writing desk redo

One day my employer told us that the furniture in this one office was up for grabs, and because I believe in hoarding furniture whenever possible I ran upstairs to take a look. It’s a law firm that has been around awhile, so there is a lot of old furniture sitting around, including this old writing desk, which I grabbed because it suited my plans for a new but cheap home bar area. I’ve been collecting pictures on Pinterest of bar carts and wine racks and figured I could use it in those plans. It’s not 100% ideal, but it was free, so good enough!

The table had a green leather top that appeared to be ruined – I considered stripping the leather off and replacing it, but then when I looked up the cost leather samples, cutting tools, etc., it seemed like a lot of work and money for a free table.  Then I looked into some examples where people used milk paint on the entire piece of furniture – I guess the milk paint sticks pretty well to leather, according to the internet people who may or may not be reliable, but I wasn’t sure and I am not ready to try using milk paint just yet.  After a little more research I found this video online of a redo of an ottoman with Fiebings Leather Products.  I gotta tell ya, they may want to consider editing that bad boy. It’s ten solid minutes of wet and wild leather refinishing fun. However, despite the fact that I know how to fast forward I did watch the whole damn thing and proceeded to purchase their products on Amazon.  You won this round, Fiebings.


The drawer in the table was cracked and a little gross looking.  Ideally at some point we will be putting some bar accessories in this (wine stoppers, swizzle sticks, a weird looking miniature cocktail whisk that I didn’t know I needed until I saw it but then needed it desperately so now I have it and am thrilled, etc.), so I wanted to somehow get that functioning and a little bit cleaner.

IMG_5695I sanded the desk a little and filled in some of the larger divots on the top, drawer front, and legs.  Then I used those Fiebings products to do my best to clean up that nasty leather top.  The first step was to apply some coats of “leather deglazer” as the video suggests.  I will have you know that it would behoove you to click directly on the link I have provided above, instead of doing what I did, which was to forget exactly what the stuff was called after watching that awesome Fiebings video, and Googling “leather stripper”.  The results I got were interesting, but they sure weren’t gonna get me anywhere near fixing that writing desk.

I also got Fiebings Leather Dye in Black and the Acrylic Resolene Dye Top Finish.  After deglazing the top, adding a few coats of the leather dye with a paintbrush, a day’s dry time and several coats of the resolene, the top looked a million times better! It’s not perfect but that’s okay – way better than I anticipated it would look.


I also found these Mission Style Satin Nickel Ring Pulls on ATG Stores.com for only $4.73 each, with free shipping. I had not heard of ATG Stores but I was impressed – apparently Lowe’s owns it and there is free shipping and the prices are great and the selection is huge. Good deal.




We had some leftover paint that we used to paint our Ikea patio furniture a few years ago (you can see that in the background) – it is a dark grey color.  Before I did that I liquid nailed a sheet of wood to the bottom of the drawer and clamped it together to dry.  So far, that appears to keeping the split drawer bottom together and it’s much more stable – we shall see. Then I used a layer of Minwax Special Walnut stain on the inside of the drawer.  I was then going to do a coat of Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain in Weathered Gray on top, but it is pretty opaque, so I mixed it with the Special Walnut and did a second coat.  I finished it off with a coat of Wipe-On Poly.  It is now smooth and shiny and pretty and something that isn’t gross to touch.

So that’s where we’re at – we have a few more things to do to fully execute the home mini bar area…come back later for that!


end table before and after…finally!

Hello! I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!!!  So, I finally completed a project that I have been wanting to finish for YEARS.  Life and indecisiveness got in the way I guess.  Also, I don’t have a covered outdoor area to use for fume-y paint projects, so every time the weather is rainy (or looks like it might be), or is too hold or too cold, I can’t paint outside.  You’d be surprised how rare it is to have a definite nice/mild/paint-friendly day to do projects outdoors in Ohio!

Enough excuses for that – the project is a re-paint of an end table my parents bought when they first got married.  This end table was part of a set with another end table and a coffee table, but unfortunately this one table is all that is left at this point. They got the tables at a Sears furniture outlet way back in 1970 – I do not know if there’s a particular style or pattern name associated with it, but I do love the diamond pattern on the drawer.  When they got them, they were missing the tops – glass, marble, whatever they were supposed to be – and so my parents made do with a couple of ill-fitting scraps of too-tall, unattractive marble.

I don’t think these tables survived the 70’s, because as long as I can remember, they sat in the back of our basement, dusty and unused.  When I moved out in 2006, I took the one remaining table with me and resolved to salvage it. Forgive the crappy before picture – it’s all I got.

The top of the table was pretty worn, and the real wood frame and plastic drawer didn’t look the best together.  The brass hardware is cool, too, although it was very tarnished and dirty.  After a whole lot of scrubbing, I decided it would be best to paint the table and the hardware, and figure out something for the tabletop.  I used Rustoleum oil-base enamel in high-gloss black.  I did one coat, sanded with a very find sanding block, and did one more coat.  I can only recommend a very good paint brush for this paint – the foam brush made bubbles, and the cheap brush left bristles in the paint.  Not good! After that, I coated it with one coat of Min-Wax Wipe-On Poly(urethane) and it was good to go!

I also spent a very long time scrubbing the hardware, and while it did get 90% clean, it just wasn’t quite as bright and shiny as I wanted it to be.  I used a spray can of Rustoleum  metal primer and one coat of Rustoleum metallic gold paint on the handles and that seemed to work pretty well.

My biggest problem was figuring out what to do with the tabletop.  I knew I could get another piece of more attractive marble cut, but at 2′ by 2′ I didn’t want to pay that much.  Then I thought about glass, but that didn’t solve what I would do about the fact that you could see into the drawer.  I thought about doing a frosted glass, but that didn’t really fit the style of my living room or the table.  Finally, I decided it would be best to get some sort of patterned paper or fabric to put underneath the glass.  I searched far and wide on fabric and wallpaper websites for a good pattern.  A did see a lot of wallpaper patterns that fit the bill, but they were all sold by the roll, and at at least $80 a roll or higher, that wouldn’t work for my cheap table re-do.  Finally I found a pattern at Premier Prints.

The pattern I decided on is Barber in Black and Gypsy Blue.  I wanted a high contrast pattern at a scale that fit with the table and the room (many fabrics patterns I liked were too small in scale).  This pattern was perfect.  It had the high contrast black and white, and the grey-blue on the parrot matched perfectly with the blue in my living room.  I am also a huge fan of birds (I have two), so it really sold me.

I needed a way to attach the fabric, and that was the toughest thing to figure out.  I got a piece of glass from the local glass shop for $24, and had a remaining 1/2″ or so in depth so that the glass would be flush with the table top rim.  I couldn’t find a piece of plywood at the hardware store – every piece was either just a little too thin or too thick.  I thought about using foam core board (I could since the glass itself was appropriate for holding the weight of whatever was on the table by itself), but I was worried that the foam core might sag over time.  Before I could give that a try, my boyfriend suggested using alumalite.  We got a scrap piece from his dad’s sign shop – it is like foamcore – except instead of two posterboards and foam, its two thin pieces of aluminum with corrugated plastic in the middle.  The right thickness and very sturdy.

I trimmed the fabric and attached it to the alumalite with Krylon Easy-Tack Repositionable Spray Adhesive.  Since I needed just enough tack to keep the fabric smooth on the panel, I went with the lowest-tack adhesive I could find.  I want to be able to pull this fabric off in the future and change things up should my decor change.

So that’s that! It took me over a year to do what should have been MAYBE two days’ worth of work.  The paint and poly for everything was less than $30 total (and I have used it on some other projects too), the fabric was $10 for one yard, and the glass was $25.  So, the table cost me no more than $65 total.


The wall my television is on has come a long way since I moved in almost two years ago.  It is sort of an awkward space – a closed-up painted-brick fireplace and about two feet of drywall, flanked on one side by the kitchen and the other by a low-hanging soffit and small hallway to the bathroom.  Here are a couple “before” pictures:

I started off with a small tv, a white Ikea Lack table and a wine fridge. Lucky for me, I met a guy (now my boyfriend) that can hang just about anything.  He informed me that yes, you CAN hang pictures on brittle brick if you get the right sort of “mortar screw” or something like that.  Naturally, when the boyfriend moved in, as would any man, he brought with him a large flat screen tv.  It looks a lot nicer and fills out the space much better than my old 19” tube tv did.  Here is how the space looks now:


The picture over the tv was a gift, and I got the floating shelves at Lowe’s.  They are a generic brand that were actually the least expensive ones I could find – much more affordable and even deeper than the similar option from West Elm. Unfortunately, they did not come in white, so we had to give them a coat of primer and a few coats of Krylon spray paint.  The retro-looking iPod speaker/radio was a lucky find.  I am a big fan of the Tivoli audio systems…

…BUT they can get pretty pricey, from $150 on up to several hundred dollars.  Some man at my mom’s work gave these very cheap, generic versions of the same to all the employees at Christmas 2009 – she does not have an iPod so I was more than happy to take it!!  I love it.  It works perfectly fine as an iPod speaker and radio, and it gives me the look without having to spend all that money.  I wish I knew where the guy got it…



When I moved in, the apartment had been gutted and freshly renovated with new flooring, ceilings, paint, cabinets – the works. The bathroom was the only thing that remained as it was before – I guess it had been renovated a few years ago.  I like the white subway tile and the neutral while floor and vanity scheme, but it was still sort of gross from the last tenant.  The grout was dirty and water stained and an all-white bathroom is tough to keep looking pristine as it is.  Since it is a rental, I had to make some temporary changes to improve the room.  I had always wanted a black room (I swear sometimes I would paint every room dark grey or black if I could) – so I decided a bathroom would be an excellent place to start.

This is what the bathroom looked like when I started scrubbing the grout with some scrubbing bubbles:

When I went to the hardware store, I was looking for a shade of black that was black, but sort of muted so it did not look too harsh.  Lucky for me, Valspar had a shade called “muted ebony”.  Perfect!  I got it in the “premium” so that hopefully one coat would look good and maybe the steamy bathroom wouldn’t affect it too much.  No amount of scrubbing would save the grout, so I decided to coat the grout with Tile Guard Tile Grout Coating in pure white.  I had used this product before – some people complained online that it was gummy and collected dust – the key for me is to do it in several thin layers (yes, time consuming!) and let it dry thoroughly, and then coat it with some spray grout sealer.  The base of the tub and toilet were lacking caulk as well, so i added a fresh strip of caulk to those to help it look finished.

This was the final product:

I still need this room to be finished, but maybe it never will be.  I did these changed many months ago, and there have been issues with the paint.  I do not know if it is the hard water in our city or the paint finish (it is satin), but there are definitely some calcium-looking stains on the walls that I cannot get off.  I tried regular multi-surface cleaner and CLR, but to no avail.  A recoat and some sort of topcoat may be necessary?  Not sure.  The grout will need some re-sealing in spots as well.  I admit that the zero ventilation in the room made me chicken out with the grout sealer – I did a bit but did not get it as thoroughly coated as I should have!

I still love the results and will definitely paint a room or rooms black in the future.