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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Thanksgiving decor, pt. 2 & Friendsgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Ok we’ve got a few more days but I got my Thanksgiving started early when we had our first “Friendsgiving” yesterday.  It was a great time.  I think it’s the first time we really had a party at this apartment.  We got to break in our new Ikea table, eat lots of food, play games, and hold a very high-stakes pie contest.

I completed my Thanksgiving decorating prior to Friendsgiving.  First we made and hung the Thanksgiving banner, and then I decorated the “mantle” (i.e. floating shelf over the TV), and table, and some other areas. I got these turkey salt and pepper shakers on sale at Michael’s for a couple dollars.  We certainly did not need any more salt and pepper shakers, and the print was sort of obnoxious, so I decided to cover them in…something.

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Against my good judgment, I decided to cover the first one in gold glitter. As always, that was a messy and frustrating disaster.  I continued down that path until it was all the way covered, but decided to NOT USE GLITTER EVER AGAIN after that (ok, I have said that many times and I cant seem to dump glitter completely, except for all over myself). IMG_3215

I had this gold nail polish I got for free in something, so I decided to cover the second turkey in that.  MUCH better. It took a couple minutes, no mess, and I also think it looks better. Lesson learned.

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Much to my delight, I found two of these concrete Smith and Hawken turkeys at Target in the clearance section for $6 each.  They would be perfect for the table! IMG_3250

I sprayed them with a flat paint to brighten them up a little bit, and then decided to try my hand at gold leaf. I don’t know if it’s because gold leafing is difficult, or because gold leafing an uneven concrete surface is difficult, but I got as far as gold leafing the beaks and gave the hell up. Good enough!

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Then I went to Trader Joe’s where I had previously obtained a whole lot of small pumpkins for my Halloween decor.  Unfortunately, finding pumpkins AFTER halloween is no easy task.  All they had left were some medium-sized “tiger” pumpkins that were cream colored and striped with either green or orange…not exactly matching my decor.  I got some high gloss white spray paint and painted them all and put them in the hurricane. tada!

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The next thing I did was decorate the shelf over our TV.  I also decorated this shelf for Halloween a month earlier. I was kind of at a loss as to what to do, and honestly I have no idea what I am doing with artificial/dried flowers/plants. Michael’s was having a 70% off sale on the fall-themed dried and artificial flowers by late October, so I grabbed a few in yellow, orange, and purple colors and figured I would figure something out.  I also got a 5′ strand of battery operated “Starry String Lights” in amber from Restoration Hardware.  Don’t you just love these?! I may get more in the silver color for Christmas.

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I also held on to a few of my Halloween Trader Joe’s pumpkins that were still in ok shape, got a roll of burlap at Michael’s, put some stuff in my apothecary jars and also added the painting I did at Cheers to Art recently.  Do you have a place like this in your city? Basically you and a bunch of your friends go paint a painting according to step-by-step instructions by someone while you drink wine. What a great idea.  Anyway, so the colors sort of matched the decor so I threw it in there, too.

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I am really loving burlap as a “trend” right now.  It’s neutral and cheap and you can use it for a million different things.

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IMG_6951The other day I was wandering around Ikea and saw these little square fall-colored Fyrkantig candles and candleholders at Ikea. 
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I also loved these Thanksgiving Printables from TomKat Studio.  I have Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, so I made my own “Happy Thanksgiving” sign similar to the one they have available, and bought some super-cheap 3- and 4-packs of plastic frames at Big Lots.  IMG_6955 IMG_6960

Much of what I found to decorate the table and the buffet table, just like everything else, was decided based on what I already had and what was cheap and/or on sale at places like Michael’s, Big Lots, Home Goods, Ikea and Target. I just wanted everything to have the black, white, gold, silver, purple, orange and golden yellow colors that I put on the shelf.

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I found these great serving ware dishes at Big Lots for I think maybe $9 each, and three 4-packs of the white placemats for $6 a set.  I also found this burlap runner at Michael’s – a few yards for less than $10…I could cut it to the length of the table and it actually fits, versus all the table runners I found which were upwards of $40, $50+ and not even remotely long enough for the table. NO THANKS! I found the napkin rings and napkins at Homegoods, and got a bread basket at Ikea and used some black and white kitchen towels from Target that I’ve had for a couple years and haven’t ever used for anything.

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I made a couple different deviled eggs recipes and they were pretty good. I got these deviled eggs with goat cheese and proscuitto recipe from Food and Wine magazine (also available online), but took out the sour cornichons.  I got the Paula Deen’s loaded deviled eggs recipe here.  I also got the apples on horseback recipe from Food and Wine (here).  They were really good and super easy! I wrapped 16 slices of Manchego cheese/Fuji apple with panchetta, stuck them on some metal skewers, sprayed some foil with cooking oil and grilled them on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  I wanted appetizers that you could make without using the stove or oven since my boyfriend was busy with the turkey and other things…they were so easy and very good! I took them off the skewers and stuck them with toothpicks.  I got the roasted garlic and rosemary pumpkin hummus recipe here.   I made more labels, also inspired by the TomKat Studio post.

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I got a crockpot mulled cider recipe here.  It was so good and smelled even better! I also found this cute Pilgrim Rum picture online and swapped it out for the Bacardi Gold label…I didn’t want to make the cider alcoholic, so if somebody wanted it to be, they could just add as much rum as they wanted…and had cinnamon sticks as the stirs. 🙂

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And finally, I bought a couple chargers and a few candles at Michael’s and decorated them with some leftover twine.  My boyfriend really likes to go all out with things (for better or for worse, haha!) so his turkey was no exception.  We got a fresh turkey from the local Tewes Farm and did a dry brine on it for two days.  Then he wrapped it in bacon on Friday night and slow-roasted it at about 225 degrees for over 12 hours.  He had to get up every few hours to baste it.

IMG_3352If you can’t tell from these pics, it definitely turned out delicious. The only problem was that with the bacon fat in the turkey drippings, the homemade gravy didn’t really turn out. It tasted good, but the consistency was sort of clumpy.  When we make the turkey again on Thanksgiving for my family, we’re not doing the bacon!

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Last but not least, we held out First Annual Friendsgiving Pie-Off.  There were five entries.  I attempted to make some gluten-free, low carb “crustless pumpkin pies” in cupcake cups…Ugh! Haha.  I don’t recommend it (not that I thought they’d turn out great).

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We got this medal online for $5 with free engraving, plus shipping. Not bad!! IMG_3293 IMG_6981

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Overall it was really fun.  We are looking forward to doing it all again next year! 🙂