Prairie Girl Home | Painted Furniture {the first year}

With the beginning of 2017, I’m looking back at 2016 and my first year in the painting furniture business.

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I haven’t posted very much on the blog yet about my painted pieces, usually I post them to Instagram and Facebook, so I thought I could take one post to share the highlights of my first year in the furniture flipping business. (I kind of hate that word, flipping, because it feels like a flipper is someone who merely slaps paint on a piece to sell it and make a buck, which is so far from the case. But it still feels like the best term to describe what I do in a nutshell. “Furniture Artist” feels more accurate. So let’s say, this was my first year in the “furniture artistry” business. Sure. Let’s go with that.)

The first piece I painted and sold for Prairie Girl Home.
The first piece I painted and sold for Prairie Girl Home, in January 2016. It’s still one of my favourites!

I started painting old wood furniture as a teen and my love just grew from there. I remember dragging my mom to thrift shops to pick up old antiques I wanted to redo for my bedroom. Once I had my license, I would go to garage sales on my own and find old treasures that I dragged home. Some I painted, some things I saved for my first apartment.

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Grey and Gold Vintage Waterfall Dresser, December 2016.
From there I continued to take old forgotten pieces from my parent’s basement, pieces friends were throwing away, pieces I hunted for around town and I lovingly painted these finds and made them my own. When my husband and I were poor, 21 and 24 year old newlyweds, our place was filled with thrift store, garage sale and hand-me-down pieces.  Our mattress and our two living room end tables, that I still remember picking out at Superstore, agonizing over spending that money and making the right decision, were the only “new” items in our home. I never let a budget stop me from creating a home. I painted, I reupholstered, I made something out of what was usually nothing. I remember searching around the different thrift stores in town for the perfect mismatched chairs for our dining room table, which I brought home to paint various shades of blue and lavender. (Yes, lavender. Oh boy, did I have an obsession with lavender. My poor husband!). I was trying to copy Monica from Friend’s dining room table and chairs. This was before Pinterest and Blogs. I drew inspiration from TV (we didn’t have cable and HGTV, so I would copy ideas from my favourite TV shows), movies, magazines (that I usually borrowed from the library) and from the real-life homes of my amazingly talented friends and family.

Charcoal Painted Antique Washstand, February 2016.
Charcoal Painted Antique Washstand, February 2016.

In all of the homes we have had over the years, painted furniture has always played a big role. Up until last year, I painted pieces just for our home. It never occurred to me that I could sell my work, until we had the house we live in currently. For the first time, I had enough storage space that I could start hauling home pieces that I found at “too good a deal to pass up”. I soon realized that our home wasn’t large enough to hold all of these painted pieces. I was going to have to start selling if I wanted to keep painting. So I did.

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Birch Tree Papered Side Tables, October 2016.

I love the thrill of the hunt. I love walking into a thrift shop, never knowing what you might find. I love browsing the used sites, looking for that diamond in the rough.

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French Provincial Style Dresser, February 2016.

Majority of the time, right from the start, I can see exactly what I want the finished piece to look like. If I don’t have a clear vision, I know enough now to wait until I do before I pull out a paintbrush. I love the entire process – finding the piece, taking it home, lovingly filling, sanding, gluing, fixing, priming, painting, distressing, waxing, sealing, lining drawers, finding the perfect knobs and pulls, and then putting it all back together and styling it for it’s “glamour shot”. I appreciate what it is – beautiful, but forgotten – and imagine it how it could be – beautiful and admired.

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Soft Mint Side Table, February 2016.

These pieces have a story. That’s the beauty of solid wood antiques and vintage pieces. They have lived a life. Or two. Or three! They have often been there throughout someone’s life – from birth to graduation, then repeated that cycle for yet another child, then another. They have served newlyweds to elderly. They have been sold, passed down, donated or sometimes even thrown away. They have been moved and hauled, painted, then repainted, then stripped, then painted again. Yet, these pieces are still here. Still standing. Sure, they have a few war wounds. They aren’t brand new or “perfect” anymore. But really, just like people, having a few bumps and bruises doesn’t make you damaged. It makes you better.

White Painted and Distressed Telephone Table, November 2016.

These pieces have a story. I love that I am just another part of that story. I found these pieces, dragged them home, saw a vision for them, loved them, restored them and then they are ready to became part of someone else’s story. The piece is ready to live another life. Serve another baby or another newlywed couple or someone who saw the piece and just had to take it home. Who knows how many stories, how many lives these pieces will play a part in.

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Mint Make-up Vanity and Vintage Chair, June 2016.

They just don’t make pieces like this anymore. Well, when they do, you pay a small fortune for them. This isn’t the laminate stuff you buy at IKEA one year, only to find that soon the factory paint finish has chipped, the particle board and MDF frame is warped and it’s ready for the garbage heap the next year. (I love IKEA as much as the next person, but I also have fallen victim to the short-term life span of many of their furniture pieces.) When you buy vintage and antique pieces, you know they have lasted this long and that they will continue to stand the test of time.

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French Provincial Coffee Table, November 2016.

For me, starting this small business was about more than just painting furniture. Through what was a very difficult year personally, it gave me something else to focus on. Something completely unrelated to the health crisis my family and I are facing right now. When I felt well enough, it gave me something to escape to. Even if it’s just for an hour or so at a time, it’s amazing the power doing something creative with your hands can have on a person’s well being and mindset.

Mint Painted and Distressed Plant Stand, March 2016.

I like to call painting furniture, decorating our home and creating in general my “happy distraction”.

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White Blanket Ladder, December 2016

I have learned so much this first year in business. I won’t go into all the ins and outs of furniture flipping, since that would make this post massive! I will say that I have learned one thing for sure – that I still have so much to learn! I love that there are endless options when it comes to remaking an old piece. There are so many products, so many techniques and so many styles, that you could spend decades doing this job and still learn new things. I love browsing Pinterest, Instagram, blogs and magazines for inspiration. I lay awake at night and dream up new plans and ideas. I am so excited to keep on creating!

Rustic and Glam Wood Planked White Chest of Drawers, December 2016.
Rustic and Glam Wood Planked White Chest of Drawers, December 2016.

It was a good year.

I just finished my first piece of 2017 and it might be my favourite one yet! I have quite a few new pieces that should be listed in the next couple of months. I will try to post some on here, but you can always follow along on Instagram and my Facebook page, I’m Prairie Girl Home on both, where I post all of my painted pieces for sale!

Thanks for following along and I hope you are all having a wonderful start to 2017!

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Game On! | Week 5 ORC – The Redneck Sunroom

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All right folks. This is it. Week five. The last week, the home stretch. It’s time to sink or swim. Win or lose. Give up or die trying. In exactly one week’s time I will either be hanging my head in shame or you will find me here and elsewhere on the interwebs, screaming out in victory, “I did it!!!!!!!!”

Okay, so I MAY be slightly exaggerating the importance of this one little room makeover. Also, I MAY, on occasion, have a tendency to be a tiny bit over-dramatic. But after deciding to take part in Calling It Home’s One Room Challenge this season, and then proceeding to make almost zero progress (other than installing our new-to-us French door) for the first four updates, you’re going to have to forgive my dramatics, because we may just end up finishing this room on time!

In case you’re new here, my husband and myself are renovating our teeny, tiny back entrance foyer/world’s smallest mudroom/redneck sunroom (whatever you want to call it!) over a period of six weeks. To catch up on our previous posts, complete with the grotesque before pictures and all of the pretty plans we made for the space click here for week 1, here for week 2, here for week 3 and here for week 4.

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If you read last week’s post, I’m sure you sensed that I really had my doubts that we would be able to finish in time for the November 10th deadline. Truth be told, I mentioned it in week two, but I started this challenge with a nasty cold and seven weeks and two rounds of antibiotics later, I’m still fighting it. I have named it Cold-Mageddon. On top of that, this week my son also had round three with some sort of flu that is going around. So, due to that as well as a bunch of other things I will just call “life”, I didn’t think we would be able to pull this room makeover off. However, with a little bit of help and a few small bursts of energy, a lot can change in a week. My handy hubby managed to squeeze in some time to get started on the planking. He managed to MacGyver up some scary scaffolding. I’ll show you pictures, as long as you promise that you will do your own research on how to build scaffolding if you are attempting this yourself. I’m fairly certain rigging up two ladders and some old boards that were probably way too small for this job is NOT “up to code”. If Mike Holmes were watching, he would probably be shaking his head right about now.

We ended up using underlayment, because at $18 a sheet, it was the most affordable option. We picked it up at Home Depot and paid a little bit extra to have them cut it down into six inch strips for us. It’s a lot easier to just have it done there in the store. There are a zillion tutorials out there on “how to shiplap your walls”, so I won’t be adding one more to the mix. Basically you just need your brad nailer, something to hold in between the boards as you nail to keep a bit of gap in there (hubby used a scrap piece of planking) and a couple of different saws for making whatever cuts you need to work around outlets, trim, etc. We used our table saw, as well as a utility knife for some of the tricky, small cuts. A jigsaw would also work. Our boards were 8 feet at the longest, so when working with a wall longer than 8 feet, we cut our planks into different lengths and then staggered the boards, so that all our cuts didn’t line up. It’s kind of like laying hardwood floors.

If you really want your planking to line up horizontally all around the room, then make sure you mark where your level line is BEFORE beginning. My husband was a little upset with himself because he didn’t do this, and since our old house has extremely crooked walls, it’s going to end up that our planks will not line up perfectly all around the room. I am actually completely fine with this. I told him from the start that I wanted an imperfect and rustic look. He was seriously considering taking down an entire wall of planks to fix it. (I bugged him about this a lot, because usually he calls me the crazy perfectionist!) I convinced him to leave the planks as is.

Another tip would be to plan ahead where your planks will end up falling on your wall, so that you don’t end up with a skinny one inch section at the very top, or in a very obvious spot like above a doorway or window. If that is going to be the case, then you can change up the plan so that you don’t end up with any obviously skinny cuts. Then again, if skinny little boards next to your six inch boards don’t bother you – don’t worry about it!

We still have a couple of walls and half the ceiling left to plank, which hopefully we finish up tomorrow . I didn’t want to waste today and since my amazing mom offered to help, we got quite a bit of painting done. Let me tell you this, painting ceilings is one of my least favourite DIY jobs, but painting ceilings in a staircase using a long pole is a whole new level of torture. It just confirmed what I already knew, that I am total weakling. I worked in short one minute increments, with five minute breaks in between so as to allow my arms to regain some strength and stop shaking like jello. Pathetic. Anyhow, I didn’t feel too bad once my mom arrived and she also found the job very difficult. We managed to prime the walls that have been planked so far. I’m hoping one good coat of paint on the weekend and our walls will be looking just like an episode of Fixer Upper!

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Yes, that’s a hole in the wall. If you didn’t catch my Instagram story earlier this week, basically my husband and I decided to play a game of detective/treasure hunter to figure out what was behind this wall. I was kind of hoping there would be something cool back there, like old newspapers or love letters.  I won’t keep you in suspense, we didn’t find anything. Just an empty space. At first I thought it must have been a closet that was originally built off of the dining room, and was covered over when the dining room built-ins were added at a later time, but it doesn’t look like that was the case. Oh, and if you’re wondering why we didn’t just knock down the entire empty box of drywall that is there for no reason, and make our staircase larger, it’s because we didn’t want to make more work for ourselves. True story.

Oh, and in keeping with my “imperfect and rustic” look, I won’t be going back with a paintbrush to paint the gaps in between the boards. I like the way they look unpainted.  Also, we have way too much left to do this week!

This is the door after two coats of CIL’s Dark Secret. One more and she is good to go! Oh, and there is paint all over the glass because I never bother taping off glass. It takes me less time to scrape it off afterward with a razor blade than it does to painstakingly tape it off.

It’s exciting to see some actual progress happening in the room! We still have quite a bit more work to do, but I really think we can pull this off.

Here is our To-Do List.

  1. Plank walls and ceiling (70% complete)
  2. Replace trim (90% complete)
  3. Prime and paint walls, ceiling, trim (primer is 70% complete)
  4. Prep stairs for paint (I tried ripping up the old vinyl “runner” on the stair treads and discovered a crapload of nasty glue underneath. So my plan is to just leave the vinyl in place and paint around it. Eventually we will buy a sisal runner for the stairs and I will deal with ripping up the vinyl then.)
  5. Prime and paint stairs (risers have one coat complete)
  6. Rip out old carpet, install new subfloor on the entrance landing (I lamely attempted ripping up the carpet myself, but decided I would leave that job to someone with more muscle!)
  7. Install new vinyl floor (I’m not sure if this will happen by the deadline, but if not, I will just give the subfloor a quick coat of paint.)
  8. Replace old door with “new” French door
  9. Paint door (Two coats complete)
  10. Install new light switches (We already own these, we just need to install them!)
  11. Install new light fixture (gift from friend!!!)
  12. Install new hand rail (DIY industrial pipe rail)
  13. Add finishing details (hooks, chalkboard, gallery wall, DIY word art, baskets, small shelf?, rug?)

So we still only have one item crossed off the list, but a lot of others are close to being crossed off.

I don’t think I shared a picture of the vinyl flooring that we plan to install. We’re going to use the same flooring that we bought for our bathroom makeover that we completed for the One Room Challenge last spring. The flooring didn’t end up arriving in time for the final reveal. Here is our bathroom floor today.

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Vinyl has come a long way! It could almost pass for cement tile, right? It’s made my Mannington, and the pattern and colour is Filagree Iron. (By the way, this isn’t a sponsored post. I’m just letting you know, because I love this flooring!)

I also drew up some of my ideas for the wall decor, because with only one week left I obviously have tons of time to spend doodling and planning. Right.

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(The odd rectangle that is scribbled out in the bottom sketch is the big old empty box of nothing we discovered this week.)

 

Yes, those are tabs on my notebook. How else would I stay organized? I love making lists and plans and jotting down ideas. I know this bullet journaling craze is super popular right now, but I have to say, I’m super fond of my dollar store sticky tab dividers. #geekforlife

Do you see our super awesome hand rail? Since I’m not sure you can tell from my drawing, that’s going to be made out of industrial pipe. I’m really excited about it. As much as any sane person could be excited about plumbing parts. I can’t wait!

Originally I was planning on doing a black and white gallery wall around the entire staircase. It was going to be epic. Massive. Striking. I was planning on using printed black and white photos from some of our past vacations. Then I remembered that I am on a tight budget and I don’t have enough frames to do that large of a gallery wall and frames can be fairly expensive. Especially large ones, which I wanted. Also, printing photos isn’t cheap either. Especially large ones! So, onto Plan B. I’m still going to do a gallery wall, but it won’t be quite as large as I originally planned. Honestly, the shiplap is so beautiful, I don’t want to cover it all up! To save money,  I’m going to use only frames I already own, along with my trusty can of black spray paint. Some frames will be empty and I will also mix in some mirrors and whatever else I can scrounge up from around my house. On the wall you face when going down the staircase, I plan on making up a DIY banner using things I already own – some wood pieces, twine, a dropcloth and a sharpie pen. I’m not entirely sure about the other walls, but lots of ideas are rolling around in my head, so you’ll have to come back next week to see how it all turns out!

Oh, and you also might see my note on there about perhaps adding numbers to the stair risers. Wouldn’t that be cute? It would just be temporary until we install our sisal runner, but in the meantime it would add a fun touch. I will have to see if I have enough time and energy once everything else on the list is crossed off!

My husband and I have been so preoccupied with everything going on lately, we basically forgot until a couple of days ago that it’s our anniversary this weekend. Eleven years with this dude! What better way to celebrate than spending some quality time together working on the One Room Challenge? Right? (Don’t worry, we will do something to celebrate a little bit later in the month.)

Thanks so much for popping by, I appreciate you following along on our little DIY journey! Feel free to leave a comment below or find me on Instagram or Pinterest! Also, don’t forget to hop over to Calling It Home to see all of the other amazing room makeovers that are in progress. I can hardly wait until next week, there are going to be so many beautiful room transformations!

I hope to see you all here next week for the big room reveal!

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The Redneck Sunroom – One Room Challenge Week 4

Hello, I’m so glad you popped by! If this is your first visit, welcome! Currently my hubby and I are taking part in Calling It Home’s One Room Challenge and making over our teeny, tiny back entrance over a period of six weeks. To catch up on all the before pictures and design plans, you can see week 1 here, week 2 here and week 3 here.

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The big question is have we made any ACTUAL progress on the room this week, other than just the hopes and dreams that I shared in previous weeks. Oh, and our $15 door. I shared that steal of a deal on week 2. Can’t forget that.

The good news is, yes! I have an actual progress shot to show you! Yay us! The bad news? We are not nearly as far along as we should be if we are going to make the November 10th deadline. I’m not saying we are giving up though! We are still planning on doing our very best to pull this off in time. I know two weeks may seems like a lot of time to some of you. (It’s really more like 11 or 12 days since I have to take after pictures, edit and write the post!) There are definitely hard-core DIYers I know who bang off entire room makeovers in a weekend, we however, are NOT those people. Our DIY journey looks something like this – wife spends ages on Pinterest and blogs, dreaming and scheming up plans, changes her mind a million times, finally decides on a direction, tells dreams to hubby, who brings her back to reality about what may be possible, wife convinces him to push the boundaries of what he thinks is possible, they then work furiously in small bursts of energy, get 70 or even 80% of the way to a completed project, then lose steam or interest and begin next project. Which is one of the reasons why I love the One Room Challenge so much. The posting schedule and deadline gives us some accountability, so that means we actually get stuff done! Like our bathroom makeover we completed for the One Room Challenge last spring. So I am not completely ruling out the possibility of us still having a completed room reveal to share on November 10th. Even if it’s not 100% of the way there, any progress will be an improvement over the before!

So the good news is we have a French door! You might have caught my Instagram story about this, if so, you know how incredibly excited I am to have this installed! There is only the one small kitchen window on the back side of the house to let light into our main living areas, so adding the French door at the back completely changes the space.

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(Don’t mind the mess. The boxes have some hardware I’m spray painting right now for a dresser makeover. You know, because I’m a crazy person who always works on multiple projects at once.)

I know it’s not a showstopper just yet, but it just needs a bit of paint, some new trim and that storm door that is currently blocking half the light needs to be removed. We just have to install some weatherstripping because there are significant gaps between the door and the frame right now. This is the part of DIY that I really don’t like. All the tiny little hang ups that slow down your progress. Those pesky, but necessary items that need to be done before you can move on to the pretty part. I mean – weatherstripping. Yawn. I’m bored just typing it.

I found the door insert on a local online sale site for $80. So in total the door cost us $95. We are reusing the old doorknobs. So $95 is a little more than I originally wanted to spend, but over the cost of a new door (the cheapest I found was Lowe’s for $350), we saved a bundle. Yesterday I sold the door that was here for $35 and as soon as that storm door is removed I will sell it as well. So that brings down the price of the “new” door a lot!

As soon as I saw the new door installed I said to my husband, “It looks like a sunroom in here!” It doesn’t take much to excite me! I realized we have been naming this room all wrong. Foyer always felt a bit too fancy for us. Entrance sounds extremely boring. I could call it the world’s smallest mudroom. Even that is a giant stretch. Then I realized what we really need to call it. The Redneck Sunroom! (Redneck because the room is 3 x 3 1/2 feet.) I told Kyle that once the space is finished, it’s going to be so pretty and full of light that I will carry a tiny chair into that tiny little space and sit there and just admire all of our hard work and drink my morning coffee there. He thinks I’m joking, but I’m totally serious.

Speaking of hard work, we are planning on installing shiplap tomorrow. I can’t wait to show you some progress shots of that next week!

I also stopped by Home Depot today, because I had to pick up some gold spray paint (a staple in my house, I get panicky when I run out of gold, white or black spray paint) and I also picked up some porch and floor paint for the stairs. The risers will be white, and for that I am using just a semi-gloss enamel that I already have in my paint stash. The treads will be black. I just bought the pint size can for $20, so let’s hope it doesn’t take too many coats!

This is the look I am going for.

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Image via Shine Your Light Blog

Beautiful, right? I love the crisp black and white, warmed up with the seagrass runner. For our staircase makeover, the budget is telling me that the runner is going to have to wait for now. Still, the black and white is going to be a huge improvement over what is there right now!

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We have only one direction this makeover can go in, and that’s up! It doesn’t get any grosser than this.

Our To-Do List:

  1. Plank walls and ceiling (after we have figured out the scary scaffolding situation)
  2. Replace trim
  3. Prime and paint walls, ceiling, trim
  4. Prep stairs for paint (rip out old vinyl “runner”, fill major holes, sand)
  5. Prime and paint stairs
  6. Rip out old carpet, install new subfloor on the entrance landing
  7. Install new vinyl floor (we have zero skills here, but fortunately I have the world’s-sweetest-brother who does)
  8. Replace old door with “new” French door
  9. Paint door
  10. Install new light switches (We already own these, we just need to install them!)
  11. Install new light fixture (gift from friend!!!)
  12. Install new hand rail (DIY industrial pipe rail)
  13. Add finishing details (hooks, art, baskets or bins, small shelf?, rug?)

So we crossed off one item this week. Hey, that’s better than nothing. I’m looking on the bright side here, instead of the 12 other items we have to finish over the next couple of weeks!

You can follow along with our progress on Instagram and see more inspiration for this project by following me on Pinterest. Don’t forget to check out all of the other amazing makeovers in progress over at Calling It Home!

See you back here next Thursday!

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