Painted lady

In general, I think of roll top desks as very masculine. But with a coat of pretty French grey, dark and heavy is transformed into light and airy.

After transforming a couple CraigsList finds, I was ready for my next project…something big. When I spied this desk in the free (!) section, I new I’d found the perfect candidate. I have looked and looked for the original “before” photos, but they seem to be lost. Oh well, here’s an example of a similar desk…

Quite a beauty, huh? One drawer was broken, and half of the ceramic drawer pulls were cracked. It was so dirty and dusty from sitting (probably for years) in a garage, that we didn’t even bring it in the house the first night. My husband thought it was a piece of junk and had no idea how I would make this good. After a good cleaning and light sanding, we dragged the beast into the house. I hoped that a coat or two of Kilz would kill the musty odor.

A la the Nester, I put the desk on furniture sliders over a drop cloth and painted it right there in my dining room. Two coats of Light French Gray (Behr) completely transformed this piece as I hoped it would.

Because it was an older desk, I didn’t want an ultra-glossy, “new” finish. On the other hand, I didn’t want to go for a distressed look because I was afraid it would just look like a poor paint job instead of a lovely, worn patina. So, I sealed all the painted surfaces with a few coats of Lundmark clear paste wax (from my local hardware store), and I loved the soft finish of the wax…perfect for this desk.

The finishing touches really made the desk something special. I found simple knobs at Home Depot to coordinate with the original drawer pulls (spray painted to match the knobs). I lined the drawers with some printed kraft paper, too.

Isn’t she lovely? After posting it back on CraigsList, and selling it for a pretty penny, my husband is now convinced that I can do anything.

I am linking to the very first blog I ever read. A dear friend introduced me to The Shabby Nest, and the world of design blogs, a few years ago. Wendy motivated me to rediscover my creativity and make my home beautiful (even with a non-existent decorating budget). Join her and other frugal ladies at Frugal Friday!

The Shabby Nest

I am also excited to link to a blog I have admired from a far for a long time: Miss Mustard Seed. She is another inspiring blogger who is reaping the bounty of following her dream. Drop in to her Furniture Feature Friday and be amazed!


Thursday thoughts…Inspiration to dream big

I never knew how profoundly blogs would impact my creativity. Yes, I have had to fight the ugly temptation to compare. You know what I mean: it’s the trap of seeing all the wonderful, successful, creative bloggers around you and thinking…what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do that? Why don’t I have that?

But it’s just that…a trap! Nothing is “wrong” with you. You can do that! You CAN live a happier, more creative life. But I have found, in my short-lived blogging endeavor, that I need to do two things to own my creativity and pursue all the wonderful dreams in my head: overcome my fear, and work HARD.

So many bloggers have inspired me to find that thing that I really love and go after it without fear. Janell Beals is the first that comes to mind. Her online magazine, House of Fifty, was born from the realization that she had the power to make her dream a reality, even if no one else was on board.

Rashon Carraway, a true Southern Gentleman, has elevated thrift store shopping to an art form under the moniker Mr. Goodwill Hunting. His many appearances on the Nate Berkus Show demonstrate without fail that style doesn’t have to come with a fat price tag. He has done things with thrift store finds that you would be hard-pressed to find in any retail store.


Then, there is Annie Sloan, creator of the eponymous chalk paint, who has revolutionized the painted furniture trend. Watching this video from her blog, I cannot help but feel inspired. That lady makes me want to get up and make something beautiful (namely that credenza in my basement gotten for free from CraigsList).

I could go on and on…so many inspiring folks in the blogosphere! The takeaway: none of their successes have come without adversity and hard work. That is the inspiring thing: that they did not give up!

So, who inspires you? And what are you doing with that inspiration?

Happy Summer (for free)!

Guess what the kids and I are doing after school today! Heading to 7-eleven for a free Slurpee!

Every pregnancy, I have had certain cravings. This go-round it’s definitely a tall, cold Slurpee. Any flavor will do, thank you very much. But the new sugar-free mango is mighty tasty…and a fun way to usher in Summer (truth be told, I’d rather sip a frozen margarita, but for baby’s sake, I’ll just have a Pina Colada Slurpee).

What’s your favorite Summer-time treat?

Jewel of a dress

Last Saturday evening, a friend of mine hosted a home show for Premier jewelry. It was so fun to hang out with a couple girlfriends and play with pretty jewelry!

I wanted to wear something simple (I wanted to keep accessories to a minimum so I could try on the jewelry at the party!), preferably a summery dress. But I wanted to be comfy, too. Just past the halfway mark in this pregnancy, I prefer something loose-fitting by the time evening rolls around.

dress (Old Navy), earrings (F21), bangles and metallic sandals (Target)

I remembered this dress that my husband bought for me last summer. We ran into Old Navy to pick up flip flops for the kids, and he asked what I thought of this dress as we walked past the women’s section. I was leaning toward brown (the safer color choice), but he insisted I get the deep purple version. When my oldest chimed in her approval, I knew I was stuck with purple. This is not my typical color choice or style at all, but I couldn’t say no to a gift from my husband. 🙂

I am glad he was so insistent. Every time I wear this oh-so-comfy and feminine dress, I get compliments, plus his sweet smile. Do you have any surprise style finds like this in your closet?

I am linking to The Pleated Poppy for WIWW. Won’t you join me!

Statement lighting

When it was time to replace the “it-came-with-the-house” lighting fixture in the dining room, I scoured the Internet for something interesting (and affordable). As Maria Killam wrote recently on her Colour Me Happy blog, “have you noticed how much UGLY lighting is out there?”

I thought I would never find something pretty without paying a fortune (which wasn’t really an option). Then, I discovered this wonderfully contemporary, yet traditional, fixture from Quoizel. Let me tell you, I was counting down the days until this baby arrived in the mail. It completely changed the look of my main level.

In the adjacent living room, I placed a pair of table lamps on a pair of low Expedit shelves (found separately on CraigsList!) that span one end of the room. Because our living and dining spaces are open to each other, I chose to repeat the drum shape in the shades. Lamp light really helps to make a room feel cozy, don’t you think? They are the perfect way to add just enough ambiance to an otherwise dark corner.

I am staking out an underused corner of my master bedroom for this next combination: a comfy chair and a floor lamp…a perfect little spot to curl up with a book.


I have had my eye on this bold shade, and I think it would be interesting paired with this floor lamp. The colors in my bedroom are all neutral, so this would really stand out.

What is your approach to lighting? Do you prefer to make a statement or keep things more functional?

Pin it…Wear it

I love Pinterest. I use it like my online file cabinet, saving bits and pieces that I think are useful and/or beautiful.

Today, I took inspiration from an outfit that I pinned, and I recreated it based on what’s in my closet. I love the breezy look of this outfit, and the necklace is so great. I love bold jewelry.

My interpretation: linen tank (Chadwick’s), striped linen pants (bought on my honeymoon), Jordanian necklace (gift from my husband), hammered metal bangles and metallic sandals (Target).

Be sure to check out my Pinterest boards. You can find the link at the upper right corner of the blog. Do you often use Pinterest for style inspiration?

What’s Old is New Again

I love the look of reclaimed wood that is so hot right now. This kitchen island from Restoration Hardware epitomizes the look: marring from old nail holes, rough  texture and a worn patina.

After looking for a creative (and inexpensive) alternative to standard wall shelves, I thought about how I could use my own “reclaimed wood.” Our last dining table literally fell apart when the screws holding it all together became stripped over time. I threw out the main part part of the table, but I kept the leaves which were still in good condition.

I added wooden brackets from IKEA to make a pair of shelves for my boys’ room. Pardon the awkward photos; I am hoping to hang them this weekend. I love the detail on the ends, don’t you?

I made another shelf for my small entry from a piece of scrap wood I picked up from our local building surplus warehouse for only $2! I left the wood raw because I so loved the texture of the old wood. Simple black metal brackets from Home Depot made it ready to hang.

I recently saw these shelves from West Elm, and I couldn’t believe the similarity. You better believe I shared with my husband how much my creativity saved us…

Have you given in to the reclaimed wood trend?

Shoe shopping…

I hope all you moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday. In preparation for my son’s first Holy Communion on Saturday, I spent last week ‘fluffing” my house. You know what I mean…moving from room to room, making the house pretty for guests. But this time felt different. This time, I was really able to see all the little (and big) things I have done to make our townhouse a home. I would love to share a few of my projects with you in the upcoming weeks. If you are like me, you love blogs because they offer a “fly-on-the-wall” peek into other people’s homes and how they have addressed many of the same dilemmas you may be facing. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, I have a little shopping to do. In addition to the sweet handmade cards I received from my children, my husband gave me a new straw bag and a Nine West gift card! I have been drooling over all the cute wedge sandals, and now I have an excuse to get out and buy a pair.

I am so ready for summer to arrive! Which pair would you chose?