3 Steps to an Updated Dresser

Have you ever been shopping at a thrift store or yard sale and passed by a piece of furniture that you loved because you assumed that it would take too much work to make it look shiny and new? Sometimes, it is too much work. If it has whole pieces of wood missing or is just plywood covered in cheap veneer, it might be time to say farewell. Other times, a piece of furniture just needs a few simple steps to make it something special.

Jeremy and I stumbled across a moving sale one day, and an arsenal of items we didn’t care about was sitting on top of a beautiful mid-century dresser without a price tag. The woman said she would love to sell it and that it belonged to her parents in the 1950s. I offered her $50. She took it! Compared to the $300-$500 price tags I have seen on mid-century dressers on Craigslist, I was pleased as punch to shell over 50 bucks.
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I wish these photos could better show how dirty and gross it was. It had been stored in a garage and definitely had some water damage going on. In fact, we don’t use two of the drawers because they are hard to open since the water damage. But for $50, it was worth it.

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Mittens loves this dresser…
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If you pick up a dirty, old piece of wooden furniture, here are 3 quick steps to making it shiny and new. Assuming it is real wood and that you’re just dealing with dirt, grime and minor scratches, I guarantee a “wow” result.

1. Wipe everything down with soap and water

Give it a good, old fashioned cleaning. It’s amazing what dirt and grime can hide on wooden surfaces.

2. Use Mr. Clean’s Magic.
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A Magic Eraser really is that. There were water rings on the top that I thought would never come off. Marks and stains magically lifted. It’s gross what is hiding!

 photo dresser7_zpsace1aa93.jpgBefore on the left. After on the right.
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3. Use Restor-a-finish

 photo dresser6_zpsca4024be.jpgRestor-a-finish is like watered down stain. Not as difficult to use or messy as stain. It can be found at Home Depot (I haven’t found it at Lowes).

This is just a wipe-on product that helps to mask little imperfections in wood. I was shocked by what a difference it made!
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Voila! 3 steps and done!

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Styling is still underway, and I can’t wait to show you what this baby looks like in light of the whole room! Room reveal coming soon!

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Snow days and a clean house…

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It has been a strange week in Nashville. This is my seventh winter in the great state of Tennessee, and in all that time I have never gotten more than one day off per winter for weather. Usually, we get a few dustings of snow every year–the kind that looks beautiful in the morning and melts by noon. This week, however, we got an inch and a half of ice on Monday followed by snow on Wednesday morning, and we haven’t left the subfreezing temps all week, so nothing is melting, and everyone has been stuck in their houses! I didn’t leave from Sunday night until Wednesday afternoon. Now I am back to work, but it’s still been a strange week. Wednesday night it got down to something like -2 degrees. We just don’t handle that well in the south, y’all.
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All you northerners are rolling your eyes at me. Go ahead and roll those eyeballs all you want. But, Nashville doesn’t have the right equipment and ice is downright dangerous,  y’all.

So while the world has been stuck in a FROZEN state, I said to my husband, “Do you want to build a snowman?” and Jeremy replied “let it go, honey.” So, instead we decided to take care of our own little fixer upper and did a complete organizational overhaul for the first time in forever… or at least since we started this renovation. Now we are waking up to a clean house, and these few snow days turned out to be even better than vacation days in summer because when you stay at home with your honey, all you can say is that “love is an open door.” 

Wow. I just wrote that paragraph. And it’s actually true. Fist bump, Disney fans. (If you have no idea what I just referenced above, go watch Frozen).
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So, now I ask…is there anything better than a clean house? I am not naturally tidy. I wish that were not true. When I get busy, I get messy. But, I am starting fresh with our new bedroom.

Starting fresh with a clean house on these snow days got me thinking about how we need to start fresh in many areas of our lives. I was feeling so overwhelmed before this storm hit. My brain was foggy. We have had a lot of change in our lives lately, and I have just felt the weight of stress on my shoulders. God knew what I needed because he trapped me and my husband together in our house.

While I opened up closet doors and reorganized what I was hiding back there and swept up dust bunnies and vacuumed furniture, my introverted little self was being revitalized. I found time to spend alone with God and a cup of coffee. I held my husband’s hand on the couch. I was refreshed both physically and emotionally.

What do you do to keep yourself tidy emotionally and spiritually? How do you unwind and keep your focus straight in the midst of life’s little tasks?

And, on a practical note, do you guys have any tips for keeping the house clean? Do you do a daily cleanup routine?

The cold never bothered me anyway.
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Annie Sloan Chalk Paint & A Vintage File Cabinet

Today, I get to show you what may now be my favorite piece of furniture in our house. period. Say hello to my vintage card catalog. 
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Jeremy & I went on an antique hunt last August when Jeremy surprised me with a weekend trip to St. Louis. One of our favorite things to do in new cities is to find an antique store and look for a unique piece to remind us of that trip. Armed with some birthday money, I came home with an old, beat up metal filing cabinet/card catalog that I absolutely fell in love with for only $75. When I went next door and found another metal filing cabinet for over $400, I felt good about the purchase. I saw the potential, but I knew that painting it would be quite a project, so in the midst of so many things, I have put it off for nearly 6 months.
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My mom has been raving lately about Annie Sloan chalk paint and the way that it adheres to everything. I’ve heard about it for years, and I thought maybe this metal cabinet was my chance to give it a shot…

I’m not usually an early adopter. It is just not my style. I am still boasting an iPhone 4. I didn’t start Harry Potter until long after all the books had been released. I wore flare jeans for way too long and rolled my eyes at the silly new “skinny jean” trend until I finally caved and threw out the flare. That being said, it took me a long time to get on the Annie Sloan chalk paint train. I kept hearing about this magic paint that didn’t require sanding or priming, but I was determined that I didn’t need any of that voodoo paint.

The idea of not sanding and priming every nook and cranny of this metal cabinet, however, made the new paint just too tempting. So, I took the plunge, and I’m so glad I did.

The piece looked fine from a distance, but when you looked up close, it told a different story. I feel like this thing was in an old high school and kids scratched into it with their keys while waiting for the principals office. There were strange marks and some graffiti.
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I removed all the drawers so I could paint more easily and went to town.
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I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite with a coat of clear wax on top. After two coats and a few touch ups, I decided to add some gold paint to the handles for a pop of contrast. I just used small little paint brushes and painstakingly painted the gold on 28 drawers. Phew.
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Finally, I added a coat of Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax for added protection and a little bit of sheen.

I love the vintage look with the modern touch of the dark color and the contrast of the gold.
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So here are my final thoughts after using ASCP for the first time on both metal and wood (I also painted our new king sized platform bed…more pictures to come)

Con:
– It is pricey! $36/quart plus and $26 for the wax. Keep in mind, however, that you a little goes a long way!
– It has a very distinctive look with a lot of texture. This paint is made for texture and a vintage feel. Although the Graphite color has a hint of modern in it, if you’re looking for sleek, smooth, modern furniture, it isn’t the right paint.
– Waxing. I didn’t think waxing was terrible, but it’s also an extra step that takes some time to get used to it.

Pro:
– A little goes a long way! I painted a king sized bed frame and this entire piece, and I still have at least 1/3 of a quart of paint left.
– The textured look makes the paint look custom.
– It adheres SO WELL to anything. From wood to metal, it really stays put.
– Easy, easy, easy. I just love how easy it is and how difficult it is to mess it up. I just used a regular old brush and went to town. No prep. Any mistakes were easy to fix.

I can’t wait to use it some more!

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360 degrees of paint + a few paint buying tricks.

When I last left you, every single surface of our room needed to be painted. We saw the progress, but to you it probably looked like a jumbled mess. It needed a 360 degree paint job.
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We are singing “Hallelujah!” as this major project is winding down. It has been quite the undertaking. We started from studs (for more on that, click here) and we have not hired a single contractor for this job. It has been done 100% on our own and with the consulting help of my engineer father-in-law.

Now everything is painted! And I mean EVERYTHING!! The ceiling, trim, walls, and floor all got a few coats of paint. The trim still needs some touch up, but it is coming along.
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It’s amazing what a few coats of paint can do, isn’t it?

To paint the floor, we followed this tutorial from Vintage Revivals.
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For those who like specifics, the floor and wall colors are both by Benjamin Moore and were color matched to other brands of paint (more on that below). The walls are Stonington Gray lightened by 50% in Olympic One paint and the floors are just called Gray 2121-10 in Sherwin Williams Porch & Floor Paint.
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Here is the closet! This was before we finished installing the quarter round on the baseboards.
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I bought pretty specific formulas for this job. And we used a lot of paint. So…I thought I would share a few of my tips for buying and using paints.

1. For high end colors at lower prices, learn how to color match. 

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For months, I saw bloggers reference the term “color match,” and I had no idea what that meant. It all seemed so black and white to me. If you buy Valspar paint, you use Valspar colors from the little kiosk in Lowe’s, right? If you want Benjamin Moore colors, you have to shell out the $50+ per can of paint at a specialty store?

Not true.

I love the selection that Benjamin Moore has in their paint colors. And often times when I look on Pinterest or in a magazine, the colors I fall in love with are Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams. I know those high end brands have high end paint quality, but in our current home, I care about coverage and color, but I’m not worried about paint colors lasting 20 years or being the most expensive on the market, so enter the beloved color match. 

So far, my favorite paint to handle is Olympic One from Lowe’s which runs around $25 a gallon. It’s got great coverage and consistency, and of all the brands I have tried, it has been my favorite. The great thing is that Lowe’s has the formulas for all the brands in their system (the same is true of most retailers), so I simply tell them “I would like a gallon of Olympic One in Eggshell color matched to Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore”…or “Sunny Yellow by Valspar” or “Light French Gray by Sherwin Williams” or whatever color I’ve chosen at the moment.

And they mix it up and send me on my way.

The colors may not be 100% as accurate as Benjamin Moore paint, but I haven’t been disappointed yet! Half the price. Done.

2. Lighten up. 

It is hard to find the right shade. So when I find it, I am thrilled. In the case of our basement, I knew Stonington Gray was the right shade.  On the cool side of gray, but it doesn’t lean too purple or too blue. We have LED lights in this room, so the undertones of colors tend to be more vibrant. But, I wanted it to be really light and airy in a room with low ceilings and dark floors.

Enter, the lightening factor.
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I simply had Lowe’s “lighten the color by 50%.” I have done this before, and it works wonders. It is a mixture of 50% white and 50% stonington gray, and it is EXACTLY what I wanted. Don’t feel stuck at one saturation…just tell em to lighten up! Want 75/25? No problem!

3. Use a good angled brush. 

 With a steady hand and a good angled brush, you can avoid using painter’s tape. My favorite brush is this one. 2″ with a short handle. It’s easy to maneuver and makes those edges and corners a synch. 

4. If you must use tape, use the frog. 

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Frog tape is awesome for three reasons.
1. It’s green.
2. It’s called frog tape.
3. If you use a wet washcloth and wipe down the tape, you will get the most crisp line you’ve ever seen. That’s a trick I recently learned, and it changed my paint taping life. It’s like a frog sticking it’s little webbed feet on your wall and creating a barrier for the paint.

5. Paint without fear. 

The best part about paint? You can paint over it. If you paint all your walls and realize you don’t like the color, it is fairly easy and inexpensive to try again. Painting is one of the most effective ways to make a big change for a small amount of money.

And in my case, with raw drywall and concrete floors, paint was kinda a necessity.

Up next…more details on our closet.

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Deconstructing the Construction Zone & A Preview of What’s to Come

We have been living in a construction zone since September. Our entire basement is covered in a layer of drywall dust that has drifted out from the new master bedroom. Jeremy  has been working so hard, and let me just list for you the things he has accomplished.

– Removed existing drywall on walls and ceiling
– Installed insulation
– Built an outside wall and installed a window (with the help of his dad on this one)
– Built a new wall to create a closet
– Hung Drywall on walls and ceiling
– Mudded and sanded drywall (I helped a bit with this step)
– Raised air ducts 6 inches for more ceiling clearance
– Built a door that looks like a bookshelf…from scratch.
– Re-routed all the lighting from one central light to 6 flushmounts (I didn’t know I married an electrician).

My husband is so handy! What a stud. I still can’t believe he did so much by himself. There were moments of frustration and a few slip ups in the process. For example, he drilled into a water line and water spewed out all over the room. But, overall, he worked hard toward a goal and we saved unbelievable amounts of money by not hiring help. I may do cost breakdown later on with the big reveal.
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For now, I leave you with some progress. If you were to come over now, you would see the walls and ceiling primed and painted, and they are looking lovely, but I will save those photos for another day. We are planning on beginning to move furniture in NEXT WEEK, guys!

We do not claim to be construction experts. Jeremy’s dad has a lot of experience with this kind of renovation and was always a phone call away, but until this point we hadn’t really ventured past the furniture flipping and building, wall painting kind of DIY. So, I will spare you all the details because I don’t think we are the right people to teach you how to do construction, but I still want to share an overview.

We started here. With a regular old one car garage.
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 photo Before1_zpse1c62859.jpgTo be honest, it looks better than it was. We thought we could get away with just adding the outside wall and then painting the existing walls and calling it a day.

Who were we kidding? It’s never that easy.

Our basement (of which this garage is included) was finished out in 2009 after the house was foreclosed on and purchased by a house flipping company. They cut all kinds of corners and did a really poor job with the finishing work. In order to make the room really look like an intentional bedroom rather than an old garage, we had to start from scratch…

So this happened.
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But first, the garage door came out and a window went in…
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 photo progress9_zps64aaf3d9.jpgBetter pictures to come of that outside wall once everything is finished. It still needs another coat of paint.

Anyway, back to the inside…you see that really low hanging section in the middle? That is a terrible air vent that hung 12 inches from the ceiling. There was no way to remove it completely, but Jeremy was able to re-route the ducts to the top and raise the entire thing by 6 inches.

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It’s hard to tell in this photo, but here it is raised. The mark on the pole (which will eventually be boxed in like a proper column) is a good indication of where it used to be.
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A close up preview of the lights he installed and the door/shelf he built.
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And I leave you with a couple more photos of the process
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Here is what we have left:

– Prime everything
– Paint walls and ceiling
– Paint floors (Dark Charcoal Gray)
– Install baseboards
– Install trim around shelf door
– Paint all trim and doors
– Install closet hardware

That is what’s left before the room itself is done. We still have a lot to do for the decor part of things. But we have gotten some great new furniture pieces lately and our mattress came in next week. Here is a preview of what’s to come…

This duvet.
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And this dresser which I will refinish. Swoon.
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Such a tiny taste of all the projects coming down the pike!

Stay tuned, friends.

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2014 In Review

It’s a week into the new year, and I’m just now getting to writing this post. Because life is busy and change is coming. I love blogging, and soon (with the master bedroom nearing completion), I will have a lot more to say, but in the last couple months I have taken a step back from the blog, and it has been great.

But, a lot of good things still happened in 2014. More than I realized. So,  here are a few highlights.

I talked about what it’s like to be a road wife (one of my most shared posts).

We did a major basement bathroom overhaul.
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We celebrated two years of marriage, and I talked about dating habits that helped our marriage (another one of my most shared posts.)

We became pet parents.
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We put a new light in the kitchen.

We turned an old craigslist piano into a desk.
DIY Antique Piano Desk.

We did some temporary guest room updates.

We created a pallet wall for the office.
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We had a lovely getaway to Chattanooga.

We renovated our master bedroom (which will soon become a guest room).
Steven Alan Golden Gate Duvet from West Elm

We did some bench reupholstery.

We built a new industrial coffee table.
Industrial Coffee Table - All Precious & Pleasant

We added Roman shades to our kitchen.
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We updated our laundry room.

We decorated the house for Fall.

We went to England and spent time in London and the Northeast.
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We hosted our annual fall party.
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We started our garage to master bedroom renovation. Our biggest undertaking yet!

We decorated our house for Christmas and took Christmas card photos.
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It’s looking like 2015 holds bigger reveals and greater adventures than 2014, and I’m excited to get started!

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Merry Christmas From The Quarles Family

It’s Christmas week. How can that be true? Every year, this season passes more quickly. I love the Christmas season. This year, I have really felt an internal, quiet peace and enjoyed such simple moments with God, friends, and family.

Our first year of marriage, we did Christmas cards. Last year, we skipped it. This year, I brought it back. Jeremy took some convincing, but he was willing to put on the outfit I picked and come out to the front porch for some quick photos.

We just set up our tripod outside the front of our house and I staged the little porch we have with some of our decorations from inside. Also, I only know how to use the timer on the camera in continuous mode, so it took about 10 photos at a time. But we got a few keepers.

Then, I designed the cards myself on Photoshop and printed them via Vistaprint.

Here is what we came up with…

FRONT
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BACK
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Here are a few fun extra photos and outtakes from the shoot. I’m really happy with the way it all turned out!
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We even brought Jack and Mittens outside for a rare outdoors experience. Jack thinks being outside is the greatest thing and he puts on his best behavior. Mittens is terrified and would rather be inside.
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So, here is a virtual Merry Christmas if you didn’t receive a card in the mail from us this year. Next year, I’m definitely ordering more (don’t tell Jeremy that I mentioned doing this again…photo shoots are not so much his thing. :-))

Love this season,

Chandler & Jeremy

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