Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Great Find!

Look what I scored off Kijiji*! I usually just quickly browse the adds every so often, and I spotted this great little mahogany table for only 15$!

It had a few deep chips to the finish on the top, and some light scratches to the legs, but I fixed those in just a few minutes with coloured wax (for the chips) and a touch-up marker (legs). Otherwise it's in absolutely perfect shape. It's not a true antique piece from the 1800's, but it's a very well made reproduction, probably from the early 1900s (maybe 1930s?) The top is a veneer/plywood, but you can't tell unless you really know what to look for. The legs and pedestal are very well made, with no cracks or loose joints. I think they refer to these as a "snake foot". The varnish (which looks like very thick shellac) is all crackled but I like it this way.

Overall, an absolutely amazing little table (19" x 29" and 18" high) for only 15$. I'll use it as an end table in the living room. The best part: it was literally just one block away from my house (it was on 6th street and I'm on 5th street).

I was really excited to post it, since I picked it up just last night, but the lighting was bad and I wanted decent photos of it.

* Kijiji is a classifieds website. It's just like Craigslist, but no one in Cornwall uses Craigslist. I often browse for antiques, tools, or home reno materials.


I rarely see a house where there "isn't a single thing I would change", but I just stumbled across one that I absolutely HAD to share.

I spotted it while doing my weekly browse through the posts on Old House Dreams.

Old House Dreams

The listing is for a 2 million dollar home, and the owners are clearly well-off. Whoever did the decorating and colour choices did a perfect job. It looks just like an old well-cared-for country home should, and I just can't stop gushing over it.

Click through and browse the full-sized photos. The property is amazing, and from what I can see, the main house is a combination of 6 different additions. You can see a log home, and a very old stone house, and they were added-onto in different stages. Yet, even with all these additions, everything seems to blend together really smoothly.

I'm not sure how long the listing will be up, so I'll just include a few highlight photos. The photography is also amazing.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cornwall Homes - A Much Needed Restoration

Today's post is a simple one about one of the beautiful historic homes on Sydney Street that's currently under renovations (restoration).

The home is one of many beautiful Victorians on this street downtown, and while most are in very good shape, others are not. This was one of them. Several years ago, it used to be a very light yellow. I think it switched hands, and the new owner had it repainted in a nice light seafoam green (blue-green) with slightly darker shutters in the same tone. Since then, it hadn't had much maintenance done on it, and the condition of the woodwork was really starting to suffer.

Here are two images from Google Street Maps from August 2012. You can clearly see how depressing the house looked: shutters falling apart, peeling paint, and entire boards along the bottom rotting away. Also notice the fascia boards along the roof line.

Pretty sad. I especially like the upper window with the curved walls. As far as I know, it's the only house in Cornwall with this particular detail. We also don't have that many homes with decorative shingle work left (maybe a dozen?)

I was overjoyed to see that this summer, a lot of major work on the exterior/siding was being done. I have wanted to go by and take photos for a few weeks, but I didn't happen to be in that area until this evening, since I made the very slight detour to go snap some photos. The lighting wasn't ideal, but I'll be taking some nicer ones once the reno is done.

I love the decorative roof peaks/decorations. Also note the stained glass in the upper windows.

I've always found it unusual that this home had no front porch. I wonder if it did have one at one point or not.

Original windows, too. I really liked the small details on the sides under the upper sashes. They have a bit of a stop block with a decorative bottom edge, and they give the impression of a recessed panel on each side (hard to see clearly in the photos).

I can't wait to see what they do with the painting. Single colour, multicoloured, or the same as it is currently (which looked fine). Either way, I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on this one.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Upholstery Projects (Projects of the Month)

Alright, here's the fist instalment of the "Projects of the Month" from work. A lot of projects have come and gone, many of them being small jobs such as boat seats, car seat repairs, etc (which my boss handled), but these are most of the ones I worked on (either entirely or partially), and the ones that were nicer or more fun.

First, some of you might remember that I had mentioned we'd be following the progress on these two arm chairs:

Well, due to a bunch of problems with one of our suppliers/dealers, we have only just received the fabric TODAY. These have been sitting in the shop for over a month (which is ridiculous). Usually we can get our fabrics within 1-2 days, unless something is on back order. That said, we should be starting these two arm chairs (finally) tomorrow or next week. My boss actually started sewing the parts for them this afternoon.

You'll note that all the new photos are watermarked with the company name, since I'll also be posting them to a new blog or site, or Facebook page (or something) since the company's site isn't easy to add photos to, and it would be nice to keep a good stock of photos for potential clients to see.

I will also start to add similar watermarks to my own blog photos as soon as I finalize a nice design.

Project 1: Pair of wing chairs. These two wing chairs were actually done by my boss about 5 years ago for this client, and she decided to change them again to something different. Hooray for repeat business! Here is the before (which I actually quite liked):


On these, I was the one who did all of the coverings for the two chair frames (my boss did the cushions/sewing, etc.

Project 2: Pair of Victorian reproduction chairs (and recover a set of 6 drop-in dining room chair seats (same fabric): not shown).

In typical fashion, a previous upholsterer covered over the old cover rather than remove it (as we always do). You can also see that the seat is very bumpy/lumpy.

The reason that the seat was so lumpy was because the foam had torn through the springs. There is usually a burlap or other covering/barrier over the springs to prevent this from happening. The chairs were taken down to the bare frames, and new foam, cotton/padding was installed along with the new top fabric.


After (and Before for the next project, see grey chair in lower left):
Pierre did these two.

Project 3: Set of 4 ding room chairs. I was *SURE* I had a set of before photos of these chairs, and apparently it slipped my mind. They were dark grey with silver tacks (see photo above in lower left).

All the tacks on the back portion are all done individually by hand. The 4 chairs took up around 1200 tacks. It seems tedious, but it went fairly quickly and easily.

The fabric on these was quite fun and cheerful. The interior is a geometric pattern with greens and blues, while the back is a chenille type solid cream fabric with antique gold tacks.

Project 4: Set of two arm chairs (owned by the same lady as the 4 dining chairs above).

Green micro-suede fabric.

Again, on this chair we discovered that the previous upholsterer did not remove the deck (which shows the original fabric with the company logos removed). This was removed.

Chair stripped and ready for new fabric.

These two chairs were finished today, and I love how they turned out. I worked on the two at the same time to make sure that they both matched (all the patterns need to align perfectly). Also note the seats in the background, which we finished (back from my first day of work) we had to wait a while for that vinyl since it was on back order.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gallery Wall

I had quite a lot of pieces to choose from for my gallery wall (as you can see in prior posts), but I thought I'd just quickly go over the ones that I picked for this group.

As you will see below, most of the art and frames that I used were total bargains. I don't think a single piece cost me over 20$, with most being around 5-10$. I estimate the total cost including spray paint, glass, backing boards, and custom mattes at around 60-80$ for the entire group. I am hoping that this will inspire you to keep an eye out for some great pieces, and look for budget friendly options. It's unbelievable how expensive it is to get artwork framed and matted these days. Old frames are very easy to find, and can easily be spray painted to match your decor (a lot of people like to have many similar frames and paint them all black, gold, or white).

For my grouping, I liked a really eclectic mix of frames and styles, but I kept the theme fairly limited (architecture and boats). I have seen many fantastic art walls, and I've been gathering inspiration for mine for quite some time.

Things to consider: Do you want a neat and orderly arrangement (like mine, which is kept within a tight rectangular shape), or a more free-form grouping? The same pieces in a different arrangement can have a very different look.

Here are a few of my favourite inspiration photos, some of which may also get your creative juices flowing, hehe.

Here is one of the most eye-catching examples I've come across. This would be an "advanced" style, since it requires a lot of very careful measuring, and calculation, as well as additional fasteners (I imagine that each piece has 2 nails). I also like the mix of frames, crosses, letters, and plates, yet there is still a theme of browns, greens, metallics, and muted colours.

A nice orderly grouping that includes empty frames.

This is very orderly and simple (with ample spacing), yet still asymmetrical around the edges.

This grouping was one of my inspirations to go with totally mismatched frames and styles. A very cozy and inviting look. This group is also asymmetrical/random.

This is my favourite gallery wall photo. There's just something amazing about the arrangement, and the wall colour. I also adore the classical lithographs used.

A stairwell is a great place for a gallery wall. The only thing to consider here is whether your staircase is wide enough to avoid frequently grazing some frames (as would be the case in my staircase). You may consider additional fasteners here as well. Note the use of matched simple black frames.

My Pieces:

1. - This is a print of Lincoln Cathedral (UK). I found this matted print at Value Village for 5 or 6$. I absolutely love Gothic architecture, and I knew it would look great with some of the other pieces I already had. The frame was a very lucky find from Winners, and it was only 9.99$.

2. - This is a yard sale find that I've had for many years. I believe I bought it in the mid-1990s. It's a pen and ink drawing of Parliament Hill (one of my favourite places to visit, and again: Gothic architecture. Sadly, the mat used was not very high quality, and the core has yellowed and "bled-into" the artwork. I'm sure I paid under 10$ for this piece (and it was framed).

3. - This is an antique print of St. Martin's Church (aka St. Martin-In-The-Fields, UK). It is a hand-coloured lithograph, and it came with a line-decorated mat. I picked it up for 5$ from a local second-hand store. The frame was a yard sale find (I paid maybe 1$ for it?) that had been painted off-white(click to see the frame restoration). I really love this piece.

4. - This is a pen and ink of the Bluenose II. It's dated 1980 on the back, and I'm not sure if it's an original or a print. It was also a yard sale find that I've had for many years. The greyish mat is nearly the same colour as my wall, which is fun.

5. - This is a "mystery piece", simply because I can't remember how I came across it. It's an original pen and ink (you can see some nib marks on the paper and faint pencil lines), and it's signed: Dwayne St Louis 1978. I picked up the beautiful gold fame (no glass, no mat, no back - just the frame) along with a few other empty frames for 5$ at a local second-hand store. For the mat, I actually used some very thick water colour paper that was on clearance (1.89$ for a very large sheet), and I cut it myself with a mat cutter (it needed to be a custom size, and I didn't want to spend 20$ to have one cut). I also cut the glass from a spare sheet that I had on hand.

6. - This black framed print is an original lithograph from 1836(!) and shows the "Radcliffe Camera" (part of Oxford University in London). The building (which is the library) is still standing and it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. This was a Value Village (thrift store) find, and I believe it was around 5$. It is also hand coloured.

7. - This is an original pen and ink by my mother JoAnne. This is the only piece in the grouping that has sentimental value, since it's one of the few pieces that I have that my mom made. She's quite a good artist, but like me, never really finds the time to paint or draw. I believe this is a piece she did when she was in high school. I asked her if she remembered where this covered bridge was, but she said it was just copied from a stock photo. I framed it with a custom cut mat (also the watercolour paper), and I used a very simple black frame that I found at Value Village (4.99$).

8. - This was a very interesting piece that I came across at the Salvation Army Thrift Store just down the street from my house. It's a romanticized version of some sort of sail boat/row boat. The corners have Fleur-de-Lys decorations, and the main sail has some sort of horse/boar/animal on it. It's done in embossed brass. I wasn't sure whether or not I should get it, but since I love old brass (and it ties in well with all the brass on my clocks, old lamps, and accessories) I thought it might look good in a grouping or a vignette with other items. I have no idea how old it is, but the back hanger is stamped with "Made In England". I believe it was 3.99$.

9. - TBD. This was a 2$ frame (one of two), and I think I might have bought it when I went to Lac-M├ęgantic. I can't be 100% sure. I just remember that it was from a Giant Tigre store, and that they were on clearance for 1.99$. I will likely frame an architecture photo or print in this one.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

House/Project Updates

Most of my spare time has been wasted catching up on TV shows and YouTube videos lately, but I've found some time to work on the longcase clock, which is starting to come along quite nicely.

I also did the repairs to the finish on the antique chair that I've been restoring (the one that led me to my new job). I went over it with some new shellac, which helped to even out the finish (without affecting the colour or the patina/texture) too much.

I then went over the whole thing with a buffing and wax polish.

This is a fabric sample that my boss suggested (and that I really like). It has great colours, and looks a lot like old needlepoint. The only issue is that it's 60$/yard. OUCH! I'll probably splurge on this (even though I had already wasted 15$ on another fabric), but since the chair cost me nothing, it's not too bad. It's like he said: "Don't cheap out on your fabric."

On this past Tuesday evening (trash night), I spotted a stash of old windows on my way home from work. They were just 1 block away, so I went and took a closer look at them. They're actually in amazingly great shape, so I took them home. I can use them to build cabinets, or even a glass display case. The large ones might be especially great for me to have saved simply because old glass is hard to find in long narrow sheets (for antique clock doors), and I may need to salvage those panes. There's just one of the large windows that's really beat-up and has one section missing.

3 complete windows (tops and bottoms). These are my least favourite style of historic windows, which are the "ladder style" with horizontal bars, rather than vertical ones.

Two large windows (tops & bottoms). These are around 4 feet wide.

They were heavy, and I was glad that I started with the large ones, since I had to make 5 trips to get these (two panes at a time).


Here's what I ***FINALLY*** did this evening. I've been tired of having all the frames and art on the floor, leaning against the wall in the office, so I decided to get the supplies I needed to finish framing 2 of the pieces I wanted to hang.

I finished framing both those pieces this afternoon, and then I decided which ones I wanted for this art wall.

To make things REALLY EASY I cut a large sheet of paper (I have a huge roll of this stuff, but you could tape large sheets of newspaper together) that was approximately the size I wanted my art to cover on the wall. In my case, I wanted to art wall to cover no more than 3' x 5' (36" x 60"). My final layout ended up at 30 x 59, which was close. I could have made the layout taller and added more paintings/art but I thought it was starting to look much too busy, and I was afraid I might not like it.

I also got to put my new work table to good use, rather than doing this on the floor.

These didn't make the cut, and will get used elsewhere. I may actually do a second art wall in the living room, we'll see.

Each frame was measured and traced on the paper (just mark the corners), and then each location for the nails was marked. Once that was done, it was easy to just slap on the wall with painter's tape, play around with where I wanted it (more left, more right, higher, lower, check it for level, etc).

Once the group is where you like it, just tap-in the nails. Here I just checked the first two to see how well they were lining up against my original outlines.

When all the nails are in, just remove the paper (I just did a combination of tearing, and making small cuts near the nail heads with a craft knife).

You'll note that the lower right frame is currently empty. It was the only size frame that fit nicely, and I'll find a photo to print and frame in there. All the art on this wall are either architecture or boats, so it will stay in that theme.

The lighting is pretty awful and yellow because they're all incandescent bulbs, but you get the idea.

The grouping is high on the wall because I also want to have a shelf just over my computer desk, which will likely have one or two small clocks, and possibly a plant on it. That will fill-out the rest of the wall.

I will take a better photo of the art wall, and give a bit more info on some of them. One piece has sentimental value, while the others were great thrift store and yard sale finds.