Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Our Viking Table

When selecting the pieces of furniture that would go in our family room - the dining room table was probably the most important.  I wanted to be able to have a table large enough that for Christmas dinner my whole family could be seated at one spot.  Hence our viking table, as my younger stepdaughter Emily likes to call it, was born.

As the table was made from new wood, we needed to find a way to give it some old world charm to fit in with the rest of the room.  So one afternoon, Emily and I together gave this table a good beating and here is the outcome.

I have to say that when you offer a child a chance to take various items and beat a piece of furniture - you don't need to ask twice to get help!  To distress the table we took the following items - high heel shoes, sock filled with nails, screwdriver, hammer, and chisel.  We tested each item out on the legs of the table first to see what looks we liked best and then we went to work.  We found the sock with nails to give the best look but I can't deny that the high heeled shoe was also a favorite.
high heeled shoe

sock of nails

Once we had the scuff marks and dents spread out across the table, we then went about the staining process.  I used 2 different types of stain on this piece for the top.  First I put on a coat of Minwax Early American.  I would paint it on and Emily would wipe it off as I went.  Instantly the groves and marks we made stood out and the look was just what I wanted.  After that dried for a couple of hours, I then put over a coat of Minwax gel stain in Mahogany.  On the legs we only used the gel stain.  As the gel stain is very tacky, we let it dry overnight.

Since I was going for a Farmhouse table look - I wanted to paint the legs and bottom white but I wanted that aged look so I used Milk paint in a powder form.  I mixed the powder per instructions it came with.  It can be very clumpy so you must mix it really well and you must use it right after mixing or it dries out.  Before applying the milk paint, I sanded the legs a bit here and there so that the paint would grab hold to certain areas better then others.  I used 2 coats of the milk paint. If I had wanted more of the dark stain to show through - one coat would have worked fine.  This part is really to your taste and the look you are going for.   I also found that it is better to apply the milk paint to the stain without too much time lapsing.  You also have to let the milk paint do its work as at first i didn't think it was crackling much but as it dried the more I was getting the look I hoped for.

To accent the table I made a long bench for one side and painted it in the same manner.  I promise to post the construction of the bench at another time!!

I found two great overstuffed chairs that I felt looked perfect as head chairs and the mix of wood and fabric was exactly what I wanted - even though my husband felt the head chairs should be like that of something from Game of Thrones!  I had two great old antique chairs from when I lived in Brooklyn and was lucky to find two more that were very similar at a tag sale in Westport over the summer.  I reupholstered the seats of the two chairs I had and as the tag sale chairs had ripped rattan seats, I made cushions for them.  I took a piece of plywood and cut it in the shape I needed.  I then added a bit of chair padding and topped it off with upholstery in a simple grey pattern.

The look is a bit rustic with a vintage, shabby chic appeal.  But most importantly, we have plenty of room at the table for the whole family and the kids can't complain about sitting at the children's table anymore!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Craft Project - mixing fabric and reclaimed wood

Over the weekend I spent some time making some original crafts to be sold on our Etsy Shop.  Here is a peek into how I put these designs together!

I love using different mediums when making a craft.  My mother used to own a shop and her craft was wood cut outs and painting - mine was always more geared to sewing.  Together we made a great team!!  As my focus has gone more to the vintage and rustic look - I wanted to incorporate my love for sewing and fabric along with the uniqueness of reclaimed wood.  As mentioned over the weekend, we took a trip to my favorite salvage yard and found some amazing old barn wood.  If only these boards could talk I am sure they would have stories to tell.  The owner of the shop actually pointed out that one of these pieces was from the 1800's as they had this special notch on the top that you didn't see in later pieces.

With summer right around the corner - I decided to make some patterns that bring summer to mind - bee hives, flowers, stars and stripes.  I made these patterns free hand and cut them out of sturdy paper.  Then came the selection of the fabric.  To me - the fabric makes it all - I prefer the antiqued looking homespun patterns and that is what I decided to use here.

I used a simple hand stitch with embroidery floss to attach the pieces together.  I like to use contrasting colors with my thread so that it really pops.  I also like to use different stitches so that it is not all uniform.  The great thing about rustic, country crafts is that you don't want it to be perfect.  If your cuts are a little off or your stitches are not perfect, it just adds to the charm of the piece.  Since I am going for an old world look it shouldn't be perfect!!

After selecting the proper wood for each piece, I cut them to the right length and then sanded them just enough to keep the vintage look.  I used small upholstery tacks to attach the fabric pieces to the wood.  Not only did this serve the purpose of attaching them to the wood but it is another way to add some rustic charm.

I used a bit of batting to stuff each piece to give it some depth.

Once I had them stuffed and nailed, I added the dried flowers.  I used bunches from a craft store and then cut off small pieces at a time.  After the flowers were arranged in the way I liked best, I used a small dab of glue from the glue gun to tack them down.

With some brackets added to the back to hang - these creations are ready to add some character to any home decor!  Check out our Etsy shop if you would like to purchase one -

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Weekend Craft Project

Today we took a quick ride to my favorite salvage stop - Urban Miners.  Check them out at  As always, they never let me down when trying to find that perfect piece of wood for one of my projects.

  They have a sea of wood - all reclaimed - and it is a haven for people like me that love to sift through and find exactly what you need!

So now back at home and ready to start on my weekend project for our Etsy store.  Stay tuned on Monday to see what we create!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Garage Transformation - Game Room

In our family, Game Nights are something we try to do at least once a week.  Spending time all together with no electronic devices is something very important to us - whether it be a good old fashioned board game or a heated challenge of darts.  So when doing our renovation - a game room was a must.  My husband is a huge soccer fan so we had purchased a Foosball table some time ago but with no real space upstairs it rarely got use in our basement - I was determined to see that table have some action!  Take a look at how we transformed this space into a game pleaser for all:

First, in order to make the room an extension off of the family room we tore out a door space from the original wall of what was the garage and broke into what was a guest room.  As we had load bearing beams along this wall we could not open the space as large as I would have originally wanted - so to keep with an open feel we added a large picture window along with the door.  I envisioned being able to have guests that were in that room still feel like they were in the main room with everyone else.

Current view into family room:
My inspiration for this room was to make it a little whimsy while sticking to the rustic look that we were going for in the main room.  I wanted to pull colors that I knew I planned to use in the main room - and I love to use color - so I thought of old vintage game boards and decided to have some fun with it!!  In any redesign I think it is important to save money when you can by reusing the old materials.  In the room we had paneling on the walls and although nothing special, with a little paint I made them fit in perfect with my design inspiration.

From the salvage yard I had found some amazing old trim from a Victorian house that must have gone through many changes of color.  When sanded down a bit I was able to make a long ago coat of blue paint peek through a bit - which was ideal as blue was a main color in the big room.  The trim was actually meant to be used as base board but I decided if I cut the pieces in half they were the perfect width to top off the paneling.  

For the dart board, I painted the wall with my favorite Chalkboard paint.  As I have mentioned in previous posts the more coats you use, the better.  For this one I used 4 coats of paint.  I found stained cork board panels at a craft store and nailed these to the wall to be a buffer behind the dart board - necessarily for those that are not a good aim!  On one of my lucky trips to the Elephant Trunk antique show, I found these amazing pails that were perfect for holding the chalk, extra darts and erasers.


To add some seating, without taking up space, I went outside the box and made a little reading nook out of an existing closet.  This was something the kids were very excited about and use all the time when reading a book or even doing homework!  I used 2x4's cut into strips against the wall to act as braces to hold the top of the bench.  Plywood was then used as a base for the front and I faced that with left over trim that was used on the paneling but in its full width not cut in half.  Two shelves overhead hold books.  The top of the seat is hinged so that we could use the space under for storage.  I found a nice soft cushion at Joanne Fabric and then sewed a cover in a durable fabric.  Two pillows sewed out of contrasting fabric were then made to add to the final look.

The space has also recently been discovered by two other memebers of the family that enjoy the cozy atmosphere!!
The trim I used for the ceiling was also something from a salvage yard.  This trim was from an old Victorian house in New Haven that had been in a fire.  Lucky for me the fire didn't do anything to ruin the wood however from the heat it chipped the paint and gave me a great rustic look without having to do much sanding!!

I sometimes feel the small touches you add to a room can make the world of difference and as always I like to find a way to do so on a budget and in a creative way.  At a antique show, I found these old pool balls and added them to a glass jar for a fun centerpiece.  Oddly enough the colors were suited perfectly for the room.

For art work in the room, I found old game boards at an antique show - since they didn't have their pieces in tact they cost hardly anything.  For the Parcheesi board I made a frame out of fancy trim to give it a little more pizazz.

It is amazing how simply adding these games to our main living space has put them to use on a constant basis.  As for the kids, when they have friends over it is a great place for them to gather and play games that are not found on an electronic device!  And for the adults - I wouldn't be surprised if one day I come home to see a dart club going on in my house!!