“Miss Marge’s” one-armed vanity chair redo!

Just an update on a couple of my painting projects — I know some of you were interested!

Here’s a pic of the “new” side table — Alas, I cannot find the “before” pic! But, trust me, it was old and ugly… I used some homemade grey chalk paint — then I projected the image onto the table top, painted it out, and “Voila!” — I finished it off with some dark soft wax… I’m not 100% wild for the results here —- I must admit, but it’s done and I’ll live with it for a while before I change anything. I still have to do something to the top of the “blah!” coffee table — I’m thinking of the NYC skyline or the Eiffel tower… we shall see 🙂


Here, though, is something I am far more proud of…. let me give you a little of the “back story” on this old doll… she belonged to my friend’s mother — “Miss Marge”. I really enjoyed any time I spent with “Miss Marge”… she was a cool old gal! Since her passing, her daughter has been going through her home, tagging things to be kept, things to be sold, and things to be given away. In the midst of this extremely difficult job, my friend thought of me. She kindly invited me to come over and have a look around. She wanted me to have a piece of “Miss Marge”. I was moved and delighted. I found a couple of things that I am planning to update. One of them is this old one-armed vanity chair. The minute I saw it, I fell in love with it — much as I did with “Miss Marge” all those years ago.

Look at that leg!

Look at that leg!

Great bones, right?

Great bones, right?

Who could resist the lines or the gams on this old gal? Not me. That’s for sure! She needed a bit of cleaning, some paint, some white glaze, a bit of distressing and, of course, a new “frock” — I was up to the challenge! I think she came out great. She will now occupy the coveted spot in my front hall — where she will reside below one of my all-time favorite photographs — V-J Day in Times Square (Alfred Eisenstaedt, August 14, 1945) — I think they look great together (sadly, my limited photographic skills did not allow for a pic that shows them together)!

And now, for the “after” pics — and, believe it or not, I chose the fabric — kind of folk-arty, right? — and when I got home discovered a can of “oops!” paint that I had purchased for about $4 was an almost perfect match — it was destiny!

How cool is this?

How cool is this?

Hello, Gorgeous!

Hello, Gorgeous!

Now, of course, I have to figure out what color to paint the metal pantry (also courtesy of “Miss Marge”) that lives across the corridor from this baby. My husband suggested “off-white”, but I’m thinking more along the lines of an “apple green” with a red rooster graphic — Of course I am!

What Fang Doesn’t Know: I Was a Pre-School Tracing Prodigy!

childtracingFor those of you who have been following along on my quest to “Purge the Hovel”, I’m here to report that it’s coming along nicely. Sadly, I must also report that the initial enthusiasm with which Fang and Fangette threw themselves into the task, has waned. And by waned what I really mean is that they have, pretty much, ceased any real “active involvement” in the project. And, really, I may have been giving them a little too much credit when I used the word “enthusiasm” to describe the capacity in which they were involved at all. If I’m being honest, they didn’t exactly “throw themselves into the task”, either. Really, it was more like they sauntered. Okay. They were dragged kicking and screaming. But, they did it. So, that’s something, right?

The main living space has taken on a decidedly different style. It’s gone from what I like to call “Early American Poverty” to something at least resembling “Shabby Chic”. It’s clean. It’s comfy. I’m happy with it. And so, for the most part, is Fang.

Fang fought me tooth and nail when I embarked upon this long overdue transformation. Being smart enough to know when he’s beaten, though, he did ultimately join me in my efforts at home improvement. He didn’t just grudgingly haul a whole bunch of junk out to the curb, which was a great help to me physically. He, more importantly, was both emotionally and spiritually supportive. This was a big step for Fang. Because he doesn’t like change. Because he’s opposed to anything that might require the expenditure of money and/or cut in on his leisure time. Mostly, though, Fang hates painting. Hates it. With every fiber of his being. And paint is the cornerstone of the “Shabby Chic” thing. It really is.

Fang’s normally affable demeanor takes a turn to the whiny and childish whenever he even senses that I might be about to paint something. He even spent money to buy a pre-shabbified painted dining room set and vintage sewing machine table turned desk. His hands didn’t even shake when, in his presence, I forked over the cash to my new best friend, Cookie, over at “Handpainted by Cookie” for these items! I guess he thought that this meant that I wouldn’t be painting anything.

Poor, Fang. Sometimes it’s like he doesn’t know me at all!

Of course I found some things that I just had to paint myself. First on the list were my Grandmother’s old, beat up, leather-topped tables. I chose to use chalk paint because I hoped that it would stick to the battered leather tops. It did! I chose a color called “Gray Timber Wolf” because it is a nice, neutral shade that I thought would complement the color palette that I’ve been working with. It does!

Here’s the problem, though: It’s boring. It just kind of says, “Blah!”. Who wants to do all the work I’ve done only to be faced, at the end of the day, with “Blah!” Not me. I am of the opinion that your living space should reflect who you are. For a long time, “Early American Poverty” did just that. Now, though, I feel that I’ve moved beyond that — in an upward direction. Also, I’m a lot of things. But, I’m not “Blah!”

So, I went on Pinterest. I found some things I liked. Some ways to “de-Blah!” the tables. Some of them involve stencils or image transfers. All of them require MORE painting. When I advised Fang that I was thinking about ordering some stencils or downloading some images to transfer, his reaction was, as you can imagine, not positive. Just because his “active involvement” in the hovel purge has ceased, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have opinions in the matter. His latest opinion is that “Stencils are stupid. They just look fake. And that other thing? I don’t even know that you could do that. You can’t even draw a stick figure.”

Putting aside for a moment his lack of confidence in my ability to TRACE something and then FILL IT IN with paint, something that even a third grader sporting an eye patch and with one hand tied behind her back, could probably do, let’s address his attitude toward stencils. Fake? What does that even mean? It means that he doesn’t want me fussing around with stencils. That’s what he meant. And, really, what’s “fake” about them? His argument, such as it was, made no sense at all to me. None.

His opposition to stenciling isn’t what put me off of it, though. I was leaning more toward the other method anyway. Yes. It’s a little more involved. It is also undoubtedly far more time-consuming. It may even require a few more (inexpensive!) supplies. On the plus side, it provides more options than does the stencil method. I understand his reluctance to trust me with a free-hand drawing. I’m no artist. Nor would I ever make any such claim. I know my limitations. Honestly, though, I mastered TRACING in my youth, for crying out loud! I may even have been more advanced than my counterparts in this arena. It didn’t take me until the third grade to get it right, I can tell you that! If they gave out “Tracing Awards”, I would’ve received one in pre-school. Pre-school!

I have a distinct memory of Mrs. Pillsbury, the owner/operator of “Mrs. Pillsbury’s Pre-School”, where I was a bright and promising pupil, putting her hand on my back and giving me an encouraging smile as she looked at my tracing of “Snow White”. (Snow was in the midst of examining the beautiful apple that the crone had just given her! Don’t eat it, Snow! DO NOT EAT IT!)

Mrs. Pillsbury, in that kind, sweet, and HONEST, way she had, said, “What FINE tracing skills you have, Jacqueline!” And then, when I had finished my masterpiece, she HUNG IT UP — as AN EXAMPLE — A FINE EXAMPLE (!) of what others could accomplish if they worked hard enough and devoted the necessary time and attention to detail that those of us with advanced tracing skills were already in possession of! I was practically a tracing prodigy. Imagine the success I might have enjoyed had I kept with it. But I moved on. To foolish things. Like gluing macaroni to construction paper and coloring in the lines.

While I haven’t actively traced anything in years, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a skill, like riding a bike, that once learned, doesn’t abandon you. So, the next time I write about the tables, don’t be surprised if they look more like this:



than this:



photo credits:
Child tracing (Morguefile.com)
Gray coffee table (Me!)
“Café” table

Trading one addiction for another!

IkeaI was a little worried that I was becoming addicted to Ikea. And, really, no one wants that. And by no one I mean my husband.

It started innocently enough. I got a loveseat there, but like any gateway drug, the loveseat led, inevitably, to more. The more in this case was a chair. A new television warranted a larger media console (sounds so much better and fancier than television stand, don’t you agree?), which required another trip to Ikea where I left with not only the media console, but also with a couple of free-standing cabinets for the kitchen.

Not unlike children’s birthday parties, redecorating projects can quickly get out of hand. One minute you’re calmly lining up all the kiddies for a nice round of pin the tail on the donkey, the next thing you know, little Shushma is nearly stabbed with the thumbtack that is, well, integral to the game (plus, you didn’t have any Fun tack). Luckily, also integral to the game is the blindfold that, as luck would have it, took the brunt of little Shusma’s near blinding. Who’d have thunk that a recently spun kid, now dizzy from the spinning and armed with a sharp object would become confused and point this same sharp object at her very own eye? Not you, that’s for sure. Naturally, panic ensues and a little party game becomes, to put it mildly, frenzied and chaotic.

Frenzied and chaotic would be excellent adjectives to describe my former decorating style. You know, if it fits, it sits; if it’s free, it’s for me. This philosophy led to many, many mismatched and ugly pieces of furniture over the years. This time, though, I am determined to be different. To take my time. To think things through. To actually make an effort at some kind of style. I’ve chosen Cottage Chic or Shabby Chic, or whatever those design-y folks are calling it these days. I like it’s ease. I like it’s comfort. I like that it’s basically built around the color white, which even I can’t screw up. Although who knew just how many shades of white there are out there? Not me. Not at the outset. Now I know. It’s slightly worrisome, but I’m going to soldier on. I like slipcovers that I can throw in the wash. Although I am, at this very moment, writing this in an effort to delay doing just that. So, what else is new? “What do you mean you didn’t get the pen off the couch cushion today?” “I was writing. Do you think blog posts just materialize? Like pizza? Which, by the way, only appears because I picked up the phone and ordered it. Sheesh!”

I will not even get into how a nearly 17-year-old girl-child got ink on my nearly brand-new white slipcovered Ektorp loveseat or how this almost caused World War III to erupt right here in Northern New Jersey. The point is that I can get it out with a little hairspray and some laundering, which I plan on doing right after I finish writing this post. So, get off my back, wouldja?

That Ikea though, what a place, huh? So clean and organized and well-lit. They kind of make you want to live in those rooms, no doubt while enjoying their equally enticing menu selections — namely, the Swedish meatballs and the cinnamon buns — don’t they? Yup. They do. And I fell prey to their evil genius. I am, after all, a mere mortal in search of affordable white wood-like furniture pieces that I can shabbify with some toile curtains, gingham pillows, and possibly a bit of interesting molding.

To this end I made a list of all of the things that I know the good Lord would want me to have from Ikea. Even Our Lord could not convince Fang to live in a catalog page. He wanted to check out other places that sell furniture. All I can say is “Screw the Lord and Thank Heavens for Fang!” because if my husband had not talked me down from the crazy Ikea branch that I had found myself perched upon, I never would have found my current obsession — a place not far from here called “Handpainted by Cookie”.

Maybe it was the paint fumes, but the minute I walked into this joint I knew I had found a kindred spirit. This woman, along with her handy and affable husband, obtains antiques that would otherwise end up in landfills or spend the rest of their days as chipped wood. They make any necessary minor repairs and provide them with beautiful paint jobs. Oh, and there’s also a dog that greets you at the door. Gotta love a place of business where pets are permitted to roam around.

The actual showroom is small, but delightfully decorated. I fell in love with and ultimately bought a white chalk-painted Art Deco dining table with a pop-up leaf and six gorgeous chairs. I have my eye on a beat up china closet that I spied in the warehouse. I know it will look fetching in a lovely shade of dove gray with white hardware. Even Fang agrees that it’ll work for us, but I am, uncharacteristically, going to wait until I get the table in and situated before I make any hasty decisions.

If it looks this good in a parking lot, can you even imagine what it will look like in my dining area???

If it looks this good in a parking lot, can you even imagine what it will look like in my dining area???

Tomorrow The Redhead and I will head over to “Handpainted by Cookie” and load up Bubba with my new purchases. While I’m there I’m hoping to convince Cookie that she should be on the look out for a French Provincial desk with cabriole legs for the woman who, in the coming months, will become her best customer. Because I need lots of shabby things. Lots.

If you’re sitting there shaking your head and thinking, like Fang, that I’ve just traded one addiction for another, you’d be right. I would, however, make the argument that this tiny slice of heaven located in an unassuming Moonachie, New Jersey warehouse is a far, far better obsession to have than Ikea.

photo credits:
<a href="dining room table ” target=”_blank”>Dining table