Monday, December 23, 2013

Back From A Break

Since really launching my blog and regularly posting in August, I felt I had come a long way. Figuring out blogging was tricky. What do you write, how do you get heard? Slowly, I started to understand how to grow my blog and learned a lot from so many other talented bloggers.

Then, I took a little break. I fell and broke my foot. Now I would have liked to start this post writing about how I landed wrong snow boarding or how I stumbled running trails training for an ultra marathon. But no. I have no such exciting story. 

Simply barefoot and clumsy, I landed on a stray boot at the bottom of our garage stairs and landed sideways on my foot. Now who leaves their shoes all around where someone can trip on them!! Oh, yes, it was me. Go figure, I landed on my own mess. Bet you can guess there are no pictures of an organized garage on my blog coming soon!

Now 4 weeks into my boot, I had to adjust to slowing down. I decided to let the big furniture projects I had wait and I began to work on some signs as gifts for friends. The couple of blog projects I wanted to start, I put on hold. And with that, it just didn't seem I had much to blog about.

But, in this time, I got to think a lot about my blog. I decided I would try to make it a little more me. While I want the biggest chunk of it to be really good painting advice and projects, I also think maybe just a little day to day chat and inspiration would fit too.'s some chit chat.

During the last several months, I got to work with a wonderful group of women for the Greens Committee for our sons school. Several times each week we would meet at Donna's house and her house was just BEAUTIFUL. I could give a whole tour of it, but on one of the last meetings I snapped this picture of a beautiful Christmas display on her kitchen ceiling. The lights and branches were anchored onto the recessed lighting and then tied into the electricity.

 In the New Year, I am looking forward to sharing some great projects on my blog. I have some home projects I will be starting and.....

I am also excited to create a new furniture finish using Modern Masters metallic paint for the Modern Masters  Shine Big, Shine Small campaign! As a decorative painter for over 10 years Modern Masters was always my go to faux finish line. This will be fun!!

Bring beauty to your day!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dressing up Furniture with Hardware

Paris Grey Vintage Dresser
One of my favorite parts to Upstyling furniture, is picking out knobs and pulls. Now sometimes, you get lucky and have a piece with beautiful vintage hardware and you don't have to do a thing. Here I only switched out the top two knobs. The pulls are original.

Pretty vintage pulls.

Other times, I will use the original knobs...but update them. Here, I just painted the pulls the same color as the dresser or at least added touches of the paint color to tie it all together.

Just a light coat of chalk paint to tone down the brass.

Knobs lightly painted for a tone on tone look.

But, sometimes you might have furniture with missing or dated knobs.

So... in this post I want to round up some of my best advice for dressing up furniture with hardware.

Best way to clean dirty hardware:

To clean dirty hardware
I like to soak in a bath of baking soda and vinegar and use a old toothbrush for scrubbing if necessary.

To remove paint on knobs without chemicals check out

My favorite shops for Hardware:
Great selection, a lot of original styles and all at a great place. Search the site under knobs or pulls. In store, it seems knobs are always 50% off and always check for coupons.
Etsy is a great source for vintage hardware, beautiful glass knobs and painted knobs. Shop and favorite your most loved sites so you can return again. One of my favorite shops on Etsy for hardware is
Really beautiful knobs but a little pricey. I like to shop discounted knobs when I am in the store and usually I use Anthropology only for pieces requiring a few statement knobs

Best tip of the day…..for Screws to that are too short:

One day I was looking for help in Home Depot because my knob screws were too short for my drawers, I was introduced to this product. Maybe I was late to the party, but I had never seen these! Now, I always keep these on hand. These are easily snapped to adjust to your needed length. Click here to see my simple tutorial on cutting these to size.

A drawer with too many holes or holes that are too big:

For too many holes or holes's that are too big for your screws, you will want to back fill all the holes with a good non shrinking wood fill that holds screws. Look for products like this, that say something like "strong nail & screw anchoring."

Add caption

Hardware that requires visible screws and does not come with matching screws:

Now I did say I liked Hobby Lobby, and I do, but over the summer I ordered these pulls. They are actually a great style and with a great price. However, when I got them, I realized that while they fit the 3 inch hole span in my dresser, they were not designed for regular knob screws. These required 3 small screws to attach them from the front of the drawer and they did not come with any screws! I eventually found these screws would fit but…

But, the holes were too big so I had to fill them in.

Then, I needed more holes too, so I had to mark and drill them.

Then, the screws did not match the hardware so I had to touch them up with metallic bronze paint to get them to match.

But, in the end, I had a dresser all "dressed up" with hardware.

Duck Egg Glam Makeover

Find beauty in your day!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Product Reviews: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

Last week I reviewed American Paint Company chalk paints. This week, I wanted to give my review on the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP ) brand.

I know. Most of you have heard of this product and have also probably tried it, but since this is the paint I  use most for my furniture up-styling and really the standard I compare others too, I really needed to give it a comprehensive review.

For over 10 years I have been painting furniture and always with a latex. In the last year I have discovered, along with so many others, chalk paints and in particular ASCP. It completely changed painting furniture for me. 

With ASCP painting became easier, quicker, and I have, for the most part, completely stopped using latex. While some people may still like it, I think latex takes too long to dry, often leaves drips, can sometimes peel up when sanded and is basically...not fun.

When I first started using ASCP, I spent some time on the website learning about the product and from there I followed the links to a local retailer. I found there was one nearby and the next day I made my first purchase. This product was a dream to use. And other than getting some basic pointers, I found it virtually fool proof.  

While I found the website a little tedious to navigate, there is a lot of good information and good links to tutorials. I especially liked the Annie Sloan Youtube channel here.

Annie Sloan French Linen

Working With the Product
Working with the ASCP is a joy. I painted one of my first pieces in French Linen, a darker neutral gray. I opened the can and with no priming, began to paint. The product was thick, yet still,creamy and easy to apply. And even over a dark stained wood piece, only 2 coats were really needed. It also dried quickly, within half an hour. So, in less than a day, I was able to apply two coats and sand to distress!

Great coverage even after just one coat.
And talking about sanding, Annie Sloan recommends waxing and then sanding, to help with the dust. I prefer to sand first and wax only after I am sure I like my distressing. It does create some dust so you may want to do this outside. 

Easy to sand and smooth….but lots of dust!

While it sands easily to distress, sanding does seem to leave some sheen differences. With the Fench linen, it seemed that where I sanded, the color became lighter and I spent some time trying to lightly sand everything to get a smooth and consistent color. However, I may have obsessed over this more than I needed.

Annie Sloan wax comes in two colors, clear and dark. These were the first furniture waxes I ever used. Now, let me start by saying I love waxing way more than applying polyurethanes. It gives a natural look while most polys I find to look like plastic.

It is also forgiving. You can remove it with mineral spirits if you need to and if a stray pet hair would land in the finish (and when hasn't that happened!), there is plenty of time to pick it out. In poly, that sucker will dry in there for good.

Overall, Annie Sloan's waxes are good, but they are not my favorite.
As I have experimented with more waxes, I found Annie's to have strong fumes, remain tacky longer, and take some time to get a finish that looks "even."

It is really important to apply evenly, with long strokes and to remove excess. Again, maybe I obsess here. View The Purple Painted Lady's great tutorial here for tips,

Here's a rundown of Annie Sloan products:

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Point of Difference
From her website,  "HOME of the BEST PAINT in the WORLD!".  "Annie Sloan developed her signature range of decorative paint, Chalk Paint®, in 1990, she revolutionized the way we see decorative painting. She called her paint Chalk Paint® because of its velvety, matt finish. And if you add Annie Sloan Soft Wax, you can achieve subtle sheen as well as protection and durability
With a colour palette inspired by 18th and 20th Century decor and design, you can easily mix the colours together to extend the range. Chalk Paint® is eco-friendly too. It contains extremely low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and has no odor. 

Price Point (varies)
Paint $36.95 per quart and $11.95 for 4oz samples
Wax $24.95

Where to Order
Website and click on American Shops for local retailers in the U.S.
My favorite online
Near me in Maryland/Virgina try This shop is run by Celeste, one of the nicest and most talented stockiest I have had the pleasure to meet.

Best Annie Sloan Advice and Instruction 
Check out Annie's own youtube channel at
Also check out
Her tutorials and posts are really thorough!

Color Palette Review
Annie sloan has a pallette of thirty shades and honestly, every color is drop dead beautiful. They give furniture the quintessential French chick look and her shades are the most requested by my clients. 

My favorites so far…this is a tough one because they all are amazing…
French Linen
Paris Grey
Old Ochre
Aubusson Blue
Duck Egg Blue

Chalk Paint Application Review
It has a nice smooth consistency and I love that it gives such great coverage making it last long. So far it is creamier and requires less coats than my last review for American Paint Products. As with other Chalk Paints, for the smoothest application, I recommend doing your second or a light third coat with ASCP thinned with water. 

Wax Review
While I still use Annie Sloan's waxes, they are not my wax "go to" wax (see my review on American Paint Products here to read what wax I am using now).  Overall, there are other waxes  that have no fumes and are easier to apply. 

Also, the dark wax must be applied over clear wax or you will stain the paint and not be able to remove "it." Some dark waxes can be applied without clear wax, which saves time and money.

Annie also offers great brushes for waxing. While they are a little pricey, I recommend buying at least the large one. It will last you forever. I usually don't use much dark wax so I apply dark wax with an inexpensive chip brush.

What I loved Best
Smooth and easy application 
Great coverage
The best colors

Favorite Tips
How to get a smooth chalk paint finish by The Purple Painted Lady,
How to clean your wax brush by The Purple Painted Lady,
How to keep your chalk paint from drying out,
Also check out here….great answers to so many questions.. on Annie Sloan Unfolded

Friday, November 1, 2013

Testing New Products: American Paint Company Chalk Paint Review

Let's start this post by saying I hope everyone had a fun Halloween! At hour home, my husband and I enjoyed handing out candy and taking in all the great costumes in our absolutely Halloween crazy neighborhood. In an hour and a half, I was out of over $50 in candy!! However, the night was sort of sad too, because this was the first year neither of my boys went out! On the upside I got to eat candy without abandon. Or on the downside, depending how you look at it. 

So onto my review. As a blogger with a business specializing in furniture revivals, I really want to give my audience great information and resources for doing furniture makeovers. So, I thought I would start by reviewing products I use regularly and those that I am experimenting with. Hopefully, my experiences can inspire you… or at the very least save you some grief!!

My first review is of American PaintCompany’s (APC) chalk paint and wax. In this post, you can read about the first piece I finished with APC.

American Chalk Paint Rushmore
Now let me tell you, Annie Sloan ChalkPaint (ASCP) will probably always be a first love, but I like to experiment. So, after completing many projects using ASCP, my eyes started to wander to other color palettes and I started to wonder how other brands of paints might perform. The first new product to catch my eye was American Paint Company’s chalk paint. This company offers a range of products, including chalk paints, waxes and some specialty products. What really excited me about this company was that their products are all natural, zero VOC, eco-friendly and solvent free paint… and they are American made.

After logging onto their website, I discovered a site that was user friendly and offered a ton of easy to find advice and tips on their products. After reading up on the products, I visited the link to my nearest retailer and ordered a selection of paints and waxes for my next project.  This ordering experience started my APC relationship off to a great start. Like most moms and bloggers, I was catching up on business later at night when the family has finally settled down. I emailed Donna at Painted PastDesigns with questions about my selections and the company, expecting to hear from her the next day. Within minutes she got back to me to answer my questions! She was sweet and helpful and it made me even more excited to try the products. When my products arrived, it was like Christmas and she even threw in a Painted Past Designs wax brush for how nice it that!!

Working with the product:
The colors I selected were Rushmore, a light warm stone color, Navajo, a beautiful crisp white and the dark and light waxes.
I ended up just using the Rushmore color on my dresser.  Like ASCP, there is no priming necessary although the company recommends lightly sanding shiny pieces on their website. The ACP paint seemed thicker to start out with then ASCP, but it can be thinned with water, which I generally also do to ASCP.
The piece I was painting was a dark cherry, so I needed closer to three coats for good coverage. I have since read from the tips on the APC website that they recommend basing dark furniture in a light grey shade before a light shade to help get the best coverage. I have also since used the Navajo White color on some medium tone woods and coverage was excellent, only requiring 1-2 coats

The feel of the APC paint was drier and rougher than ASCP. I would recommend thinning the APC paints with water especially on your second coat for the smoothest results. I was also able to sand it easily to soften brush strokes and it did not leave a sheen difference. I feel when I sand ASCP it can leave a different sheen between sanded and un-sanded places. This was completely uniform.  I also felt like the adhesion was excellent…like I had covered the pieces with cement. It wasn't going anywhere.

Ok now, this was the hands down best. First off, there was no odor, at all! It was also sooo creamy. Easy to apply and again, I feel like with ASCP wax, you have to really apply evenly to not get stroke and sheen differences. This was really forgiving and left a nice finish that wasn’t tacky. 
My only warning, when I first applied the wax over my Rushmore, it looked like this.

Initial application of APC wax…do not freak out at this point, it will dry normal!

 I knew wax could make paint darker, but this was crazy, dark and streaky and it seemed to really soak up in places. Well, I almost freaked out, but hey its only paint. I waited and I maybe emailed Donna at Painted Past Designs a little panicked and I was reassured it was ok. And low and behold, it dried beautifully, hard and not tacky. Again...let's not forget what it means to have someone representing the company to be there to help you...outstanding customer service.

Here's a rundown of American Paint Company products and a highly recommend trying it on your next piece.

American Paint Company Point of Difference
From their website, “The original chalk and clay base paint, American Paint is thick, rich and self-priming. It provides superior coverage. You can thin it to your liking or use it straight. No-odor, non-toxic and with No VOC’s  – every option offered is a breathable healthy alternative to other products on the market today”. 

Price Point
Paint 34.95
Wax 27.95

Where to Order
My local east coast distributor Donna at 

Color Palette Review
APC has a pallet of 33 colors after just introducing 3 new colors. The colors have a beautiful range of soft and earthy neutrals and some very fun and vibrant shades. More vibrant than ASCP.
My favorites so far are Rushmore, Navajo White, Beach Glass, Lincoln’s Hat and Amber Waves of Grain. And breaking news! A new color pallet is being announced in a couple of weeks. French/European inspired, but American focused. It's called The Ellis Collection (Ellis Island).

Chalk Paint Application Review
Be prepared by a little a product that seems a little more “raw” than ASCP and this is because this is all natural. The product does finish out to a smooth lush finish. Some lighter colors seemed to take more coats and I recommend thinning finishing coats.

Wax Review
From the company’s website, “American Paint Company waxes create a dirt and dust resistant seal that buffs out to a lustrous finish. The Vintage Antiquing Wax can be applied directly to the dry paint without the need for clear waxing first. No oily staining or sticky residue. It dries quickly and will buff out beautifully”.

The waxes are fabulous products and right now they are my go to wax. And yes, you read it right. You do not have to use clear wax before the antiquing wax! Now that right there is furniture refinishing awesomeness.

What I loved Best
The healthy, no odor and great performing wax.
The informative and friendly website.
The amazing customer support.

Have any of you tried APC products? If so, I'd love to hear your experiences!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My Favorite Autumn Display and The Tobler Grounds and Garden Tour

For over 6 years now, my boys and I have been making a 45 minute commute each way to their school (I know, crazy).  And each year, we know fall has arrived and Halloween is coming when we drive pass this display of autumn perfection.

Standing amongst bails of hay, an assortment of colorful gourds, crows and chickens, is the scarecrow. A perfectly weathered and weary figure with a touch of creepy. Every morning with my sleepy kids in tow, he would great us and the boys would perk up. 



Then just before Halloween would arrive, we would drive by to find the scarecrow surrounded by glowing sculls and boney hands reaching up from the ground. I always marveled at what a perfect way the scarecrow transitioned into halloween. 



Now the other week, after all these years, I decide to ask the home owner if I could take some pictures of the scarecrow for my blog.  At least, I wanted to let the home owner know how much we have enjoyed him all these years and how much we appreciated the effort that must be put into erecting him year after year.

So, I left a note in the mailbox and was thrilled when I received a call from the home owner, Lynell Tobler. Lynell not only invited me to come take some pictures of the scarecrow, but also to visit and show me around her historic farmhouse.

When I met Lynell, she was beautiful, vibrant and guess what else? I found out she too writes a blog! It was one of those things that actually came as no surprise. Not only was Lynell's home fascinating, but she was as well. She shared with me some of her own journey which included her transformation into fitness buff, her love of fashion and her devotion to animals to name a few. In addition, she had just returned from her sister's side after seeing her through brain surgery. Lynell shares these stories and more in her blog.

After spending time with Lynell and learning some of her home's history, I set off to take some pictures. In this post, I wanted to give you a tour of the outside and the grounds of the home. It was magical. The home retains so much of its original character and the rustic feel of the grounds suites its history.  And let me tell you, the inside of the home was just as charming as the outside...and I'll share that with you in another post.

Enjoy the tour
and please drop by Lynell's blog at and say hi!

Happy Halloween!


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