Untagling a wire-y mess

This is my couch and my problem:

Couch_before_copy OK, not the multiple fabrics… that’s a long term project I’ve been working on. The wires. DRIVES ME NUTS! But the reality is that the laptops and the power bar have to stay, and ideally, we’d like to have the external drive around for backing up pictures and keepign large files (like movies and tv shows).

So how to deal with it, especially with 2 little kiddos proned to unplugging or tripping on the wires….

Well, I went to the home depot and had them cut a piece of mdf for me (6$ for the cuts, 19$ for the mdf)

Img_5970  And this 8 L-brackets and 2 hinges, I did this:

Couch_after Couch_after_open

I need to paint it to make it look really sharp, but man, I’m pretty proud of myself on this one!

Stripping 101

well, that should result in a bunch of wayward Google searches…….

both Ann and Melissa asked me about stripping, so here goes. In general, I try to avoid chemical strippers because they are very harsh, and not inside-use friendly. It’s much better to work outside or in the shed. So I tried to use the heat gun. But there were several coats of varnish, laquer and stain, and the smell of the burning stain was way worse than the liquid stripper, so after a good atempt at the heat gun, I gave up and used the liquid stripper.

I had a gallon of "Circa 1850 Furniture Stripper" on hand. There are other brands. I know there is even a less caustic "green" stripper, but I have yet to try it. The key things to remember are:

  • good air circulation: the stuff smells and if you breath it in, it’s bad news
  • heavy duty gloves are a MUST. the orange ones.  Otherwise, the stripper will eat through the little plastic ones
  • work in "areas". pick a side or a set of spindles and spread generously using a cheap paint brush. Wait a couple of minutes and "move the stuff around" with the paint brush again. This loosens up the finish.
  • Once your finish is "moveable" use whatever works to get it off: flat surfuces do well with scrapers (metal or plastic, though be prepared to wear down the plastic one). On funny shapes, I buy a couple of metal wire brushes. This workds especially well on round surfaces (I’ve done a lot of kitchen chairs!!!)
  • Depending on the original finish or layers of finishes, you might have to do the same area 2 or 3 times. In this case, I had to do everything twice, 3 times for the detailed grooves on the vertical sides of the backrest.
  • Once I am satisfied I got 90% off, I spread a tiny bit more and then rub the whole thing down with steel wool. This cleans up any stripper left on the wood and acts as a light sanding.
  • You might still need to sand a bit after, but in this case, I didn’t sand, the steel wool was plenty.

And there you have it. I once worked on a big project (front door of the house) and figured out that if I poured the used stripper through a mesh, I could reuse the same liquid over and over again, just get rid of the paint from it.

Telephone Bench

When we got the country house 2 winters ago, we took a bunch of extra furniture from our house and brought it up there, then we filled in the holes with inexpensive antiques (ie nice used furniture!) and flea market finds. We got spectacular school desks to act as nightstands, a vintage green tweed couch, an old stereo credenza that we use as a TV unit…. you get the idea. One of our finds was this telephone bench, which resides on the little wall between the entrance and the kitchen.

Before_1 As you can see, it had seen better days. I liked the lines of it and the pure utility of it. The kids could sit on it to put on their shoes (or rather, to have us put on their boots!) and we could keep a few key items, like the phone book and scotch tape. My original thought had been to strip it and re-stain it or just wax it. But there is plenty of wood in this house already. And I’ve been noticing on lots and lots of design/decorating blogs people painting old furniture in really funky, bright, shiny colors, giving it a completely different look. Not shabby chic with wood showing through, just really bright, almost lacquered paint.

So 2 cans of lime-colored shiny spray paint and a fake-vintage tea towel later, I present the new and MUCH improved telephone bench:

After_1_1 After_2_2_2

Img_2290_1 For some reason, it looks milky in the pictures, but trust me, it’s very, very shiny! It just pops off the blue wall and sets off very nicely against the floor. I was going to use one of my real vintage Vera tea towels, but in the end, I just didn’t have it in me to cut one up. So instead, I grabbed a Sukie tea-towel from the UK, something I used to sell at the store. It’s actually perfect, the green in the background of the beach scene goes very well with the paint and I like that it’s a beach shack in a ski cottage!

I did strip it first, because the finish was so old and uneven, I didn’t want the shiny paint to show to many defects. But one evening of stripping and 2/3 coats of spray paint…. not bad, not bad at all!