Faith and Furniture

This mirror has been left in a packing box, tucked way back in a closet for 4 years. It has nagged at me, but I’ve never known what to do with it. Lately, I’ve been trying to use it as a free-standing mirror, but it’s just not working out. I think it’s time for some paint, and maybe a new location on a wall.

But this mirror got me thinking…

Furniture is a lot like faith.

We first get it and it’s exciting and shiny and new… but if we don’t care for it, problems sneak in. A nick here or a scratch there, and eventually that piece becomes less needed in our minds.

How many times have we stuck a piece in the corner, garage or attic and forgotten about it? Having it is good, but it’s easy to forget the importance of it.

When we do find that piece again it almost becomes a burden, and something that was so wonderful at one point, now requires tedious, time consuming repairs and fixing.

I’ve had this happen many times, with furniture and with my faith… and I gotta say, taking the time is worth it.

Whenever I refinish a piece, I’m amazed at how wonderful it looks in the end. Yes, the work is messy and frustrating, and always takes longer than I think it should… but it’s worth it because when the work is done, I’m left with a piece that is better than it was to begin with. A piece that is stronger, updated and ready to serve it’s ultimate purpose of supporting me!

My faith is like an old piece of furniture because it gets better and better as I work on it and care for it. It looks completely different now than it did when I was a child, but the scratches and dings of sin and doubt are beautiful reminders to me of how I’ve grown.

I’m reminded that the One who heals all our wounds was a carpenter himself. And as we turn to Him, all of our scratches and dings can be strengthened and repaired. And our ever evolving pieces of furniture can be better than they were to begin with, full of hope and strength as we put our trust in Him.

The “Not Me” Console

We’ve established that furniture speaks to me… right? Ok, good. (We’ve also established that I’m a little crazy too… right?)

This little Pottery Barn console was a great FB Marketplace find. It was in pristine condition and the owner had taken perfect care of it! I was going to use it in my hubby’s office with lots of dark woods, but then we chose some different furniture, and I had this extra piece. I decided to paint it white and place it behind my sofa.

But when I began sanding it, and realized it was 100% mahogany, I suddenly heard it scream at me. Most pieces are happy to get new life, but not this one.

“NOT ME!” It screamed.

“I’m not one of your cast-off’s needing to be refinished! I’m one of Pottery Barn’s best! I’ve been kept in perfect condition! Look at me! Not one scratch! And I would work in thousands of homes! I’m just fine the way I am, thanks!”

I stopped my sanding for a minute. Was I ruining this piece?

Most furniture these days have some MDF or cardboard hiding in the back or underneath. And if not, they’ll have a gorgeous hardwood top, with cheap poplar undersides.

But not this piece. It was mahogany everywhere.

It was beautiful.

Whether or not painted wood is better than stained wood is a matter of opinion. And yes, this piece was just fine the way it was… but if it wanted a place in my house, it needed to go through the change.

I sanded on.

And it pouted.

I began painting it white, but didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. So I started painting it blue.

“Really?” It complained. “I hope you know what you’re doing!”

I painted on.

The drawers were fun to figure out. I sanded off the original stain, painted a layer of white, then sanded off the white after it was dry. I left just enough paint on, then stained it with a weathered gray stain, and got this fun distressed look.

I absolutely love how it looks now!

The console was very happy when it was all finished. In fact, it’s quickly becoming my favorite piece in the house! But the whole experience got me thinking…

I’m so often just like this reluctant console.

I go along in life, thinking things are just fine. I’m happy! I can handle my own craziness. But then life happens and I get hit with a curve ball. I’m suddenly forced to change, to deal with something new and unexpected and I don’t like it.

Not me! I complain.

I’m a good person! I try to do everything right, I try to help others, and take care of my kids… I don’t intentionally try to hurt anyone, and I’m happy just the way I am! Why do I need this trial? Why do I need to change anything?! When things are going well, why do we so often get hit with trials?

It’s easy to ask an old broken piece of furniture to change. It needs to be fixed anyway. But it is hard to change a piece that is in excellent condition the way it is. In fact, many of you may be thinking that I ruined the piece, and that it was fine the way it was! And I would agree with you!

But this piece didn’t fit with my décor unless it went through the change.

I think God’s plan for us is like that too. Yes, we are fine the way we are. But maybe He knows we could be better. Maybe He needs to refine us because we can’t see the other side of the trial and the joy we could be feeling. When I look back on my trials, I realize I wouldn’t know the joy I feel now, had I not experienced those challenges. And to be honest, who knows where I’d be had I not submitted to change.

Change does make us better.

Trials do help refine us.

The console would never have known the beauty it is now, had it not undergone the sanding and distressing.

There will come a time that we’ll all scream, “Not me! I’m fine the way I am, why do I have to experience this change?”

But if we can have just a little faith that there is a plan for us, and can endure some painful sanding and distressing, we too can come out more beautiful than before.

I hope that wherever you are, and whatever trial you’re experiencing, that you’ll feel a little relief today and know that you are loved

Repurpose an Old TV Armoire 

It’s so easy to look at a piece of furniture that was designed for one thing and not be able to see another purpose for it. Take the TV armoire for example. Back when we all had big box TV’s, this piece of furniture was incredibly popular because you could load your TV and VCR combo player, and stack all the boxy movies on the shelves or drawers, and close the doors to hide it all! So now that technology has given us the ever expanding flat screen TV, entertainment centers have become buffet-type cabinets meant to go under the flat screen. 

And now there’s a surprising surplus of old TV armoires! I’m not kidding! Run to your local thrift store and see for yourself!

There’s actually quite a lot you can do with an old TV armoire! At their core, they are pieces of furniture designed to be a storage solution. And with a little creativity, they still can be! 

I have two old TV armoires! We purchased one for the TV in our bedroom years ago, and I use it now for blankets, sheets and table linens! It sits here as a decorative piece in my living room! 


My 2nd armoire was given to me by a dear friend who needed it gone! I was thrilled! I’m using it for my office station to store all of the binders, books, bills and school paperwork that tends to clutter my counters. I also keep our laptop and charging dock there. In fact the holes in the back of the armoire create an excellent place to hide the charging cables! 

Before:


The piece was originally black, and it has a fun story:

When my friend’s home flooded a few years ago, this piece sat in 4” of water. It’s MDF legs swelled up and the paint cracked off. The insurance appraiser said it couldn’t be fixed, and he’s right. There is no good way to repair MDF. Since the legs are still structurally sound, I painted and distressed the area. It’s unoticeable with it’s coat of new white paint. 


To create more organized storage, I found crates at IKEA and used them to create some shelving. 

The paper organizer is from Target and there is one for each child’s school papers. When I have more time I may build legitimate shelves for this spot, but this is working great for now. I cut a board to go on top of the crates to create another shelf! All of this new shelving hides the cardboard backing piece that has a large hole in it. Eventually, I’ll attach a new piece of thin plywood there and cover it with wallpaper. 

Here’s another brilliant idea: my friend installed a rod at the top of this armoire so she could use this piece to hang all of her table cloths. Just think, with a curtain rod in an old TV armoire, the piece could be used as a true closet for clothes! 


My favorite part about armoires is that they provide a beautiful way to hide the mass quantities of stuff we have! We have a lot of people in our home, and there’s just a lot of stuff that goes along with it ! I absolutely love being able to close these doors and hide the clutter. 

Your turn to share! What ideas have you seen for old armoires? 

Mo’s Kitchen – Part 4 – The Shelf

I’ve been especially excited to share the story behind the old door to shelf project as part of Mo’s kitchen transformation! 
First off, I have to introduce these two: 


I wouldn’t be anywhere without them! 

I inherited the love of projects and working with my hands from my dad; and I got the love of thrifting, passion for decor, and DIY prowess from my mom. I also hope I inherited a teeny tiny portion of her incredible style! Their encouragement and support has always strengthened me throughout all my adventures, and I’m so grateful I get to be their daughter!! 

And now for the story! 

13 years ago, my sis-in-law gave me this old, wooden door that she found in her garage! 

I dreamed about converting it to a shelf or headboard for a while, but I have to admit, it lost it’s thrill as time passed. And then about 10 years ago, we moved, and in a giant purge I decided not to take the old door with me. Instead, I gave it to Mo, along with all of my dreams of ways it could be transformed.

Well the years went on, and through no fault of anyone’s, nothing ever happened with the door. And it was almost forgotten. 

And then last February, Mo and I started talking about her kitchen. She expressed her desire for a great kitchen that was painted and redecorated, and I began to get a vision of what she wanted! The very first thing I thought about, was to finally take that door and turn it into a shelf to place over her table.

During this past summer trip, I went to her house, took the door and rummaged through her old wood pile. I found some great barn wood planks that would work perfectly as the shelf. That night my dad and I stayed up way past midnight and put together this beauty!


I absolutely love how it turned out! It fits Mo’s fun style perfectly and looks incredible! The fact that I got to work on this project with my dad makes me love it even more! He taught me so many valuable skills during the project, and I loved watching his precision as he took time to measure twice and cut once to create the shelf!  


Ultimately, it is the love of my parents that put this shelf together. My mom encouraging us to never ignore the old, and to try new things; and my dad’s patience, know-how and excitement about projects! Even on late nights! 

I’m so glad it now has a place on my sister’s wall, watching over her and her family. I also hope that it will stand as a little a reminder of the love of our parents! 

The Layers Chair

This little antique chair has stolen my heart. Not because it’s ticking stripe fabric makes me weak in the knees…

It’s because of the layers.

The chair had been left on the curb for the trash, and I could easily see why. It smelled horrific, and was so dirty that it turned my fingers black when I picked it up.

However, the instant I touched this chair I knew it was special. The old wood, and flathead screws indicated age, and I was excited to think about it’s possibilities.

The easiest way to reupholster furniture, is to cover over the existing fabric. Lots of people do it, because it’s fast and it works. I considered that option, but with this chair being so dirty, I knew it had to be taken back to the frame. Back to the core.

The deconstruction was like walking back through time as I revealed 5 different layers, the original being a hand woven fabric, covering horsehair that was caked in dirt. I’ve never seen so much dirt on a piece of furniture! And judging from the rusted tacks holding it together, my best guess was that this was built sometime in the late 1800’s.

To think that all these years, people just kept covering up the dirt and grime, never knowing what they were sitting on.

Here’s a picture of the layers:


So this got me thinking about life.

Sometimes it’s easier to cover up my own problems, insecurities, and mistakes rather than fix them.  But the more I do that, the worse the problem gets. It’s easy to add a new layer that looks good, but it doesn’t hide the fact that I’m hurting inside. The dirt is still there.

Sometimes I need to just get back to the basics. Back to my core.

To root out the problems and become centered again.

I’ve even been in situations where I’ve felt that the dirt was so bad that I wasn’t worth it.  That I too should be left out on the curb. But when I’ve made a change, eradicated the problem and gone back to my core, I was rebuilt.

Getting back to our core isn’t easy… For example, deconstructing that chair took 3 hours! That’s a long time for one little seat! It was difficult and disgusting!

But possible!

I knew that the chair would look amazing when it was redone. I knew that the hard work would be worth it.

We are the same way.

Hope is real!

Change is possible!

Life, love and faith will pull us through! Just like this chair was rebuilt, we can uncover our own layers, become centered again, and rebuild.

And if we do, our new self will be stronger and more beautiful than before! A self free from dirt, heartache and pain. We will become an individual with a powerful story, and amazing history! And just like this chair, we will be stronger, and ready to face a new beautiful future, free from layers.

The “3rd Try” Cabinet

Ive been read the book “The Fearless Mind”, by Dr. Craig L. Manning, and learning a lot about fear. 

I live so much of my life in fear! Fear of failing, fear of succeeding, fear of messing up. And so often those fears keep me from progressing, making decisions and moving forward! 

So I’ve been trying to be fearless lately. To live more in the moment, rather than afraid of the future. I may write a little more about this topic in the future. But for now, here’s the story of how failing almost halted the progress of this project. 


1st Try:

A good friend gave me this little TV cabinet, and my first thought was to paint white. Everything looks better in white, right? 


Wrong. The white just wasn’t working. It was boring and I wasn’t feeling it. Meanwhile, life got busy. I took on too many projects, tried to tackle them all at once, and this shelf became an afterthought. 

2nd Try

I found some inspiration of heavily distressed coastal inspired pieces, and decided to try some layers. I layered wax and vasoline on top of the white. Then did a layer of blue paint. 


Using a paint scraper and power sander, I took off layers of paint. The paint just flakes off wherever the wax or vasoline is. 

And I got this look:


It photographed well, and my focus group loved the coastal look, but everyone who saw it in person hated it. Including my kids.

At this point I was stuck. By now it had 3 layers of paint, and I felt like I messed it up. I was ready to give it away and the fear snuck in.

Could I fix the paint and still have it look good? Would it be gloopy? Would it be boring? 

Again, all fears about the future, right? 

3rd Try:

I gritted my teeth, sanded a little more and pulled the gray paint back out. 

I used BM Gray Wolf, and added a black glaze and polycrilic topcoat, and this is what I got:


 It worked! It’s not gloopy, feels strong and smooth, and I love how it looks! 

For me, facing my fears means doing what I can in the moment and keeping going. 

I knew that if I quit this project it would get more stressful and the problem would seem bigger as time wore on.  

I learned that pushing through with confidence in what I could do now, really makes a difference! And sometimes, the 3rd time is the charm! 

Vintage Rocking Chair Refurbish Project

Just finished this custom designed rocking chair for a client and wanted to share it with you! 

My client chose the colors and fabric and I loved putting it all together! 

Before:


My client had done much of the hard work to remove the fabric and stain, but since I was spray painting, I wanted it to be completely smooth. There was a thick splotchy coat of wax that would interfere with the paint, so the power sander really came in handy here! I also had to do a fair amount of scraping to get the wax out of the tiny cracks. 


Prepped! 

My client wanted to keep the original cane work natural. So I used plastic and painters tape to protect it. 


First step was Zinsser Shellac. I know I’ve talked about it before, but Zinsser seals in old stains and eliminates bleed-through. I use it every time! 

Next I used Krylon’s Color Master paint plus primer spray paint, and did several coats to achieve the desired coverage. 

One trick with spray paint is to sand in-between coats. That really ensured a smooth finish! 

I sealed the paint with Minwax Spray Polycrilic, and just love how smooth it feels! 


I got to try out my new air compressor with my staple gun for the upholstery! Makes me feel like such a big girl to have my own tools! The air compressor was a Mother’s Day present! 

Sigh… some girls ask for pedicures… I ask for power tools! 


Some gold trim and this beauty is ready to go! 

What do you think? Ever had success with spray paint before? 

To Fix or Not To Fix

A few months ago one of my large mirrors fell down & the frame split at the seams. Luckily the mirror didn’t break, but the frame itself was loose and broken. 

My DIY mind went to work!

I thought some simple brackets would hold it together, and after spending a ridiculous amount of time at Home Depot trying to locate them… sigh… I stuck them on with screws. 

And to my sorrow… it didn’t work. The crack was still there.

 DIY fail.

It was time to make a choice: say goodbye to my mirror, or call in the pros. 

Isn’t that the question we all face when a piece of furniture isn’t working for us anymore? Do we get rid of it, or refinish it? 

Since the mirror was a hand-me-down, my first thought was, forget it… get rid of it… reduce the clutter… let it go! 

But then I started thinking about where else I might be able to use it. I’ve been working on redecorating my living room… it would go perfectly there… a new mirror that big costs a lot of money… and finally, it still “sparks joy” and makes me happy.

I called in the pros.

The mirror was relatively inexpensive to fix, and they reinforced the wire, added a new backing, and it looks brand new. 

I was so excited! 

I have a new love for this mirror! It looks fabulous on the living room wall, and I can’t believe I almost put it out with the trash! 

So often we agonize over getting rid of a piece of furniture or fixing it. Our reasons are many… but in the end, that piece just isn’t making us happy in its current state. 

My advice is:  Do something about it! 

We’ve got too much drama in our lives to let a DIY “to do list” drag us down! I walked by my broken mirror for 6 months feeling the weight and burden of “to fix or not to fix”. And it’s not a good feeling folks! 

Calling the pros is not a personal failure! If you’re worried about the cost, save a little bit every week until you’ve got enough! But don’t let it weigh you down. If it’s not making you happy, do something about it, and do it now! Instead of saying, “I’ll get to it someday”, make your plan today! It could be as simple as, “I’m saving $10/week for a new one.” Or, “If I don’t start that project by June 21st I’ll move on.” Or, “I’m going to have Lybbert Design refinish that for me!” (Shameful plug… I’m sorry!!)

 Sometimes you just have to let it go… especially if it’s too broken… or you just hate it…

But don’t loose sight of your original vision… and don’t let it just sit there dragging you down! 

Having a professional fix my mirror cost less than buying a new mirror, and I was amazed at how much more I loved that mirror when it was restored to perfection! 


Bottom line: Don’t let the agony of “to fix it, or not to fix it” weigh you down any longer! 

Make a plan…. Get it done… Call a pro… Or let it go! 

Farmhouse Chair

So excited to reveal the final on this chair!

Of the 4  chairs chairs project, this was my least favorite because it didn’t fave a fabric seat. So, it became my “guinie pig” as I tried chalk paint with a poly top coat instead of wax.

Here is the before:


Boring black… chipped and wobbly…

After:


Repaired the wobbles and distressed for a fun farmhouse look!

The poly top coat makes it smooth and wonderful to sit on! And I love it to death now!

So fun how a little paint can make a world of difference!! It is in perfect concision now, and ready to go!!

 

Old Cabinet Door Refinish

I love how old things have history! I mean, a well-built piece of furniture can outlive you and me! And think of all the people that cared for it, dusted it, used it and loved it!

Old furniture also has some element of mystery to it. We often don’t know who owned it before us, or how it came to be! I love that!!

On my last Canton Trade Days trip I found this lovely old cabinet door! 

I was drawn to its intricate carvings right away and wanted to see it painted white!

The seller said he thought it came from an old Cabinet, and he told me it had fallen out of someone’s truck! He rescued it from the side of the freeway. We both felt sorrow for the cabinet’s loss and the realization that someone may have tossed the piece because of the lost door! (I know that’s crazy… but it’s a weird part of my furniture addiction!)

Judging from it’s flat-head screws, hand carvings and wooden dowels, I knew the door was at least 80 years old.

I literally gasped when I pulled this lovely old flat-head screw out: 

Phillips screws were invented in the 1930’s and furniture manufacturers began using them exclusively because of the ability to get such a tight hold. So if you see a flat head, you know it was built long ago. (But you also have to watch out for scam artists who replace the screws.)

There are a few other evaluations I could have done on the screw to find it’s age… but I could tell they were original screws by how they pulled out of the door.

I thought about cutting off the wooden dowel at the top of the door. But I think it was used as a hinge maybe… and I kind of like that history.

Now… don’t freak out or judge me for what I did next. Antique enthusiasts would say never paint something so old…

But…

It did come off of the original piece, and fall out of a truck. Also, it had a huge crack down the middle… and ended up at a flea market where I paid $12 for it. I don’t think it was worth much without the original cabinet.

So I pulled out my paint.

First I put Shellac on it to block any bleed through. Then I used a latex paint and went gray.


Then I made my own chalk paint and painted it white.


I hoped some gray would come through after sanding, but it didn’t, and instead, it just made my creamy white paint look bright white.


I used my paint scraper to distress and create this crackle finish, then waxed it… but it just didn’t feel right yet.

So I ordered a transfer from Iron Orchid Designs, and put it on.


It still felt too bright white, so I watered down some grayish paint and washed it on.

Then I used a sander and really went to town distressing even more. The transfer distressed so well!!


A final coat of wax and brushing it out to feel smooth, and it was done!


What do you think? I’m trying to decide if I should add an old crystal doorknob. Any ideas?