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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].  

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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Mixing Color and Wood Tones Using Annie Sloan's Graphite

Sometimes I take one look at a piece of furniture and instantly know what needs to be done to it. I envision its end before I've even picked up a paint brush.  This piece was calling out for a deeper, more stately shade, and Annie Sloan's Graphite is always my go to color when I want something to feel grounded. The drawers on this highboy dresser [a highboy is typically a dresser that's tall and has a wider base than its top...the more you know!] were in such great shape, they just needed some sanding along the edges to make them glide into the frame better. 

I removed the hardware so I could give the drawer fronts a good polish with a bit of Restore-a-finish [I only use this if wood needs a bit of brightening, not for any real staining work]. For the frame of the dresser, I painted it in two coats of Graphite, lightly sanding in between coats for a silky finish and doing a bit of distressing along the curves to highlight them a bit. I finished the surface with Annie Sloan's dark wax, which deepens the graphite. The warm tones of the wood complement the deep cool charcoal shade. This is easily my favorite combination. It instantly elevates any piece of furniture and makes it feel a bit more grand. 

I styled this vignette with a few things I'd picked up on my recent travels to Dallas. The Avett Brothers print is by an artist I met at the Deep Ellum Arts Festival [I can't seem to find his business card, but it's signed Jackson and I remember he's from Florida- I'll add him in if/when I find his information!]. I also grabbed a couple books from Goodwill, because of course I did.  I got an old Kennedy biography and a Webster's Thesaurus [I absolutely LOVE a thesaurus!]. I then grabbed a few red toned pieces from my collection to round out the color grouping. When I'm not sure how to style something, keeping things fairly monochrome is the easiest way to pull things together. Also, tiny cacti never did anyone wrong, so in those went too. 

This highboy is actually the partner to the previous dresser I shared. It's incredible how color can transform the feel of a piece. Both of these are French Provincial in style, and yet the first one feels so feminine and light, while this one is much more masculine and weighted. I really do love how this piece turned out! It's now posted for sale in my shop, and I can't wait to see where this beautiful dresser ends up!

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Classic Lines with Modern Style: French Provincial Dresser in Gray

FOIL   foil/  noun

noun: foil; plural noun: foils

  1. a person or thing that contrasts with and so emphasizes and enhances the qualities of another.

    "the earthy taste of grilled vegetables is a perfect foil for the tart bite of creamy goat cheese"

    synonyms: contrast, complement, antithesis, relief

    "Abbott was the perfect foil to Costello"

French Provincial furniture is one of those styles that's instantly recognizable.  Their curves and delicate hardware make them feel eternally vintage and feminine. Sometimes I'll paint them in a more modern shade to spice things up, but for this piece I went with a timeless combination. I mixed a few shades of Annie Sloan chalk paint to create this cool, light gray. Depending on how the light hits it, it also reads in shades of a faint blue. I love when furniture changes color in the light. It's in a constant state of evolution, adapting to its surroundings ever so gracefully. When I paint something in a seemingly traditional color, I like to go in the other direction when it comes to styling it. If I have a piece with so many delicate curves, I like to counter those curves with modern and linear objects. Much in the same way "Abbot was the perfect foil to Costello," French Provincial can be the perfect foil for modern style. Creating that contrast in your style gives a space this underlying sense of balance that's subtle and palpable, if barely so.  It brings this sense of relief to the eye you might not have picked up on. I love working in subtleties and I think it shows with this shoot.

For this vignette, my jumping off point was a take on modern botanicals: a cactus print from Society 6 [a fantastic resource for affordable art], a small abstract done by my aunt, a larger impressionist style piece [also painted by my talented aunt!], my Rifle Paper Co. calendar [because it's Rifle and the colors and that quote, my God Emily Dickinson you've got it right!], a couple plants I'd just potted in modern concrete planters, a few stacked vintage books [because who would I be if there weren't vintage books in there?!] my number one ride or die lamp [never change Target, never change], a little piece of pottery from an unknown source [but I do think it's from the Philippines], and finally my Archie's Press Atlanta map. Layering all these objects together; stacking them, hanging them, leaning them, arranging them just so, it's a bit of an art in of itself.  Sometimes I get so lost in the styling, I end up losing my natural light [golden hour, why are you so brief?], and have to postpone photographing for the following day.   The next time you're looking to add a little style to your space, consider pairing your classics with your moderns or vice versa.  Play with the ages, and you'll come out with an eclectic, effortless style all your own.

PS- anyone else here seriously craving goat cheese after reading the definition for foil? Just me? Ok cool cool :)

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Clean and Simple Can Be Beautiful: White and Walnut Mid Century Dresser

This piece was the last one I painted just before taking a solid month off of work.  YES A MONTH! I now realize how long that was, and the thought scares me a little, but I'm so thankful for that time I gave myself. I spent the bulk of it with family and friends, traveling to the Philippines, Singapore and Texas. Getting myself back to the reality of work and day to day life has been a struggle, but I've had that painting itch for some time now, and the photos of this beautiful, classic mid century dresser reminded me how clean and simple furniture and styling brings ease to my mind and inspires me to create more.

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When I'm stuck in a rut, whatever kind it may be: writing rut, cooking rut, socializing with humans rut [that's can be a thing from time to time for me!], all I need to do is remind myself to keep it simple and take small steps towards getting back into the swing of things. Maybe it's just filling out a Q&A about life quiz to rejig my brain, maybe it's just putting together one of my favorite breakfasts like avocado toast with scrambled eggs and a new addition of chipotle chili sauce...mmm [that was this morning!]. Or maybe it's just spending some one on one time with a friend on the porch, drinking wine or a cup of coffee and watching the world pass us by.  It's incredible how little moments like this can reinvigorate me, revitalize me and remind me about my love for all the passions in my life.  

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Painting is the one passion that most clearly connects my personal interests with my professional ones. Yesterday to get myself out of my painting rut [though I suppose it was less of a rut and more of a vacation, but no matter!] I decided to repaint a pair of side tables I was given. I'd already painted this pair, but decided they needed a new color to better suit their home in my Airbnb. Once those are photographed and ready to go, I'll share them here, but for now, I wanted to gush about this mid century beauty.  

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Mid Century is the one place where I don't tend to overcomplicate things. I find their form and structure so beautiful in their original state that I hate to fuddle with it too much.  Sometimes I'll get creative with my color choices, but this time I took mid century to its purest form. I stuck with a few coats of Annie Sloan's Old White on the frame of this piece. I love using white with modern pieces because it creates the perfect blank slate for whatever design choices I'd like to make. 

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I'm a person who changes the style of my home depending on how I'm feeling that week [or sometimes that day!], and I find using small objects and wall art to inject color is my favorite method of design.  Keeping this piece so simple is what makes it feel timeless. I could style this piece in so many ways, my brain perks up just thinking about it!

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For this shoot, I was so frazzled about leaving for the Philippines, I kept the styling basic and modern. I love taking a piece of art and pulling a few colors from it to incorporate into the design vignette. For me, it's the easiest way to create a really pulled together style. This series reminds me how important it is to edit, and keep things minimal sometimes. It brings an ease to my mind that I can't get enough of. This simple series of photos is inspiring me to get out there, find some new pieces to work on and pick up the paint brush. Check out this piece and others I've got for sale in my shop

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Paint with Bright Colors: Pink French Provincial Dresser with a Blush Wash

I haven't painted a French Provincial piece in a while, and when this one came along the other week, I decided it was time to take this classic silhouette and bring it to life with a bright, vibrant shade.  I worked with three Annie Sloan chalk paint colors to achieve this look. First I added a bit of Burgundy to Old White to get an extra bold pink. I then took Antoinette, the light blush pink shade I used on my previous pair of nightstands and created a wash. A couple tablespoons of paint plus a approximately a quarter cup of water was all I needed for this piece [and still had more left over!]. The wash takes a bit of practice and a quick hand. For this piece, I brushed the wash on, left it for only a few seconds and wiped it off with a rag. I love using washes. They give the surface of furniture movement and a softness that's hard to achieve with simply paint and distressing. I love how each piece I use this technique with has a unique finish. This piece didn't have a wood grain, and yet the wash gave it a texture that's just beautiful in person. This dresser is now available in my shop! Contact me if you're interested in this piece or have another project I can help you with.

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