The Southern Belle’s Christmas Present- Refinishing a French Provincial Dresser


Christmas presents for grown up kids were so much fun this year. The Southern Belle asked a while back for a dresser. She wanted it black with brushed nickel hardware. I started looking when we were out shopping, thrifting, and junking. Nothing really struck me until I saw a mistreated piece on Craig’s List. It was covered in layers of really ugly paint with pink showing through. Someone had put cabinet hardware on it that reminded me of a cabin.

To make matters worse, the hardware did not fit ell so the person who thought this hardware would work jammed plastic anchors into the holes.
It took some work on hubby’s part. Getting the hardware off, sanding, filling holes, more sanding before the paint went on.
Hubby got a new paint sprayer, and about the biggest compressor I have ever seen for an early Christmas present. It really made the piece look professionally painted and the Behr paint I love works in this high volume, low pressure sprayer.
Here are the results. For the present she just got a photograph of the piece. It will be getting delivered to North Carolina this spring. Another great reason to visit her.




It was fun making something that our daughter will enjoy.

Painting the Night Stands Yellow

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This weekend I finally tackled the two end tables that will go into the guest bedroom. One of them was a roadside find. The other I bought in a resale shop for $15.00. I am so excited about this project! I am on a self-imposed limited budget so the fifteen dollars total spent on the night stands combined makes me smile. They are going to look fun and be a little funky in the room. I bought some yellow paint in the oops bin at Home Depot. On the can it was a bright yellow, inside it was more of a greenish yellow. I tried to convince myself that the paint would work. It was cheap, good quality paint and went on the tables like no body’s business.

When Hubby got home after I painted them with two coats, he said that they looked like pickle yellow. Not sure what that means but it would not work in the room.

 The original yellow color.

Sad days.  I had to go back for more paint.

Because I had already painted everything with the good paint I convinced myself that cheap paint would work just fine.  I did not take my own advice- NEVER USE CHEAP PAINT.  When you use cheap paint on furniture you end up painting everything twice where one coat would work in the better paint and it runs because it is so thin.  I started painting the tables Friday night and it took me two hours to paint them the first time.  I literally had to sit there and clean up drips for an hour after I painted but I am nothing if not hard headed so I marshaled on.  The second coat the next morning didn’t look as bad but I still had the runny paint issue.  The color was Behr Chickadee.  I pinky swear that from this day forward I will use Behr Premium Plus with primer in the paint or Olympic paint and primer in one on any painted furniture.

Sunday afternoon I glazed them.

The pictures above are before I wiped the table down.

I love making my own glaze.  I actually used the wall color in the glaze.  1 cup of untinted glaze to 1/4 cup paint.   The pieces had lots of grooves and nicks so there was a lot of glaze detail.  They turned out great.

I love how this was headed for the trash and is now a star in the bedroom.  I am going to store extra blankets inside for my guests.

The Guest Room Redo

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The mudroom bench is really coming to an end.  I painted final touch-ups this evening.  I need a new project.  It really is therapy for me.  Ever since I found that sad end table in the trash I have been thinking about redoing my newly married son’s room.  It will now be a guest room.  The problem with the room was that I could not come up with a color scheme that I liked.  Friends suggested colors for the end table but I just could not settle on anything that I loved.   I wanted the room to be classic with a modern twist and still use my 70’s furniture finds.  Inspiration came from The Hills blog.

I am good to go now.  The room is going to be gray and yellow toned.   I have set a budget for myself of $100.00 to redo the room.  I already have a great gray comforter I purchased online for $17.00.  It has literally been sitting in my bedroom for over a month because I bought it for the lovebirds thinking they needed it.  They found another gray comforter that they purchased so I planned on returning mine.  I just couldn’t do it because the one I had was such a great deal and I thought in the back of my mind it might find a home.  Now I am glad I saved it.
Here is what the room looks like today. 

I already have a double bed and an upholstered headboard made from a hollow door.
It is pretty forgettable.

There is a dresser in the room that will move to the other guest room.  The treasures will have to find a new home.    

 The side table is outdoor furniture and the lamp was a clearance find. 

There are some photos I took in Hawaii on one wall and this art piece from my old office. I love the photos and will find a home for them.  The artwork is fine, just not very exciting. There is an oak desk in the room that has to stay, but it will work fine as is.

Here is the plan:

  • Reupholster the headboard and reconfigure the room.
  • Paint the dumpster end table into something fabulous.
  • Find a great lamp.
  • Re do the armoire- (I recently got an armoire back that was my unnamed son’s when he was little. With a little fluffing up it is going to be amazing.)
  • Find some great curtains. 
  • Add art.  This is going to be my favorite part.  I got online and looked for yellow and gray inspiration. I found:



more birds
You will definitely see my version of something above in the room.
I also have on hand:
 A resale shop frame that I painted the blue color from Sweet Amanda’s bedroom.  $2.00
 A large mirror that I bought last weekend at a garage sale.  $2.00

I need sheets, pillows, dust ruffle, fabric, curtains, and paint.

Tally so far:
comforter- $17.00
frame and mirror- $4.00

I think I should get it all done for under the $79.00 left. 
I think that this will be a great place to put my milk glass too.  I guess I am really going to find out if Hubby reads my blog.  He is at parent’s night tonight and has no idea that I have gone off on another tangent. 

Making a Tufted Cushion for the Mudroom Bench

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We are making progress on the Mudroom Bench.  No more showing it to you until it is installed!  I had planned on using an outdoor cushion that I bought on clearance but Hubby did not like how it fit the bench and honestly I wanted something a little more swanky.  We have both put in a lot of work on this project and it will be the first thing that people see when they come into our home.  I am making pillows for the bench too that you will see this week.  We have completed the cushion to go on the bench.  I learned a ton on this project.  Hubby and I have upholstered many things over the years, but I had not ever tried anything tufted.  My inspiration came from Daily Do It Yourself .  I did not know how to cover buttons with fabric but Hubby had some experience (his sisters both sew) so we got started.  I bought this button making kit at Hobby Lobby.  I love those 40% off coupons.
The kit would would only make three buttons, but you can buy refill buttons for $1.99.  Not bad.  I bought 12 buttons all together.  The kit provides a template to draw circles on the fabric.
I got all 12 drawn out on a tiny scrap of fabric.  It does not take much to do the buttons.

Place the fabric in the form provided, back side up.

Then put the rounded part of the button into the mold.

Like magic the fabric curls in when you press down on the rounded button part.

Put the part of the button that has the ring on it into the mold next. The kit comes with a blue pressing tool.  Press until you feel a click. 

Ta Dah!
It got tricky after this part.  Hubby had already cut a piece of scrap 1/2 inch plywood cut to size.  We looked at several websites about tufted pillows.  His next statement filled me with fear.  “This will be easy, all we need is a tape measure, ruler, calculator and a pencil.”  A calculator?  Hubby is a math teacher so I immediately passed the chore of marking where the buttons went off to him. 

He drilled a hole where each button should go then we placed the board across two chair backs.  This allowed me to work on top and bottom at the same time. We layered foam on top of the board that was also cut to size and then the fabric.  I even ironed!  I used an upholstery needle and heavy weight thread to go through the hole in the wood, the foam and the fabric.  I then put the button on the thread then back down through everything.  Finding the hole in the wood was a pain at first but I got better.  I did not tie the buttons at this point.  I left the thread hanging.

Once all 12 were in we carefully flipped everything over on the floor, buttons down.  Hubby stood on the board while I pulled the thread tight.  He screwed a small screw in by each button for me to tie off.  I then stapled the thread to make sure it stayed secure.  Next I used my trusty electric staple gun to staple the fabric down around the edges. 

It turned out great.

Look at how straight the buttons are down the cushion.  Great job done by the mathematician.

The cushion is now ready for the bench.  The cost was not too bad, but way more than my $7.00 cushion I originally planned to use.  The fabric was a linen remnent that I only paid $3.00 for.  The buttons cost $5.00.  The big expense was the foam.  $20.00, even with a coupon.
It is going to look great on the bench.

The Mudroom Bench is Coming Together

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Tuesday night we made progress on the Mudroom bench. The paint color was picked out; Behr Marina Isle.

I am such a fan of the Behr paint with primer in it. The paint dries so smooth it looks great after one coat and professional after two.
We got home from Home Depot and I got started right away. It was 8:00 p.m. and getting dark, but I just couldn’t wait to get it done.  I got a coat of paint on the whole bench before the mosquitoes drained my entire blood supply. I am absolutely the messiest painter in all of Texas. I managed to step in wet paint, get it on my hands, and even got some in my hair.   I could blame all the mess on the impending darkness, but I have been known to make just as much mess at noon.

When I woke up Wednesday morning I had to run out to the garage to check out the color once it dried.  I love it.  It is really a soft teal color. It will look great on my khaki colored walls.  The cushion will be burlap colored fabric and I am making two coffee sack pillows to add to the bench. 

The bench is going to look great. I am so happy with the color. It is amazing to me how the paint color unifies the piece and makes it look less like a patchwork and more like a piece of fine furniture.

Hubby got the mirror disassembled so that I could get it painted. The mirror now looks like it belongs on the piece.  Wednesday night was all about Hubby routing the edges of the back and me painting the top part. 

I know you are getting tired of seeing how slow we work.  This is real life.  We work hard, we only have an hour or so each evening to get this finished.  The next time you see the mudroom bench it will be the assembly and installation.  We really are almost there.

Move in Weekend for the Craft Corner

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Yippee!  My craft corner is finally dry, in place and ready for service.  I am so happy.  It has been a frustrating trip to get to this point.  If you have been reading my blog you have read my excitement at finding the perfect deskmaking a big mess… then finally getting it put together.

This weekend I got to move into the desk.  I carried all my stuff out of the house.  It took two bags.

This is inside one of the bags.  Hubby was embarrassed that I would show you my junk, but it is what it is.  I have not had a place to work for a while.  When I wanted to be creative, I had to get everything out, put it on the kitchen table them put it up before we could use the table. It sure took away the joy.

This was one of my cheapo finds.
Originally, this was an oak desk organizer I bought for 25 cents at Livingston Trade Days.
Hubby added a piece of scrap wood to the center.
    It fit bottles of craft paint perfectly.  I painted it my duck egg blue color and it is now ready to use.

Along the chair rail Hubby drilled holes for cup hooks.  My brushes didn’t have holes so Hubby had to drill a hole in each of them.  Below the big brushes is one of Hubby’s genius moments.  I was looking for something to keep my art brushes in. I have tried a lot of things.  Most recently I had a Pringles can with holes punched in the lid, but the smaller brushes fell through.  I really thought Hubby would have to build me something but he found this old pipe holder at a resale shop.  It is perfect.  50 cents and it even has a place for a jar to fill with water that I can drop used brushes into. I wonder what that spot was for orginally?   I love it.  He loves it because there was no building, fixing, painting or adjusting for him.  I literally brought it home and put it in place.

The drawers are organized.

 The blackboard above the craft table has changed from this…

to this.  Enough said.

Saving a Broken Desk

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The desk below was sitting by the curb- waiting for the trash truck to come- when I spotted it.

 I have to wonder what happened to the piece.  Someone at some time had refinished the piece.  My guess is that it fell during a move because it was outside a rental property in my neighborhood.  Of course I brought it home.  It sat in my garage for a year, then it moved to the Garagemahal.  It sat there six months.
Hubby did not want to start a big project this weekend so he decided to start putting this back together.  In order to put a piece back together, it has to be taken apart.  I mean completely apart.  I wanted you to see what I mean when I say that Hubby takes broken furniture apart.  He is great at disassembling and reassembling furniture that others would just give up on.

It always looks worse when he starts that it did when I brought it home.

The piece had a tag that said property of Louisiana College.  Now I really want to know how it ended up in my Texas neighborhood.

Hubby started re-gluing all the pegs.

Then he strapped everything together so that the glue would dry with the wood aligned as it should be.

We had to leave it drying but it should be all back together next weekend.  Hubby has already made it clear that he does not want this piece painted.  It will be sanded and refinished.  I am just happy it is not in a landfill somewhere.  I can’t wait to show you the puzzle pieces put back together!

Furnishing a Weekend Home on the Cheap

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Lake houses in and around Lake Livingston are ridiculously cheap right now.  The lake was built in 1969 and has been through several boom and bust cycles, just like Houston, the big city that is one hour from the lake.  Weekend homes are a luxury that is the first to go in hard times.   We bought Star Hill six years ago and got a great deal.  Our monthly payment on a 15 year loan is less than a car note.  The neighborhood we live in has a gated boat launch, a pool and takes care of all the neighborhood mowing for $125 per homeowner per year.  All that said, I was still VERY nervous when we bought the house.  I tend to be a super worrywart when it comes to money.  I decided when we bought the place that we could not spend a fortune getting the house set up, but at the same time, I wanted it to be a place I wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring someone to.  I wanted the house to have a warm homey feeling and my sense of style.

I set a budge of $1000 to furnish the house when we bought the place.  I wanted to have it fully furnished by the first summer and ready for guests. We started going to garage sales in the city where we lived as soon as we put money down on the house.   Here is the result and the tally.

No, this television did not make an appearance until last year.  We moved a big hunkin tv here from our house that was not being used and we had a dvd player- no live television back then.  The corner cabinet was garage sale purchase.  $15.00.  We loved it because it matched the furniture that Hubby made years ago for our house out of fencing that we salvaged.  Hubby added the shelves above the corner cabinet from old fencing too. The white chair came from a garage sale for $2.00.  The rocker was ours and it was already a blue denim color!  The key hooks were a gift, the shelves on the wall were garage sale finds.

We use the storage under the television for dvd’s, toys, and electronics.

We were so lucky that the place had this awesome wood burning stove.  It makes it so comfy in the winter.

One of the three big ticket items that we bought was the couch.  The mattresses for the two queen beds and the couch together were $725.00.  We bought this brand new, great leather sleeper sofa at an auction on a cold rainy day for $225.  No one bid against us.  The end tables and coffee table were made by Hubby when the kids were little.  They were tough enough to be used rough for years so we knew they would hold up well at the lake.  The bowl was my great grandmother’s bread bowl.  We found the floor lamps on clearance at Lowe’s for $12.00 each one Saturday morning.  They are really too fancy, but we are glad to have lights that can be moved around as needed.

The Coke box under the coffee table holds games.  The box was a gift.

The mirror was a recent addition.  Of course we made it from our recycled wood.  The varnished walking stick was a gift.

The buffet is my favorite piece that Hubby built for the house.  I drew it , he took what I wanted and ran with it.  Everything was made from scraps or stuff being thrown away.  The chicken wire even came out of one of my neighbor’s trash.  I love how he took the tip of some pickets and matched them up on the door.  No cost.

My Star.  I did pay $10.00 for this.

Hubby drove by a garage sale on the way to work one Friday morning for $5.00.  Not bad for $2.50 per chair.

We were so fortunate to get our bedroom furniture.  A neighbor was moving and did not want the furniture from their daughter’s room.  Except for the headboard that we bought at the Star Clearance Outlet for $45.00 ( big mistake, we paid way too much) the rest of the furniture was free.  The dresser, night stand and chest were from the neighbor.  The other nightstand my mom found for me when a friend of hers was getting rid of it.  The hat rack was from my mom.  I bought the star in this room several years after we moved in. 

 The bookcase was in my dad’s office.  The shelf above the bookcase was the first furniture piece Hubby made for me when we married, probably 28 years ago.  I have collected milk glass since we moved in.  I find it cheap and keep adding.

 This rocker was added this past year.  I bought it at an antique shop.  I love it. 

The back bedroom- the kids call the cave room because it is so dark at night, was furnished with a recovered chair that was my grandmother’s, a shelf and a bunk bed.  The only thing we bought was the bunk.  When we bought the bunk bed, the mattress on top was still wrapped in plastic so we kept it.  The bottom mattress came from my brother and sister in law’s house. 

 The bedding came from Big Lots.

 The shelf came from Baby Boy’s bedroom.  The mirror is from when changed out our bathroom mirror.  The lamp is a hand me down.  The typing table was left in our city house when we moved in. 

Baby boy and Sweet Amanda were in the front room this weekend so I did not get to photograph this room.  The bed we bought for $250.00 along with the one in our room.  There is a cedar cabinet that was in our attic in the city house and two night tables that were free.  The lamp was given to me when my boss retired. 

We also bought a table and chairs that we do not have any longer for $100.00

All together we spent.  $941.00

We have added two recliners- one of them bought new- and some other items along the way but we were able to get a good start on our weekend home under $1000.00. 

My advice if you decide you want a place to get away:

  • Tell your family and friends you will take stuff they don’t want. 
  • Figure out what you really need- beds, chairs, couches, tables.  Take stuff even if you don’t love it.  You are not married to it and you can replace it as you find better.
  • Make what you can.  That saves us a fortune.
  • Craigslist is a great resource.
  • Shop around for the new stuff.  Even at department stores sometimes they will make a deal on floor models, and clearance items.  Don’t jump at the first thing you find.

What I Know and Don;t Know About Old Furniture

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A friend of mine made fun of me this week for how I talk about furniture. I say things like “It has good bones.” That means that under all the ugly I think there is something better that will hold up to the abuse my family can put it through. I also talk a lot about the age of the furniture. I have to be honest here. I can spot four types of furniture. Midcentury, mission, art deco, and 70’s. I cannot tell 20’s, 30’s or 40’s furniture apart. Any furniture older tan the 20’s you could tell me it was built in 1700 and I would believe you. I know it is old, but I just don’t have a frame of reference.  Most of the time When looking at furniture I either like the way something looks or I don’t. 

I feel like I need to let you know that I respect good, quality furniture. There are several pieces at my house that will never be painted, modified, retouched, or repurposed by me.  The first is this old chest.  I bought it 15 years ago at a Christmas Bazaar held each year in the city where I live.  I love it just as it is.  It serves as a coffee table, junk storage and it makes me happy.

Another thing I won’t mess with is our mirror.  Remember I have a thing for mirrors, but this one above all the rest.  We bought this when we really didn’t have any money years ago.  I was so proud to have it.  It has been in 7 of the 8 homes we have lived in.

The final piece I am going to show you that I will not violate is a very special family piece.  It was the first piece of furniture my extremely poor grandparents bought when they got married.  It is a simple two drawer dresser. It would have been the equivalent of Ikea furniture 75 years ago.  All the parts are out of different types of wood and there never was any ornamentation.
My dad rescued it out of an old storage shed when my grandmother passed away.  It was being used to hold tools and such. It was completely falling apart.  For my birthday several years ago my husband had the six layers of paint stripped off the piece professionally.  The stripping caused the entire piece to fall apart.  It looked like an erector set set when he brought it home.  He took every part and laid it out on the garage floor then painstakingly reassembled the piece, then stained and varnished.  I treasure it. 

 I will never claim to be an expert at furniture finishing.  I learn new things every time that I work on a piece.  I try to share what I learn because hopefully you can learn from my MANY mistakes.   Most of my city home furniture is unpainted.  Hubby has built some great pieces over the years that I could never consider painting.  I have some true antique pieces that deserve to be preserved.

 The furniture that I make over is either:

A) On life support, (The roadside broken up dresser.)

B) Was never that awesome (see above),

C) Was free, cheap, or found.  (My $25.00 solid wood bed above.)  I also have a wooden chest I recently bought for $5.00 that holds the birdseed on the front porch at Star Hill.  I saved it from being Pepto Bismol pink.  It was awful.  Now it is the red of our doors at the lake house.

A lot of that ABC furniture has landed at Star Hill. 
It is a mix of handmade furniture like the furniture that Hubby made from old fence boards.  (I love the buffet he made for me.)

I also have some found furniture like the cast iron typing table that we found in our garage when we moved into the city house, garage sale like our entertainment center and bunk beds.   Some of the things we have were”gifted” furniture. I have my great grandmother’s porch chair, my son’s bedside table, and my neighbor’s bedroom furniture.   I love the homey comfortable look that we have up in the country.  Up there I don’t stress about coasters, feet up on tables or eating on the furniture.  It sometimes pains me to cut up good pieces, even when they meet the ABC rules.  I am still hurting over the maple framed mirror that has become part of the mudroom bench.  I have saved all the cut off parts and plan on making a shelf with the parts.

I bothered me to use solid oak on the mudroom bench even though it was totally free.  I love having a place where those pieces of furniture that would have ended up in a dump are now a part of our weekend adventures.  I plan on getting pictures of each room at Star Hill this weekend so that you can see how far $1000.00 can go if you are patient.

I hope everyone has a great day and an even better weekend. 

DIY on Roadside Finds

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I know you are wondering, and yes, that was me you saw.  Monday night, on the way home from school board meeting, dressed in a suit and heels.  I was pulled over to the side of the road, beside a pile of trash, the Honda trunk popped open, and it was me trying to jam an awesome hexagonal 1970’s side table into the trunk.

 No luck.  It had to go in the back seat leaves and all.  Oh, and did I mention that I also picked up a white board/ bulletin board combo that are for sure going into the Garagemahal for a project board too?  I was hungry.  It was 7:30 in the evening, I was dressed up and even knowing all that If you know me at all you know that I could not pass up the side table.  The bulletin board I might have let go if I didn’t already stop for the side table.  I guess I have found my next project.  It is going into my guest bath and the piece that is in there is going to be redone for Baby Boy’s old bedroom. I do need help with the color of the roadside find.

  • My off-white cinnamon cake color with glaze.
  • Red roughed out and glazed
  • The turqoise color that I painted Sweet Amanda’s and Baby Boy’s furniture.
  • Charcoal colored chalk paint roughed out and antiqued
  • Something else…

I found these inspirtation pieces at facelift furniture, an awesome store store in College Station. I am so visiting there this fall.

What do you think?

I love finding furniture.  I have learned that even if I only like part of the piece- like the knobs, or feet, it is worth it for me to pick it up.  We take the whole wood parts, the interesting hardware, the hinges drawer runners etc. I have a set of legs waiting to turn into a suitcase table in the near future. 

My daughter, the Southern Belle, has also been known to pick up a piece of two along the way.  She recently found a great stuffed armchair chair that sits in her guest room.  She has an old milk stool that has the most amazing peeling paint on it. 

Sweet Amanda is a proud furniture rescuer.  She has a coffee table in her front room that we picked up on the side of the road when the guys wouldn’t stop.  Something about church clothes or some such.  After lunch and church she and I went back and it was still there.  We snagged it.  I said it was meant to be.  Baby Boy suggested that the fact that it stayed on the side of the road all day meant that all the rest of the town knew it was junk. Sweet Amanda and I disagreed. 

I can’t wait to see what the side table turns into.

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