August 31, 2009

Easy Stencil Tutorial

Some friends have been asking how I achieve the hand painted look, that can be found all over my house. Here is an easy, inexpensive way to do it.

I have had this perfectly rusty, beautiful tin sitting in my studio. Found it at a garage sale for $1
I knew I wanted to paint it, but never came up with anything too clever, so I decided to brand it. I do live in Texas, after all.

First I measure the area that will be painted. In this case, the interior of the tin was 7" x 23". I use Adobe, either Photoshop or Elements, and open a new, blank file that is whatever the size I am painting, for this 7" x 23". (You could also do this in Word, set the page orientation to landscape and set your margins to be 7" x 23", it would be two pages) Then I either add the text, or image. So in this case I added "WILSON", and tried different fonts, until I found one I liked. Then I kept making the font larger, and larger until it fit in my 7" x 23" box. I took the size number (134 pt.) and then went into Word, typed each letter out on a separate line in 134 pt font. I printed it out on plain office paper, and cut it out with an x-acto knife. (In areas that you might cut the center of the "A", "O", "Q", etc -in this case the loop of the W, I just use small pieces of tape to hold it together.)

Trimmed each letter to fit in the space.
It helps if you can tape your paper to the object you are painting.

I used a dry sponge brush, and acrylic craft paint. To achieve the rusty old look, I layered burnt umber and a spice brown color. I did not mix them, this makes it look naturally worn.

Just dabbed in the letters.

Then I decided it was too dark, so I added a tan color on top.

Took off the paper. And voila!

I would also recommend using a heavier paper, like card stock if it's a stencil you think you may use more than once. If it is a large area, remember you can print multiple pages and piece it together with tape. Also, if it's a large symmetrical stencil, you can print out half, paint half, let the stencil dry and flip it over. This will save a lot of cutting time.
Join Kimba at A Soft Place To Land for more fun DIY projects:

August 24, 2009

A Little Lincrusta

The tub in our master bath, has been something I have wanted to spruce up for awhile. I wanted to add some sort of wood molding or paneling to the exterior front, but because of it's curved nature, it just isn't possible.
Here is a pic from before we moved in:
Holy Purple Paisley, Batman! Looks like the 90's just threw up all over our walls!

Here is another before, after the walls have been textured and glazed:
(still kind of blah)
(Also, I was told we couldn't change out the hardware without ripping the tub out)
You can also see the 90's wall 'o glass block

One lovely day last May, one of the last days of freedom, er, I mean preschool, I headed to Josh's office. He was busy in interviews so I ran across the street to Goodwill, and because I was flying solo, I also got to look around :)
I found a brand new box of what I thought was a giant paint able wall paper border for $2.99.
When I got home and looked it up online, I was silly with excitement.
From the Lincrusta site:

Lincrusta was launched in 1877 to instant success in a host of applications from royal homes to railway carriages. A British invention, it was the brainchild of manufacturer Frederick Walton whose father pioneered linoleum floor covering in the 1860´s. Originally launched as "Linoleum Muralis", it was subsequently re-named "Lincrusta-Walton" − Lin for Linum (flax, from which linseed oil is made) and Crusta (Relief), with the inventor´s name being added to prevent other firms using the same title.
It has been used in the White House and the Titanic.

Turns out I have a frieze, in the Diana pattern and it retails for $300 a roll (11 yards)

With 33 feet, there is not enough to do an entire room.So I measure our tub surround, cut the two lengths of lincrusta, and trimmed it to fit the proper height. It is important to do two pieces, because it will not bend enough to be flush in a corner. Soaked it for 30 minutes. On the back I heavily applied Liquid Nails, the Heavy Duty, and also the small projects version. I took a plastic knife and smoothed it over every square inch, like a nice toxic icing. When I applied it to the cultured marble, I held it on for a few minutes to let it set, but then used painters tape to keep it in place while it dried.Also, the part I trimmed off looks like baseboard moulding, so I applied it on the outside of the tub, where it meets the floor.

I caulked every edge to give a seamless appearance. Also, on the fireplace surround and the front of the tub, which were both still smooth, so I took painters caulk, and with my hand just lightly smeared it on, in kind of a streaky fashion. It gives it the appearance of rough aged wood.

I then primed it with an oil based primer.
Waited a day or two.
Painted a base coat of Cliveton Leather, a nice neutral khaki
(Leftover wall color)

Then I dry brushed two shades of grey, three browns, and an antique gold over the high relief areas.

Made a stencil in Adobe for an antique crest
(turned out a little small, but I am too lazy at this point to start over.....)
I like to use the rough side of a kitchen sponge to distress soft paint, because none of the layers have cured, it is not as abrasive as sandpaper, and just took off the top layer.

I used an old rag and rubbed the entire area with raw umber oil glaze.
Let it dry over night, and then covered it all with two coats of polyurethane in semi gloss.

I had two yards of beautiful woven tapestry-like fabric left from recovering some chairs, so what's a girl to do? How about make a pointless curtain? Perfect! Fabric always softens a room!
I used a piece of PVC I cut to length as the rod. I drilled holes at 45 degree angles and screwed it into a 4" piece of wood. That made it easy to use drywall screws to attach the wood flush to the wall. It was still hanging at a slight angle, so I took a piece of the burlap trim I used for the tieback, wrapped it around the pole and screwed it inside the skylight. Then just hot glued a finial on the end!

August 21, 2009

Tang Dynasty Horses

When I was three years old, I picked up a coffee table book of Versailles and told my Daddy "that's where I want to live when I grow up". Needless to say, I suppose my sense of style is innate. I have always loved French furniture, anything hand painted, elaborate details, carved, ornate, rich and lavish. So when I flip through a Pottery Barn catalog, although beautiful, I don't find quite enough gilded or ornamental touches. I am a Horchow girl. I could write a love sonnet to Horchow. So when I was on their site looking for inspiration (or ideas to rip off), I fell in love with these Tang Dynasty Horses. They are $475 plus $280 delivery processing. Ouch! I think you can buy a real horse for that price........
Here they are:
Photo courtesy of
So when I was at the thrift store the other day I found this:
(You may need to shield your eyes from the utter 80's ugliness)

And then I found one of these little ones this week:

I know you are cringing at the thought that I actually paid money for these...

Removed their poles, a coat of primer, a little black spray paint,

Some acrylic craft paint, and a little lacquer.

And voila!

Obviously, Horchow's more closely resemble a Chinese military horse from the 8th century, but hey, I just rescued theses ladies from a life on the pole! (OK, must stop laughing and grow up)For less than $10, I'll take it!

August 19, 2009

The Tale of the Big Girl Bed

I have envisioned Hannah's big girl bed since she was about one. I knew exactly what I wanted, but was just not sure how to achieve it. I even bought a four poster bed, that I planned to deconstruct and use the components to build with. When she turned two, I knew that the crib was on borrowed time. (She is a climber by nature).
My Dad has worked with wood as long as I can remember. He has always had some form of "shop" in the garage of every house we lived in. He truly has a passion and an amazing gift of creating some of the most beautiful things. He moved to Tennessee a few years ago, and dreamed of actually leasing space to start his own business in woodworking. He is now a professional craftsman, and produces fabulous wood counter tops for kitchens, tables, and other surfaces.
So, before it was time to start building, I started picking his brain on how to make it happen. On a trip to Dallas last fall, we sat in the garage and talked about what I could and how I should go about it. He kept saying that he would love to help, (seeing as how he has every woodworking tool known to man). Then he suggested that he build it for her for Christmas. From scratch. And I could design it. I was secretly jumping with glee inside, but I didn't want him to overdo himself.
It was an amazing experience, and more than anything, it was great to be able to do it with him. I sketched out what I wanted, then scoured the web for bits and pieces of different beds (posts from here, headboard from there, etc) so that he could get a better visual. Then the rest was up to him, he was used his creative ingenuity to make my ideas cohesive. He drove it to Dallas in late January last year, in pieces. When he arrived at our house, I was blown away. It was/is beautiful, and so special. He made it out of white pine, cut and shaped every piece. Measured and installed all the hardware. And that in itself is amazing. In order for the rails, headboard foot board and canopy rails to connect you can not be more than 1/32 nd of an inch off. so you have to drill and carve out each piece precisely. He chose the moldings and wood appliques, and carved the bed to fit each. I chose a style I think will be very versatile for every phase she will go through. It can grow with her. It fits a sweet toddler/preschoolers room for now, and later, I can add dramatic curtains to flank the posts inside the canopy for a teens room. (Although, that is bittersweet to think about) Another very cool aspect that makes it personal, he made finials out of birdhouses I found at JoAnnes. He attached them with a dowel, and they can be easily switched out when we are ready for a change.

We set it up in my garage and I primed it, used an acrylic pearl finish for the base coat, acrylic artist paints to create depth and age, rubbed the entire thing down with an oil glaze, and applied as many coats as polyurethane as I could, knowing that it would take a beating from a very special little person. All the while it was freezing in Dallas, which happens about every 4 years.

Here is a barren before look
(When she started to "pole vault" over the crib rail into the bed, we knew it was time to do a mattress on the floor and get her used to sleeping in a real bed)
Also, please excuse the 70's bedding - we had just bought the mattress, and didn't think about getting twin bedding.... :)

And the after of the most special big girl bed a little girl could ask for.

Thank you to the most wonderful Popa and Daddy two girls could ask for!
We love you!!

I have BIG plans for the bedding, I have already designed it, and bought the most gorgeous fabric. Now I just need a block of time to work on it, Hannah starts preschool in September, so that's the first thing on my to do list. But don't worry, she is not stuck with the groovy orange 70's sheets, she has a sweet floral matelasse coverlet :)

The ManSpace

The ManSpace has been one of those rooms we have not really focused on or spent a lot of time in. It's the first room when you walk in the door, technically it's supposed to be a a formal living room, but anyone with kids knows just how much some formal furniture would get used. :) Josh is a man's man, an avid hunter, and an all around sportsman, whereas I am an artist who won't even touch raw meat. So when we bought our house, we came to an agreement, that his animal heads, from South Africa, could only go in one room. Call me crazy, I just don't want a reindeer (as Hannah calls them), hanging over my bed, I guess I am just of the mindset that dead things do not equal chic decor. It was also the first room I painted, and now that I have it closer to being furnished, it is the wrong color, way too amber. But that is an easy fix.

I found this China Cabinet on Craigslist for $100
(It is a terrible pic of the craiglisting, I took it on my camera so I could hold it up to the wall)
It wouldn't fit in the dining room - but I loved it - so I thought it would make a great bookcase.

A quart of black paint from WalMart - $3.73
Some acrylic craft paint - free
And it was transformed.
Some of the accesories inside I had,
I bought the globe, boat, plate and gumball machine - $15 total - thriftstore
The chairs were also a Craigslist purchase - $200 for both.
Pillows I have had - originally from Walmart - need to be recovered, someday.
The ottoman came from Weirs when we first moved in - one of our first (and totally random) purchases - not sure of cost, but I am sure it was too much - and now I wish it was black :)

Here is a pic of the animals
The bar was a gift from Josh's mom for his 25th birthday - free
And the bar stool we adopted from an old roommate - free
Torch lamp - $5 - thrift store
The rug was the best deal of all - it is a Karastan Original - from Craigslist $150 (they retail for $6,000)

The Birdcage - $15 CCA thrift store
Tiles - $3 each - CCA (could be repainted)
The magazine holder - $2.50 - goodwill makeover - was white - painted and monogrammed

FABULOUS tins - FREE - my Aunt gave them to me
Topiary - $10 - Walmart clearance garden section
Moroccan Lantern $3 - garage sale
Suitcase - $8 - thrift store
Curtains - free - had leftover fabric from the livngroom - and the rods were left here by previous owners

Love this sword table - Weirs - same day as the ottoman - think it cost $200
Ball and Chain - Hobby Lobby garden - $3 (I have a terrible sense of humor)

This pic is from before we moved in - furnishings of the people who leased the house

Here is a pic from before I got the china cabinet (too bad those animals had to go to his office afterwards :))