White Crackly Candle Holders

A couple of years ago I went to a garage sale and ended up buying several things. These two formerly black and blue candle holders were not among them because I didn’t actually buy them. They were pretty much shoved at me by the seller who insisted that I just take them. She seemed anxious to be rid of them…not that I blamed her.  I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by refusing so I put them in the car and brought them home. I’ve never really been fond of them.  In fact, I didn’t know whether they were actually candle holders or pedestals or plant stands or something else entirely. I would have used them out in the garden as plant stands but they’re made of a weird material that I suspected wouldn’t hold up to water.  I was just about to throw them in the garbage recently when I thought, well…perhaps I can paint them a lighter shade and put them somewhere in the house.

They were hideous black, blue and green things with what seemed to be an attempt at a fleur de lis design on the front. They also had cracks in several places so I filled those in with wall putty.

There were big visible cracks near the top and at the base.

Then I dug into my bag of resin appliques which is full of odds and ends and left over broken pieces. I managed to find a couple of cherubs and some roses.

And lucky me, I also found a nearly full tube of Instant Nails to adhere the appliques with.

So, on they went. After they dried overnight, the candle holders got a coat of Americana Chalk Paint in white. It didn’t cover very well unfortunately and I needed four coats in all to get full coverage.

But the white looked so boring to me. I’m not really fond of white. So I painted over the middle portion in aqua. That didn’t work as well as I’d hoped because now the contrast was too distinct.  I was about to paint it white again when I spied an almost empty bottle of Jo-Sonja Decor Crackle among the paint jars. There was just enough for the middle section and a narrow strip at the bottom of both candle holders.  It had a nice effect because it toned down the color contrast quite a bit.

This type of crackle is sandwiched in between two colors. It goes on top of the base color and then you have to apply a contrasting color on top of that.

The top color (in this case I applied another coat of white) cracks and subtly reveals the darker color beneath it.

I set the candle holders on top of the piano temporarily, but then I decided that they filled in that empty spot nicely, so there they will stay. 



Mirror makeover

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When I stopped teaching dance a couple of years ago, I converted the little dance studio behind our house into a guest bedroom. It came in pretty handy because we often have visitors who stay with us when they come down to Costa Rica on vacation. However, I didn’t really know what to do with all the mirrors that still hung on the studio walls. Although they had been a necessity in the dance studio, they now looked odd and out of place in a bedroom. They weren’t even pretty. They were just plain ordinary aluminum framed mirrors quite large in size, the kind you might find in a gym. Last year, after we renovated our kitchen and dining room I ended up with a large empty wall that I couldn’t think of anything to put on. Then I remembered the aluminum mirrors that were still hanging in the guest bedroom and decided to bring one of them into the house and hang it on that bare wall. It was a good fit and it filled most of the space, but it looked just as unattractive there as it had looked in the guest room.

Close up of the frame

Close up of the frame


The frame was very narrow so there weren’t alot of options as far as updating it. I wondered if perhaps it would be possible to glue some appliques on it and then paint the whole thing a different color to hide the aluminum. I had a few left over appliques from a previous furniture project as well as an assortment of silicone molds and a huge bottle of resin in the tool shed. So after a couple of months of thinking about it I figured it was worth a try and surely it wouldn’t look any worse.

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These scroll like curliecues were just the right width


It took me several days to make enough appliques to cover the entire mirror. I made roses and curlicues and cherubs until I was bleary-eyed. Then I began to glue them on with No more Nails, crossing my fingers that they wouldn’t fall off the slippery narrow frame. I think I used about four tubes of No more nails and thankfully they held fast. That stuff is good! I had given the frame a couple of coats of white paint before putting on the appliques because I knew that it would be very difficult, if not impossible to get into all the nooks and crannies with the paintbrush after the appliques were glued on.

I gave the mirror a couple of coats of white paint first because I knew it would be nearly impossible to get into all the nooks and crannies with a paintbrush after the appliques were glued on.




I added a small rose to the center of this curlicue applique

I added a small rose to the center of these scroll appliques

Two sweet little cherubs quietly watch over the dining room from the top of the mirror.

Two sweet little cherubs quietly watch over the dining room from the top of the mirror. I placed one on either end.


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After the appliques were set in place I allowed them to dry completely for a couple of days before applying a final coat of white paint.  In the empty space between the top of the mirror and the molding  I hung a few blue and white plates that I had stored away which matched the blue and white plate collection on the other wall.



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It’s a very tiny dining room, it actually used to be my daughter’s bedroom right off the kitchen. That was a sort of weird Costa Rican floorplan. Or lack of floorplan, I should say. The previous owners of the house had added on rooms wherever they had fancied a new room without giving any thought to the logic of the layout. So there was this fourth bedroom that could only be accessed through the kitchen. How weird is that. When my oldest daughter moved out last year, my youngest daughter moved into her bedroom and I turned her “kitchen bedroom” into a little secondary dining room, which made so much more sense.

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I think the mirror helps make the dining room look a little larger than it really is.



Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage


Fan Tale

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In the 1980’s when we lived in Ecuador I bought two ceiling fans for a house that we were building at the time. They were considered fashionable in those days and I was happy to have fixtures that were not only stylish but also functional. The temperature often got quite high in the tropical port city of Guayaquil and they provided much needed relief from the stifling heat . Fast forward 28 years. I’m sad to admit that now my little fans are considered tacky, dated and downright ugly. One of them stopped working long ago and only the lights portion was still functioning, but the other fan still works perfectly. That’s pretty amazing after 28 years. I actually like ceiling fans and I was reluctant to throw away the one that still worked. We don’t live in such a hot country anymore but it can sometimes get into the 80 to 85 degree range so I still use the fan quite often.  I have it installed in the kitchen. The only problem is that it just looked outdated and boring.

Here is a before shot

Here is a before shot. The woven center part of the blades was particularly passé

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I decided to at least try and give it a facelift. What I had initially planned on doing was to simply paint the blades a bright color. I unscrewed  the 8 little screws that held them in place and took them down. After cleaning them up (isn’t it amazing how grimy kitchen fixtures can get?)  I remembered the bottle of Mod Podge that was lurking in my crafts box and I figured I could decoupage something on the blades rather than just painting them. I ended up using some left over fabric from the dining room chairs.

After spraying on a primer, I spray painted the edges yellow because they would be visible

After spraying on a primer, I spray painted the edges yellow because I didn’t want to extend the decoupage fabric up over the edges of the blades.

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I cut the pieces of fabric in the shape of the blades, using one of the blade as a template.

I cut the pieces of fabric in the shape of the blades, using one of the blades as a template

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In order to get a smooth finish I turned the blades over and glued the fabric to the  non-wicker side. Now the woven wicker part faces the ceiling and is not visible. I used Mod Podge as glue to decoupage the fabric onto the blades, adding a couple of generous coats of it on top of the fabric too. After the blades were dry, I sprayed on two coats of clear varnish.

The blades ended up looking like they were actually hand painted and they even fooled hubby who complimented me on my artistic skills. If he only knew that I can’t paint anything more advanced than a stick figure, hehe.  After checking out a couple of blogs and a few websites I realized that it was also possible to spray paint the metal face plates on ceiling fans. Alot of people had done it and it looked really cool. I wanted to camouflage the outdated brass tone on the body of the fan and paint was the perfect solution. There were only four screws holding it in place and it was  simple enough to remove them and slide the face plate off. Easy peasy…right? Wrong. I didn’t realize at the time that all those online instructions for removing the face plate were meant for fans without lights. It wasn’t until I excitedly began taking out the screws that I realized that the middle hole of the plate would never slide down past the four tulip lights. I hate it when I do dumb things like that. I ended up having to convince hubby to help me take the whole fan down off the ceiling and temporarily unwiring and separating the center portion in order to get the plate off.  What a hassle. Thankfully he is very handy with these things.

See that center opening? How in the world did I ever think that it was going to slide down past the four tulip lights that jut out to the sides?

See that center opening? How in the world did I ever think that it was going to slide down past the four tulip lights that jut out to the sides?

I had to separate the lights portion from the rest of the fan in orde to get the face plate to come off. That meant separating two of the wires.

I had to separate the lights portion from the rest of the fan in order to get the face plate to come off. That meant separating two of the wires.

Here's the faceplate and the hardware from the blades after their first coat of yellow paint.

Here’s the faceplate and the hardware from the blades after their first coat of yellow paint.

These are the blades drying in the sun after the final coat of glossy spray varnish

These are the blades drying in the sun after the final coat of glossy spray varnish

The glass parts got a much needed scrubbing

The glass parts got a much needed scrubbing

Here it is all finished and hung back in it's place above the kitchen island

Here it is all finished and hung back in it’s place above the kitchen island


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I also harvested some of the parts from the non working fan including the four blades and their hardware which I spray painted pink. I decoupaged these in a different style and I can just change the blades whenever I want a whole different look. It’s just a matter of removing the screws and it doesn’t take more than 5 or 10 minutes. Admittedly  pink doesn’t really go with anything in my kitchen but who cares? Who says fans have to match!

Four extra fan blades for a different look

Four extra fan blades for a different look. These got a top coat of clear matte varnish. I didn’t want them as shiny as the other ones.

I couldn't resist sprinkling on a little bit of glitter for some fun sparkle

I couldn’t resist sprinkling on a little bit of glitter for some fun sparkle





Joining these link parties:

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage 

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Two Tables in Teal

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These little wooden tables have gone under the brush before.  Their first facelift was two or three years ago when they went from boring brown to a soft buttery yellow. They’re just cheapy little wood tables that I purchased to use as temporary night stands in my bedroom up at the mountain house.  They were quite rustic when I bought them and I had the impression that they were probably made out of old beat up recycled wood. People do that alot here in Costa Rica, which of course is a good thing. I’m all for recycling. But rustic just isn’t my favorite look so I painted them faux chalk paint yellow. You can read about that fiasco here.  The legs were long and spindly not to mention wiggly. I guess whoever made these wasn’t much concerned about proportions because the long legs made them look sort of like shelves on stilts. I added the little plywood shelf at the bottom of each table which gave them quite a bit more stability and reduced the stilty look somewhat. I also added some wooden appliques to the front. Here they are in all their hideous rustic glory:

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After the yellow paint and the appliques, they ended up looking like this:

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Fast forward to last month when I finally got around to painting an old bedroom set that used to be in my daughter’s room. That set has now replaced all the unmatched pieces that were in my bedroom at the mountain house including these two little tables. For some strange reason, I had become oddly fond of them after all this time and I didn’t want to throw them out or give them away so decided to find a new location for them. One table was placed on the stair landing and the other went in the downstairs hallway. But yellow just wasn’t cutting it anymore…they seemed a bit too pale for their new location. They didn’t really blend well with the Moroccan pattern of the stair risers.

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Now, I usually don’t like furniture in loud colors but on an impulse I went out and purchased a can of teal paint. And then crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t be sorry afterwards.

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Three coats of teal paint later, they looked like this:

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The only drawback to the teal paint was that the appliques seemed to become nearly invisible so I highlighted the deeper lines with gold paint to make them stand out a bit.

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So here they are with their new facelifts in their new locations:

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And here is the other identical one in the downstairs hallway

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After a thorough inspection of the tables and their new color, Semsema has given them both her seal of approval.

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Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Antique Parlor Cabinet Re-do

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Back in January of this year I posted some pictures of an antique cabinet that we bought from our friend Richie. You can read about that here.  After managing to get it up the stairs, it sat in a small space against the dining room wall for months until our home renovation was finished. I admit that I’d been feeling a little lazy and had put the cabinet re-do project on the back burner for longer than anticipated. There were so many other things to finish up first before I could take on a project that involved not only painting but hours of sanding and breathing in dust as well.  I finally got fed up enough with the boring brownness of it and decided to go ahead and get started. I selected an antique white paint for the body of the cabinet and a soft gray shade for the doors. Good thing I had made alot of furniture appliques beforehand and it was just a matter of selecting the ones that I wanted to use. This is what the cabinet looked like before:


After sanding the shiny finish off for what seemed like eons, I glued on the appliques with No More Nails and held them in place with masking tape just in case.



Then I started painting. I must confess that I didn’t paint the cabinet in any particular order and I didn’t empty it of the crystal before starting on the outside.  It took me about two weeks to finish it because I didn’t work on it for long periods at a time and I  just randomly painted whatever part I felt like painting on any given day. I figured I wouldn’t get as bored or antsy with the project that way.


It wasn’t without it’s problems however. Even though I sanded it quite thoroughly, brown stains kept coming up through every single coat of white paint that I applied. I have no idea why that happened, it’s never happened before on any other piece of furniture that I’ve painted. I have a feeling that whoever stained and varnished this cabinet all those many decades ago must have used some kind of really strong home mixed concoction that kept coming up to the surface as each coat of white paint dried. Who knows what they used. I was starting to feel like Lady MacBeth. Had it not been for fear of breaking my toe, I would have kicked the cabinet right out the door and down the stairs at that point. Finally I just painted over the stains with a really dark gray color and then applied more white over the gray. That pretty much solved it.



Semsema helped me out by inspecting the project regularly. She had to approve everything beforehand.


The inside middle section of the cabinet and the two drawers had been covered in a hideous beige textured shelf paper that had fused to the shelves in some spots. I removed it all and scrubbed the  inside of the cabinet with Pine Sol. Then I painted it white and put new shelf paper in.


And finally after a couple of weeks and about 6 or 7 (or maybe 8)  coats of paint….it was done.



The gray doors seem to make the white appliques stand out. The back part of the glass enclosures are also painted gray.



I finally found a place for my Halloween tableware which had previously been stored in cardboard boxes.



I shared a couple of pictures of the finished cabinet on my Facebook page and was surprised when a friend of mine who lives in France asked me if it was french. Just the fact that a french woman could mistake the cabinet for a french antique was compliment enough for me. I just smiled and said, Oui, cést francaise maintenant!






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Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Shabbilicious Friday at Shabby Art Boutique

Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed

Little Antique Piano Stool

Antique Stool

Not long ago I bought two little antique piano stools at a moving sale organized by an Armenian diplomat who was returning to his country. Most of the stuff he was selling was too expensive to even consider, but he had advertised some kilims on Craigslist and the price sounded reasonable so I decided I’d go take a look.  The kilims were breathtaking and there were many. I bought a very pretty wool kilim from Azerbaijan and as I was about to leave with my purchase rolled up and tucked safely under my arm, I asked about the two little piano stools that I had seen pictured  in his Craigslist ad. He led me to a back room full of antiques and I spied the two stools in a corner. Continue reading

Little Yellow Writing Desk

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Our good friend Richie recently inherited a huge house filled with old furniture, silver, china, old books and lots of knick-knacks that had belonged to his mother and his older sisters.  He lives in Southern California so he had no use for a house in Costa Rica and decided to put it up for sale. He was down here  a few weeks ago  to organize a garage sale where he sold alot of the furnishings and decorations that were in the house. Continue reading

My adventures with faux chalk paint

Not too long ago I was at a local outlet and I happened to see some plain and inexpensive little tables that I thought would do quite nicely as emergency night stands for my bedroom up at the mountain house.  I had intended for them to be a temporary solution until I found something better. They were  very lightweight but they were made of solid wood and at 16 dollars each I figured they weren’t so bad, even though they were very rustic. And I so hate rustic. Continue reading

Paint Your Bucket

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but we own a convenience store in Costa Rica. This means that we get alot of free stuff from providers such as T-shirts with logos printed on the front, caps, keychains, lighters, beer mugs, coolers….you name it. Usually we just pass these on to our customers as freebies when they buy something but very often we end up with left over odds and ends. Among these odds and ends were about half a dozen tin buckets of varying sizes that we’d gotten from a beer distributor.  We must have given away at least 50 of these but I still ended up with a handful of them stacked in the tool shed. I tried to find uses for them, from storing clothespins to toting planting soil but I didn’t really like them taking up space in my tiny patio. Then one day as I was browsing Ebay for an ash bucket to set on the hearth, I came across an adorable green tin bucket with polka dots painted on it. The seller suggested that they could be used to hold magazines. My first thought was…”Oh how cute! That looks just like those old buckets in my back yard”.  And then the lightbulb lit up. AHA! That’s what I would do with those buckets! I’d paint them different colors and use them to store my daughter’s teeny-bopper magazine collections!  Continue reading