Ever since the kiddos came along, my crafting space has become smaller and smaller. An entire craft room became a nursery; my sewing table became “homeschool central,” and then my sewing machine got relegated into a hard to reach cabinet- only to see the light of day on special occasions.
The occasions became fewer and fewer when I had to weigh in my mind how “worth it” it would be to drag out all of my sewing supplies for a project and battle toddlers to get them done. I’ll never forget my youngest daughter crawling across my cutting mat, putting her hand down on my rotary blade, and having it cut through her delicate skin. Or my oldest daughter finding a stray pin with her foot. Those times made me rethink whether I should just put my hobby away for a few years for when I had the space to work without fear of injury or just be able to make a big mess and not have it disturbed by anyone.
Then Fall came, and that meant Halloween costumes.
Who am I kidding?- I love to sew! It’s one of my passions and not something I want to give up till my kids are teenagers. I spent some time thinking about a solution to my sewing woes and decided that I needed a piece of furniture that would allow me to bring out my machine and supplies quickly and also allow for a quick clean up. I needed a cabinet with doors to hide my mess. An armoire of sorts. So I started pinning. My craft/classroom pinterest board has all the juicy details.
I wanted FUN!
I wanted COLORFUL!
And I wanted FUNCTIONAL!
These are just a few of my inspiration pieces:
We are so limited on space in our tiny house, our one extra room is truly multipurpose. It is our home office, our homeschool room, and a craft/sewing room. Not to mention, our pantry for when I go coupon crazy and really stock up.
Not only did I want this room to be inspiring, but also because it is our schoolroom, I wanted it to be cheery and colorful too. A place for me and the kiddos to have fun and dream. I narrowed down my color palette to a punchy red with accents of turquoise and apple-y green. Delicious!
I envisioned a piece that served my needs and decided that I was going to build it myself. I mean, really, this would be an easy piece of furniture. It’s just a bookshelf with a fold-down front for a desk and VOILA! Secretary desk.
I started making a list of things I would need:
fancy desk hardware.
Ummm…The list was getting long and when I started googling what it would cost to buy the cool latch/hinging system to have a nice flip-down desk; I started to rethink my build. That, and I am still chicken at the thought of building doors/drawer fronts that look good and are actually square.
So, I thought about it some more and decided that I bet I could find a piece second-hand and refurbish it. I already knew that I wanted a painted finish, so why not something old that needs a little rehab?
I started the hunt. Something else I love to do. I made it my mission to comb craigslist and every thrift store in town. It took about a month and then I saw this:
My local Idaho Youth Ranch (you might know them from their photo gone viral) wanted $80 bucks for it!
Not only did I think it was too steep, but it also wasn’t solid wood and it was really ugly. I am more of a traditional girl and the style was a little too “contemporary-meets-barfy-old-high-school-study-desk.” I could just picture the former owner as a young man wearing a Yoda T-shirt, feeding his pet lizard while he played Atari in his bedroom, drinking Tab soda while the Zapzyt soaked in.
I could see the potential, but in it’s current state, I just wasn’t ready to pull the trigger.
So I waited. One week went by. And then two.
And three weeks later, she was still there. See? It wasn’t just me. Nobody else was going to pay that either. I popped back in the store and found it marked down a few days later to $65.
Getting there, but not quite what my cheapskate, tire-kicking self was willing to pay. So, I waited some more. And the next day, a coupon came in the mail for $10 off a $50 purchase at said thrift store. Coupons for thrift stores are the greatest! You are already stretching your dollar by shopping second-hand, but coupons take it to a whole other level. Since I was feeling determined and the coupon was really burning a hole in my pocket, I went back and talked to the lady.
My hands were all clammy as I told her that I liked the shelf, but in it’s present state (pointing to the veneer and scratched finish that was just *So* bad ) I didn’t think I could pay what they were asking. She checked the tags and said that it was a little high and agreed to lower the price to $50.
Yes. It would be mine.
With the perfect storm of the sale price and coupon, I was able to snag this desk for $40! Woot!
It even has lights! One in the desk area, and one wired in the shelf above. I brought it home and gave it a good scrubbing. I removed the hardware, which I actually really liked, and lightly sanded the surface. This thing was a beast! For having particle board sides, it sure weighed a ton.
Since I had no grey primer, I had to improvise. I mixed white primer with a little black paint left I had over from a previous project. I added just enough black paint to tint the white primer grey. It worked like a charm. I removed all the hinges and gave the entire piece a coat of grey primer and then topped it off with a couple of coats of shiny red paint. I painted the entire shelf and inside with Valspar’s “Fabulous Red.” It truly is fabulous! It’s my go-to shade for a deep cherry red.
I gave the old brass door pulls a coat of turquoise paint and lightly sanded the edges for a two-toned effect.
For the flip-down desk panel, I planned a really cool treatment. After seeing that green armoire up there on pinterest, I decided I wanted to try to use fabric on one of the panels. I found the most awesome fabric online designed by Heather Bailey. It’s called Pop Daisy. It has been the inspiration for the entire room. Unfortunately, this is an older line that is no longer available, but you might find a few remnants on etsy.
Funny Story: I found my fabric piece on etsy from Jessica at Stitchinfabric . While I was checking out I realized she actually lived in my town, so I asked her if I could meet her somewhere to pick it up instead of pay shipping. She was a dear and agreed. I met her in a grocery store parking lot and it totally went down like a drug deal. Since we were strangers, neither of us knew who to look for. After a few minutes of awkward staring, it was like “Hey, are you Jenny?” “Uh, yeah, I’m Jenny, are you Jessica?” Then we exchanged goods. I slipped her a few bills and she gave me my fabric…in a baggy. I laughed at what just happened on the drive home.
Anyway, I will spare you the whole tutorial. I found an awesome step by step from Kim at Too Much Time on My Hands. Listen to her, she knows what she is talking about. I skipped a step because I was impatient and really wish I had listened to her. Before she applied her fabric to the drawer front, she painted the back with Decoupage medium to give it some stability. I totally should have done that, but because I was thinking I was really smart and could just skip that, I made it a lot harder on myself in the end. That extra coat stiffens up your fabric and keeps the edges from stretching and fraying. I still have a few slight threads on my edges that I couldn’t get trimmed just right, but only I notice them.
I also tried out a different decoupage medium. I used DecoArt’s Americana decoupage. It rocks! It is better than that *other* Pod Modge brand, in my opinion. It totally sealed the fabric in and I didn’t need a clear coat at all- And I was able to find it in a matte finish so my piece is not overly shiny.
So here she is in all of her glory! I love how it turned out. The shelf is such a statement piece and just the amount of “fun” I was looking for. The style of furniture mixed with the finish is a winner in my book. It makes me happy just looking at it; and best of all it’s a great place to hide all of my junk. It is so nice having things behind doors instead of constantly staring at the clutter!
I actually finished this piece quite a while ago (maybe last summer?) but I didn’t want to blog about it until I had the room “done.” Then I realized that was just silly because in real life, rooms are never “done.” They are constantly evolving and changing as the budget allows. So as I zoom out, you can see how things really collect around here. I bought coordinating fabric to eventually sew a new ironing board cover, but until then, I use the crispy burnt one for my ironing.
The inside of the desk fits my sewing machine perfectly. It was a gift from my in-laws the Christmas my husband and I were engaged. I’ll never forget how my husband totally gave away the surprise because he randomly started talking with this sudden knowledge of sewing machine quality and distinguishing them by their “all metal parts.” He is so bad at things like that. Haha. One of those inside jokes we still laugh about ten years later. All he has to say about anything is “…You know, it’s got all metal parts.” and we’re rolling!
I just picked up the serger last fall and it has been a fun machine to use for projects as well. Luckily, they both fit nicely with room to cram even more stuff around them too! And what’s hiding in the bottom? Even more fabric. That’s not counting the full totes in the shed either.