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?

New Foyer Tulip Table

A few weeks ago Staples Canada emailed me and asked if I would like to give one of their accent furniture pieces a try. Honestly my first thought after reading the email was ‘Staples has furniture?? – I thought they just had paper and pens’. Out of curiosity I clicked over to the Staples Canada site to see what they had and was rather  surprised by the selection.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but there are a number of items that I could have happily welcomed to my home. If I didn’t already have dining chairs I love I would have been tempted by these Panton chair knock offs and these round nesting tables caught my eye as well.

I’ve been in LOVE with Saarinen tulip tables for what seems like ever (if I won the lottery one of the first things I’d buy would be a marble tulip dining table), so I might have let out a little squeal when I spotted a tulip table among the accent tables on the Staples website. I had no idea where it would go, but knew I’d be able to find a spot for it.

When the table arrived I was pleasantly surprised by how weighty it is. I don’t know why, but I had thought it might feel a bit flimsy – the base is made of fiberglass and the top is wood so I don’t have any worries about it moving or tipping over. Once I got it put together (a super easy 2-minute job) I decided it would be perfect in my foyer as a place to put the mail and my keys when I walk in the door (but only after first considering it as a bedside table, or even a a little bar area in my living room).

I have the rather bad habit of just putting stuff on the floor when I get home, and then not doing anything with it until the next day when I drop a bit more stuff to the growing pile. My hope is that as a table has a much smaller surface area than the floor I’ll be forced to be a bit more organized (Please keep all your fingers crossed for me that this works).

White Tulip table in foyerI love that the table is white, but one small problem I noticed once I put the table in the foyer was that it blended a little too well with my white walls – it needed a little colour. I think one of the easiest ways to add colour to a space is with flowers. I love Orchids as they’re not too expensive and they last forever, however as my foyer doesn’t really get any natural light I opted for some colourful fake ranunculus from HomeSense instead. I also placed a little tray to hold my mail and keys, and then I decided the table needed a little whimsy so I added my Matryoshka-like dolls that I brought back from Australia a few years ago.

Tulip table styledWhat do you think? Do you have a place in your entry to put the mail and your keys when you come home? Or do you do what I used to, and drop it  in the hopes a magical elf would come by in the middle of the night to tidy it away?

Disclosure: Staples Canada provided me with the table and asked me to share how I would use it as an accent piece in my home. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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.