Sunday, November 8, 2015

Hand Painted or Spray Painted

Not very often but I do get questions from time to time asking if my furniture pieces are hand painted or spray painted. That's a good question. To which my answer is - hand painted.  I don't even own a sprayer but I'm sure it certainly would speed up my process. When I started painting I was taught (with Annie Sloan chalk paint) how to hand paint by Kevin who painted for the Hollywood studios at one time. He painted everything by hand, he could use chalk paint, paint special Venetian wall & ceiling finishes, he used gold gilding, special finishes - he was good, no he is an awesome painter, finisher and friend. So to spray a piece of furniture I suppose is personal preference. My customers don't mind the brush strokes, that's what adds character to a piece. Most of my pieces are vintage and were made by hand, one piece at a time.  Just like this one below, hand crafted, dove tail drawers, solid mahogany, vintage hardware, felt lined drawers..  This beauty of a beast was so heavy; she was hand painted in

General Finishes Milk Paint in Basil, hand distressed, sanded and sealed.  My customers don't mind waiting in fact 80% of my work is custom work.

This is the after. Hand painted, sanded, distressed and sealed with high performance top coat by
General Finishes. If a piece is being used as a coffee bar, TV stand or in a high use space & will generally foam brush the high performance top coat instead of wax for durability.

I love, love, love Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and this is hand mixed and hand painted but I understand by the instructions you could use a sprayer but nowhere in her tutorials does she use a sprayer.  I love how smooth it glides on.  The pieces below are before and after. Miss Mustard is the chippy paint and I love it - did I already say that?

                               The special layering effects can only be done by hand.

                                             This one below I call my blue jean effect

             And then of course there is the stripping & staining of pieces - all done by hand of course!
                                    This one was stripped natural then hand painted in Driftwood

               And again of course the two colors on a piece can only be painted by hand

So I guess in the end it's a matter of personal preference, but my customers don't seem to mind the wait, brush strokes and all.  So let's keeping painting - by hand of course!

                                                              TOODLES  ~ Karen 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Balancing Act

Is this you? I know it's me.
Trying to balance daily life, my painting business, my husbands business, the house, 
cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, watching my grandbabies, social media, buying, selling & picking up furniture - and on & on. 
The great juggling act. 


                                                       Once that ball falls, is it over?

                    You know I don't have little ones at home anymore - let's backup the gravy
          train. I may not have little children anymore but I do have grandchildren.  So I'm a
    work at home Nani.  Two little ones I watch on Mondays & Fridays, I mean little bugs -
2 1/2 yrs & 1 1/2 yrs, both boys.  So this balancing act, my free time, my scheduling is a must
                 not an option!  And believe me, my tank goes to empty real quick!


            Sometimes I don't say no enough. No to taking on more custom orders - no to doing
   laundry today (my husband has clean socks) & there's always tomorrow - no to fixing dinner
    (I can order dinner from DJ's who has the best home style cooking in town) - no to someone
    who offers me another vintage piece ( there will always be another great one). So you know
                                                           how it goes - right?


                     Oh and did I mention the cats - our cat Mystery (who looks just like this one
                     in this picture) had 3 kittens the beginning of summer. One has gone to a good
                     home and the other 2 (boy's) have been staying with us until they get to go to
                     a good home next month. So two little boys on top of these two busy boy kittens.
                    Mind you, these are our daughters cats.  Hmm - maybe I should have listened to
                                                             my own advice and said no.

                  So painting is where I can combine by quiet time (it's a solitary trade), my prayer
    time and my love of transforming the old into the new again.  It's a matter of balancing it all.
I've learned to schedule my time better and to stick to my lists.  I also keep a journal of how my
time is spent and what I accomplished.  I'm in awe of how much I can accomplish from Tuesday
                         to Thursday. The other days are family times - that's a must!


           So my small business whitehousebluegarden was created with balance in mind.  I love
                   what I do, the vintage finds and making these pieces "pretty" again. .
     So I set those parameters.  I know when it's cutoff time from the "studio" - shop is closed.

       My evenings are spent with Fats (my husband).  We hop into our big four poster at a decent
      hour. We pray together, talk about our day and our businesses, watch a movie and a call it a

          Family is everything and should always be priority (beside God) - My son, daughter-in-law                    & the five boys, my daughter and Miss Layla, my parents, father-in-law and my big                                              extended  family.  So don't let demands be put on you - I've learned
                                that it's ok to have a gazillion wooden blocks laid all out over my kitchen
                              and the boys are making snow angels with them, or Miss Layla has sticky
                                       flour all over my counters making salt dough with red food coloring!
                                     Those things make me smile and I can't get those times back.
                            I did a previous post titled "don't sweat the small stuff" and between the two
                               post - I think it's all ok.  Life is a balancing act but remember YOU are in
                                      control of it!  So take care, set parameters and it's ok to say no!

                                           TOODLES -    KAREN 

Monday, July 13, 2015

She's Gorgeous!

I knew this vintage buffet was a winner and looker in her day. 
Very heavy solid oak desperately screaming "make me pretty". 

                   Perfectly vintage, great bones, perfect drawers, felt lined top 2 drawers, awesome                                                         hardware. What more could I want?

         The hardest part was deciding on a color & interior paper liner. It was obvious I was keeping                    the harware. If you have read my previous blogs, I'm a sucker for hardware. Gets me                                         every time and this one had the original vintage hardware.
                       The original locking key was long gone & a bottom handle, but thats ok.

                          Stripped down to her bare bones, feeling a little naked it think.


                                   Never underestimate what a little color can do to an old piece.
                                      This color is called Basil - Milk Paint by General Finishes,
                                               I love their products, did I say Love!

       A little distressing, top coat and of course my whimsical paper.

All dressed up - Toodles, Karen

Sunday, July 12, 2015

It's the little things in life, so don't sweat the small stuff!

Little things in life can paralyze a person.  They are all consumed by thoughts wondering "what if" or "how come" or "I don't have enough money" or "what will they say" or "I cant make it" or "I'm not good enough".  Why is it that we allow those "little things" to keep us in bondage to fear, worry, stress, heartache & on & on.  Dont sweat the small stuff!

This is not a pep talk on life & issues because we all have them BUT on how we should handle them.  Romans 12:2 in the bible says "be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind". Now that is good advice!  When that thought try's to creep up, change your stinking thinking into finding the solution.  Joyce Meyer has an excellent book called "The Battlefield of the Mind",  that's where it all starts, the mind.  So stop and say no! I'm not going there, no!
Is this true or what?

I myself have painting deadlines, customer orders, scouring for furniture, the social media world that goes along with running a business, supplies, more time than money (no that's not true - I have neither sometimes) but I always say " I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13  and push full steam ahead.  Can you tell I'm in the fighting mode?  

                                                        This is a great motto girls!

Let's challenge ourselves to go out and move those mountains, break down walls, spread some sunshine, love someone more, be more at peace, clear our minds, be nice, be happy, be kind, love a dog or cat, hug a kid or a homeless person, laugh a little (that's contagious and does a merry heart good), sing in the rain or in the shower, smell a flower, bring some sunshine to your day or someone elses.


          Painting is my outlet and is also a very solitary occupation that allows me to think alot but that's when I turn on Hillsong full blast and get my praise on. Whatever is hanging over my head or in my mind is gone. Are the issues still there? Yes sometimes, but remember life is like a bowl of cherries --

                                          Don't take it too serious - life is too mysterious
                                          So live it, love it, wiggle your ears
                                          And think nothing of it, you can't do without it
                                          There's no two ways about it
                                          You live and laugh at it all
                                          Life's just a bowl of cherries  - Judy Garland

                                          Be blessed and be at peace, don't sweat the small stuff!

                                          Toodles - Karen                                          

Monday, May 11, 2015

DIY - Mini Vintage Olive Bucket

There's something earthy and rustic about olive buckets and they remind me of being back in Tuscany. The tree's, the hills, the cafe's, the people, slow pace and on and on.

Ok, ok so I can pretend I'm still there from our last vacation. I've seen some buckets locally but they want upwards of $75.00. Whoa! Still more than I want to pay. The best source really is Decor Steals ( but you have to catch the deal of the day & believe me they sell fast. Love that site. So I was in Target last week and found these galvanized buckets in the dollar section as you walk in.  These were actually $3.00 each and I snatched up the last 3.

                       This was the before shiny and new, and they have jute handles too.

I had a bare bottom of the can of Old White chalk paint left and I added a couple of dabs of Graphite that was bare bottom too.  Mixed it up and dabbed it on coating the entire piece to cover the shine. Be sure to tape your jute handles inward so the do get any paint on.  No biggy because you can always replace them or add leather straps which I thought about adding.
                                     With a coat of paint. See the difference in shine.

Once the bucket was dry I mixed some American Paint Compamy American Grit into some clear wax and wiped that all over. You can add more or less of the Grit if you want depending on the color you want.  You can always use dark wax too but American Grit has more of that vintage grey color of the old buckets I like.  That's it - fun & easy.  PS - I was also told you can age your buckets with vinegar (the wonder tool) and salt.  Have to try that next time.

                                             Here's my end product which I love!

                                            Toodles ~  Karen

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Junking & Thrifting for the stuff (it's Mother's Day)

First of all Happy Mother's Day to all the moms of the world,
trusting you all had a wonderful day - I know I did!

Seems like eons since I last posted - I think it has been.  I've been so blessed (did I say soooo blessed) with my painting business that I had to come up for air. As quick as I paint a piece it flies out the door - sold!   I guess that's a good thing.  But to me by far it has been the people I've met on this journey. If all I had to do is open a can or bag of paint that would be easy but it takes time finding, junking, scouring, climbing over, digging in, moving, driving, calling, picking up, delivering my vintage pieces.  Oh and  I forgot - painting these pieces.  But I love it & more importantly it's meeting some amazing women and men that share that love of everthing vintage. The idea that there is new life breathed into every piece; not that same old boring furniture that has been sitting lifeless in a garage or corner somewhere.

I truely love hearing the stories of where some of these pieces have come from.  How they belonged to a relative or it was used in their house when they were young.  Do I paint every piece - about 90% gets repurposed and the other 10% I keep or pass on to one of my clients.  I love visitng thrift stores because the ones I go to are usually non profit and purchases go to a great cause. One in particular donates some of their proceeds to feeding the homeless locally and also food banks.  Craigslist is a great source and I have met people who are excited to see the final transformation or even fellow painters themselves who for one reason or another have to part with some of their excess which I gladly buy.

Yard sales are fun too especially estate sales where usually I find some really vintage stuff.  I've mastered the art of buying & loading (that's where a truck comes in handy).  Taking all the drawers out of a piece reduces the weight.  So the next time you have the urge to go on that scavenger hunt, make sure you have, blankets, movers and some extra wheels to transport.  The early bird truely catches the gems. And don't be afraid to ask for a better price, you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Look at this beauty Serena at Thrift Diving scored for $40.00.  I'd love to get my hands on one like that.  Better yet I think my fellow painter Alex has one he's selling. Time to give Alex a call.

Toodles -  Karen

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The hardware get's me every time!

I've come to the realization that it's not always that vintage piece that excites as much as the hardware that comes attached to the pieces I find.  Its kinda like a little black dress without the classic strand of pearls, or vase without beautiful flowers.  Some things just go together. Recently I have come across some pieces that have the most awesome hardware that I've decided to leave on the piece instead of keeping for me. What would I do with all that hardware anyway?  I'm in the painting business not hardware; I'd become a hardware hoarder if I could.  As it is I barely have room for the the pieces that are waiting in line to be dressed up (aka painted). 

This hardware is so beautiful you could barely see it since it blended in with the dark wood piece.  Not any longer, this was refreshed and added to this Louis Blue-Paris Grey cabinet.

 Another one that blended into this mahogany buffet. Notice the wheat pattern which pops                                                      against the Paris Grey color.

This one came off a French Provincial hutch and went back on after a coat of Oil Rubbed Bronze.  Reminds me of smiling mustache. 

I've only recently started changing out some of the hardware to something a little dressier depending of the piece.  Some pieces are plain Jane and need that "umph" to make them pop. Here are some favorites. 


I love this color!

                                                        How whimsical & fun

                                          The vintage look for the vintage piece         

Great sources are Anthropologie (pricey but worth it), Hobby Lobby, Pier One, Home Depot. Check out Magical Beans in Little Rock, Arkansas on their Facebook page;  they have great pieces.

This is a set I picked up yesterday that's going on either a dresser or desk that's waiting in the wings.  

Next time you are out and about on your vintage finds, take a peek at the hardware that gal   is wearing, you just might fall in love!   I'm telling you, the hardware gets me every time!

Toodles  -  Karen

Saturday, February 7, 2015

She was screaming "make me pretty"

Ok fellow vintage painters, did you ever come across an old piece that was just sitting in a corner of some thrift store or some yard sale. I came across a truly vintage piece sitting in the back corner buried under other furniture. Still solid in her bones but a little tattered on the outside screaming "make me pretty - please".  Does it excite you to envision what this ugly duckling can become, a beautiful swan. She had her original crystal knobs and roller feet.  I decided to dress her up with Annie Sloan's Old White and French Linen. Oh did I mention I added a few stripes for fun. Take a peek - now she's ready to make an appearance, stripes and all.

                                     Old White with French Linen stripes - too cute

                                                 Love the little crystal knobs