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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sentimental Old Wing Backed Chair Transformation

Okay, here it is… My husband’s birthday is 2 days after Christmas, which sometimes presents a problem. Christmas gifts from me are generally whatever someone wants, but when it comes to your birthday I prefer to give something more personal. This is the story about his birthday present this year, his hideous old family wing back chair, and my hesitation about the project.

The history of the chair goes like this… The chair originally belonged to Andy’s grandmother: 1925 is about as near as anyone can figure for how long it has been around. At four years old, Andy’s grandfather used to sit with him, in that chair, and teach him how to read. When his grandparents passed away, somehow Andy’s sister ended up with the chair. She had it recovered to the current country blue with tiny pink flowers. When she didn’t want the chair anymore she offered it to Andy, and now for many years, this chair has floated from room to room not fitting in anywhere. The colors were all wrong. My colors of course are fall colors, and Andy’s colors are mostly black, silver and grey, with a touch of ultra blue. Andy was doing some cleaning out and was considering giving the chair back to his mother (97 years old) so that someone else could claim it. But I didn’t want him to give up on his sentiment for the chair so I convinced him to let me see what I could do with it.  Originally I was going to cover it with a re-purposed charcoal colored wool moving blanket, so it could go back in his home office, but… I was watching what everyone was doing to upholstery with Chalk Paint, and going back and forth in my mind because I wondered what would happen over time, if he sat in it and the paint cracked or started peeling off, or worse. I eventually decided that I would try painting it, and ultimately… I’m so glad I did. His fond memories of his “Good” grandfather teaching him to read are preserved in that chair, (now a soft weathered grey), that now sits in his home office, where he can cozy up in it any time he wants.

I also made a little throw pillow to go with the chair. You can see it in the last photo of the chair. I scanned the drawing that Andy had done in 1975 (on notebook paper), and printed it out on fabric to make the pillow top. The original drawing is framed and hangs in my laundry room and I love it!

Here are some photos of the chair during the process and the pillow. I hope you Enjoy!

The original fabric... fade spots everywhere, but still in good condition. 

I started with the bottom of the chair


 The first of three coats working from outside in towards the back

 Side views

 Look at the contrast!

 The third coat and a very wet chair!

  The chair is dry after 3 days, now a light sanding. Yep, sanding.

 My finished present, and it looks like it was always this color.

 The original 1975 drawing of "Mouse House".

 The final touch.

Well... what do you think?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Name Game for Spare / Bonus / Extra space in your house

Recently asked me to curate a board about Spare Room Flips, for their social media platforms. While doing the research for the project I noticed that all of us use different names for our extra spaces. The keyword search was like playing the “Name” game. Just for fun you should try it! 

No matter what you call your SPARE / BONUS / EXTRA room/space; Closet, Game, Craft, Library, Exercise, Play, Man Cave, Garden, Sun, Studio, Shop, Theater, Media or Office, you are playing the “Name” game too, and Hometalk is there to help make you a winner! For those of you that don’t know about Hometalk, it’s a great website to go to for ideas and information about anything home and garden, or to just get some crafty ideas. It’s like a how to directory, and there are a lot of really creative people participating.  Check out these examples of Hometalk inspired - Spare / Bonus / Extra space makeovers.  Just click on the images and you will be directed to the pages for these great posts. Enjoy!                                                                       

Here is my contribution to this clipboard

Here is my Clipboard on Hometalk. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Gifts for my Tuesday Workshop Friends

A great little Christmas gift for my Tuesday Workshop friends was what I needed. Something that they could actually use... Something that I hadn't already taught them how to do.

Well, after driving around to my go-to thrift stores, I found a few of these ordinary knife blocks.

After cleaning, drilling, sanding, painting and filling with supplies....

Vintage oil cans with a little bling make great note or photo holders!

Customize these any way you want.

Well... What do you think?

Monday, December 1, 2014

House Flipping Project at #4 Johnson Avenue

In 2007 my brother David and I decided to partner up on a house flipping project. I searched many neighborhoods and looked at dozens of houses before finding what I hoped would be our "project" house. Most of the houses I looked at were not as old, and didn't have near as many problems as the one we ended up buying, but.... have you ever had a house just speak to your heart? Well... this one spoke to mine. I could envision how each room would look even before we signed on the dotted line.

We both had full-time jobs that we could not afford to give up, so we ended up working nights and weekends and all vacation days for five full months, and considering all we had to go through that really wasn't too bad. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Here's a little history about what we now call the Boylston area, in the years right before #4 Johnson Avenue came into existence. From 1917 to 1919, during World War I, this area was called Camp Sheridan. Located in North Montgomery, Alabama, this was the training camp for the Army National Guard and many notable infantry Divisions. It cost 3,700,000.00 to construct, and at the end of the war it was used as the demobilization center until it was abandoned on March 15, 1919.

Then in 1923 the construction of a "Mill Village" began for the West Boylston Textile Mfg. Co. Constructed first was the village that housed the workers, then the Mill was completed. 

This is a photo of the Mill that was completed in 1927 

This is the first known photo of the house we purchased. Construction on this house 
was completed in 1923, and was the home of the mill's foreman.
 I don't know this for a fact, but it was said by some of the neighbors, that this house 
was also a meeting house of the "Daughters of the Confederacy", an organization formed to support the wounded soldiers of WWI and their families, and is still alive today supporting our troops.

#4 Johnson Avenue was built in 1923. The first and largest house in this particular neighborhood, with approximately 2570 square feet, was built for the foreman of the West Boylston Manufacturing Textile Mill, that now sits closed and abandoned across the street in front of the house. Across the side street to the left of the house, and visible from the kitchen window, sits a beautiful old church, and as the sun sets, the beautiful stained glass windows come alive with glowing color.

It was a vacant, bank owned property, listed for $69,900. Armed with a 14 page inspection that would scare the daylights out of anyone, we negotiated the price down to $39,400.

One other thing you need to know... I had not lived in Montgomery for very long, I didn't have any preconceived ideas about which areas of town were considered good, bad or completely undesirable. As soon as my project was made public by the media, (I'll talk about that later), lots of people that I knew told me that I had made a big mistake, and that I bought a house in a bad area and should have asked them about it first. I will tell you this ... I know, with all my heart, after living through the whole process, and knowing what I know now... I would not have changed a thing. Those people, the ones that told me I had made a big mistake, were in SO many ways... SO VERY WRONG!

From the very first day we had visitors. Many of the neighbors, (mostly senior citizens), came by, and then some of the members of the church came over. Some people came daily, first to see what we were doing, then to see the progress, some to tell us stories of the past occupants and history of the area, and some stopped by to see if we had any work for them, which on occasion we did. As the work progressed on our project, people around the neighborhood started clean-up and fix-up projects of their own. Then somehow, the City joined in and sent out dumpsters that sat on one of the vacant corner lots for 1 week so anyone could put anything it with no charge for hauling it away. They were full by the weekend! I don't know how it happened, but the media got wind of our project while they were running a series of stories about Montgomery neighborhoods. They came and interviewed us and a couple of neighbors about the impact of our project. It seemed that we were having a big influence that even we were unaware of. At the end of our project we had a huge open house party. We invited the entire neighborhood, the church members, all of the people that had ever done any work on our project, the local real estate people, friends, family, and of course our banker. It was a great day and I was proud of the job that we had done. Looking back, I am thankful for the time spent with my brother. We told each other our own stories, and shared many memories during that time. I am thankful for Andy, who not only documented the process with photos and video, but repeatedly brought food and drinks to keep us going, and as a home designer, gave his architectural input when we really needed it! I'm thankful to all the visitors for adding to our lives, each in special ways. I'm thankful that nothing bad ever happened at our project house. And... I'm thankful to God... for taking me down Johnson Avenue.

Here is a video Andy made for me so that I could show my daughter how my project turned out. Keep that in mind during the narration when he refers to me as "your mother". LOL!

Take a look!!

These were just a few of the issues that we had to deal with.
*All new electrical:  New electrical panels
                                  No grounded Outlets
                                 Multiple wires to one fuse
                                 Huge plug in the middle of the kitchen floor!
*All new Plumbing: Pipes were worn out, broken or missing
*Replace broken windows
*Replace exterior doors
*Repair screen on front porch
*Repair siding on exterior of house
*Replace chain link fence with privacy fence
*Repair HVAC system
*Paint inside and out
*Completely redo landscape
*Completely overhaul 2 baths and kitchen
*Repair plaster walls
*Repair wood floors
*Replace all light fixtures
*Create master suite
*Repair 5 fireplaces
*Repair damaged roof and shingles

There is no way to cram a five month project into one little post, but I hope that if you are considering doing a project, you follow your heart, you do the right thing, and you don't let other people decide what is right or wrong for you. You never know what you can do until you try.

Be brave! Be creative!


Friday, October 31, 2014

AUTUMN AIRE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!!! is OPEN FOR BUSINESS!! HOORAY!!!!  I can't believe I finally get to say that as I sit here looking at all of the inventory still not listed in my shop. Please come visit often, because I will add new items regularly. Please help me get the word out by telling your friends and family to check it out, and please, please, please, let me share Autumn with you... all-year-long!

Thanks to everyone for your support! :)
Debbie Harris

Monday, October 13, 2014

Honey-Bee filming expedition

Sunday, Andy and I headed out to Gary and Diane Farmer's home in the country, on a Honey-Bee filming expedition.

On the way there, we saw a particularly pretty field of cotton and stopped at the home sitting closest to it, to ask for permission for both photographing and picking some of the cotton. Dax Whitaker, owner of the home, and family member of the owner of the cotton field, graciously gave us permission for both. I left with gorgeous photos and a bouquet of cotton stems. A special Thank you to Dax and his family, for adding some beauty to my day!

We were given a warm welcome when we arrived at Gary and Diane's home, they are very down-to-earth people and I like that. I sat in the shade of pecan trees... and cautiously walked the grounds and vegetable garden with Diane and learned a little bit about their bees, their chickens and their stock of what they call "Brush" goats. I stayed pretty far away from all the hives because I just don't like flying... or crawling insects. That's just me. But, it was both fun and nerve wracking watching and photographing Andy and Gary with the bees. Andy was out there just all-over-the-place with not a care about being stung or carried off by a swarm of bees, unlike me, he is brave!  I photographed him donning his bee keeper's suit, and practicing running away from the bees, ha ha, and filming while Gary tended to the hives. The day was great! Gary and Diane were gracious hosts and patient teachers. They sent us on our way with vegetables from their garden, some of their home grown sugar cane, and a jar of honey from the hives. They have our gratitude and admiration for all they do and I would be proud to call them friends! Thank you so much Gary and Diane for everything!

Here are some photos of the day... Enjoy.

Cotton Field in Holtville, Alabama

Gary and Diane... Great people! 

Brush goats


Donning his bee-keeper suit

Practice running!!! ha ha!

Andy filming Gary tending the hive

More hives!

Well... What do you think?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Roundtop, Texas Fall Antique Show

The fall show in Roundtop, Texas was made especially fun by great friends who drove 4 or 5 hours just to spend the day with us and then drove 5 or 6 hours home the same night! Curtis, Kim, and the "Queen-Lace-Spotter" Tasha, a special thanks goes out to you guys for being the kind of people that value friendship so much that you'd go above and way beyond the call-of-duty to spend just a little time with friends. We love you for that.

Now, thanks to Tasha's great spotting skills, I came home with a boat load of vintage lace and fabrics. And thanks to Kim, some more great project ideas! Before I go any further, I also have to thank another great friend, Judy, who if not for her, the billion shipments that arrived while I was away from home might not have been there for me when I got back. Thank you Judy, you're a lifesaver!

Other than a few fall decorations and the HEAT...whew... the fall show was pretty much the same as the spring show - crowded for miles and no way to see everything. So, after 2 days of show-shopping and a lot of driving, we needed rest. In eastern Texas, there's this place called "The Texas Forest Country Retreat". It's managed by James and Jennifer Coogler. We ended up spending a couple of nights in a secluded log home in the middle of the Angelina National Forest. Two large ponds and a lot of wildlife were included with the stay. A couple of miles away from our log home, named "Beaver Creek Lodge," was the "Saw Mill Mansion", which is now a bed and breakfast, and Saw Mill Lake sits right behind that. James and Jennifer manage both properties. James is an awesome cook! - five course meals so good you don't know when to stop! The second night, after dinner and returning to our log home, I said to Andy, "I am sooo FULL, how do you feel?" His reply was..."APPETITIOUSLY red-lined". I know, I know, not a word... but now it is. And it got a lot of  use really fast!  We ate so much we could hardly move. Jennifer is James's side-kick in the kitchen and puts the "fluff" in the operation but... she can bake! She made the best pineapple cake I've ever eaten. Seriously, if we would have stayed any longer... we would have had to buy larger pants!

Now... I'm under strict orders not to tell the story about a certain man, who shall remain nameless, in his cowboy hat, his underwear, a pair of shoes and a shirt not quite long enough to help him preserve his modesty... and a 450' walk to a paddle boat. So I'm not tellin!

Home safe and sound and ready to hit the ground running. will officially open November 1st, so we're busy photographing, writing out descriptions and getting our shipping department set up.

I'll do a shout out on opening day, so until then, stay safe and God Bless you.

Enjoy the scenery...
Dirt road to log home

Front view of log home

Living room and loft stairs

Rear of house in the evening

Rear in the morning

Peddle boat on one of the ponds

View from the back porch

Another view from the back porch

Small decoration on mud room wall

Kitchen cabinet doors all inlaid with punched copper

Relaxing sock selfie

Just a fun street sign

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sandcastle Chifferobe

I was out on one of my "gathering" expeditions when I came across this antique chifferobe. It was a "hot mess"! The legs were beat up and practically falling off, the top was peeling, the bottom was warped and cracked, the mirrors had more age spots than Father Time, and it had two drawers that were completely eaten away by an anonymous small creature. BUT... What a perfect project piece for someone in need of functional space. I knew immediately what I wanted to do with this great find. Here in Alabama a lot of people have beach or lake homes and if they don't, they decorate to get the feel of being at one. So, project "Sandcastle Chifferobe" got underway.

Here is a before picture with the two remaining drawers removed.

Here is a picture snapped after removing the doors, the top and bottom, and gluing the legs and sides. 
With bungee cords holding things good and tight, we play the waiting game.

This project had a lot of small jobs to be done: Cut two pieces of new flooring for the bottom; New knobs for the cabinet doors; Painting the whole cabinet with Annie Sloan's Old Ochre Chalk Paint; Hand painting the sandcastle and beach on the cabinet door; Hand painting (not stenciling) the wording on the outside of the wardrobe door; Paint the inside of the wardrobe door with chalkboard paint, and hand paint the decorative embellishments on the chalkboard; Cut and install the molding to wrap around the bottom of the cabinet; Find the perfect basket for the space to replace eaten drawers and put a bow on it. Whew!!! Now here are some pictures of "Sandcastle Chifferobe"

Shot of me working on the inside of the wardrobe door.

While I wait for the wardrobe door to dry...
See the new top, and the bottom molding that now surrounds the old legs. 
Take a look at the mirrored cabinet door and the basket set in the bottom. 

After attaching the wardrobe door.

It's all in the details. The mirrored cabinet door up close. 
A sandcastle should be made of nothing but sand... and a coat of paint of course!

The mirrored outside of the wardrobe door.

A  burlap basket with rope handles to hold your seashore treasures, (or toys, magazines etc...)
replaces the two drawers eaten to satisfy something's munchies.

Shot of the finished project in front of a window with the wrong lighting. Sorry!

 Another shot, this time in the studio with too much white in the mirror's background. Sorry again! LOL!

And finally, the inside of the cabinet. The wardrobe door is a chalkboard for special messages. A vintage slip hangs from the wardrobe bar to show that it functions wonderfully for it's intended purpose.

For me the hardest part about a project like this is all the waiting. But so simple. Well...What do you think?