Month of Makeovers Day 4: And there was light! Um, sorta.

Hard to believe, but we’ve been renovating LurayVille for nearly a year now. The foundation for the addition was poured early last November. We’ve had the plans for eight years, drawn up after many many back & forths with an architect friend, so it’s been a long time coming.  And a long time getting built!


That’s our builder there. We’ll call him Mr. Darcy, because he’s British and good-looking and single. I don’t know about the “income of 10,000 pounds a year” part.

As Mr. Darcy set up the framing for the addition, the first impact it had on our old living space was in the stairhall to the second floor. Read the rest of this entry »

Month of Makeovers Day 3: The sum is greater than the parts

My name is Janeray and I am a trash picker. I once backed up my car on a busy street in a downpour to rescue a chair from the trash. At the time I was in the process of collecting similar-but-different chairs for my dining room. The chair I spied coordinated perfectly. It was FREE! And it was so waterlogged that it fell apart when I picked it up. I was drenched, feeling foolish, and all I had to show for it was a part of the chair’s back.

Last week I found the broken piece under a box in my storage area. I knew it had potential to be a great mixer with the right parts.

Symmetry always looks better to me, so I hammered off the rest of the frame.


Next up was two quick coats of Annie Sloan chalk paint and a light topping of wax.

Now for the “what if I?” part. The swirly wood needed something substantial to visually anchor the bottom. What if I added a tin box made by my grandfather? I’d already tried hanging the box as a catch-all for my keys and sunglasses, but it seemed small and insignificant on the wall by itself. One decorative tack later and it became the base of a growing arrangement.

What if I added lots of cup hooks? I could display jewelry or hang keys. Then I thought of something better. What if I added the last stained glass butterfly from the dozens my father made as favors for his retirement party? It used to hang over his workbench in a mosaic of tools, parts and memories. Now the workshop is gone and he is, too. I wanted to keep his glass butterfly and hand lettered cardboard together.

This is the perfect place for them. It will help me remember that there is always enough time to do what matters if I do what matters first.

I love the way the colors sing along with the red walls in our library!

See the entire list of projects for our Month of Makeovers HERE.

Month of Makeovers Day 2: Start with a clean slate!

Two weeks ago I scored a stack of antique roofing slates from a renovation down the street. The roofers had shoveled the slates right onto the ground . . . from three stories up. Most of them were smashed. (The slates, that is. Maybe the roofers were smashed, too, who knows? Imagine it: thousands of pieces of fragile, hand-cut stone  survive 110 freezing New England winters and then a couple guys take turns throwing them on the ground. Luray pulling her curly hair out>)  I picked through the trash piles a bit and pulled out a few that, amazingly, had made it down intact.

Hmmm, what to do with them? (That’s right, rescue good stuff first, then figure out how you’re going to use it. Junking 101, boys and girls. There will be a test next week.)

How about dressy little chalkboards?  I selected some likely-looking slates from the stack


and started them off with a bubble bath.


Just kidding about the yellow ducky. I used a real scrub brush. And promptly broke the first slate because I scrubbed it while it was propped against the side of the sink.  Too much pressure for that skinny slate! The second one was laid flat in the sink for its beauty treatment. No breaks. Yay!

Okay, we got ourselves the proverbial clean slate here! Now it’s decision time. Since I’m using Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, I could paint the entire slate for a completely nontraditional chalkboard. Or I could paint just a rectangle in the center, for a reverse-chalkboard effect. Or I can go with a colorful border. I decide to play it safe and go with the color border. After all, there are 19 other slates to experiment on.

yellow tape

Frog Tape, which I’ve never used before, helps mark off the edges. I wonder if it’ll work on the uneven surface of the slate? I trim the tape with an X-Acto knife, very carefully to avoid scoring the soft stone.

Paint time! I choose Barcelona Orange, a hot color that’ll look awesome in my laundry room. It takes three coats to get an opaque finish on the dark stone.

orange paint

I decide to skip the wax finish. I’d rather see the paint age and chip off a bit over time, just like the slate. So once the paint is dry, off comes the tape. Nice straight edges—the Frog Tape worked! I’m adding this stuff to my bag of Favorite Tools. Then I rummage through my sewing stash for a leather bootlace. A weaver’s knot through each nailing hole and I’m done!


Nineteen more to go!

See the entire list of projects for our Month of Makeovers HERE.

Month of Makeovers Day 1: Mirror makeover makeover

Yep, the headline isn’t a typo. I thought redoing this old mirror would be a quick and easy Day One project to get started on our month of what-have-I-got-myself-into. HA! Joke’s on me.

mirrorIt came home with me this summer after it hung in a dark corner of my parents’ basement for ages. The exposed copper wire on the back didn’t look very classy. It had to go. But when I went to remove it both decorative side hooks cracked off. How did hardware with the strength of graham crackers hold up for so many years? This mirror should’ve fallen off the wall in 1972.

Once I removed the broken hardware bits there were two gaping holes in the wood. I plugged them with Elmer’s wood putty. (No photos. Sorry!) It got a couple coats of Annie Sloan Emperor’s Silk chalk paint finished with a buffed coat of Annie Sloan wax. Then it went to the Vintage Bazaar. Not one person picked it up. Not one! Guess no one likes red as much as I do. Or maybe it just wasn’t a good weekend for mirrors. Or maybe it just needs to have a makeover makeover. redmirror

This time I decided to go green. I used Annie Sloan chalk paint again because it doesn’t require any prep. No sanding off the wax that’s already on the frame. Cool! This jadeite green is my own custom mix color. A stockist in NJ graciously and kindly agreed to try to create the color for me more than a year ago. What I got from her was so dark I had to keep mixing it with off white to get a light jadeite green. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Actually, there’s no reason to use such fancy schmancy paint on a tiny project like this. Craft store acrylic paint in a small, cheap bottle would work every bit as well. I only used the paint on the lid to cover the entire frame with a thick coat. After the paint dried it got another coat of wax. painting

Another thing I claimed from my dad’s former workshop was a jar full of vintage plastic tacks. I assume they were used for upholstery. Who knows? They’re all different sizes and have wonderful textures. They’d be kinda lost on upholstery. On a mirror you might actually notice their detail.tacks

My original plan was to hammer the tacks in, but the wood on this frame is so stinking hard the metal pins bend over without making a dent. Ack! This is not the optimal outcome I envisioned. Instead of a couple minutes of hammering I now have a choice. I can drill a hundred tiny holes or snip off the metal pins and glue the little plastic buttons on. Snipping and gluing seems easier than precision drilling, but it totally defeats the purpose of using tacks. I could have raided my button box or gone to a craft store for some doodads. Sigh. Maybe it’s for the best. Me + hammer + mirror would probably end up with a broken mirror. I get ManRay to find snipper thingies. And I wear glasses so flying bits of metal don’t end up in my eyes. snipping

The next step is Amazing Goop. Somehow it seems more serious than hot glue, and better because even though it gets all over your hands it doesn’t burn. It just stinks. We open all the windows while I carefully gloop the back of each bead and lower them into place. And then the best part–we go out to dinner because we have a gas stove and the fumes from the glue would be terrible if I cooked. (How’s that for awesomely accidental outcomes?) goop

When we get home from dinner I polish the glass and hang the made over makeover mirror on the wall. Not bad. And it’s not midnight yet! Day One done under the wire! onwall

See the entire list of projects for our Month of Makeovers HERE.

Month of Makeovers

makeover Collage

Welcome to our very first Month of Madness…er…Makeovers! For the entire 31 days of October 2013 we’re joining the fun with hundreds of other bloggers at the big link party hosted by The Nester.

It’s junk transformation time! How could we pass up the ultimate opportunity to start–and finish!–all those projects we thought we might complete someday? Someday is NOW. We’ve got all sorts of interesting vintage things stashed away that need just a little magic to become extra special–or just plain useable. We might even have a decorating project or two up our sleeves. We hope you’ll stick around to see what we’ve got in store. Links to all the month’s posts will be listed below.

Day 1: Mirror makeover makeover
Day 2: Start with a clean slate
Day 3: The sum is greater than the parts
Day 4: And there was light! Um, sorta.
Day 5: When life gives you placemats
Day 6: Vera meets shady hardware
Day 7: Curvy, chrome-y, Cosco love!
Day 8: Hey, hey, it’s a monkey!
Day 9: Fear of fabric and other lies I tell myself
Day 10: It’s our Thursday Hack Flashback!
Day 11: Five ways to use Very Large Clear Glass Beads
Day 12: The rust of the story
Day 13: A record breaking experiment
Day 14: It’s happy hour!
Day 15: Painted furniture FAIL
Day 16: Veggie makeovers
Day 17: Thursday Hack Flashback with Crullers
Day 18: On Halloween Pins & Needles
Day 19: Furniture FAIL redemption, maybe
Day 21: A purse goes wild and woolly
Day 20-1/2: I’ve got mail!
Day 23: From trashy hardware to flashy centerpiece
Day 24: Thursday Hack Flashback: Old Joe Crow perches on my porch
Day 25: I get by with a little help
Day 26: The lingerie model gets a makeover
Day 27: A craftsman remakes a worn out jacket
Day 29: iPad goes primitive
Day 30: Lucky charms