Everyone has a story

Everyone has a story…..

One of Tom’s favorite aspects about selling the pieces that we have finished is meeting and talking with the buyers. He likes to share our story, the story of the piece we are selling, and learning the buyer’s story- what drew them to our piece.

This week we sold the executive desk that Tom recently completed. I had listed this piece on our Etsy site, Craiglist, and a few other sites.  Less than 24 hours after listing, Mary contacted via Craigslist and Etsy about the piece.  When she came to look at the desk with her husband she shared that she had just graduated and was looking for a desk- something special and not a cheap press-wood piece.  She had apparently been looking for awhile but just couldn’t find what she was looking for.  Her husband suggested that she look on Craigslist and see what she might find.  Mary shared that when she went to Craigslist, our desk was the first item she saw and it seem to be just what she had been looking for.  She also shared that the owl we had used in staging the item especially drew her in as she saw this as a sign from her dad (unfortunately I never did learn the connection/story behind her dad and owls, but must be something special for her.)  Adding to the story, Mary’s husband works for the US Postal Service.  As he was looking over the desk, he noted that he believed this might have been an old Postmaster desk.

Good karma and a good story.

Mary, we hope that you continue to love your new desk and get many years of enjoyment from the new piece.

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To Paint or Not to Paint…That seems to be the question

To paint or not to paint….

…that seems to be a question these days.

At least once a week, and often times more frequently I will see a blogger that I follow post Before and After pictures of old furniture that they have painted.  The are rightfully proud of their work and sharing the same for all the world to see.  Sadly, these pictures ALWAYS yield several comments on how the blogger “ruined” a “perfectly good [dresser, table, wardrobe, etc].

Now I certainly understand that painted furniture, in general, is not everyone’s taste- heck, my mother cringes anytime I take a paint brush to a ‘perfectly good’ piece of furniture.  On the other hand, let me say right here, that other than a few pieces of items that I owned and wanted to update for my tastes, I have never actually painted a ‘perfectly good’ piece of furniture.

Rescued from the garbage man minuted before it would have been loaded into the dump truck.

Rescued from the garbage man minutes before it would have been loaded into the dump truck.

Instead the items that we paint generally come to us in one of several ways… family and friend seeks us out to give us items headed for the trash or for Goodwill, we drive around and literally save items from the landfill by pulling them out of the garbage set out for the trash man (which, BTW is our favorite source for items), garage sales, and thrift stores.  Thus each of these items is unwanted and/or unloved.  Many are in disrepair and need minor to substantial structural repairs.  Their finishes are chipped, nicked, or have gouges in them.  They are dirty (and occasionally smelly).  They may have pen and/or pencil marks, crayon drawings, and in one case vulgar profanities literally carved into the top of the item.

A few times we have been lucky enough to come across an item that can be repaired, cleaned up, and simply re-stained.  We enjoy this too.

Singer Sewing Machine Desk- Not everything gets painted

Singer Sewing Machine Desk- Not everything gets painted

However, universally what we don’t do is pick up rare antiques that are in very good to excellent condition and slap a coat of paint on them.  Instead, we are repairing and painting items that we believe can be enhanced and updated with a painted finish.

What I find especially interesting about the painted furniture naysayers is that they seem to forget that people have been painting old furniture for generations- this is not a new “fad.”  I remember the desk in my childhood bedroom- my parents (probably my mother” “antiqued” it blue.  The desk in my dad’s den had also been antiqued by my parents.  On the other side of the family, when my mother-in-law passed away we received a great old library table that had been from her high school library.  When the school either remodeled or when the later closed, she apparently purchased the table and antiqued it.

[For those of you who are too young to remember  to to have seen the antiquing projects of the 1970’s, our parents would paint an item with a base coat of latex paint- for my desk, it was white.  When a thinner coat of either paint for glaze was painted over the base coat- for my desk this was a sky blue- and then the second coat was wiped off [much like apply stain these days]  then for the final touch, darker colored speckles were added to the final project for some reason.]  Much like painting furniture today, antiquing was apparently quite the fashion rage in the 70s.

My mother-in-law had previously antiqued this table in the 1970s!

My mother-in-law had previously antiqued this table in the 1970s!

So why the back lash today over painting furniture?  Heck, it’s just paint.  With a bit of work and elbow grease it can undone- it’s not like you’re getting a tattoo, LOL!

Now, with all this being said, I would agree that some items simply should not be painted…

  • valuable antiques- if you’re not sure of an item’s value, check around, maybe consider having the appraised.  It’s a ‘priceless’ antique, then NO-YOU SHOULDN’T PAINT IT
  • furniture that has sentimental value- the ones where you are worried that dear departed Aunt Millie will come back and haunt you if you take a paint brush to it
We got this wood and marble top table when my mother-in-law passed away.  I cannot bring myself to painting it even though I don't care for the wood finish.

We got this wood and marble top table when my mother-in-law passed away. I cannot bring myself to painting it even though I don’t care for the wood finish.

Other than these two general rule, I say paint away- it’s not the end of the world!

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Our Table- In the Wild!

So often when we sell a piece that we have refinished, it’s out the door, never to be seen or heard from again.  Recently, however, we sold the Farmhouse Table that had refinished to Sherry.

IMG_3956Sherry saw the table, dropped us an email and come of that same night with her mother to check it out.  Apparently Sherry is furnishing her new home and needed several pieces of furniture, one of which was a table to go with chairs she already had.

When she arrived and saw the table, she was thrilled- this was exactly what she was looking for, which of course made us happy as well.  As usual we chatted for awhile about the table, and life in general while we loaded to the table into her car.

The next day, I dropped Sherry a quick thank you note and asked how the table worked in her space.

“It’s perfect” was her reply, which was music to our ears.  In addition, she was nice enough to snap a picture of the table, with her chairs and send us a copy.

Sherry's New Table

Sherry’s New Table

It’s so rare that we get to see our finished projects on their new surroundings, that getting this picture was a special treat!


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Now on Etsy

We are excited to announce that we have opened our Etsy shop.  You can see not only the furniture items we have for sale, but as we continue to stock the store we will have vintage finds and other handcrafted items for sale.  So visit our store, mark it as a favorite, and stop back regularly.  You never know what treasures you will find.

Etsy Ad 2

Visit our Etsy Shop Today


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Funky Garden Art- I’ll Drink to That!!

For some reason spring seems to have forgotten us here in southwest Ohio.  Mother Nature sent spring to visit us earlier this year, but this week I’ve had to bring my winter coat back out- UGH!!!!

So, in the hopes of encouraging Mother Nature to send us a bit more season weather, I want to share some fun and funky garden art… our take on the bottle tree

Garden Bottle Art

I have been fascinated with bottle trees since seeing my first multi-colored tree several years ago.  From then I was hooked and knew that I wanted one for my yard!

Before sharing how we created our garden art, I wanted to share some of the interesting background that I learned about bottle trees while working on the project…

Bottle trees originated in the bayou south among the slave quarters and were though to ward off evil spirits.

It is said that this traditional practice was brought here by the Africans during the slave trade. In the Congo, Natives have hung hand-blown glass on huts and trees to ward off evil spirits since the ninth century, and perhaps earlier.

The Legend is told that the spirits are attracted to the sparkling color of the bottles, blue ones seemingly more enticing. The moaning sound made by the wind as it passes over the bottle openings are said to be proof that a spirit is trapped within.


As I said, I have wanted a bottle tree for several years, but frankly without welding skills (and welding equipment) and lacking trees from which to hang my bottles (as is the ‘tradition’) I simply didn’t know how I get the look of a tree for my yard.  Fast forward a few years and my discovery of Pinterest and I stumble across alternate ways to get the look of the bottle tree without the cost of a metal frame or a tree.

My supplies were simple and easy to acquire… blue bottles and garden stakes


I chose garden stakes for several reasons:  (1) because they were easy to purchase- we picked ours up at Home Depot, though they can be found in any garden center or hardware store, (b) they were designed for outdoor use- the ones I picked up are plastic coated, and (c) they have spiked ends, which makes it easier to push/bang/hammer them into the ground.  [Hint: It took us two trips to the hardware store to find the right stakes.  My suggestion is that you take one of the empty bottles that you intend to use with you to the store to test the right thickness]


Garden/Tomato Stakes

Finding blue wine bottles, on the other hand, took a bit of work.   First I would note that if you like Rieslings you shouldn’t have too much trouble.  We, unfortunately are not Riesling drinkers so I initially put out the word to some of our other wino friends that we were collecting blue wine bottles (assuring that we were looking for their empties, LOL)  For a month or so we also scoured local wine shops looking for wines that came in blue bottles and when we found a wine that sounded like something we might like, we would buy a bottle.  I wasn’t looking for uniformity of shape so collecting different types of bottles wasn’t an issue.  If you are not a wine drinker AND you don’t have any wine drinking friends you could check with the local bars/wine shops to see if the serve wine from blue bottles and would they be willing to save their empties for you.  In any case, this is a great recycling project.

After consuming the wine, I soaked the bottles in warm soapy water to remove the labels.

Actually assembling the project was really easy…

1. We simply put the stakes into the garden where we wanted them- just like you would do with tomato stakes.  We couldn’t find the rubber mallet so Tom used the back of an ax to drive the stakes firmly into the ground.

Tom is "installing" the stakes

2.  Once you have the stakes where you want them, shove the bottles on top of the stakes.

Simple as that!

Garden Bottle Art

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Home Right Finish Max Paint Sprayer- A Disappointing Review

As Tom and I have grown older and presumably wiser, we have recognized that have the right tool, and a quality tool, for the job can make a big difference.  Therefore, last spring as we were painting more furniture and larger items we started looking for a small paint sprayer.  After seeing such good reviews on a variety of the DIY blogs that I read regularly, we decided on the Home Right Finish Max sprayer.  While we were unable to look and buy one from the local stores, we ordered our from Amazon.

Once my sprayer arrived I was excited to give it a try.  I had several large projects, including painting my dining room chairs, just waiting for the sprayer to arrive.  Like many new tools, there was a bit of a learning curve- determining the right consistency of the paint (they give you a funnel type tool to make this determination), adjusting the flow valve, and figuring out the proper spray pattern.  However, with a not too much practice, I felt like I had the sprayer operations down.  I was ready to use it on a “real” project.

Now my main reasons for purchasing a paint sprayer were for quicker/easier painting and the elimination of visible brush strokes.  In general, the Finish max met both of these desires.  Unfortunately overall, and as time went on, I had very mixed results using the sprayer.  While I always used the same DIY recipe for my chalk paint, sometimes it worked well in the sprayer and other times is would constantly clog up the spray nozzle.  This was clogging was particularly frustrating when I was painting my dining room chairs.  When the nozzle would clog instead of a nice smooth paint stream, it spit out the paint in uneven splatters.  Other times it became so clogged that I had to take it partially apart to clean the nozzle pin.

My other issue with the Finish Max was clean up.  In a nutshell, even with the purchase of their cleaning kit, clean up took as much and often more time than the actual painting.  Most of the sprayer needed to be disassemble and cleaned thoroughly.  In addition, clean up always seemed to leave me soaked to the bone, but admittedly this probably more my fault rather than the sprayer’s.

Overall, I would have said that while I liked my Finish Max, I certainly didn’t love it.  On the other hand, I do need to say to some of my favorite DIY bloggers seem to really like the Finish Max, use it regularly, and give it very good reviews.  Larissa at Prodigal Pieces, Gail at My Repurposed Life, and Debbie at Refresh/Restyle all seem to use the Finish Max and are happy with their results.

My opinion of the Finish Max changed significantly a few weeks ago.  Because we don’t have any sort of spray tent, using the sprayer indoors is not practical.  As such, the sprayer was cleaned and packed away last fall.  A few weeks ago I pulled the sprayer out again to paint the wine cabinet we made for ReUse-apolozza.

When I plugged the sprayer in the motor started making strange sounds and soon foul smelling smoke was emitted from the motor.  It quickly became apparent that the motor had seized up.  In less than a years time, the motor on the sprayer was dead.

Unfortunately Home Right’s 2 year warranty apparently does not cover this issue.  After a rather lengthy email conversation back and forth with their customer service team, they claim that paint or water must have gotten into the motor housing causing the motor to seize and fail.  While I can’t dispute their claims as to the cause of the failure, it would seem to me that the housing should have been better waterproofed when you consider how much of the unit needs to be cleaned after each use.  So sadly, I am tossing my Finish Max and chalking this one up to a $75 learning experience.

So now Tom and I are once again in the market for a paint sprayer.  Our criteria for the “perfect sprayer” includes:

  • Easy to use
  • Must be able to be used with thicker chalk paints
  • Designed to used on smaller projects- I don’t want a sprayer designed to be used by a house painter!
  • Light enough that a lady/woman/girl/female can use- I don’t ant to have to start building up my biceps just to use the new sprayer
  • Easy to clean

At this juncture we are still trying to decide between another small electrical sprayer, such as one from Wagner, or a sprayer that uses a small compressor unit.  We better make a decision soon, however, because summer is coming up and I have several large projects to paint for us (vs for sale) including my dining room buffet and a radiator cover.


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Another Great Garage Sale Find and Flip

One of my favorite projects, and judging by views and emails I’ve gotten from readers, a favorite for you as well, is my oversized Display Frame.

Display Frame

Display Frame

I have been looking for an oversized picture frame to re-purpose for quite some time and just never could find exactly what I was looking for.  Then, low and behold, I was at a garage sale and literally hanging on the outside of the garage was this huge ugly brown picture frame with gold paint literally flaking off of the frame.  After sending Tom over to negotiate the purchase for me, I was the proud owner of ugly frame, standing 5′ tall and nearly 3′ wide.  Each of the sides are 6″ thick!  Best of all, the frame is plastic so it doesn’t weigh much at all, which makes hanging it on a wall much easier.

In addition to picking up the oversized picture frame we found these great iron pieces that are waiting for another project.

In addition to picking up the oversized picture frame we found these great iron pieces that are waiting for another project.

Flipping the frame was really easy.  First thing that it did was take the power washer and washed away the dirt, cobwebs, and all of the loose gold paint from the frame.  Next I painted the entire frame with glossy black spray paint and then a second coat of DIY chalk paint in a soft white.

Once the chalk paint was dry I gently distressed the white paint to let the glossy black paint show through.  I think that this gives the finished frame a nice old world plaster look and the black undertone really help make the scroll work pop!

For the inside of the frame, we simply used screws and washers to hold down some basic chicken wire that we picked up at one of our weekend runs to Home Depot.


Washers and screws hold the chicken wire in place

Washers and screws hold the chicken wire in place

I love the shabby chic look and the versatility of the finished frame.  You can hang so many different things: post cards, family photos, holiday cards, seasonal decorations, the possibilities are endless.  Spring clothes pins are you need to hold light weight items to the chicken wire.


While I love this project, like so many others, this too is for sale. Of course, once it’s sold, I’ll be on the hunt for another big frame to re-purpose.  If you interested, drop me an email at colleen@ourtreasuredlife.com

Display Frame

Display Frame


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ReUse-apalooza Designer Challenge- Part 3- We are Done!!

Well, our ReUse-apalooza #DesignerChallenge2016 entry is finally completed and has been turned into the auction.  Unfortunately I don’t have a nice “staged” picture to share as we ran out of time finishing the project and getting it delivered in time.  I do, however have a picture of the finished project as it sits in our messy garage.

ReUse-apalooza Wine Cabinet

A really wish I had a less messy picture of the finished wine cabinet 🙁

Now that the project is said and done, it’s been very interesting how much our original concept evolved as we worked on the piece.

Just to remind you, here was our “inspiration” from Pinterest.

Repurposed kitchen cabinets: i like the basic idea- different color though, shorter legs, chicken wire is a good choice too:

With this in mind, when we headed to Building Value to choose our supplies I originally looked for a kitchen cabinet with nice doors that we could cut out for the chicken wire.  Well, when we couldn’t find any that matched what we wanted, we settled on a very plain pressed wood cabinet and though we could use a router (which, BTW we don’t own and have never used, but why let little details get in the way of a brilliant idea, LOL).

For the top we wanted some nice rustic wood, but again no can do.  All of the wood boards we found were in too rough of shape are weren’t the right size so instead we settled on a three paneled solid wood door, which we cut down, for the top.  {Attaching the top to the cabinet became a challenge in the later stages of the project} And for the legs we choose some old wooden spindles, again going for a shabby chic look.

After bringing our supplies home and really starting to think things through, we quickly ditched the idea of cutting out openings in the doors and opted to purchase some 11″x14″ picture frames from St. Vincent dePaul thrift store to add visual interest to the doors.  At this stage, Tom was thinking we could paint or stencil some sort of design inside of the picture frames once they were attached.

With supplies in hand, ti was time to begin “some assembly required”

Step One: Tom had to figure out how to build out the cubbies to hold the wine bottles in the center section.  With plans from the internet in hand, he went to work building this section with some old shelves we picked up on a second trip to Building Value.  After a few “bumps” which I’m probably not supposed to discuss, the cubbies were done and attached into the cabinet.

Desinger Challenge 1

Cabinet Supplies

Step Two:  Tom cut down the 3 paneled door down into 2 panels to be used for the top, filled in holes with wood putty and the stained the entire door with his favorite Ebony wood stain.  The top got a nice protective seal with satin poly.

Desinger Challenge 2

Cabinet Top

Step Three:  Working on the legs became our first really big challenge.  Even though we picked up brackets to screw the legs into the bottom of the cabinet, when we actually screwed the legs we cut from the spindles, they just weren’t steady enough.  It became apparent that we needed to go back to the drawing board for this one.  Luckily while we were considering what to use for legs we were in the process of buying a new bed for our bedroom.  The new furniture didn’t use the old bed frame which thankfully had several chunky legs that we could re-purpose for the wine cabinet.  Score one for a last minute upcycle.  Bonus points because these legs from the bed frame already were threaded and had stabilizing feet at the bottom.

Spindles for the legs looked good, but just weren’t sturdy enough

Step Four:  Finally the cabinet was ready for me to take over for paint.  After taping off the inside section of the cabinet, I painted the outside with DIY chalk paint, using Poppie’s Paint Powder and “Oops” paint in a nice mint green from Home Depot.  [Got to love the Oops paints- I picked up a 1 qt can of latex paint for $2.50!!!]  After this was dried, I taped off the outside of the cabinet and painted the inside with flat black spray paint.  I also painted the picture frames for the cabinet doors with the flat black paint.

Thus, while we originally set out to build a shabby chic wine cabinet, our finished project was much more mid-century modern, which it so totally not our norm.  On the other hand, sometimes a piece simply speaks to you in a different language and calls for a different look!

When Tom delivered the finished project to Building Value they were very complementary about the wine cabinet and now we wait and see how well it does at the upcoming auction.

If you live in the Greater Cincinnati area, I encourage you to come to ReUse-apalooza on May 20, 2016.  Check out our wine cabinet as well as all of the other entries that will be auctioned off that night.  Then bid early, bid high, and bid often, because the proceeds benefit a great cause.


Read more about our project:

ReUse-apalooza Designer Challenge 2016 (Part 1)

ReUse-apalooza Designer Challenge 2016- Part 2


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Now he’s glad he bought them….

Remember these less than attractive chairs that my husband picked up this fall?



After being set aside for most of the winter, their make-overs are finally done.

After cleaning up the wood, I painted the chairs with DIY chalk paint made with Bamboo Leaves latex paint by Valspar.  I love making my own chalk paint because then you are not so limited to colors- you can make any color simply by mixing with latex paint of your choice.   We lightly sanded then and then sealed with a glossy poly to protect the wood and give then a nice shine.

Next came the icky rusty hardware.  The rust was removed soaking them overnight in vinegar and then I spray painted then a matte black.  This way I had nice hardware to use on my like-new chairs.

Finally came the seats.  These were a COMPLETE overhall- using the old warped based as a pattern, hubby cut new wood seats from some scrap lumber we had.  Then I added 2″ thick foam pads and re-covered them in a fun and funky fabric that I picked up from the remnant bin at Jo Anne’s.  Any budget hunters this is truly the way to get fabric if you don’t need a large amount.  I wait until Jo Anne’s has the upholstery fabric on sale, preferably a 50% off 60% off sale.  Then head to the remnant table where they take an additional 50% off the sale price.  For this project I used fabric that usually sells for $44.95/yd for about $10!!!!

Well now they are done and Wow, what a difference!


Schoolhouse Chairs

Schoolhouse Chairs


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Will Stop For Garage Sale

Until recently I have never been much of a garage sale shopper- I’ve held several sales myself, but shopping had never held much interest.  My sister-on-law Vickie, on the other hand I lovingly refer to as the “Garage Sale Queen.”  She knows where to shop, the ins and outs, how to negotiate, etc.  One year for Christmas I gave her a “Garage Sale Gift Certificate” which was actually a decorated quarter holder (the kind you buy at the coin shops for collecting quarters), which, of course, I filled with quarters.  She loved it.

I think the thing that I really dislike about garage sales is the haggling- I have NEVER liked negotiating over prices- whether it’s a new/used car, trinkets in the islands, or  anything else.  However, now that we’ve started garage sale shopping to find furniture to refinish, Tom and I have settled into a nice routine.  Once we find something we like, I whisper to him how much I’m willing to pay and he does the negotiating- he likes that game.

So now, we too, are regular garage sale shoppers, often stopping when we drive by one on our way to somewhere else.  A few weekends ago that what we did- we were on our way to lunch, when we drove past a yard sale.  We pulled over and found a great little farmhouse style dining table- these have been some of our favorite makeovers!   This one was solid oak to boot- a great find.

While I can’t remember the asking price, I do remember what we paid for it- only $10!!!!

After bringing the table home and cleaning it up (it was a mess), Tom sanded down the top and stained it with a nice dark walnut stain.  he then sealed it with clear poly and hand waxed to a nice and smooth finish.


The skirt of the table top and legs were my project.  I wanted something different so rather than opting for the more traditional off white legs I went with black.  I used Pitch Black milk paint from The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company. While the legs were slightly sanded, I did not completely remove all of the old finish.  Therefore when the paint dried it had that fun chippy finish and a shabby chic look.  Once the paint dried I used a Scotchbrite pad to chip away all of the loose milk paint and then sealed the legs with dark wax.  I really love the uneven and unexpected results you get with milk paint.  I think it gives a piece that shabby chic look that I could never achieve otherwise.


And if you love this table as much as I do, it can be yours.  Check out this table and all of the other items we currently have for sale.



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