Friday, October 12, 2012

Paint a wood floor? Why not?

So in March of 2010, we happily moved into our historic 1920's bungalow and I, in my high excitement at having a house I could call my own, immediately began feverishly plastering and painting the walls of each room as if I had a deadline.

 In hindsight, I realized we probably should have started with the floors.
The hardwood floors in the living room, dining room and front bedroom of this old house are in pretty bad shape and really need to be stripped, sanded, stained and varnished. The floors should have been our very first project when we had the extra cash, as the floor sander costs over $100 a day to rent.  Add the chemical stripper, the wood stain and a couple of coats of varnish and that's another $150 or so. Oh, well...'live and learn', right?

That was the good for the bad news:
The kitchen and hallway floors are rotted in several areas (this part of the house was built around the turn of the century) and some sections have been replaced---obviously,  with whatever the previous owners had on hand, ie: sheets of plywood in one area and some kind of lumpy underlayment in another.  There is nothing but sub-floor on one side of the kitchen and the other side has a couple of layers of chipped, peeling linoleum we couldn't even scrape up! What to do?

 First of all, the kitchen of this great old house is quite large (approximately 200 sq.ft) and, since I had pretty well wiped out my remodeling budget on drywall mud and paint, we couldn't afford another $250-$400 on flooring--even inexpensive linoleum costs that much.
So, considering I have been known through out the past 30 years or so as someone who would paint anything that possibly can be painted, I decided to paint a design on the kitchen floor! 

 Since we weren't sure exactly how it would turn out,  my husband suggested I experiment on the hallway floor. I have always wanted a vintage-look black & white tile floor, but he nixed that idea right away.
 (For some reason, the man really dislikes black!)  Anyway, since I had painted the walls in the hallway a bright sunny yellow, I decided to continue on with that color scheme and paint 'tiles' in yellow & white. Not having extra funds for special floor & deck paint, I used the interior wall & trim paint I already had on hand.

Tip: When you begin your painted floor project, I would strongly suggest asking the helpful sales associates at your local Home Depot, Lowes or ? for their advice on which type of floor paint to use in high-traffic areas such as a kitchen or hallway. Interior house paint doesn't wear as well when walked on day after day.

Back to the design idea for my hallway--I had discovered a couple of linoleum peel-n-stick tiles the previous owners had left under the kitchen sink, so I used one of those tiles as a pattern and painted my hallway floor in a tile pattern. It took me a week, but it turned out fairly nice. Here is a photo of my 'tile' hallway.

   I really liked the way the floor looked when I was done,  but then I had a brilliant idea---how much better would the hallway look if there were throw rugs in front of each door way...!?
   Yes, I decided to paint faux 'rugs' on top of the faux 'tiles'.
 I searched for some designs online, sketched out a few of my own ideas and then made some stencils to use on my rugs.
   The first rug I painted was in front of our bedroom door. I love Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau, so I picked a couple of stencils that reflected that style for this rug. As my son pointed out and you will notice, the rug is 'under the wall' but I wanted a good-sized rug in this spot, so had to design it this way. I like's unusual.

Next I painted a rug in front of my husband's study. I chose a Celtic design for the center, made my stencil, painted it and added a simple border. I thought it looked rather masculine and he was quite pleased with it.

   The last rug I painted in the hallway was the one in front of my computer/craft/guest room. The theme of this room is Hawaiian, where we lived for just over 11 years, so I wanted a rug in front of that door that fit in with the room's island decor.
   The flowers that grow in abundance in the Hawaiian islands are all very beautiful and each one is very different. So it was hard to decide which one would look best on my faux rug. I eventually found a nice photo of a plumeria (frangipani) online and made a simple sketch of it, then copied it onto the floor. This is my favorite of all of my rugs, perhaps because I didn't use any stencils, but drew it by hand.

This painting project seemed to have worked out well... So, after rolling on 2 coats of varnish over the 'tiles' and 'rugs' in the hallway, I started searching for ideas for the kitchen floor design.

     I was a teenager in the mid-60's and loved the crazy poster designs that were so popular at the time. So, when I saw a photo on of the design one woman painted on her plywood floor, I knew I had to base my kitchen floor design on hers! Check it out.... Cool, isn't it?

      I drew a picture of this design, changed several aspects of it, not being especially fond of geese...;-) and then started picking out colors that I wanted to use. I loved the colors she chose, but, as I mentioned before,  I had already painted my kitchen walls and cabinets, so I had my own color scheme to follow.
   After I had a plan, I decided where I was going to start--the center of the room directly in front of the kitchen sink--and began drawing my design onto the floor.  It did evolve several times over the next month or so as I continued painting....Here are a couple of early designs:

   It took me about a month of kneeling, sitting and lying on the floor painting my 'masterpiece'. Notice the reference to another artist who had even more difficulty painting a ceiling...;-) I don't think I would attempt that feat!
   Here is the completed design I painted on my kitchen floor...

Did I mention that my kitchen is huge....? I realized I could not continue this design all the way across because of the shape of the room. Also, the other half of the kitchen floor is where most of the problems were located.
So, since the 'tile' design worked so well in the hallway, I created a more complicated pattern for the rest of the floor to hide the many imperfections. This is how it looks:

  A couple of coats of varnish and it was finished.
 Tip: Ask the sales associate about a heavy duty polyurethane varnish.
My painted floors still look good, but they are getting that shabby, not really 'chic' look, after just 2 years. I like the way it looks with the style of the kitchen, but you may want a more professional look to your painted designs.
 So...paint a wood floor? If your floors are in bad shape and you can't afford expensive flooring, why not?
Go can do it!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Not all vintage is appealing..

So, a friend gave me this lamp from the 1980's, the appearance of which proved beyond a reasonable doubt that not everything vintage or retro is pretty!  It's huge--over 5' tall and very heavy--made from a plaster-like material that has a rough bumpy texture in a horizontal pattern and painted an ugly shade of mauve.

I had it hidden in the back room where no company was allowed for about a year and was actually considering giving it to Goodwill when I found an interesting idea--on a DIY board on pinterest, of course!

The project I found was actually done on a damaged hardwood floor in an older home and I loved the way it looked. The home owner glued random-sized pieces of brown wrapping paper onto her wood floor, stained it a rich brown shade and then varnished it. The result totally changed the appearance of the room for the better and brought to mind the look of rich polished leather, so I decided to try a variation of her application on the lamp...I figured, it couldn't hurt, right? Anything was sure to be an improvement over the 'mauve monster'...

I purchased a roll of basic brown wrapping paper from Walmart. If you are old enough, you will remember the paper sacks checkers used to pack our groceries in before they began using plastic bags.  I ripped irregular pieces off the roll of paper--approximately 2"X3" or 3"X4", soaked them in warm water for about 30 minutes and then glued each piece onto the lamp base in a random pattern using slightly watered-down Elmer's Craft Glue. I overlapped each piece over the one next to it to be sure every spot was covered.

Tip: Whatever type of white glue you begin your project with, continue using the same type/brand. If you change glue brands or types, you may get a different result and your project won't look cohesive.

When I had the lamp base covered in brown paper, I let it dry completely for a few days and then painted a coat of glue over the entire base for a slightly glossy appearance.
I generally use whatever materials I have on hand, but to make the paper covering more permanent, a coat of varnish might be a better choice. Here are a couple of photos of the project in various stages of progress:

The lampshade I thought went well with my brown paper lamp is also one of my creations, refashioned after an idea I read about on
 As the website states: 'Because imitation is the highest form of flattery'

The website shows how other DIYer's have copied items that they personally would love to have, but don't want to pay the high price tag commanded from stores such as Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Horchow, Anthropologie, etc. When I saw this knock-off of the Ranunculus Swirl Shade from Anthropologie by Terra of Mama Says Sew, I knew I had to try it, myself. Here is the link to hers:

I had an old drum shade from a yard sale lamp that was water-damaged, so I decided to attempt my own version of Terra's knock-off.
Since I am clueless when it comes to hot glue crafts, I chose to sew my flowers onto my lampshade. I had two vintage curtain panels--a lace one and a sheer panel with embroidery, but you can use any fabric you choose, keeping in mind that the heavier the fabric, the less light you will get when you turn on the lamp.

 I wanted larger fabric blooms, so I cut strips--approximately 30"-35" long and 2" wide, folded them length-wise and hand-gathered them with needle and thread.  I then made each gathered section into a basic 'flower' shape, by holding it my palm and flattening it as I rolled,  sewed the backs together, so they would stay in form and then stitched each fabric flower onto the lampshade. The sheer embroidery fabric had more volume to it, so the blossoms made with that fabric are a bit larger, but I like the irregular look of it.
Because of the placement of the bottom row of fabric blooms, the lower edge of my lampshade was still visible when I finished, so I sewed some gold vintage lace around it. If you would rather have blooms only, be sure your bottom row of fabric flowers hangs down past the edge of the shade a bit...

Tip: Shorter strips of fabric will make smaller flowers, so choose lengths accordingly. My 30"-35" strips make flowers about 3"-4" across.

You can also hot glue the fabric blooms onto the lampshade, providing you are proficient in the use of a hot glue gun, as these flowers are heavier than you would expect; it may take several spots of hot glue to get them to stay where you want them.  Otherwise, you can stitch each flower on as I did, which assured that the fabric flowers are securely fastened onto the lampshade.
 Tip: One drawback I found in sewing the fabric flowers onto the shade---the inside of the lampshade is not pretty, with thread bunched here and there. What can I say...? It was my first attempt!
Here are some photos of the steps in the fabric flower construction:

Yes, it took me quite a while to sew all the fabric flowers onto the lampshade, but I love to create different looks and this lamp is definitely a unique piece.
Here is a photo of the finished Anthropologie knock-off decor lampshade:

And here is the former 'mauve monster', refashioned into a cool lamp:

This 'makeover' was recently featured on, as well. Once again, appreciation to Beckie for posting for me!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

From trash to something pretty...

I have always enjoyed creating things--whether it's hand-sewing a fabric purse, refashioning vintage jewelry or painting a design on a cabinet, a wall
( or the floor*) of my 1920's bungalow.

Recently, however, it was pinterest that really got my creative juices flowing.
Once I started perusing the many fascinating DIY boards of my fellow pinterest-enthusiasts, I became almost obsessed with finding discarded items to improve with tassels, lace, paint, wallpaper, etc.

One of my recent projects began with 2 old hardwood chairs I found sitting out by a neighbor's trash can. After I ascertained that the chairs were, in fact, to be thrown away, I grabbed them. What a deal! Free!

I suppose that most people would probably have stripped, sanded and refinished the chairs. Not this girl!
 Based on an idea I saw on pinterest, I dug out an old lace curtain valance a friend had given me, laid it across the chair at an angle, taped it in place and spray-painted (flat white) through the lace. It made a pretty lacy doily-look design. Tip:The best type of lace for this project is one with a pattern in the lace that's more on the larger side, as the design is clearer.
 I then painted the rest of the chair white.
(I used the semi-gloss interior wall & trim house paint I had on hand.)

 It looked pretty good, but I decided it needed a pop of color, so I painted a fine line in deep turquoise around the edge of the lace design using a tiny artist's paint brush.
 I intend to eventually put a couple of coats of varnish over both chairs to keep the design from getting scratched and I would advise you to do the same. 

I was thrilled when my 'trash to treasure' chairs were featured on a few months ago under 'Doily Design Chair'.
Having no blog at the time, I relied on the owner of that website to post it for me. I really appreciate all your help, Beckie!
Here is a picture of the lace curtain panel I used to make the spray-paint design.(notice the large design pattern)


Here are the chairs just after I spray painted through the lace.

 Here is a close-up shot of the chair seat. The edges blurred a bit when some of the spray got under the lace.
Tip: Be sure to securely fasten your lace to your wood, so you have a cleaner edge to your design.

Here are the finished lacy doily-design chairs...from trash to pretty nice!

*Just found out my chairs made the #1 spot for 2012 on!!
 So cool...