Thursday, March 29, 2012

Brass hardware makeover

I'm going to show you how I made the old, original hardware on my desk look new again! If you missed the post about the desk makeover yesterday, click here.

Take a look at the before and after! This hardware was in bad shape!

I used Centsational Girl's tips on polishing brass hardware. I used nearly all of her suggestions, so I'm going to take you through them, and tell you which ones did and didn't work for me.

The first thing I had to do was to figure out if my hardware was real brass or just brass plated. According to the tips in her post, my hardware was real brass because a magnet would not stick to it. If it was brass plated, a magnet would stick, since iron or steel would be the base underneath.

Since I knew it was real brass, I started by soaking it in a mixture of salt and lemon juice. I didn't measure the amounts of each, but it was a sort of runny paste, just enough to cover the hardware.

I soaked it for about 20 minutes and then took it out and started polishing it with a microfiber rag. I made very little progress with this method even after lots of polishing. I didn't even take a picture of the hardware after this step, because you couldn't tell that I did anything to it!

At that point, I decided to switch to brass polish, to see if I'd have better luck. I used Hope's Brass Polish which I had on hand. I soaked it in the polish for about 20 minutes, then took it out and started polishing. I could already tell that this method was going to work much better than the salt and lemon juice! See how the tarnish is starting to come off?

This is what it looked like after lots of polishing!

I was so happy that I was able to get all of the tarnish off, but I wasn't happy with the uneven finish and how it looked silvery in some areas. I don't know if that's because I polished it too much, or if the hardware was just too old and worn to be brought back to life completely. 

Either way, I decided to use Rub 'n Buff in Gold Leaf to warm up the finish and even it out. 

Finally, I got the result I was looking for! A warm, golden finish!

I did have some trouble with the application though. I rubbed it on with my finger (as the instructions suggest) and it sort of got clumpy in areas and started rubbing off in places when I added a second coat. You can see that a little bit on the handle on the left side. 

Overall, I'm still very happy with the finish! 

What do you guys think of the hardware now?! 

Have you restored old, tarnished hardware before? Let me know if you have any tips to share!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Desk makeover reveal!

I'm so happy with how my desk turned out, and I hope you like it too! If you missed the original post on this, go here to read more. Now, on to the fun stuff....the pictures!

Let me take you through the makeover process. These are the steps that I used to transform this piece, but they will also work for any furniture you want to paint for a new, fresh look! 

Step 1: Remove hardware. Fix any holes, cracks, or other damage with wood filler. If you plan on using new hardware, you may need to patch the holes from the old hardware and drill new ones later. Let the wood filler dry, then sand it.

I used this wood filler, but any will do:

There was a chunk of wood missing on one side of the drawer:

I managed to patch it with wood filler, just using my hands and building it up to look like it did originally. This is before sanding:

After sanding...not looking too pretty:

Step 2: Remove any drawers. Give your piece and all drawers one coat of primer and let it dry for the amount of time specified on the can.

I used this primer because I had it on hand, but any will do. This particular primer smells to high heaven, so I'd recommend not using it, unless you really have to! There are many more user-friendly primers out there, like this one that I used for the nursery furniture

To apply my primer, I like to use an inexpensive paint brush that I can throw away after, since primer is difficult to get out of a brush (especially the shellac-based one that I used!). Your coat of primer will look streaky and uneven, like this:

Step 3: Apply your paint. Use a good quality angled brush, like this one, to cut in around your corners and any other areas that cannot be reached by a small roller. 

Use a mini roller, like these to paint the rest of your furniture. These rollers will give you a nice smooth finish without any brush strokes. Let your paint dry for several hours and do a second coat, if needed (this piece needed one).

Step 4: After your final coat of paint has dried, apply a protective clear coat. I used Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic in Satin. Apply this with a good quality brush. You can't use the mini rollers for this step, because they will cause the clear coat to bubble, and you won't get a smooth finish. Allow your clear coat to dry for the amount of time indicated on the can (usually 24 hours) before normal use.

Step 5: Attach your hardware. I used the original hardware, so I didn't need to drill new holes, but you might need to if you're using new hardware. I also lined the backs of the shelves, the inside of the drawer, and the entire back side of this desk for a finishing touch! I used pretty wrapping paper and attached it with double stick tape. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but the print on the paper is a silvery metallic.

More pictures of the finished desk:

I also decided to add the wrapping paper to the back of the desk, since it can be seen from many angles throughout my house:

Coming up to the main level:

Looking down from the 3rd level of the house:

Coming down the stairs to the main level:

One more before and after shot for fun:

I hope you enjoyed the makeover!

I'm going to take my time styling the desk and I'll update you when I do! 

In the meantime, come back tomorrow to see how I brought the original hardware back to life!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What I wore

Actually, I should call this "what I almost wore". We went to a friend's house for dinner (Hi Lynn!) this past Saturday with Audrey and I changed into my gold JCrew flip flops at the last minute. I figured carrying Audrey around all night wearing high-heeled boots wouldn't be the most comfortable choice.

I think I'll definitely wear this with the boots in the future though!

DressJCrew Zip-front T-shirt dress, first seen here.

Boots: Enzo Angiolini, similar here.

Bracelet: Target, similar here.

Silver ring: Tiffany Somerset Ring

I have lots of fun stuff coming up for you guys...crock pot/freezer meals, the desk reveal, and more, so stick around!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Giovanni Dtox System Purifying Facial Scrub

I don't think this is a new product by any means, but it's new to me, so I wanted to share my find with you! I found this exfoliant during a trip to Whole Foods. Strange, but true! I ran over for a few groceries without Audrey one night, and I had some fun perusing the beauty product aisle.

(as you can tell by the looks of this bottle, my exfoliant is well used and loved!)

I wasn't looking for an exfoliant in particular, but this one caught my eye.

It contains activated charcoal to extract impurities, volcanic ash to dislodge pollutants, and acai and goji berry to detoxify and recharge cells.

Reading that alone had me sold. It just sounded pretty awesome, and so much more than just an exfoliant.

I've been using it once a day for over a month now, and I can say that I highly recommend it! It's probably the most gentle, yet effective exfoliant I've used. It doesn't leave my skin red, irritated or overly dry. After just the first use, I noticed my skin was immediately softer and smoother, and it has only gotten better over time.

This exfoliant is actually step 2 of a 3 part system from Giovanni, and based on how much I love this scrub, I'd be very interested to try the whole system.

Another great thing about this product and all products in the Dtox System), is that 5% of all sales are donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

This scrub is definitely a new staple in my beauty routine! If you're looking for an exfoliating scrub, I really think you'll like this one! It retails for $9.95 and you can purchase it here.

Hope you're all having a great Monday!

Friday, March 23, 2012

JCrew & NY&Co nursing-friendly finds!

Can you tell that I've been doing more shopping for clothes lately?! It's been so warm here (in the 70's) and most of my nursing tops are long sleeved. Not to mention, I only have one pair of pants that fit me, other than leggings.

Still, I'm trying to hold off on buying new pants because I think (and hope) I'll get back down to my normal size and be able to wear the ones I already have!

So, in the meantime, I've been on the hunt for nursing-friendly tops and now dresses too. If you read this post, you know how I feel about most nursing tops...they're expensive, and generally not cute at all! So here are a few recent finds that are super cute, season appropriate, and just happen to be perfect for nursing, too!

JCrew Rugby-Stripe Dress

Why I love it: Usually I'm not a fan of stripes on me. I just never feel quite right in them, but I saw this dress online and couldn't help but love it, especially for the sale price of $59.99. I thought the colors were great and I'm in love with the gold button detail. Of course, my number one attraction to this dress was the fact that it can be buttoned down to nurse, but it's still super cute and doesn't scream, "I'm a nursing mother!".

I think it will be easy to throw on to run errands with Audrey and still look put together without much effort....which is key for me these days when she gives me about 3 minutes to get dressed!

How it fits: I ordered this dress in a size Small and it was a bit too big for me. I called JCrew's customer service, and talked to the nicest rep who let me exchange it for an XS (even though it was supposed to be a final sale item). I would say it fits true to size, but it's not meant to be very fitted in the first place, so if you think you might be in between sizes, order the smaller size.

JCrew Zip-Front T-Shirt Dress

Why I love it: Can you believe it's another stripe?! I really think these are the first striped pieces I've owned. Seriously. I wasn't sure of this dress at first when I saw it online, but I went to try it on in the store and I was instantly sold. It is so flattering and I feel a little like Jackie-O in it, which is always a good thing! It's a really nice weight cotton, so it doesn't cling to your body in the wrong way, and you don't need to worry about it being see-through. And of course, the front zips down so I can nurse, and the gold zipper is so pretty!

At $88 it was a mini-splurge for me, but I worried that if I waited for a sale, my size would be sold out. This is perfect for the weather we're having now, and I think it will transition nicely into fall with boots, tights and a scarf. It's really such a versatile piece that I feel justified paying full price! And once again, it's something that I can just throw on without much thought, yet I feel cute and put together...not like a frumpy mom!

How it fits: The cut is generous, I'd recommend sizing down at least one size. I bought the XXS, which I never dreamed would fit me!

NY&Co Shirred Cowl-Neck Tee

Why I love it: NY&Co isn't a store I normally shop in, but I thought I would just walk in to see what they might have. I'm glad that I did because this top is perfect for nursing. You can just pull the cowl neck down without affecting the shape of the shirt at all, and it's very affordable! It comes in a bunch of cute colors for spring, and right now they're on sale for $13.47! Strangely, they don't show these tops online at that price. The link above will show you the top only in Regal Rose and for $29.95, but if you go to your local store, they'll be there for the sale price! I ended up buying the top in Vanity Pink (shown above), Caribbean Green, and Black.

How it fits: I think the cut on this top is a little bit generous because of all the shirring and draping. I'm wearing the size small in this picture, but it was a little bit big on me, so I went with the XS instead.

I hope these finds are helpful to you! Have you gone shopping for clothes lately? Tell me about your finds!

Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Desk move

Recently, I decided that we needed a small piece of furniture for this spot as you come up the stairs into the dining room:

Our dining room table has become a catch-all for things like keys, receipts, and change since it happens to be the piece of furniture nearest the landing on the main level. My sweet husband especially likes to drop things there at the end of the day, so it usually looks like quite a mess. I figured that by putting a small table in that spot next to the railing, it would be the new, designated drop spot for all those odds and ends, and reduce the dining room table clutter.

My original thought was to go thrift shopping for a piece that I could refinish for this spot, but instead, I decided to use a piece we already had.

You might recognize this desk from our den/guest room where I was using it as a nightstand (and to store a lot of candles and candleholders I wasn't using!)

I have plans to rearrange that room anyway (more on that later), so I figured it couldn't hurt to move this little desk upstairs for now. It's a pretty old piece that I've had since I was a little girl and I think a coat of paint is now in order!

It's not in perfect shape, but it is real wood, so I thought it would be the ideal candidate for a paint job.

I decided that I would paint it a shade of blue for something fun and a little more interesting than plain old white (which is usually my go-to color when painting furniture!). Here are some images I found on Pinterest for color inspiration!

The desk is almost done getting its makeover, so I can't wait to share it with you soon! Are you doing any furniture painting now or in the near future? Do you have a designated drop spot for all of the stuff that comes into the house at the end of the day? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My best friend's performing arts school

Today I wanted to share something a little bit different with you. Below is a video about Bucks County School of the Performing Arts. It's my friend Andrea, and her husband, Bryan's school. They opened it last fall in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. You might remember them from their house tour that I shared back in December. I've also had a button for their school up on my sidebar for a couple of months now, so in case you were wondering what that was, now you will know!

First, a little bit about Andrea and Bryan:

Andrea is the most beautiful and talented dancer, and Bryan is an amazing singer and performer. Together, they're living out their dreams by helping the youth of Pennsylvania to reach their full potential as artists and performers.

I love them both dearly, and I'm so very proud of them for all they have accomplished through opening their very own school. I could not be more excited for them!

Please take a couple minutes to watch their video, and if you are local to Bucks County, PA, consider sending your little performers there, or take classes yourself! They have a few for adults, too!

I only wished we lived closer, because Audrey and I would definitely be students!

Thanks for taking a minute watch!

Thanks Ann & Bry for letting me share a little bit about you and your school with everyone! I love you both so much and I'm so absolutely thrilled for you! Xoxo

Monday, March 19, 2012

Goodwill find-cane settee!

I am so excited about this find! I went to Goodwill last Thursday looking for shelves and maybe a dresser or table that I could refinish for various little corners of the house. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find this beauty!

I instantly fell in love with it! I'm pretty sure it called my name and said, "take me home!". The price tag on it said $30. WHAT? I couldn't believe it. I was fully expecting it to be over $100.

I text Josh this picture with the words "I want", and when he quickly text back, "ok", I was so confused! I expected him to ask what this ugly thing was, and to beg me not to bring it home!

I took advantage of his cooperation and snatched this up before someone else did!

It's not in perfection condition, though. There are a few cracks in the frame and a small area of the cane is broken (you can see it on the left side), but overall it's sturdy, and I'm pretty sure I can repair the few flaws it has.

I'm going to do a little more research on it before I start messing with it. I'm pretty sure it's not a real antique, but I just want to double check!

What do you guys think of this piece - ugly or awesome?! Do I have any antique experts reading who can weigh in on it's age or value?!

Stay tuned for updates on where I'll be putting this, and what I'll do to give it a little makeover!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cute find-Ann Taylor Loft shorts!

Hi everyone! I hope you're having a great weekend! I wanted to quickly share this super cute find with you! I was out with Audrey and my friend Rebekah yesterday, when we walked into Ann Taylor Loft just to browse and see what they had. First let me say, I haven't really been shopping for myself in a while, aside from maternity and nursing tops. I'm not back down to my normal size yet, but I'm hoping I'll get there, so I've been avoiding buying new clothes in my current size as much as possible.

I couldn't help but try these on though: (sorry about the blurry pics!)

The scalloped, embroidered edge is killing me! You can see more detail in this picture:

They were so comfortable, too. I just couldn't bring myself to spend $49.50 on them. I'm definitely going to wait for a sale or look for a coupon, though. They're just too adorable! I think they'd be perfect to throw on with a summer top for a put together look that it still comfy and casual. Here's the link if you love them as much as I do!

I also tried these on:

I really wanted them in the pink color (you can see a glimpse of them on the bench behind me in the first picture), but they didn't have my size! They're more reasonably priced at $39.50, but I think I will still hope for a sale or a coupon since it's only March! I feel like I get get a better deal if I wait a bit. Here's the link to shop online. The pink color is "Vivid Rose"'s adorable!

I'll keep you updated if I come across a sale or coupon! Did you go shopping this weekend? Let me know in the comments!

Enjoy your Sunday!

Becky, one of my readers, informed me that you can use the code "spring" online to save $25 on a $50 purchase! Thanks Becky! My shorts have been in my shopping cart all day, but I haven't pulled the trigger just yet!
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