Sunday, December 16, 2012

First Glimpse: Campaign Dresser Makeover

It's been 10 months since I came across a brand new vintage campaign chest in Value Village and I still can't get over my luck!! When I saw this furniture piece sporting the original hang tag and with brass handles neatly wrapped in brown tissue paper, I ran to find a Village assistant and told them not to let anyone else look at it, touch it, or even attempt to purchase it - that baby was Sold!!!


"Fast" forward 9 months to November and it was time to get started on this little makeover. Originally I wanted to spray paint this piece, since I love the smooth, glossy finish that comes easily with the spray, but colours were limited and I wasn't finding anything that would tie in with the living room rug (still to be revealed). That meant that I would have to use regular paint and roll it on, but that reality check came with a huge bonus:  the world was my oyster in terms of colour choices. I opted for Sarah Richardson's Blue Box (SR26) from Para Paints, and it's a shade which I'm absolutely crazy about:


The painting process was not so difficult as it was time consuming. It was business as usual: Sand, Tape, Prime, Paint, Paint, Paint. Below are some "in progress" shots from the warehouse space at my office where I do all of my dirty work. Each day I would arrive at work early or stay a bit late to complete a step of the project. Big shout out to my employers for allowing me to use the space for this project!

As often happens in my DIY world, things got a bit tricky on the last step of the process, and I ran into a  bit of a SNAFU. I wanted that smooth glossy finish - for both the look as well as for the protection factor, and so I decided to spray a clear top coat over the Blue Box. Unfortunately, the spray gloss did not turn out well - not well at all. Since the drawer fronts offered a small surface area, they were fine, but the top of the dresser was an uneven mess. Imagine a swamp with alternating pools of gloss and untouched dry patches. Crap. A Twitter friend recommended that I try Minwax Polycrylic Gloss in lieu of the spray gloss, so off I went to Lowe's and picked up a quart to try the next morning. Armed with a small sponge roller, I applied a coat of Minwax to the top of the dresser. It was bad. Apparently a roller is the last thing to use when applying a coat of lacquer - one million bubbles in the finish can't be wrong. Long story short I sanded off the layer of bubbles along with one layer of paint, repainted, and applied the gloss with a sponge brush. (Trust me on this one, folks, always use a brush when applying a clear topcoat). Five coats of gloss later, and the finish was perfect. Finally!! 

The freshly painted campaign dresser now acts as entertainment unit in my living room with plenty of space for electronic components and storage. I love the way it looks!! What do you think?

From this angle you can see the pattern of the wood grain in the drawer fronts. I had briefly considered applying a heavy grain filler but then decided against it, and I'm happy that I opted to leave the wood surface alone. I like the texture it gives to the piece.

This is where the five coats of gloss topcoat really shine (literally). The surface is so smooth that it's reflective:

This shot includes a sneak peek of the living room rug. When I matched the paint swatches to the colours in the corner of the rug, it was easy to make a decision, Blue Box was clearly the winner!

I would like to thank Para Paints for supplying the paint for this project. The colour really makes this piece special, and it's definitely the focal point of the living room in the new condo.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Getting It Together

Sorry for the lack of posts of late, but the big move from downtown Toronto to Eatonville in the west end has been rather time consuming. Now that things are starting to settle down, it's time to start fleshing out the decor.

Most of my choices were already in place before the move, but there are a few important pieces missing. First I'll be needing light fixtures throughout the condo to replace the horrible bare bulbs currently protruding from the ceiling boxes. Seriously, they are beyond awful!! This coming weekend there is an estate sale and I have my eye on this gorgeous clear glass chandelier for the dining room. It's just my style - fancy but not glamorous, simple but not boring. I just wish I didn't have to get up at 6 am on Saturday morning to get my hands on it, but I think this piece will be worth it.

Stay tuned for condo progress coming soon!!

UPDATE:  I dragged my butt outta bed and out the door super early on Saturday and arrived at the estate sale at 7 am to be 9th in line. It was worth the sleep deprivation because I GOT IT!!! What's even better, I found a comparable chandelier online for $1795.00. My price was a reasonable $325.00 (taxes included), and it's in perfect condition. Can you say sweet deal?!?!? Yay!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Home

This week I finally closed on the new condo, and it's time to start putting all of my plans into action. The first step will be a thorough cleaning, followed by a bit of painting as soon as a few minor drywall repairs are done. I'm already exhausted just thinking about it, but it sure feels good to be in!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Heather Clawson: Creativity at Work

The highlight of this past week was chatting with Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic at Indigo Bay & Bloor where she was on hand to sign copies of her new book, Creativity at Work. Luckily we both attended an Indigo Holiday event earlier in the day which gave us a chance to catch up. Heather's new book features 32 talented individuals in their offices and work studios, giving us the opportunity to see how creativity flows. Not only is this book a great read, it also looks fabulous on my coffee table - I love the orange linen cover!

 Heather looks great, as always :-)
I don't know what happened to my hair. Ugh.

The evening included a conversation with Heather and was hosted by the always charming and charismatic Tommy Smythe, whom most of you will recognize from HGTV. The audience enjoyed an interesting discussion about the concept for Creativity at Work, how it became reality, and the process of putting it all together - including all original photos taken by Heather herself. Amazing!!

Thanks, Heather, it was good to see you!! Congratulations on the success of your book, and enjoy your next signing in beautiful San Francisco.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Jill Rosenwald Hampton Links Vase

Monday was a good day. I returned home from work to find a belated birthday gift had arrived in the mail from my sister. I opened the box to find the prettiest vase ever - a Jill Rosenwald Hampton Links Peony vase in the most gorgeous shade of pink. Me likey!!

I immediately checked out Jill Rosenwald's web page and she also has an Etsy shop where you can pick up one of her fabulous creations. Of course I think my new Hampton Links vase is the best piece of all and I can't wait to use it in my new home :-) Thanks, Debbie!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Doors of Paris

Although I saw so many Paris highlights during my recent trip, some of the most interesting features of a new city are those things which make it different from places you've seen before. While here in Toronto we are greeted by gleaming lobbies constructed of sleek glass doors and marble floors, the entrances to Paris offices and apartments lay behind the most lovely ornate doors. I think of them like snowflakes. Each entry has its own unique design, whether it's carving, fretwork, embossing or intricate handles, but no two are the exact same. 


American novelist Edith Wharton once lived behind these doors
in an apartment belonging to George Washington Vanderbilt II.

All photos by Pamela Graham for Cherish Toronto.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Week in Photos

Wow!! This week went by so quickly, it's a complete blur. The closing date for the new condo is November 14th and I'll be moving in on the 28th, so there is a lot to do over the next few weeks. Here is a recap of the week that just went by:

Although I almost skipped it due to Monday night's storm, I decided to stop by Indigo Bay & Bloor for an interview and book signing with John Taylor, who is currently promoting his new memoir, In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran. This was a pretty big thrill for me - I've been to several Duran Duran concerts over the years, but I've never been this up close and personal...


On Wednesday when I got home from work, the mailman had delivered Heather Clawson's gorgeous new book, Creativity at Work. You may recall that I met Heather during a trip to New York a few years ago, and her blog Habitually Chic is one of my favourite daily reads. The book is full of original photos, all taken by Heather herself, and features the work spaces of many creative people such as Bunny Williams, Jenna Lyons and Jonathan Adler, among others.

Heather will also be visiting Toronto for her own book signing, which I will definitely be attending! If you can make it, the event starts at 7 pm on Thursday, November 8th at Indigo Bay & Bloor...


Last weekend I worked on several projects with my Mom, including a mouse motel and a gold leaf mirror. Now I'm on my own to gold leaf the matching mirror, and I've also taken on a few new DIY's. For one, it's time to get started on the campaign chest I found last February at the Village. I haven't been able to find spray paint in the shade I'm looking for, so I'm going to paint this piece with a roller, but first it has to be sanded and primed...


I managed to squeeze in a quick sewing project this afternoon - a quick and easy pair of envelope pillow shams (luckily the pieces had already been cut and prepped with Mom's help last weekend). I adore this printed linen which picks up on the chartreuse and grey colour scheme happening in the new guest bedroom...


And since my condo was feeling a bit chilly tonight, I thought it was the perfect time to turn on the oven and bake a raspberry pie. Yum. Break time!!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

DIY: Gold Foil Quatrefoil Mirror

While daydreaming about my new master suite, I got stuck on the idea of hanging a mirror on the wall behind each bedside table lamp. This would add a touch of glamour and sparkle, plus it practically doubles the amount of light in the room - a huge bonus when the bedroom lacks a ceiling junction box. Here is an inspiration photo from Tides South Beach:

It's no secret that I love me a good quatrefoil motif, and you may recall that we used a quatrefoil mirror from HomeSense in my Mom's powder room makeover. I thought that this style would work perfectly for my bedside table idea, so I went ahead and also purchased a pair for myself.

Scale is everything in this case, and unfortunately the mirrors were too small and got lost behind the lamps, so they were promptly returned. Instead I found a pair of 30" x 30" quatrefoil mirrors at Lowe's which were just the right size - substantial enough to avoid being completely covered by the lamps. The only problem was that I was not a fan of the black frames.

Here is where the gold leaf enters the story. I picked up all of the supplies I needed for less than $20.00 - two packages of gold foil and size adhesive from Michael's (purchased with a 40% off coupon), and sponge brushes from Dollarama. After several months of procrastination it was time to get started. With help from my Mom and some online tips from Jenny at Little Green Notebook, we taped off the mirror and applied the adhesive size and gold leaf one section at a time, slowly working our way around.

After just a few long short hours, we ended up with a gorgeous gold quatrefoil mirror. Some of you may wonder why I didn't just spray paint this mirror gold, since I'm such a pro (see other spray paint projects here, here, here and here), but I wanted to achieve the antique patina that comes with real gold leaf. We completed just one mirror on Sunday afternoon, so there is still another to go, but having one under my belt makes me hopeful that the next one will be a bit quicker.
I love the way it turned out. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scary Stuff

Now that hurricane Sandy has blown through the eastern States and Southern Ontario, those of us who still have hydro can be thankful to have come through the storm unscathed. Many residents in the eastern States were not so lucky, and our thoughts and prayers are with them today as they struggle with power outages, flooding and scattered debris.

In less scary news, with Hallowe'en just around the corner, I want to share this easy yet eerie pumpkin carving project: The Mouse Motel. Thanks to blogger Jen Selk for reminding me about this fun idea which was originally conceived by the creative minds at Martha Stewart.

My Mom and I carved our pumpkins on Saturday afternoon, and with a bit of trial and error we each completed our own mouse motel. Afraid to use a knife but without a pumpkin carving kit, we improvised by starting the holes with a corkscrew and then rounding them out with a sturdy spoon. I think they turned out great!

Project Costs:

2 Small Pumpkins x $1.50 = $3.00
2 Pkgs Mice (Dollarama) x $1.00 = $2.00
Pumpkin Carving Fun = Priceless!

Photos by Pamela Graham for Cherish Toronto.