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Can you turn a armoire into a desk? Yes, you can, cause I just did.

Often times, when I buy a new piece to makeover, I like to give myself time to daydream about it until “THE idea” comes to me.  This is usually about the time I am bundled up in my bed with my blankie wrapped around my head and saying my nightly prayers.  I can tell you, when you have a creative bug, there is nothing more distracting then when an idea pops into your head and I often find myself in the midst of talking to God about all the things that matter in my life, when…. “OH MY GOSH, I could totally turn that armoire into a desk!” comes barreling through.  And once the idea is implanted in my head, it is hard to remove and I often have to end my prayers with something like, “oh, and I’m sorry I keep thinking about that dresser.”  But I have to remind myself that God gave me the creative bug in the first place, so I hope he understands.

So that is how it was with this fairly dated, hotel style, oversized tv cabinet that I had yet to own.  It was at an upcoming auction and I already knew it would be mine.  Fast forward a week or so, and it was (for a reasonable price I might add), and it was even bigger and more hotel style then I ever imagined.  But I knew what was going down with this piece, and I was excited!

So here’s my plan.  I was going to cut off the top, I know, some of you are cringing, but this vision came to me, mid-prayer, so it must have been important. So just go with it.  Ok, so remove the top entirely, keeping the hardware of course, because it’s fabulous.  Paint the dresser using Amy Howard’s High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Belgium Blue. We are talking a high gloss, super strong , durable, gorgeous finish.  Then I’m going to add a long metal top, maybe an aged zinc finish, and some cute metal legs from the pile of legs I have in my basement.  It is going to be so cool.

So cool.

20160312_161455-01
Armoire Before

So, of course, this was in the middle of winter, and painting with that lacquer was not something I can do indoors without killing my family’s brain cells fume-style, so I held my ideas close to my heart, and waited and waited, as a good Minnesota girl often has to do.

But then there was a break, March 12 was the day, and it was mid 60’s, so I got out my wood filler, and sandpaper and my paint, and I went to work on the first drawer.  Here’s what I did.

  1. Fill any major scratches, holes and dents. This is especially important for a high gloss paint because it is way less forgiving.
  2. Once dry, sand the spots you filled using whatever grit you are comfortable with. I used 220 to make it go faster.
  3. Sand the whole piece with 400 grit sandpaper.
  4. Clean thoroughly using a degreaser and a lint free rag.
  5. Remove any trace of the degreaser with a damp lint free rag.
  6. Tape off any areas you don’t want painted.
  7. Spray with Amy Howard Primer using a sweeping motion, just as if you were using a paint brush. (more on this later)
  8. Let primer dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Sand with 400 grit sandpaper and remove dust.

Note: the primer is meant to go with the lacquer, and is especially important for filling wood grain, if your piece has a heavy wood grain texture, you may want to do several coats of the primer to get a smooth, glass like finish.

Amy Howard primer
Here’s the drawer after the filling, sanding and priming.

 

  1. Now the paint. With my drawer face facing the sky, I first painted all of the vertical edges of the piece, using a fairly quick, clean sweep.  Then (and this is the most important part for this paint) I started at the corners closest to myself and started to sweep, back and forth very intentionally and carefully going slightly past the piece on both sides.  (the reason you start closest to you is to avoid overspray, which will make your finish blotchy and less glossy in some areas.

How to properly spray Amy Howard Lacquer finish by de-uglied designs How to properly spray Amy Howard Lacquer finish by de-uglied designs

 

11. Once dry, sand lightly with 400 grit sandpaper, and do a second coat using the same method.

12. For extra protection, top painted finish with Amy Howard Bright Idea using the same technique.

How to properly spray Amy Howard Lacquer finish by de-uglied designs
Here’s the completed drawer. What a gorgeous finish!

So over that next week or two, I finished all of the drawers and the body of the dresser/desk.  The main thing you need to think about with this product is to avoid overspray.  Always keep that in mind.

 

Next comes the top.  I wanted to do something different then a plain wood top, so I thought it would be neat to try a metal top with an aged zinc finish. Finding the sheet metal was more of an undertaking than I had thought, but thankfully, my husband used his contractor wiles to get me a sheet of 4X10 foot sheet metal, 26 gauge.  The goal was to wrap a piece of 3/4 inch thick plywood that I had cut to size with the sheet metal.

 

Now, I am leaving out the metal bending part for a reason.  For those of you who want to duplicate this look, you either need to own a break, (and if you own a break, you already know how to bend metal) or you need to have a metal worker bend it for you.  From what I have read, this can cost around $100 or more.  Thankfully, my wonderful husband used breaks for many years, and also had access to one.  So he bent up the corners for me so I could wrap the plywood.

 

Now for the top.  The metal was very shiny, scratched and etched in areas, but that’s no problem, it just adds to the look I wanted.  I used a strong de-greaser, followed by a rinse of tap water and let dry.  Then I got out my oxidizing product.  I used Amy Howard Zinc Antiquing Solution.

This process was so easy!  Wearing gloves, I poured out the zinc solution in a glass bowl and started blotting it on, very liberally at first.  You will notice the oxidizing starts immediately.  Once it is covered completely, you’ll see that the metal will resist it in some areas.  What Amy Howard recommends is rubbing the product in, in a circular motion using mild pressure.  Do this for 15 minutes.  Then blot again, making sure to make your blots random so you don’t have a detectable pattern.  Let dry about 60 minutes or more. Dry time is important.

Amy Howard Zinc solution tutorial by de-uglied designs
Here I am applying the Zinc Solution in a circular motion.
Amy Howard Zinc solution tutorial by de-uglied designs
Here is the top after it is almost dry.

Once the top had dried for at least an hour, I used my wax brush and brushed on clear wax in a circular pattern, waited 10 minutes, and buffed it.  I used Amy Howard’s Clear Wax.  Note that most waxes are not food safe, so be smart.  Use a plate.

 

With any waxed surface you will want to periodically re-wax using the same method.  And please keep in mind that this metal will scratch.  I think this just adds to the look.  However, if you get so many scratches and want to re-age the piece.  Remove the wax with mineral spirits, and re-apply the Zinc solution as I did above.  Then re-wax.  No, it will not remove the scratches, but it will blend them into the patina, by making them dark.

 

Once the top was finished and waxed, we made a skirt for the desk part, to make it look more desky, and also to cover the hardware for the legs.  Then we attached our top to our dresser, added the legs, and Voila…. something totally unique and trendy!

Armoire makeover into a desk!  Paint used, Amy Howard High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Belgium Blue.  Top was made by covering plywood with sheet metal and antiquing it with Amy Howard Zinc Antiquing Solution.  by de-uglied designs Armoire makeover into a desk!  Paint used, Amy Howard High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Belgium Blue.  Top was made by covering plywood with sheet metal and antiquing it with Amy Howard Zinc Antiquing Solution.  by de-uglied designs Armoire makeover into a desk!  Paint used, Amy Howard High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Belgium Blue.  Top was made by covering plywood with sheet metal and antiquing it with Amy Howard Zinc Antiquing Solution.  by de-uglied designs Armoire makeover into a desk!  Paint used, Amy Howard High Performance Furniture Lacquer in Belgium Blue.  Top was made by covering plywood with sheet metal and antiquing it with Amy Howard Zinc Antiquing Solution.  by de-uglied designs

 

I can’t say enough about how much I love this finish.  The photos just don’t do it justice.   Amy Howard products are available at Ace Hardware, and this lacquer is worth checking out.  The end product is so smooth I have a strange desire to lick it.  (But don’t worry, I haven’t…. yet.)  This awesome desk will be at Eco Chic’s Design Conference on April 23rd at the Scheel’s Arena.  (yep, that’s this weekend) There are still tickets available and it is going to be a super fun show.  I hope to see you all there!

 

ps.  that extremely cool glo-dial advertising neon clock is available as well, that is, if you can pry it from my husband’s cold dead hands.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Jessie

 

 

Cool new products, and beard scares.

Sanding in a state of trepidation is a good way to sand.  While a certain amount of unease is, uncomfortable, you tend to get a lot done when your mind is elsewhere.  So it all works out.

Recently, this is how I felt when I sanded a little cabinet, and the reason I sanded like this is because my husband Ryan was beginning the slow and terrifying process of trimming his beard.

While it varies, the routine goes something like this.  He grows his beard out for a few months, he doesn’t exactly grow it long, but just puffy, thick, copper colored.  You know, long enough to lose track of his chin.  Sort of, Leprechauny.  (we tend to live more like brother and sister when he does this).  Then one day, when he’s tired of his mustache getting in the way of his food, he starts to trim.  And it is a process that makes the whole family uneasy.

I will explain with this handy graph.

My nightmare
My nightmare

He starts with step 1, the bushy beard.  This in itself is not good, but we all know that it can get so much worse.  You see, what he enjoys doing is just trimming off a bit at a time, sometimes letting hours or EVEN days pass before moving on to the next beard monstrosity.  I am amazed at what the style of a beard can do transform a person’s looks.  He can go from a hillbilly to a redneck to some sort of pervert in a couple of hours.  (number 3 or 4 is exactly the kind of person you could imagine lurking around your property and raping your goats) And the more we protest, the more strength he gains to carry on. Ultimately, he gets to step 6, and becomes my handsome man again.  But the images in my head….

They remain.

What’s that got to do with sanding?  Well, nothing. But now you know my state of mind while performing my least favorite task. I had a fervor that one only feels when their husband is trimming his beard and showing off the midway results.  The good news, the sanding went fast.

So here’s the fun news, I actually got the products I’m about to review for freeeeeeeeeeeeeee and it was like Christmas in August  for me when I received them. (yeah, I started this post a long time ago… so what?) I decided to try these products on a little cabinet Ryan brought home the other day.  It had good bones, but was missing some larger pieces of veneer from the door front.

If a little veneer is missing, I’ll go for a simple, sandable/paintable wood filler.  If a lot is missing, I break out the big guns, BONDO, which is so stinkin’ stinky but so effective, it dries rock hard and sands like butta.  (I mean butter people, although, butter would be disgusting to sand, so let’s move on)

But today I’m trying a new product and I’m excited.  It is called SculpWood, by SYSTEM THREE products.  It’s a spreadable epoxy paste.  It is easy to sand and machines just like wood.  Following the manufacturers instructions, I added a dollop of part A, and an equal sized dollop of part B on a disposable plate.  Using a little putty knife, (which, in my case, was a piece of cardboard) I mixed part A and part B together and spread it on my missing veneer, making sure to slightly overfill.  It had a similar consistency to the BONDO I use but I thought it smelled quite a bit better, but still strong.  Now I just had to wait for it to dry.  Because of the ridiculous humidity, I knew it would take a while for it to cure, so I let it be.

 

Scuptwood review.  by de-uglied designs
Ew, just ew.
Scuptwood review.  by de-uglied designs
Better!

Now for the cabinet.

I removed the hardware and sanded down the entire thing lightly, both to even out any issues with the former finish and also to rough it up a bit.  Next I cleaned the entire thing to remove oils and excess dust.  The product I’m using says that no prep is needed, but since this is a piece I will hopefully sell someday, I prefer to prep, if only just to give it a nicer surface to apply the paint.  If you were to follow the “no prep” suggestion, make sure to thoroughly clean the piece beforehand, even if it doesn’t look dirty.  I also gave it a quick spray of primer, because I had it and it certainly can’t hurt.

 

After the primer dried, I gave it another quick sanding and cleaning and it was finally time to whip out my product, Krylon Chalky Finish in “Waterfall” They were kind enough to send me two cans, and a few more goodies.  I sprayed it in a sweeping motion and it went on very nicely and dried to a smooth even finish.  I went through the first can quickly, having left one moderately patchy coat, but covering the whole thing.  I left it to dry, and went in for a second coat with the new can.  Again, it went on very well, I was impressed.  Unfortunately, even with two cans, I ran out of product and didn’t have enough for the final few touch-ups, or the door I had patched.  So I went on a mad hunt to purchase a third can.  According to the website, it is sold at Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, and Walmart.  (to mention a few local stores)  However, over the course of the next couple weeks, I visited all of those stores and not one of them (at the time I am writing this post) stocked this product.  So I had to turn to another way of purchasing things.  It is called the internet.

My first stop was Amazon, as a Prime Member, I always look here first because you can’t beat free, two-day shipping.  Unfortunately, the color I needed was out of stock.  I then went to several different sites and searched for corresponding coupon codes.  But, ultimately, I ended up ordering through JoAnnfabrics.com for a whopping $17 a can, (including shipping)  Yep.

So while I was waiting to receive my shipment, I went back to my door.  The filler worked like magic, it dried nicely, sanded smoothly, and had a hard, wood-like finish.  It was every bit as good as the BONDO, but less stinky.  A win.

So once I sanded down the door a bit, I put a quick coat of primer on both sides, and eventually, when I got my Krylon Chalky Finish in the mail, I went right to work.  Thankfully, I had enough to finish with touch-ups and the door.  I also took off the back of the cabinet, and added some fabric for fun.  This piece is bright and happy so I went with it with all of my heart.

Krylon Chalky Finish review, cabinet repaired with BONDO
Ain’t she happy!

Krylon Chalky Finish review by de-uglied designs

Just like with any chalk paint, you’re going to want to lightly sand it to give it a smooth, even finish.  And then you’ll want to seal it.  Since I was trying new products, I decided to try one more.  This one is from a company called Goddards.  The product I used is called Cabinet Maker’s Wax Spray.  This is the lazy man’s chalk paint waxing dream, and I am that lazy man.  It is a lemon and beeswax wood cleaner, sealer and protector.  It is divine.  After I sanded and removed the dust from my piece, I gave it a quick spray, buffed in the wax, let it dry, and gave it another coat. It ended up leaving a nice even sheen.  I am in Heaven, seriously, this product may change my life.  Now, for heavier use, I would go with a traditional wood wax, or for really heavy use, I’d go with a polyurethane, lacquer, or water based polyurethane, but for something like this, this spray worked perfectly.  And it is only $5.99 per bottle!  (not including shipping)

So, for the review.  I absolutely loved the ease and finish of the Krylon Chalky Finish spray paint.  Great product!  The cons really have to do with availability and price. If I had bought three cans online, at $17 each, along with paying $15 for the piece itself, and the several hours of time put into it, let’s just say, there’s no profit in it for the person who de-uglied it.  (boo hoo, that be me) If you can find this product at a store it retails for $10.  That price is still a little high for me, considering I ended up using three cans, but many places, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby for example, have a 40-50% coupon and I would say, if they end up stocking this paint, go get yourself some.  I sure hope to eventually find this paint locally, because I really did like it.

I loved the Goddards products, I have tried several now for my wood AND painted pieces and the quality is fantastic.  I have never used a nicer furniture polish, and that wax spray will be my go-to for my jewelry boxes especially.

I also really liked the Sculpwood, and will definitely be purchasing this in the future, they even have a product that you can mold like clay, and then when it cures, you can sand and shape it.  There are so many times I could have used something like that.  Now to find the piece…..

All in all, with the exception of the availability issues with the Krylon paint, I’d have to say all of these products are a win, go give them a try for yourself.

Krylon Chalky Finish review, by de-uglied designs

 

 

 

And now, a warning. If you see a man in the FM area running around with a number 3 mustache/beard combo… just to be safe, you better keep your goats in the house.

beard
BEWARE!

 

 

Just a personal note, I know I haven’t been very active on any of my social media sites or blog lately.  If I can be honest, I’m experiencing a little amount of work/business/home burnout, and haven’t fully recovered.    I just want you all to know that I haven’t disappeared, and I am still very proud of my little side business.  Thanks for your support, patience and for accepting me and my business as I am.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

DIY Banquette seating, and a fun announcement!

I am not even the slightest bit exaggerating when I say that this post took over a year to complete.  Let me explain.  It all started several years ago with a couple of crazy kids (myself and my husband) who had just moved into a new house.  In our former house, we had no space for a dining room table, but now, with this new house, it was time to go shopping.  The person that I am now would have looked for something used that I could fix up, but the person I was then wanted a bar height table with 6 chairs within the hour, and pre-owned bar height dining sets were harder to come by several years ago,  so we went to a local furniture store, and purchased a floor model at a discount, because… it was literally on the showroom floor.  It came with four chairs, and we ordered and PAID for two more to be picked up at a later date.  Fast forward almost two years, and we still hadn’t picked up those two chairs and the more time that passed, the more concerned I became that even though we had paid for them, the chairs would no longer be waiting for us.  Because…you know, two years.  And I was correct.  When we finally went in to pick up the chairs,  the local furniture store (let’s just say it has the appropriate word “Con” in it’s name) strangely had no record of our purchase of not only the chairs, but the table as well.  They did however, have records of all of the other items we had purchased from the store including two couches several there years prior to buying the dining set.

While I do think the whole thing was incredibly shady, and was disappointed we were out $240. I had to accept part of the blame.  I no longer had the receipt and let’s face it, I had waited almost two years to pick up the chairs.   My procrastination and lack of proper documentation has bitten me in the butt.  And it left a scar, a big en.

 

Fast forward another year or so to the fall of 2013.  I had been cleaning up after a dinner we hosted in which I crammed 9 people into the corner of my dining/living room. We used four regular and five makeshift chairs and while everything went okay, it occurred to me that this area of my home needed an improvement.  Space was an issue, I couldn’t allot for more, but why not build a banquette seat here?  We wouldn’t have to buy more chairs (which I refuse to do anyway), and it wouldn’t take up any more space.  AND… AND…we could put crap underneath.  Genius.  Seriously Genius.  So I thought, meticulously about this, day and night for about 5 months.  That is when I decided to present the idea to my wonderfully talented husband Ryan as something he could build as a birthday gift for ME!

He actually seemed quite open to the idea which is so unlike him and my ideas.

 

living room 1
Here is my living room before the banquette. We used to have wallpaper there, but removed it when I added the herringbone wood wall.
living room 2
Here’s the area where we will be adding the banquette seating.

 

Shortly after I presented this genius idea to my husband, things got busy and my July birthday came and went.  Then, there was beginning of school for the kids, and the 2014 Junk Market to keep us occupied.  But once those things passed, Ryan got started on the banquette with almost no urgent prodding from me at all.

Here's the start, as you can see, it is easy construction, just start out with 2x4 rectangular boxes.
Here’s the start, as you can see, it is easy construction, using 2×4’s, frame out the skeleton of your desired seating area.

 

Because we had a cold air return, we chose to add extra ventilation to both ends by adding this metal grate.
Because we had a cold air return, we chose to add extra ventilation to both ends by adding this metal grate.

 

Next we added a top, (later we chose to go with a solid piece of wood instead of 1x4's)
Next we added a top, (later we chose to go with a solid piece of wood instead of 1×4’s)
And now the plywood sides. Progress!
And now the plywood sides. Progress!

So we had a seat we could sit on, but unfortunately, that is where the progress stalled.  For a year.  I’m not sure why, seriously, we get really busy, and we try to pay attention to our lovely children so, yeah, it stayed as a plywood, ripped up wallpaper mess for over a year.

 

A year…year….year…. (this is an echo)

 

But I had a plan.  Late June of this year, I noticed the telltale signs around my forehead that I was once again, going to age soon, so I decided to go for a twofer. I asked for the banquette seating to be finished as a gift to me.  Again.  I really wanted it done.  So a few weeks ago when I was celebrating my 36th birthday at the lake with my beloved family, I received a nice little card with a sum of $$ for spending on whatever I wanted, AND… dum dum dum… the promise that while I was in Duluth for an upcoming annual trip with my mom and sis, that Ryan would finish the building of the banquette.  Yes!!! There was a time limit!  Why hadn’t I thought of that?

And so, I spent the next week, pre-thanking my husband for the banquette (which also served as a friendly reminder) and set off for Duluth.  I spent the weekend with two of my most favorite people in the world, and came back to a fully built banquette.  What a homecoming. Hooray!!!

living room 7
Here’s the photo he sent me while I was in Duluth. Loving it!

But now my work began.  Not only did I want the banquette built, but I also wanted to paint it, upholster the seats (which open up), add a painted plank wall to the back, trim it all out, remove the wallpaper fuzz and repaint the remaining wall, add an adorable shelf, some clever art work, you get the idea.  So right after work all week, I worked on the banquette.

Monday’s task:  fill nail holes and gaps.

Tuesday’s task:  sanding and painting the bench seat.

Wednesday’s task: installing the plank wall and filling holes. (I also did a great deal of staring that day)

 

 

This was Wednesday night, before the plank wall got sanded and painted.
This was Wednesday night, before the plank wall got sanded and painted.  If you look closely you can see Ryan in the background.  He is drinking water, that crazy thirsty guy!

Thursday’s task: sanding and painting the plank wall.

Friday was the biggest day of all.  I got off work early, bought the cushioning and fabric, button kit and all the trim pieces I needed.  Then, for the next two days, I finished the seats, and installed, filled and painted all the trim.  I asked Ryan to dig through his “pick-ins” for a cool sign to hang over my shelf, and he nailed it.  (I mean literally, because he had to build a frame for this cool cardboard trolley sign he managed to find) But it does add a much needed pop of color.  Nice job Ry.

 

Saturday night, we had a gorgeous banquette.  Yes, the new, clean finished look of the banquette seat certainly brings out the fact that I already need to refinish my table top, but that’s for a later day.  A much later day.  Like never.

DIY banquette seating, colors Mindful Grey, by de-uglied designs
Finished!!

DIY banquette seating tutorial, color mindful grey

 

For now, I’ll just enjoy the banquette, it’s just one of those things where you get excited to go into your living room.  I LOVE that!

 

 

Now for the big announcement…. as some of you know, my husband Ryan is my picker.  The cool “junk” in my stand, that’s all him. He is the one that finds a majority of my pieces at sales, auctions, etc., but his specialty is what he calls “backroad pickin'” where he finds the best, one of a kind junk and collectibles.  He has a really good eye for what’s trending, what’s authentic, and what is just cool.  I am often disturbed by the random knowledge he stores in that brain of his when it comes to certain types of antiques.  (he especially loves vintage clocks and advertising pieces, you know… “man cave stuff”) On August 22, we will be setting up shop at the Fargo Flea Market to debut his finds.  Yes there will be some de-uglied stuff as well, so look for my sign, but what you can also expect is a mix of high end vintage and the usual junk that’s just for fun.  It’s going to be a great show. Hope to see you all there.

DSC03345
Here’s my husband’s “man cave” and pretty much everything here, plus a lot more, is going to be at our stand. yep… it’s time to clean house.

How I got started and my very first show

You know those tests to determine whether you are right brained or left brained?  Well, every time I take one of those tests, I get a result that basically says I am equally controlled by the left and right sides of my brain.  I know it’s mostly bunk, but this makes sense to me. On one hand, I’m usually very logical, yet can be dreamy and whimsical, I love facts and figures, but just as equally love art and music.

When it came time to choose a career, my gut told me that I wanted to be an interior designer, but my head told me to go into something medical, which would almost guarantee me a decent job.  You see, I’m from the small, modest town of Wadena, Minnesota.  Not many people pay for interior designers there, in fact, the concept seemed foreign and unstable.  On the other hand, people never stop getting sick… So I went with my head and began my career in Histology, which is the study of tissue.  I was told it was the “perfect mix of art and science”.  Win win right?

If you want to know what Histology is, (I get the question a lot) read on, otherwise, skip to next paragraph.

This is the tissue (surrounded by the paraffin) laying on the water bath. Just pick up one of those sections with a glass slide.
This is the tissue (surrounded by the paraffin) laying on the water bath. Just pick up one of those sections with a glass slide.
This is what a section of large intestine looks like under a microscope. Wow!!!
This is what a section of large intestine looks like under a microscope. Wow!!!

To simplify things, you know when you get something removed, like a strange looking mole on your skin?  Well, my lab gets that mole in a bottle with a diluted form of formaldehyde, called formalin.  A section of the mole, no thicker than a nickel is cut and put into a small cassette.  It is put into a processor overnight. This preserves, dehydrates and infiltrates the section of the mole with melted paraffin (like candle wax).  Then next day I take it and create a block of tissue (the tissue surrounded by solidified paraffin). From this block I can cut sections thinner than a piece of tissue paper. (one cell layer thick) These sections are laid on a heated bath of water, and picked up with a glass slide.  I can then stain this slide and put a thin piece of glass over it to keep it from scratching off.  From there, a pathologist can look at this slide under a microscope and determine whether or not you have say, a melanoma.  It is the same process for all types of tissue and species.  The fun part is, I can recut that same block of tissue, and stain it a different type of stain.  There are hundreds of stains.  One stain may be able to detect fungus in your tissue, another may detect bacteria, calcium, iron, etc.  Then there is a field called Immunohistochemistry, that can actually trigger an immune response in that small piece of tissue that results in a stain that can detect all sorts of diseases and cell types. This can help narrow down the origin of the type of cancer a person may have, which in turn, helps determine the best way to treat that cancer.  Pretty amazing right?

 

So I have a great job, I worked at Essentia Health, Innovis at the time, for 7 years, and am now starting my 8th year at NDSU in the veterinary diagnostic lab.  I run the Histology portion myself, which I love, but it can be lonely and stressful at times.  (and it’s hard to take time off!)  I am very thankful for my career, but the whole “perfect mix of art and science”, well, that was mostly crap.  You see, while I get to create some pretty slides, art is about creativity.  I am, under no circumstances, allowed to stray from the “standard operating procedures”, in my field.  And that is understandable.  But it does leave a creative mind feeling a little restless.

A few years into my career (about 11 years ago) I confided to my husband Ryan, that I wanted to start stockpiling used furniture and décor items and “fix them up” so that someday I would own my own boutique.  I’d name it “Furniture Facelifts” or something hopefully better.  I started my future business with a pair of chairs.  I painted them black, reupholstered the seats, nothing special, but I was hooked and I thought they were the greatest chairs in the world.

Shortly after this, a store in Moorhead opened up called Funky Junque.  Everything in the store was displayed so well, the work was so fun, and very unique at the time, and precisely how I envisioned my future boutique to look.  After touring the store with my husband, I felt quite dejected.  I imagined myself going back into the store and begging the owner to somehow go into business with me.  Me with the full time job that I could not quit, no additional money whatsoever, and my two painted chairs.  Ah shucks…..  So I gave up the dream then and there.

But you can’t keep your creative bug locked up.  Over the years I found myself taking on lots overzealous house projects, some good, some…. not so good.  We flipped a house just before the market crashed -I don’t want to talk about it. I also spent a year writing a book of short essays, and another year trying to find an agent and publisher.  I had no real place to land all my artistic thoughts and ideas and I would become obsessive about the strangest things, like the year I spent studying decorative concrete applications.  We even made our own concrete countertops.

Our DIY concrete countertops, and diy concrete circle backsplash.  by de-uglied designs
Our DIY concrete countertops.

Fast forward to 2012.  I was sitting in the break room at work, talking to my co-worker and friend Kelly.  She casually mentioned that there was a type of updated version of a craft show with furniture in town over the weekend, called the Junk Market.  Hmmmmm.

I didn’t go to the Junk Market, I don’t remember why, but the thought of it hovered over me for a few days, or weeks, and I decided to look up how to be a vendor.  Now, I’m no risk taker, I am usually logical remember, and I happen to be very self-critical, to the point where go out of my way to not put myself out there to be judged.  I am incredibly sensitive to harsh and even unharsh criticism.  In fact, as a child of the 80’s, I didn’t dare wear the brand “Squeeze jeans” because I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone yelled out to me “yeah, I bet you had to SQUEEZE into those jeans fatty?”

But, the heart wants what it wants, and I wanted my boutique, or a smaller weekend version of it.  So I went for it.  I bought my first piece on the way home, and painted it that night.  Over the next months, I bought books, subscribed to magazines and read countless articles and blogs on the best ways to paint furniture and began to stockpile.


 

Now, if you would allow me to digress a moment, I am no stranger to a certain type of craftsmanship.  Besides my many personal painting experiences, I grew up watching  and learning from my Dad. He was the shop teacher at Wadena-Deer Creek High school and also made custom furniture.  We’re talking high end, solid wood, gorgeous furniture.  The kind that makes other furniture bow their heads in their ugly shame.  So many nights growing up, we’d be driving home from here or there, and he’d make a turn that meant we weren’t going home, but stopping at his shop for a quick “something-or-other” that usually lasted at least an hour.   I’d cringe at these moments and can recall the hours I spent there, watching him with his handiwork, impressed but mostly impatient.  Only now I can appreciate those memories.  Whenever I cut into a quality piece of wood, or open up a can of stain, the scent brings me back to those days, watching my dad and the care he put into every detail of his craft.  There is something so comforting about the sounds and smells of a workshop.  I know my work is quite different than my Dad’s, but I’d like to think it would have made him proud of what I have learned and accomplished.

My mom on the other hand is a talented artist as well, she can paint murals and portraits, and sketch in a way that makes my chicken scratch look like it was done by a monkey.  She is also the most resourceful person I know.  If she thinks something, anything, needs to be improved upon, she’ll find a way to do it.  Immediately.  And usually for little cost.  She’s the ultimate re-purposer and DIYer.  Cool parents huh?

 


 

An opportunity like the Junk Market was something I had prayed about for many years, and by the time I set the plan in motion, my husband and I were really scrapping by financially.  Even the prospect of buying up “cheap” furniture was impossible for us.  But, as he does, God provided in a miraculous way.  Ryan got a side job cleaning out foreclosures.  This meant, that at times, free discarded furniture would fall into my lap.  His job didn’t last long, but long enough for me to get plenty of great pieces to start my business, when we had very little to put into it the first year.

So, as you all know, I did get into the Junk Market, and what a relief it was, because I had a LOT of furniture ready to go.

So once I knew it was in, I became obsessive, as I tend to do.  I ordered a tent, mapped out my stand on grid paper, (over and over) and did everything I could to make it a great first show.  My friend at work, Kelly, the same one that told me about the Junk Market in the first place, took some professional photos for me, and I posted them to my new Facebook page, which had a total of 6 likes.  By the time the Junk Market rolled around, I was at 72!!

We rented a U-haul and I was fortunate enough to have members of my family to help with the kids, set up, and run the show. The next morning, bright and early (I think it was around 5 am) we headed for the Eco Chic parking lot in West Fargo.  I was so anxious/excited/exhausted.  I still had curlers in my hair as we unloaded my precious furniture onto the parking lot.

Unfortunately, with any outdoor event, especially in Fargo, the weather played a huge roll in this process.  Here we were, June 1st… and we were getting gusts of wind that, even with 200 pound tent weights, sent my tent flying up into the sky. It was cold, in the 40’s and drizzling.  There was no way we could set say, a jewelry box on top of a dresser, it would blow right off, so all my small items remained in boxes, waiting for a break in the weather.  For the next couple of hours we heard one crash after another from other vendor booths. It was all-together not what I had envisioned.  Then my crash came.  One of my largest pieces, a mid-century hutch, blew face down on the pavement, breaking its leg and smashing the glass doors to pieces.  So there was glass everywhere, a tent that had to be constantly held down, a light rain saturating all my painted furniture….. you get the idea.  So after the crash, it was about that time where I thought I would have myself a really quick cry.  I crawled under one of my tables to screw the top to the base and let it go.  Like the song.  Only my version came with a snot fountain. (i cry through my nose)  At one point another vendor kindly leaned under the table to offer me a word of encouragement, and slowly backed away at the sight of me.  Curlers, snot and buffy eyes.  My sister-in-law Jamie who was helping with the set up could see my disappointment.  She took me aside and  suggested I disconnect from this situation for a bit and go get changed (aka… lose the curlers) at my sisters and she and Ryan would finish up. (have I mentioned how much I adore my sister-in-law?)

The hutch that broke. It's little legs just couldn't take the Fargo winds.
The hutch that broke. It’s little legs just couldn’t take the Fargo winds.

So I did, I gathered myself together and drove the few blocks to my sisters where she had hot coffee and a sympathetic ear for me as I got dressed.  Then we went back to the show together and I was feeling ready for whatever came my way.  By that time, we had been given permission to also use our U-haul to display things, because of the wind.  Jamie and Ryan had taken the top off my tent, so the wind wouldn’t catch it, and things were set up as best they could be.

DSC_0023 DSC_0024 DSC_0056

U-haul display
U-haul display

DSC_0065

Junk market dresser, by de-uglied designs

 

 

And there was a line of people waiting to get in!  A long one.

Then is began!  And people bought stuff, stuff of mine!  In fact, I may have witnessed someone jumping the gate to claim a dresser I had done.  That’s dedication.  (but, you know, probably don’t do that)  Everyone was so nice, the other vendors were great, no one was mean or competitive, the staff at Eco Chic was delightful and helpful, and mostly, all of you were so, so kind. And encouraging, and in that yucky weather, brave (or maybe little crazy).

I even sold, at a steep discount, my broken hutch that was laying out in the lawn.

In contrast, the weather was still not nice for the remainder of the day.  It was raining on and off, and unseasonably cold and windy.  My sister Shawna and Ryan were such help, and stuck by me all day!  Thankfully, I did ok with the sales, lots and lots of small items, a few big.   But as we were loading the U-haul at the end of the day, I started to feel like maybe my sales were not all that good afterall, the U-Haul still had to be strategically packed like a Tetris game and the promise I made to my family that “we would get our garage and house back” was a bust.  Look out kids, the furniture is coming back home.

Is it bad admit that I had hoped the U-haul would be hauling loads of money bags with gold dollar signs on the outside and nothing else?

While Ryan returned the U-haul, I sat in the car and for the second time that day, I may have gotten a little teary.  I had let myself and my family down.  We drove home in silence, and then Ryan, who is a man of few words, and even less in the complimentary department, told me that he was very proud of me, that he couldn’t believe the positive responses he received and what a success the show was.

 

That was just what I needed.

 

The second thing I needed, and got, was some absolutely stunning photos that Kelly took for me of my booth space.  She brought them into work on Monday and I’m telling you,  she made the day look beautiful.  I credit her skill a great deal for what happened next.

I posted the photos into an album on my Facebook page which still had very few followers.  But things started moving gradually and gratefully Eco Chic, who had a LOT of followers, posted my album as well.  That got things moving a lot faster.  My computer was getting notification after notification for days, it was crazy!!  In 24 hours, I got over 300 likes on my page alone.  Within a few weeks, I had sold almost all of my major pieces!!!

 

Ah… success!

 

So that was the story of how I got started and my first show ever, I am so thankful for the experience, the people who have helped me get to where I’m at, and the endless encouragement from so many individuals, (minus the guy who said a piece of mine was atrocious last year).  I hope to continue to refine my craft, my skills, and my judgement as I build my little business.

 

And finally, I am happy to say, that with the addition of “de-uglied designs” to my life, both sides of my brain are working in almost perfect harmony.

 

As always, thanks for taking the time to read.

 

Jessie

Exciting news! (and a few secrets)

There are plenty of unglamorous and annoying things you deal with when running your own home business, especially one involving large pieces of furniture yet to be “de-uglied”.

 

I love wood. I try to re-finish and stain wood as often as possible.  That is not always an option for a lot of the pieces I get.  When properly finished, stained and sealed wood is not only beautiful, but durable and timeless.

 

This means I sand.  My husband sands, my kids have even sanded.  Sanding is the devils work.  I can’t even go into my garage without instantly getting sinus pain and an earache from all the sawdust.  Did I mention it’s cold in there?  Another reason to hate the sanding.  Want one more?  I think it might be aging me.  You know, like getting “all up” in my pores. When I give myself a good look in the mirror in the morning, I usually blame sanding for a lot of what I don’t approve of.

 

But when you see a gorgeous re-finished top, it’s worth it.

 

I won’t even go into how gross a painter/re-finisher/builder like myself can be.  (and I can only speak for myself)   I have had paint in my hair for 3 weeks. I’m not kidding.  It is DURABLE paint.  It’s survived at least three showers.  And the stain is worse, it absorbs into your skin, and no matter how many times I convince myself that I don’t need a glove for this “quick little project”, I always do.  I’m stingy with the gloves.  Meanwhile my fingertips are brownish, scaly and literally catch on my clothes. I don’t dare stroke the cheeks of my husband, children and hairless dog, for fear of making them bleed.

I’m sure they really miss my gentle caress.

If you caught that last paragraph above, about the three showers in three weeks, it might be an exaggeration, but not by as much as I would like.  I have a full time job at NDSU (GO Bison!) and as you can imagine, I’m busy!  Working 40 hours/week, having two kids who somehow want to be in sports AND do stuff with friends (the NERVE!), and keeping a house that, at the very least won’t soil your clothes when you enter it, is challenging. As you go further and further back into my home, you will see where the cleaning has left off entirely.  You better have a strong immune system. And stomach.

Case in point, this last Monday, my  powdered facial bronzer popped out of its container, and shattered on the floor of my bathroom.  (the bathroom WAY in back) It’s Friday today (can I get an AMEN).  So that’s 5 days….. Not only have I not picked up the bronzer, but I may have dipped my brush INTO the bronzer, on the floor, and dabbed it onto my face  (on more than one occasion), cause I got to give myself a killa glow.

 

So that happened.  Or, keeps happening.

 

I know what your thinking, “Jessie, why would you need bronzer when your skin is so beautifully golden, year round?”

 

Did I mention that eventually, all my clothes will become my painting clothes.  Once I get an idea, I get so excited to start something, that I have sanded/painted in my church clothes, my snow clothes, my bathrobe,  and my work scrubs.  Sometimes I find myself still wearing my winter jacket inside up until bedtime.   Bedtime…..  So soon. 

 

Ok, now that I have convinced you that my little side business is messy, and may affect my appearance and judgement, I’ll get to the final challenge.  There are actually many more than three  But here’s a biggie.  And that would be… the serious lack of space.

 

It’s a problem.

 

As of today, I have a washer, dryer, dresser and hutch IN MY KITCHEN.  In my kitchen!

I have climbed my furniture to get to other furniture.  Like a mountain.

I have spent hours, looking for a hammer, sander, tool of some sort amongst the disaster. Hours.

My car, has never seen the inside of my garage.

This is because, my garage has furniture.  My kitchen has furniture, multiple rooms in my basement have furniture.  And then there is “Mom’s special room”.  This room is reserved for the finished pieces.  And while the room is clean and nice for keeping my finished stuff in pristine condition, I will never make you see it, because you have to pass the wreckage of my basement, only to enter a room that may convince you that you are not at my house purchase furniture, but to be MURDERED.  Yes, it looks like a room from a horror movie.  I think it’s the wallpaper.

It's scary right?
It’s scary right? I think it’s the wallpaper.  Or the paneling?  Both.

 

Sooooo, the piece of furniture gets hauled upstairs for a showing, then back down.  (if you are crazy enough not to buy it)  Up and down, up and down.  You get the idea.

 

 BUT NOT FOR LONG!

 

A few months ago, I got an unexpected email from Leanne Sucrow.  I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the name.  She is the owner and designer of “The Studio” and “The Green Room” in Fargo.  Her work (and she) have been featured on Valley News Live, and several publications including the Fargo Forum, and Design and Living Magazine.   As it turned out, she was looking at adding some new artisans to her already fabulous store and had seen de-uglied designs pop up several times on Facebook.  (That’s because of you!  Thanks for liking, commenting, and sharing my posts!)   We ended up getting together at the Red Raven where I got the most delish coffee that also involved steamed milk and honey.  Heavenly.

 

I can’t begin to tell you what a joy it was to “talk design” with the brilliant and creative Leanne.  I love my job at NDSU, but find I can’t incorporate design talk into any of our weekly meetings.  It was so much fun.  I absolutely fell in love with Leanne’s vision for the Studio, and felt that we shared the same love of mixing textiles, woods, paints and other unique media, and creating something that was somehow cutting edge, yet classic at the same time.  Leanne is also very passionate about using environmentally friendly products, and re-purposing existing materials.  That is something I could definitely get on board with.

 

So after lots of back and forth, it was decided…. de-uglied designs will be having some choice pieces exclusively at “the Studio”  I officially AND finally have a place to put these pieces that I am truly proud of, the ones that were sanded in my dusty garage, painted in my kitchen, and stored in my murder room. And no more up and down!  It is so very exciting to me be able to show them in a proper place amongst many other extremely talented and unique designers.

 

Now I just need to deal with the dust and piles of unfinished furniture.  Someday…

One more very important thing, I will still have a booth at the Junk Market coming up May 8-9 at the Fargo Fairgrounds.  The Eco Chic team is working diligently to make this event bigger and better than ever (while still providing plenty of walking space!! Don’t worry)

 

In the meantime, check out the GRAND RE-OPENING of the Studio February 19, 20, and 21!!  As Leanne put it, be prepared for more artisans, more creativity, and more shopping space.

And to add to that list, you better be prepared for some great pieces that have been de-uglied by me!!

 

Paint mid century hutch with penny tile back, by de-uglied designs
One of my favorites, heading for “the Studio”.  Isn’t she a cutie!

 

ps.  whoever likes and shares this Facebook blog post will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift certificate to the Studio!

 

As always, thanks for reading.  You guys are the best!

Jessie

 

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