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Desk Part 0: And So It Begins

Sorry for possible histrionics and definite garrulousness but I am so excited. I got a desk. It’s old and beat up and possibly unstable, but it’s mine and it’s going to be fabulous.

The story of how this desk came to be in my possession is actually kind of odd. I walked into a local thrift store and immediately fell in love with it. It was the first desk I saw after I decided to finally go looking for one. The clerk who was working there at the time was incredibly nice and helpful and directed us to a few other desks they had in the store. She let us know that they also have several warehouses that they rotate out stock from.

Then I though “there are plenty of fish in the sea” so I spent the next day wandering around antique stores and thrift shops looking for a desk. Every one that I saw got compared to that first one in my mind. So I went back… and it had a little name tag hanging on it. Oh, my heart sank. It didn’t say “sold”. It was just a name and number, so I asked the sales clerk what the deal was. This new clerk wasn’t particularly helpful and had no clue whether it was sold or not and didn’t seem to want to help me with anything else. I left thinking I would never see the desk again.

About a week later my boyfriend said “hey, let’s go back and see if that desk is still there”. I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea, but figured it was worth a try. We walked in and there it was still sitting there, no name on it. The clerk who was working the first day I came in was there again. She let us know that the other customer who was in the store at the same time was also interested in the desk. It figured. She just needed to go home and measure to see if the desk would fit in the space she wanted it for. So the clerk was going to put the customer’s name and number on it as a hold. This solved the mystery of the “not quite sold” tag. I told her the story so far of my longing for this desk and asked her to call me right away if the other customer wasn’t interested.

My boyfriend and I headed out for some birthday fun for him and about an hour later on our way to dinner my phone rang. It turns out this desk and I were destined to be together.

It has some issues, like a broken foot, though that doesn’t seem to bother the stability of the desk. The (incredibly thick) veneer on one of the drawers is cracked and poorly mended. The drawer stops are missing on a few drawers. And don’t get me started on the state of the top. It also looks like someone spilled and entire bottle of ink in the top left hand drawer (the logical place to keep an inkwell… if you’re left handed?).

These are all things I have full confidence I can fix, or at the least hide. At $50 I feel like even if it takes more than that amount to fix it I’ve still gotten a bargain. They don’t make desks like this anymore. I don’t really know much about it as far as style or time period so if anyone can tell me anything about it I would be greatly indebted to you.

Stay tuned as it begins to get its makeover.

The top with it’s abundance of scratches

The aforementioned broken foot

Where the ink spilled over from the drawer onto the desk and the stops which are missing on many of the drawers

The fancy sides… and the name Jordan carved into one of the drawer fronts

The cracked veneer and missing drawer stops

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Yet another

I wasn’t lying when I said there was an overabundance of jewelry boxes

So another one got a makeover. First off, milk paint has a learning curve. The whole thing was a pretty open and shut case prior to finding a bargain batch of milk paint a Michael’s one day. I was just going to replace the broken handles and paint it to match the existing ones I had already done. But then there it was screaming at me. Those bottles of pretty pastel powder.

Knowing I was going to use milk paint I sanded the box completely down to the bare wood. It turns out its maple, and it smelled amazing.

As is typical of me I just jumped right in without doing any research. Google might as well not exist as far as I’m concerned. I just read the simple instructions on the back and decided that was good enough. A one to one ratio of the powdered paint and warm water. Ok sounds good. So off I went doing test patches on the bottom of the box that I sanded. I found a color mix and consistency that I liked, this one was three parts blue one part green and an equal amount of water. Then I went to town on the box. I wasn’t satisfied with the coverage so I figured I would do another coat. But oh yeah… water soluble, powdered paint. Guess what happens when you go over it with more liquid. It just pulls up what you’ve just put down.

So in the end I just had to thicken the mixture to get a higher coverage. Like I said it was a learning curve. It’s still patchy but in the end I decided to distress it so it fits with the overall look of the box itself.

The handles came from my usual favorite idea-ology line. They are made for cardboard box storage so have brad attachments but I found making a pilot hole and using a small hammer to pound in the brads worked just fine at securing them into the wood.

After everything I sealed it with a couple coats of satin clear coat to prevent the milk paint from wearing off or going all liquid at the drop of some water. Hopefully that will do it, or if it doesn’t it will give me an excuse to refinish it again and maybe straighten out that top handle in the process.

 

It didn’t turn out too shabby for my first (possibly last) attempt at milk paint. I had to custom mix the paint in order to attempt to match anything else I owned but it actually doesn’t look that bad. Clearly I am biased in this matter. Let me know what you think.

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Best $10

This might just be the easiest project I’ve ever done. It’s also up there as one of the cheapest and most versatile. If you read my On The Horizon post you got to see a little sneak peak of these babies.

But I am beyond pleased with how they actually turned out. They are made out of very light weight (what I think is) balsa ply and ranged in price from $0.89 to $1.39 for the largest one. The paint was $2.89 for a sample pot of Valspar Dark Kettle Black. Of course this project didn’t make a dent in that sample pot and I will likely be using it for various other projects. It’s not really a true black but the most glorious charcoal color ever. Did I mention grey is my favorite color. You could just as easily use spray paint but its more expensive, its messy, its smelly, and it would use a whole darn can just to cover them because it goes everywhere except where you want it to… but I’m biased.

 

Because these frames are so light I just hung them with straight pins. Yes the kind you use to tack a hem. You could just as easily use 3M adhesive strips or blu-tack, but pins were handy and they leave nary a hole to be seen. So for about $10, we will say $13 with paint I turned my money wall into the wall of nothing. The wall of money was far too small for such a large expanse of blank wall so I was glad to find a cheap way to fill it.

These little balsa frames are possibly my new favorite thing and I’m sure I will be getting more for future projects. They would be marvelous with strip magnets on the back for a refridgerator frame, or if you have a massive steel front door and birds who love wreaths (the struggle is real). It would make a good alternative welcome sign to the ridiculous mesh monstrosities adorning houses around the country. You also don’t have to stick with boring black or brown. It would be an easy, as well as easily changed way to inject a pop of color into a space.

It also just makes a lovely thing to carry around in case of accidental photobombing or as a classy selfie prop. Seriously though these would be wonderful hanging from trees or the tent at a wedding for just that purpose as well as adding a bit of decoration to otherwise neglected areas.

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Things I wish I learned far sooner

hydrangia

  1. Pay yourself first: before you pay any bills or buy anything put money into your savings account. If possible have an automatic draft on pay day into your savings you won’t even notice it until one day you have a surprise $200 extra dollars or you suddenly need new tires and have no idea where the money is going to come from.
  2. Learn how to sew. Learn how to save. You can spend $50 on a top that fits excellent (you can also spend it on a top that fits so-so but has a designer label) or you can spend $5 at good will for a top that fits ok. Knowing how to take in a seam, take up straps, mend a zipper and darn a sweater could save you a lot of money in the long run. Along the same lines, “a rose by any other name”, if something fits you like it was made for you it doesn’t matter who it was made by. Don’t get hung up on labels, get hung up on fit, price and quality and find a good ratio of the three. Buy cheap accessories, buy expensive shoes. Your sunglasses are liable to get lost or broken, glass pearls look just as good as real ones but 8 hours in cheap shoes with no support is not worth the $40 you saved.
  3. Not buying name brands goes for other things as well. Kroger brand pasta is just as good as barilla. Wheat is Wheat it all makes me feel terrible. Costco and their Kirkland’s brand is your friend, assuming you have a large pantry. So is Aldi. Toilet paper is toilet paper it all goes to shit in the end with the exception of the one ply coffee filter like industrial stuff which starts out as shit.
  4. Your first stop when looking for any kind of craft supplies, organizational tools, gift wrapping or a lot of other things should be the dollar store. I’m lucky in that I have a dollar tree close by that has a little bit of everything. Dinner wear, dry goods and condiments, even milk and eggs, all for $1. Many of which are name brand. Its $1 don’t argue.
  5. Hold hands and hug more often. Not just with your significant other, but with friends, family members, anyone close to you. Don’t forget that friendship works both ways. You may feel angry or hurt that someone hasn’t contacted you in X amount of time, but you haven’t contacted them either. When you need a shoulder call your mother or sister or brother or father. Mend fences don’t burn bridges.love

  6.  Don’t skimp when buying foundation. Drug store foundations have their perks but not their testers. Go to a department store counter and get matched for a high end foundation and shell out the extra $15 to $30 for a properly matched foundation. You can always return it and try again and most counters will give you a sample to let you try it before you buy it. Despite what marketing tries to tell you there is no such thing as “for all skin types”. Your skin is unique so take your time and get some help to find the foundation that is right for you. You can always save by buying drug store lipsticks, blushes and eye shadows.
  7. USE the calendar on your phone. This day and age there is absolutely no reason to be late for anything. My phone not only tells me where I need to be and when, it also tells me how long it will take to get there with traffic and weather reports. You can set extra alerts and sync calendars across multiple devices. Learn how to use the technology at your disposal so the next time you have an important meeting (or even a date) you don’t make a bad first impression by being late.
  8. On the subject of dates: Have dates or outings with friends that don’t involve the typical bar, restaurant, movie etc. Go on a lunch picnic to the countryside. It will give you a chance to talk on the drive out and back. Compare tastes in music while listening to the radio. You can each pack your own lunch or pack each other’s lunch and see how you do. Go to a painting class together. A cooking class. Some friends of mine recently cleaned old roman coins together for their date night. Think outside the box.
  9. Never try dieting pills or fad diets. In all likelihood you’ll do your body more harm than good. Instead keep active. Find something you enjoy and do it at least 3 times a week. It could be the conventional running, it could be yoga or it could be hula-hooping. My personal favorite is blasting upbeat music and (literally) dancing around the house with a Swiffer. Secondarily, stand up… seriously, right now if you are reading this stand up. Stand more often than you sit. Don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle. This along with eating healthy does a body good. Healthy is a relative term… I mean chocolate is still a thing.cover
  10. Take the time to customize your space. Decorate! Even if you live in an apartment where you are limited in paint color or not sure about putting holes in the wall (3M strips are a lifesaver) surround yourself with objects, images and colors you love. It will inspire and drive you to be more creative and productive, and you will take pride in the environment you’ve created. By making a space your own you can promote a happy environment for yourself and let your personality shine through. No it doesn’t need to be nearly as girly as mine.

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In the rear view

I stated in On the Horizon that there were a lot of projects I had done before I started this blog. Really that’s the whole reason I started this blog. That and some pretty fierce and wonderful prompting from my boyfriend. It seemed about time I document my crazy and creative endeavors for the world to see, or at least so I can remember how I accomplished such a thing down the road a ways.

I’m really quite terrible at taking before and after pictures. I remodeled the house I lived in one time. The whole kit and caboodle, 1960’s floors to popcorn ceiling. We completely forgot to take before pictures. So no one ever believes me when I tell them it had orange shag carpet throughout. When I say throughout I mean even in the bathrooms. Live and learn. Your camera phone is your friend.

I just thought I would take a quick second to share the few projects that I can document, though for the most part without before pictures. If you see anything you love let me know, leave me a comment. If you see anything you want to know how to do or where I found the stuff for let me know I am sure I can recreate some of these for a proper tutorial.

I hate switch plate covers. Particularly ones that are the hideous contractor’s choice beige. It just looks constantly dirty. Sure you can buy new ones for pretty cheap, but you can also mod podge them for pretty cheap, and it turns out much cooler. It also happens to make the light switches easier to find fumbling around in a dim room, and comes off with hot soapy water so this is something you can easily do in a rental.

The wall-o-money is really rather self-explanatory. I have an inordinate amount of foreign money and saw a rather wonderful way to display it on Pinterest one day. So some old frames, some new frames, some paint, and some craft paper and I had myself a strange bit of “art work” for my once bare walls. As a warning it is heavy stuff. You may also notice with a coin collection, whether foreign or domestic that the coins are varying thicknesses. I got around this with a little Styrofoam backing which a lot of new frames will come with. As strange as this looks to people I like to point out that I have a frame full of absolutely worthless currency as the majority of it is pre-Euro era European currency. “It’s a commentary on the transient nature of wealth and the shallowness of our material culture.” Damn right it’s “art work”.

Did I mention in addition to being ridiculously girly I have a … nerdy streak? I’m not entirely sure you would call it that. Put it this way, I play video games (perhaps too much) I like comic books and super heroes (who doesn’t?) and I have a soft spot for quantum physics (mechanics just to placate my boyfriend). Anyway, I think this was my favorite project of last year. I was bored and between jobs so I needed a cheap and yet time consuming project. The super hero coasters were born. Let me know if you would like to see a tutorial on how I created these. I’ll take any excuse to do some more even though I’m pretty sure six is plenty.

 

Of course there have been other painting projects as well. This sad shabby microwave stand got an update as a tv stand

And this oh-so 90’s cherry wood veneer night stand became a not so cherry wood veneer night stand.

Once again let me know if there are any projects you would like to see me create (or reacreate) in future blogs. And let me know what you think by commenting, liking, subscribing, following on Facebook or just sitting there reading. I appreciate all of it.