photos.



I have to preface this post by saying that I seriously need a new camera and am in the process of researching my options to upgrade to a DSLR. Now that the days are growing shorter and the light weaker I am again reminded of the limitations of my point and shoot Canon Powershot, especially when it comes to interior photography. So I apologize for the poor quality of the photos here.

Okay, back to the business at hand. My daughter needed some kind of headboard for her bed frame in her new apartment. Again, not wanting to spend too much money, I figured I could easily enough make something for her. We wanted something light colored to contrast with the brown walls and something that also would complement her comforter which is black with a gray and white dot print. On our recent trip to IKEA we ran across this Britten fabric. It seemed perfect for the project at hand and at just $4.99 a yard it wasn't a budget buster. The fabric is a bit thinner than I'd prefer (you can see the floral print of my ironing board pad through it in this photo) but as long as it had white batting behind it I figured it would work okay. Everything else I needed for the project I already had so that was the only new expense.

Here's what I needed to make the headboard for a twin size bed.
  • Two 8' lengths of 1x2 pine lumber. 
  • One 4' piece of 1x2 lumber. (Lumber found in my husband's stash.)
  • Vinyl netting. (Left over from the garden.)
  • Upholstery batting (Left overs from my rattan chair cushions.)
  • 1-1/2 yds. 54" fabric (IKEA)
  • 1/2" staples (Already had.)
  • 4-3M Command velcro strips (already had)
To begin I used a miter saw to cut four 48" lengths of 1x2 that would be joined to form a square. We decided we wanted the headboard to be wider than the bed and to go all the way to the floor since it would be visible on either side. I also cut a cross piece to go vertically in the center of the square for some added stability in case my daughter wants to prop a pillow up against it for reading in bed. If you're making a headboard for a larger bed you may want to add more cross pieces.

I used 1/2-inch staples to hold everything together, stapling on both sides of the frame. I needed something to back the batting to hold it in place and was considering stapling some cardboard onto the frame when I happened to spy some vinyl deer netting we had leftover from our attempt at keeping the deer out of the garden. I cut the batting large enough so that I would have a few inches extra to wrap around the frame. My batting fabric was only half as wide as the frame so I cut two pieces to butt against one another on the crosspiece and stapled them together.

Finally I was ready to prep the fabric. You'll want to be sure to iron away any wrinkles or creases before attaching it to the frame. I used some spray starch to give the thin fabric a bit more body. Then I assembled everything by lying the fabric on the floor wrong side up with the batting sandwiched between the fabric and frame. Aligning the print just right was a bit tricky so that I didn't end up with lines of words going off on a slant as I pulled the fabric taut.

I started by wrapping the fabric and batting around the frame and stapling it in the center of one side with about three staples, then pulling the fabric tautly I stapled in the same manner on the opposite side. Next I repeated the procedure on the remaining two sides. Gradually I kept adding staples every few inches in the same manner working with opposite sides as I went. I left plenty of space at the corners to be able to wrap and tuck there and then went back and finished stapling any gaps on the sides. I didn't show how I did the corners. It was just trial and error to get everything looking neat and tidy. It's much like wrapping a gift.

Here's the completed headboard after all the stapling was complete. After all the supplies were gathered it only took a little over an hour to complete the project. 

And here it is in place behind the bed. The headboard simply stands on the floor and is secured to the wall at the top with a couple of easily removable 3M Command velcro strips. A very easy, inexpensive project and best of all my daughter likes it! 

Budget breakdown:  Fabric from Ikea: $7.49!!

Obviously it will cost more if you don't have the other items on hand like I did. But compared to going out and buying a custom fabric headboard you'll still be saving a lot of dough by making your own. Now that I know how easy it is I'll definitely be doing this again. Plus the fabric can fairly easily be swapped out for something different if my daughter ever wants to change the decor. 

FYI: The mercury glass lamp came from Goodwill (still sold at Target) and the bedside table was a curbside find!  


Mid-Century Swedish Teak Roll-top Desk...aka Blix

Meet my new b.f.f. Isn't she a beauty? And she's mine thanks to Craigslist and $75.

I've named her Blix, which means joy in Swedish, because that's what I feel when I look at her! When I saw the stencil underneath that said 'Made in Sweden' my heart did a little flipflop. She wasn't quite as beautiful when I first got her. There were some scratches and edge chips to the teak veneer. Nothing a bit of carefully applied stain and colored wood putty couldn't remedy. I'd just applied a coat of teak oil before taking these photos so it looks a bit shinier than it will probably be once it's all absorbed. The book-matched grain on the drawers and veneer detail on the roll top make me almost swoon. 

A few close-ups you say? But of course!




There's an interesting story with the key. The desk didn't have a key, which was unfortunate because it's very difficult to open the roll-top without something to grab onto. About a year ago I sold an old wardrobe cabinet that had been in my family for several generations. It had originally belonged to my grandparents, then was in my bedroom growing up, and finally was used by my children. When closing up my grandfather's apartment, after he had gone to the nursing home, I found a key that looked like it might belong to the cabinet. And sure enough it fit! Flash forward to last year when I sold the wardrobe and part of me just wanted to keep a little something to remind me of it and my grandparents. So I never told the buyer I had a key. I felt a wee bit guilty but not too much since we'd used it for so many years clueless ourselves. At any rate I started thinking maybe the key would fit into the keyhole in the desk far enough so that it could be used as a handle of sorts. So I tried the key and it fit remarkably well. Holding my breath I gave it a turn and whoa! Out popped the deadlock! I had the lid open just in case which was fortunate because although I could lock it I couldn't get it to unlock again. Bwah bwah. Luckily I was able to remove the whole lock mechanism and pry the deadbolt back into position with a small screwdriver. Whew! So now, as long as no curious person gets the urge to turn the key while the lid is closed, it's safe. 

My heart was ahead of my brain when I bought this desk. I really didn't have a place to use it but I just had to have it. What? Mere technicality. It needed to go to someone who would appreciate it and that was me! Obviously the person selling it for $75 didn't appreciate it's value. I've seen these selling for much, much more in my internet searches. For the time being it's headed to my daughter's apartment (with many motherly admonitions to treat it with utmost TLC!!). She needed a desk and I needed a place for a desk so in the end it was destined to be. The heart knows I tell ya!

Update: An older teak piece like this desk may need several coats of teak oil. After several months it is once again looking rather dull. The wood was very dry to begin with and quickly soaked up the oil. I'll probably give it a couple more coats again soon so that the wood is well saturated. 


Laundering an Ikea Paong Chair Cover

I must make apologies for the blog absence once again.  My college grad daughter moved home at the end of July while in transition to the next chapter of her life. It was fun having another female in the house for awhile again and I got out of the habit of blogging. This week she'll be moving into her own apartment in a neighboring community. She'll be living much closer this time so moving will be an easier task than usual and done over several days. Hopefully it will be easier on all of us than those student moving days of the past.

The last few weeks I've been having a ton of fun as acting interior decorator! My daughter's previous apartments have always been partially furnished student housing supplemented with the usual mismatched collections that roommates scrounge together. This time she's moving into her own unfurnished apartment but on a very shoe string budget. Since I have about a million decorating ideas floating around in my obsessed brain I offered my role as interior designer. Between Craigslist, second hand stores, thrift sales and our attic/basement/garage we've managed to come up with almost everything she needs. Most of it has needed some TLC. I've been making good friends with paint brushes and spray paint, my sewing machine and the family moving van. The next few posts will highlight some of the projects that have been undertaken.

Yesterday we found two Ikea Paong chairs at a thrift sale. They came with the Alme natural covers which, unfortunately, were quite grungy. The previous owners let their two dogs sit in the chairs and it looked as if they were dirty wet dogs at that. The cushions were filthy, covered in dog hair, and had mildew stains. I wish I'd remembered to take some before pictures so you could see how truly miserable they looked.

I really had my doubts that I'd be able to make the covers look presentable and was looking forward resigned to making a trip to Ikea to purchase new covers. But I figured I had nothing to lose by trying. For anyone faced with a similar situation I'll outline how I tackled the job. It's a bit of a chore but well worth it considering replacement cushions start at $30 for the plain jane natural Alme cover and go up from there.

Your first step is to unzip and remove the foam inserts. This needs to be done carefully. Don't just tug at them because more than likely you'll tear the foam. I reached in and kind of folded the foam corners down and carefully rolled the pieces out. I didn't attempt to clean the foam but I did give them a good airing on the clothesline for several hours. They weren't stinky and didn't have any signs of mildew so I felt comfortable with that. If they had I probably would have bought new foam instead of trying to clean it. Foam is expensive so I'm glad I was able to avoid it.

I then turned to dealing with the covers which are a padded quilted construction with an attached headrest. Following some advice I'd found online about how to remove mildew stains I made a paste of granular oxygen cleaner (I used Oxiclean), water and ammonia. I applied it liberally to the stains. The liquids immediately soaked into the padding and left me mostly with the undissolved Oxiclean so I used a soft brush and more water to work it into the fabric. Then I folded the pad in half with the treated areas inside (I mainly needed to treat the seat area) to keep things moist and let it sit for at least half an hour.

Next I ran the covers, one at a time, through a rinse cycle on my washer using a full load setting. I have a large capacity washer and wanted to be sure there was plenty of room for the cushion to move around. It's bulky and heavy when wet so two cushions together would have been hard on the washer I think. After a spin I took the cover out and refilled the machine with tepid water, laundry detergent and a cup of bleach. The washing instructions on the cushion say not to use bleach but I decided I'd risk it with the natural covers. Obviously you wouldn't use bleach if you have colored covers. Once the bleach was well diluted I submerged the cover and let it soak for a half hour again before running it through the complete wash cycle with a double rinse to get rid of as much of the bleach as possible.

A word of warning: DO NOT put these into the dryer! They're constructed of cotton and have a synthetic backing of some kind that would most likely shrink with heat. Hang them to line dry and if at all possible hang them outside in the sun. We had a breezy sunny day yesterday so the conditions were ideal. There were still some telltale traces of the stains when I hung the cushions outside but by the time they had dried and further bleached in the sun the stains were gone! It was amazing! They look as good as new. They do still have a faint lingering bleach odor but another day of airing outdoors should take care of that.

Many people have complained about the near impossibility of getting the foam pieces inserted back into the covers. Personally I didn't have any problems with it. You need to take your time and not try to slide the cushion in. It won't work. I folded the foam into thirds lengthwise and then it was fairly easy to just position the foam inside as far as it needed to go and carefully unfold it, tucking the corners into place and smoothing everything out. I hope that makes sense. It took about two minutes. Easy peasy.

So there you have it.  Tomorrow the moving starts and when I've had a chance to catch my breath again (literally...5th floor apartment) I'll fill you in on a few of my other projects.