Weathered School Desk Chair

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

Welcome to Furniture Refresh project #2. (Check out my last post if you need a reminder what the Furniture Refresh group is all about.)

This month’s theme is “weathered” and I’m gonna be honest, it’s just not my thing. I’m more of a modern, clean edges kind of gal and that’s usually the style that inspires me when I’m working on a piece.

I was racking my brain trying to think of something to share and remembered a client/shop owner recently asked me to try the Old Fashioned Milk Paint she carries in her store. She provided an old wooden chair and a bag of yellow paint. Her only request was that I create a weathered or distressed finish. Perfect, right? I wish every problem was so easily solved.

Here’s the chair before. It was in good shape but she wanted it to be more bright and playful.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

The first step with any furniture I work on is to clean, clean, clean it. I use a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. I apply it with a spray bottle and then “scrub” the piece with a green Scotch-Brite Pad. (A trick from the folks over at General Finishes.) Next comes a light sanding – nothing crazy, just enough to rough up the surface for paint.

With my prep work done I mixed up a small batch of paint and got to work. The first coat was so scary! I had never used powdered milk paint before and it seemed so thin and runny and . . . . non-paint-like. But I pushed on and after a few coats it all came together.

Finally, it was time for the fun part: Sanding!

For me the key to distressing furniture is to sand in the places that would naturally age or wear over time. For example, the top of the chair where hands grab over and over again to pull it away from a desk.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

Or along the edges and corners where book bags might brush against it day after day.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

I should mention too that the Old Fashioned Milk Paint I used is designed to chip and peel so it did a lot of the work for me.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

Last, and most important when using a weathered finish, is to seal the project with a clear top coat. Otherwise the paint will continue to chip and peel. There are lots of options out there but my client asked me to use the Safecoat AcriGlaze she carries in her store. I put on three coats and called it DONE.

Weathered School Desk Chair - laughingabi.com

If you’re a fan of weathered finishes make sure to visit these other “Refreshers” for more ideas and inspiration. Enjoy!


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Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

(QUICK NOTE: This furniture redo is based on the theme “Inspired By”. Make sure to read my exciting news at the end of the post for more info and more furniture ideas.)

I work as a “creative consultant” for my salon/spa. It sounds fancy – because I totally made up the title for myself – but really just means I get to make cool stuff for their customers and for the salon space. (These hand-painted mugs are a project I’ve done for them.)

Several months ago they asked me to reupholster this chair from their lobby.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

I don’t know anything about upholstery so of course I said, “yes, I can do that.”

I’m not gonna lie, that chair sat in my basement for a long, long time. I had no idea what to do with it. Every time I googled “how to upholster a parsons chair” I got confused. Every time I went to the fabric store I came home empty-handed.

Then the salon went through an amazing expansion. I could go on and on about it but all that really matters for this story is the slat wall in the new spa lobby. Guys, check this out.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Gorgeous, right?  Can you believe one of the owners created it using upcycled fence pieces from her back yard? I can’t get over how much color and texture it adds.

Needless to say, I was inspired. I stormed the fabric store like Kanye during a Taylor Swift acceptance speech and came home with the most perfect material in the exact same color palette. Success! Now on to the upholstery job.

NOTE: This is NOT a tutorial. It’s more of a story about how a first-timer tackled an upholstery project with no clue what she was doing. Also, I should let you know that I went into this with basic sewing skills. I’ve made pillows and curtains and can follow a simple pattern but that’s the extent of it. Enough chatter already. Let’s do this.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #1: Take tons and tons of photos BEFORE YOU START AND EVERY SINGLE STEP ALONG THE WAY. I cannot emphasize this enough. You’re getting ready to completely disassemble this piece of furniture and without photos you’ll have no idea how to put it back together. The pics don’t have to make sense to anyone else but you. Just take a lot. Then take more.

With my camera in hand I started “un-upholstering”. Staple by staple I removed the old pleather cover. Then, with it off the chair but still in one piece, I got out my Sharpie and marked things up.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #2: Use a Sharpie to mark the old fabric you remove from the chair. I made notes about direction. I scribbled reminders about which side of the seat it came from. I drew arrows that would help me remember where seams connected. I marked anything that I thought might be helpful down the road when I was trying to put the puzzle back together. Again, the notes don’t need to make sense to anyone but you.

Next I “unstitched” all the seams with my seam ripper and voila! — I had the perfect pattern pieces to create my new chair cover. Now it was just a matter of basic cutting, pinning, and sewing like I would with any store-bought pattern.

TIP #3: Consider using scrap fabric (or an inexpensive flat sheet from Wal-Mart in my case) to sew a “test cover” before you start cutting your expensive upholstery fabric. This idea has its advantages and disadvantages. It did help me avoid some costly mistakes but, on the downside, the sheet was so cheap and flimsy that it was frustrating to work with.

(If you follow me on Facebook you already know there was a mishap involving a certain cat and this project. #eightlivesleft)

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

TIP #4: When cutting, add several extra inches of fabric on the edges that will be stapled to the chair frame. This will ensure you have plenty of room for pulling and stapling at the end of the project.

Oddly enough while this stage is where the pieces started coming together and the magic started to happen, there’s really not much to say about it. It was a lot of pin, sew, swear, repeat. Oh, and a lot of referencing the photos I took. They were invaluable when it came to figuring out how the back and seat pieces fit together.

One other thing I want to point out. Those tight curves at the top of the chair back were a beast! Thankfully a little google research revealed that cutting small slits along the curve helps the fabric lay flat and run through your machine without gaps or puckers.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Here are a couple of links that explain it much better than I can. They offer several solutions but for me a few simple slits or notches was enough to get the job done.

http://sweetbriarsisters.com/blog/sew-opposing-curves/
http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2015/02/sewing-curved-seams/

So with the sewing done it was finally time to put the new cover on and staple it in place. This was by far the easiest part of the whole project. I didn’t follow any specific rules or instructions – just pulled things taunt, made sure everything was smooth and stapled my heart out.

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

Spa Inspired Upholstered Parsons Chair | laughing abi

I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! It was a challenge but definitely worth it. If you’re thinking about trying something like this don’t be intimidated like I was and let it sit in your basement for months. It’s really just about taking something apart and then putting it back together in reverse order.

Remember the news I mentioned waaaay back at the beginning of this post? Here it is – I’ve been invited to join a new group called Furniture Refresh.

furniture refresh logo 2

Every month we’ll each be sharing a “refreshed” piece of furniture based on a changing theme. All of the projects will be shared across our blogs so it’s the perfect opportunity for you furniture lovers to find some great new ideas. This month’s theme is “Inspired By”. Enjoy!


1950’s Tanker Desk Redesign

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Ahhhhh. The sweet, sweet smell of victory. That glorious feeling when you’re able to transform something from this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

From before.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

To after.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

My biggest challenge on this piece was its massive size – this beast measures 29″ tall x 50″ wide x 26″ deep. I started with lots and lots of wood filler on spots like this.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Then I opened my first ever can of General Finishes paint. Cue the singing angels because I’m a believer. I have drank the Kool-Aid. And I am here to testify. All the hype you hear about General Finishes paint is totally true. (This isn’t a sponsored post – I don’t really do that sort of thing – I was just really impressed with this product.)

I used General Finishes Persian Blue on the body of the desk and their Java Gel Stain on the drawers and legs. I am in love with the color combo.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I topped everything off with several coats of Varathane Crystal Clear Polyurethane in Satin for a protective finish.

The final jewel in the crown was some sparkly, metallic gold hardware. This is my new favorite product for the perfect color. I found it at Michael’s.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

I added a few coats to the original drawer pulls and voila!

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

This project went so much smoother than the last couple I shared here and here – thank goodness. It’s nice to see I’m at least learning something from all those mistakes.

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

1950's Tanker Desk Redesign | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

(UPDATE: This coral beauty is FOR SALE in the Chicagoland area. Contact me if you’re interested.)

I’m not gonna lie friends. This one was a struggle.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen each painful step, starting with the wood stain.

The first attempt was streaky. I didn’t know why but thought it must be because I didn’t strip the old finish thoroughly.
So I started over.

The second attempt was spotty because after stripping the old finish I didn’t clean off the stripper residue completely. (Read more about that HERE.)
So I started over.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

The third attempt was streaky because I didn’t know I was dealing with a soft wood and needed to use a pre-stain wood conditioner. (Looking back I realized this was really the problem with my first attempt.)
So I started over.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Finally, on the fourth attempt, the planets aligned, the clouds parted and the wood-staining gods smiled down upon me. Success at long last.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Next was paint. I used this DIY chalk paint recipe with Valspar’s Amber Rose color. I’m happy to report that the paint went on with no problems! The color was perfect and the chalk paint was as amazing as everyone claims. I finished it off with a couple coats of SC Johnson Paste wax – stinky but effective. (If you’re trying to compare expensive Annie Sloan Chalk Paint with the more economical DIY versions I highly recommend you read this post from Diane at In My Own Style. So much valuable information!)

All that was left was to pick out some shiny gold hardware and she would be done! Easy squeezy, right?

Wrong.

You guys I couldn’t find anything to fit the holes. I tried everywhere I could think of. Internet, retail, antique shops, referrals from friends – nothing. There were a couple that were the right size but completely wrong for the age and style of the piece. And a couple of others that might have worked but they were around $30 each. Not for this thrifty chick.

I considered drilling new holes but even if I used a stainable wood filler the old holes would be obvious. And ugly. The only way to completely cover them would be to . . .

paint

the

drawers.

The same drawers that I just cried and agonized over for weeks. That I stripped, stained, and sealed four times.

I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t. There had to be a better way.

So I wiped the slate clean and started my search over again, hoping something new and different would pop up this time. First stop: Lowe’s.

I walked to the same jumbled wall of handles and knobs I had looked through before and THERE IT WAS! Not a perfect fit but a contender that, with a little spray paint and strategic placement, might finish off my coral queen.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

It was super, super close but they work! Here’s the trick: they don’t match the existing holes in the drawers but instead, cover them (with not a millimeter to spare). Yes, we did have to drill into my newly refinished wood to install them. And yes, it did totally stress me out. But the result is 100% worth it. You can’t see the original holes at all and I love the way the finished pulls look. Their simple style and rounded edges compliment the details of the piece perfectly.

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.com

Coral Dresser With DIY Chalk Paint | laughingabi.comI fought hard for this dresser and I could not be more pleased with how it turned out. It was my first adventure with chalk paint and my first time using the color coral. I will definitely use them both again.

I should mention that this beauty is for sale so if you’re in the Chicagoland area and are looking for a pop of feminine color in your space, we should chat.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons

Hello friends. Before I dive into this Mid-Century love fest I want to chat briefly about my posting schedule. I decided to tackle some new projects this year and they’re taking longer than I expected (you’ll see one example in this post). As a result the blogging side of things has slowed down. A lot. Hopefully it will pick up again as I learn more and can work faster. Until then, I’m still sharing, just less often.

Now that that’s out of the way, get a load of this.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

I. Can’t. Even.

The Mid-Century Modern lover in me wants to whisper inappropriate things to it over cocktails in a dark, smoky bar.

Sure, it’s got a broken leg – a new one has been ordered and will be here soon – but it’s still so damn sexy I just couldn’t wait any longer to share.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

So for now we’ll do some cropping to hide the “stump” and show off the gorgeous legs it does have.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

You might also notice there’s no fancy staging or styling – the paint job on the wall isn’t even done. That’s because this room is (eternally) under construction. This dresser and another one I plan to share soon are the only finished things in the space. Gotta start somewhere.

THE STORY

You can probably guess from the title of this post that the refinishing process did not go smoothly. I’ll start at the beginning with this not-so-exciting “before” shot.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Not in bad shape but there were some scratches and dings that needed attention. Worst of all, this ugly laminate top.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

So I started by stripping the drawers with Citristrip. Then I hit them with a few coats of General Finishes Java Gel Stain. Everything looked beautiful so I finished them off with General Finishes Gel Topcoat, patted myself on the back, and went to bed.

The next morning I found this on all nine drawers.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

What the what? What happened? And more importantly, how do I fix it?

THE INVESTIGATION

I asked everyone I knew. Instagram friends. Facebook family. General Finishes customer support. Everyone. In the end no one was exactly sure why it happened but most seemed to agree on the solution: re-strip, re-sand, and re-stain.

But I wasn’t convinced. Repeating the same steps and expecting different results seemed ridiculous. I wanted to find out what actually caused the spots so I decided to do more investigating.

My plan was simple: Follow the same exact steps but on a different dresser. If the spots appear again then I know it’s something I’m doing. If not, then it must be something on the wood. Maybe a spill or splatter from the previous owner?

Here are the discouraging results.

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

It’s a different kind of wood so it doesn’t look the same but there are definitely spots.

So what the bleepity-bleep was I doing wrong? I had just finished another dresser last week using the same products and it turned out beautifully – no spots, no problems, no drama. Why was I having so much trouble now?

Then I remembered something! I had done one tiny thing differently on that spot-free dresser from last week: I used a liquid deglosser to remove the paint stripper residue. On the spotty dressers I used a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water that I had on hand. If that mix wasn’t strong enough to completely clean off the thick, waxy stripping goo it could prevent the stain from soaking into the wood evenly, which would result in spots. Mystery solved!

THE LESSON

The Citristrip label clearly states, “use a paint stripper wash or odorless mineral spirits to loosen remaining residue”.

I used something else and it was an epic fail.

So today’s furniture refinishing lesson is: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE PRODUCTS YOU’RE USING.

It’s so simple that it’s embarrassing. Let’s move on.

THE HOME STRETCH

Now that I knew what to do – and what not to do – it was time to finish this thing up. I scrubbed everything down with a Scotch-Brite scour pad and deglosser, then sanded and stained. The top coat went on beautifully with no spots to be seen. Success!

With the drawers finally done it was time to tackle the dresser frame. I started with a light sanding, followed by a coat of Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer (my go-to product for laminate surfaces). Lastly, a few coats of Benjamin Moore Cloud White and it was done!

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

Refinishing A Mid-Century Modern Dresser: Mistakes & Lessons | laughingabi.com

I’m not gonna lie. This one was slow and painful and aggravating. But I definitely learned from it and I absolutely LOVE the results. Now I’m just waiting on that leg to show up in the mail so I can officially call it finished.

Have you conquered any painful projects lately? Was the challenge due to a simple mistake like mine? Or something more complicated?

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score

I was all prepared to share a Roadside Redo today – a hanging light fixture on the back porch – but then I walked into the thrift store, innocently looking for a picture frame, and this happened.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

OMG CAN YOU EVEN STAND IT?! $70!!!

Those of you who aren’t fans of Mid-Century Modern or Danish design might be saying, “big whoop.” But I guarantee the MCM lovers out there who scour Craigslist and eBay for beauties like this are dying.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Confession: I almost didn’t buy it. Not because I didn’t love it but because in some circles I could be classified as a chair hoarder. Seriously, I’ve got one stuffed in every corner of the house and even a few out in the garage. It’s kind of a problem.

So I told myself to walk away.

But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Truth is I sat in the store, in the chair (no one else could buy it if my butt was planted in it, right?) for an hour and a half silently arguing with myself. I reached out to every person I could think of via Instagram or FaceBook or Hometalk hoping someone would tell me it was worth a mazillion dollars because hoarding valuable items makes you a collector, right?

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

I never did get any concrete figures but in the end it didn’t matter. Eventually I just surrendered to my wild, aching chair desires and brought him home. And later that night when I gently sat him down next to the fireplace it was sooooo good.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

The next day it was time for some leather TLC. Overall everything was in good condition but there were a few spots that looked like they needed conditioning. My go-to product for leather is called Blackrock Leather ‘N’ Rich. I buy it at our local feed store with the horse and tack supplies. If you don’t have a feed store down the road a spell like we do you can get it here.

It was no surprise that the arms were in the worst shape since they get so much wear and tear. Here’s a peek at how well this stuff works.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.comAnd here’s another shot of the inside of the same arm. It’s harder to see the dryness and scratches but if you look closely you’ll notice a big splotch right above the seat cushion. Looks like maybe somebody spilled something. It’s totally gone in the after pic!

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

I still want to treat the wood but I don’t have a go-to product for that yet. I would love to hear any suggestions you guys have. I’m considering the same DIY mixture I used here.

For now though, let’s gaze at some more photos of my new love, shall we?

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com
Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Sigh. I just love him.

Love. Him.

Before I go here’s a quick look at the new vignette that happened when I started shuffling furniture around.

Mid Century Modern Thrift Store Score |laughingabi.com

Nothing fancy but it holds some of my favorite things so it makes me happy when I see it. Doesn’t get much better than that. (The portrait is our first fur baby, painted by my mother-in-law and the children’s book is my new favorite entitled The Day The Crayons Quit. You should check it out.)

So that’s the story of my new love chair. What’s your most recent thrift store score? Something small and functional? Or black, leather, and comfortable?

A tale of two red chairs – Part two

Last week in A tale of two red chairs – Part one I shared how a red leather chair became one of “the things that matter” in my life. Today, Red Chair #2.
red lawn chair 2

RED CHAIR #2

The back story:
My closest friend’s mother died in 2010. It was hard watching her struggle with the loss of a parent but gradually, over time, her life settled into a “new normal” and we resumed our summertime routines together – cooking out, drinking strawberry sangria, and hitting every yard sale we could find. Ironically, one of my prized sale finds was from her yard – an old, powder blue, metal lawn chair. (One person’s trash . . . ) It wasn’t pretty but it reminded me of the chairs that used to sit on my aunt’s porch so I had to have it, rust spots and all. Besides, I knew I could make it shine so I took it home, cleaned it up and got busy covering up the tired old rusty blue with a shiny coat of red.

The story that matters:
A few weeks later my friend asked how I liked the chair.

Me: “I love it. It looks perfect on my back patio.

Her: “Good. I’m glad you’re the one who bought it. It was my mom’s chair and I’ll always remember her sitting on it out in our yard.”

My heart sank. I had no idea. No idea it was her mother’s chair. No idea it was a tangible connection to someone she would never touch again – a connection I had smothered with layers of Krylon glossy red.

I had to tell her. She would know anyway the first time she came over to sip sangria.

“I painted your mom’s chair,” I blurted out. “Red.”

She smiled.

“Red was my mom’s favorite color,” she said quietly.

With those six words my horrible mistake became a tribute – a way to honor her mother’s memory, not erase it. And that red lawn chair became one of the most valuable things I own. Not because it tells my story, but because it tells the story of someone I love, and someone she loves. Turns out “the things that matter” aren’t always about us at all.

I have to confess the chair isn’t looking that pretty these days – my paint job was a little shoddy. Some of the red has flaked off and while I would normally scrape, prime, and repaint those ugly little chips I think I’ll just let the faded, slightly rusty, blue shine through this time.

A tale of two red chairs – Part one

Nate Berkus The Things That MatterMy aunt gave me Nate Berkus’ new book, “The Things That Matter”, as an early Christmas gift. Let me just say, this isn’t your mother’s decorating book. It starts with an intimate look at Nate’s life then invites us into his home, as well as twelve others, to show us how the things we gather in our life’s travels are a part of us – and therefore, should be a part of our homes. They tell a story, our story. In Nate’s words:

“The truth is, things matter. They have to. They’re what we live with and touch each and every day. They represent what we’ve seen, who we’ve loved, and where we hope to go next. They remind us of the good times and the rough patches, and everything in between that’s made us who we are.”

Before I go on let me say that I started reading this book the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Like every parent in America, I was in a haze of sadness and anger and sympathy. So it was with this level of raw emotion that I started looking around my own home, thinking about “the things that matter”. One thing immediately stood out, my red leather chair.

RED CHAIR #1

The Things That Matter laughingabi.com

The backstory:
Our house in Colorado Springs was around the corner from a small, uber-expensive furniture store. The kind where I could always browse, but never buy. One afternoon I was floating through the showroom, dreaming of the day I could lounge on one of these plush sofas in a silk robe and kitten-heel slippers, when I spied a red leather chair. The perfect red leather chair. It was slim and modern and . . . red.

Not surprisingly, it was out of my price range. So I visited it frequently, sat in it lovingly, and told myself, “someday.”

Shortly after discovering the PRLC (perfect red leather chair) my husband left for Chicago on a business trip. As he walked out the door I joked, “wouldn’t it be funny if I was sitting here in a red leather chair when you got home?” He laughed.

I bought the PRLC while The Hubs was gone – I’m sure you already figured that out – and I was sitting in it when he got back from Chicago. It was, and still is, every bit as perfect as I dreamed.

The story that matters:
One of the first things I did was call my mom and invite her over to admire my new treasure. She oooooed and awwwwwed like any good mother should and then this odd look washed over her face.

Mom: “Hmmmm.”

Me: “What? Don’t you like it?”

Mom: “I like it. I was just wondering, did you know your grandma has always had a red chair in her living room? Always.”

Me: “Really? No, I had no idea. That’s weird.”

Mom: “And your great grandma had a red chair too. For as long as I can remember, til the day she died.”

It’s important to note that I’ve never really known my grandma. And while I do have some fond memories of my great grandma (Granny), she died when I was 10 years old. I never knew her favorite color, or food, or singer. I certainly didn’t know anything about her furniture. My point is, these women are virtual strangers to me. Is it really possible for them to have such a strong influence on my choices? I don’t have an answer. I just know that what started as a chair was suddenly promoted to heirloom status – like a secret tradition that’s been handed down over generations. It became something that really mattered. And somewhere in the back of my mind I can see Granny curled up in her red chair, draped in a silk robe with one kitten-heel shoe dangling from her toes.

A is for Aquarium Stand: A-Z Blog Challenge

Santa brought my daughter a lizard for Christmas last year. It lives in a 50-gallon aquarium tank in my living room. Did you hear me? I said there’s a 4-foot freakin’ glass box sitting in my living room. With a lizard in it.

My challenges:
1. Find a piece of furniture that makes this tank look good incredible.
2. Make it look like it belongs in the room/fits with my decor.
3. Incorporate storage to hide things like live crickets and freeze-dried crickets grasshoppers.
4. As always, do it for cheap.

I searched high-and-low for traditional aquarium stands that fit these criteria. All the options were either too ugly or too expensive. So I turned to my good friend, the Salvation Army. It was there I found this lovely for $60.

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

Perfect. I knew as soon as I saw it. And yes, I realize it’s a china hutch, not an aquarium stand. After a lot of demo, sanding, sweating, and painting it was transformed into this.

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

From china hutch to aquarium stand | laughingabi.com

Beautiful, yes? I included a couple close-ups of the distressing since you can’t see it very well in the other shots. My favorite part is the faux stainless steel base/stand that, ironically enough, matches the base of the china hutch in my dining room. Confession: I’m not in love with the feathers on the doors but I can’t make up my mind what else to do. Those flat panels are screaming for a painted pattern of some sort but there are so many great options, I just can’t decide. Here are some of my favorite inspiration pieces.

A is for aquarium stand

A is for aquarium stand

A is for aquarium standA is for aquarium stand
In the end I want the doors to make a statement, but not a “high-five you in the face with a hammer” statement. I’ll be sure to post an update if I ever make a decision. Of course your ideas and suggestions are welcome.

This post is the first in a series of 26 inspired by the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Click over and see all the amazing bloggers working their way through the alphabet in April.

Phone Bench Before & After

This is one of my favorite projects. I bought the piece at a garage sale for $7 even though I had no idea what it was. I just liked it. Later, my aunt told me it was a telephone bench from the days when telephones didn’t fit in our pockets.

phone bench before

A few coats of paint (left over from another project), a scrap of plywood cut by my DH, a piece of foam, and a bit of fabric from my remnant stash . . . TADA!

phone bench after

Since learning it was a phone bench I’ve set it up as a charging station for the family’s cell phones. Beautiful and functional. Does it get any better?

Now it’s your turn. Write a comment and include a picture of your latest DIY masterpiece. No project is too big or too small as long as you made it, or remade it.