Over the River and Through the Woods to Carter's Cottage

Last week, my husband gave me the day off. Yes, you heard me, an entire day without having to dress, bathe, feed or transport anyone but myself. Glorious. So what did I decide to do...hop in the car and drive out to the heart of downtown DeKalb, Ill. to visit my local Annie Sloan stockist, Carter's Cottage.

Previously, I had bought my paint from a local store that shipped to my home and at a store in Tennessee when I went to visit my parents, but from now on I am making the drive out to DeKalb to see Christie. 

I was lucky enough to get a chance to meet Christie Carter, the owner and designer of Carter's Cottage. She was gracious enough to spend some time talking with me about her journey to owning her own shop. This lady is amazing and so inspiring. Not to mention her painted pieces are amazing. She knows Annie Sloan personally, in fact, Annie called her directly to ask her to sell her Chalk Paint®. Can you imagine!? 

I spent about two hours there just taking in the store and drawing inspiration. I ended up leaving with a few cans of paint of course, but I also bought some sweet bird nests and blue eggs. Along, with carrying Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® and refinished furniture, Carter's sells wholesale goods, too. And Christie and her crew do a fabulous job selecting the perfect country chic items to complement their cottage decor. This place is a dream.

I think one of my favorite pieces was this graphite hutch. I have been dying to try this color out, but I am a little intimidated. This hutch makes me want to give it a try or maybe I will consider just buying this gorgeous piece.

Carter's Cottage also offers Annie Sloan painting workshops for those looking to dabble in Chalk Paint® or learn some new techniques. I am going to attend the next class in May and can't wait to share the experience with you.

DeKalb is also a great little destination town. While you are down there, you can visit all the other independent shops in the historic downtown area. There are antique, salvage, craft and clothing shops with some seriously cute stuff. And I love the idea of supporting independent business owners versus a big box store. As a tip, Christie shared that all the restaurants are open for lunch on Wednesdays if you want to make a day of it and of course they are open on the weekends.

So there is my magical day at Carter's Cottage. I left feeling inspired and can't wait for my next visit. Do you feel the same way about your local Annie Sloan stockist? 

Window Shopping Wednesday - Wall Hooks

Happy Wednesday and welcome to the first edition of what I hope will be a new weekly post- Window Shopping Wednesday. 

Let's face it. In our busy lives we don't always have time to scour the flea market or stop by that cute little antique shop that is an hour away or even hack or upcycle something from around the house. Sometimes it is just easier to take a seat at the computer and shop from the comfort of your own home (or cube, don't worry I won't tell your boss).

So today, I bring you Window Shopping Wednesday. Each week I hope to share a decorating idea with you and then give you some products you can buy to recreate the look.

This creative way to use a wall hook comes from Chris at Just A Girl. I just love this idea for the bathroom instead of using a plain old towel rack.

I also like the idea of using them in the kitchen for pots and pans or aprons and dish towels.

Of course, wall hooks work great for foyers. I love this example from Midwest Living.

All these wall hooks are from the Update That Hardware event on One King's Lane, a great flash sale site for home goods. This sale ends on 4/20.
Wood Wall Hooks- $22
Elodie Wood Wall Hooks - $25
Kirsten Wall Shelf w/ Hooks - $32

Charles Wooden Wall Shelf - $35

Oakdale Wall Shelf, Light Gray - $110
Camryn Coat Hanger - $275
Jameson Wood Wall Shelf - $69
Happy window shopping. Let me know which ones you like the most.

Simple Easter Decor

I hate to admit it, but I really don't enjoy decorating for holidays. The thought of storing all that extra stuff that I only use for a couple weeks kind of gives me hives, but after a long, gloomy winter I decided a little spring decor would be good for the soul.

I love this really simple Easter banner and my reclaimed wood cross paired together on my recently refinished dining room hutch. Easter is pretty important around this house and not because of our love for chocolate, but because of the love for our Savior.

This shabby little bunting banner is from Target's Threshold line. A special thank you goes out to my sister-in-law who gifted me this super cute decoration. They currently don't sell it online, so you would have to take a trip to your local store to see if they stock it. If not, I think it would be really easy to make a DIY version with jute, leftover fabric, some fabric paint and stencils versus stitching the letters on.    

My reclaimed wood cross is by artist, Susan Hamner, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I picked this up in a little local shop in my hometown, Brentwood, Tenn. when I was there for a visit in February. I love the fact that it is made from old historical southern buildings. Makes me feel like I still have a little country in me even though I have completely lost my accent.

So there you go- a breath of spring without feeling overwhelmed by seasonal decor. Does the thought of seasonal decor make you shudder like me or do you embrace it?

Creating Weathered Wood Finish with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint®

The most fantastic thing about using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® is that there are a million ways to use it. I read about this weathered wood technique in Annie Sloan's Color Recipes for Painted Furniture and also watched a tutorial by the amazing Christen Bensten of Blue Egg Brown Nest

I started with this table that I got from my mother-in-law. My family always knows to check with me before they donate or throw out a piece of furniture these days. This had an oak top, so I knew it would be perfect for this treatment. You want to use a wood that is porous and has a strong grain like oak. The paint needs to be able to seep into the wood, or it won't work.

I sanded down the top to open up the grain and remove the orangey tint the wood had from its finish. If you decide to sand your piece like me, make sure you sand with the grain of the wood. 

Next, I taped off the edges of the table so the iron was protected. To start, I simply brushed on some paint in a small area. I let it set on their for 30 seconds or so. Then, I took a piece of cheese cloth and wiped off the excess paint in the same direction. I like using the cheese cloth because it is porous and seems to take off just the right amount of paint.

Here is the completed top with a coat of wax. I painted the iron with a 3-1 mixture of Old White and Paris Grey. I did a little bit of distressing on just the frame and finished the whole thing off with a coat of clear wax. No dark wax for this piece. It is clean and bright but still has that weathered look.


Do you have any oak pieces that need a little weathered wood upcycle?

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Top 5 Furniture Picking Tips for Newbies

Let's turn some trash into treasure! So, I recently shared with you my new obsession for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint along with all the cool things I have been refinishing. Well, I have run out of furniture to paint around my house, so I have been out on the hunt for used items around town. Furniture picking for newbies can be intimating, so I have come up with some tips I have learned from my recent hunting trips.

Provided by FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Top 5 Furniture Picking Tips

1. Have low expectations.

Go into your picking adventures with no expectations of finding something really cool for a great price- or anything at all for that matter. It took me four trips to different Goodwills and salvage stores over the span of a couple of weeks before I found my first worthy piece. I also emailed about 25 people on Craigslist before I was able to secure a sale. When you go in with little expectation of finding something, it makes it that much sweeter when you do.

2. Set a budget.

Select a top price that works for you and stick to it. My goal is to not spend anything over $50 for a large piece like a dresser or hutch and $10 for a night stand or end table. If your goal is to sell pieces, you want to keep your cost low as possible for a better profit. And if it is something for your home, you still don't want to overpay for something you will ultimately be putting a lot of time and resources into.

3. Learn to negotiate.

I am so intimidated by negotiating prices. I would normally just fork over the marked priced, but when it comes to used furniture- consider it a jumping off point. You have nothing to lose by asking for a reduced price. This is what my guru sales hubby calls "the cost of no deal." If the seller lets you walk away, they are missing out on a potential sale. You, on the other hand, can just move onto the next store and next piece. Remember, you hold the power. 

4. Don't get emotional.

This is another hard one for me. I am super sensitive and can get worked up quite easily. Don't fret when you lose out on a piece you really wanted. You don't  want to get caught up and pay more for something than it is worth. There is plenty of used furniture out there to go around.

5. Be selective.

Don't buy just anything. I go for real wood items not composite, plywood, particle board or veneers. Usually, you will be able to tell by sight and touch if the piece is real wood. When in doubt, use the "lift" test. Wood equals heavy. Also, try to imagine what the item will look like painted. Ornate pieces with a lot of detail will work the best. Stay away from modern pieces with straight lines; they won't distressed well. Lastly, check the drawer or back of the item to see who produced it. If you find a Thomasville or Ethan Allen item, snatch it up. These guys have been around for a long time and make quality furniture.  

Look at this beauty I picked up from Goodwill. Check back on Monday to see the reveal of this refinishing project.
I hope you can use these tips the next time you find yourself at a salvage store or flea market. Happy hunting!