Friday, October 24, 2014

Brass Hardware - Removing Paint and Polishing it Until it Shines!

I am revisiting an old project today! Let's stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Almost right after moving in, we transformed this old dining room server into a media stand for our family room. It is still one of my absolutely favorite furniture makeovers to date!
Dresser Makeover-009

For those of you who have been around here since then, you might also remember that the ridiculously awesome hardware that came on the piece gave me a ton of trouble! You can see the condition the hardware came in on the left below. After HOURS of scrubbing with lemons/salt and Brasso, I finally got one single ring pull to look shiny. But it took a TON of work, and I was totally discouraged. After some research, I gave rub'n'buff a try, but it made a mess...everywhere.

Dresser Makeover-034

Partly out of exasperation, I finally decided to give my solid brass hardware a coat of silver metallic spray paint and call it a day. You can read more about it HERE. And it looked good, fresh, and clean...for a while...

Polishing Hardware-015

I don't really have any good shots of the hardware before I tackled this latest project (because I started it on a whim late at night!), but trust me when I say that with the lack of primer, spray paint designed for metals, or a protective top coat, it didn't take long for the spray paint to chip away and for the pulls to look downright awful up close. Combine that with the design- and blog-worlds' recent obsession with everything brass...and I was feeling ridiculous that I covered up solid brass hardware with a bad paint job (insert sulking here).

And so I stared at them for months, knowing I had to do something but not looking forward to the hours of work required to get them back to their shiny state. Then one night I was watching Rehab Addict and she had a tip about removing paint from old hardware. I literally hopped off the couch (yes, at 9:00 at night in my PJs almost ready for bed!), grabbed a screwdriver and pulled all my hardware off. So not like me, but I figured Nicole Curtis knew what she was talking about!

Well...before I talk you through how I did it, look at my beautiful hardware now!!!!!

Polishing Hardware-001
Polishing Hardware-002

The secret? A slow cooker! Well, it may not be a secret to you, but it had never occurred to me, so I figured I'd give it a try. Nicole said to put your old, painted hardware in water in a slow cooker on high for up to 10 hours. Easy enough! I popped my pulls in an old pot I had, set it on high and waited a few hours. Umm...2 to be exact. For some reason, I didn't want to leave them cooking all night. But, in just two hours I could already see the paint easily peeling off the round pulls. WOW!

Polishing Hardware-003

Here's the thing, just soaking them in the crockpot didn't do all the hard work. I did have to take a few extra steps to get all the gunk off and get them super shiny. (Admittedly, I didn't soak them for up to 10 hours, maybe that would have made even more of a difference?) But I can tell you this, I did a little experiment with the hinges. I didn't soak/cook some and soaked/cooked others, and it made a HUGE difference in the amount of work required after their bath to get them clean. Soaking not only helped remove the paint, but I could also literally peel the old dark tarnish off - it was the craziest thing I've ever seen! So...I'm a convert, and take my word for it: soak your hardware - for a long time!

And after's what you need to finish the job:

Polishing Hardware-004

After soaking the hardware for hours, the spray paint still needed some help. A (very) quick douse and rub with mineral spirits totally did the trick. Once the paint was off, I still needed to contend with the few tarnished spots that remained, and that's where Bar Keeper's Friend (BKF) comes in. Folks - I have tried EVERYTHING to polish hardware and I have never seen anything work like this. (And the best part? It doesn't stink to high heavens and it's super cheap!). For my round pulls, a single coating in BKF and rubbing with an old t-shirt made them like knew. That was it! Oh the difference compared to rounds and rounds of Brasso and tough scrubbing a few years ago!

The rounded and ridged hinges however did take a bit of work. I found myself rotating between an old toothbrush, a sturdy bristle brush and a metal bristle brush during several rounds of BKF to get the tarnish off. But honestly...the longer the hardware soaked, I found I could just use the BKF with the old t-shirt to get them clean. I think I had all 4 pulls and all 8 hinges done in less time than just one knob took me years ago! I was so hooked, I scoured my house for all my brass to clean! 

Polishing Hardware-005
Polishing Hardware-006

What I thought was going to be days of tough scrubbing with harsh chemicals turned out to be hours of soaking with just a few hours of work to get all my brass back to it's original state. The hinges aren't completely tarnish free, but they sure look great to me! After popping them back onto the media stand, I regretted not doing it sooner!

Polishing Hardware-007
Polishing Hardware-008

I know brass is everywhere these days,...trends aside, it just feels very classic to me. This simple change brought a huge dose of warmth to this space; which, honestly, I didn't realize how badly it was needed until now! My brass tray and Fall accessories really help bring everything together!

Polishing Hardware-009
Polishing Hardware-010
Polishing Hardware-011

Unfortunately, I don't have a great pic of the true before of this hardware (before the spray paint), but here's what I started with before the slow cooker and the BKF...and what my pulls look like now!

Polishing Hardware-012

And while I'm at it, I thought I would give you the most recent glance at this side of our family room. This is one of the views in our house that I look at all.the.time because it's where our TV is. After perpetual futzing for 2+ years, I think I just may finally have an arrangement I am content with. Although, in recent weeks, I've been wishing I carried the large frames/photos all the way around the TV (on all three sides), but alas, that will have to wait for the next house. Right now all my matching frames are hung elsewhere throughout the house! So done this wall is...for now ;)

Polishing Hardware-013

I can't say polishing this hardware was no work...but with the help of the slow cooker and my new favorite product: Bar Keeper's Friend - this job wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. And I really am just so smitten with the results!

Polishing Hardware-014

Have some old hardware that needs some love? Give these tips a try...I promise it's easier than you're expecting!

Have a great weekend folks! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Few Autumn Projects -!

Thank you so much to those of you who left kind comments about my porch update on Monday!  I always love coming back after a little blogging break, as I find I really do miss writing up posts and hearing from you guys! I've had a few things come together over the last few days, so I am finally ready to snap some photos and get some of my latest projects up here on the blog (about time, huh?)! In the meantime, I wanted to let you know about two posts I have up live over at right now!

First up, I took a different approach to my Fall decor this year, and I have to say I am just LOVING it! Usually, I tend to put up a bunch of colored and kitschy things in a mantel-type display (which I still love), but for some reason, that didn't feel right this year. Instead, I was craving more rustic and natural touches that blended a little more seamlessly with our decor. If colored pumpkins and scarecrows aren't your thing either - be sure to check out my modern and simple ideas HERE!


Second, I had always planned on getting this recipe up here on the blog, but when asked me to come up with a Fall-time soup or stew - I knew this was the project to share! This Hearty Beef, Barley and Sausage Soup is a favorite around here - both in our family and on our street! It's the soup I make for anyone and anytime a good meal is needed! New neighbors? Mom with a new baby? Neighborhood potluck? Easy weeknight dinner? Check, check, check, check. I never knew how good this one was until I made it for a street gathering, and everyone raved about it! I also like to make it in batches and keep single-serving portions in the freezer! Get the recipe and full how-to HERE!

Barley Soup_Up

I know I say this every time, but thank for supporting me and my work on other websites. I know taking an extra second to click over can sometimes be a hassle, but I really do appreciate it! And just a reminder, these posts will never appear in full here on THIHM, so be sure to follow the links for more pictures and details!

I'm in the throws of Halloween costume creation and I have to say, I am just loving it this year. I am not really a costume person, so I'm surprised at how much fun I'm having. Details soon, promise!

Monday, October 20, 2014

(Yet Another) Front Porch Update!!

Yikes - sorry for the lack of posting last week, friends! I wish I had some great excuse (which honestly, I feel like I am making a lot of lately!), but the truth is, I'm working on a few different things that are all in various stages of completion, none of which is "done." I also did some sewing/painting/decorating for a few friends...and that had me pulling some long crafting hours but with nothing to show for it here on the blog. However, with a mini break comes an eagerness to get back to's get back to it, shall we!

One thing I have been doing a lot of lately, while waiting for paint to dry or hardware to arrive or inspiration to strike, has been tweaking. I've been doing a lot of futzing and tweaking of this little house of ours' because, as I've mentioned a few times, it's mostly done. I say mostly because all of the big projects and room makeovers are complete...there are just a few little areas that I can't seem to get quite right...quite right enough to proclaim a space "done" (and get it photographed and up here for you to see!) But because we are facing another move within the next 6-9 months (how is it time to be moving again already?!?), I'm feeling the need to get these spaces, for real done. And while I am the type that could and will futz forever, I'm in a (mental) place where I'd like to relax and enjoy all my hard work for these last few months we are here! After all, I'll be setting up the next house before I know it!!

Once space that I just finally proclaimed "done" is outside. Some of you long-time readers might be chuckling to yourself because I feel like I have proclaimed our front porch "done" at least 3 or 4 times now. However, each time I've said it's "done," it has been very "seasonal" - as in, decorated for Fall or Summer or Christmas etc. I haven't been able to land on a porch setup that feels complete, comfortable, usable, and most importantly: suitable year round. During our big house purge this summer, I got rid of a lot of excess furniture and accessories that we just don't need...and after moving some things around, tweaking and futzing some more...I feel like we finally (2+ years later) have our year-round porch setup! Come on down our front walk, let me show you!

Evolution of Front Porch-001

When we first moved here, we bought these oh-so-durable and wonderful poly-wood chairs from a local store. We love everything about them (their durability and fade-resistance), but instead of putting them on our porch, we put them out in the yard by our fire pit. Well...they never got used out there, so after I sold off a bunch of our other porch furniture, I hauled them up by the front window. I love the splash of color on our porch, and now they get a lot more use! 

Evolution of Front Porch-002

The lanterns have been out here for a while, but I brought the tiled planter back outside (where it should have gone in the first place because it's so fantastic with those chairs, especially in the sunlight!) I have been searching and searching for a suitable table for between the chairs for a while now. I wanted something durable, modern, inexpensive and compatible with the lounge chairs. As soon as I stumbled upon THIS table from Target, I knew it was the one! 

Evolution of Front Porch-003
Evolution of Front Porch-004

The pillows are made from a yard of Sunbrella fabric that I bought with my Mom last summer (sniff). It was expensive fabric, but I loved it so much I couldn't resist. I originally made these pillows for our couch, but they proved too busy with everything else I had going on in our living they got tucked away. Again, through a process of futzing and tweaking, I dug these out to try them on the turquoise chairs, and I instantly loved them. They haven't moved since!

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Evolution of Front Porch-006

One thing I am most excited about is the addition of a sleek, chic wooden monogram for our front door. Here's the deal - I have a hard time with wreaths. I've said it probably a dozen times here on the blog. I struggle making them, and I have a hard time remembering to switch them out (case in point: before I put this up a few weeks ago, my July 4th wreath was still up). I don't know why - it's my decorating Achilles' heel apparently! Recognizing that I am just not a wreath person, I really wanted something I could keep up year round that felt simple and modern.

Evolution of Front Porch-007

Around here, a lot of people have the scrolly/script wooden letters on their front door. They are lovely, but just not me. And more so...a script "D" never looks like a "D" I went on a hunt to find something similar but more in my style. I first came upon this modern monogram from PB Teen - but oh the prices! So...I scoured Etsy, and lo and behold, I found a wonderful solution! I ordered THIS monogram from HERE. Although the wait was a bit long, I am thrilled with the final result and highly recommend this shop. The monogram came un-finished and I could paint it any color I wanted. I have a feeling it will see many coats of paint as the years march on! (By the way, not a sponsored product/post....just sharing my two cents :)

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Evolution of Front Porch-009

For the past two years, I've used the transition to Fall as an excuse to clean up our garden and plant some new plants - and I usually show you those updates here on the blog. This year, I am calling "mercy" to our deer, who eat everything and anything planted in the ground. I just don't have the patience and money to put more plants in the ground that will become dinner to our nightly visitors. So...our garden looks a little unkept this year....and I'm actually okay with that!

Evolution of Front Porch-010

However, there are three new additions to our garden that I do want to show you! Twelve years ago, my abundantly (and seemingly limitlessly) talented mother made a whole slew of mosaic garden stones, most of which lived her in her garden until this past summer when my family and I dug them all out and divvied them up among us. I got to bring home the ladybug, the butterfly and the frog. These stones are such a vivid memory of the house I grew up in and my Mom, and I am so excited to have these in our garden now! Aren't they awesome!!!

Evolution of Front Porch-011
Evolution of Front Porch-012

So, that's one more space that I can check off the list, stop futzing and tweaking, and call "done!" And I really mean it this time. I had to laugh when I went back through all my pictures and saw all the various looks and setups this porch has seen over the past two years. Next week, I will do my final porch recap post so you can see its full evolution in one spot - my neighbors must really think I am nuts!

Evolution of Front Porch-013

I hope you all have a great start to your week. I'm in full-on Halloween costume-making mode (among other things!) and getting our house and our family ready for something really exciting that's about to happen! I'll be back later this week with an unexpected update to one of my favorite furniture makeovers in the house (that is if I can get it done!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ombre Baby Quilts

Every now and then, this crazy and unexpected military lifestyle that we live hands us something oh-so-wonderful. In my case and in this instance, it was in the form of two chance neighbors who became special and life-long friends. On this random little street on this random military base, I was blessed to move in right next door to two gals who supported me a ton these last few years (and whom I've been able to support right back during equally tough times.) When I learned they were both expecting precious baby boys just a few weeks apart, I couldn't wait to make them both something that would connect all three of us together forever, no matter where our military paths take us from here.

Ombre Baby Quilts-001

As I've been doing all year long, I've been quilting with my Mother's fabrics (that I unearthed out of her immense fabric stash after her death). When life gets busy and it feels like I've moved on too quickly, cutting and sewing and pressing her fabrics over and over helps me stop and reflect and miss her. When I came across this cool set of ombre fabrics she hand-dyed herself, I knew I wanted to use these imperfectly perfect swatches to make small quilts for my two dear friends!

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Ombre Baby Quilts-003
Ombre Baby Quilts-004

My original plan was to use all the shades of blues and greys together to make two identical quilts like THESE. wasn't quite coming together right. So after quite a bit of brainstorming, I had the brilliant idea to add WHITE...and boy, that did the trick!

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Ombre Baby Quilts-006

When I was working with the fabrics up close, the blues felt really different...but in pictures they look pretty similiar. One has more Dutch blue tones with this really neat mini ikat backing!

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Ombre Baby Quilts-008

The other one has what I would call more "stormy" blues - and I backed this one with this adorable mini scallop print!

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Each one was quilted in a pretty basic straight-line criss-cross pattern and bound in the same fabric as the backs.

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Even though this quit design was somewhat of a happy accident, I'm loving how these two quilts work together, and am already scheming how I could use a similar pattern/technique to make a bigger quilt! 

Ombre Baby Quilts-011
Ombre Baby Quilts-012

These quilts are far from perfect - the fabric is a tad wrinkly from the dying, and my quilted lines are far from straight. But just like life lately, through all the wrinkles and crooked lines, I still ended up with something pretty darn beautiful!

Ombre Baby Quilts-013

I hope these quilts are loved and used by these sweet new babes and their mamas. And when we've all moved far away from each other, these gals can look at these quilts and I can look at these pictures...and we can all remember what a special thing we had! Love you girls!!!

The whole "just add white" to this quilt gave me an idea! Remember the "quilt I couldn't finish"?? Well, adding white might just do the trick with that one too, so I'm back on track to get that one finished next! Here's a peek!

See you back here real soon!


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