Friday, December 30, 2011

1095 days ago...

Three years ago today Jake and I got married.

We still like to hold hands when we drive. :) 

Here's our {love} story 

One Sunday, my roommates and I decided we wanted to have an apartment of boys over for dinner.

We decided this was the best method to chose.

The flying pen landed on Jake's apartment. 

They came over and Jake started to try and ask me out. 

I didn't like the way Jake dressed (yes, I was a snob) so I didn't make it a priority to go out with him.

He kept asking me what it would take to go out with him and so I told him I wanted an anteater. 


I know. 

So he searched for a toy anteater, stuffed one, and even looked into renting one from a petting zoo. 

He ended up sewing me one. 

Aww right?!

So after a little flirting and lunches together we started dating. 

We got engaged in Oregon

and got married

We adjusted to married life. 

                         The manly husband                                                    and the little wife. 

We started a family 

and had little Rhett.

We graduated college, Jake got a job with Edward Jones and we moved to Arizona. 

And honestly we feel SO happy, and blessed and grateful for the past 3 years! 

Happy anniversary Jake!

Thank you for being my best friend and the best husband I could have ever hoped for.

Love, your little wife 
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Too funny...and too true.

So how true are any of these in your life? :)
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Antiqued Black and Bayberry End Tables

These tables were brought to me as a custom piece and I'm always flattered when my clients ask for my opinion on how they should refinish their pieces. 

Usually I can put together some ideas pretty quickly. But with these tables I felt like I ran the color spectrum marathon trying to come up with a classy combination for my clients very colorful home. 

In the end we decided to do a rich bayberry green underneath and a gloss black on top.

And after some very time consuming distressing and dry brushing here is the final product. 

I'm really happy with how they turned out! I've always felt like black furniture can be a little overwhelming, but I love these tables. 

Too bad I have to give them back. :)

Painted in General Finishes Bayberry Green and Lamp Black
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Keeping up with the blog next door

Guys today I want to talk about this,

We DIY blogs fit into an interesting part of the blogging world. 

In order to survive, and ultimately thrive, we need to be unique. Different. But at the same time, we need to create projects and pieces that fit into people's everyday life and home. Like in the cartoon above. This might get featured on someone's weekly link party...and we'll probably all comment on how totally awesome and cute it is...but are we really going to put it in our home? 

Essentially we run two different businesses. 1.) Our blog, where we want people to come to be inspired and see new things and 2.) our actual retail business, be it through Etsy, Craigslist, markets etc, where we need to move product. 

In order to drive traffic to our blog, we need to walk the fine line between being creative and doing things that haven't been done yet, while at the same time refinishing/creating pieces that are relatively mainstream in order to sell them.

To be perfectly honest, I worry about how I'm managing that aspect every day.

 But after doing this for awhile I've learned a few things about how to keep up with the blog next door and still sell my work.

Use a popular style in a different way.

When I started working on the Ombre dresser, I had seen a lot of pieces done with this technique; but always with paint. I knew the technique was popular and I loved it, but I didn't want the dresser to get lost in the crowd. So I thought, why not try it with stain?

I love how it turned out and it was featured on Apartment Therapy. (Yay!)
And some people love it and some people have been pretty critical about it, but I'm happy that I took a chance. :)

With this dresser, I knew I loved the look of a Union Jack, but again, I didn't want it to be just another Union Jack.

So I did some research and found that this design was the old British flag.

There is nothing wrong with following a trend, but try to work your personal touch into it.

Don't be afraid to go against the norm.

When we picked up this desk, Jake and I debated for awhile on whether or not to stain it or paint it.
We knew painting was more popular than stain, but we really felt like staining it would stay true to the existing beauty of the piece.

 Going against the norm can help your work stay fresh and new.

Lastly, expand your skills.

If you had asked me if I was a painter before I did the Very Hungary Caterpillar Dresser I would have said no way jose!

But I LOVED painting it!

This might be one of my favorite pieces simply because it tested my skills and talents.
I know sometimes I still get super nervous about trying a new technique, and not to sound cheesy, but how can we know what we are capable of if we don't give it a shot?

I would LOVE to know how you manage to walk the line of keeping up with the blog next door and still create product that sells.

How do you guys do it?

Do you think it is better to find a "niche" or a style that is characteristically your own, or is it better to keep recreating and inventing your style?

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bye bye crusty!

No offense crusty buffet, but you needed an overhaul.

And since you're going into the powder room of my clients home you need to look extra good. 
(Lots of mirrors means lots of time looking at your reflection. :) )

Much better! 

And look at all your storage...I'm so proud of you. 

Bye bye crusty, hello lovely!

(Painted in Bon Voyage by Behr with details painted in Iconic Sky also by Behr.)
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Define: Crusty

crusty [ˈkrʌstɪ]
adj crustiercrustiest
 having or characterized by a crust, esp having a thick crust, rough

If you looked up crusty in the dictionary you would see a picture of this buffet-

This is a piece I found for a custom job. 
It is turning out so NOT crusty. :) 

PS. Does anyone else get perturbed when people leave gorgeous furniture (such as above) out in the rain and elements?


We have the regular police.
We have fashion police. 
We need some "don't leave great furniture outside" police. 

Those found guilty of such a heinous crime will be made to clamp and glue such abandoned pieces.  

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Worlds Most Expensive Bar Stool

This is a bar stool that I found at Goodwill for next to nothing. 

Hardwood, totally solidly built, great patina (the picture doesn't do it justice) and with a very interesting stamp on the bottom. 

I saw it when I was loading it into my car and I thought "Oh I should look that up when I get home."
But I forgot.

I planned on leaving it the way it was, just oiling it a little, but I was going to take it to a market in a week and I already had a lot of stained pieces, so I thought it would be better to paint it. 

I sanded it, primed it, and then came to post it. 

The next morning I had this comment from my friend Shelly

"The first thing I would do is flip over that bar stool and check to see if it's stamped with S. Bent & Bros., Inc. stamp. I recently gave a simple color wash to a chair I had sitting up in my garage for a few years and before the paint was even dry my sister gasped "SHELLY! Two of these just SOLD on ebay for $400 ea"! My chair was stamped 1867 I think? Oops! My bad! Check it out! It may be your lucky day:)"

Oh. My. Gosh. 
What did I do?!

So I rushed onto Ebay and found a similar stool with a bid of $127 and still climbing. 

I know.

So I called some friends who deal with antiques asking (begging) if I took the primer off and restained it,  if it would keep it's value. 


So here it is now. I do love it, but I'm still kicking myself for forgetting to look up the stamp and succumbing to the pressure of painting. 

It's painted in Frost and Pencil Point by Behr and waxed with Howards Citrus Shield.

I love that's it's a little vintage and a little chic at the same time. 
It would look adorable in an entry way to leave your coat and purse on or in a kitchen or a bedroom. 

For more info look under the For Sale tab at the top of the page. 

PS My Mom painted the picture hanging behind it in high school. 
It's called "Love, Lines, Angles and Rhymes."
I think she should start painting again. :) 
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How to create a simple budget for your business

Many of us who restore furniture and resell it use the term "business owner" rather loosely. 

We started doing something we enjoyed and then it took off in ways we didn't expect. 

And I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that we didn't go into "business" because we were excited or enthralled with the idea of managing our finances and setting up a budget. 

Like I said, going out on a limb here. :)

But if we truly love what we are doing, we need to take time to make sure that we are spending less than we are making in order for us to make a profit and stay in business. 

Here are some things I do to maintain a budget for 551 East. 

It's simple, but it's working for us!

1. Set up a separate bank account for your business. 
Most banks have great options for small business owners. You don't need a business license to have an account, but make sure to ask what their requirements are. For example, minimum balance etc. It is so helpful to be able to see your cash flow both in and out that is separate from your personal/family expenses. 

2. Track your expenses. 
I keep a spreadsheet of expenses per piece I restore. For example, here is my cost breakdown for the ombre stained dresser. 

Purchased: $30
Stain: $15
Sand Paper: $5
Hardware: Free
Estimated gas for pickup/electricity for sanding: $7

Total: $57

Like I said nothing fancy, but it helps me remember exactly what I spent on a piece so I know how to price it to make a profit.

 3. Plan for the future.
When you stared your business you made an initial investment. Maybe it was $50 maybe it was $500. Either way at some point you will most likely want to expand your business and to do that you will need more cash.  As I've mentioned before, we started with $350 investment of our own money. Every time I sell a piece, I reinvest the cost of the piece plus 10% of the profit to help our business grow. So for example, the ombre dresser sold for $160.

Dresser sold: $160
Cost: $57
Profit: $103
10% of the profit to reinvest: $16

It doesn't seem like a lot, but it does add up over time. You can off course adjust the percentage to reinvest according to your wants and needs. 

4. Be flexible.
A budget, although a useful tool for remaining disciplined, it's not set in stone. Don't think of your budget as an absolute ceiling to how much you can spend but is instead a tool for making sure you are meeting your goals and can justify any departure. If you see that changes need to be made, do so. Also, remember that a budget should be reviewed periodically. 

OK enough of this budget lesson!! 
Go outside and enjoy the fall weather! 

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the family that takes pictures together, stays together

I'm taking a personal moment with this post to show off my little family. 

I am so grateful that Jake and I will be celebrating our 3rd year of marriage next month. 

I'm also so grateful to be a mom to Rhett. When we went on our Sunday walk, Jake and I talked about how we couldn't have been blessed with a more fantastic little guy.

We just got the proofs from our family picture shoot we had done in August and I love all of them! 

So here are some of my favorites.

OK I showed off more than a few. :) 

But I want to thank Heather from Heather Bliss Photography for helping us capture our family at this stage! 

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