Monday, April 18, 2011

The Little Cabinet That Could

Once upon a time, there was a little cabinet.  He was solid wood, probably built in a woodshop.  He had good bones.

And then he was painted, first white and then taupe.  And then he was covered with thick, shiny brown paint.  He did not like the brown paint.  And he did not like his outdated hardware.  "I'm stuck in 1992," he sighed.

To make matters worse, someone set green foam on his top before the paint was dry!  When he thought things couldn't be more horrible, he was eventually packed into a truck and abandoned at a thrift store.

At first, he was scared.  He saw mountains of clothing.  He was deposited in the back of the store, between the mismatched lamps and the dusty shoes.  People walked by him all morning and scoffed at his glossy brown paint and picked at his fuzzy green bits.

He wanted to shout at them, "Look, I have a lovely drawer and spacious storage behind my door."

The people would walk away.  The little cabinet sniffled, "I COULD be beautiful, just give me a chance."

A woman approached the cabinet.  She was dressed in a skirt and heels.  The cabinet wasn't feeling too optimistic until she said,  "Well, you're an interesting little fellow."  Gently, she tipped him over a little.  "You look like solid wood."

The cabinet stood a little taller.  He wished he could shout, "Yes, yes I am!"

She tested the drawer and popped open the door.  "Indeed, it is unfortunate that you were painted over and over."  She peered at his price sticker.  $9.99.  In her hand was a 20% off coupon.  For only eight dollars, she'd take a chance on this little cabinet.

When he arrived at the woman's home, she carefully removed his door and the ugly hardware and brushed on goopy gel that smelled like oranges.  He wasn't too sure about things as he felt the goo seep into the pores of paint.  But when she gently scraped the goo away, his wood began to reappear.  Oh, it feels so good to be rid all these layers of paint, he thought.

After a good scrubbing with mineral spirits (which tickled) and a night to dry, the woman approached him with a paint brush.  "Don't worry," she assured him, "I'll be gentle."

She primed him, then gave him three thin layers of paint.  He was so pleased with his new self, but he was a little worried about his hardware.  He secretly wanted new hardware, but he hated to be greedy after all the woman had done.  She did not let him down.

"Oh!" he gasped.  Delicate yet sturdy oil rubbed bronze hardware.  And she even painted his hinges to match!

She carried him from the garage to his new home in a bedroom.  "I hope you like music," she said.  "You'll be living in my husband's music room."  She set him next to the day bed and stood back, frowning slightly.

"Do you know what you need?  You need a friend.  How about a lamp?"

Memories of the scary mismatched lamps flooded the little cabinet.  "Um..." he started to say, but the woman had vanished.

In a flash, she was in the garage.  With a little black lamp.  And a can of spray paint.

A few hours later, the woman peeked in to check on the cabinet.  "Guess what I have?" she asked.

The little cabinet could only imagine.  But he perked up to see the spunky green lamp with its jaunty silver pull cord.  He knew immediately that they'd be great companions.

And so ends the story of The Little Cabinet That Could. 

He could be beautiful.

Some people have asked what kind of paint stripper I used.  I used CitriStrip, which is more gentle than traditional paint strippers.  I've used KleanStrip Paint Remover in the past, but the fumes are intense and if you accidentally splash some on yourself, YOU WILL KNOW IT.  Ouch!

I'm linkin' up...
Metamorphosis Mondays at Between Naps on the Porch
Amaze Me Mondays at Dittle Dattle
Thrifty Treasures at Southern Hospitiality
Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays at Coastal Charm
Wicked Awesome Wednesday at Handy Man, Crafty Woman
Transformations and Treasures at Pink Postcard
Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage
Flaunt It Fridays at Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest
Inspiration Friday at The Picket Fence
Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors
Paint Projects Party at Centsational Girl

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bleeding Hearts

I think this is my favorite early Spring flower...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

London Calling

After rush hour subsided this morning, I went downtown to Kansas City's Union Station to see the Diana exhibit featuring The Dress of the 20th Century.  I couldn't help myself.  I remember my mother waking me extra-early so I could see the footage of her wedding on TV. And I got up royally early to watch her funeral. How often do you get to see history unfold before your eyes?
So with all the buzz about William and Kate's wedding, I just had to see Diana's dress in person while it was in town.

It's not my first brush with Diana's fantastic style.  I saw several of her gowns on a visit to Kensington Palace in 2004.  And I've actually seen Prince Charles before.  At the Tower of London.  Going into the Waterloo Barricks, which are where the crown jewels are kept.  No kidding!  You can see a picture here.  Needless to say, there were a lot of jokes in the crowd that he was stopping by to try on the crown.

The traveling Diana exhibit is interesting, so if you are a royal-watcher and you are in the KC area, check it out.  At $25 per person, the tickets are pretty pricey.  (Tip: Be sure to have a few one dollar bills with you to pay for parking.)  Plan for another $5 if you want the optional self-guided audio tour.
In celebration of all things British, I'm featuring a few items from my Etsy shop.

And yes, I'll be setting my alarm clock so I can watch the next generation of royalty get hitched.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Where This Woman Creates, Part 3

This is the third and final installment of my craft studio tour.  At least, for now.

First, I described the original obstacles of the room I took for my own creative space.  Like no windows.  Three doors.  Odd bump-outs.

Next, I shared some of my thrifty organizers.  Since one of the objectives of organizing this room was to do it for as little money as possible, I found myself re-purposing things that we already had or I found.

Last year, we retired an old Sauder amoire (read: big and cheap furniture).  It served us well over the years, first in apartments with tiny closets, then as an entertainment unit in our first home.  Eventually it was moved to the back room where it served as a pantry.  But the whole thing was leaning off-kilter and the drawers were broken.  Time to let it go.

When I took it apart so it would be easier to haul up the stairs, I found that even though the unit as a whole was probably beyond usability, the individual pieces might be useful.  In the end, I only tossed the broken drawers and kept the rest.

The interior shelf became the base for this pull-out tray I made for storing frequently used, bulky tools under a large shelving unit. 

Sorry, no before pictures (it was a pre-blogging project).  Imagine a piece of plywood, about 12x36 inches.  I used scrap 1x2s to build up the edges, then I lined the bottom with leftover cork from my Ballard Design-inspired bulletin board.  I added basic shop wheels on the bottom and handles to make it easy to slide under the shelving unit.

Next, I found this old spice rack at a thrift store.

I spiffed it up with a few coats of paint and now it sets on my work table to hold the colors of acrylic craft paint I use most often.  I love the retro-styled clock I found at Savers recently.

Finally, there is the repurposed cabinet door I turned into a message board.  I love making these!

Any guesses on the project I'm working on now? 

Think outside of the box.  What can you re-use to organize?

Check out Part I of my craft studio tour here and Part 2 here.

I'm linking up...
The Shabby Chic Cottage
At the Picket Fence
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
The Shabby Nest
Dittle Dattle
Coastal Charm
The Pink Postcard
Handy Man, Crafty Woman

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where This Woman Creates, Part 2

In my last post, I described the latest updates to my craft space.  It's been a year-long process of creating a pretty, practical and low-budget place for my endeavors.  I'm getting closer to "practical" and still working on "pretty."

The low-budget part has been pretty easy.  First, I scored two floating shelves for free, thanks to Craigslist. I scooped them off the curb right after they were posted a little after 10:30. At night. Sometimes it pays to be a night owl with a little guts.  I started collecting glass jars to hold buttons, pins, brushes, zippers, snaps, etc. A lot of them are olive jars (mmmm...olives).

As much as I love losing track of time in here, a clock was necessary.  I found this one at a thrift store.

I'm old school when it comes to label-making.  I love the vintage-style Dymo embossed labels.

Drawer space is a premium in here, so I supplement with this plastic one I keep on my shelving unit.

Every container is labeled, even the clear ones.

In hindsight, I wish I had picked one brand and style of plastic containers to that everything would stack more neatly.  But plastic containers just don't have the same charm as this funky wooden box that's holding the quilt squares I'm collecting for my Christmas quilt project.

I love old flower pots and trays to corral supplies, especially since I work at a table rather than a desk (again, no drawers).  I made this one out of a scrap board and some 1x2s.

I hold smaller items with old flower pots and even glass containers from spent votive candles.

Next time, I'll share more organization tools I've made by re-purposing found objects.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Where This Woman Creates, Part 1

Have you seen this magazine?

I love, love, love this publication.  It is probably THE driving force that really made me take the wispy bits of dreams floating in my head and make it into something real.

My 2010 New Year Resolution (remember those?) was to get my craft stuff organized.  In the process I found four spools of floral wire, two bottles of sewing machine oil, and more Scotch tape that I care to admit.

There seem to be two camps when it comes to craft space.  There are the pretty, carefully coordinated rooms and the shabby-yet-organized spaces with their found organizing objects.  Since I am forever trying to do things on a budget, I lean toward the shabbily organized, using what I have or what I can find for free.  Ultimately, it's about having a place for everything and everything in its place.

I took over a semi-finished room in our basement.  I'm not really sure what the original owners were thinking when they planned this space.  The rest of the finished portion of the basement has carpeting and sheetrock on the walls and ceiling.  This odd little room is paneled and has a drop ceiling.  It is carved out of area between the utilities, the storage room, the portion of the basement under the stairs and the bump-out of the breakfast nook.

To make matters worse, there are THREE doors in this room.  I'm guessing that after they framed the main portion of the basement, they called this space a lost cause.

Mr. Tallgrass had one stipulation.  We keep our wine in this room.  It had to stay.

We've found that the uncovered concrete floor keeps wine at a perfect temperature here.  My original plan was to turn the room into a wine cellar, thus the olive green walls.  But I can work around the wine storage.  Eventually, I'll repaint the walls.

I collected bonus points from a credit card and cashed them in at Lowes for the biggest shelf they carried.  I pulled a vintage drop-leaf table that's been in my family for years out of the back room and used it as my work table.

A place for everything and everything in its place.  Um...yeah.

After several months of using the space this way, I found it just wasn't working as well as I wanted.  The old table was too small.  The room has no windows, so lighting is a constant issue.  I wanted an area I could dedicate to preparing packages for shipping.  I found myself tossing stacking stuff under under under the stairs to get it out of the way.  I dreaded rearranging since that meant that the wine rack AND the huge shelves would have to be unloaded. 

(Yes, this is what I was dreading.  What a mess!)

All the stars came into alignment last week when I stopped at ReStore on a whim.  Behold, I found a 38"x48" table with a 12" butterfly leaf for only $40.

And this barn-style utility light.  For only THREE DOLLARS.  Now I'm giddy.  And motivated.

I tried painting it red, but it reminded me of the old West Bend electric wok I had in college. Remember those?

I like this muted blue much better. 

My old drop-leaf table can now be used for preparing shipments. I turned my Ballard-inspired bulletin board vertically to fit on the wall.  And my space-saving ribbon keeper is ready for action.  I found the stackable organizers last winter at ReStore for only $3 each.

More details of the room's re-organization to come!  If you are looking for more great ideas and inspiration for your craft space, check out Crafty Storage.