Saturday, October 22, 2016

so many steps: the staircase project

I am happy to report that the staircase project is complete! It wasn't quick and it wasn't always easy but it was well worth the time and effort. If you're just tuning in, find the backstory here

Where we last left our heroes ... Once the carpeting was removed, the next step was to paint the dark wood ceiling and upper surrounding walls and facing doors white.The Hubs covered the grey lower walls (that we're leaving alone for now) with sheets of plastic tarp to protect them. Despite watching how-to videos, I found it very difficult and even scary to paint the ceiling -- thankfully my oldest son was up for the challenge and we gave the entire area at least two coats of semi-gloss white interior paint. We let the paint drip, knowing sanding the steps would come next. 

Even though the goal was to just lightly sand away the shine/finish, who knew how much sawdust would be all. over. the. house. even remote areas of far away rooms? We spent hours vacuuming, dusting, washing, etc. Live and learn.

Finally, it was painting day! I purchased an ultra pure white gloss enamel porch and patio floor paint. Feeling victorious after covering two steps, the loaded paint tray somehow slipped out of my hands and bounced and splattered its way comically down to the wood floor, almost in slow-motion. Clean-up on aisle 9. 

Once coated in white, more areas needing repairs became obvious. #TakeOneStepBack 

More hammering, wood putty, sanding and cleaning up; and finally another coat of primer/paint.

At this point I decided to go with my initial idea of painting a striped runner based on Dash & Albert color combinations.

However, even with only a single coat of paint, I began to really like the look of white steps -- so coastal and fresh -- and noticed that the single light fixture overhead lended an ombre effect. That's when I decided on painting all risers a singular color.

I chose a blue similar to a shade seen in the adjacent living room to create a nice flow. Meanwhile outside at the picnic table ... I coated the bi-fold doors and hand rail with two applications of spray paint followed by one-two coats of brushed-on floor paint.

At last it was time to paint the risers! But wait, the steps could use one more coat. #TakeOneStepBack Okay, now we're ready! I first taped the area surrounding each riser with painter's tape {click to enlarge all photos} and then painted two coats of Midwinter Mist by Behr. After giving the paint about :60 to dry, I carefully removed the tape. Using a small paint brush from my art supplies, I carefully touched-up blue smudges with the white floor paint.

I had this blue milk glass knob leftover from my stash of I Modify IKEA supplies.

I really love the results! And am I concerned about scuffs and nicks? I figure it's going to happen but that's what Cottage/Shabby style is all about, right? Embracing imperfections and timeworn objects. And I can always give the steps a fresh coat of white every now and then, just like I do to the windowsills.

Supply List
{Not a sponsored post}
Walls, ceilings, door: Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer followed by Glidden® Essentials™ interior semi-gloss
Steps: BEHR PREMIUM® Porch & Patio Floor Paint - Gloss Enamel in Ultra Pure White
Risers: BEHR MARQUEE Stain-Blocking Paint & Primer Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel in Midwinter Mist
Closet door, hand rail: Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2X 12 oz. Flat White General Purpose Spray Paint

Of course one project often leads to another and so I'm off to paint a piece of furniture. Thank you for sticking with this long post!

Happy tinkering!


Monday, September 5, 2016

first steps: the staircase project

In January of 2012 I blogged about this staircase, featured in my overdue library book Thrifty Chic, and how someday I wanted to try this idea at home. As noted then, this endeavor was at the bottom of the home improvement list for a bunch of reasons, the main one being that my oldest son loves racing down the stairs at lightning speed. Now that he's almost 16, I'm thinking he can take his time or wear no-stick socks, or I can investigate no-slip paint additive.

I painted the bottom half years of the staircase years ago in preparation for Fifi's visit but never got around to finishing the job. Aside from vacuuming, all these years the dark narrow staircase has been fairly neglected and bare. With a high shiplap ceiling, I'll admit, the entire project is a bit daunting.

With the long Labor Day weekend in front of me and a large writing assignment completed, I started to daydream about the staircase again. On Saturday I washed the walls and closet door figuring I'd repaint everything but the steps and leave that for another time.

However by Sunday morning I was ready to start the project as a whole.

The Hubs got on-board big time and pulled up the carpeting, foam and plywood strips revealing years of unidentified stains and even sand (or as we concluded, filtered dirt).

What's better than a friend with a dumpster?! Thank you, Sue!

There's a lot of pulling nails and staples and uncomfortable sitting positions amidst dust and grime so having protective gear such as leather work gloves, goggles and a dust mask are good ideas, as are knee pads or a pillow! It's also beneficial to play music because this is boring work that can take a while.

Half-joking I offered five cents a pulled nail or staple and my oldest son took us up on the offer! He did such a great job, we doubled the rate!


I hosed-down the wooden bi-fold panel to remove all dust, let dry overnight, and am spray-painting the exterior as a first priming step to reach inside all of the grooves. I'm not concerned with removing or replacing the hinges  -- I don't care for the brass and no one will really see them anyway. #lazy

So, what's next? Mapping out a list and realistic timeline of next steps which will include: filling holes, sanding, washing, priming, and painting everything white! And finally, deciding how I will decorate the blank slate once treated to a much needed freshening.

Chances are good that I'll continue to document step-by-step on my Instagram page so click on over.

Thanks for reading and happiest wishes always!


Monday, August 1, 2016

selina's seventh: botanical style

getting botanical at the picnic table
I'll never forget sipping tea and signing books with Selina Lake at the Columbia Road Flower Market in East London, England. Perhaps it was on that day, amidst boxes of fresh daffodils and tulips that she was inspired to write her latest book, Botanical Style ... [Insert sound of record scratch here: ] Well, of course not, but how could I resist writing about a once in a lifetime moment like that!?

On that day Selina was on book four or five, and this Spring 2016 release makes lucky seven. I have each of her books and just like their author they are beautiful, approachable and wonderful.

Each time Selina releases a new book I think: this one is my favorite, and Botanical Style is no exception.

Exhibit A: simple yet extraordinary!
I can barely get through a few pages before I'm off to clip or group or hang ...
While her books are all unique, there are common threads, such as unexpected bursts of bold pinks paired with layers of subdued elements; settings that are beautiful and modest; and advice that makes you feel like you're sharing a cuppa while strolling the flower market.

Photos by Rachel Whiting are a visual treat.

Botanical Style, Inspirational decorating with nature, plants and florals by Selina Lake. Ryland Peters & Small is four seasons of pretty inspiration!

Wonder what book number eight will be?

Happy August!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

tinkered treasures cape cod book signing on july 16

Search "Cape Cod" on this blog and you'll find over a dozen posts. It is a truly lovely area and I always enjoy spending time there. When Jen, Erika, and Cathy of Buoys & Burlap Marketplace asked if I'd like to do a book signing at one of their pop-up events held in Yarmouth Port, I was in immediately and selected July, knowing that hydrangeas and lavender would be in their glory!

Tinkered Treasures and Seaside Tinkered Treasures Book Signing
Saturday, July 16, 2016
12 noon to 3 p.m.
Buoys & Burlap Marketplace at Yarmouth New Church
Yarmouth Port Village Green on Strawberry Lane, right off of Route 6A
Between exits 7 & 8 of Route 6/Mid-Cape Highway

Buy a Book and Get it Signed
I will have a supply of my first two books along with my pink signing pen!
I will be signing books from 12 noon to 3 p.m. but the Marketplace will be happening from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

A Giveaway is in the Works ...
Jen, Erika and Cathy are also putting together a book giveaway, courtesy of CICO Books (thanks!) so be sure to follow their page on Facebook and Tumblr for details and updates! 

Hope to see you there!

Happy summer wishes!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

just add saltwash

Somewhere along the line my mind decided that worn objects are beautiful. To the bewilderment of my family, I have carted a painty old ladder, chippy shutters and more into our home as prized accents. It isn't always easy to find weathered furnishings in your personal colorway but what if you could mimic that rugged and rustic look yourself?

I'd seen the cans of SALTWASH at my friend Nancy's shop Sea Rose Cottage dozens of times but then a few days ago something must've been in the air -- or on Instagram -- and I had to try it myself!

My online order arrived quickly! Next I watched the how-to video and chose a wood craft frame from Michaels as my test subject. I poured some Devine Blossom paint from Target into a tall plastic cup followed by SALTWASH powder and stirred it all with a craft stick until I had a gloppy consistency.

With an always-loaded paint brush I covered the frame well and fairly level in pink goo. In about an hour, the frame was dry and seemed ready for a top coat.

Next came a thorough application using leftover white house paint, followed by dry-time.

Now for the fun part: Sanding away small areas of white paint in a deliberate way to reveal the color beneath. I would recommend doing this part outdoors and keeping a rag or paper towels handy to brush off debris. The rough base texture provided by the SALTWASH really renders an authentic result.

I so enjoyed the entire process that I grabbed another plastic cup and mixed up some aqua glop to spread on a rustic hook rack I'd purchased at Wrentham Country Store.

Once again, I covered the entire piece -- hardware and all -- with a batter of SALTWASH and paint, let it dry well, applied an overcoat of pure white paint, let it dry, and then sanded ever so artfully.

Here's my own little infographic. Click to enlarge. Please feel free to share or download if you find it helpful.

Try it out and I'm sure you'll be hooked on SALTWASH, too! #teehee

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, May 29, 2016

the IKEA book: post 1

available at all good booksellers
I have news! Charlotte Rivers and I are the proud co-authors of a new book about altering assemble-it-yourself furniture, in other words IKEA hacks. I embarked on this project in March of 2015 but wasn't ready to share about it until I had the book(s) in my hands.

And now I do! Advance copies of 50 Flatpack Hacks (Australia, released July), and I Modify IKEA (the US edition, released this October) arrived just days ago.

one of many visits to IKEA. meatballs, anyone?
There's so much to tell, I'm not quite sure where to begin so I'll begin with thank you. Thank you to Caroline Elliker, Jo Turner, and the team at Quintet Publishing (Michael Charles!), for this opportunity! On the home front, thank you to my oldest son Jonah who was encouraging from the start, telling me "you got this!" and for making good on his promise to assemble furniture. Thank you to my younger son Ethan for his help and ideas!

To my husband Jeff who constructed and developed, and came up with the genius idea to use a bottle opener as a drawer pull in our bar cart project!

It was pretty trying at times to be living in what seemed like a furniture showroom/idea lab and I'm super grateful for my family for being patient and accommodating every step of the way from cardboard to completion.

The original version of the book had 100 projects and so my co-author Charlotte Rivers and I were encouraged to seek contributors. Of course there were additions and subtractions along the way all resulting in a really great book.

Meet the Modifiers/Hello, Hackers

Here's the lovely Charlotte, my co-author. We've never even spoken but were constantly in-touch by email during the making of this book. She is brilliant and so wonderful to work with. I hope we meet someday. This is Charlotte's sixteenth book!

Here is a snapshot of most of the people who helped. I say most because countless family members, friends and colleagues offered support to me in many ways. I plan to showcase my designers in another more in-depth post but for starters here's the team; I hope you will visit them online. I always try to include friends and their businesses in my editorial work whenever possible.

Marisa Bettencourt: Answered my SOS to help with last-minute photos which were of course, stunning!
Stacey Flesch: Quickly supplied beautiful bespoke work as I knew she would!
Danielle Driscoll: Rising DIY home and lifestyle blogging star; many thanks to Luke and the boys, as well!
Pernilla Frazier: Sunniest person, genius seamstress and astute community-minded shop-owner!
Nancy Chace: Master of decorative paint, curating storied interiors and promoting her town!
Matthew Mead: Lifestyle guru originally to be my photographer until way too many schedule snags got in the way but was there for me with encouraging texts and calls throughout.
Janeen Chabot: Appeared in a flash to help with a big smile!
Sam Harradine of Chic Mouldings, who out of the blue offered to send me the appliques of my choice!

Kimberley Bell of Peony & Sage, who responded to my query of "I'd even love scraps from your waste bin" with a box of  beautiful samples.

In no particular order thank you to Dede, Betsy, Emily, Cindy, Mike, Fifi, Stephanie, Jodi, Ken, John and Maureen, Anisa, and Christine, and Joe and Maurits!

Um, more will follow.

Thank you for reading! 


Thursday, April 21, 2016

first book signing of 2016!

When I was at Chanel Shabby Rose last month for the rose painting workshop, I hadn't arrived early enough to really wander through the shop. I won't have that problem next Saturday, April 30, when I'll be signing copies of my first two books Tinkered Treasures and Seaside Tinkered Treasures from 1 to 4 p.m.

My book signing on Saturday is part of a weekend-long celebration of the shop's third anniversary. There will be special sales, entertainment and refreshments. I love supporting small business and am so happy to be part of the festivities!

Find  event updates on Facebook at both the Chanel Shabby Rose and TinkeredTreasures pages.

Book Signing
Date: Saturday, April 30, 2016
Location: Chanel Shabby Rose, 61 Endicott Street, Norwood, MA  02062
Time: 1 to 4 p.m.

About Chanel Shabby Rose
After a dozen years of being a vintage and antiques dealer, Mary Sergi founded Chanel Shabby Rose in 2013. Located in the historic WinSmith Mills at 61 Endicott Street in Norwood, Massachusetts, Chanel Shabby Rose has fifteen talented dealers, each specializing in picking and repurposing. Find Chanel Shabby Rose online at and Facebook.

Thanks for reading!