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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Getting Organized For Back To School

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

I’m finally done getting organized for back to school! Which is good since my kids started two weeks ago.

I first shared this Back-To-School Closet Makeover a couple weeks ago and it’s come a long way since then. We’ve added shelves, and storage, and chalkboards — oh my.

First, just to catch you up, here’s a BEFORE pic.

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

Not pretty, I know. Then we installed some lockers from IKEA.

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

And finally, it was time for some details.

We started by cutting shelves to fit between the lockers. Nothing fancy, just some scrap wood (a piece from our first ooops on the shelf that holds the lockers up). As usual, Hubs cut & I painted.

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

We used the cheapest shelf brackets we could find, knowing they wouldn’t show once everything was installed.

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

The next challenge was to find the perfect size containers to fit those new shelves. They had to be cute. And cheap. And durable. And colorful.

Given all that, I expected to search for a couple months before I found something. But then the DIY storage gods smiled upon me, the clouds parted, and a rainbow appeared. At the end of that rainbow were these fabulous little blue buckets.

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

I found them at Marshall’s, and ring the bell people because they were only $6 each!

Oh, and those numbers on each one? Nothing but chalkboard stickers from the infamous Martha Stewart herself.

With that done I needed a few more storage containers to hold all the crap that lands in that closet. I shopped the house and found/stole two baskets from our bedroom.

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

Lastly, I prettied it all up with some DIY chalkboards, photos, hooks, and magnets.

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

Do you ever look at articles like this and think, “That’s total crap, there’s no way all the stuff from the before photo went back into that closet.” I do. So in an attempt to keep things real, here’s a breakdown for ya.
Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

Getting organized for back to school | laughingabi.com

1. Portable DVD player
2. I’m gonna be honest and tell you I have no idea what was in that bucket. Obviously it wasn’t something that belonged in the closet.
3. Purse
4. The basket on the left holds all the items from the plastic drawers. The basket on the right holds the paper work that sat on top of the drawers.
5. Backpacks/bags we use when we go downtown.
6. Hats, gloves, scarves, etc
7. Baskets of crap – these things did not go back in the closet because none of them belonged there in the first place! Half of it went in the trash, the rest was put away (or probably stashed under someone’s bed).
8. Window fan & bubbles – more items that didn’t belong here in the first place. We put them away.
9. Shoes (read about my shoe bins made from aircraft part shipping containers HERE.)
10. Yoga mats

Admittedly, not every single thing went back in the closet. Only the things that were supposed to be there or needed to be there —  which was the whole point of reorganizing in the first place.

Have you made any changes to get ready for school? Do you have a special place to store all the kids stuff?

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

By now we all know DIY chalkboard paint can be used to transform a wall or door or wine glass. But I didn’t want anything that big or fancy. I just wanted to make a simple, lightweight chalkboard to fill a cute frame from my sister-in-law. It seemed like an easy enough project but I had no idea what material to use.

So of course I turned to my favorite creative resource — Pinterest — and found out most people just use plywood. So I went digging through my garage and came up with this.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

And here’s how it turned out.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

Two words: Epic fail. (BTW, the piece in the bottom left is before I “seasoned” it with chalk.)

Plan B was the craft store, specifically Michael’s. After searching around for a while I stopped and asked an employee in the custom framing department for help. She recommended this product because it would hold up to the moisture of the paint. And it came in standard frame sizes — BONUS. And it only cost $3.50 for a 2-pack — DOUBLE BONU$.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

But wait! Here’s the top secret tip: don’t use the front. Instead, flip it over and paint the perfectly smooth back to get this bit of loveliness.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

Now that I had a chalkboard it was time to frame it up. First challenge? Keeping it from skooching around inside the frame when we wrote on it. Solution? Hot glue (of course). Just a little dot in each corner did the trick.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

Next I needed to “fill” the back of the frame so everything was flush. Three pieces of foam core cut to size and a little duct tape took me from this . . .

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

. . . to this.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

Oh, and see those velcro-looking strips on the back? That’s what I used to hang my finished masterpiece. They’re one of those amazing Command products that don’t damage your wall when you take them down.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

One last detail. The thickness of the Command strips made the frame stick out from the wall a bit so I added these felt circles to the lower corners. They’re just enough to keep just to keep everything flat against the wall.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

Another project done! I actually made two, one for each of the girls’ new lockers. I’ve got a few more back-to-school organizing ideas to finish up and then I’ll post the finished closet. Can’t wait to share. I know I’m a total dork but I love this time of year.

DIY chalkboard with a secret tip | laughingabi.com

What have you painted with chalkboard paint? Any surprises along the way?

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

My kids’ after-school schedules are insane. The biggest problem is my oldest daughter’s show choir commitment. Her director throws a dart at the calendar for rehearsal dates then decides pick-up times based on the number of eggs in her refrigerator that morning. (Who’s sarcastic?) And of course when one kid’s schedule changes the dominoes topple until nobody knows when they’re coming home or how they’re getting there.

So of course I turned to Pinterest for organizational inspiration. I found gobs of “command centers” but they were too complicated for my needs. I wanted to design something just as functional but on a much smaller scale. Here’s what I did.

1. Started with a thrift store frame.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

2. Bought a piece of foam core and cut it to fit. Cost me $3.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

3. Found a piece of plexi-glass to fit.
Since my frame wasn’t a standard size I couldn’t find a cheap piece of glass to fit. Instead, I stole a piece of flimsy plexi-glass from an old poster frame stashed in my basement. It wasn’t my first choice but it was free and easy to cut so I went with it.

4. Next I tested some fabric options by placing them under the plexi and writing on them.
I needed to make sure the pattern didn’t make it hard to read the messages.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

5. I used scrapbook adhesive to wrap the fabric around the foam core, making sure to keep everything square and smooth. Double stick tape would work just as well.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Almost done.

6. I designed a simple “how am I getting home today?” calendar and “where the heck is mom?” message center, and stuck them to the fabric-wrapped foam core. 
I decided to print them on vellum paper (from the scrapbooking section of any craft store) so the fabric pattern would still show through. I used Zots in each corner of the paper to stick the pages to the fabric. And yes, that does say, “walking a dog”. It’s one of my random jobs.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

7. I decided at the last minute to add a piece of ribbon between the two sections. Forgot to take a picture. Ooops.

Finally, it was time to put everything together. This part was a little tricky but once I figured out a system it went pretty smoothly.

8. I drilled small holes into the inside edges of the frame – on the back where you would put the backing on a regular frame.
I didn’t go very deep, just enough to hold a nail in place while I tapped it in. I used this little hand crank drill thingy we have.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

9. Then, with all the pieces sandwiched together in the frame, I carefully hammered a small brad nail into each starter hole.
I had to hammer at a little bit of an angle so afterwards I just bent the nail down toward the foam core to hold everything tight. Not very sophisticated but it works.

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

And VOILA! It’s done. (Sorry about the reflections.)

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

Simple Dry Erase Calendar & Memo Board | laughingabi.com

This post is part of the Pinterest Challenge over on Young House Love. Make sure you check out all the other link ups HERE.

pinterest winter-challenge

Also, here are links to the projects on Pinterest that inspired this whole thing. Make sure you take a look at them too.

sas interiors

Hi Sugar Plum

The Caldwell Project

24 Cottonwood Lane

How do you keep all the people in your house going to the right places every day? Do you have your own version of a “command center”?

Fall Goody Bags

Fall goody bags  |  laughingabi.com

I’ve always made goody bags for my daughters’ classroom parties. Not because I’m one of “those” moms, but because we love to make things together and it’s become a mother-daughter tradition over the years.

Halloween is a challenge because our school district doesn’t allow “Halloween” parties. (We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, would we? Insert sarcasm here.) Instead we have fall “Harvest” parties. That means the obvious goody bag ideas are not allowed. No witches, spiders, monsters, skeletons . . . you get the idea. My solution? Owls. Here’s a peek at the fall goody bags we made this year inspired by this post from Tales of a Trophy Wife.

Fall goody bags  |  laughingabi.com

Fall goody bags  |  laughingabi.com

And here are the lovely little hooters we made last year.

Fall goody bags  |  laughingabi.com

Fall goody bags  |  laughingabi.com

I love their crossed eyes. Makes me smile. Do you have any creative fall or Halloween traditions?