Modern Updates

If Chalkboard paint had been in existence in the 50’s, it most certainly would have been a trend. Recently, I was inspired by an article I found featuring Rust-Oleum Chalkboard Paint.  The article mentioned that Rust-Oleum now features a tintable chalkboard paint. I’d been wanting to do this somewhere for my son and our kitchen seemed the obvious choice to allow for scribbled grocery lists and kids’ drawings. I was intrigued by the fact that not only could the paint be tinted to a color of my choosing, but that it was a cheap and easy project as well:  13.95 at Home Depot. I’m an instant gratification type of girl…..it’s something I must work on, but I have to say I do enjoy projects that can be done in a day!

"Deep Teal"
“Deep Teal”

I have to admit when I opened this, I got a little scared. I love color….but man, that paint looked pretty bright.

Here are the "tintable" colors you can choose from.
Here are the “tintable” colors you can choose from.
Here's my recommended arsenal for a successful painting project. Limit one Corona, otherwise results cannot be guaranteed.
Here’s my recommended arsenal for a successful painting project. Limit one Corona, otherwise results cannot be guaranteed.

Another recommendation: If you’re painting a wall using the basic black chalkboard paint, use paint – not the available spray cans for better results.

Use a roller to apply
Use a roller to apply
Paint 2-3 coats
Paint 2-3 coats
After 3 days..."Condition" the chalkboard by covering the paint in chalk. If you skip this step, your original writings will be forever etched on your chalkboard wall.
This is key: Paint has to set/dry for 3 days…after that, “condition” the chalkboard by rubbing the paint with the side of a piece of chalk. If you skip this step, your original writings will be forever etched on your chalkboard wall.
Wipe clean with a felt eraser or rag. Use a  damp cloth afterwards to clean the board.
Wipe clean with a felt eraser or rag. Use a damp cloth afterwards to clean the board.
Voila! Ready to go....it dried the "Deep Teal" that I wanted.
Voila! Ready to go….it dried the “Deep Teal” that I wanted.
Little man: he's happy with his message board and so am I.
Little man: he’s happy with his message board and so am I.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Mid-Century Warmth

If it’s cold in California, I know it has to be pretty cold wherever you are right now. Many of my Texas friends are enjoying snow days. Overnight temperatures in Big Bear Lake, California have been below zero recently. You can’t think of snowballs, ice and freezing temperatures and not think of sweaters, mittens, and sitting near the fire with your hands cupped around a hot beverage. Fire. It’s what brings warmth and that cozy feeling when it’s cold outside.   It is because of the uncharacteristic chill for this area and our love for cuddling near dancing flames that our family was forced to address the empty fireplace.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an adequate before photo for you….suffice it to say we had your typical soot-covered, unloved fireplace complete with a dirty grate and nothing else. Oh… and it was covered by gaudy gold glass doors. That about sums it up. My firewood habit was getting expensive and the clean-up would have been enough to drive any fellow OCD-type insane. I knew we needed to do something, and my husband and I were considering gas logs to alleviate the upkeep. However, one night my husband of all people came home with the idea of a “glass fire.” Someone at work had mentioned it, he Google’d some pictures, and was awestruck.

I put some thought into what a fireplace would have looked like in the mid-century. After all, the whole mid-century modern movement was founded on the notion that life should be simple and streamlined. More room and less mess, allowing the few key pieces in the home as well as it’s inhabitants to shine. Here are  examples of mid-century warmth as well as their renovated counterparts.

MidCenturyModern_fireplace_03
MCM Fireplace
Updated mid-century home found on modernhomeslosangeles.com
Updated mid-century home and fire found on modernhomeslosangeles.com

So I began to think that if something like a “glass fire” was available back then, that it may have fit quite well with the modern aesthetic of the time. Think about it: the glass used now is simple, beautiful, functional and requires no clean-up. I’m sold. We headed over to Barbeques Galore after much online perusing to see this product in person.

We fell in love. The funny bit is when we approached the Barbeques Galore, my husbands chest puffed up as he gave me the speech about I’d better not get too excited, that he had no intention of buying anything today. (What am I, 4?) SUCKA! I knew the employee who was helping us was in when the hubs started asking him questions like they were on a date. Daniel, it seems, has one at his house too and turned out to be a wealth of knowledge about what we would need. We were putty in his hands.

Glass “crystals” are guaranteed available in a wide variety of colors and finishes (such as “metallic”) and they are guaranteed not to pop or lose color over time. Our dogs are happy about that part….they were starting to develop nervous ticks with all the popping firewood I was blazing.

We went with Caribbean Blue in a metallic finish as well as Gunmetal Gray. You don’t have to stick with just one color. Yessssss! It’s not all glass, folks. You need a burner too. We went with the “Arc” to get a more full look to the flame.

Caribbean Blue Metallic
Caribbean Blue Metallic
Gunmetal Gray metallic 2
Gunmetal Gray Metallic

Best part is this is all a very easy DIY project-and it’s not too late to enjoy it before spring. Give yourself 1-2 days to get it done (2 days if you have to clean and wait for paint to dry). After our purchase, we ran straight to my favorite place on earth to shop, The Home Depot and purchased high-temperature black paint for inside the fireplace. I sent my husband and son to the park as I set out to clean and prep the fireplace. There was soot, buckets of soap and water, mess, wire snips and some light cursing. Thankfully, I made it out alive. The fireplace lost, but is far better for it. One day later, we had FIRE!

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We LOVE the new fire. It gives off quite a bit of heat (truthfully, a lot more than the wood burning fire before it) and it’s just so COOL LOOKING! These photos are with the fire on quite low. This baby really gets blazing!

Here are a few websites to get you started if you’re in the market for a quick and easy update:

http://finishingtouchproducts.com/ (available online and at Barbeques Galore)

http://www.moderustic.com/More-Self-Installations.html (DIY tutorial with step-by-step pictures)

Good luck!

My Gift to you…a TP Wreath Tutorial

You cannot attend a family gathering with my relatives and not be subjected to talk of politics, religion, and yes, a little bit of potty humor. It’s a fact- almost nothing is off-limits at Thanksgiving and Christmas and this year, I will be hosting 32 family members for Christmas Eve dinner. A few posts ago, I wrote about a bathroom design dilemma where the question was begged, “what to do with the guest bathroom?” Well, below you shall find my answer. Not having time, money or energy for a bathroom update at this point – I have instead chosen to decorate it for the holidays with a nod to the ultimate purpose of a restroom.

I searched the internet for “toilet-paper roll wreath tutorials” and all that came up were these creative and quite beautiful versions:

This is an example of one of the results I found on google. This  particular wreath can be found on moneysavingmom.com
This is an example of one of the results I found on google. This particular wreath can be found on moneysavingmom.com

Not at all what I was looking for. I wanted something more organic shall we say? Do you know where I found my template? A photo on a Christmas card at Walmart. (Don’t judge. They’re rolling back prices. Plus, it’s great people watching.)

So my gift to you this Christmas is my very own DIY tutorial on how to make an awesome Toilet Paper Roll wreath for about one dollar. You’re welcome.

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You will need:

Floral Wire ($1)

Assorted toilet paper rolls

Super glue

Garland of your choosing. I had some plastic mistletoe laying around, which I used on my wreath

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I doubled up on my floral wire to make it a bit sturdier
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Once you have enough rolls on your first row, twist those ends together.

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My wreath was not nearly classy enough with one strand!

Resist the temptation to wipe your butt with the rolls. They will NOT stick together better that way.

Here’s where the superglue comes in. The second layer is built the same way, nestled inside the outer layer.

DRUMROLL PLEASE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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Isn’t it LOVELY!?
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This is how my bathroom will be decorated this year. Merry Christmas!

Krud Kutter, Take Me Away!

Blogging is a sort of escape for me. I enjoy it immensely and it allows me to focus other things besides being a wife, mother and all the other labels I’ve earned in life. Recently, though I’ve struggled to move past the sadness I feel over the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and am left with a loss for words. Writing much of anything this week seemed an impossible task, as unspeakable calamity put my usual fodder in harsh perspective. I would never like to be one to rate a tragedy, but maybe it’s because I’m a mother this awful reality hits home the most for me.  I’m not going to bring others down by sharing my feelings on the matter. Far from it; when I feel a sense of complete helplessness, the two things that help me the most are prayer and what I like to call “creative avoidance” a/k/a, deep cleaning. One of my favorite authors Anasis Nin said it best:

“When I cannot bear outer pressures anymore, I begin to put order in my belongings…As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects.”

The heavens must have seen my struggles, because a gift package arrived this week from the wonderful folks at Krud Kutter to thank me for a recent blog about a rust removal project where I highlighted the awesomeness that is Krud Kutter. (See Rust Removal 101) Relieved to have something else to focus on, I immediately set about testing out some of the products I received.

I consider myself a cleanly person. I often can be found cleaning; as mentioned above, it’s how I sometimes cope. That said, I was disgusted/delighted by the dirt that the Krud Kutter pulled from my grout.

Here is a before and after…

Nasty Grout Sample Before
Nasty Grout Sample Before
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Nice Grout Sample After
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Kitchen bar area soaking in Original Krud Kutter solution (about 10 minutes)
(OMD!) Oh my disgusting
(OMD!) Oh my disgusting….
I used a firm bristle brush pulled from a mop I had laying around and any elbow grease I would have needed was obliterated by the Krud Kutter’s karate power.
Kitchen Bar area after
Kitchen Bar area after

I’m so pleased, I could bathe in this stuff. No…I don’t get paid to say that. Aside from the Lord, it was my salvation in a time of necessary distraction from the troubles of the world.

Are you in need of escape too? Head to Home Depot….and for $4.97 you can pick up some Original Krud Kutter and get to work! Cleanliness is Godliness….or so they say….but I say it’s divine distraction.

Krud Kutter, Take Me Away!
Krud Kutter, Take Me Away!

Next stop….the shower grout!!!!!  Thanks Krud Kutter. I am ever devoted to thee.

Christmas Came Early….Rust Removal 101

So two weeks ago in my Christmas Wishes post, I was writing about the ultimate Christmas wish. This week, I have in my kitchen a sleek and gorgeous vintage Saarinen-style tulip table and 4 chairs, courtesy of my loving and enthusiastic husband. No ladies, you cannot have him. Christmas came early for this MCM blogger, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Let me preface this gift explanation by saying the table and chairs I’ve been wanting run from $900/used-$2500/updated or refinished. If you were to want to purchase a new tulip table and chairs that are reproductions;  you’d be paying no less than $1000 BEFORE shipping.  So even though its torture, I am continually scrolling through Craigslist, estate sale photos, and Ebay on the look-out for the elusive fairly priced and very much in demand tulip table and chairs.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon an Ebay auction for one said set for a fraction of the price that I’ve been seeing them online. The only catch to this auction was that the merchandise had to be picked up locally – in Long Beach. Long story short, I am convinced that the only reasons why I “won” this auction: because I didn’t have to compete with the rest of the world, it was a Wednesday night and I’m the only crazy person trolling for tulip on a Wednesday that and they were totally meant for me. I.AM.SMITTEN. Do you want to hear something amazing? This set isn’t a Saarinen original, but it is mid-century, and it was manufactured by Frank Bros. Furniture, who were commissioned to furnish the Case Study Houses! I love vintage furniture, but I love it more when there is a story behind a piece.  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/home_blog/2009/08/the-jaunty-guy-on-the-left-in-the-above-photo-is-ron-frank-son-of-one-of-the-two-co-founders-of-famed-long-beach-furniture.html

Before I show my sweet new set in its little cozy corner of the kitchen, let’s change gears do a little Rust Removal 101. The base of the table and chairs are paint on metal, and there was quite a bit of rust on them. The tulip stems clearly needed some TLC, and I was only too happy to give it to them. Kudos to my mother, who said, “Why don’t you go to Home Depot and get some of that stuff that removes rust but is safe for the finish?” To which I replied, “Geeeeeeehhhh?” I had no idea that something like that even existed. Obdient and enlightened, I headed to Home Depot with a picture of my rust problem. The helpful guy in the paint department asked me a strange question, “Can you be gentle?” I hesitantly replied, “Yes?” not really sure what that meant. I was prescribed the following – and instructed to apply the magic potion to my table with a cloth. I was positively delighted with the results (after about an hour):

Krud Kutter - $4 bucks at Home Depot. Chuck Norris has nothing on this guy.
Krud Kutter. ($4) Cuts more crap than Chuck Norris.
2 of the Chairs Before from afar
2 of the Chairs Before from afar
Action Shot
Action Shot
I recommend gloves and a soft cloth for application
Safety first…wear gloves and use a soft cloth for application.
Worst offender before photo
Worst offender before photo
Worst offender after an hour
Worst offender after an hour
Example/Chair 2 Before
Example/Chair 2 Before
Example/Chair 2 After
Example/Chair 2 After

No, I do not work for Krud Kutter….but I wouldn’t mind being a spokesperson, now that I’ve seen their stuff in action. It actually dissolves the rust, is water-based, biodegradable and easy to use. In fact, I have been running around the house applying Krud Kutter where the shaving cream bottle left rust in the shower…and I have some vintage bar stools with rusted metal bottoms that I’ll be tackling next. If you’re looking for remarkable results and immediate gratification, this is your DIY project.

And finally, second only to my gorgeous son, this is my favorite sight in the morning:

Vision in white. Once I find bright teal seat cushions, it will be perfection.
Vision in white. I’m on the lookout for teal seat cushions…and we shall have perfection.

Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh.

Happy Place Found

One of the things on my “bucket list” to accomplish/conquer in life is refinishing wood furniture. It should be said one of my favorite places to be is the Home Depot. I have been known to ask for power tools for Christmas. No…I do not have testicles in case you were wondering – but I am working on a really cool beard.  I just happen to love working with my hands. Funny enough that my preoccupation with mid-century furniture has allowed me the opportunity to explore a bit of a sidebar hobby.

I recently moved into a new home that with it, came a wooden cabinet in the garage. This cabinet is probably only 20 years old – about as old as the house…and had seen better days. I figured what better piece of furniture to practice on than something that will stay in the garage? If I totally botch it up, who will know? That’s right, no one! As for my knowledge of refreshing wood, it was extremely limited. I pulled my information and inspiration directly from one of the funniest blogs I’ve read: The Brick House by Morgan Satterfield

http://www.the-brick-house.com/2010/09/refreshing-vintage-wood/

So I used exactly what Morgan suggested one use to re-beautify wood:

Murphy Oil Soap, Watco Teak Oil, Howard Feed-N-Wax, Lint-Free Rags and Fine Sandpaper.

I was very happy with the results:

Cabinet De Garage
Yucky Water Marks de el Cabinet de Garage
Before Sanding
Sanded Down Cabinet-Go with the grain!

Post sanding followed by a bath in Murphy Oil Soap, it was on to the teak oil.

The wonders of Watco

Word of warning re: Watco Teak Oil. Make sure your location is well ventilated. I probably should have had a fan on in the garage. I was convinced that I actually was super woman after giving that cabinet a sensual oil massage.

No more water marks
Post Howard Feed -N- Wax Glow

As for the results, like I said, I was quite pleased. I did manage to get the water rings off of the top of the cabinet and paint off the side, however, the black marks weren’t effected. Regardless, because the wood has been “fed” it’s looking a lot sexier to me. There was at one point where I was in the garage sanding that sucker down, listening to music and I thought – I could do this all day long! At long last, I’ve found my happy place!  Despite finding another potentially enjoyable and rewarding hobby, refreshing wood wasn’t a life-altering experience. That being said, I do feel more confident now moving on to furniture I find in my thrifting and estate sale-ing travels. Perhaps I can start a small business bringing illustrious MCM wood furniture to the world! I think I’d be pretty happy with that too.

How much did you say you want for those glass grapes?!?!

One of the things I love most about HGTV now is that show The High/Low Project http://www.hgtv.com/the-high-low-project/show/index.html where they feature for example a 20K designer room, and then they recreate it for whatever the homeowners budget is. Sometimes they have to do a lot of searching, but it seems like every time, they manage to come very close to an exact match of the designer room and often they improve on the original.

Part of my sharing the “Adventures of a Retro Re-Deco” with the world is to serve as a reminder to my readers that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your hands on some really beautiful and unique vintage pieces. I’m on a very tight budget myself.  I have to redecorate by selling items I already own.  As I mentioned in my first blog, I have found almost every one of my pieces from a flea market, Craigslist, or Goodwill.  If you look at this photo of my formal living room, it’s essentially a mix of old and new….

The Brass Cats? They were purchased for $9 dollars at Goodwill. When I researched some comparables on EBay, I found an uglier version of just two cats for $99. Can you say, SCORE!!!?!?

The Teal Couch is vintage and I nearly soiled myself when I found it on Craigslist. Sometimes when I’m by myself, I sit and just caress it’s wooly exterior. Not really, but sort of. I do.

The colorful painting on the wall was only $50 as part of a deal for buying a desk from the same vendor at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

The Green Chairs? They were a bit of a splurge, but I found them at Long Beach Veterans Stadium Flea Market. I’m told this is one of the best places to get antique and MCM furniture and accessories in SoCal. As my Mom and I carried them out, people were actually stopping us asking where we found them and how much we paid. Okay, okay…..I’ll tell you….gulp…..$500. A splurge for someone on a budget like mine, but a priceless find as far as I’m concerned. The arms are SOOO curvy and comfy and the lime green? Hello! TO DIE FOR. One woman actually pulled on her friends arm, nodded to us and said; “Now THAT’S the PERFECT find.” I nearly floated out of there.

The Big Dipper Arc Floor Lamp from CB2 I bought used on Craigslist for ½ of its retail value.

Morganton Nesting Tables? Under $150 including shipping for a set of 3 on EBay.

The wooden dolphin was a thrift store find, and the glass pieces and sheepskin were Ikea and Target. I actually spied the green piece on my favorite MCM blog, Mid-Century Modern Love. http://midcenturymodernlove.com/  But I waited until it was on clearance at Target and got it for under $10.

So patience is the key. Wait until you find the right thing. If it takes your breath away, by all means go for it. In my experience however, if you just wait it out, something within your budget will reveal itself to you with a little persistence and patience. Case in point, the aforementioned glass grapes. What is the deal with the glass grapes anyway? Even as I learn the ropes of flea marketing and bargaining, I am astonished by how much some of these Mid-Century favorites cost. $50 for a bunch of glass grapes? Have you been drinking??? It’s GLASS, not GOLD!

So I have held onto my glass grapes cash and waited patiently.  Low and behold, as I was “treasure hunting” with my son at the Goodwill this week I spied these babies. They’re green….part of my color scheme…in all their hideous glory, they were…..wait for it…… wait for it….$5.99. That’s all crusty old glass grapes from the 50’s should cost in my estimation..but what do I know?

Happy Hunting Friends!