A Painted Piano: Before and After

Something that’s been bothering me for a while in our piano room is the piano itself.  I love that we have a piano and it gets used a lot, but it’s quite old (60+ years) and isn’t that great of a quality (Acrosonic) and we haven’t tuned it in almost 10 years.  So for a long time I have debated the idea of painting it.

piano before

As a (former) professional musician this seemed a little bit sacrilegious but the giant dark hole it was creating in this semi-dark room finally bothered me enough that I went for it.  I also read that as long as you don’t paint the sound boards, it won’t affect the tone.  Not that that would have really mattered with this piano anyway…

first coat

After the first coat is when I always say to myself “I’ve made a horrible mistake…”


Office Refresh-Sneak Peek

I spent the morning working in a client’s office in downtown Oakland today.  He had wanted a little refresh to his space which is an office in a large financial institution with strict rules about uniformity.  For instance, we can’t paint, change out the furniture, alter the furniture, etc.  Also, there are no windows or any natural light so it’s a toughie.  And the client wants to be sure that whatever we buy for the space can be used in another office in the future if he ever changes jobs.

So today I got started.  I had bought a few accessories and the client had brought in a table and bookshelf from home.  I also planned to paint both the book shelf and the table but only got the bookshelf done today.  He still plans to buy some art for the walls and a mirror he purchased hadn’t arrived yet so there is still plenty more to be done.  But just the little changes made today are starting to make a big difference.  Here is the before:


And here is the (preliminary) after:

Justin's office sneak peek 2 edt

(Please forgive the iphone pics).  When the table gets painted and the mirror goes in on that wall I think it will make such a difference (as will the art).  It’s been interesting designing a space and trying to keep it somewhat impersonal which is the opposite of what I do when working in someone’s home.  Also, designing around that orange veneered desk has been a fun challenge.    :)

Bench, Before and After

You might remember this old bench from last fall:



It had good lines and is really long (57″ x 21″) so it would be great for the foot of a bed or under a large window.  As you can see it needed a lot of work.  After replacing the batting, painting and waxing the legs, and upholstering it with a lovely woven heavy stripe, here is the result:


I also added the nail head trim to give it a little weight…

I wish I had somewhere to use this bench!  When I get my new website up and running I will be offering this piece for sale.

And finally, I was playing around with styling the photo and I initially had it styled like this:

It was too much–sometimes less really is more!

Styling Practice

You may recognize the table below from this previous post.  Well, it’s having yet another transformation.  I painted it in ASCP for my son’s preschool auction coming up in a couple of weeks.  I wanted  something neutral that could be for a boy’s room or a girl’s room (or even a grown up living room) so I chose Versailles with some white showing through the distressing.  Then I staged it two different ways to display in the auction brochure–one for a boy and one for a girl:




And girl…

The first thing I did to stage it was to get rid of the lamp wires by tying them in a knot behind the table. I then tried the rule of threes for the object groupings on the table which is supposed to make a prettier picture. Besides changing the accessories, I also changed the knob on the drawer for each photo.  And I employed one important rule I learned from Camille at The Vintique Object recently which is that photos taken straight on, facing the table (or bed, or dresser, etc.) feel open and honest are usually more visually appealing.  Of course, once I uploaded the photos, I saw that outlet glaring at me.  I still have so much to learn about styling!  Also, I don’t like how you can see up under the lampshade in the first photo.  And of course, those of you who read the blog know that this is actually my kitchen, but I chose the room with the best light.



And here’s a close up of the paint treatment.  I also used Annie Sloan wax to seal it.


What are some sure fire styling “tricks” you have learned when taking photos?  Lord knows I need the help!

5 Ways to Bring Spring Into Your Decor

I know a lot of the country is still experiencing the end of winter but around here the weather has warmed up a bit and the flowers are starting to bloom.  It’s definitely putting me in the mood for spring and I always start itching to freshen up my decor with the change of seasons.  If you are trying to rush the warm weather too, here are five ways to bring spring into your decor:

1. Fresh Flowers

Nothing says spring like a bouquet of fresh flowers.  If you are like me and have too much going on to get to the florist every week (not to mention too many other things to spend your money on : ) cuttings from your yard can be just as lovely.

These sprigs from a Breath of Heaven bush have small delicate blooms this time of year.


Our lemon tree has been keeping us drinking lemonade the last few weeks but if you don’t live in a citrus climate, some lemons from the grocery store under a glass cloche definitely bring the garden feel inside…

If winter is keeping your flowers from making their debut, think green!  Even  a branch from a tree can bring the outdoors in.  Our Sword Fern is green all year so it’s always a nice fresh pop of color.

2.  New pillow covers

A quick and inexpensive way to change your decor with the seasons is to change your throw pillow covers.  Last year I switched out my traditional brown ones in these blue barrel chairs for the updated yellow chevron striped ones.  They added fresh pop of a spring color.


3. Create a spring inspired table scape


This is my trick for always bringing a new season or holiday into our home.  Changing your table scape or even just throwing a fresh table cloth on your table will change the feel of your dining room/kitchen.  Here I used a branch from our Japanese Magnolia for color and a sculptural and organic centerpiece.

4.  A fresh coat of paint

This table from a previous post, received a makeover with a simple coat of white paint (and a new knob!).  A coat of white paint on just about anything can freshen up a room and make it feel brighter and airier and all it takes is a can of paint and a little elbow grease.  Here is the before:










5. Make bedding, curtains, slipcovers, or other easy to change fabrics seasonal

Investing in a new slipcover for the sofa or new drapes for the whole house may not be in your  budget right now, but buying an inexpensive duvet for your bed or even making one yourself can change the whole look of your bedroom.   This bedding from Pottery Barn with the branches of birds and the bright yellows, blues and greens feels like a garden right in your room.  Similar patterns and colors can be found at other more budget friendly retail stores like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Target, etc.  Or try your local fabric store and make your own for something unique!  To take the convenience one step further, in my own home I like to use neutral bedding and change the colors with the seasons through accent pillows and decorative throws.


How do you bring the seasons into your decor?  I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions.


Happy spring!

Chair Project

Here is my latest furniture project.  I’m redoing a client’s dining room and we decided to just freshen up her table and chairs instead of replacing them.  I haven’t done the table yet but I got her chairs finished just in time for Thanksgiving.  Below is the before:

The chairs are pretty typical beechwood from probably 15 or so years ago.  I painted them with ASCP base coat in Aubusson blue under Old White and the spindles in Versailles.  Then some light distressing and burnishing with wax.

The finished dining room is going to be lovely.

Also, here is a sneak peek of a bench I found that needs some serious love:

I haven’t decided yet what fabric and paint to use to fix it up but I can’t wait for the transformation.

Thanks for stopping by!

Guest Room

Above is an image of our guest room.  It’s very small (we had to take a couple of feet from it to make a bathroom for the kids upstairs) but it serves its purpose for grandparents and other occasional guests.
The curtains in this room were leftovers from our previous house.  They actually work much better in this room than they ever did in the other house.  The fabric is a discontinued Waverly botanical that I can’t find the name of.  If anyone knows what it is, please let me know.

This is a close up pf the fan coral prints.  I ordered this coral off of Ebay and then bought shadow boxes at my local craft store and framed the coral in them.  This room used to be a kitchen (in the 1980’s this house was divided up into 3 small apartments for students)  so all of the outlets were counter height.  We had them moved down a couple of years ago.  That actually made a big difference! The wall color is Benjamin Moore, Morning Dew.

This daybed is a great guest bed or bed for a child’s room.  It’s from Ikea and it’s called the Hemnes.  It has a lot of storage and best of all, slides out to be a queen sized bed.  The coverlet was from Garnet Hill and they don’t seem to carry it anymore.  Here is one from Pine Cone Hill that is very similar.  The ticking stripe pillow case was my husband’s laundry bag in college that I found in a closet last week–Sorry Honey!  The demi-lune table next to the bed was a salvage find that I painted black.

This dressing table was mine growing up.  I plan to paint it soon but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  The finish is in bad shape but it’s very sturdy and so pretty–I love the feminine lines of it.  The chair was a salvage find that I painted and recovered.  The lamps were vintage from Shabby Chic and the silk shades are from Restoration Hardware. The mirror is a pressed tin mirror that used to be brown but I painted it with primer to get it completely white and chalky.

Here is a detail of the vintage lamp and pressed tin mirror.

Below is a terrible shot of the armoir that faces the end of the bed.  It’s actually much prettier than this shot reveals and was one of my favorite salvage finds.  I didn’t touch the finish–I just cleaned it with orange oil and it was ready to go.  The mirror in it reflects the light from the window in the afternoon and even though it is a large piece, it actually make the room feel brighter.

And above is a detail of the lamp beside the bed.  It was a salvage find too–It was really brassy and 70’s looking and I just painted it white and bought a linen shade from Restoration Hardware.  I love to find funky old lamps and spray paint them and then dress them up with a nice shade.  I read somewhere years ago that you should never skimp on lampshades or rugs.  I also remember my grandmother saying a house that has candles in it with unburned wicks is a cold house, so now whenever I bring home a new candle, I light the wick for a second and then blow it out.  It really does make a difference!

Table Transformation

Above is one of the side tables we had by our sofa for many years.  It is a pretty basic solid wood, dark stain, import store table that was popular in the early 2000’s when my husband and I originally bought it.  Our TV room has been feeling so dark to me that I decided to paint the tables.  This is a temporary fix until I can find the side tables I really want to go there, but for now, they at least brighten the room.  Here’s how it looks now (I also replaced the knob).  Sorry about the picture quality–these are done with my phone:

A little white paint can make a drastic change.   Thanks for stopping by!