Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

July 31, 2013

Velvet Volition: Teal + Aqua Velvet Chairs

Hubs and I went to our favorite upholsterer on Monday (the same folks who did the mint chair - Kessels, for Ottawa readers) and short-listed some fabrics for the mid-century chair we found curbside.

We debated fixing it up but we finally decided to go for it, for four simple reasons:
  1. It has such a sweet and funny memory attached to it.
  2. I figured out it will work with our new living room floor plan (details Friday)!
  3. It was free!  We're already ahead of the game cost-wise.
  4. Hubs and I both love the lines of the piece.
I decided I wanted a turquoise tweed, like the turquoise Papa I mooned over.

I brought in a snippet of the turquoise and mint fabric from our other mid-century chair as a guide for the shade of aqua I was after.

Turquoise and mint green upholstery fabric

Together with the gals at Kessels, we rounded up a healthy selection of tweeds, but also a few velvets.  I never would have considered velvet because I thought it was too traditional and hard to care for.

Velvet chair in bedroom
BHG - Velvet too traditional??
Turns out some velvet can be 100,000+ Wyzenbeek double rubs and lots of upholstery fabric is only 15,000-20,000 (basically, the higher the number, the more durable the fabric).  As soon as we got home with the samples I axed quite a few for being far too blue, too blah, too bold, to printy.

Choosing aqua upholstery fabric

In the end, one tweed remained but because it was shot with navy, it was a smidge too blue.

Teal tweed

The velvets won our hearts!  Surprise, surprise.  I just love the sheen, the way the fabric catches the light, and the gloriously saturated hues of my two favorites.  We're still going to sleep on it some more, but it looks like I might be adding a little velvet to my plans.  Unfortunately, my favorite pick is impossible to photograph.  Can you believe the two photos below are of the same fabric?!? And neither is accurate!

teal velvet

In real life, it's similar to this one but a tiny smidge more blue:

To be sure I'll like the look (it's easy to love a swatch, after all, but a whole chair is another story), I rounded up some inspiration.  Why have I never considered velvet before?

Green velvet dining chairs
Nate Berkus (via Love on Sunday)
Aqua velvet dining chairs
Nate Berkus
Aqua velvet chair
via Dust Jacket
Aqua velvet chair
Emily Henderson
Teal velvet chairs
via Song of Style - also very similar, but a smidge bluer than mine.
Aqua velvet chair
The Design Files
Aqua velvet chair
Bjork Studio

What was the runner up you ask?  In the store I fell in love with a pale turquoise, almost robin's egg blue that reminded me of this chair . . .

Pale blue mid-century modern chair
Apartment Therapy
. . . but once home, it really dominated the space and made our artwork look dull!  It's also a lot bluer than the turquoise art and accessories we have, and so it clashes a bit.  It also has such a crazy sheen that it almost looks bridal.  It photographs really nicely though.  I kind of want it more as I type this . . .


July 29, 2013

Could Have Been: Another Lake Superior House

We close on the lakehouse tomorrow.  It will officially be ours!!  It's weird that it's 1500km away because I'm itching to paint and decorate!  Soon, I hope, soon.  In the meantime, another lakehouse we secretly ogled has since sold.  Curious?

We ultimately decided against this one because:
  1. It has a much larger living space than we need, and it's massively high ceilings would cost a small fortune to heat.
  2. While I love the main floor layout, the second floor is very small and awkward: there is a bathroom separating the two tiny bedrooms, so it would have been a huge task to combine the bedrooms to one that would suit our needs (the master is on the main floor, by the front door).
  3. It is more deserted than our lakehouse, which is private but has handy neighbors.
  4. There is weird red clay out that way that coats vehicles with red dust.  It would drive a tidy freak like me insane.
  5. Overall, it needed a lot of work, aesthetically (unfortunately, those floors are laminate!) but also with maintenance, etc.
Despite these drawbacks, I really liked this home and had dreamed up some ideas!  Hubby was not at all taken with it, even though it was much less expensive than ours.  Our realtor was also really opposed.  But look at what a cutie it is!

The view is . . . I'm speechless.
The guesthouse/sauna

I can't express enough how much I loved this living room/dining room layout.  More than our place, actually, because it's just so huge!  So much potential for furniture layouts - I envisioned separate television-watching and lake-watching areas (like our lakehouse rental).  Ours, as you'll soon see, is a little limited.  The kitchen had potential too: I pictured a beautiful island in a bright hue, contrasted with crisp white cabinetry.  The height of the ceilings would have accommodated some really statement-making light fixtures!

The spaceship shower was inevitable.

It seems space portal showers and teeny guesthouse/saunas are de rigueur with lakehouses in Northwestern Ontario.  I'm happy to see this great property has sold.  I hope the new owners love it as much as we love our place.  Do you think it would be weird if I knocked on their door with some mood boards and floor plan ideas?

P.S.  Haven't I seen that garage on an episode of Criminal Minds??
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July 26, 2013

Book Review: Annie Sloan's Color Recipes for Painted Furniture

It seems that Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint is quickly becoming the brand of choice for many DIY enthusiasts, so when I was offered a chance to review her book, Color Recipes for Painted Furniture, I welcomed the opportunity.

Annie Sloan's Color Recipes for Painted Furniture

The one thing that kept me from trying Chalk Paint is that until I went looking for modern projects using Annie's brand of paint, I had seen a lot of DIY bloggers using it to create a distressed or antique finish, which can be really pretty but just isn't the look I'm going for.  Annie Sloan's book covers 40 different projects and has something for everyone's aesthetic, including some really innovative ideas (and instructions to do them properly!).  The book is organized into styles - French Style, Boho Chic, Swedish Style, Country and Modern Contemporary.  Some of my favorite projects include a very Scandinavian-looking painted floor:

How to paint a floor with chalk paint

A shiny black bureau with a bright red interior (although in her sketches, she contemplated teal as well):

Shiny black bureau with chalk paint

A stunning striped dresser, topped with a piece of marble (I love this idea for a larger dresser used as a sideboard in a dining room):

Striped chalk paint dresser

This is my favorite idea - using her Chalk Paint to dye fabric:

Dye fabric with chalk paint

Each project has gloriously large, full colour "after" shots, including a series of how-to photos with extensive instructions and tips.  The book is very personal and chronicles the renovation and decoration of Annie's farmhouse in France (drool), making it feel like a fast-tracked version of some of my favorite DIY decorating blogs.

Annie Sloan's Color Recipes for Painted Furniture

Annie recommends her paint brand (which sounds fabulous: no priming, no sanding, and a lovely matte finish!), but explains that you can use her ideas with your paint of choice as well.  But this book has definitely made me want to try her Chalk Paint.  She begins with pages of tips for mixing paint and understanding the colour wheel, which is key to producing custom colours (I love that idea)!  And the fact that Chalk Paint is good for dying fabric, painting floors, painting furniture - she even paints a vintage tub! - makes it sound so enticing.  I found a stockist in Ottawa and I'm thinking Annie's "Provence" might be perfect for my turquoise kitchen cupboard plans!  It's very similar to the turquoise shades I short-listed (I'm trying to match my turquoise Pyrex!).  I'm going to see a sample in-store this weekend.

Annie Sloan's Color Recipes for Painted Furniture
Projects from: Sand & Sisal, Southern Hospitality, and Malenka Originals

Although every project has a ton of photos, I love the little sketches included.  I have some ideas for furniture projects for the lakehouse and I've been making similar little sketches every time an idea strikes - using hydro bills, my research notes and receipts to quickly sketch out a plan or jot down an idea!

I was provided a copy for review but not prompted or paid to write a positive review.  Nor was I encouraged to write about or try Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint - that's my own curiosity at play!  If you're interested, the book is vailable online at CICO Books, on Amazon, in bookstores, and through stockists.  You can also follow Annie on Pinterest or take a peek at her blog and video tutorials.
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July 24, 2013

How to Paint a Brass Bar Cart Glossy White

This bar cart makeover has been a long time coming.  Because I found a great dining room cabinet right after buying this for the dining room, I decided to use the cart in the hall in lieu of the chevron useless table:

Because the hall has beige and dusty teal tiles, I thought the bright colour I originally planned would look weird.  My Mom concurred and suggested a glossy white, which we also thought wouldn't look too offensive with the grey smoked glass. 

Although the brass was a hit with some folks, the finish was worn in a lot of spots, and the finials had to go:

Luckily, the finials unscrewed easily, but then there was a weird, welded on frame to hold them in place inside the frame of the cart.  We replaced the finials with slices of wood dowel, which we glued in.  But then, paint was necessary to hide our hack:

Here's one last look at the cart in its gold glory (which actually could have been pretty):

Here it is, all shiny and new.  I used Rust-Oleum Universal Primer and Paint in one, in gloss white.

Alright . . . let me level with you folks: it's lovely and it complements the white embroidery on grey silk down the hall.  It doesn't scream for attention, which is good, because this is a busy part of the house with views to the kitchen, half bath, living room and more.  But if I were keeping this, I think I might fiddle more.  Something about it looks . . . not right.  I am thinking charcoal grey would be pretty!  Or maybe that greyish mint I used on the table?  I won't be fiddling, though, because (conveniently), the colour Mom helped me pick out will look perfect in her sewing room and there's no place for this in the lakehouse.  So convenient.

Look how nicely the little wooden dowel caps are hidden with paint on Mom's new cart:

For now I'm using it, and I love the practicality of the two shelves compared to our previous useless table because I've got little nicknacks on the bottom (a piggy bank for loose pocket change, a small Hungarian dish to store the iPod I grab when I go for a walk, a teak tray from Denmark that I snagged at VV), but the top is cleared for landing!  I plonk my purse there the minute I get home . . .

. . . and it's a super spot for the townhouse features sheet so people can grab one right away during showings or open houses.

Whether or not I like it, or get to keep it, it feels good that it is finally done!
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