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design

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Before & After: Nursery Dresser

This post is dedicated to my coworker Vanessa. For the past few months, whenever it got slow at work I would take a few seconds and cruise around on Craigslist looking for a dresser. I am picky. And borderline OCD. And indecisive. All of this adds up to me taking six months to make a decision normal people would have made in three days.

She has seemingly infinite reserves of patience, because not once during those months did she grab me by the shoulders and shake me violently whilst screaming “PICK ONE GOD DAMMIT! Just PIIIIICK OOOONNNEE!” even though she must have wanted to. Desperately.

Now. Onto the good stuff.

We needed to buy a dresser to store baby stuff in. I had a very specific idea in mind of what type of dresser I wanted, and this was it:

       

I didn’t want “baby” furniture. I wanted something I could use for years and re-purpose in other areas of our home once it outgrew its purpose as a onesie-holder & change table.

Preferably mid-century, solid wood, long and low, with plenty of drawers. It also had to be less than $400. I came up with that number because you can buy an IKEA piece of crap press-board dresser for the same amount, so it seemed reasonable for a quality piece of secondhand furniture. 

There were two problems however. One, this type of dresser was really hard to find. Not impossible, because I did come across two or three that fit the bill, but hard because they were all being sold in the city about an hours drive from where we live and getting there before they were scooped by someone else was a challenge.

Oh, also? There is absolutely nowhere in our house that would fit an almost 6 foot long dresser. Ha! Did I forget to mention that? I’m not sure what I thought would happen to change that fact, because, knowing this, I just kept looking. For months.

Anyway, fast forward to a week ago. I was getting antsy, nesty, needing to get things in order-y. Adam and I were driving into town after a midwife’s appointment and I declared “That’s IT. I’ve had it. I am finding a dresser today and I’m going to buy it and paint it and then this whole saga will be over. OVER!”

Adam, who had confessed to me recently that he was having dreams about mid-century dressers and Eames rocking chairs, just nodded numbly. 

Nevertheless, Internets, I want you to know that I manifested this dresser!

The first second hand store I walked into had a fabulous little number sitting in the corner and I knew that my search was over.

It was in great shape, the frame and drawers were solid wood, and it wasn’t 6 feet long! Best of all, it was $50. I bought it on the spot and Adam and his amazing coworker Saren both helped get it to our house the next day.

So here we are, the little dresser that could, before:

        

Although the frame was solid wood, the tops and sides were veneer and in pretty bad shape so I didn’t feel too badly about painting them. First I had a lovely tete-a-tete with an elderly man at my local hardware store, then, armed with paint supplies, I began the work.

Obviously I chose to start at high noon on one of the hottest days we’ve had so far. Why not?

I scuff-sanded the whole dresser, then applied about a million (3) coats of primer. In between coats I went inside, collapsed in front of a fan and delicately dabbed my forehead with a cool washcloth.

     

Originally I was going to paint the sides of the drawers a fun colour (like a bright yellow) but when I primed them I absolutely loved the way they looked with a racing stripe of natural wood running down the drawer grooves. (Incidentally I also think this helped ward off any issues with sticky drawers that you can sometimes have when painting a wood piece.)

After priming everything, I set to work on the drawer fronts. I wanted to do an ombre-style dresser like this one I saw on Pinterest. The easiest way to do this, I think, is just to grab a paint chip card with three hues of the came colour  and go to town, rather than trying to mix and match to find ones that work together.

I chose three Behr colours: Embellished Blue, Surfer, and Aquatic Green. I was able to get these in little sample pots, so the three shades of blue paint only cost around $15 and I still have a good 2/3’s left in each pot.

I painted and sanded and painted and sanded and painted some more. Then Adam and I hemmed and hawed about keeping the original hardware – those sweet little bows – and whether or not to paint the legs. I was leaning towards original hardware and naked legs as a nod to the old wood colour, but once we moved the dresser into the room I changed my mind, and we painted the legs and switched out the old handles for crystal drawer pulls.

So, behold! The finished product.

      

I would still like to get some cute drawer liners, and put a coat of high-gloss paint on the top of the dresser, as the current finish is satin and probably won’t stand up too well to all of the scrubbing and wiping down it will get in its current incarnation as a change table.

That can wait until I can stand to look at another paintbrush however, in the meantime viola! Project, complete 🙂

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Tufting and bunting and dishes – oh MY!

Some things I am coveting:

         

1. Tufting. Specifically the tufting on this sofa from Gus Modern (the company is called GUS! Doesn’t that entitle me to a free one?). And actually just this sofa in general, except in Canada we call them davenports. Why, WHY does this amazing davenport have to be so expensive? I love it ever so much. Please I wish it to come home with me.

I KNOW I said I would never buy anything from Ikea again but I might have to settle for the cheap imitation on the right. The likelihood of my ever having a spare $4K to spend on a davenport is nil (champagne taste and beer budget and all).

         

         

2. Bunting! I’m kind of obsessed with bunting lately. There’s a crafty lady I know who makes bunting out of recycled coffee bags, and last Christmas one of my friends got me one that said JOY in red letters against a burlap background and I love it. It’s perfect for Christmas and now I am kind of obsessed with just, bunting in general. Even the name delights me: Bunting.

Bunting.

BUNTING! Brings to mind bunny punting.

Ahem. Moving on…

 

3. Mismatched Plates. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while as it fits into both my colourful home and eco-friendly agendas. I’d love a stack of 8-12 dinner plates that were all the same (or similar) sizes but totally different patterns, colours, styles, eras etc.

This would be the perfect way to replace my aging and dwindling dish supply without spending a buttload of money or creating more waste by buying something brand new. Plus, no stress if one breaks, just go to the Sally-Ann and spend .25 more for a replacement.

OMFG what an amazing idea Ima do it. 

That’s all for the moment.

p.s. Adam discovered the paint post yesterday, I swear to you I would do it all over again just to see the look on his face as he was inspecting our room, trying to find the spot. I made him admit that he couldn’t find it because the stain was NO LONGER VISIBLE and shake on this fact before I pointed out the location. And then dear readers, he got down on his hands and knees and SNIFFED the carpet! 

I have no words. It was awesome. Totally worth the panic and the rubbing and the blotting. Totally.

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MOOD BOARD

Remember how I was talking about how people waste too much money on decorating their homes? Hahahaha me neither! Now, lets get down to business.

        

Guys, I created a moodboard. Truth.

Here we see inspiration for the re-do, our Noresund bed, trusty relic of the IKEA era.

Aside: do we all go through an IKEA stage just like we all go through a (swiftly regretted) short hair stage? Mine was Grade Eight, it was vaguely reminiscent of a mullet and I got called K.D. Lang for months.

Although it is tempting to turf the IKEA bed, I am NOT going to go the consumer whore route on this one and buy a new one. No. Even though I saw an amazing vintage wrought iron bed in a second hand store complete with flaking paint (probably lead-based SUPER AUTHENTIC!) and had to physically restrain myself from opening my wallet. Also it was WHITE. I am superwoman.

Anyway, I’m going to paint it the bed.  Spray paint it to be precise. This is doable right? That’s what I thought. The three paint dabs are potential colour choices, teal was in there for a bit but I think teal is overdone. So three bed colour choices, “Chinchilla” by Martha for the walls (currently the walls in my living room too), the duvet cover and some fun throw pillows. 

Thoughts? I’ve never been a fan of orange but I’m leaning that way on this one.

MOOD BOARD.

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champagne taste, beer budget

     

                         AB Chao’s living room, decorated for Christmas

So I’ve discovered AB Chao. Guys, I love her. LOVE her! Not only does she have a daughter named Madeleine (spelled the right way no less) but she shares my affinity for white furniture and white walls and white cabinets and just, WHITE in general. White as a function of design, rather than just an absence of colour.

My own affinity for white has made my in-laws call me crazy pretty much every time they visit our house, as well as making many cries of “Oooh watch the wine on the WHITE COUCH!” and “Are your pants clean? Make sure they’re clean before sitting on that WHITE CHAIR! Maybe you should sit on the floor instead!”

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      my white furniture, source of much joy (for me) and much anxiety (for my in-laws)

And I admit, my version of white on white seems a little crazier than good old AB’s for two reasons.

1. I live with this.

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2. and this

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Both slobber, shed and have much dirt about their persons at all time.

So. MY affinity for white has quickly turned into an affinity for yellowish-stained-off-white and grey is quickly becoming a a choice which will need to be made, a choice borne of necessity and practicality rather than the adoration of a serene unencumbered room full of WHITE.

Along with realizing the sad impracticality of white, I have also learning the following: IKEA is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And I am never buying anything from them ever again.

Why? Because IKEA stuff is good, it approximates the design style you’re going for, at a very affordable, accessible price. But I don’t LOVE it. I have never LOVED it. Every IKEA item I have ever purchased has been settled on by thinking “Well, this will do.”

Never “I MUST have this” or “I LOVE this.” And this is a problem. It’s a problem because the stuff is so cheap you never have to evaluate whether you really want it – a bookcase for $60? Of COURSE you want it!

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But you don’t, not really.

Not when you routinely stumble across beautiful, old, solid wooden bookcases with layers of colourful flaking paint and compare that to your hastily assembled shaky, wobbly pressboard BILLY. And not when you consider that the exact same bookcase is fulfilling the very same utilitarian function in about a gazillion other apartments across the world.

Here’s what happens with my IKEA stuff, I buy it, thinking “I need curtains, these aren’t exactly what I’m looking for, but I need something to cover my windows so I’ll get them.” and I spend the next five years not hating them, because the design is always neutral and unoffensive, but just looking at them and thinking “Ehhh”. I’m not doing this anymore. I’m holding out for love, for those one-off pieces that I see, check the price tag and think are ridiculously expensive and then can’t stop thinking about for a week, 2 months, an entire year. And then I’ll save up and buy them. And have them forevah.

I began this process a few years ago and so far it has served me well. These old windows for example.

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I discovered them in an antique shop in Vancouver and immediately fell in love with them. They were $45 each and I thought that was ridiculous. And then I came back three separate times to assure myself that they weren’t worth that much. And I finally realized that every time I walked through the door I was panicked that they wouldn’t be there. I bought them and brought them home and all the men at Adam’s poker game laughed at me, but they are currently my favorite part of our house.

Same with my Samsonite suitcases, I adore them, especially when I get them and see things like this still attached:

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Oh Flo, thank you. No amount of NYGÅSVIK’s can equal this.