Dining Room Revamp

I have this problem with vintage furniture. If I see a piece about to leave its home, I am compelled to swoop in and adopt it. As a result, my house is filled with what my husband affectionately refers to as "old lady couches". He's not wrong...

My in-laws recently decided to replace their super cute dining room table and chairs and asked if I knew of anyone in need. But I'm selfish and greedy so I immediately begged them to let me have it. Because it's not like I've already inherited a mid century dining table o anything. Oh wait... But I'm sentimental and love heirlooms, and the set had belonged to my husbands grandmother. They warned me that the set had had a rough life and wasn't exactly in showroom condition, but I was in lust with the style of the chairs and couldn't be swayed. After much furniture shuffling (btw, moving even a small piano unassisted is a ridiculous thing to do) I was able to convince my husband that we had room for a formal dining space and soon I got to work! 


Once we started taking things apart I could see what damage my in-laws were speaking of. Apparently a few over zealous pets had gnawed on the underside of, well, pretty much everything, as well as a couple of spots on the table top. I even found some parakeet feathers in the old seat cushions! But there's not too much a bit of wood putty can't take care of, and overall, they are all solid pieces.


My ultra creative sister likes to give me ambitious and adventurous projects to do so she can make sure it's not a huge mistake, and sent me a link to a tutorial on creating designs by painting with wood stain. We thought this would be a good way to camouflage the damage to the table top. It turned out to be a bit of a challenge, as the putty doesn't accept stain the same way as natural wood. But we're pretending it adds character! 

The chairs and base of the table were painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, because according to what seems like the whole of the internet, it's the ONLY way to paint furniture. I used Primer Red and the clear wax. Everything I've read talks about how steep the learning curve is on the wax, and they aren't kidding. If I had it to do again, I might have sealed the paint with a couple of coats of poly just to avoid having to use the wax. But, as far as the paint goes, not having to strip or sand before application makes it well worth the $38.95/quart price tag. As does the fact that after multiple coats, I still have at least enough left for an end table project I'm planning for my living room.  

I had loads of help with this project. From my father-in-law delivering and gifting it to me, to my mom stripping the varnish off the table top, my dad helping me reupholster the cushions, and my sister, husband and friend helping dismantle and paint chairs, it was a huge group effort.  

Before and After: 


When deciding on the paint color and imagery, we thought it would be kind of funny to make reference to my Dead Head father-in-law's favorite tune, Scarlet Begonias.  I think he appreciates the in joke. 

I'm undecided as to whether or not I should use the same stain technique on the table leaf or leave it natural. What do you think? 

Visit Athena Illustration's profile on Pinterest.

Candlestick Clothing Hanger

A couple of years ago my parents' neighbor had a moving sale. I ended up paying too much for a used lawn mower, but it was balanced out with a bunch of freebies, including set of old candle sconces. They were big, heavy and I had absolutely no place to hang them. But I'd find a use for them one day, right?? And so they sat in the garage until last week. 

Then inspiration struck! My friend Vanessa of 3 Hearts Style Studio had posted a photo of her own adorably re-purposed candlestick holders, which she had painted and used as necklace hangers.

 Cute, no??

Cute, no??

Brilliant! Of course my own sconces were about 10 times as big as these, so it seemed like overkill for a bit of jewelry. 

Then I recalled another recent dilemma. You know how sometimes you have clothes that just aren't quite ready to hit the hamper? Maybe you can squeeze one or two more wears into those jeans? But you don't want to put them back with your actually clean clothes. So where the heck do you put them?! The next thing you know, I've got a use for one of my sconces, and a place to hang my gently use cardigans! 

I ran into one small issue: the part of the candlestick holder I refer to as the 'wax dripping catcher' was a little pokey, and likely to catch on clothing and tear. As luck would have it, these were easily removed, and super cute on their own. And that's how I ended up having a spot to hang my necklaces after all!

I decided I liked the original color with my decor and opted not to paint them for now. I've also mounted the other to hang hats. 

What's your favorite re-purposed garage sale find?

Visit Athena Illustration's profile on Pinterest.

Toddler Craft Collaboration Tutorial

For Mother's Day, Buggles, Moon Pie and I worked together on some art pieces for the Mamas in our lives. We were pretty happy with the results and decided to make a tutorial! No artistic education or skill required. You can get pretty resourceful with supplies!

Step 1 - The first thing you want to do is prep your surface. I found that it was a nice way to use up mat board scraps, so I cut them to size and primed by brushing on a thin layer of gesso. You can also use acrylic paint if you don't have gesso. I tried doing one piece un-primed and while I like what it did with the colors it warped the board a little more than I was comfortable with. You can also have a little fun with the texture. Come to think of it, there's no reason why you can't use canvas board, card board, old tiles... Use your imagination!

Step 2 - After the primed layer dries, put a smock on your kid and let her go to town! Make sure you use a washable paint, cause it's gonna get messy.

My toddler is a weirdo and HATES getting paint on her fingers, so she gets to use Mum's fancy brushes. I give the babes a little guidance to make sure we get a fair amount of coverage on this layer, and then after they have finished a smooth out the surface slightly if there are very raised areas. Too much texture can be tricky for the top layer, and lots of paint equals lots of moisture, which will warp your board. 

If you're going for a specific look, feel free to limit the pallet. For instance, you may want to avoid using complimentary colors since they become muddy when mixed together. Or you may just want something a little more monochromatic. 


Step 3 - NAP TIME! And let those suckers dry. 


Step 4 - Mask the entire surface. When I did this project the first time around I used frisket film, but since I realize that's not necessarily something most folks have in their craft closets, we're going to move forward with painter's tape! Just the regular old hardware store variety will be fine. Really any low tack masking tape will work too. 

Step 5 - Draw your image on top of the tape. This was kind of nice with the frisket, because it's easy to trace a silhouette onto, and placing the image is easier when you can see through the masking. Here's where you remind yourself this is a children's craft project and you need to simmer down and just let it happen.

Step 6 - Using an X-acto knife or sharp utility blade, carefully cut around the edge of your image. You don't want to push too hard, or you'll end up peeling off part of the mat board. Peel off the area that you want to be filled in with more color. 

Step 7 - Using either more paint, gesso, or whatever medium you prefer, help your child paint over the open area. Make sure you get good coverage here. The finger paints I have aren't very opaque, so I used oil pastels on a few of these, or mixed the paints to get a darker tint. 


Step 8 - If you used paint for the top layer, let it dry thoroughly. Then peel the remaining tape off. 

Step 9 - If you're happy with the look, you're done! If not, move on to the next step.

Step 10 - With the oil pastels and the translucent paint, I wasn't happy with the contrast,

 Exhibit A

Exhibit A

so I went back in with more oil pastel and colored pencil to bump things up a bit around the edges.

 That's better

That's better

Ta-da! I really love this project because it gives the wee ones some freedom, but you are able to exert juuuuust enough control to help them create something specific for a loved one. 

If you try this out with your own kids, I'd love to see photos. 


Visit Athena Illustration's profile on Pinterest.