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A hub for all things to do with design, furniture painting, photography, style, event planning [and some foodie bits for good measure].  

BRINGING OUT DETAILS IN FURNITURE THROUGH DRY BRUSHING: BAMBOO COFFEE TABLE

I saw this table at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and it was an easy purchase. Though I don’t really implement the Hollywood Regency style in my own personal design, I see bits of it everywhere and I have a secret love for all things bamboo. This table was a glossy orange-toned wood bamboo that I couldn’t see working for me or any of my clients, but I wanted the bamboo details of this piece to come to the forefront.

Going with a dark color wasn’t going to cut it. All those curves would be muted by the depths of a deeper shade, so I knew white was where I was going to take this piece. I wanted to make it feel more ‘California’ or beach-y, or in this case, poolside appropriate.

I grabbed a bristly round paint brush [one of Annie Sloan’s] and ever so slightly dipped it in Pure White chalk paint. In a weird version of musical chairs for one, I’d quickly paint the piece as I moved in circles around the table. It looked comical, but working this way ensured I didn’t miss a single curve on the piece [and with bamboo, there are seemingly infinite curves]. I’d then flip the table over, work on the legs in the same orbiting pattern.

The finished product has a weathered, beach inspired vibe, resembling something similar to driftwood. The table has an airy lightness to it, which is further achieved with its glass top. There isn’t a single harsh edge on it, other than the striations from the dry brushing technique.

I’m tempted to try this table out in my own living room as we move closer to spring. Currently I have a comfy but cumbersome leather ottoman as my coffee table, and this oval beauty would lighten and brighten the space. Or maybe I’ll just drag the table out by the pool and lounge, drinking rosé, legs dangling in the water.

I’ll have this piece posted in my shop soon :)

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TRYING NEW COLORS: BUFFET AND HUTCH IN ANNIE SLOAN'S CHICAGO GREY

I’ve always loved the color gray or grey, depending on how you prefer to spell it. I personally go back and forth on the regular. No matter the gray/grey, I find it to be one of the most pleasing neutrals to work with. I typically work in darker shades of gray when it comes to painting, but when I saw Annie Sloan recently came out with a new light shade of gray, my interest was instantly piqued. I’ve been combining Pure White or Old White with her dark Graphite to create lighter shades of gray for years. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind creating custom colors, but having a go to color straight out of the can that you love and feel like you could use on almost any piece really simplifies the process.

I loved this retro buffet and hutch from the get go, and though it required some repairs to the veneers and shelves to achieve a smooth base, I knew it would be worth salvaging and refreshing with paint. Annie Sloan’s new Chicago Grey as described on her site, ‘…is a cool, fresh and modern grey, with a hint of blue. Suggestive of the architecture in Chicago. A perfect neutral for industrial interiors, or muted Scandinavian styling.’ The description fit this piece of furniture seamlessly, so I knew it was the color to go with when I was shopping for paint.

Painting this piece wasn’t too difficult, with the exception of the bookcase shelves, since those are always my least favorite to work with [all those sides and edges!], but the gray went on fluidly and solidly from the get go. Styling this piece was a breeze. The light, neutral backdrop of the gray was begging to be styled with colorful books and simple objects. I simply pulled a few stacks of my vintage books from their shelf in my home. I keep them all organized by color, since it makes it easier to visualize what colors I’d like to use for styling projects. The modern lines combined with the vintage colors and textures in the books is a perfect contrast and one I love to implement time and again. Check out more photos of this beautiful piece below and keep an eye out on my shop page, since I’ll have it up for sale soon!

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Layering Colors and Wax for an Aged Emerald Finish: Annie Sloan's Amsterdam Green and Graphite

It’s a new year and I’m back to working on furniture pieces today! [keep an eye on my Instagram account for photos of my current project!] I painted this great little antique find just before the holidays and I’m finally getting around to sharing it with you! This table is an antique, and one that wasn’t well taken care of. There were layers of sticky residue on the top and sides of the piece. Normally when using Annie Sloan chalk paint or any other similar calcium carbonate based paint, I never have to sand or really prep the piece for paint. This one required a good bit of love and sanding before it was ready to take to paint.

Sometimes furniture just speaks to a certain painting technique or colorway. Looking at the bones of the piece, I knew it needed a color varied style to highlight all the unique details of it. There’s a lot going on for such a small piece of furniture: scalloped edge at the front and back [the piece is double sided so it can float in a room if need be], fluted detailing along the squared frame, curved angles on the side magazine holders and the top and beautiful little bun feet at its base.

When something has lots of character, applying a contrasting wax brings all those intricacies to life instantly. For the base color, I combined three parts Annie Sloan Amsterdam Green with one part Graphite to help mute the bold Emerald a bit. [to see what true Amsterdam Green looks like on furniture, check out this dresser I finished a couple years back- it really is a gorgeous color!] I painted one coat with this mixture and then added one more part of Graphite to deepen it further and painted the piece here and there, not fully covering the initial greener base, so that the subtle change between the shades could still be seen.

I sanded using a wet piece of 400 grit sandpaper, which allows the paint to slough off a bit more aggressively. I wanted the original deep brown stain to peek through more, adding to that aged effect and creating lowlights on the piece. Finally, I brushed on white wax, not completely covering the piece, focusing on the crevices and details. I wiped the white wax with a white t-shirt rag, and then lightly applied a second coat of wax, now using clear wax. Combining the two waxes gives the piece that white washed look without completely altering the base colors. The end result is a multilayered, textured finish that shows off the aged beauty of this table.

I painted this piece to hold piano books in my living room beside my sofa, but it is up for sale now just in case anyone else has a place for this little gem! If you have any questions on my paint technique or inquiries on custom furniture pieces, contact me!

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UPDATES: BACK TO PAINTING! SPEARMINT GREEN NIGHTSTANDS IN ANNIE SLOAN'S LEM LEM AND FLORENCE

It’s been far too long since I’ve shared my work here! As I mentioned in my previous posts, my house went on the market a few months back. The whirlwind of preparing the house, going through open houses, showings and ultimately selling our home was much more work than I’d ever anticipated. Finding a home in my new city, Dallas, Texas was even more daunting. Five weeks ago, I said goodbye to my Atlanta home and hello to my Dallas home! I can’t wait to share all I’ve done to my new home already, but my first priority after getting settled in was to crack back into work! I haven’t had a space to paint furniture in so long, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to pick up a brush and start transforming new pieces to sell. I’m really pleased with how my first project turned out!

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This pair of nightstands was my first project in Dallas. They were found in my family’s storage unit collecting dust. I was happy to take it off their hands and give these guys a new look, since their current state was a bit drab to say the least.

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Most of my paint didn’t fare well during my hiatus and the move, so I just had a few bits of Annie Sloan’s Florence and Lem Lem chalk paint to work with for this project. To create the base color, I combined one part Florence, a bold turquoise with four parts Lem Lem, a light spring green.

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The paint mixture had a lot of texture in it [a nicer way of saying there were bits of dried paint in it- never fun!] so I decided to go for a distressed look to both get rid of the dried paint particles and add dimension to their somewhat boxy appearance.

After distressing, I took Lem Lem, thinned it out with a few drops of water and painted a wash over the base color, wiping it off in certain spots to create a lighter, blended finish.

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I went back and forth about changing out the hardware of the drawers. These are the originals, and at first I was unsure about how they worked with this paint finish, but once I styled the nightstands with objects, they really grew on me. I sort of love the nod to their original look. If someone prefers something more modern, it’s a two minute swap to screw in new pulls.

Depending on the angle and the lighting, the color really brightens up and transforms to a light spearmint shade. The way the colors transform throughout the day is really what I love most about working with the Annie Sloan line of paint!

This pair is now up for sale in my shop [which is now based in Dallas, Texas!]. I’m going to work on shipping furniture in the coming months so I can share my work with people from around the country! Keep an eye out for quite a few more things popping up in my shop during the coming weeks. I snagged three more pieces just yesterday and have already finished up a great little wine rack / bar cart. I’m SO glad to be back to work at A Simpler Design and can’t wait to end this year with a frenzy of paint in all kinds of colors!

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A Before and After Dresser Fairytale: Trash to Mid Century Treasure

I love a good comeback story, and this piece certainly deserves a proper one.  First, here's the AFTER photo, once I worked my magic [and this one needed some serious magic!].

Looks pretty good right?! Ok ok, back to the story...While I was in Dallas earlier this month, I was wandering around the Bishop Arts District, a beautiful little neighborhood with tons of local shops, restaurants, bars and everything else I could ever want [more or less]. I was walking down one of the residential streets when in the distance I spotted beneath a pile of garbage some semblance of mid century.  It was beckoning me, calling me towards it...

Is that a dresser? Could it BE?! It was covered in trash and definitely appeared to be out for slaughter, but I wanted to make sure it was up for grabs before I ran to my car and came back for it.  I thought about knocking on the front door of the house, but there were half a dozen tiny dogs of various breeds yelping beyond the fence, an army of miniature guard dogs if you will. What was I to do?! I didn't want to steal someone's property, even though I was almost definitely certain this was their garbage but still. By some magic, I heard some noises coming from the garage [that sounded like a human not a dog].  I realized someone was working on a car back there, so I began to politely shout 'hello!' and after a few of those an 'hola!' when out popped an older man from beneath the car. He was so lovely, and immediately insisted I take the dresser and that he'd help me get it in my car.  I ran [well mildly jogged since I was in a dress and sandals], grabbed the car and was over in a matter of minutes. This older man single handedly hoisted the entire dresser [I'd only managed to remove two drawers before he insisted on taking matters into his own hands] into my trunk. He offered me more furniture from the house, but the dresser was all I could fit, otherwise I would have happily taken it all! To make the story all the more unbelievable, as I was admiring his adorabnly tiny brood of dogs, he asked if I wanted to see a puppy.  A PUPPY?!?! Uh sorry no sir I'd rather not...said NO ONE EVER! I waited a little uncertain of what he was going to bring me when out he came with a tiny black pug looking baby the size of my palm.  I died.  Mentally fainted. All the emotions.

Yes, here is the tiny lilliputian sized pup he brought out to me to hold.  I squealed only like a small child could.  This little guy was five days old at the time. He then told me if I wanted one, I could come back in a couple months and take one home [there were three girls and three boys to choose from] FOR FREE. WHAT IS THIS LIFE?! First you hand over a beautiful mid century dresser to me, and then insist on providing me with a puppy, all free of charge?! I felt like Cinderella, only my Prince Charming was an older latin man covered in car grease. I mean who am I to judge, the man BROUGHT ME FURNITURE AND PUPPIES. I'm still debating going back for a puppy and I'd like for everyone I know to take one home too [and you get a puppy and YOU get a puppy and...]!

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Ok enough gushing about puppies, back to the furniture! Here's what the dresser looked like when I brought it home.  It was pretty banged up, but it was sturdy and all the drawers worked well.  Essentially, that's all I need to go ahead and work on a piece. After making the necessary repairs, I went over it with two coats of a custom light gray, similar to a previous French Provincial piece I'd done, and sealed it with Annie Sloan's white wax to give it a matte finish. I painted the drawer handles in Annie Sloan's Graphite to balance the light dresser [and because the silver was looking a little too battered and wasn't cleaning up well]. 

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I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BELIEVE this is the same dresser that man practically threw into my car! This is precisely why I always encourage friends and family and clients to always try and buy vintage whenever possible [or find it for free if you're as lucky as I am!].  So much can end up in a landfill, but it only took me wandering around this neighborhood and politely asking if I could take this man's trash for me to end up with this stunning piece.  I am putting this one up for sale since I've had some requests on it just from the quick instagram I posted! But this piece does have some sentimental value attached to it now.  I can't wait to go back to Dallas and meet up with my furniture and puppy wielding friend to show him what his old dresser looks like now! If you're interested in this piece, head to my shop now to check it out!

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