The China Cabinet Beautification Project

For as long as I’ve lived in my apartment I’ve wanted a little china cabinet to go in my dining room. My kitchen isn’t huge and I loved the idea of being able to display pretty dishes and other things in the top of a cabinet with glass doors, but hide less-attractive-but-needed items like napkins and place mats in the lower half.

I looked for months on Kijiji and Craigslist – there were lots of cabinets available, but I needed one with a small footprint and one that was within my tiny budget. It was quite some time before I found anything that would suit, but eventually I did. As luck would have it, my new cabinet had some very familiar details – it’s the same style as the console/sideboard I have in my living room.

The before

The before

When I first saw the cabinet I had visions I stripping and refinishing it just like its mate – however I was soon thwarted by something that I didn’t notice until I tipped the cabinet over to start working on it. I knew that the cabinet hadn’t been treated too kindly and was filthy, however there was one small detail I hadn’t noticed when I bought it – one of the feet (for lack of a better word) was irreversibly damaged – the wood base was missing a rather large chunk. This immediately took the wind out of my ‘woo-hoo, new project! ‘ sails, and left me completely stumped on how I was going to fix it. I could strip the veneer easily enough, but as the missing chunk was at the front corner of the base, even if I could repair the structural wood underneath I would have to re-veneer two sides. While I repaired the veneer on the base of my console, the repair there was on the side and isn’t easily seen. The front of the cabinet would always be on display, and I wasn’t confident that I’d be able to do a good enough job with the veneer replacement. Compounding the issue, I didn’t have the tools, space or skills for any woodworking, so repairing the base myself was impossible.

Damaged cabinet base

Needless to say I was completely stumped as to what to do so the project came to a screeching halt. Eventually I got tired of the cabinet sitting there empty and ugly and I decided to just Google local woodworkers and email them asking if they might be able to replicate the entire base of my cabinet. Eventually I found one who was willing to work on such a small project and I schlepped the damaged base cross town on public transit so he could copy it. Skilled trades aren’t cheap, and his expert work cost me nearly 3 times what the cabinet did.

My china cabinet was quite dirty when I got it - the hardware before and after a prolonged polish

My china cabinet was quite dirty when I got it – the hardware before and after a prolonged polish

Once my cabinet had a sturdy base it was time to turn my attention to its beautification. The new base was natural wood and I could have attempted to veneer it, but I opted for paint instead. I’m normally firmly in the ‘wood should not be painted’ camp but the veneer on the entire piece was in really rough shape, cracking and splitting, so painting it was the only option. After using wood filler to fix the worst of the blemishes I primed it, and then did two coats of colour.

Painted china cabinet

I debated painting the interior of the cabinet a fun hue, but in the end I decided that I wanted the items I displayed behind the glass to be the focus so I chose a warm white – Coconut Sugar (PF 60). For the exterior I wanted something that would highlight the brass hardware I spent so long polishing, but I didn’t want anything too dark. I chose Fort Beauséjour (P2144-02) which is a lovely blue-grey. Both colours are from Para Paints.

China cabinet painted gray

I think my china cabinet is a million times better than when I got it and, in the end, I’m glad I persevered.

As a member of the Para Paints Blog Crew I was supplied with the paint used for this project.

Linking to: My Repurposed Life

DIY Gold Stripe Tray

When I was considering adding the tulip table to my foyer I wanted to have a little spot to corral the mail, my keys and other things when I come in the door. I knew a small tray would be ideal for that purpose, so I set out to find one that met my criteria – it needed to be rectangular, not too expensive, and it needed to have some colour given the table and the walls in my foyer are white.

To be honest I had absolutely no plans on DIYing anything, and I actually did find a lovely contender for the spot at HomeSense that was just $13. Then of course I went to the thrift store and found a tray for $1.99 and my plans changed.  Given its thrift store provenance the tray was predictably ugly, but it was the right size and shape and I knew that making it prettier would be easy.

Thrift store tray before

I’ve been in LOVE with this tray forever, and if it had been the right size I may have been tempted to buy it for my foyer (but only if it also went on sale). Since the original wasn’t to be I decided to make my own version using my thrift store tray and spray paint I already had on hand.

Thrift store tray painted white

(Apologies for the bad cell phone picture)

After spraying the tray white I set out to mark off the pattern on the top of the tray using masking tape. I eyeballed the pattern and used a small piece of tape to help with the spacing between the lines.  I did have painters tape on hand, but it was too wide for the scale of my tray so I ended up using the regular masking tape (I use it in class to tape my drawings to the drafting table).

Thrift store tray painted gold

Once the pattern was complete I sprayed the tray top and bottom with gold spray paint, and when it was dry I peeled off the tape and voilà – a gold stripe tray.

DIY Gold stripe tray

There was some bleeding under the tape that more than likely wouldn’t have occurred if I’d used painters tape, but I’m honestly not too concerned.

DIY Gold Stripe tray.

Not bad for $2 right?

Bathroom Update – Peonies and Sparkle

I’m not a fan of my bathroom. I’d love to rip the whole thing out and start from scratch, but unless I win the lottery that’s unfortunately not a project I’ll get to tackle any time soon. I made some changes way back in 2011 (which tackled the ugly blue plastic shelving), and I’ve recently made a couple of other small changes.

The shower curtain rings I had were simple chrome spheres. They were nice enough, but after a few years the humidity was making them discolour a bit. After a bit of searching I replaced them with something with a little sparkle.New Bath curtain hooks

I, like a lot of other people, am quite fond of Peonies. Last year I was lucky enough to win a beautiful ‘Stop and Smell the Peonies’ print by Stephanie Sterjovski and Anna Agiropolous (of Anna with Love) through Tim at Design Maze. Being the queen or procrastination and indecisiveness it took me a while to decide where to put it, but now that it has finally found a home I couldn’t be happier. Every morning when I’m getting ready for the day it’s a pretty reminder to find time to enjoy and appreciate the small things that make me happy.New Bathroom Art - Stop and Smell the Peonies

They’re small changes, but I think they’ve both dramatically improved my space.

Thrift Store Keepsake Box – Para Paints Blog Crew Spring Fever

When the idea of a Para Paints Blog Crew Spring Fever Challenge was hatched I must admit to being a bit hesitant – I mean what would I paint? Sure, I still live in a condo with all white walls but, while I have vague ideas of what I want to do with the rooms, with school and work I simply haven’t had the chance to sit down and really figure out what colour(s) to use. I wish I was one of those people who can pick a colour out of a fan deck and immediately know that it’s the perfect colour for the space. I take a while pondering and second guessing myself and I didn’t have that much time for this project.

Anyways, once I committed (along with Meredith and Susan of Newberry Sykes, Tash and Kes from The Dream House Project,  Sabrina from the Pink Little Notebook, and Sara from Saige Wisdom) I decided that as this was a spring themed project I would try to do something fun with a used item – a renewal of something old which I thought was appropriate as spring brings a renewal of life (both for plants, and for us unfortunate humans who’ve been hiding from mean Mother Nature for months). I thought of reworking something I already had but in the end I found the perfect item at Value Village for just $1.99. Thrift Store Painted Wooden boxI’ve wanted one of these keepsake boxes since I first saw them a few years ago, but as they’re priced from $95 to $145 (US) each they are a bit too pricey for my ‘tuition-is-expensive’ pocketbook. When I saw this wooden box sitting on the shelf at the thrift store I knew what I would do with it. The box had been the recipient (victim?) of someone’s artistic touch, but I figured a bit of sanding and some primer and I’d be good to go. Famous last words.Thrift store wooden box insideI used Para BlockOut primer which worked wonders on the untreated pine of the box including a couple of knots, but strangely the little blue dots thwarted my efforts to remove them. I have a feeling the only thing that would have blocked the ink was something oil based which I didn’t have on hand since it tends to be smelly and I was painting in my dining room. As I planned to use dark paint on the top of the box and the worst of the dots were on the inside of the box (which would rarely be seen), I decided they just add a bit of character to my project. Besides – polka-dots are ‘in’ right?Wooden box painted whiteOnce I’d primed the box I added two coats of Jo Jo Whitewash (PF 17), and then it came time to tape off my borders.

I debated the size of the borders a bit, but eventually I decided that 1/2″ was the perfect size as the box is 14″ long. Taping didn’t take as long as I thought it might, and once it was completed I used an artist’s brush to paint some more Jo Jo Whitewash along the edge of the tape to try to eliminate any colour from seeping underneath. Painters tape added for the borderThe colour I chose for the box is called Rubber Boots (P5027-73D). I love the colour, but I think it was the name that sold me – can you think of a paint more perfectly named for a spring project? A couple of coats later and it was time to peel of the tape. I’ll admit to being nervous, and wondered if painting over the tape would make it hard to remove, or worse remove some of the paint entirely, but I had no trouble when I peeled it back slowly, and it revealed a crisp line.My new keepsake boxI’ve decided I’m going to store various keepsakes in the box. I’ve got some ‘First Home’ cards from when I moved into my condo, some recent birthday cards, pictures of friends and family, and a couple of pieces of jewellery (a bracelet from my Gran, a ring from my great aunt, and a bracelet I got for my first communion) that I don’t wear (but want to keep) and I think this will be the perfect place to store them all instead of in a few different places. For now my new keepsake box is sitting beside my TV, but I don’t think that will be it’s forever home I’ll probably move it to the bookcase, or maybe my bedroom. What do you think? Not bad for a thrift store box right? Wooden box Storing special keepsakesNow that you’ve seen my spring inspired paint project, I hope you’ll check out what each of the other members of the Para Paints Blog Crew created – click on the banners below. spring fever newberry sykes bannerThe Dreamhouse Spring Fever ChallengePinkLittleNotebook_SpringFeverSaige Wisdom Spring Fever Challenge BannerOnce you’ve been wowed by their projects I hope you’ll share one of your spring painting projects in the link-up below (You just have to share your project once, and it will appear of each of our blogs).

SPRING FEVER – Share your Spring paint projects!

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