Monday, November 28, 2011

Marie Antoinette, Eat Your Heart Out! Art Room Reveal

I've decided that it's time.  Time to let you all in on what I've been keeping from you.  I started this project about six months ago, so don't say I didn't warn you.  This is going to be one monster of a post!

A recap of this project:  I wanted a room to be able to sketch, paint, create and brainstorm.  I wanted my very own art room, but not your ordinary easel and paint in the corner of the room by the window kind of art room.  I pictured this to be a place that would inspire me as well.  My first option was to renovate the third bedroom upstairs.  I needed away from the rest of the house time and this bedroom was right next to my daughter's room - Not going to work.  So I ventured down to the basement and rediscovered this hideous room.  I'm surprised this had not blinded me during our first walk through of the house.  It was so busy and oddly shaped!  Look at that paint!  *cringe*  Look at that back wall!  There was no purpose whatsoever for it to be shaped like that!  Anyway, I got passed it - Literally.  We tore the wall down and added five feet of space, tore out the carpet, painted the walls and even painted the floor with concrete paint.  If I was going to paint in here, I am not going to replace carpet or wood on the floor over and over again.  I told you before, I am on a much tighter budget now.

My inspiration for this room?  Pre-Revolutionary France, Patina Furniture and Eddie Ross.  Don't know him? I'll introduce you to his work later.

Butt Fugly

Very Frenchy Frenchy!

So what d'ya think?  You likey?  Me likey very much!  I don't think I'll ever be "finished" with the room.  I think this will constantly be added onto and changed around.  

Remember this refinished desk and chair?

My work space.
 As far as art goes, I have no rules to the type of art I'll be displaying in this room.  I do love Degas, Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Renoir, but I believe that ALL art is beautiful.  So if I'm drawn to a piece, I'm hanging her up!

I love Degas' work!

I still have so much space on the wall to fill in.  This will take some time because I want to add my own pieces to my little gallery.  Here's one that I worked on quite awhile ago.  I hung her up behind my desk.  Da Vinci inspires me so much because of all his sketches.  My tool of the trade is the charcoal pencil.

My wannabe Da Vinci portrait.

Like I said, France has its hand in my decor.  I found this painting in an antique shop in Brigham City and I made the other three framed pieces.  I found some fabric paper, duplicated Marie Antoinette's last letter ever written for two of the frames and stained it with coffee.  The third frame reads: Let them eat cake in French.  This was such a fun and easy project!

I love working down here!
 While this is a mostly kid-free zone, I didn't leave my daughter out of the planning.  I created her own art space for when she wanted to join me.  I found this desk on KSL - falling apart and for only $3.  My next door neighbor gave me the chair frame for free.  Perfect.  A little bit of paint and upholstery work and you've got yourself a sweet looking desk and chair combo.

I found these bottles, little by little at thrift stores and swap meets.  I never pass up a good looking bottle.  Especially if most of them are $1.00 and under!

I've also fallen in love with milk glass.  

Here's a dresser I refinished so I can store all my fabric in it.

I love hydrangeas
There were so many bumps in the road for this project and finding the perfect curtain pulls was one of them.  I never found them. Instead I used these great frames I bought from the DI for 50 cents each as the pulls.

I give myself two pats on the back for this idea!

Now, let me you introduce you to an idol of mine:  Eddie Ross.  I have been following his blog for quite awhile now.  I am a HUGE fan!  Check him out:

I was instantly *smitten* with this mantel display.

I didn't think I would ever get my hands on an Apollo sculpture for an affordable price.  Eddie Ross' design was nothing more than a pipe dream to me.  Oh how I underestimated the Swap Meet!!

Looky what I found!  And yes, I have a story about him.  I wanted to take my mom and my daughter on their very first swap meet experience.  It was in August, the sun was blaring down on us and our sweat was soaking our clothes.  It was time to go home, hands full of our inexpensive finds when I spotted him.  Grimy in all his glory, he called out to me.  I asked the vendor what his bottom dollar was and he told me in this smug way, "Twenty."  I offered $10 because his face and attitude annoyed me, but I was refused.  I said, "Well, good luck!  It's getting pretty hot out here." and started to walk away.  My mom was flabbergasted telling me $20 is a fantastic deal.  I tell her, "Don't worry, I know what I'm doing."  And in 3...2...1....  I hear, "Hold up, wait! Wait!"  I bought this awesome and very heavy piece for $10.  Here's a secret about swap meets: Don't go first thing in the morning.  You get your best deals towards the end of the day because most vendors don't want to have to go through all the trouble loading all their heavier items back up and back home.  Just remember, YOU'RE helping THEM out.

After my daughter so happily agreed to wash him off with the garden hose, here's what he looks like now:

I turned the mantel into a bookshelf - I still wanted it to have a purpose. I didn't want to insert a fireplace and chimney into this room.  Oh and PS - it makes your Homeowners Insurance premium go up if you have one.  Although I love the original design, I didn't want to see anyone's underpants if I installed a mirror - the sofa sits directly across from the mantel.

It took me about six months to find all of these books.  I searched high and low for the fabric bound, worn looking ones.  Most of these are over fifty to a hundred years old!  The others were just fillers.

Top of the mantel vignettes

I have no idea how old either set of figurines are, but I fell in love with the patina it wears.

Another angle of my favorite view.

Note to self: remove batteries from table before taking the picture!
Like those chairs?  I'll post a tutorial on them.  They're my prized over a hundred year old chairs.

I keep my favorite art books on the coffee table for easy access.

Phew!  This post made me hungry.  Time for a snack!  


Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  It's always nice to get together with family, ponder on what you're thankful for and then stuff yourself silly with all the deliciousness that accompanies the holiday.  What really gets my heart racing is what comes after.  No, not Black Friday sales - I appreciate sleep too much to line up in the middle of the night waiting to be trampled on!  What I'm talking about is the Christmas Season!!!  It officially begins (in the Smitten household) right after Halloween.  Yes,  I start scheming and planning all the decorations and present buying wayyy before Thanksgiving.  It is my absolute favorite holiday, after all.

I wanted to share with you the steps I take to make it all happen.  

Step #1:
Rearrange furniture in the formal living room, assemble tree and lug all Christmas decor up from the storage room in the basement.

 Step #2:
Sort through all the ornaments and organize them in order (ex: Ribbon first, Giant globes second, Red next, then Green...etc)

Step #3:
Remind myself (yes, I have to do this every year) that it's the FAMILY tree and everyone gets to decorate. I am not allowed to be greedy with how I want MY, I mean OUR tree to look like.
I can't believe how quickly they grow!

*sniff*  I miss these days

I love placing a few fairies in the tree in random spots.  Adds a little extra charm.

Doesn't he look fabulous?
I'm way up high!

Step #4:
Christmas skirt?  What Christmas skirt?  I couldn't find an affordable skirt for this monstrosity of a tree (10' feet tall and 7' wide) so I used some ribbon...  A LOT of ribbon.
Nifty idea, eh?

Step #5:
Wrap  some presents! 

I like to keep my ribbons, scotch tape, scissors and name tags in a present box so I can keep my supplies close without having an ugly plastic tub acting as an eyesore.

Step #6:
Traditions, traditions, traditions!
About four years ago, Mr. Smitten and I purchased a snow globe for our little one because she was so enamored by it.  Every year since, we've given her a snow globe present and started a snow globe village.  

My Mini Smitten loves The Nutcracker.

I used Polyfil (pillow stuffing) for the snow.  It's not nearly as messy as regular cotton!

Step #7:
Take a step back and admire all your hard work!  No joke, this took about a week to finish!  I have the battle scars to prove it!  I have so many scratches on my arms from fluffing this giant tree!  So worth it!

Santa's bag is ready for filling!

Hmmm... looking at this picture is making me think about window treatments.

There are so many reasons why I love this time of the year.  Something in the air changes (besides the drop in temperature), people are kinder, everyone is so excited with the idea of giving to others and for a little while, magic exists.

Please, oh please don't let her grow out of this stage!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I am so so so excited to announce that I have been invited to participate in a 25 Days of Christmas Blogshare by Parga's Junkyard.  You can check them out at  I'm a big fan of their blog and I am so flattered that I was asked to be a part of the blogshare.  I am the 10th day of Christmas and I am already putting everything together on paper, scouring the thrift stores and swap meets and driving my family crazy with all the projects I have going on!  As you know, I am currently revamping my kitchen so I'm not pissed off every time I look at it because it does not "go" with my dining area.

It looks a billion times more chaotic than this now.

So make sure you check out my blog on December 10th!  I will also post a link everyday for those who want to take a gander on my fellow bloggers' sites who are also participating.  I have seen the list of what their blogs will be about on their assigned days and I can't wait to see them!

*Sigh*  I love the holidays...


Monday, November 21, 2011

Refinished Dining Set

Hi everyone!  I'm back, as promised!  It has been one hell of a week and I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving weekend!  My sexy self has been on vacay for awhile and she plans on making a return after the holidays.  Until then, I'm going to stuff myself silly!  Mmmm... turkeeeey...

Anyhoo, back on track!  Last Monday,  I had given you a sneak peek of my dining set I had found at the DI.  Here's the story on this beautiful piece ( I usually always have a story about my trip to the DI ), a few months ago I had spotted her looking so lonely and tempting at the end of her aisle.  She had a tag that read, "Antek table, $300.00."  After I had gotten over the fact that they spelled Antique wrong, I sadly walked away because I was not about to spend $300.00 at the thrift store!  After a few weeks, I noticed that no one else was biting at the price either- it was still there begging to be bought.  You wanna know what did change?  The price.  It had gone down to $175.  Wow, that was a big drop, but still I had to snub her.  Another few weeks passed and I was so sure that someone saw this table in the same light as I did: stunning.  To my surprise, she was still there!  I thought to myself, "If it's down to $50.00, I will buy it!" and low and behold it wasn't $50.00, it was $15.00!!!!!!  I snatched that tag off before the lady behind me was even able to look over my shoulder to peek at the price.  It's mine!  All miiiiiiine!  Bwahahahahaha!  I must have had a crazed look on my face, because she backed away ever so slowly.  Sorry, lady!  Better luck next time!  I packed the table in the back of the Rav, drove out of the loading area and went back to work.

Isn't she purty?  There were markings on the underside that read: Made in 1935.
I took her home later in the day and realized my dilemma.  Aww crap, now I have to find some chairs!  I had a counter height table with bar stools to match.  That was not going to work.

Before:  Boring and cheaply made dining set from Target.  Looked like everyone else's dining room.  *Yawn*
So on the hunt, I went!  It took me a couple weeks, a little bit of haggling and batting of my short asian lashes to take home a four chair set for $20.00 from the DI.  These chairs were just aching for a makeover!

Hi!  My name is fugly! (Just like this garage floor)
Once I had a complete dining set, I went straight to work on it!  I sanded the top with the electric sander and lightly sanded the rest of the table with a sanding block.

Check out how awesome the grain turned out to be!  No way I'm going to hide nature's design with paint!

I gutted the chairs and painted them white.  No glaze this time.  My goal was to make the table the main focus of the dining area.  I already had the fabric for the chairs, so there was no need to make a trip to Joann.

Here it is, my new dining set with a fabulous vintage lamp, also from the DI for $3.00.  I went with the same Glidden White paint as the chairs and stained the top with a MinWax Weathered Wood stain.  Beware!  That stuff stinks so bad when you apply it!  Do it outside or in an extremely ventilated area and leave it there for a couple days.  P U!

Dimitri couldn't resist a photo op!
I have now moved onto my current project:  Kitchen revamp.  It just does not go with the dining area!

I really hate the odd shape of that island counter.

Keep your eyes peeled for my next post:  It's Christmas (yes, already) in the Smitten Household!