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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint

Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint

We are coming on two years since we bought our home, so that means two years since we painted.

With holiday guests expected, it is time for a touch up. So a few weeks back I went through the house looking over all the walls and I placed a small piece of blue painter's tape next to every scuff, smudge, and scratch. Then I rooted through my paint closet and found the unused paint that I had thought to store, clearly labeled Farrow & Ball Blackened - thank you, Past Self! All I had to do now was mix some of that with 50% water, test a small area to see if the color blended (finger's crossed), and get this job done.

But I kept putting it off. Several weeks went by. The little bits of blue painter's tape were admonishing: "Paint me, paint me!"

It was enough to make me second-guess my wall color. Why did I choose a gray and not a white?!

My previous home had stark white walls. So I was able to keep up with smudges and scuffs and scratches using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It really does extend the life of your paint - I'm not being paid to say this. I was painting every five years instead the recommended every two years.

Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint

But our new walls are not stark white - they are a light silvery gray. Our paint is Benjamin Moore color-matched to Farrow & Ball "Blackened". So I assumed magic eraser was out for anything but white walls. A near-calamity convinced me otherwise.

I was on another project - painting an arm chair upholstery with Rit Dye (hell yeah, you can do that!) - when I inadvertently got red dye spatter on the wall.

Cheater's Guide to cleaning wall stains

Naturally, I reached for the magic eraser. Not only did it do the trick - not a trace of red drops were showing the next day - but also it did not alter the chalky finish of our plaster. In other words, there were no shiny patches where I applied the eraser. I couldn't even tell spatter had ever been there.

I reasoned, if magic eraser can clean red dye, surely it can clear a few smudges from my gray walls. This weekend I put it to the test.

Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint
Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint

Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint

Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint
Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint
I have put away the "Blackened" wall paint. Now, all I have left is to spot retouch some gouges and cracks in the kitchen and we are good to go. When I do, I will post a step by step on how to touch up paint.

Cheater's Guide to Touching Up Wall Paint

Monday, November 23, 2015

Restoring Chipped Laminate on a Saarinen Pedestal Table

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Our pedestal table has survived three moves - and in the process seen some hard knocks. It was not in perfect condition when I bought it off Craigslist. I paid $175, if memory serves, and it had many dings and scratches on the pedestal base. In our most recent move, though, the laminate top was gouged in a very prominent spot. I've been concealing the gouge with strategically placed candles that I found at Designer's Guild in Chicago. I do love these colorful candles! But to hide the chipped area, I have to place them off-center. 

It is time that I do something about this chipped laminate. But what to do?

I did some research on how to repair laminate and found this product that contractors use to fill seams on laminate counters, called, fittingly, SeamFil.

SeamFil restores chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

If you are repairing a laminate counter top (or as in my case, table top), you will need the following:
  • Tube of SeamFil, color-matched to your counter top
  • SF-99 Solvent
  • Putty knife
  • Pliers and Screw driver to open solvent lid
  • Scrap piece of cardboard to mix the SeamFil on
  • Paper towels
  • Protective gloves

SeamFil and the SF-99 Solvent are manufactured by Kampel and can be purchased online at Amazon or the American Technology Inc. website, where you will also find this how-to video.

I did not try to color match by sending them a chip. I just chose their basic white. It may not prove to be a true match to my aged laminate, however, I did not want to further chip my table in order to retrieve a sample to send. I'll take the chance that it's close enough.

So, ready to repair some laminate?

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Step 1: Open the can of solvent. The lid is very tight. I had to use a pliers to budge it. Once you get the cap off, use a screwdriver to break the metal seal.

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Step 2: Apply solvent to a clean paper towel and thoroughly wipe the chipped area that you will be working on. Allow the solvent to dry.

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Step 3: Remove the cap from the tube of SeamFil. Turn the cap around and use the convex tip to puncture the tube. Squeeze a dab of SeamFil out onto a clean piece of cardboard.

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Step 4: Using your putty knife, smooth the filler back and forth until it thickens.

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Step 5: Fill the gouge in your laminate with SeamFil, then scrape off the excess. Allow the filler to cure about 5 minutes.

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Step 6: Apply a small amount of solvent to a clean paper towel and wipe it across your repair.

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Above is my repair after one round. Note: My table gouge is particularly large and deep - much bigger than the example shown in the video. So I decided that it would look better with another round of filler.

I waited five minutes, then repeated steps 4-6. Here is how it looks after two layers of filler.

restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

Not perfect by any means. Here's a close up - before and after two coats. You can still see an indentation. It's like a little white crater now.

The next day, I added a third coat. This time I worked the filler longer, until it started to mold and I put a dollop into the crater. I then took a piece of very thin and stiff postcard stock paper and scraped it across the mound of filler to flatten it. That filled the crater nicely.

From a distance, you can't see that there was ever a gouge.

 restore chipped laminate on Saarinen pedestal table

 It looks good enough that I can now center the candles on the table.

Symmetry is bliss!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Chair Makeover: Can You Paint Upholstery?

Chair makeover using Rit dye
Restored to its original color

I've had this chair for more than a dozen years, and I still love it. Manufactured by Youngs Furniture in Portland, Maine, who source from local, artisanal furniture makers - it was holding up well. The foam was firm and still retained its shape. Only the color had faded, and this was accentuating stains and fabric pilling. 

Here is a close up of stains on the seat - can you see four bluish droplets? Probably red wine stains I missed long ago when the chair was new and the deeper color of the upholstery camouflaged them.

While over on the left side, the fabric was distressed and pilling.

cat claw damage
Pet damage
This is cat-claw damage from you know who. The red chair has always been one of her favorite seats in the house.

gray cat on red chair
Who, me?

My first thought was to make a slipcover - I'd had such success with the white slipcover that I made for the settee. I purchased some red fabric, chalked the pattern, cut my main pieces, and sewed them together, only to realize as I was fitting the first round that slipcovers are just not the right style for this chair. They were making the chair look shabby chic - which is a style that I like very much, but not for this type of modern chair. I abandoned the slipcover idea.

sew slipcoverschalk pattern

I briefly considered reupholstery. I would want a similar fabric to the original - a wool-blend knit that hugged the chair's curves. I mused that it was really too bad that the color had faded, because the original scarlet is exactly the color I want now. In fact, I would want exactly the same fabric as the original if I could find it. 

It was this line of thinking that led me to consider painting the chair. 

Wha-what? I know, but people have done it!

Kristy over at Hyphen Interiors had great success painting her velvet wingback with a mixture of fabric medium and acrylic paint.  

paint chair
Hyphen Interiors
If you click on the "Chairs" link on her site, Kristy has assembled a library of before and afters from bloggers and readers, documenting successes and failures using the painting method. 

One of the fails belongs to Sherry over at Young House Love. I've been following their blog for years, and I really appreciated Sherry's honest assessment (with photos!) about her painted chair fail. I could tell from Sherry's photo that I would not like the paint texture, which looked stiff, like fake leather. 

paint chair fale
Young House Love
It was another photo on Kristy's Hyphen Interiors Chairs page that led me to Kara Paslay Designs and her post about dying a vintage chair using Rit dye.

dye chair success
Kara Paslay Designs

Wow! Nice work, Kara.

First of all, don't you just love the lines of Kara's chair and the beautiful patina on the nails? I also love the fabric. And the color - both the faded blue original of the back and sides as well as the newly dyed purple front and seat. I applaud her decision to leave the chair two-toned. The colors look great together.

Of all the chairs that I have seen in my research, this one seems most like mine in terms of rounded shape and wool fabric. So I decided to give Rit dye a try. 

If you are considering it too, a word of caution. Rit does not advise using their dye in this way:

"...we do not recommend dyeing upholstery as it is hard to fully rinse the dye from the upholstered fabric. If you would like to dye these items, we suggest testing the dye on a hidden area to see what color will be achieved."

If you read the comments on Kara's blog, many readers ask her about color transfer. Kara says that in her experience there was no color transfer and her chairs passed the "white t-shirt" challenge.

So, it's a risk. But it's a risk I am willing to take. I reason that if this doesn't work, I can still move on to Plan D - reupholstery. 

My next step was to have the chair professionally shampooed. This faded the color a bit more, and it did not remove the wine stains. But at least I was now starting with a clean palette. I then used my sweater de-fuzzer from Brookstones on the area that had cat-claw damage - and I have to say this gave very good results!

fix cat damage to chair
Sweater de-fuzzer removes fabric pilling due to cat claw damage

When I had the material as clean and smooth as I was going to get it, I assembled my supplies for the DIY dye job.

  • Rit dye
  • Scotch Guard fabric protector (not to be confused with Scotch Guard cleaner)
  • Sponge brush
  • Gloves 
  • Drop cloth 

add rit dye to hot water
I mixed the dye in a coffee mug that has a handle

Step 1: Measure out a capful of dye and dissolve it in 12 ounces of hot water.

paint dye on chair
Paint Rit dye onto upholstery using downward strokes of your brush

Step 2: Begin applying the dye to one area at a time using smooth strokes going in the same direction. I started on the back of the chair which is usually against the wall, reasoning that if it immediately looked bad I could stop. The back went well, so I continued, working my way around the chair panel by panel.

paint dye on chair
Brush Rit dye on upholstery one panel at a time

This is what the chair looked like when I had finished one coat and it was still wet. At this point, it was not very encouraging. The drops of red wine stain stood out even more and looked very blue. I hoped that might change after it dried, so I carried on.

dye drying on chair
Chair after one coat of dye, still drying

Step 3: Apply heat. I'm not sure how much this will actually help set the dye, but it can't hurt. 

I didn't attempt to dry the chair with the hair dryer. I just ran hot air over every inch - especially the areas that make the most contact when a person is seated. I then left the chair to completely air dry overnight before starting a second coat of Rit dye the next day.

set dye with hair dryer
Heat from a hair dryer sets dye into upholstery

Step 4: Spray thoroughly with Scotch Guard fabric protector. This step is also to help set the dye and keep it from rubbing off on people who use the chair. I applied two coats. I let the chair dry 24 hours between coats.

spray fabric with Scotch Guard
Spray with Scotch Guard Fabric Protector

Tip #1

You will need a drop cloth of some sort - I used a flattened piece of cardboard. Drips that got on our hardwood floors did not stain if I wiped them immediately. But I did get spatter on the white media center that I did not notice until after it had dried. It took a vigorous application of Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get it off. Word.

Tip #2

I gave my chair two coats of dye, drying overnight between coats. I wanted a deeper saturation of color and I wanted to see if one more coat would better camouflage the red wine stains. The second coat did both.

Here is what the chair looked like with one coat in natural sunlight. Pretty good!

chair after one coat of dye
Chair after one coat of Rit dye and 24 hours of dry time
The dye was doing a fairly good job of camouflaging the red wine stains.

dye hides wine stain
The wine stain on the arm seems fainter after just one coat
Tip #3
Pay attention to "nap".

If fabric has nap it will look darker when you brush your hand across it in one direction than the other. Velvet is known for its nap. My fabric is a wool-blend knit, so I didn't think that I had to worry about nap. However, I discovered after the first coat dried that I do. 

Here is a photo showing the difference in color when I brush up (left side) versus down (right side). That is a difference that will still be visible after the dye has dried.

brush nap
Paint Rit dye on upholstery moving in one direction for smoothest coverage

I prefer the look of the down brush stroke, so on the second coat I tried to apply all my brush strokes downward. As I finished each section, I went back over it again, brushing it all down one last time.

Here is what the chair looked like after two coats:

chair makeover using Rit dye
After two coats
The color is now a deep, rich scarlet. The wine stains on the seat and right arm are almost undetectable and the cat claw damage on the left side is gone. The chair looks almost as good as new.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bedroom Inspiration: Yellow and Gray

    gray and yellow bedroom inspiration board
  1. Duvet fabric, Bubbles - Sterling, Tonic Living
  2. Yellow bureau - street find
  3. Chair fabric, Casablanca Geo - Citrine, Tonic Living
  4. Gray campaign dresser, inherited
  5. Piston lamp, Lite Source Inc.
  6. Floating nightstands, Slice Wall-Mounted Storage Shelf, CB2
  7. Min Bed, Design Within Reach 

What do you think of the gray and yellow theme for a bedroom? 

Our bedroom needs a refresh. It still looks the way it did when we moved in, which is to say not designed at all. This room has somehow become the repository for lost furniture - furniture that was acquired for our old house, that I don't know what to do with anymore, but feel a sentimental attachment to. Hence the mis-matched nightstands, desk that is no longer needed now that we have a home office, and various landscape paintings in wood frames that I love but that don't really "go" here.

bedroom design

My mood board is composed mostly of things we already own and just a few that I would need to source.
  1. I just love the Bubbles fabric from Tonic Living in Sterling. I would use this fabric to make a duvet cover and shams. I've been reading up at SewMamaSew and it seems doable with my self-taught sewing skills. The duvet cover on the bed now is from West Elm. I loved it when I bought it, but that was several years ago and it is looking rather droopy now, even though the feather duvet from Ikea that is tucked inside is new and fluffy.
  2. The yellow bureau we already have. Hooray for street finds!
  3. The chairs I would need to source - I'm keeping an eye out at our local Habitat Re-Store. I would reupholster them in this citrine fabric, also from Tonic Living.
  4. The gray and white campaign dresser was Ross's before we met. It is actually two bachelor chests pushed together. They could use a little refresh - some new hardware and maybe even some veneers or Panyls if I'm feeling ambitious. 
  5. The chrome Piston lamps I've had for years. I love them. 
  6. The floating nightstands would be a CB2 hack - is that a thing? Their slice hanging shelf is just $150 and wouldn't that be clever? Floating shelves were a mid-century furniture staple that would complement the austere Min bed. (What if I did wood veneers or Panyls on both the dresser and the floating nightstands?)
  7. The Min bed was a splurge from Design Within Reach many years ago, and as with most DWR splurges, I still love it.
While I'm not a fan of overly dressed windows, I think the bay formation of the windows in the master bedroom is an eye-catching architectural detail. It seems to be crying out for a pelmet and some shimmery gray panels floor to ceiling to do it justice, don't you think? Caitlin over at Desert Domicile makes building a pelmet look easy!

If I do go the curtains and pelmet route, I will place the two small-scale bedroom chairs in front of each side window, with perhaps a low table between them.

Of course the metal gate for the fire escape window that we commissioned metal artist Valessa Monk to make is a keeper!

yellow and gray bedroom

yellow and gray bedroom

I am tempted to add a rug. The problem is, they trap dust mites which makes Ross's allergies kick up. But perhaps a Chilowich mat or some low-pile Flor tiles? We had both in our old house and they were easy to vacuum and wet mop.

Or even this indoor/outdoor rug from Brita Sweden, which I love.

Brita Sweden Flower Rug

I arrived at a gray and yellow inspiration board, because we already have a yellow bureau and gray wall color. But I could just as easily pull out other colors from the large artwork over the bed - such as navy or coral. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Installing a Custom Kick Plate on the Front Door

Remember when I cleaned off years of sloppy paint jobs and restored our midcentury door hardware? The icing on the cake turned out to be that custom-order solid brass kick plate, which tied everything together. I promised instructions on how to order and install a kick plate, so here goes.

I knew that I wanted solid brass, so I did some shopping around. Baldwin makes them in custom sizes, with a lifetime warranty. They are pricey, but I found mine 40% off at

Our door is 33-1/4 wide and the bottom panel where the kick plate would sit is 9 inches high. I wanted space all around, so I ordered mine 6" x 30" and it fit perfectly. There were several brass finishes to choose from. I chose satin. It took about 6 weeks to arrive.

Assembly was straightforward. The kick plate arrived with matching brass hardware. It takes 10 screws and it was packaged with 16, which is nice. Our door is metal - all doors in New York City are. to comply with fire code. So, I picked up a new set of titanium drill bits, good for drilling metal. I have a set, but they are more than 10 years old, and the small bits that I use frequently to make pilot holes get worn. I wanted clean pilot holes the first time out so that I did not run the risk of scratching the brass while screwing it in.

Here are the tools you will need.

Tools & Supplies

  • Kick plate
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Pilot hole drill bit
  • Philips head attachment
  • Pencil
  • Level
Step 1: Hold the kick plate approximately where you want it and check to see that it is level. 

Step 2: Mark just two holes at the far right and the far left and drill two pilot holes. 

Step 3: Screw in just those two screws. 

Step 4: Check again to be sure it's level. 

Step 5: Now drill in the rest of your pilot holes.

Step 6: Screw in the rest of the screws.

Step 7: Sit back and admire your handiwork. 


painted over hardware