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.

Getting Plastered in my Dining Room

Remember back in July when I confessed that my dining room a had a small problem? That problem included globs of wallpaper glue, cracks, and a badly patched ceiling.Dining room - corner

Dining room ceilingFor my birthday my mom and dad gifted me a repaired dining room, so in late August operation #letsgetplastered begun (yes, this was finished in August and I’m just blogging about it now. I’m a bad blogger). My mom and dad are ‘the’ original DIYers so they decided that they’d try to fix it themselves first, and if that didn’t work we’d call in some hired guns for the job. Those hired guns weren’t needed.

First up my mom and I took a trip to Rona to pick up supplies. While there she introduced me to this amazing sanding block she’d seen while shopping in her hometown, and it was so helpful as we started my dining room rehabilitation by hand sanding the walls and ceiling the remove the old wallpaper glue, and try to even our some of the imperfections.

After the sanding was done it was on to a coat of primer, and then onto applying coats of spackling compound in layers to try to even out the walls. Once the last layer of spackle had been sanded it was time for another coat of primer, and then some plain white paint. The whole operation took about a week, and it was a huge success. There are still some imperfections, but it’s a thousand times better than it was, and honestly in an almost 100 year old building there isn’t a single wall that doesn’t have some character.

Teh After - My newly repaired wall and ceiling

The After – My newly repaired wall and ceiling

A New dining room deserves a  new light fixture

A new dining room deserves a new light fixture

For an unplanned bonus when lit the string light casts a neat shadow on the walls which makes any small imperfection even harder to see.

For an unplanned bonus when lit the string light casts a neat shadow on the walls which makes any small imperfection even harder to see.

I owe a HUGE thanks to my parents for my birthday present – I was going to pay someone a lot of money to fix the problem, but they’ve reminded me (again) that if you put your mind to it, have a willingness to try something new, some patience and a bit of help, there are a lot of things you can do yourself.My newly repaired dining room

PS – My apologies – an all white room is hard to photograph for a relative novice.

PPS – RONA doesn’t know I’m posting about the sanding blocks – I just loved them.

Monday Morning Love – Eames Dining Chairs and a Secret

If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know of my deep and abiding love of the Eames dining chair with wooden legs, so I thought I’d share some lovely dining rooms all using the chair, but with hugely varying looks.

Photo via

Photo via

Photo via (If you know the original source please let me know)

Photo via (If you know the original source please let me know)

(yes, I know the last image hasn’t got the exact same chair, but I’m including it because it’s amazing, and I love the Eames rocker too)

Now I need to let you in on a little secret I’ve been keeping. Last summer I was walking by my local Kitchen Stuff Plus and I spotted a replica version of the chair. I was so excited I even blogged about it, and asked your opinion on what I should do – buy the replicas, or keep my black dining chairs. The opinions were evenly split, and then my mom (who is a great sounding board for all my schemes) came down on the side of keeping my black spindle chairs. So keep them I did – for a few more months anyways.

In early spring I opened my email to discover Kitchen Stuff Plus was having a 25% off all furniture sale. Excuse me? (insert image of me mentally calculating while doing a happy dance). A savings of 25% times four dining chairs is practically one free chair! Now the sale was limited to only one item per day per customer, and I still had my black dining chairs, but Kitchen Stuff Plus has a rather amazing 30 day return policy. I therefore did what any other self-respecting lover of Eames style chairs, who also loves a sale, would do – I bought one chair a day over four days and schlepped them home (it’s a 1k walk). At the same time I listed my black chairs for sale on Craigslist and Kijiji with the promise to myself that if they didn’t sell within the 30 days the much-loved Eames dining chairs would be returned.Molded Eames Style dining chairsWithin a few days my black chairs were sold for $200, and that meant my dream chairs were finally mine. For those of you keeping track the chairs were normally $67.49 each. When you subtract the 25% they were $50.62 each or $202.48 for four. My four black dining chairs cost $71.28, which means when you subtract the $200 I got from their sale on I got four of my dream chairs for just $74. Eames style  dining chairThe moral of the story is eventually, if you’re patient enough, and crafty enough you can get exactly what you want.

PS – Kitchen Stuff Plus has no idea that I’m writing this post – I got a good deal so I thought I’d share.
PPS – The KSP 25% off all furniture sale is on again though September 22nd.

Monday Morning Love – Jackie Astier Dining Room

My Mom came to town on Friday to see me and to give me a bit of a hand with trying to fix my dining room (also to see my brother who’s in town from the UK – it’s a bit of a family reunion this week). You may remember that I recently shared my big shame – my dining room, complete with globs of wallpaper paste and cracked plaster walls. I’ve gotten a few quotes from professionals to get the walls and ceiling skim coated, but when those quotes were from anywhere from one to two thousand dollars I’ve decided that I’m suddenly much more inclined to try the DIY route. So far we’ve sanded every surface trying to remove as much wallpaper glue as possible, and primed using a plaster friendly primer. Next up – adventures in skim coating. Wish us luck.

Anyways, in keeping with this weekends activities I thought I’d share this dining room that was featured in Elle Decor.

Dining room by Jackie Astier

Dining room by Jackie Astier

It’s it gorgeous? It’s the dining room of Jackie Astier, and I can’t decide what I like the most – the lacquered walls, the amazing dining table, or the chairs upholstered in teal. What do you think? Would you ever be tempted to lacquer your walls? Or use teal and gold?