Monday, March 29, 2010

Dresser Refinishing Project: Completed!

The dresser refinishing project has been completed, and what a project it was!  I had always wanted to paint something, but I guess I never gave that much thought to how much work it would be.  I also encountered a few problems along the way.  But I learnt a lot, and nearly two months later it's finished, and providing some much needed storage in our dining room for relatively little cost.



Here's a little blow by blow of how it all went down:  

First, on my landlords recommendation to took it to Stripper Herk in Santa Monica (2015 1/2 Main Street, 310-399-8112) to have it stripped, removing all the knobs and the decorative bar at the top beforehand - another great landlord tip!  They had it for a couple of weeks and it cost $185.  They did a great job, however it only occurred to me afterwards that they must have used some pretty toxic chemicals, which was exactly what I was trying to avoid!  

Next I selected my paint.  I agonized for a while before eventually choosing a bright cobalt blue (Evening Blue) that I figured would really show up the white "calico" frog knobs I had finally chosen from a selection at Anthropologie.  I used Benjamin Moore Natura paint, which is zero VOC, and also their primer.

I put two coat of white primer on and it looked great.  Each coat was taking me 1-2 hours however, which was a lot longer than I thought, and my technique needed a lot of work to say the least!  I started out with a roller, and had to immediately switch to a brush.  I soon realized that you get a lot of brush marks with a water based semi-gloss paint, but I resolved to pretend that was the look I was going for!  I was also painting in the garage of our apartment building, which was really dark.  Not an ideal set up but I persevered, and good thing I had all natural paint considering the lack of ventilation!

Then I put on the first coat of blue, and it was so bright that I was a little horrified.  The second coat didn't help much, it was still super bright and cheap looking.  I decided to take the paint back to the store I bought it from (which shall remain nameless!) where I had a chat to their resident paint expert (who had not been there at the time of my purchasing the paint).  He explained that the problem was that I should have been given a deep base primer, not a white primer.  I probably should have known that, and certainly the person who sold it to me should have!  We spent about 40 minutes adjusting the color in tiny increments till we reached a darker shade I was relatively happy with and off I went.  I guess the danger is that when you've already used a paint, you can't add too much color to it or it will start to "split", which may have actually happened in my case but once again I resolved to pretend it was deliberate!

Another 3 coats, and I was done.  Not totally what I was going for, but hey, it would do.  I attached the knobs, filled it to the brim, and I'm pretty happy with the result.  The drawers all stick a little, which I think is due to there being 7 coats of paint on it, which haven't quite finished curing, and also that I probably put too much paint on the top of each drawer.  I also am having to do touch ups to the sides of the drawers, and the inside of where the drawers slot in where you are seeing white primer or bare wood, plus a little sanding once it's cured, but from a distance, it's kind of cute!

Total cost is a little more than I intended:  $120 for the dresser, $185 to have it stripped, $55 for the paint, brushes etc. and $200 for the knobs (including a spare) = $560.

I'm not sure I'll rush to take on another furniture painting project, but it was satisfying, and at least I'll know more for next time!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thrift Store Lamp

While driving down Santa Monica Boulevard the other day I pulled over to take a phone call, and ended up parked outside Out Of the Closet.  As I was finishing up my call I spotted a cool looking lamp in the window.  Two minutes later, after determining that it worked and finding out it was $60 (reduced from $75), I was loading it into my car.  Score!  

I love the detail on the base and the shade, and it provides a much needed reading light for our living room.  

Funnily enough this is my second purchase from that same Out Of The Closet, the first being another lamp in a gorgeous apple green that I bought 5 or 6 years ago.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Peking Glass Vase by Robert Kuo

Almost two years ago I spotted an amazing double gourd shaped vase in turquoise sitting in the window of Baker Furniture on La Cienega, and I had to immediately pull over for a closer look.

I discovered that it was WAY out of my budget, so I snapped a few photos (as I do of almost everything I lust after), and figured I'd be back for it in a few years if I was very lucky.

Yesterday I visited Baker Furniture again, and asked if they still had the vase.  While they have some in other colors, they don't currently have one in turquoise, however I'm told they can definitely get me one.   I had remembered the price to be around $3,000, however it's actually about half that, so whilst it's by no means a realistic purchase for right now, I can dream about maybe receiving it as a gift some time in the not so distant future!   

Whist I was at Baker I learnt a little bit more about the process by which they are made, and why they're so expensive.  Turns out the vase is Peking glass, by Robert Kuo (who also has a store on Melrose opposite the PDC).  The hand-blown sculptural vases are made in China, using a centuries old technique (first developed during the Ching Dynasty in China around 1644!) where layers upon layers of glass are formed by free-blowing.  

A collection of yellow Peking glass Robert Kuo pieces from Gump's:

Another shot of the turquoise gourd vase:

They start with a single piece of molten glass that is blown and formed into the desired shape, then add up to six layers of molten glass, allow to cool slowly for several days, after which the vases are cut and polished by jade carvers.   It's an extremely time consuming method, resulting in incredible thickness and visible "rings" much like the cross section of a tree.  The process is apparently illegal here in the US due to the chemicals involved, which does make me a bit nervous!

No two pieces are alike, they are created in limited quantities, and each piece is a collectible when signed by the artist.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Gun Lamp Collection

Another long time obsession of mine (yes I have a lot!) that I share with my husband: the Gun Lamp collection by Philippe Starck for Flos.

The lamps are die-cast aluminum available in silver chrome finish or 18K polished gold plated finish.  "Happiness is a hot gun" is impressed into the base on each of the lamps. 

The bedside lamp, $948.00:

The Table Gun Lamp, $1,756.00

The Lounge Floor Gun Lamp, $2,812.00

From Starck's website:  The gold of the weapons represents the collusion between money and war.  Table Gun symbolises the East.  Bed Side Gun symbolises Europe.  Lounge Gun stands for the West.  The black shade signifies death.

We are lucky enough to have a $500 gift card to Unica Home, given to us as a wedding present from some very generous friends.  It just might have to be used towards the purchase of a gold bedside gun lamp!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Cockatoo Lamp

Last April while visiting family in Sydney I found this amazing Cockatoo Lamp at My Island Home in Double Bay (which is sort of LA's equivalent to Beverly Hills, and is often referred to as "Double Bay double pay").

I sent a photo to my husband, who loved it and suggested I buy one and bring it back to LA. I ended up buying one as a birthday gift for my Mum and ever since I've wished that we bought one for ourselves!  

Cockatoo Lamp from My Island Home, AUD$450 (shade not included):

I've since learned that a store by the name of Mozi are also selling the lamps, apparently handmade by a local artist.  Theirs are AUD$330 and include a shade (either plain black or white).  Tempting!

Reminds me of a certain video that always makes me smile...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Bishop Stool

That last post reminded me of another major obsession of mine: the Bishop stool by India Mahdavi.

The only bad news?  They're $2160 (from  Ralph Pucci International).  Eek!!

I'm of course particularly fond of the silver and gold, I love my metallics!

The wood version is really interesting too, here they are in the bar of the Condessa df in Mexico City:

They're very versatile - they can be a side table, or a stool, and I love the gorgeous pop of yellow in this otherwise muted room.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Ribbon stool series

My latest obsession is the ribbon stool series by Nendo for Cappellini at Unica Home.  

They're described as follows on the Nendo website:  "a stool whose construction loops together like the ribbons of ballet shoes. The three ribbons are laser-cut from a single layer of steel, and cross at a standard pitch for stability and structural integrity. The high stool has an extra loop, some of which can be used as footrests. The optional cushion affixes to the stool with magnets." How awesome is that?!

I'm especially fond of the chrome, red, yellow, and of course, turquoise, finishes.  I think that they could be an amazing pop of color in a mostly white kitchen (my favorite kind!).  

Unfortunately they're not exactly affordable:  $846 for the high stool, $538 for the low stool and $333 for the cushion.  Ouch!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wertz Brothers: Part 2

Two days this week I was at Wertz Brothers Antique Mart in Santa Monica till they closed.  I don't think that's normal behavior for anyone, but it's a new discovery for me and it took two half-day trips to see it all.  It's now officially my new favorite place to shop!  The staff are super sweet and it's crammed full of interesting things.  I will be going back on a regular basis!!

A few photos of my finds, some of which I purchased, some of which I've resisted... for now!!

Details from my favorite stall (I have three, and I found out they're all the same dealer!):

This rabbit is occupying a lot of my thoughts.  He's actually a "1986 Arthur Court aluminum ice bucket"!!  He's $795 or I'd be filling him with ice cubes right now!  I love him styled with the top hat, adorable:

My other favorite stall, same dealer, I love how he's arranged everything!

I LOVE this little vignette, makes me want that "lady pot" for lack of a better description.  Very Adler, no?  $475:

Silver plated fish menu holder - I did end up buying this guy, couldn't resist him!

Interesting gold couple, a little steep but tempting!

Very Kelly Wearslter, no?

Amazing!  Unfortunately $690 or it would be hanging on our wall right now!

Okay I might have bought this guy, couldn't resist him!

These guys were tempting but the chicken won out:

Crazy eyes...

This is described as being a "vintage carnival amusement park circus lion face plaque" and was $425.  He'd look amazing in someone's (my?) house on a plain white wall:

Basket of wall sconces that could be amazing outdoors on or against an exposed brick wall:

Great vintage Paris poster, from memory around $90, I have to know someone that this would be perfect for?!

Adorable little marlin dish, not as pretty when not under the cabinet's lights or he'd be sitting our living room right now:

Stunning vintage coat/ dress, I love me some stripes!!  But would I actually wear it?  Maybe!

Great glass cube lamp next to kitty kat, $248:

This brass wreath was truly incredible in "person" with beautifully detailed animals, jack-o'-lanterns, Christmas trees, etc, $295: 

As someone who (attempts to) collect vintage kimonos, this geisha wig was calling me.  I didn't pick up... yet!

Great silver plate champagne bucket with milk glass liner, $159:

Succulents in tea cup, love it!

I loved these cloisonné jars, the colors close up were incredible!

I was planning on purchasing this box after thinking about it overnight (yeah birthday money!) but when I went back I couldn't find it anywhere!  Probably a good thing, since it was $165.  Sale or not, more than I should be spending on a box, even a gorgeous bronze box with a pair of gold lions on the top.

Sweet toast rack:

Peanut box, $48, my husband saw this photo and asked "could you put peanuts in it?".  Um... yes?

Awesome brass planter:

Equally awesome brass crab:

But nothing beats this chrome chain stool, $588.  Want!!

Love the brass cobra in the birdcage:

Oversize shell planter, which would look amazing with some kind of cascading plant, perhaps a collection of succulents including fish hook?  Love it!

A bowl full of brass oysters, each with little hinges, no idea what you'd put in them?  

The Australian in me was drawn to this painting...

Anyone need a painted baby?

I really liked this little guy, though he was actually kind of big!

This green pair would look great on the dresser I'm about to paint in inky-blue!

Digging this director's chair, apparently featured on their website:

Oversized green bottle, $42, nearly bought it!

I thought these swordfish bookends were sweet, though a little light for the job:

I thought this plinth was very cool... just not sure I have anything to put on it.  A plant perhaps?

In addition to the fish and the chicken I also ended up buying a gorgeous crystal bracelet, crystal drop earrings and, super long dyed turquoise faceted bead necklace:

Plus these gorgeous blue lucite grapes (all faceted and different blues) and a little cashmere sequin cardigan.  These photos don't do any of them justice!!

Why is everything I buy these days blue or silver??  

All in all a nice little haul courtesy of the birthday money my parents sent.  Thanks parents!!  I also got 10-20% off on all of these items, yay sale!!