The Ever-Changing Cabinet

This cabinet got a facelift over the past week. 

This chest once belonged to my maternal grandparents and I think dates from the 60's. It is best classified as "american colonial" and my grandparents must have been hugely fond of that look. I'm only vaguely aware of how this happened, but my family inherited a large amount of this stuff from my grandparents in the eighties when they were downsizing. There were several sets, a full bedroom set with twin beds, side tables, dressers and matching mirror, and a full dining room set, which included this chest (which once had an even more heinous hutch that sat on top). Yes, truth told, I am not very fond of this piece and have held on to it only for sentimental reasons.

Originally it was reddish, stained maple. It was white for a time when it served as my older guys changing table. Then I painted it magenta and it lived in the boys' bath prior to that bath's redo.

Recently it took the place of the danish piece (which moved downstairs) in the upstairs hall. 

I had a gallon of Benjamin Moore Bavarian Forest from an earlier painting scheme so I though why not, right? 

First I de-glossed with a liquid deglosser. Then I primed with a tinted water based primer. I went with two coats of paint after that in an eggshell finish. 

I do think that the cabinet is vastly improved with a new color. So what's my problem with this cabinet? I mean, it is well built and pretty innocuous. It is good for storage.  It's made of solid stock hardwood, which is far better than anything made from Ikea or pottery barn these days -most of their case goods are made up of composite materials which don't last and aren't great environmentally speaking.

The overlay drawer bugs me, and so do the clunky arched panels on the doors. I also don't like the overlay hinges -a butt hinge would look so much better.  

Its main, main problem though, is that it is a faux antique. I know that I could find something that was legitimately old and cool that maybe needed some restoration for very little money at Urban Ore (sort of like this beauty for 75 buckeroos).

Oh cabinet, I wish I knew how to quit you.

Anyone got the same problem?


More Candlesticks

Hey, I made some more candlesticks. They are four inches tall and, like my previous batch, made from salvaged douglas fir. The design is burnt on and they have a flush copper sleeve where the candle sits. 


Grimy Dining Chairs

Yesterday I spent a little time in the morning cleaning up my dining room chairs.

I have a set of six Jens Risom chairs that I bought on Ebay about eight years ago. If I recall correctly, I think I paid between $50 to $75 per chair. I got such a good deal because the chairs had some water damage at the feet and had no Knoll tags on them.

This design dates from the early forties, when Risom was the sole designer for Hans Knoll -who would later marry Florence and the company would be know as H.G. Knoll Associates. Risom was newly arrived from Denmark and had partnered with Knoll to create simple classic modern furniture that was essentially non-existent in the american market. The chair was known as the '600 Series'. The earliest versions were made from cherry and used surplus parachute webbing on the seat to conserve materials due to the war effort. The webbing version is still produced by Knoll today. Some chairs had seating made with canvas and "non-essential leather" as would have been the case with the version I have. 

This chair is exactly like mine. It is made from maple rather than cherry with some figure in the wood. This one is from the Cooper Hewitt collection and dated circa 1952. My guess is that my chairs date from about this same time or perhaps a little later but not much.

Ok, so wasn't this post about cleaning said chairs up? I got a bit distracted there. I noticed recently that the backs of most of my chairs were feeling a little tacky from being pushed around with grimy hands. You could even see it.

I like this stuff for cleaning. It cleans very well but doesn't remove the finish, which can sometimes happen with cleaners when a finish is a bit old and degraded. 

Wipe on with a soft cloth, changing to a clean spot on cloth often. I did all six chairs and then buffed with a new clean dry cloth.

I also took a little time to clean up the seats which I covered in cow hide when I got them (I think they had vinyl when I bought them). If you like the look, cowhide is the best for durability in an eating and drinking situation. These things are bullet proof and only get better with age. I think this is candle wax or old candy. 

 It just scrapes right off.

 Ta-da. Love it.

The hair has rubbed off in certain places on the chairs that have gotten the most use. I like it, they have a nice patina. I would so recommend using this for anyone who likes unfussy decor or who has little kids (or big) and doesn't want to ever worry about letting kids be kids.



Moving Stuff Around

I am and always have been a huge fan of changing shit up in my house. As a kid, I was constantly moving my furniture around in my tiny bedroom. When I was too little to tackle my room, the dollhouse that my sisters and I shared was never about pretend play, it was all about changing around the furniture. Many, many people share this trait and it seems that post-Christmas is a common time to clean things up and move stuff around.
Yesterday I did a switcheroo in my living room. This shuffle involved multiple pieces in different parts of the house which I haven't finished yet.

This is the little corner in the living room where the vintage glass bar used to be. 

This is also where I put my Christmas tree this year, which necessitated moving the bar elsewhere. I moved the bar to the dining area, where I noticed it looked much better. I considered moving this leather chair to this spot but it gets a lot of use where it is so that didn't seem right.

This little Danish desk from the upstairs landing seemed like a good candidate. 

I knew I could face it sideways on the small wall. I wanted to break up the  side-by-side thing I had going here and instead create a small vignette. My living room never looks this polished, btw, this is from the reveal of this past ORC. I also need more linen storage upstairs so moving the desk provided other storage opportunities which I will drone on about later.

I have been challenged by this wall since day one. It is just over 16 feet long (with a 10' ceiling) and I have found it difficult to fill. I used to have a long, long table here that I moved upstairs to fill my (long) upstairs landing. I don't own any art that is large enough to center on the wall and I have no other spot for my piano which looks puny on that vast acre of drywall without anything else to accompany it.

The artwork still needs rejiggering. I'm sort of at a loss but have a few things that I might be able to move around in the house to improve this situation. (Stay tuned). I just left the gaffer tape painting as it was but that alignment situation has just started to bug me as I edit this post.

In the meantime, let's just focus on the tight shot. The harp is a little too tall for the small shade but it's a cool little beaded number that I got in the nineties that I had hidden in my basement which I am enamored with again and will be a quick fix. The rug is vintage, from my husband's grandfather. It is actually a sack -it has a burlap back and it would have been slung on the side of an animal, presumably a horse or camel to carry stuff. I moved the chair from upstairs too. It is a vintage Goodform, which was a steal at 10$ from Urban Ore years back. 

Thoughtful thoughts? Could I partially gallery wall by the desk? Hmmmmm.


Christmas Decorations

Here is an unfiltered, iphone look at how my house is looking right now. 

This year I spent a lot of time setting up my village (which I've not done these past two years) and so far haven't gotten beyond putting lights on the tree! It might stay that way, as festivities are full underway and it feels like a low priority. The tree looks beautiful as is though, with full turquoise lights (which we bought this year).

Cheers and wishing you a happy holiday season!


Matchstick Holders

I have matches all over my house. We are a candle, fire and incense kind of family. 
I buy those hardware store matches in the ugly box. I usually transfer them to a short glass, where they look much prettier.
I used an old l'occitane votive that I cleaned out.

I cut out the grit strip from the box and attached part of it to the bottom with double stick mounting tape. Sometimes I don't bother with this (or with getting the matches all going in the same direction because that's pretty anal, non?) These matches will strike pretty much anywhere (including my older son's front teeth -which to my horror, he recently demonstrated).

Stuff we are burning these days: Sage bouquet for clearing energy, cedar bricks, juniper bricks, and Japanese incense (also a cedar).

Peace. Out. :) 


Handmade Wooden Candle Sticks

I made some candlesticks recently.
I've been thinking about items I'd like to make to sell and these were my first candlestick prototypes, which was pretty instructive.

I started with an aged, scrap piece of douglas fir which I picked up for a song at a recycled building materials yard here in the city.

I used 3/4 inch copper sleeving (cut in half) to hold the candle and to act as a burn barrier for when the candle burns down very low (which seems to happen to me all the time). I played around with how high the copper should protrude. I then switched to 3/4 inch end caps, which looked more finished as they have a bottom.
Remember, the easiest, no-measure way to find the center of something for drilling is to draw an X from corner to corner.

This part of my process was very fast. I cross-cut a bunch of pieces, marked them and then drilled them on the drill press. After that I sanded the top end grain.

It was the painting process that took forever :/ which I will be rethinking for my next round.

I tried a variety of technique for painting. Some of these guys I painted freehand with no primer -I scribed a line with a razor as the guide line. Some I painted with tape and no primer and some I taped and sprayed. The whole point of using the recycled wood is to get a product that has patina so there was no other sanding involved except for the tops.

Theses are looking pretty Scandinavian, folk arty -especially against the christmas greenery. 
In this setting, they read a little differently. For sure the dark blue and black are less seasonal. I like them just as well without a candle in them.

All in all this was an enjoyable exercise. Next round I'm going to burn the graphics on.

Cheers and I'm always open to feedback, so do tell.