3 Bookshelves, 3 Days

I decided to take advantage of some much needed time off of work to tackle a few projects I’ve been putting off forever, namely painting up the three trash picked bookshelves I have hanging around here. My three day timeline includes two days of priming and painting and the third day to wax the cured paint and style the shelves. Luckily the day-after-Christmas snowstorm we got hit with played perfectly into my plans – I’m not going out in that no way, no how.

So today is day one. Let me introduce you to my victims shelves:

Small wooden bookcase

This first cutie set is actually made from real wood. It’s quite scratched on top and an ugly reddish/orangish brown color, but otherwise a nice compact size. It lives in the cats’ hall bathroom and is perect for storing extra towels, toilet paper, books on cats, cat toys, and random cat decor (I plan on becoming a crazy cat lady, complete with theme sweaters, about 20 years from now.)

Scratched top on wooden bookcase

Scratched top on wooden bookcase

The next two shelves are a matched pair of laminate complete with cardboard backing. They’re also perfectly sized for where they live, one in the dining room in the space between the kitchen door and the wall, which is used to hold barware, dishes, and decorative items, and the other in the master bedroom between the bathroom and closet doors, where it holds a few books, my tax files, and some decorative items.

Bedroom bookcase

Bedroom bookcase

Dining room bookcase

Dining room bookcase

First I gathered my supplies: A 4″ cabinet and door roller set, a canvas dropcloth, foamy brush, angled paint brush, wood glue (to repair the trim on the front of one of the shelves), paint, sanding sponge, and primer. On the recommendation of Kate from Centsational Girl I picked up the Zinsser oil based primer for the laminate bookcases since it is supposed to stick to anything, and it does.

Painting supplies

I sanded the top of the wooden bookcase pretty well since it had some scratches. My wood filler was dried out, so I used a very, very thin coat of plaster spackle to fill in the last little bit and it seems to have worked pretty well. The primer says “no sanding necessary” so I did not sand the rest of the wooden piece, but did go over the laminate ones very lightly (I hate sanding. Detest.). The roller worked really well on the outsides of the bookcases, was a little more difficult on the insides, especially the wooden one whose shelves were not removeable. I used an old foamy brush to get into the corners. I was also working in a really small space which didn’t help matters any. The primer dried really quickly (can says an hour, I took a lunch break in there so left it a bit longer).

Primed laminate bookcases

Primed laminate bookcases

Primed wooden bookcase

Primed wooden bookcase

I tossed the roller after finishing with the primer because I hate cleaning them did not have the mineral spirits to clean oil paint. Since it was windy as heck and the roads were snow covered, a trip to Home Depot, which is literally across the street, was not in the cards for additional rollers. The interior of the wooden case I decided was more easily tackled with the brush anyway, so I broke out my can of Glidden Soothing Green Tea that I had gotten free about 2 years ago when they did a website promotion. The can was sealed with a plastic ring called a NormLock Seal to keep it from leaking when shipped. I didn’t know what it was for or how to get it off, so I started with a websearch. I nearly got a virus, and could have learned how to hack my husband’s cell phone or “adult” websites if I’d wanted (I swear my search terms were “opening normlock seal”), but no instructions for getting this plastic ring off my paint can. I found directions for removing a different brand of seal with pliers, so I started there and added a screwdriver when I’d pryed it up enough. Don’t worry about destroying it, you’re not going to reuse it. This was my main question when starting out – I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to go back on the can to scrape the brush against to keep from gooping paint all over the can or what, but no, it is just to seal it for shipping.

Opening a NormLock Seal
Opening a NormLock Seal

So with my paint can open I could finally begin painting! I had planned to do just the inside, and wait until I could get out for rollers to finish up the outside, but once I started I just kept going and did the whole thing. So here is the result.

Painted green bookcase

Painted green bookcase

Scratches are nearly gone

Scratches are nearly gone

I’ll tackle the laminate shelves tomorrow when I can get out for more rollers. They will both be painted white to match my trim with the back panels in tan to match (or close to match) the walls.


Pink and Gold Tablescape

I’ve been on a pink and gold kick this holiday season. If I had done a tree, I was planning on this color scheme, but alas, there was no time or space for a tree this year, so I decided to unleash my glittery, glamorous ambitions on my tablescape. You may remember the “Angel in a Jar” decoration from my Thrifty Finds post last month. I was unsuccessful in freeing her from her prison, so I used her as is, with just the addition of a faux pearl necklace (I have yards of faux pearl garland around somewhere, but since I couldn’t find it, just raided my jewelry box). I placed her on a small square beveled glass mirror with a gold frame (thrifted, $3.35), pulled out my Duralex Piccardy glasses in three different sizes to add to the centerpiece, along with some ornaments and more faux pearls from the jewelry box.

Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting

My place settlings are gold leaf chargers topped with ironstone plates (I’m obsessed with white dishes) and pink glass rim soup plates. On top of these I’ve added another Duralex glass (I pick these up in the thrifts whenever I can find them) with a pink ornament inside and a glittery white snowflake off to the side. Under it all I’ve used a green tablecloth and a natural runner, which I think keeps the whole from being too precious. I’ve staggered silver candlesticks and two frosted hurricanes with glitter snowflakes on them down the runner. After I took the photo, I also added two glittery reindeer from Dollar Tree.

Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting

I like to match my decor to my cat!

As you can see, Quincy, who has green eyes, and a pink nose and pads on his feet, matches the decor perfectly. Maybe next year I’ll get him some angel wings and a pedestal and he can be the centerpiece. You know, kinda like when stores have “live” mannequins in their windows sometimes.

Pink and Gold Holiday Place Setting

With the exception of the runner, which I think I got at Marshall’s years ago, one set of the candlesticks, which were my grandmothers, and the hurricanes which were a gift, everything else on the table was thrifted and probably less than $20 all together, with many of the elements being things I can use at other times of the year and in different color schemes. So I hope you’ve enjoyed my table, and in case you were wondering, no I don’t ever actually eat at it. And the cats aren’t really ever allowed up there.

Sometimes you just need a quick, easy, functional solution to something, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have style. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Martha Stewart dishwashing detergent bottle

which she showed years ago and I copied until I moved to a place with a dishwasher, at which point my nearly never used dishwashing detergent went back under the sink.

Anyway, I was looking for a cute, stylish way to hold business cards on my desk and remembered the little Pyrex refrigerator box I picked up at a thrift because I loved the color but never really had any use for. The size and shape is perfect for storing the cards, and I’ve even put some in the lid for easier access.

Iconic Style: The LBD

It is something nearly every woman has in her wardrobe (or should), the Little Black Dress is that go-to item that can be dressed up or down for many occasions. It is easy to wear, simple enough that it can be transformed with accessories, timeless, and seasonless.

Catherine Malandrino silk dress with morning glory appliques

A 1926 issue of Vogue published a picture of a calf length simple black dress designed by Coco Chanel, which they called “Chanel’s Ford,” meaning it was basic and accessible to women of all social classes. They also said it would become “a sort of uniform for women of all taste.”

Maggie London velvet gown with lace inset

Prior to the 1920s black was often reserved for mourning. During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, a widow wore several stages of mourning dress over a period of at least two years. The first year she was in deep, or full, mourning and her dress was plain black with no ornamentation. In the second year she could wear black silk and toward the end of the year embellish with black ribbon, lace, embroidery, or jet jewelry. The final six months, or “half mourning” period, allowed for muted or neutral colors with shades of purple being common. Because deaths were common in the early 20th century as a result of WWI and the Spanish flu, it became more common for women to be seen in public wearing black, leading the way to Chanel’s design and the use of black dresses in Hollywood movies, which interesting were preferred with the introduction of Technicolor because bright colors looked distorted on screen.

I.N.C. lace hem cocktail dress

The LBD remained popular through the Depression because it was economical and elegant, and during WWII when textiles were rationed it became part of a standard business uniform, conservatively accessorized, for women entering the workforce for the first time.

Jones New York beaded cocktail dress

The post-war era and conservatism of the 1950s brought the LBD around to the look of the femme fatale who was contrasted with the more wholesome housewife character by Hollywood. The introduction of synthetic fibers in this time also broadened the affordability of the dress and widened its appeal.
In the 1960s, the younger, mod generation pushed the fashion envelope with shorter versions of the dress, often with cutouts, slits, sheer fabrics and tulle. Other women of this time preferred more elegant and classic designs, such as the iconic dress designed by Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Tulle black velvet party dress

Currently the LBD runs the gamut from wrinkle-resistant knits that can be tossed in a suitcase for travel and dressed up or down, simple sheaths that can take the wearer from the boardroom to a dinner date with a simple change of accessories, and more elaborate cocktail dresses that are only trotted out after dark. While most are black, charcoal gray, chocolate brown, and nudes also work equally well and deliver the same results with a more modern twist.

Jones New York charcoal gray dress

H&M ruffled party dress

Finding Your Inspiration

Inspiration can come from many places – magazines and catalogs, other peoples’ homes, a favorite motif, pattern or color, nature, architecture. Lately for me it has been a specific object. For my master bedroom it was this lamp, picked up at Marshall’s for $30-$40.

It is not at all my typical style – more modern than my Shabby-Chic-Meets-Pottery-Barn-in-the-90s look (which I’m slowly trying to update and modernize), and it’s blue when I’ve always favored greens. Anyway, once the lamp was purchased, the Target melamine plates and Dwell Studio for Target bedding and striped 100% no-iron cotton sheets from Target joined our household.

Mirror Arrangement

I’m in the process of painting my old dressers dark brown to coordinate with the new dresser and the vanity in the adjoining master bath. For the bed, I’m thinking of an aqua blue palette something like this one from Pottery Barn’s teen collection (even though I am far from my teenhood). It is hard for me to commit to color because I do like to change out linens and such with the seasons.


Pottery Barn Coraline Bed in Charlotte Blue

The time has also come to tackle the mess of an office-guest-room-storage-space (it’s too messy to even show you a picture. Really) and fortunately I recently scored a pair of vintage Loewenstein cane backed chairs from the thrift and some killer yellowish-green lattice print upholstery fabric that have me swooning and very inspired.

Quincy and Chloe are also inspired by our new chairs.

I see lots of great furniture cast-offs on my thrifting trips, and mostly I think “yeah, that would be great if I felt like doing a project, but I don’t” so these chairs must be really special to have inspired me so and they were only $11/pair – go look at what Loewensteins charges for similar chairs in their catalog. Yes, that is $670+ per chair! Score! The plan is to paint the chairs white and redo the seats with the fabric, which was only $3 for 3 yards, get a mattress for the antique brass bed I’ve been storing for years (still on the fence on what to do about the finish – it was painted brown at one time, kind of shabby chic now) and use it as a day bed with some of the extra fabric from the chairs as pillows. I shopped long and hard many years ago for a library table to use for the computer, but I wish there was a way to hide all the electronics junk without getting rid of my desk (I have an idea for that that might work involving my “just hide it all behind a curtain” strategy below – stay tuned).

The one drawback to this room is that it has no closet. I have a cheap shelving unit and dresser that are functional and in good condition, just not very inspiring, and a vanity that I’ve had basically all of my life that I’m not willing to part with and that will serve well for a sewing table, so the plan for right now is to line all of those up along the wall with the “big ugly mirror I haven’t been able to work around” attached to it and then use IKEA’s Kvartal track system and panels to just hide it all. Eventually I’d love to do a built-in custom system. I’ve physically rearranged the room 2 or 3 times in the past year and finally sat down and drew out a measured floor plan with furniture cut-outs so I could rearrange on paper and I think I’m going to do one more rearrange and hopefully be done. Fortunately I don’t think I have to move and rewire computer equipment this time. Anyway, stay tuned, maybe in a year I’ll have this done. I’m hoping the mood board below helps speed me along though, ‘cause I really am sick of this mess.

Thrifty Lamp Makeover

Thrifty Lamp Before

You may remember the $3.75 lamp I posted a few weeks ago. It was brass and medium toned wood with a burlap drum shade. Well, I’m happy to announce, its transformation is complete! I took it apart, taped it off and spray painted the brass parts silver with a metallic paint. I sanded the base parts first with a sanding sponge which gave me a nice brushed finish but because I’m lazy did not sand the smaller bits, which came out smoother. I think I like the brushed look best. It took several coats of paint to coat everything – remember, with paint, many light layers are better than one heavy one.

I gave the spray paint a few days to dry (one is probably enough, that is just how long it took me to get back to it) and then taped off the silver and with a cheapy foam brush painted the wood with some Ralph Lauren Edwardian Burgundy I had left from this dresser makeover. Once the paint was dry (sort of, I was getting excited at this point) I put in the new cord, which is super easy to do (just follow the directions on the package or look for a reputable site online with directions). I had a white one on hand from another project I haven’t gotten to yet, I may change it out for a dark one eventually as I plan to paint the dresser this lamp is sitting on dark someday.

In between the spray painting stage and the wood painting stage I worked on the shade. I had a nice piece of brown grosgrain ribbon that came around the Dwell Studio for Target quilt I’d purchased earlier in the year so I just wrapped that around the top and tied it in a bow. It seems to be holding, but I could add a dot of hot glue if needed.

So here it is, my “new” lamp, which cost me under $10.

I saw this idea years ago and have had is squirreled away in the recesses of my mind waiting for a chance to use it. Finally, I’ve come up with the perfect spot! Basic materials you need are a picture frame or two, some backing fabric, some silverware, and a glue gun. My frames are antiques that belonged to my grandmother, but more modern frames would work too. My original idea for background fabric was velvet, but Joann’s did not have the taupe I was looking for. I wandered around the store for awhile trying to come up with something else, when I stumbled upon burlap in the back corner (talk about your 180-degree turns – velvet, burlap, velvet, burlap). It was cheap (about $3/yard I think and I only needed 1/2 yard), the color I wanted, and I thought would look great. A nice patterned fabric would also probably work too or a tone on tone texture). The silverware is a mix of my baby fork and spoon and some thrift store purchases – it is all silver plated, the forks I researched when I bought and I think they are 19th century.

I removed the glass and the prints from my frames and wrapped the wooden backings in the burlap. The wood was pretty fragile so I just used some painters tape to hold it so I wouldn’t stress it, if you’re working with a sturdier frame, hot glue or staples would probably do the trick. Once I had my backgrounds back in the frame and taped down, I just hot glued the silverware to the fabric. This should make it pretty easy to remove when the silver needs to be polished. I hung my new art one on top of the other and voila! Instant, easy, and cheap artwork.

Along similar lines, Real Simple just featured this jewelry display, which I also really like. In this case, pieces are just pinned to a backing, which is probably some sort of foam core or homosote under the fabric, and the display can change daily as you add and remove different pieces. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for a large frame to pull something like this off.